Stirrup Gallery opens

Davis & Elkins College officials proudly showcased a new gallery of old items – some dating back to the Revolutionary War – at a special ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday.

The event marked the public opening of the Stirrup Gallery, which is located in the Myles Center for the Arts on D&E’s campus.

Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce members, Davis & Elkins College officials and a representative from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office all attended the event to celebrate the Darby Collection, a large eclectic accumulation of North American historical and cultural items that is the legacy of prodigious collector Hosea Darby.

“Few things are more important to a community than history and pride,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin wrote in a statement read by Lynn Phillips, one of his representatives. Tomblin’s letter also stated that the Darby Gallery provides both to not only the college, but also the surrounding counties.

“This collection has a rich history,” said Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jess Arbogast. “It’s absolutely a great addition to the campus and to the community.”

Darby was a Tucker County native who eventually moved to Elkins where he found success as an architect and builder. He began collecting the items as a side project, scouring the country, usually by mail through dealers’ advertisements and eventually earned a reputation nationwide as a collector of rare historical pieces.

The pieces in his collection include some 100 firearms bullet molds, shot measures, bayonets, cannon balls, canteens, swords and a variety of combat knives – as well as the third largest collection of carved powder horns in the country. It’s also comprised of glassware, metalware, pottery, baskets, Native American weapons and Americana items from the lives of the early European settlers.

Among some of the more eye-catching items are a sterrhorn bed for children, an Italian wedding cart, a human vertabrae with a Native American arrowhead embedded inside and a rifle from the Revolutionary War that was used in the Battle of Lexington and Concord and the Battle of Bunker Hill as well as the War of 1812.

“We want as many people to come out and enjoy the gallery as possible,” said Mark Lanham, curator of Special Collections at Davis & Elkins College.

“People have to come out here and see it to appreciate it,” added Amy Mattingly, director of Booth Library and Special Collections at Davis & Elkins College. “The brochures and all of the talk doesn’t do it justice. This is a fantastic opportunity for people to come out and see an authentic piece of history.”

Dr. Michael Mihalyo, president of D&E, said the college was proud to house the collection on its campus.

“Darby wanted this for our students and we are pleased to honor that request,” he remarked. “We are also so grateful for all of the people who made this possible.”

Admission to the Darby Collection is free to the public in the Stirrup Gallery at the Myles Center for the Arts on the campus of Davis & Elkins College from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and on weekends by appointment.

For more information on the Darby Collection, call 304-637-1980 or email

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