January 24, 2014
Subject: Historic 1869 letters purchased by the Greeley Museums
The week before Christmas, 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 1869, along with a small Bible given to Arvilla Meeker, by her son, Ralph, in 1864. As the Greeley Museums’ budget doesn’t allow artifacts to be purchased, a request was sent out to the community for donations to purchase these pieces.
Less than a month after requesting for donations to purchase these letters written to Nathan Meeker; the Museum has received more than $20,000 from over 70 generous donors,
“The City of Greeley Museums expresses sincere gratitude for the community’s response to this need,” said Dan Perry, Museums Manager.
On Friday, Jan 24, the Greeley Museums officially purchased these artifacts to be preserved and placed into the Museums’ collection.
Digital technology will allow the letters to be scanned and their contents made available to the public for research, education, and enjoyment. Plans are also being made to exhibit the items in the future.
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.
Donations are still being accepted. Funds received that exceed the purchase price of the artifacts will be used for the conservation and exhibition of these artifacts.
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