From Staff Reports
The Seventh Annual Collin County Historical Commission’s Preservation Celebration and Awards Ceremony was hosted April 27 by Allen Senior Recreation Center and Allen Christian Church. Three Prosper residents were honored for their volunteer work with Prosper Historical Society and the Town of Prosper. Rebecca Hunter, Jim and Betty Hughes were recognized at the event.
Hunter received the "Excellence in Historical Education Award" for her commitment to both preserving and then promoting Prosper’s rich past through educational endeavors. As a former elementary teacher, Hunter has continued to blend her gift of teaching with her love for our community and its colorful history. Her many talents and leadership capabilities have made her worthy of this year’s nomination to the county’s historical commission.
Hunter was instrumental in writing and preparing the submission for the grant monies that were obtained from the county to do this educational curriculum. Her creative ideas along with Judy Rucker’s led to the development of a curriculum unit that would not just benefit Prosper’s rich history but also one that could be used or adapted in many other Collin County school districts.
This 20-page self-guided curriculum unit was written and first presented in 2012. It was created as an introduction to younger elementary aged classes as a "traveling exhibit" on cotton and its history here in Collin County. Real Texas cotton bolls, old farm tools used for harvest, along with working field instruments and home sewn historical consumes are all part of this portable exhibit called "King Cotton." Hunter was responsible for collecting many of the items displayed and used in this program.
Jim and Betty Hughes were presented a certificate in recognition of their "Leadership in Preservation".
The Hugheses have deep roots in Collin County and Prosper. Their ancestry dates back to the early 1900s when Jim’s great grandfather moved to Collin County from Tennessee. Generations of his family remain in Collin County today. Betty Hodges Hughes’ family moved to a farm north of U. S. 380, now known as Walnut Grove, in 1940. Her family became active members of the community as they became leaders in the Presbyterian Church, established the Walnut Grove Home Demonstration Club, and produced food products on their farm, which they shared with the doctors and other employees of the Veterans’ Hospital in McKinney during World War II.
Both Jim and Betty attended school in Prosper and graduated from Prosper High School. They have fond memories of their school days in the school where all grades met in one building. These memories and experiences have inspired them to promote a respect for Collin County and Prosper’s past by creating and participating in projects and programs.
Currently, they serve on committees that meet with city council members to encourage the town leaders to preserve and renovate Prosper’s historical downtown district.
As members of the Prosper Historical Society, they have lead the group as it has created a museum in the Prosper Independent School District’s Administration Building, where documents, artifacts, and photographs about Prosper’s history are displayed. Jim and Betty diligently and graciously remind city government and community leaders of the importance of preserving houses, buildings and other sites in Prosper to remind newcomers and future generations about the town’s importance to the development of Collin County.
By the year 2000, Prosper’s Centennial Year, some of the community’s importance had already been lost to history, and it became time to start preserving the rich history of the town where cotton and prosperous crops were once king. The centennial year served as a great time to start an active program of Preservation for the History of Prosper. Jim and Betty became a major part of this movement.
In 2003, before there was a space for a museum, citizens began contributing historical memorabilia and artifacts, documents, stories, and much of it ended up in Hughes’ garage.
On May 9, 2009, when the Prosper Historical Society received their 501c status, non-profit organization Jim Hughes was elected as a director, Betty Hughes was elected as Secretary of organization. They continue to hold these positions today.