DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE—By Jim Wetzel—-Wednesday, July 27, 2016

How often do any of us get a chance to rub elbows with history? I hope that makes sense. I’m referring to the opportunity to meet real historic, but not necessarily famous, people. I had occasion to do just that, when four Tom McCarty descendants descended on the museum for our open house. While the open house was originally for the purpose of allowing the public to see and handle the famous 1874 Sharps rifle with which Ray Simpson shot Tom McCarty’s brother and nephew during their hasty retreat from Delta following their 1893 bank robbery here, it seemed to be more about the McCarty legacy and their family stories of this past century. While the rifle was certainly an attraction, the McCarty descendants were equally in the spotlight.

Tom McCarty was married twice. His second marriage to Christina Christiansen in 1873 resulted in three children; Leonard, Lewis, and Dora. Our four McCarty visitors were all from the Lewis McCarty lineage, Tom McCarty being their great grandfather.

Family history, when it includes historically famous bad guys, is often not passed forward, and our visitors encountered some of their parents / grandparents, etc., who never spoke of this element of their history. Thus, some of our questions to them were also their questions. Nevertheless, they came with numerous photos, pedigree charts (genealogy charts), and oral history to satisfy our interest in the McCarty legacy.

Our thanks go to Kristi (McCarty) Johnson of Sandy, UT for contacting her (McCarty) cousins; Tillma Giesse of Laramie, WY, Jim Whitteker of Logan, UT, and Robert Whitteker of Sweetwater, TX. The occasion was also like a family reunion for the visitors, and we were most honored to be included in some of their discussions. All things considered, they were lots of fun to mingle with, and there was no shortage of laughter among them.

I took the group on a walking tour of the places where the bank robbery events took place, followed by a drive past the residence which used to be the Farmers & Merchants Bank – moved there in 1908, and then a visit to the cemetery and the McCarty grave.

Lots of photos were taken – many from cell phones and ipads, but photos were also taken by a young lady hired for the occasion. Kaylee is a recent graduate of Delta High School and will be studying photography in college.  She has a real gift for the art and her work is already of professional quality.

Photographs are the life-blood of documenting history. It is easy to alter history just by telling a story differently, but a photograph captures the moment and preserves it forever. I love Main Street parade photos, not just for the image of the float or key object / person, but for the background; the store front of that time, or a building no longer there, or for many other reasons.

I am reminded of the famous photos of the McCarty outlaws taken against what looked like the side of a barn, where previous historians claimed it was taken in front of a similar structure in the alley behind the museum. While it made sense that the photo could have been taken there, a careful examination of the building compared to the photo showed that it was not the same structure.

Photos tell us a lot. Then again, we have numerous portrait photos which are unidentified. Some photos speak volumes, and some are silent. I guess there is a place for both, for even the silent ones – in this case – make simple fashion statements.


Delta’s Main Street as it appeared in 1893. The Farmers and Merchants Bank would have been on the left, out of sight in this photo. Photo courtesy of the Delta County Historical Society Museum.


MUSEUM DIRECTOR / CURATOR: Jim Wetzel                  835-8905

MUSEUM:         (970) 874-8721

DELTA COUNTY MUSEUM   Delta County Historical Society

 Quarterly Newsletter   Issue No. 87   July – September, 2016








The last time I saw a real Suit of Armor was in one of the New York City museums when I was a kid. Like the King’s Clock, a Suit of Armor is sort of out-of-place in a western museum. I suppose if it was Spanish in origin and related to the early Spanish soldiers in early western history, it would seem more normal. Our suit of Armor, oddly enough, was purchased in Spain by Dorothy Darrow, wife of long-time Delta attorney, Nick Darrow (both now deceased). For many years, this Suit of Armor stood “sentry” in Darrow’s law office in Delta. When he retired and closed his office, he donated the item to the museum. It came complete with a 48 inch sword, though due to the inherent risk, it is not part of the exhibit. The name CARLOS V is engraved on the sword, probably referring to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, who lived and reigned in the early 1500s.

Though purchased in Spain, this armor is believed to be a reproduction of early 16th century English or Spanish armor, and itself is over 100 years old. In all likelihood, this Suit of Armor is the only complete set of its kind on the Western Slope, and maybe all of Colorado.

DELTA COUNTY MUSEUM (970) 874-8721

Delta County Historical Society

 Quarterly Newsletter    Issue No. 87   July – September, 2016


MUSEUM DIRECTOR / CURATOR  Jim Wetzel                  835-8905



MAIN STREET’S FLAG POLE Guest Post from Jim Wetzel—-Monday, July 25, 2016

FlappoleAs the Spanish-American War came to an end in 1898, a group of Delta businessmen thought it would be a good idea to have a flagpole in the center of town. So Delta erected a 75-foot tall flag pole in the center of the intersection of Main and Third Streets and proudly displayed a giant 45-star US flag.

In August 1898, an 86-foot tall tree was cut and hauled off of Grand Mesa to Delta. The Delta County Independent noted that several Eckert residents had reported seeing the giant pole being hauled down the Surface Creek road.

Businessmen Frank Dodge and Frank Sanders volunteered to see that the pole was properly placed. The Town of Delta built a band stand around the flagpole “for the benefit of the band boys.” Unfortunately, the affixing of a pulley to the top of the flagpole was an afterthought. The newspaper noted that “the pulley was so far down the pole that the flag flies constantly at half-mast,” leaving everybody asking, “who is dead?”

When electricity came to Delta in 1900, the town thought it would be a great idea to hang a light bulb atop the flagpole (well, half-way up) to illuminate Main Street. The light bulb and wiring were attached to the flag pulley and hoisted half-way up the 75-foot pole. The pulley system was needed in order to be able to change the light bulb when it burned out. At that time, the city power plant was located at First and Main.

In 1898, traffic on Main Street, with few exceptions, was entirely horse-drawn buggies and wagons. However, within a few years automobiles were common along Main Street. The flagpole and band-stand became a frequent target of early motorists whose driving skills preceded the requirement for a driver’s license. The town enacted a 7-mph speed limit within intersections, but somehow a few motorists still managed to hit the flagpole.

By 1908, the Town of Delta condemned the flagpole and bandstand as “dangerous.” On April 9, 1908, the town took down the flagpole and replaced it with a smaller one. The small flagpole might only have lasted a year or two, as there are no known photographs featuring a smaller flagpole.

DELTA COUNTY MUSEUM    Delta County Historical Society

 Quarterly Newsletter    Issue No. 87    July – September, 2016



The Adventures of Boomer on Friday—-Stuff


My days are pretty much just rolling along.  We are starting to see little vines and flower buds on the pinto beans.  I could care less, but Mom and Dad think it’s a HUGE deal.  I just wag my tail and agree with them.

Baby-CornThe baby corn is popping up on the corn stalks.  If I move through the corn rows I come out will corn pollen on me.  Dad says this is a scary time for corn, the deer like to eat the silk.  If they eat the silk the corn won’t make.  Dad always gets really worried about this time of year.  Mom says it’s our 10% tithe.


The fox and the raccoon are helping Mom clean up all the apricots.  Fox can climb trees, did you know that?  So can raccoons.  We have two trees they climb up, to the very top, and get those little apricot fruit Mom can’t reach.


Mom says we share here…works for her and works for them.  Also works for me, because I get to sniff all the news when they are on the farm and in the farm yard!


Mom, Dad, Sammy-Sam, and I sit outside and watch all the hummingbirds every evening.


We have four pair of Rufus Hummingbirds this year…Mom is really excited.  She says she counted about 30 little hummers.  I don’t get Mom’s excitement, it’s just part of the birds who live on our place.

Now what I find exciting is FOOTPRINTS in the mud!  THAT is exciting!



Our Morning Air was Filled with Angels—Thursday, July 21, 2016


Even if the Devil is loose in the world


Even though time will fade for each of us—


We have the sign of Hope!

I always love seeing Rainbows!

Your friend on a western Colorado Farm,


When the Dark Comes—Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hot-Summer-NightOur days are growing shorter.

Not so very long ago the little birds woke-up just before 5:00 in the morning.  Now it is much, much closer to 5:30. Depending on the clouds it can even be closer to 5:45.

Look-to-the-skyThe sun sets around 8:35 or so in evening.

Hot-Summer-Night-4Our days are now 14 hours and 33 minutes long,  loosing time every day, bringing on the the night faster and faster.

Fence-and-sunsetI love the twilight, but I guess you know that by now.  I never feel a sense of abandonment or that elemental loneliness that some people feel as night rises from the earth.  What I feel is a soundless singing — a hushed exultation as the earth rests and the nocturnal animals and bugs wake

Passing-ThroughThe trees and plants sigh as they start their rest, while the air cools.   Then moon breaks forth in silver light, and the stars fling wide and wild across a deep velvet sky.

From my world to your heart,





An Irresistible Exuberant Delight—-Tuesday, July 19, 2016


We’ve been living with heat for several, several days now.


Miserable heat, the kind that hangs in the air  and never really seems to cool down. (Although, I will take this heat over winter any day!)

Yard-8The weather people said we might have rain yesterday…so we waited.

Then last evening I could see rain playing around us on the Uncompahgre Plateau.

Yard-9Rain chutes filled the sky looking toward Montrose and over toward the Peach Valley area; still the bumblebees and the hummingbirds never exhibited anxious hovering in the flowers like they do before a storm makes it’s way to us.


We set the last set of water in the glow of the Full Thunder Moon; the air more restless than early in the evening.


Then during the night the rains came!  We woke to beautiful fresh air, the ghost of the storm hanging damply on each blade and leaf.

Today is alluring, with clouds moving in again, and the promise of POSSIBLY more rain.  My garden, the farm, and myself are all doing the happy dance!

Your friend on a Western Colorado Farm,


My Love Gave to Me—-Monday, July 18, 2016

Fossils-1When working up the ground this year, Terry found this amazing rock in the two-acre field

Fossils-2He sat it aside and promptly forgot about it until yesterday.   When we were up there checking on the water he remembered it.  Leading me over to the fence line where he had carefully placed it (so he wouldn’t forget) he asked me to look in the particular spot where it was resting…hiding.

A Collection of Fossils!

How blessed I am.


Look to the Sky— Sunday, July 17, 2016


The Full Buck Moon or the Full Thunder Moon will occur July 19, 2016 (6:56 pm ET).

TomatoesJuly…We are experiencing Hot Summer Days and Hot Summer nights.  The heat shimmers like deep violet then fades into blue-black immensity

Yard-1By morning the air has thinned and crisped like distant stars in the sky–a huge relief

Yard-2The Sun rises

Yard-3And the day begins, the balance of our waking hours filled with the immensity of each minute and hour

Yard-10 Then it is night again. The sky swimming with stars, the silver globe of the moon; illuminating the void

Hot-Summer-night-3With that sky so immense it boggles my mind, knowing that it covers you AND I.

No wonder people look to the sky when talking to God…that huge expanse so near at hand, yet so far.

Hot-Summer-Night-1From my world to your heart,