For more information, contact:
Peggy A. Ford Waldo, Museum Development Curator
City of Greeley Museums
GREELEY MUSEUMS RECEIVE GRANTS TO RESTORE HISTORICAL RECORDS
The Colorado Historical Records Advisory Board (CHRAB) recently awarded the Greeley Museums a grant to preserve and make available to the public important historical records. This grant, funded through the National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHRPC) was matched with funds donated by the Union Colony Pioneer Society for the project, “Paper Trails: The Murder of Harry Woodbury and the Lynching of W.D. French in Greeley, CO.”
In 2012, the Greeley Museums received a donation of extremely fragile Weld County Coroner’s inquest records about the murder of Harry Woodbury on Dec. 15, 1888 and the lynching of his accused murderer, W.D. French by a “vigilance committee” of 100 Greeley and Evans men on Dec. 29, 1888. French and Woodbury, once business partners, got into a dispute over 600 pounds of flour, which resulted in Woodbury being shot. Locally, French had a reputation as a bully who abused his wife, children, and others. Public sentiment wasn’t in French’s favor, and people wanted “quick justice.” On the night of Dec. 28, 1888, citizens intent on justice broke into the Weld County Jail, dragged French from his cell and hung him from a nearby tree. This event was an anomaly in Greeley, a town whose citizens had high moral standards and a low crime rate. Without the benefit of a jury trial, French’s story about what happened the night Woodbury was shot has remained a mystery and continues to intrigue researchers.
The preservation of these invaluable historical documents is entrusted to Roger Joyce, a professional associate affiliated with the American Institute of Conservation. The public is invited to visit with and watch Mr. Joyce work on the Woodbury-French documents on Thursday, Oct. 24 from 9am – 2pm at the Greeley History Museum. After the records have been flattened, mended, and put in order, they will be scanned, digitized, and transcribed, bringing to light for the first time, new information about the events that resulted in the untimely deaths of two men. Today, the rope used in the lynching of Mr. French, and a photograph taken of his body hanging from the tree, are on exhibit at the Greeley History Museum.
The Greeley History Museum is open Wed. – Fri. 8:30 – 4:30 and Sat., 10 – 4. The mission of the Greeley Museums is to preserve and interpret the history of the Colorado high plains region with emphasis on the City of Greeley and Weld County, CO.
For additional information, contact the Greeley Museums at (970) 350-9220, or visit the website at www.greeleymuseums.com