Winter Issue 2017
Rio Grande County Museum, Inc. 501 (c) 3
580 Oak Street, Del Norte, Colorado
Three interesting art shows were hosted by the museum in 2016. In March, Candace Knowlan opened the year with photography of the area. By April, Craig Lehman filled the gallery room with metal sculptures of all shapes and sizes for the spring show. His work was an inspiration to many Del Norte Middle School boys. Byron Williams from Saguache showed how nature and his talent combined to make pieces of art with gourds and other natural items.
We were able to share the museum with several groups of school students from Del Norte Head Start, the Del Norte Schools and the Crestone Charter School as well as experiencing an overall increase in visitors.
The upcoming year will be more exciting. Some of the goals that are being worked on will include starting the digitalization process for our large collection of more than 5000 photos. The project will be done with the help of Cindy Hill and the County Clerk’s office and will be stored on the county server. The collection of old newspapers will also need to be preserved. The inventory and cataloging process is continuing and hopefully will be completed this year.
Exhibits, new and existing, will be a priority again this year. Exhibits and programs to be part of this year’s events include “Historic Summitville –Then and Now”, “Veterans of the Valley”, the Bunker Site with the Rio Grande National Forest Service and an art show with western artist, Wade Collins from Saguache. Several programs are being worked on as well. Even some tours are possibilities for the year.
The county commissioners added a new staff member whose help and skills will help in many ways in getting more done in the museum. Mikayla Baird has joined the staff as an assistant to the director, Louise Colville, who has been at the museum for 5 years.
Mikayla was raised in a military family that moved around often as she grew up. After high school, she enrolled at Colorado State University at Pueblo, Colorado and earned a degree in history with an emphasis in American history studies and a minor in anthropology. She lived in Pueblo for several years after college and volunteered her time at the Pueblo Historical Society. In 2011, she moved to the San Luis Valley where her husband, Justin, grew up, to be near his parents, Doug and Cynthia. Justin and Mikayla now live in Monte Vista with their son and daughter.
“Veterans of the Valley”
The Civil War veterans played an important part in the development of Del Norte, Monte Vista, South Fork and Rio Grande County. The exhibit is featuring the Civil War veterans, but will be expanded over the years to include all Rio Grande County and other veterans. An opening program for the exhibit will be presented by Mikayla Baird in May.
Shirley Kernen researched the names of the Veterans through World War II using the book of WWII compiled by Ralph Nash about the men who served and those who were called by the draft, and did not serve. These men also served their country at that time by keeping the home front intact. Mikayla has continued the research, with personal history as well as the military history and compiling their stories. Jane Rhett of the Veterans Center Museum will be working with our museum on the project and expand the research base for both museums.
Here is a “sneak preview” of some of the exciting stories that have been revealed with this research.
Asa H Hairgrove
Asa Hairgrove was born in Georgia in 1826, but grew up in Kansas during the “Bleeding Kansas,” era that was escalating hostilities between the North and South before the Civil War.
Hairgrove became a known abolitionist, and on May 19th 1858 he and several other abolitionists were rounded up by a group of Pro-Slavers from Missouri, taken to a ravine, and shot. The event became known as the Marais des Cygnes Massacre. Asa survived the massacre and at the outbreak of the Civil war joined “Lane’s Brigade,” comprised of Kansas volunteers. James Henry Lane and his men raided pro-Southern pockets along Missouri that culminated in the Sacking of Osceola.
Hairgrove moved to Del Norte after the war in 1869, where he lived the rest of his life with his wife Esther and his children. He was one of Del Norte’s earliest settlers. He was engaged in the livery and feed business and was also involved with local politics. Right before his death he was elected as county assessor, but passed away suddenly on November 9th 1881 at his home.
Other area residents who fought for the Union became farmers, businessmen and ranchers. Many of them still have descendants in the area, but many have been lost to history as their families moved. Veterans Alden Bassett and George Fuchs who are part of this history still have families in the area.
We had the unexpected event in that a visitor to the Museum gave us information on his ancestor, Col. C. E. Broyles, who lived in Del Norte where he was the registrar for the United States Land Office, was an attorney in Alamosa and is buried in the Old Antonio Cemetery. So far, he is the only Confederate soldier we have found.
We are looking for more information particularly on the Civil War Veterans.
“Historical Summitville –Then and Now”
Karla Shriver has worked for about two years with the State and other groups to place interpretive signs, a kiosk and picnic tables at the Summitville site. The Rio Grande County Museum, The San Luis Valley Historical Society and the Monte Vista Historical Society have helped to supply photos of the area as well as text to this project which is now nearing completion. We would like to thank Ms. Shriver and all who have worked on getting the signage, picnic tables and the kiosk in place so Summitville and the surround area can be enjoyed as a heritage tourism site.
With the assistance of Ms. Shriver, the museum will be hosting a reception on April 22nd. Talks from individuals who lived and worked in Summitville will be part of the program. She is gathering artifacts from Summitville for the show. The exhibit will include photographs from the museum’s collection that date back to the 1870s when the Summit District was at its height.
The photo shows the old “French Boarding House” in Summitville. It is a reminder of the days when Summitville was a booming and lively town, producing some of the best gold in the State of Colorado. The “Little Annie Mine” was discovered by P.J. Peterson and F. H. Brandt on Sept. 13, 1873 and became the third richest gold mine in the State. Every major strike in the area has been at the “Little Annie”.
The Shoppe at the Museum
The Shoppe is a fund raising source of income for the Rio Grande County Museum, Inc. which is the non-profit organization. The proceeds help to fund many of the activities of the Museum.
Currently there has several local artists showing their art work. James Worley from Saguache, Toni Colville Reynolds from Monte Vista have jewelry and Alex Colville has wooden vases and bowls. These items are on consignment with a percentage of the sale going to support the museum.
There is an excellent supply of petroglyph T-shirts with the design work done by Saguache artist, Yvonne Halburian. The sizes range from children’s small through XXL with prices from $22 to $30. These would make a good gift for the petroglyph enthusiast. Ms. Halburian’s work features petroglyphs from the San Luis Valley area. The gift shop also has water bottles with her work showing the La Garita petroglyph panel. These are priced at $15.95.
Iris Wells has several self-published books available. Ms. Wells writes and illustrates local interest stories and makes them educational. Her book “So, I am a Potato” takes the potato through its history, the growing, the marketing phases and includes some recipes. It is a small book, but is filled with information about this San Luis Valley’s major crop and source of income for the local growers. It retails for $9.95. Her books are good for children reading as well as something of interest to adults.
F. Amadeo White has published a book on the La Garita area and is about his family’s lives in the San Luis Valley. The book reflects family memories and are presented in a series of short stories about the many families, customs and history. He has also included a reprint of his book “La Garita”. Mr. White has to be complimented on his efforts of preserving the history for future generations. The book retails for $20.
Note cards by Candace Knowlan and Wilma Shaffter are available and feature photography of local interest. Yvonne Halburian has used her artistic skills in drawing note card with petroglyphs and a lighthearted side of day to day adventures on the Old Spanish Trail that was a 1300 mile long historic trade route from Santa Fe, New Mexico through Colorado, Utah, Arizona to California during the 1820’s to 1848.
As the year progresses, more books and other items will be added to the expanding shop. One of the projects being worked on by the staff is a coloring book that will feature historic photos and items in the museum as well as Rio Grande County special features.
“The Shoppe at the Museum” is a place to buy for the hard to buy for individual as well as those who want that something different item. Another gift idea is a membership to the Museum. It is a gift that keeps giving, doesn’t have to be dusted, stored and is always the correct size.
News from the Museum Board
The Rio Grande County Museum Board, Inc. held their annual meeting on January 10, 2017 with election of officers.
President: DeAnn Jacobs; Vice-President: Cindy Hill: Secretary: Sandra Wagner; Treasurer: Steve Nicolais.
There is a need for more board members. The primary function of the board is to support the Museum Director and the museum with financial support through fund raising. Funds from memberships, donations, gift shop, grants and programs purchase computers, display cases, archival materials and education for the staff. Meetings are generally held on the second Tuesday of the month and terms are three years. Board members can also serve on project committees and volunteer in the museum. The museum is also looking for more volunteers.
To make bookkeeping easier, the board decided to make January 1 the date that dues are due. It will start as of January 1, 2017. Those who have paid in the last quarter will have the dues applied to the new starting date. Donation and membership are tax deductible. Donation over $100 will qualify for the Enterprise zone
To renew your membership, please fill out this form and return to Rio Grande County Museum, 580 Oak St. Del Norte, Colorado 81132
Individual Membership _____$20.00 Family Membership _____$30.00 Supporter _____ $50.00 to $99.00 Patron _____ $100.00 to $499.00 Sponsor _____ $500.00 to $999.00 Benefactor _____ $1000.00 to $4999.00 Guardian _____$5000.00 +
The Museum could also use volunteers for projects such as helping to host receptions and programs, clerical work, receptionist for the front office. Many of these can be done on an as needed basis and regular hours can be worked out. Visiting with our guests to the museum or tourists in the information center can be a rewarding experience. If you are interested, please contact the Museum at (719) 657-2847.
Rio Grande County Museum
580 Oak St Del Norte, Colorado 81132
Board of Directors: Visitor Hours: Tuesday-Saturday
President: DeAnn Jacobs 10-4 Tuesday -Friday Vice-President: Cindy Hill 10-3 Saturday Secretary: Sandra Wagner Admission: Adults: $2.00 Treasurer : Steve Nicolais Children $1.00