By Nicole Famiglietti, Curator of Exhibits
The City of Greeley Museums collect, preserve, interpret and share the history of northeastern Colorado with an emphasis on Weld County through three public museums and a learning center. As a local system of regional history museums, we hope to create spaces that are meaningful to the community.
In order to better understand our community and what they want from their public museums, we are starting a community panel series.
What is a community panel?
A community panel is an opportunity to gather insights in a group setting. We want to hear about our participants and what they think about their museum experience. After a complimentary visit to one of our museums, participants will gather into a group with a museum staff-led moderator. The moderator will facilitate a discussion to help museum staff learn from your experiences.
There are a few questions we might pose. For example, what kinds of exhibitions should we bring to Greeley? What might you look for in a museum visit? These are just a couple of things we want to hear from you. More importantly, our focus is to collect feedback from a variety of community members including those who have never visited one of our museums. All information submitted in the survey is confidential and we will only contact those that have been selected to participate in one of our panels.
These types of panels allow us to gather different groups of people and spend time learning about what they value, how they like to spend their free time and what we can do as a community organization to assist.
To be chosen for one of our panels, you first have to be entered into our pool of candidates.
Please complete our brief online survey. Once received, we will review and select participants who will be invited to visit one of our museum sites free-of-charge. Panel participants will spend some time with us after their visit to discuss their experience… and we may also have some goodies for you to take away after the experience.
In the end, your feedback will be used to create a more meaningful museum experience for everyone.
Take the Survey
FOR RELEASE: Nathan Cook Meeker—the man credited with Greeley’s founding—was born on July 12, 1817 in Euclid, Ohio. If he were alive today, this year would have marked his 200th birthday.
To celebrate, the City of Greeley Museums, with a little help from the Greeley-Evans School District 6 Summer Food Service Program, are putting together a free community celebration of historic note.
“Happy Birthday Mr. Meeker” is scheduled for Saturday, July 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Meeker Home Museum. Activities at museum, located at 1324 9th Ave., include brief tours through the museum, old fashioned lawn games, refreshments and cake.
The school district’s Kids Eat Free Summer Food Service Program will serve free lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for children ages 1 to 18 years of age, with adult lunches available for just $3.25. Lunches include a sandwich, fruit, vegetable and chocolate milk.
Meeker’s home was built in 1870 and is a unique adobe two-story home listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1929, Greeley residents organized and purchased the home to be Greeley’s first official museum and today it’s one of three city museums open to the public.
Furnishings original Meeker family and other items from late 19th Century Weld County homes can be viewed inside the museum. The museum’s lawn is part of the city’s public park system and includes interpretive panels that show some of Greeley’s history.
To learn more about the summer food service program, visit GreeleySchools.org/KidsEatFree.
For more information about the Meeker Home Museum event and other City of Greeley Museums events, visit GreeleyMuseums.com or call 970-350-9220.
For museum information, contact:
Sarah Lester, Museum Educator
For summer food program information, contact:
Kara Sample, RDN, SNS, Nutrition Services Assistant Director
Famous Faces in Northern Colorado History
Written by JoAnna Luth Stull, Museum Registrar
Named and known by her descendants as She-towitch, she was best known as Shawsheen with her name written in historic newspaper accounts as Shasheen, Shashien, and Shosheen and pronounced and spelled as Tsashin by her Ute family.
Courtesy of City of Greeley Museums, Hazel E. Johnson Collection, 1991.42.0762C with acknowledgement to Colorado Historical Society, Jackson photograph #1772.
After her rescue in May 1863, from the Arapaho who were sworn enemies of the Utes’, Shawsheen would be given the name “Susan” reportedly by the wife of the soldier who rescued her and from this she became “Ute Susan”.
Shawsheen’s father Guero, had sought to strengthen ties between his Uncompahgre Utes and the White River Utes through his daughter’s marriage to Canella, also known as Johnson 2; he was a medicine man. With this marriage Shawsheen then became known as Susan Johnson. Finally, in an 1880 newspaper article, William Byers praised Shawsheen for saving the Meeker women and Mrs. Price and titled her “God Bless Susan.”[i] By whatever name Shawsheen was known by, her courageous acts through her life entitle her to also be known as heroine and humanitarian.
Just as varied as the many versions of her name are the numerous accounts of Shawsheen’s escape from certain death. The best distilled version of Shawsheen’s story was located in a December 1933 article included in the Greeley Daily Tribune. Research by A. B. Copeland and G. H. Bradfield of the Meeker Memorial Museum. Copeland and Bradfield had been working to verify the accuracy of the “Ute Susan” story in order to place a marker in her memory in conjunction with the Colorado Historical Society and the Centennial State Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Plans were to place the Shawsheen marker next to where the historic tree once stood in Island Grove Park. This cottonwood tree was known variously as the Ute Susan Tree, Shawsheen’s Tree, Indian Tree, Susan’s Tree, and finally, the “Oldest Inhabitant of Greeley-Ute Susan Tree”.
According to a 1916 article in the Fort Collins Express, Shashien was captured by Arapahoe Indians under the leadership of Chief Left Hand when she was 18 years old. The story, as related in 1910 by Mr. John Hollowell (1834-1913) of Loveland was that in June of 1863, some Indians came to his cabin at the mouth of the Big Thompson canyon. The reason for their visit was to trade a “captive maid for a looking glass and a hat,” but Hollowell declined the “swap” and after a few days they left the area.
Courtesy of City of Greeley Museums, Permanent Collection, 1972.01.0716
A few days later, a Company of soldiers camped at Laporte were ordered to go to the southeast where they had heard there was trouble between the settlers and Indians. As they approached a hill, likely Inspiration Point in Greeley, they saw an Indian camp on the opposite side of the river where a “young squaw was tied to a tree” with fagots piled around and under her feet. A report from the soldier who led this Company said after her rescue, she was taken to Laporte “where she was cared for by the Bill Carroll family” and sometime later returned to her Ute tribe.
There are, as stated, many versions of this story, but two things are certain, the “young squaw tied to a tree” was Shawsheen and the tree once stood at Greeley’s Island Grove Park until it was blown down in a windstorm between 1912 and 1913.
The author of the newspaper article stated that “because of that incident alone” Shawsheen would “be famous”. As we know, Shawsheen’s story continues and comes back full circle with her help in protecting other captive women after the Meeker Massacre on Sept. 29, 1879, but that is a story for next time.
[i] Taken from her family from near the Big Thompson River at age 16 [not 18], Susan was the name given to her by Mrs. Collier, wife of the Sergeant Collier of Captain Hardy’s Company M who was in charge of the detachment that reportedly saved Shawsheen from Arapaho captivity in May 1863. Mrs. Collier gave Shawsheen the name of Susan and she learned to speak the English language in the two months she was in the Collier home. (Colorado Transcript “Squaw Susan’s Send-Off”. 17 Dec. 1879). William Byers, in an 1880 newspaper article praised her for saving the Meeker women and Mrs. Price and called her “God Bless Susan.”
Courtesy of City of Greeley Museums, Permanent Collection, 1983.48.0013.3
FOR RELEASE: Centennial Village Museum officially opens to the public this weekend. Step back in time to the late 1800’s with a visit during the museum’s Centennial Celebration event, scheduled for Saturday, May 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, May 28, from noon until 4 p.m.
Located just south of Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley, Centennial Village is northern Colorado’s 8-acre outdoor living history experience.
The event includes buffalo soldier demonstrations on Saturday, as well as blacksmithing, quilt making, and chuckwagon cooking both days. Visitors can tour the newly renovated Farr Garage and the Fur Trapper’s Trading Post, in addition to touring the museum’s other historical homes and buildings.
Centennial Village preserves life in the Colorado high plains region from the last 150 years. The museum is open seasonally, from May until September, with several special events planned throughout the year.
Admission to the Centennial Celebration event is $8 per adult, $6 per senior, and $5 per child ages 3 and up. The museum has a special family rate of $18 for a group of five.
For more information about Centennial Village and the City of Greeley Museums, visit GreeleyMuseums.com or call 970-350-9220.
For more information, contact:
Scott Chartier, Historic Sites Curator
Curious about the history of the Farr Garage at Centennial Village? It was originally a blacksmith shop!
In 1982, Centennial Village staff were able to construct the replica blacksmith shop through the great generosity of Mr. and Mrs. W.D. Farr. Its design and equipment were based on W.D.’s memories of the blacksmith shop that his grandfather, William H. Farr, established when he came to Greeley in 1877. William was a blacksmith by trade, and opened the Farr and Smith Blacksmith shop, a prominent business in early Greeley. He also homesteaded at the end of the Greeley-Loveland irrigation ditch and farmed over 160 acres.
Image taken in 2004 by museum volunteer photographer Don Wiegel with an image of the building prior to its move to Centennial Village.
W.D. Farr became involved as the director of several local irrigation ditch companies and served as an appointee to the US Water Pollution Control Advisory Board.
These days blacksmithing at Centennial Village is demonstrated near the center area of the museum, but you can still see a forge and a lot of well-worn tools in the Farr Garage. The plan is to restore the old gas pump and blacksmith area inside the garage. Moreover, the building will be used as a real-working shop where museum vehicles and machines can be fixed.
The Farr Blacksmith Shop, now called the Farr Garage, is a tribute to the generosity of the Farr family, and a reminder that the present builds on the hard work of the past.