Kids Delight in the 2017 Baby Animal Days, April 20-30

Kids Delight in the 2017 Baby Animal Days, April 20-30

FOR RELEASE: What better way to kick off spring than visiting with a bunch of baby animals? Baby Animal Days returns to Centennial Village, 1475 A St., from Thursday, April 20 through Sunday, April 30, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

During the event, families can interact with various baby animals such as goats, lambs, ducklings and piglets. Some of the animals live in the museum’s Centennial Barn throughout the summer, and some of the animals are visiting just for this event. Small children can also enjoy pony rides on weekends, weather permitting.

Admission is $3 per person, ages three and older.

“We have a lot of families and daycares who will pack a picnic and spend quite a bit of time with the animals,” said Museum Educator Sarah Lester. “It’s a delightful experience for families to enjoy the day together.”

Agfinity, a locally owned agricultural cooperative, is Centennial Village’s season sponsor and provides feed for the animals throughout the season.

For more information about this event, call 970-350-9220 or visit GreeleyMuseums.com.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, contact:
Sarah Lester, Museum Educator
970-350-9275
Sarah.lester@greeleygov.com

The Story of Kate McHale Slaughterback

Famous Faces in Northern Colorado History

Written by Kimberly Overholt, Museum Marketing

Several stories and people have found historic fame in northeastern Colorado, but none so much as the fame garnered by an early 20th century rattlesnake killing incident.

“Rattlesnake” Kate was a progressive and important female figure in Northern Colorado history. Her story is one of strength, determination, and creative fun.

Kate McHale Slaughterback was born in 1894. In her early life, she was known to enjoy wearing pants instead of dresses, and loved shooting guns and working hard.

An independent lady, Kate was progressive for the time—she had married and divorced several times and had been a trained nurse and taxidermist. Rumor has it that she was also a bootlegger.

On October 28, 1925, Katherine McHale Slaughterback (1863-1969) was out with her 3-year old adopted son Ernie. They were on horseback and headed toward a lake near her farm in Hudson, Colorado after hearing what sounded like hunters. Slaughterback hoped they would find ducks left by the hunters, but what they found instead were over a hundred migrating rattlesnakes. Kate fired the bullets in her .22 Remington rifle until none remained. She had disturbed the snakes and soon Ernie, Kate and her horse were surrounded.

Worried about Ernie and her horse, and with nothing left in the gun, Kate grabbed a nearby sign—ironically it’s believed to have been a “No Hunting” sign—and began killing the rattlesnakes, one-by-one, until all were dead.

According to Kate, “I fought them with a club not more than 3 feet long, whirling constantly for over two hours before I could kill my way out of them and get back to my faithful horse and Ernie, who were staring at me during my terrible battle not more than 60 feet away.

All totaled, she killed 140 snakes.

The story immediately spread like wildfire and according to Kate, “Soon a newspaper reporter came and had me string 140 dead rattlesnakes on a wire and have my photo taken.”

The story of her bravery earned Kate national notoriety. Reports of her snake-killing story and photos emerged, and the incident earned her the nickname “Rattlesnake Kate.”

Kate was a lady of many talents and someone who did not waste anything. Prior to the incident, Kate had taken a correspondence class from the Northwestern School of Taxidermy in Omaha, Nebraska. She was also proficient at sewing. Putting both skills to work, she used a fair amount of the snakeskins and rattles to create a one-of-a-kind flapper-style dress with matching shoes and accessories.

The snakeskins were attached to a simple-style underdress.

According to Ernie, Kate wore the dress to a few parties and supposedly wore the dress while she danced on top of a tavern bar in Juarez, Mexico.

Kate would ultimately go on to raise rattlesnakes on her property, extracting their venom for profit. She would also make and sell snakeskin souvenirs.

Visitors can see the original dress, which is kept in an air-tight, climate and light controlled case at the Greeley History Museum.

Three weeks before her death, Kate donated the dress to what was then called the Greeley Municipal Museum. She claimed the dress was patented and that she once had an offer from the Smithsonian Institute to purchase the dress.

She died in 1969 at the age of seventy-five. At her request, her headstone in the Platteville cemetery where she is buried reads, “Rattlesnake Kate.”

In 1987 and 1988, Ernie donated additional items of Kate’s to the museum including her .22 Remington.

Today, her original snakeskin dress is exhibited in a climate and light controlled area in the Greeley History Museum, 714 8th Street, along with her rattlesnake shoes and accessories. Documents, images and artifacts related to the story are kept by the museum’s Hazel E. Johnson Research Center.

Her homestead and story are also a part of nearby Centennial Village Museum, 1475 A Street.

 

Special thanks to Peggy Ford Waldo, development coordinator, for providing additional resources for this article.  

Votes Needed for Local History Topic

On October 28, 1925, Katherine McHale Slaughterback was out with her 3-year old when they were surrounded by migrating rattlesnakes near her farm in Hudson, Colorado. McHale Slaughterback used all of the bullets in her rifle and then she grabbed a nearby sign and began killing the snakes, one-by-one, until all were dead.

News of the incident spread quickly and earned McHale Slaughterback the nickname “Rattlesnake Kate.” An industrious woman, she used many of the snakeskins and rattles to create an authentic, one-of-a-kind flapper-style dress with matching shoes and accessories.

The Rattlesnake Kate story is one of six stories currently being considered for the Rocky Mountain PBS series Colorado Experience.  It’s up for popular vote, or as the television station calls it, Viewer’s Choice, against five other history stories from across the state. The link to vote is at http://woobox.com/cgdn2e/iqrdc0 and the winning show topics will be announced Friday, April 7.

Today, Rattlesnake Kate’s original snakeskin dress is exhibited in a climate and light controlled area in the Greeley History Museum, 714 8th St., along with rattlesnake shoes and accessories. Her original homestead and story are part of nearby Centennial Village Museum, 1475 A St., which coincidently opens April 20 for Baby Animal Days. For information about the museums, visit Greeleymuseums.com.

The series Colorado Experience airs on Rocky Mountain PBS every Thursday at 7:30 p.m. For more information about the contest and series, visit RMPBS.org/ColoradoExperience.

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For more information, contact:
Kim Overholt, Museum Marketing
970-350-9216
Kim.Overholt@GreeleyGov.com

Thirty-Seven Area Residents Receive President’s Volunteer Service Award

FOR RELEASE: In 2016, the City of Greeley Museums had 136 volunteers donate over 10,000 hours of service. Thirty-seven of those volunteers will be presented with the President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) for 2017.

Six of those volunteers were local teens who will be recognized at the gold level:

  • Roarinbrook Smith, 345 hours
  • Corvin Seery, 316 hours
  • Kaitlyn Jacobson, 188 hours
  • Annika Miller, 124 hours
  • Hannah Miller, 108.25 hours
  • Kylie Hinz, 104.5 hours

“It’s an incredible honor to have such dedicated volunteers. It has been my pleasure working with them,” said Volunteer Coordinator Serena Fanning.

Additionally, four volunteers were recognized at the silver level and 28 volunteers were recognized at the bronze level. Volunteers’ ages range from youth through adult. Each recipient receives a letter signed by the President of the United States, certificate of recognition, and a lapel pin in honor of their achievement.

For information about the PVSA, visit PresidentialServiceAwards.gov. For information about volunteering at the City of Greeley Museums, visit Greeleymuseums.com/Volunteer.

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For more information, contact:
Serena Fanning, Volunteer Coordinator
970-350-9223
Serena.Fanning@GreeleyGov.com

History Re-stitched: Josephine Meeker & Shawsheen

History Re-stitched: Josephine Meeker & Shawsheen

Written by JoAnna Luth Stull, Museum Registrar

Greeley’s founder Nathan Meeker wrote in the 1870, edition of the Greeley Tribune, “Now while we are daily exploring the prairies, mountains, and streams, and even bringing up buried treasures of the ages from the grounds beneath us, we hope that our people will bear in mind the fact that we are organizing a museum for the benefit of the whole colony and whenever anything appropriate may be found, let it be placed among our ‘common treasures’ and we will soon have a collection that will be both instructive and entertaining.”

“Nathan Cook Meeker Portrait”. Founder of Greeley, Colorado and White River Ute Indian Agent. City of Greeley Museums Permanent Collection, AI-3146.

Meeker could not have envisioned that one day, members of Greeley’s Centennial State Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), organized in Greeley in 1904, would submit his daughter Josephine’s name as one of two women who contributed significantly to Colorado’s history. Shawsheen, also known as Ute Susan was another excellent choice of important women in Colorado history to vote for, and as fate would surprisingly have it, an equal number of votes were cast for Josephine Meeker and Shawsheen by members of the Centennial State Chapter NSDAR.

“Centennial State Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution St. Vrain Monument Dedication,” 1911. Photo courtesy of City of Greeley Museums Hazel E. Johnson Collection, 1991.42.1113F.

Due to the Centennial State Chapter tie vote, both names were submitted and approved by the Colorado State Chapter NSDAR Juniors who decided that both women had played key roles not only in Colorado‘s history in the September 1879 Meeker Massacre, but the nation’s history as well by testifying afterward at the congressional hearings held in Washington, D. C.

The Colorado State Chapter NSDAR Juniors’ special project will be to complete a wardrobe for an American Girl doll named “Miss Ann” inspired by Ann Turner Dillon, the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution President General and a Colorado native. Each of the 44 NSDAR Chapters in Colorado had the opportunity to submit an interesting and important woman in Colorado history to the Colorado State Chapter NSDAR Junior members for approval.

Greeley’s Centennial State Chapter was honored to be chosen to create two dresses, each with accessories that represent Josephine Meeker and Shawsheen which will be included in the Miss Ann wardrobe as modeled by an American Girl doll.  Each dress and its accessories will be accompanied by a photograph of the historic person, a short biography for publication in a NSDAR catalog, and a photograph of the Miss Ann American Girl doll wearing the ensemble created for her persona.

“Josephine Meeker in wool blanket dress”. Reprints of this photograph were offered for sale in 1879 with instructions to contact “C.H. Wolfe, Staff photography Greeley Tribune, Greeley Colo.”. City of Greeley Museums Permanent Collection, 1617.0014.

Josephine Meeker‘s woolen dress that she made from a Native American trade blanket while she was held hostage by the White River Utes in 1879, is shown at left. While held captive by a young Ute named Pahsone, Josephine sewed not only her own garment, but made many other articles of clothing for the White River Ute children.

“Portrait of Arvilla Delight Smith Meeker taken by W. H. Jackson, of Denver, Colorado 1879.” City of Greeley Museums Permanent Collection, AI-0023

A future post will be dedicated to Shawsheen and her story, and the dress to be re-stitched by the Centennial State Chapter to represent one worn by Shawsheen for the Miss Ann doll wardrobe.

Josephine’s mother Arvilla, was held captive by Canalla, known to the whites as Johnson” or “Johnson 2” and his wife She-towitch, better known as Shawsheen. Arvilla Meeker, now a 64 year old widow due to the death of her husband Nathan Meeker, killed by the White River Utes in what has become known as the Meeker Massacre with 10 other men, many from Greeley, in September 1879 at the White River Ute Agency located in the remote northwestern area of Colorado.

Josephine would have also offered support to her young grieving friend, Flora Ellen Price, also now a widow with two small children, May and baby Johnnie. Flora’s husband, Shadrack Price, was, according to the caption to the photograph at left, “…scalped by the Indians in the Meeker Massacre.”  Josephine’s hope was that the Utes would release them so they could all return home to Greeley. Presumably, this hope was tempered by at least some doubt and fear even though Josephine was friends with many of the Utes, especially Shawsheen, sister to Ute Chief Ouray.

“Portrait of Flora Ellen Price”. Reprints of this photograph were offered for sale in 1879 with instructions to contact “C.H. Wolfe, Staff photography Greeley Tribune, Greeley Colo.”, 1879. City of Greeley Museums Permanent Collection, 1617.0013.

The common ground of history, preservation, education, and interpretation are missions of both the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and the City of Greeley Museums as shown in the 1911 photograph of Centennial State Chapter members dedicating a monument they erected to preserve the site where Col. Ceran St. Vrain built a fort in 1837, and preserve the site where people of note visited such as the frontiersman Kit Carson and General Fremont, who stopped there on his exploring expedition in July 1843. Likewise, the City of Greeley Museums has preserved the bodice and skirt made and worn by Josephine Meeker. As Registrar for the City of Greeley Museums and a member of the Centennial State Chapter NSDAR, it was with a sense of destiny that these two wonderful organizations that I am honored to be a part of work together to preserve the past through the stories of Josephine Meeker and Shawsheen and their clothing to be re-stitched in time.

To learn more about the Centennial State Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, visit facebook.com/centennialstatechapter.

 

“Miss Ann Doll secured in her traveling case.”  An American Girl Doll dressed in the likeness of NSDAR President General Ann T. Dillon, 2017. Image courtesy of the author, JoAnna Luth Stull.