Written by Keith Wondra
In 1984, Old Cowtown Museum received a large donation from Margaret L. Garrett. Her family tradition held that many of these items were brought from Ireland in 1819 by her great-grandparents Andrew and Margaret Orr Dickson. Most of the items consisted of houseware and hardware objects. Upon accepting the donation, Cowtown curator Stan Harder commented on the acceptance letter:
Objects which were actually brought into this area at early times are regarded by the Museum as its highest collection priority. Naturally then, donations that contain a number of such items are considered special, but a donation that contains a large number of early local pioneer pieces is very special indeed.
The majority of the donation consisted of household and hardware items. These included a glass decanter, hope chest, coffee grinder, sugar bucket, side chairs, spinning wheel, toys, butter mold and paddle, and various dishware. Garrett also included arrowheads found on the Garrett farm in Rockford Township. In addition, she included a quilt of turquoise and white cotton pieced in a variation of the pattern known as orange peel, shown below.
Garrett also included the family Bible. Owned by the family of Thomas Rogers (her mother's family), this Bible was printed in 1816. It is constructed of brown leather and stamped "Holy Bible" in gold on the spine. Thomas Roger lived from 1772 until 1838 and was married to Sarah Matheny. They lived in Harrison Co. Indiana and West Virginia before moving to Kansas.
The donation also includes several tin type photographs. These include many studio portraits from family members dating from 1856 through 1881. One photo of note is of her mother Mary Etta, age 4 from 1881. Included with the donation of this photo shown below, the donor Margaret wrote the following:
Mary Etta Rogers was quite ill and the family did not think she would live too long, so decided to get the pictures of her. I was not told what the illness was. She was most unhappy to be dressed and taken to the photographer, and feeling so ill she was scowling. This was a picture Mary Etta always hated, as she never wanted to be remembered by this likeness. Whatever the illness, she recovered with no aftereffects.
These donations from 1984 help to tell the story of the Garrett family’s journey to and experience in Kansas during the 1800s. Old Cowtown Museum is privileged to have this as part of its collection.