This research project was started by museum volunteer, Shirley Kernen, who compiled a list of names and grave markers in the Del Norte Cemetery. The next step was conducted last Veterans’ Day with Steve Nicolais, Alex Colville, Louise Colville when Mikayla took them to the Del Norte Cemetery where they searched out and photographed the markers of the veterans that Mrs. Kernen had found in her research.
To date, Mikayla has researched approximately sixty to seventy veterans from Rio Grande County. It has shown that Rio Grande County has a mixture of Union and Confederates and how once the War was over and the movement west had started, these men and their families came together and built our county. She has found that we had at least two black soldiers who lived and worked in Del Norte and one was an original “Buffalo Soldier.” These two men are buried in the Homelake Cemetery. This project will be ongoing as more veterans are found. Hopefully, the next step in our Veterans Project will be the Spanish-American War and World War I. This phase of the project has been researched for the last six months and will continue.
The result of this research has led to families coming into the Museum with their family stories of their ancestors. It is hope and desire of the Museum staff to have more families want to share their important stories. A benefit from this work is now the Museum can expand our ability to help with genealogy research.
The Homelake Veterans’ History Museum has also contributed to the work with the information that is provided on their website database. The Find A Grave website listings for Monte Vista, Del Norte, Homelake has given dates and other information that has been very important in the project. Polly Cox and Rosalind Weaver have worked hard to keep good information on the Del Norte findagrave.com site and are providing information from their files.
The program, Veterans of the Valley, Part I, The Civil War, will be at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 20 with the reception starting at 10:00 a.m. to provide time to visit the exhibits, read the stories and enjoy the other artifacts. Members of the Fort Garland Memorial Regiment will be on hand during the day. Suzanne Bothell arranged with her sister and brother-in-law to provide re-enactment items to show the uniform and personal items from the period. Quotes and recipes of the time will be included in the exhibit. For the experience, “hard tack”may be available for sampling.
The exhibit “Summitville – Then and Now" is still open and runs until the end of June.
For more information, please contact the Rio Grande County Museum at (719)657-2847 or by email at email@example.com. Regular museum hours are Tuesday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Admission is $2 per person and $1 for children from 6 to 16. Admission is waived on event days, but donations are accepted to help with fundraising for museum projects. Rio Grande County Museum is a Blue Star Museum which gives free admission to veterans and active military members and their families.