Sublette County Historical Society holds annual meeting
Sally Swift bequeathed $500,000 to the Sublette County Historical Society. Photo courtesy the Swift family.
Lander Trail-New Fork River Crossing
The Sublette County Historical Society was the recipient of money to purchase an 82-acre parcel of historic property at the Lander Trail crossing at the New Fork River. This was a mitigation to the Lander Trail by Shell, Ultra and PacifiCorp. It will be developed into a historical park with public access.
Representatives of the BLM and companies providing funding for the New Fork River Crossing Historical Park. (left to right). John Huston (BLM), Larry Elcock (Rocky Mountain Power), Aimee Davison (Shell), Chris Nelson (Rocky Mountain Power), Sam Drucker (BLM). Not pictured Cally McKee (Ultra). Photo courtesy Sublette County Historical Society.
Representatives of the organizations involved in negotiation for funding of the New Fork River Crossing Historical Park. (Standing left to right) Jay Fear (SCHS), Dan Dockstader (LTF), Larry Elcock (RMP), Aimee Davison (Shell), Sam Drucker (BLM), Chris Nelson (RMP), John Huston (BLM), and Clint Gilchrist (SCHS). (Sitting left to right) Fern Linton (OCTA), Angie Thomas (SCHS), Laurie Hartwig (SCHS), Jermy Wight (LTF), Lesley Wischmann (AHW), and Tom Rea (AHW, OCTA). Not pictured Cally McKee (Ultra). Photo courtesy Sublette County Historical Society.
Sommers Ranch Homestead
This donation by siblings Jonita and Albert Sommers will become a living history project to interpret the homestead era in Sublette County, Wyoming.
Fur Trade Papers
Letter written by William Sublette to William Ashley 1832 just before setting off for rendezvous in the Rocky Mountains.
Hort & Julie Spitzer
Hort and Julie Spitzer donated a beautiful oil painting to the Museum. The painting, by artist Frank Hagel, is entitled "Trapper and Squaw".
Tom Carlson paintings
The SCHS/MMM received a generous donation from Buck and Donna Underwood to purchase the Tom Carlson Art Collection, featuring Native American life, with background scenes located in areas of the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. These paintings will be a featured display during the 2011 season.
Proposed Expansion and new additions
The Sublette County Historical Society would like to add two new buildings to the comples, a new archaeology wing and an art wing. Fundraising is in progress for the buildings and to increase the institution's endowment to sustain these facilities.
Author of "Pierre’s Hole! The Fur Trade History of Teton Valley, Idaho". Hardee is also the editor of the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal, an academic journal published annually by the Museum of the Mountain Man.
Cover of the new book, "Pierre’s Hole! The Fur Trade History of Teton Valley, Idaho" by Jim Hardee.
‘2010 - The Year of Incredible Gifts’
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
March 16, 2011
The Sublette County Historical Society (SCHS), parent organization of the Museum of the Mountain Man (MMM), held their annual meeting and "Spring Thaw Party" on Thursday, March 10th in Pinedale.
The theme of the evening was "2010 – The Year of Incredible Gifts". The Historical Society gave out their Annual Report for 2010 which showed they had a very impressive year for growth and generous gifts from the community to help the institution.
Outgoing board members were Jay Fear, Derek Farr, Kevin Williams and Charlie Lopeman. Outgoing President, Jay Fear was thanked for his nine years of leadership and dedication to the Sublette County Historical Society.
Newly elected Historical Society board members were Jon Boroff, Tim Crawford, Geoff Sell and Sam Sharp, elected for three-year terms. New officers, elected for one-year terms, are Clint Gilchrist - President; J.D. "Sam" Drucker – Vice-President; James Thomas – Treasurer.
Treasurer James Thomas gave this financial report on the growth of the institution:
- No debts and no loans.
- Endowment At the end of 2009 the SCHS had approximately $750,000 in their endowment. At the end of 2010 they grew their endowment to $1.3 million. This is a 73% increase in one year’s time. This was mainly due to a very generous donation from the Sally Swift family.
- Assets At the end of 2009, the total assets of the SCHS/MMM were $2.9 million. At the end of 2010, total assets were $4.4 million. This is a 51% increase during the year. This was largely due to the organizations new major projects, which includes the New Fork River Lander Trail Crossing project, the Sommers Ranch Homestead project, and others. The SCHS is also receiving monthly rental income from a beautiful home in the Cora area which belonged to SCHS member and supporter Ed Jocumsen, who passed away two years ago, and bequeathed the property to the Society. The Society is currently renting this home and utilizing those rental funds in helping with the operation of the Museum itself.
- Museum Admissions In 2010, the SCHS/MMM initiated a "free Sublette County admission" project. There was some concern that could lead to a decline in admission revenue for the Museum. Surprisingly, admissions in 2009 were 8,622. In 2010, admissions were 10,074 people, an increase of 17% visitation from 2009. The admissions revenue also increased for the Museum of the Mountain Man. 2009 admissions were $32,794. 2010 admission revenue was $36,106, up 10% from 2009. As a result of the success of allowing all Sublette County residents to have free admission to the Museum during 2010, the SCHS will extend this effort into 2011.
- Gift Shop Sales Gift Shop sales also increased for the Museum of the Mountain Man. Revenue from Gift Shop purchases was $58,340 in 2009. In 2010, that number increased by 9.5% to $63,989.
- The institution has hired a new CPA firm which will be performing a full and complete audit of their books beginning in May, 2011. They have a schedule set up for a full audit every three years and a financial review the years in-between. In the past, they just had a full audit approximately every three years. With all the growth over the past two years, they felt it would be more appropriate to be on a yearly financial audit schedule.
- The SCHS/MMM still operates with a staff of 2.5 people (Director Laurie Hartwig, Business Manager Millie Pape, Museum Assistant Angie Thomas (part-time). The Society recognizes they will need to evaluate and eventually increase their staffing to handle the new projects and workload into the future.
- The Historical Society welcomes volunteers and anyone who is interested in helping on any of the new projects. Volunteers are always appreciated to help with the events during Rendezvous Days. Anyone interested in helping with the Sommers Ranch Homestead or New Fork Lander Trail Crossing projects is encouraged to contact the SCHS for more information.
The SCHS informed members of the incredibly generous gifts given to them by members of the community in 2010:
The Sally Swift Endowment - $500,000
Sara "Sally" Swift was a long-time supporter and philanthropist. She lived in Wyoming for over 40 years and was a generous benefactor to many organizations in Sublette County and Pinedale. She passed away on April 15, 2010. Her guidance, through the Ruth and Vernon Taylor Foundation, enabled the construction of the Museum of the Mountain Man, the purchase of rare artifacts, and the main contributor to finance many of the Historical Society’s numerous publications. Sally Swift ensured a lasting legacy for the Sublette County Historical Society by bequeathing a $500,000 gift to the SCHS endowment which will benefit the community for generations to come.
The Hayden Huston Donation - $100,000
Hayden Houston grew up in Daniel, Wyoming, the son of pioneers. He was passionately interested in the history of Sublette County and co-authored several books, including the two-volume publication "Daniel, Wyoming: The First Hundred Years 1900 -2000". He researched and marked graves of early pioneers throughout the county, as well as cataloged and preserved numerous pre-historic artifacts that he spent years collecting. The Huston family honored Hayden’s deep love for Wyoming by donating a $100,000 gift to the Sublette County Historical Society/Museum of the Mountain Man in December 2010. This gift has been ear-marked for the future Rocky Mountain Archaeology Center, to begin a cornerstone "In Memory of Hayden Houston and His Love of Wyoming."
Sommers Ranch Homestead Project
Siblings Jonita and Albert Sommers have partnered with the Sublette County Historical Society and Green River Valley Museum to restore and create a living history historic site for their family homestead. They have donated several buildings and provided an easement on 1.5 acres of land on which the buildings are located. All of the buildings will remain on the Sommers Ranch, located seven miles south of US 191 between Daniel and Pinedale, along the Green River. The first step in the project is the restoration of the two-story log homestead house. The Sommers’ have donated seed money to begin the renovation, and the SCHS will fundraise to raise money to operate the project. The SCHS will own and operate the buildings in close cooperation with Albert and Jonita and the Green River Valley Museum. The family ranch was placed under a conservation easement in 2010, so the homestead will continue to be surrounded by the historic ranch landscape into the future.
Lander Trail-New Fork River Crossing Historical Park
After two years of hard work, preparation and negotiations, the Sublette County Historical Society became the recipients of an 82-acre site at the location where the Lander Trail crosses the New Fork River in Sublette County, to develop and operate as a public historical park. This significant historical site has been preserved thanks to the generosity and agreements by Shell Rocky Mountain Production, Ultra Resources and PacifiCorp (Rocky Mountain Power) with the Bureau of Land Management. Each of the three companies donated one-third of the cost to purchase the private property. Other organizations, including the State Historic Preservation Office, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Oregon-California Trails Association, Alliance for Historic Wyoming and the National Park Service were all a part of the negotiations to turn the land over to the Historical Society with the intent purpose of preserving this unique setting as a historical park. The Lander Trail spans 256 miles from near South Pass, Wyoming, to Fort Hall, Idaho, and was the first federally-funded "road" west of the Mississippi. Constructed by engineering crews led by Frederick Lander in 1857 and 1858, the road served as an alternate route to the lengthier Oregon Trail for emigrants moving from the eastern United States to places west to Oregon and California. As a major river crossing, the New Fork River became an important site as an obstacle and as a camping spot along the journey for thousands of people who helped open up the West in the mid-1800s. Significant work needs to be done before the site is opened to the public, including archaeological surveys and research, development of interpretive signage and parking facilities, fence repair, pathways and facility improvement. This generous gift to the Sublette County Historical Society will enable development and interpretation of an incredible historical property, which will be a lasting legacy for the public for generations to come.
Sublette County Fur Trade Papers
In January 2010, the Sublette County Commissioners, the Sublette County Museum Board, and the Sublette County Historical Society had an exceptional opportunity to acquire a number of unique and important historical documents related to the Rocky Mountain fur trade, mountain men, and rendezvous system of the early 1800s. Floyd Risvold was a noted historian, author, and postal history collector who passed away in June 2009. His vast collection included thousands of original documents, letters, business papers, photographs, books and postal stamps ranging from the Revolutionary War to the Korean War, many first-hand accounts documenting the expansion of early American. Seen as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire rare and important fur trade documents written by prominent people involved in the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade, three SCHS members went to New York City to bid at the auction and try to bring some of these fur trade documents "home" to the Upper Green River Valley, an important location for the fur trade. Through private donations which raised $12,000 and reserve funding agreed upon by the Sublette County Commissioners and Museum Board, the SCHS was able to obtain over 100 rare, historical papers. Through a loan agreement, the Museum of the Mountain Man will manage the papers which include original letters by William Sublette, Robert Campbell, Thomas Fitzpatrick, John Jacob Astor, William Ashley, Jedediah Smith, Nathaniel Wyeth, Lucien Fontenelle, William Drummond Stewart, and more. The documents are being scanned and placed online so they are available to the community at-large and national history scholars. They are priceless acquisitions which will be the cornerstone for future exhibits, interpretive displays and educational programs for years to come.
Horton and Juli Spitzer artwork donation – Frank Hagel oil painting "Trapper and Squaw"
At the 2010 Annual Meeting, Horton and Juli Spitzer presented the Museum with a beautiful oil painting by artist Frank Hagel. The painting is entitled "Trapper and Squaw." The Spitzers are long-time supporters and active members of the Sublette County Historical Society. As Jim Bridger League members, they have been involved with the museum since its inception and have given numerous artifacts, as well as serving on the board of directors.
Buck and Donna Underwood – Tom Carlson Art Collection
In 2010, the Sublette County Historical Society/Museum of the Mountain Man received a generous donation from Buck and Donna Underwood to purchase the Tom Carlson Art Collection. Most of Carlson’s work features Native American life, with background scenes located in areas of the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. This artwork will be a featured display in the Museum in 2011. The Museum’s growing and impressive collection of original western artwork has resulted in the desire for the Historical Society and MMM to eventually build a new Art Wing to the Museum complex, a dream which is part of the vision outlined in the Museum’s Master Plan for future growth of the institution.
Lynn and Foster Friess donation - $5,000
In mid-July, 2010, the SCHS/MMM received a generous $5,000 donation from Jackson residents Lynn and Foster Friess, long-time supporters and philanthropists in Wyoming. The Friess Family Foundation gift has been added to the fundraising for the construction of a new archaeology wing to the SCHS/MMM complex.
In addition to these gifts, the SCHS/MMM gave their thanks to the generous donations and event sponsorships by local corporations including Sublette County School District #1 BOCES, the Anderson Ranch, EnCana USA, Rocky Mountain Power, Shell RMP, 1st Bank, Bank of Sublette County and Wind River Brewing Company. They also thanked the American Mountain Men for their contributions and partnership efforts with the Museum of the Mountain Man, the many volunteers who donated time and energy to the Museum’s programs and projects during the year, and the people who joined as renewing and new members and who made generous financial donations to the Historical Society.
Special guest speaker for the night was Jim Hardee, who recently authored the book, "Pierre’s Hole! The Fur Trade History of Teton Valley, Idaho," which was published by the Museum of the Mountain Man last fall. "Pierre’s Hole! studies forty years of contact between native peoples and Euro-Americans in the early Rocky Mountain West, using new information that has come to light since Benjamin W. Driggs first published the valley’s history in 1926. Jim Hardee is the editor of the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal, published by the Sublette County Historical Society and the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale. He is a frequent visitor to Pinedale and the Museum of the Mountain Man living history presentations as a member of the American Mountain Men Association. He is the director of the Fur Trade Research Center, and former president of the Jedediah Smith Society. He has been a presenter and guest speaker for many conferences and symposiums, and has published numerous articles on various fur trade topics. He currently lives in Pierre’s Hole, Idaho. His new book is for sale at the Museum Gift Shop.
The SCHS/MMM is a non-profit organization that is funded through private and public funds, membership dues, and private gifts and donations. New members are encouraged and welcome. Membership starts at $35/year and includes a 10% discount on Gift Shop purchases. Higher membership levels include free copies of the annual Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal. All donations are tax deductable.