Grants, Hisers and all the Stories in Between: Another Hit for History at the Glenrock Library

Rachel Grant gave a rousing account of the history of Ulysses “Uly” Grant and his ranching legacy to a packed library last Thursday evening. This marked the third lecture in the summer history program, a collaboration between Deer Creek Museum and the Glenrock Library. Rachel provided a detailed account of the ranching family that has been and still is such an integral part of Glenrock’s history.


Surrounded by framed photographs of the many generations of the Grant family, Rachel told the tale of an Iowan with a pioneer spirit who found a new home in Wyoming. Her facts and stories were confirmed by the many living family members in attendance at the lecture. Glenrock residents nodded in smiling agreement as Rachel explained the many lines of the Grant/Hiser legacy and enjoyed compliments on members of the family from the large audience. It was a fabulous turnout for a fascinating lecture.


This coming Thursday, July 7 at 6 P.M. the summer history program continues by delving into the history of Glenrock’s public space. A discussion on the past, present and future of the Glenrock Library will take place with a question and answer session to follow. Barbershop bookshelves and vanishing yellow houses will be among the items on the discussion list. The talk will be presented by several members of the Glenrock Library staff who will provide a little insight into the past, present and future into the town’s most important public space.


July 14 the Pony Express comes to town with a celebration of the Deer Creek Home Station presented by former National President of the Pony Express Association, Les Bennington. Discussion of the past Pony Express and the current Reride Association is expected. On the 21st of July Kathy Patceg provides an informed view of historic downtown Glenrock and the steps to preserve its legacy. Head of the town’s newly formed and award winning Main Street Committee, Patceg will explain how small communities will be the saving grace of local businesses and community spirit.


All lectures are free, suitable for all ages and open to the general public. For more information contact the Glenrock Library at 436-2573 or Deer Creek Museum (currently open for the summer season) at 436-2810.


Published in: on July 1, 2011 at 3:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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History Program Continues: Grilley Tells Audience How it Really Was

Nena Grilley, one of Glenrock’s finest storytellers, captured her audience’s full attention last Thursday evening as she shared her knowledge of Deer Creek’s early settlement. Through Grilley, attendees at the Glenrock Summer Lecture Series gained insight into the characters and personalities that first settled in the Glenrock area.


From Mormon persecution, the Civil War and the Pony Express to the Indian Wars, the Oregon Trail and Deer Creek crossing, Grilley’s audience learned Glenrock history from the early 1840s to the late 1880s. Grilley’s pioneer attire was the icing on the cake to her informed presentation. Her separation of myth and fact created a clear picture of how the town really developed. It was another success in the summer program: “One Town Many Stories,” a collaboration between the Glenrock Library and the Deer Creek Museum.


Four chances remain for Glenrock residents to enjoy rousing tales of the area’s history. This free program (refreshments served) continues this coming Thursday evening at 6 P.M. when Rachel Grant tells the tale of the Sno-Shoe Ranch. Attendees will hear how Ulysses Grant, an early homesteader, created not only a family cattle business but the foundation of Glenrock’s relationship with area ranches.


On July 7th members of Glenrock’s library staff will explain how a barber shop housed Glenrock’s first library and the power of a women’s book club to create a legacy spanning 50 years. The program will include a discussion of the library’s present role in the community and the importance of public space in history. The lecture will conclude with a discussion on the library’s future and how technology and Glenrock residents will help to shape that future.


On July 14th former National President of the Pony Express Association and Glenrock resident Les Bennington will share his vast knowledge of the Deer Creek Home Station and its role in the life of the Pony Express. The following week Kathy Patceg, city building inspector and head of the Main Street Program will talk about the buildings in Glenrock’s downtown area, their history and their importance to local businesses and the preservation of America’s main street.


Programs start at 6 P.M. Thursday evenings at the library. Everyone is invited to attend. The program is suitable for all ages.

Published in: on June 28, 2011 at 5:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Saving a Species, Discovering a New Genus: Glenrock Dino Lecture a Success

The Glenrock Historical Commission’s Summer Lecture Program kicked off Thursday evening with a lecture by dinosaur enthusiast and field paleontologist Jessica Smith. Her pride for Glenrock’s dinosaur discoveries translated into a rousing speech that shared not only the story of Stephanie but the history of Wyoming’s paleontological research. An enthusiastic audience came away with a better understanding of Glenrock’s place in modern dinosaur research.


Smith discussed how the discovery of Stephanie’s skull on the Dunham Ranch two decades ago not only established the Paleon museum but actually saved Stephanie’s entire species. The history of the American bone wars was fascinating and a quick lesson in understanding dinosaur names well received.


This coming Thursday June 23, Nena Grilley, a former geologist and graduate of Syracuse University will share the rich and early history of Glenrock and its relationship to the Mormon Trail. Early settlement will be discussed as well as the LDS’ role in establishing Glenrock as a Pony Express home station and a must stop hamlet on the Oregon Trail.


As we delve deeper into the history of Glenrock we begin to see its relationship with the larger western story and the establishment of nearby towns such as Casper, Parkerton and Douglas. Our humble little home places a magnifying glass on the story of the old west highlighting all the cultural and social groups that make up America’s pioneer and entrepreneurial spirit.


June 30, Rachel Grant will discuss the history of the Sno-Shoe ranch and the intimate connection between small western towns and their outlying ranching communities. All lectures are free, from 6 to 8 P.M. (time includes question and answer session) and the public is encouraged to attend. Lectures are will be held at the Glenrock Branch Library, are suitable for all ages and refreshments will be served.

Published in: on June 21, 2011 at 3:55 am  Leave a Comment  


2011 Summer Lecture Series

One Town Many Stories

June 16, 6-8 P.M——Prehistory: Glenrock’s Dinosaurs—Jessica Smith

June 23, 6-8 P.M.—–Mormons and Early Settlement—Nena Grilley

June 30, 6-8 P.M.—–Living History: Snow Shoe Ranch—Rachel Grant

July 7, 6-8 P.M.——-Pony Express and its Legacy—Les Bennington

July 14, 6-8P.M.——Main Street Story—Kathy Patceg

July 21, 6-8 P.M.——Social History and Public Spaces—Library Staff

All lectures are free and will take place at the Glenrock Library

Should last no more than 45 minutes.

Published in: on June 3, 2011 at 4:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Giving All of History a Voice: New Exhibits at the Deer Creek Museum

When you say to people that you are a revisionist historian hackles are instantly raised. This is because the popular interpretation of the term is false but well distributed. There is this assumption that a revisionist is in the habit of removing historic facts and changing them to suit. The revisionist historian does not change history they simple ensure all of the history is being told.

A revisionist historian may write about the cowboys of Wyoming’s gun slinging heyday but they would also write about their wives, daughters, pets, buildings, social mores and what they had for breakfast. When I think of revisionist history I think of the late great Paul Harvey. We like to tell: “the rest of the story.” And so I finally get to my point: the inclusion of all of Glenrock’s social history at the Deer Creek Museum.

A museum exhibit floor is often a reflection of the curator’s personal preferences. They will emphasize their ‘favorite’ pieces of the history time line and mute or even extinguish any opposing or diverting thoughts. Often this is conscious but most often its a matter of not having enough information or confidence in other areas and sticking to what you know. Last year I realized that our humble little museum had lots of information about the cowboys, the ranchers, the Depression and World War I but very little else.

I am not blameless in this constricting of historical fact. A restricted working time and limited floorspace provides the perfect stage for a fractured local history. I started noticing this winter that my penchant for the Progressive Era had begun to dominate the shelves and cases of the museum. It was time to revise things to better include other major moments in Glenrock’s social history: the Pony Express and the Mormon Trail.

Pre Territorial Glenrock- The Mormon Gardens

In the 1840s Wyoming wasn’t even a territory; it was a stop on the trail, a challenge to overcome, a place to learn what real snow and wind felt like. For the many persecuted Mormons on the eastern seaboard, Wyoming was a resting place on the way to a new home, a safe haven from misunderstanding and religious xenophobia. Before this period Glenrock was little more that a trading post and locally referred to as Dakota City or Deer Creek. The Mormons, whose ancestors still shop at the local stores and eat at the local restaurants, set up base with the intention of facilitating a new life in the soon to be Utah.

In the area now referred to as South Rec, the early Mormon travelers set up buildings, raised crops, assisted fellow travelers and provided a respite on the long journey to Salt Lake City. Glenrock was designated by early journal accounts a great place to stop and rest. One group of Mormons came in to set things up then when a new group rolled into town the first group left and the new ones took over cultivation of the fields. Then Hiram Kimball secured the postal contract from the government in 1856 and Deer Creek was on the map. Glenrock’s Mormon pioneers played a large role in early western communication.

War and the Pony Express- Glenrock Home Station

All was going well until the federal government declared war on the Mormon population of the country. And then there was that postal contract secured by Central Overland California & Pikes Peak Express company. In 1860 the small post office and trading station became the Deer Creek Home Station, an overnight stop on the newly formed Pony Express.

As the majority of Glenrock’s Mormon population left to aid their fellow believers in Utah, the Pony Express began turning the humble yet established mail route into an enterprise the folks in the West still celebrate today. In the early days of the Civil War, the riders that slept in Glenrock’s home station were a vital communication link during a time of national turmoil.

So the Mormons left, the Pony Express showed up, the train showed up and the Pony Express left. Today in Glenrock we have a long abandoned railway track and markers commemorating the spot where the trading post, home station and telegraph office once stood but little else to tell the story of this early Glenrock era. Well, we do have the Pony Express re-riders. You know the folks that have kept the history of the Pony Express alive and well for over 150 years. Some of the major members of the group hail from guess where? You got it, lil ol Glenrock.

There’s another thing about us revisionist historians we know we really don’t know much. A museum can be a platform for the dead; a way to connect with the past. So who better to connect with the early Mormon pioneers than their local descendants? And who best suited to explain the story of the Pony Express and the Pony Express Re-ride than the riders themselves? Are they not more qualified and more capable to tell the rest of their story than me? Of course they are. And I for one am excited that the museum can give them a voice. That’s revisionist history folks: letting every voice be heard.

The Pony Express exhibit will include the mochilla or mail bag and Olympic torch carried by the reriders for the 1996 Olympics as well as the local history and involvement in the group. The Mormon exhibit will provide a more accurate time line of Glenrock’s Mormon history and its connection and relationship with the present community.

Published in: on May 17, 2011 at 6:05 am  Comments (1)  
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Quilts, Cookies and Volunteers: Museum Open House Success

The lights were on, the doors unlocked and the exhibit floor revealed Tuesday night at the Deer Creek Museum’s open house. This kick off to the museum’s summer season brought in guests old and new, enthusiastic volunteers and even a couple of members of the Pony Express reride. Best of all everyone was there willing to work.

Finding volunteers in Glenrock can be a struggle with everyone involved and committed to multiple projects. This made Tuesday’s turnout even more of a surprise. Since the death of the Museum’s previous Volunteer Coordinator Shirley Davis, the system and schedule were going nowhere. Then board member Linda Allen took over the role and put things back on track. And the cookie pot luck certainly didn’t do any harm.

As Allen coordinated cookie plates and summer schedules, new volunteer Adele Young met with the creative crafters and artists. The ladies with hand made note cards and hand stitched children’s clothes, aprons and bonnets were there to place their items in the museum’s new gift shop. With a consignment system and a ‘made in Glenrock’ rule, Young quickly filled the empty shelves of the newly painted space. That’s not to say there isn’t room for more.

At the back of the museum Kim Cain and Rick Bretton of the Pony Express Reride Association discussed the empty space designated for their exhibit. The back corner of the museum will house a new Pony Express and Pony Express Reride exhibit with a focus on local members and local involvement in the group. With the removal of the altar area, additional room exists for the Pony Express Reride Association’s mochila or mail carrier. The mochila will be the only hands on exhibit in the museum this summer. This is the time to order a Pony Express letter for the annual reride coming up in June.

As the riders discussed wall space and saddle stands, board member Rick Davis erected the new fundraiser quilt at the back of the museum. The Pony Express themed quilt was created by Barb Davis and donated to the museum to help raise much needed preservation funds.

Visitors milled about the museum brainstorming money saving, space creating and fund raising ideas. Donated covered wagons and the possibility of a new Glenrock Mormon history exhibit were just a couple of the many ideas the coffee, cookies and community spirit created.

With a new gift shop and a summer lecture series, the Deer Creek Museum continues to improve and expand its devotion to local social history. The Deer Creek Museum will open the Saturday before Memorial Day (May 28, 2011). Summer hours are Friday through Tuesday 10 A.M. To 4 P.M. Closed Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Published in: on May 11, 2011 at 5:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Museum Open House 7PM May 10 Volunteer Sign Up

As I struggle (with the aid of a band of trusty volunteers) to get the museum ready for the Memorial day weekend opening I realize what a mammoth task arranging a small museum really is. So limited by space I spend most of the winter months figuring out how to arrange the exhibits so they look nice but also tell a chronological story. More volunteers would really make a difference. Speaking of which…

This coming Tuesday May 10 at 7pm the museum will have a little open house to sign up new volunteers and introduce veterans to the changes. Anyone who can give some time to the museum this summer is welcome to come along. Our youngest volunteer is six and our oldest 84 so no age limits. We’d love to see you there. I’ll bring the cookies!

Published in: on May 7, 2011 at 5:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Regret to inform: Laverne Babe Rookstool 1926-2011

The Glenrock Historical Commission, founder of the Deer Creek Museum are sad to announce the passing of Babe Rookstool. Her husband Les Rookstool was a founding member of the Commission. Babe accompanied Les to many a board meeting bringing smiles with her every time. Services will be held for Mrs. Rookstool Wednesday April 27, 2011 at the Community Baptist Church in Glenrock, Wyoming. Babe’s full obituary can be read here.

Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 5:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

4th Grade Local History Trip: Small Town History’s Significance

Next week the museum will open the doors a little early in the season for the annual 4th grade local history trip. Its always nice to see the enthusiasm on the student’s faces as they wander around their town’s past, seeing familiar names and images. That’s the beauty of the small town museum; that personal connection. National museums are great for browsing the artifacts of lost civilizations but its only at the local museum that you can really connect with the objects in the cases.

I remember my first connection to my home town museum and how it felt to feel time rushing backward to the moment when the artifact was in true context, used in the everyday world, holding the impressions of the people in the period.  For me it was a magical moment but perhaps that’s just my history nerd gene coming through. Even now years later I wander around the objects of my adopted town’s past and feel that connection to the folks that stood on this very spot and shaped their lives and the town’s future. Its so great that students today get a moment to think about the children of the past.

I’m not sure too many of today’s younger folks would actually enjoy the life of their ancestors where cell phones, lap tops and the Internet were not even conceived. I’m sure though that a pioneer child would balk at some of the developments and social changes of our time. One room school houses are only a few years in Wyoming’s past with some children still the only one in their rural classroom. Yes things change but  somethings always stay the same including the wonder on a student’s face when they make that time reversing magic their own.

Published in: on April 3, 2011 at 7:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

A little Press for Public History

Keeping the goings on of the local museum in the press can be quite difficult, especially when a lot of folks don’t realize that the news from the past is often also the news from the present.  I’ve learned if I want to promote history I have to get out there and do it. What I find is press releases work well, especially if your hometown paper is looking to fill a little space.  After our great success at the Casper home show last weekend where we raised a staggering $2,000, it seemed a good idea to send out a press release to show that a lot of folks are beginning to support our humble little museum. As the museum grows in professionalism and collection standards so it seems does the support.

Check out the article here and tell us what you think.

Published in: on March 24, 2011 at 11:30 pm  Leave a Comment