Residents of Sherman welcomed Betsy Deiterman as the new director of The Sherman Museum with a meet and greet event Thursday afternoon. Deiterman is replacing former Director Dan Steelman, who left the museum earlier this year.
Deiterman, who is from Wichita Falls and has lived in Denton, comes to Sherman from a job at a museum in New Mexico.
“This is like coming home,” she said. “I’ve spent the last two years in New Mexico, so this essentially is home.”
Before her time in New Mexico, Deiterman worked in health care for nearly 30 years before deciding in 2009 to change career paths. Deiterman said she first found her love for history while working with at Boy Scout camp in 2005.
Over that summer, Deiterman helped run what she described as an Indian Village at the camp. However, upon doing research, she said the camp relied a lot on storybook-style tales that were not the most accurate, leading her to research and institute changes.
“It was pretty generic,” she said. “They were calling it Comanche, and I did not feel it was right, so I redirected the program.”
At the age of 55, Deiterman received her master’s degree in museum studies from Texas Tech University, leading her soon after to New Mexico. Deiterman said her specialty with regard to history is Native American culture, specifically the conflict behind the various native cultures and colonial forces.
Among the topics she has focused on is Cynthia Ann Parker, who was kidnapped and integrated into a Comanche tribe in the 1860s. Parker married a tribal chief while living with the Comanche, and gave birth to three children.
Deiterman said many historians have extensive studied Parker’s son, Quanah Parker, who was appointed by the federal government as a chief of the entire Comanche Nation. However, his mother’s story is lesser known, she said.
It is this focus on Native American studies that set her apart from the other candidates, Dickie Gerig, president of The Sherman Museum board of trustees. When the board searched for a replacement for Steelman, who took a job at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, the museum received about 20 applications, she said. Of those, about five candidates were considered.
“This part of Texas, of course, has a lot of history with the Indians,” she said, noting the museum has a Native American war bonnet in its collection.
Deiterman said she has plans for some changes she would like to consider for the museum, but said it is too early to discuss most of them. However, one project she said she would like to research and consider would be renovations and restorations to the building next to the museum, which it owns. Deiterman said it could be renovated to serve as an annex to the museum or an event space.