Historical excellence on display

Summer Bonnar, NLJ Reporter

In September the Wyoming Historical Society hosted its annual meeting in downtown Cody, and the meeting’s highlight was an awards banquet for people and organizations nominated and recognized for their interest in and preservation of history. 


Mike Jording, a longtime member of the Weston County Historical Society, was one of the people responsible for seeing that Weston County was well represented at the annual meeting. He and the local society have been successful in this venture because they are very active in the nominating process, and their efforts paid off with dominance of the event again this year. 


“We really had a majority of the award winners. I am very proud of our county for, No. 1, participating in the awards program but also being recognized for the winners that we had,” Jording said.


The awards program has different categories, such as projects, art, electronic media, etc. for which people and organizations can be nominated, and the various historical societies across the state are responsible for nominating people in each category. 


A big part of the awards banquet was recognizing the kids throughout the state who have been nominated, and Weston County was a leader in that area as well.


According to the Wyoming Historical Society’s award brochure, eight of the 12 Young Historian and Junior awards went to students from Newcastle and Upton.


“It is terrific for us to have students like that, to participate and receive the awards,” Jording explained, noting that he and his peers work closely with the teachers in the county to gather projects worthy of nomination.


“We have developed a communication, so they know we are looking for projects that they have done that represent Wyoming history,” Jording said.


The society has had a good relationship with the school system, according to Jording. They work closely with the fourth grade teachers in Newcastle, in particular, as well as the fourth grade, middle school and high school teachers in Upton. Society members go to the schools to see the projects while they are on display, or even during class presentations. They then review the projects and pick a number of them to nominate for the awards program at the annual meeting. 


“We are awfully proud of the students that participated and won awards,” Jording said on behalf of Weston County Historical Society. “They traveled from Newcastle to Cody to our annual meeting to receive the awards at the awards banquet,” he said.


School-age works done in the interest of Wyoming history are not the only projects Jording nominates. 


“The society’s award program also has categories for preservation of buildings and preservation of non-buildings,” he said.


Weston County residents were nominated this year for historical efforts ranging from home preservation to preservation of historical documents.


“This year Weston County nominated individuals in each of those categories for their outstanding preservation efforts,” Jording said.


One of the most interesting nominations was for Upton resident Liz Barritt, who has been recognized with the Outstanding Historic Preservation Project from Wyoming History News after she came into the possession of an old, moldy suitcase that was circulating in her family.


Known as the Herbert Jr. Peck Collection, the suitcase and its belongings once belonged to an Upton High School graduate. This particular graduate married Barritt’s mother before he  fought and was killed in World War II.


“She got a hold of them. She recognized the value of them and preserved them, and did everything she could to make them presentable. It is more than an outstanding record,” Jording said.


An important part of what Jording does is find and encourage people to take an interest in Wyoming history. 


“[None] of these nominations and award winners start out by entering a contest. They are projects in school or the community that begin as a school assignment, teachers’ interest in Wyoming history, people’s interest in their state and community or people’s recognition of what is the right thing to do with historic discoveries right before their eyes,” Jording explained.


Thus, the importance of the awards banquet lies in the fact that all the nominees created or developed their projects out of respect for Wyoming history. 


Not only were Weston County’s community members recognized for their historical preservation efforts, but the chapter won an award as well.


The Weston County chapter of the Wyoming Historical Society was awarded first place in publications under the pamphlets category. According to Wyoming History News, the county published “Cheyenne River History: Middle Section Weston County” and the publication was nominated for excellence. 


As active nominators, the local society does well in its efforts to involve Weston County in historical preservation and in drawing interest to Wyoming history itself. 


“We nominated other people that didn’t win, but they didn’t not win for lack of excellence. There was competition in the other categories, for sure,” Jording said.


Individuals of all ages across the state are encouraged by the state society to dive into Wyoming’s rich history, but the awards ceremonies through the years are testament to Weston County’s commitment to encouraging people to do just that.


“In the Wyoming History News, there’s a listing of the state’s award winners, and Newcastle and Upton shined in that,” Jording said.



Weston County Historical Society Awards

Publications: Pamphlet
1st Place, Cheyenne River History: Middle Section Weston County, by Weston County Historical Society.


1st Place, Upton Veteran Banner Project, by Jackie and Vivien Cowger, Upton


Audio/Visual Non-Professional
1st Place, Weston County Church Music & the Women Who Played the Music, by Hanna Gross, Newcastle


Young Historian: Grades 3 to 5
1st Place, Buffalo Jump, by Laura Lipp, Newcastle
2nd Place, My Indian Village, by Kinsley Mullen, Newcastle
3rd Place, Wyoming Indian History, by Maizy Owens, Newcastle


Junior Activities: Grades 3 to 5
1st Place, The Wyoming Buffalo Jumps, by Tyler Rhoades, Newcastle
2nd Place, Native American Clothing, by Cameo Hurtado, Newcastle
3rd Place, Learning Why…, by McCall Benson, Newcastle


Junior Activities: Grades 6 to 8
3rd Place, Wyoming Women Pave the Way for Change, by Paige Mills & William Bowen, Upton


Junior Activities: Grades 9 to 12
2nd Place, Veteran’s Day Assembly Community Service Project, by Reece Riehemann, Addison Gustaf & Karstyn Garcia, Newcastle


Wyoming Historical Society Chapter Award
1st Place, Digitization of George Butler, Photographic Negatives, Weston County Historical Society


Maurine Carley Memorial Historic Preservation Award
Home Restoration of 2 E Wentworth St. Newcastle, WY, By Benjamin and Nachele Roberts, Newcastle


Outstanding Historic Preservation Project
Herbert Jr. Peck Collection, by Liz Barritt, Upton


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