The Museum of Chincoteague Island, located on the Virginia barrier island made famous by Marguerite Henry’s 1947 book “Misty of Chincoteague,” is in a race against time.
Its goal: to raise the funds to purchase the Beebe family ranch–the longtime home of the beloved pony who inspired Henry’s book–by April 30. As of March 8, the museum had reportedly raised $135,000 of the required $625,000, the amount offered to the Beebe family by a developer.
Ponies and island history
As the museum noted in its Feb. 24 press release, “Misty of Chincoteague” tells the tale of two siblings, Paul and Maureen Beebe, who lived on the ranch with their grandparents, Clarence and Ida Beebe. The book’s narrative centers on the children’s desire to buy the wild pony of their dreams–along with her new foal–and the challenges they face to make that dream come true. Inspired by real people, ponies and events, “Misty of Chincoteague” became a cherished children’s classic that captivated generations of children while showcasing unique historic traditions associated with the islands of Chincoteague and Assateague.
“After 100 years, the Beebe family needs to sell the ranch,” the museum’s release read. “The demands of maintaining the ranch plus the desire to use the funds to help their aging family is certainly a good enough reason to sell. We appreciate all they have done to preserve the remaining 10.3 acres of the ranch. This property is where Misty spent most of her life, and the original home still stands. The Beebe family has reached out to the Museum of Chincoteague in the hopes that the museum could acquire the property and maintain it as the ranch. Allowing it to be incorporated into the museum would help protect it for many years to come.”
‘Colossal grassroots effort’
The mission of the Museum of Chincoteague Island is to preserve, collect and protect the history of Chincoteague and Assateague islands. “It is with this mission in mind that we would like to ask the public to join us to save the Beebe Ranch,” the release continued. “If we can raise the funds in what can only be called a colossal grassroots effort, we can preserve the ranch for future generations, keep a treasured part of Chincoteague intact and support the mission of the museum to protect our history, making the Beebe Ranch officially an extension of the museum. Since we have been given one month to generate the funds, please understand that this can not be done without you!”
If the museum is unsuccessful in raising the amount required for the purchase, donors will have the option of having their donations returned, the release noted.
Donations can be made through the Museum of Chincoteague Island website, GoFundMe or by mailing a check to PO Box 352, Chincoteague Island, VA, 23336. For further information, please feel free to call the museum directly at 757-336-6117 or visit www.ChincoteagueMuseum.com.
Image of cover of Marguerite Henry’s “Misty of Chincoteague,” illustrated by Wesley Dennis, from Wikimedia Commons / Fair use