A few weeks ago, I sent an email inquiry to the Grand Encampment Museum to inquire whether they had any photos or information about Dick and Lydia Parr. The museum director said they did, so you know what that means…Field Trip!
Finally, I had my opportunity yesterday – Dale was out of town, and the weather was beautiful. I called ahead to make sure they were open and got some great news: one of the tour guides on duty was a Parr family descendent.
It’s about three and a half hours from Longmont, a lovely drive through cowboy country. The Grand Encampment Museum is located in southern Carbon County, Wyoming. Coincidentally, Dale and I were there a year ago when we visited the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort just down the road. At the time, I didn’t know I had a family connection to Encampment.
The museum director immediately introduced me to the tour guide, also named Karen. Her grandmother was Alice Parr, the older sister of Dick Parr. So that meant her great-uncle Dick Parr was married to my great-great-aunt Lydia Parr. Wow!
Karen remembered that as a teenager, she would often go with her mother to deliver meals and baked goods to Dick and Lydia. Lydia was in poor health at the time, nearly bedridden, and did not want children as visitors. So Karen would wait in the car.
Karen had a lot of information to share about the Parr family. Turns out the Parr family first settled in Carbon to work at the coal mine, and were there at the same time as my Brodd ancestors (small world!). They came to Encampment in about 1878. Karen confirmed some of the details I’d already learned on Ancestry – that the father, James, had died in 1902 (in an accident involving a runaway team of horses as he hauled freight to and from the mining camps), and that three of the boys had died during a typhoid fever outbreak.
Karen believes that the woman in the picture with Dick is his older sister Clara Parr Finch. According to the local history book, “Clara was the first white child born in Encampment.”
The museum had a file folder of Parr family photos, and I was lucky enough to find a picture of Lydia among them.
Zooming in on her face, I have no doubt it’s her, she’s easily recognized by her smile and dimples.
Karen told me that the cabin in the background is typical of homesteader cabins out on the ranches in the area.
One of the things that makes the Grand Encampment Museum so special is the photo collection of Lora Webb Nichols. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, her family settled in Encampment and she was given a camera as a teenager. Photography turned into a lifelong passion. She captured images of the people and landscape, and did her own film developing and printing. The museum has preserved her collection of 24,000 negatives and prints. All the while, she raised six children and ran several businesses. Her biography was written by none other than Nancy Anderson, the museum director over at Hanna Basin. I met Nancy in 2014 researching the Brodd family, and discovered that her husband’s ancestor had likely been a business partner to J.W. Johnson.
There is an entire website dedicated to Lora’s work. Included there is a link to a Wyoming PBS special about her – I’ll be watching that later today.
So ANYWAY, I searched through the index of Lora’s photos and sure enough, I turned up one for Lydia. Here she is in 1930, standing on a snowbank with her dog. Lovely!
View all the photos I collected yesterday in the gallery below – read each of the captions for more details. (I like how the dog manages to get into every picture he can.)
I ended my day with a visit to the cemetery where Dick and Lydia are buried – details on that next time.
p.s. Here are links to all the installments in this story line:
- Aunt Lydie, re-examined
- Lydia Novak
- Lydia Parr
- Dick and Lydia in Colorado
- Dick and Lydia in Encampment
- Dick and Lydia’s final years