For Immediate Release
For more information, contact:
Peggy Ford Waldo, Development Curator
City of Greeley Museums
Greeley Museums seeking donations to preserve unique historic artifacts
Last week, two fourth-generation Greeley/Weld County residents visited the Greeley History Museum and offered to sell 320 letters from prospective Union Colony colonists, all written in December, 1869, along with a small Bible given to Arvilla Meeker, by her son, Ralph, in 1864.
These letters were written in response to an article in The New York Tribune, by Nathan Cook Meeker, Greeley’s founder. Meeker, having visited Colorado Territory in October 1869, returned to his home in Brooklyn, NY with visions of founding a utopian temperance and agricultural colony here. Meeker’s article encouraged those interested in joining this colony venture to write to him and within a month, over 3,000 people wrote letters to Meeker, many ready to jump on the train and “head to Colorado Territory.” In April, 1870, Meeker’s joint-stock colonization company known as the Union Colony, established the town of Greeley, CO.
“What a delightful and unexpected surprise to see this fabulous collection of historical treasures related to the very beginnings of Greeley. These are priceless historical resources for researchers, authors, and genealogists, and every letter provides insight about why people were so interested in coming West with Nathan Meeker,” commented Dan Perry, Museum Manager. “So far, 64 letters are from individuals who were chosen as colonists. More research is needed on the remaining 256 letters to see if others made the cut from applicant to colonist.”
Because of financial circumstances, the letters in the estate cannot be donated to the Greeley Museums, but must be sold within two months. They have been appraised for $15,685.00. The Greeley Museums’ budget, however, doesn’t allow artifacts to be purchased. All historical artifacts owned by the Museums have been donated by generous citizens of Greeley and Weld County since 1901.
At a joint meeting of the Greeley Museums Heritage Foundation and the Greeley Museums Advisory Board last Thursday, all members pledged to help raise the funds needed within the next two months to purchase, conserve, and exhibit these original letters as a part of the Museums’ Union Colony collection. Digital technology will allow the letters to be scanned and their contents made available to the public for research, education, and enjoyment.
Anyone wishing to donate to the “Greeley – Unexpected 1869 Letters Project” can send a check to: The Greeley Museums Heritage Foundation, 714 8th St., Greeley, CO 80631. Attention: Mr. Odie Roberts, GMHF President. All gifts are tax deductible. For more information, contact Peggy Ford Waldo at the Greeley Museums, 970.350.9217.
# # #