Women’s role in Valley history now on display
February 24, 2005
The Douglas County Historical Society Museum & Cultural Center has several new exhibits that feature women in history, historical timelines, family life and culture. The interesting exhibits depict life in the county from pioneer days to present and will open March 1.
“The ‘Women In History’ exhibit features pioneer women, Native American women and other women who have made significant contributions in our county both past and present, including those who have been honored by the “Women’s History Remembering Project,” said Laurie Hickey, Douglas County Historical Society exhibit committee member.
Hickey and several committee members have worked tirelessly in the past few weeks to get these exhibits located in two rooms on the main floor ready for public viewing.
In one corner is an exhibit that features the role women teachers played in early Douglas County education. It show several grammer school class photos from the 1920 and 1930s as well as a one-room school house in Mottsville. On the wall are photos of teachers Maggie Hickey Park and Carrie Hansen, who both taught at Hobart School in South Lake Tahoe in the late 19th and early 20th century. The lives and accomplishment of several other teachers are also part of the exhibit.
“These women played a key role if the education of youth in the Valley,” said Hickey, who painstakenly searched for many of the photos.
Next to the education display hangs a Millennium Quilt, which serves as a focal point of the entire “Women in History” exhibit. The colorful 8×12-foot cotton quilt was designed and made by the historical society. A list of names of quilt makers and contributors run along both sides. Dozens of patches are filled with Valley churches, schools, barns, baskets and old buildings.
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“The many patches on this quilt represent culture in the Carson Valley,” Hickey said.
A typical 1930s kitchen exhibit titled “A Woman’s Work Is Never Done” is also part of the women’s exhibit. The Valley kitchen of 80 years ago features authentic appliances that a homemaker of that era needed, from kerosene operated refrigerator, an Universal electric stove, Maytag wringer washing machine, wooden bin table for flour and sugar, and a telephone. The refrigerator is stocked with Windmill Dairy Products, a popular Valley dairy farm during the era.
“Seeing this exhibit is like taking a step back in time into a typical home in the Valley during the 1930s,” Hickey said.
Part of the “Women In History” exhibit is dedicated to Sarah Winnemucca, a Piute and daughter of Chief Winnemucca and granddaughter of Chief Truckee. Winnemucca received part of her early education while living with the Ormsby family at Mormon Station.
Winnemuca was a peacemaker, interpreter, spokeswoman, educator and political activist for the plight of her people. She was the author of “Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims,” becoming the first published Native American author. Her statue will be placed in Statuary Hall, Washington D. C. this March.
Also featured in the exhibit is Dat-So-La-Lee (Louisa Keyser), a world famous Washoe basket maker. Keyser was born in Carson Valley and spent her early life in Carson Valley and Alpine County where she worked as a cook and laundress.
Before she began making baskets for Abraham and Amy Cohn to sell in their Carson City Emporium. Over the years, Louisa’s baskets changed from utilitarian to magnificent works of art.
Another new exhibits focus on “Family Life and Culture.” Victorian families had no radio, television, DVD or computers, their evenings were spent playing musical instruments, reading and sewing. They worked hard but also had a social life filled with Masquerade Balls, Grand Balls and dances that were put on regularly for entertainment.
Good manners and conversation were an important part of these social events. Much can be said for the “Good Old Days.”
Photos of Gardnerville, Minden, Douglas High School, ranching, native Inhabitants and Timelines make up another exhibit. The exhibit committee is undertaking a total change for the Agricultural Exhibit room that will soon be completed.
This area is fortunate to have such a rich and exciting history; many of the events that makeup the early history of Nevada happened in Douglas County.
The Douglas County Historical Society is dedicated to preserving and sharing this exciting history. Visitors are welcome to attend the museums, events and learn about the rich history of Douglas County from the pioneers to the present day.
— Trent Carruthers can be reached at email@example.com or 782-5121, ext. 210.