Dubois Museum: Images
In the long, cold winter after the Annual Meeting, please don’t think the Dubois Museum Association goes into hibernation.
The Board of Directors, in collaboration with Museum staff, have spent the “quiet” months seeking grant funding for needed repairs to the Museum and its grounds. In a time of budget shortfalls in the Fremont County government (owner of the Museum), it’s not likely these improvements would be achieved before the current busy season, without help from the DMA.
Thanks to a generous $5,000 grant from the Wyoming Community Foundation, we were able to complete repairs to the boardwalk that connects the charming historic cabins that are such an important feature of the Museum. We have no clear idea about how old the original boardwalk was, but many of the planks were deteriorated and falling through–a clearly dangerous situation.
Funds from the Foundation provided the lumber and the screws for the new boardwalk. The hard physical work was donated by members of the DMA Board, as well as Museum Visitor Coordinator Johanna Thompson and a few kind volunteers, under the oversight of Board member Tom Lucas.
Above you see part of the new boardwalk, and some of the lumber being unloaded. Here, Tom and Johanna are putting one of those new pressure-treated boards into position.
Luckily for us, the mid-May weather was beautiful. We were able to complete the project on May 23, with delivery of the old boardwalk to the landfill east of town.
Soon, visitors guided safely to the cabins on the new boardwalk will have a better experience looking at them, thanks to new and improved lighting. This is being installed with the help of two $1500 grants, conferred separately on the DMA and the Museum itself, by the Opportunity Shop Foundation.
As you can see here, in an interior image of the Saddle Shop cabin, lighting was adequate on bright days but would be too dim on cloudy days to see clearly inside the cabins. New track lighting will make all the difference.
Finally, we are hoping for sufficient funding from grant applications to the Neversweat Recreation Board of Dubois and the Fremont County Recreation Board to make needed repairs and repainting of the outdoor stage behind the Museum.
If all goes well, this work can be completed before Museum Day, which is scheduled for July 16.
As you can see from this photo, Bob Grubb was in top form during the retrospective about the history of the Dubois Mercantile, which took place after the DMA Annual Meeting on August 29. Bob’s son Danny and moderator Lynn Stewart joined in the celebratory mood.
Dennison Lodge was packed with others who asked questions and shared memories from the floor. Many of these anecdotes also brought laughter, such as De Lamb’s recollection of the time Bob offered to watch her young son, who arrived all dressed up in his Sunday best, while De shopped. He entertained the boy with a yummy and very drippy ice cream cone. De sounded pleased at the opportunity to call Bob on his practical joke after all these years.
The Mercantile may be gone now, but the good memories will survive, thanks to the excellent videography services of Francis McVay.
At the DMA Annual Meeting immediately preceding the event, members of the Association voted to change the Bylaws to reduce the size of the DMA Board from nine members to between five and seven members. The Board will also now have discretion to eliminate (if it so chooses) the office of Vice Chairperson, retaining only Chaiperson, Secretary, and Treasurer as officers.
The DMA Board of Directors now consists of Betty Dolcater, Tom Lucas, Don Schlup, Judy Sersland, Darlene Wimmer, and Lois Wingerson. At its September meeting the Board elected the following officers for the coming year:
Chairperson: Darlene Wimmer
Secretary: Betty Dolcater
Treasurer: Judy Sersland
An important part of Dubois history, the Mercantile, vanished in a dramatic fire last December on the town’s main street. But the Mercantile hasn’t been forgotten: On August 29, the Dubois Museum Association will present a unique retrospective about the establishment that was founded a year more than a year before the town itself was incorporated.
In a conversation at the Dennison Lodge, father and son Bob and Danny Grubb, who co-owned and managed the Mercantile from the 1960s into the 1980s, will reminisce about the store as visitors view historic images from the Museum’s collection and elsewhere. Visitors will also receive copies of a brief written history of the Mercantile, documented in research by Dubois high school student Chloe Chantry.
Did you know that the Mercantile has roots in the tie hacks? That it once sold oysters? That there were snowmobiles for sale at the back for a while, and there was a safe in the basement?
More memories like these may emerge from members of the audience, who will be encouraged to share their recollections, all of which will be recorded and preserved for future reference. The remembrance about the Mercantile is the latest event in the DMA’s annual Wind River Lives & Legacies series, which have included an interview with Esther Wells about homesteading up the Dunoir Valley and presentation of original images from the settlement of “Little Scotland” along the East Fork.
The presentation about the Mercantile will begin at 7:00 PM, following the Annual Meeting of the DMA which commences at 6:30 PM. The general public is welcome to attend both events free of charge. Light refreshments will be served.
We’re proud and grateful to DMA member Dean Sersland for hand-crafting these suitably rustic custom-made stands for high-technology displays, soon to be installed at the Museum. At some risk to life and limb, Dean created the stands by sawing, stripping, and shaping segments of the same kind of huge logs traditionally used for construction in the Wind River Valley.
The slanted tops will be fitted with separately purchased plastic covers. installed to mount and protect the IPads, which the DMA has purchased for the Museum at the request of curator Sally Wulbrecht.
Dean shaped the stands with a curved indentation at the front so that earphones can be suspended without getting in the way.
We were pleased to hear the staff admiring how well these handcrafted additions match the style of the Museum, a compatible marriage of new technology and traditional Western architecture.
Return this year for our ever-popular authentic cowboy stew (and learn this year the amusing reason why it contains olives, which are hardly indigenous to the Wind River Valley). Enjoy live music throughout by Dan Seelye and friends, while savoring fry bread as great as ever and relaxing with a cool lemonade.
Tour the historic cabins and learn about their history from guides in authentic costumes. Browse the artisan exhibits in the Dennison Lodge, or watch the children having fun at the old-fashioned games–and winning real old-fashioned prizes. (No video games here!)
Or learn how to rope a calf or heft a crosscut saw from a real expert.
Thanks to the scores of local volunteers who have already offered their time. Please consider donating some fresh baked goods to our ever-popular Bake Sale. (Donations should be delivered to the Seipt House on Saturday, July 18, no later than 9:30 AM.)
The annual Museum Day is sponsored and coordinated by the Dubois Museum Association.
On February 14, during Valentine’s Day celebrations at Warm Valley Lodge in Dubois, former DMA President Steve Banks formally introduced Recollections of the Upper Wind River Valley, the second edition of an oral history of the Dubois area.
Conducted and compiled by the late Esther Mockler (1906-2007), founder of the Dubois Public Library, the volume includes interviews with some original settlers of the Upper Wind River Valley and with others who personally knew some of the very first residents. One of her chief sources was a cowboy named Andy Manseau, who arrived in the area in 1879, and filed for a land patent on the East Fork in 1895.
Published with partial financial support from the DMA, the book is on sale at the Dubois Museum. All proceeds from its sale will go to the Museum.
Filled with fascinating first-person anecdotes and images from the early history of the region around Dubois, the volume brings to vivid life a time when settlers lived in cabins with dirt floors, when buffalo skulls could be picked off the hillsides, when the only way across the Wind River was to ford it, and when the sensible way to deal with the wolf problem was to put a bounty on their skins.
In her own introduction to the original release, Mockler called the book “the oral reminiscences of thirty-five pioneers, entrepeneurs, cowboys, loners, business men and ranchers who settled the Upper Wind River Valley from 1870 to the twentieth century. It reveals the reasons for their coming, the belief in their own worth, the nerve to face obstacles and their burning desire to succeed.”
Recollections neatly fills a gap in local published history about the”sacrifices and work that went into building this little town and valley,” Banks writes in a commentary for the second edition. He calls it an ideal companion to Dubois Area History, which was published privately in 1991 by another former DMA President, Mary Allison.
Congratulations to Board member Tom Lucas, who is one of only 3 artists to win the prestigious 2014 Wyoming Governor’s Arts Award.
Tom was honored on February 27 at the Governor’s Arts Awards Gala in Cheyenne.
Dubois residents are familiar with Tom’s intense personal knowledge of Native American crafts, having seen his appearance on a documentary about how to create a bow from the horn of a Bighorn sheep, or having watched as he knapped flint at Museum Day. But Tom’s renowned western paintings are also on display at Silver Sage Gallery in downtown Dubois.
Congratulations also to Dubois Museum visitor services coordinator Amy Novelli, whose landscape painting “Great Plains” is featured among exhibits at the 2015 Governor’s Capitol Art Exhibition, on display until March 6.
We have been stunned and saddened by yesterday’s horrific fire on Dubois’ main street that destroyed several adjoining buildings, including the MiniMart housed in the century-old building that operated for many decades as0 Dubois Mercantile, a landmark merchant in our town.
According to the brochure created to guide visitors on a walking tour of downtown Dubois, Dubois Mercantile was constructed in 1913 (the year before Dubois was incorporated as a town), making it the first competition to Welty’s General Store. When Wyoming Tie & Timber Company closed in 1947, the Mercantile replaced the company’s tie-camp store under the management of Tony Dolenc.
In recent years it has operated as a multi-vendor market. Our deepest sympathies to those who have lost their businesses in this tragedy (and our relief that nobody was present to be injured during the fire).
As President Darlene Wimmer wrote on Facebook, “… we are mountain strong. just the eight business in the Merc will have a hard struggle.”
Everything seems to slow down as the year draws to an end, but not the Dubois Museum Association! We’ve been very busy since the last Annual Meeting. Here’s what the Board has been up to since our last report:
Darlene Wimmer hosted a fun-filled conversation with William (Billy) Meckem and Duane Redman, in which they reminisced about growing up in Dubois. One question above all increased the volume on the microphone: Which was tougher: Growing up in town or outside of town?
As part of a larger oral history project, Cheryl O’Brien interviewed Kip MacMillan, grandson of the owner of Wyoming Tie & Timber, about his childhood visit to the German soldiers interned at a prisoner of war camp in the area during World War II. The experience was quite different than the young boy anticipated.