In a room on the second floor of the Historical Society of Hopkins County is the newly-dedicated Ronnie Lewis Political Museum.
Danny Byrum, curator for the Historical Society of Hopkins County museum, said Ronnie Lewis donated a lot of items and Byrum asked the board to allow him to create the political museum exhibit.
“Mr. Lewis has been such a good a friend and advocate and we are going to dedicate it to him,” he said.
The political exhibit has paraphernalia from local and state elections including campaign buttons, flags and posters. There are also a few portraits of presidents and items from different presidents’ houses.
Over the years, Lewis has donated numerous items to the historical society ranging from coal miner paraphernalia to items from his families telephone company. Now he has donated items spanning decades from political campaigns.
“It is just stuff I have collected,” said Lewis. “I can’t keep it all so I brought it over here and donated it.”
He said 90% of the items in the exhibit are from him. He has traded people for different items or bought them at different locations around the United States.
One of the items he donated was a “vote straight Democrat” poster for John Whitaker when he ran for congress in 1948. Lewis said he actually got two posters in Paducah and both are framed in the exhibit.
“Mice had eaten the corner off of one and the other one wasn’t as bad so I put them both together,” he said.
Lewis has visited almost all of the presidents houses starting from George Washington and up. He bought an ash tray from Lyndon B. Johnson’s house in the shape of a cattleman cowboy hat that can hold a cigar in the top of the hat.
Hanging up on the back wall of the exhibit is a portrait of former Kentucky Governor William Goebel. Lewis said the portrait came from a man who had it hanging in an out building.
“I had one of them cubed out rocks and he said, ‘You want my picture?’, so I traded him the rock for the picture,” said Lewis.
Lewis still buys a lot of items that he knows he will donate later, he said. His wife used to make fun of him for spending money just to give it away.
Lewis hopes that as people age and decided they don’t need things in their houses that they will donate it to the museum instead of throwing it away.
“If it is Hopkins County, Madisonville, or one of these towns around here somewhere, bring it to a museum if you don’t want it,” he said.