11 November 2013

Overwhelming Need to Change my Plans

Cornerstone in the Museum of Western Colorado
Image: Jen Baldwin, 2013
I spent this past weekend visiting my parents to celebrate my Mom's birthday. (Happy birthday, Momma!) We had an enjoyable weekend with them, and my sister and her family. We decided to take a family expedition to the Western Museum of Colorado to check out their new display, "Distant Treasures in the Mist."

My parents had seen it advertised, it just opened, and we thought it looked interesting. Keep in mind, we have a group of six adults, two twelve year old's, a nine year old, and one four year old. Isn't it wonderful that all of the kiddos were excited to go to the museum?

I digress. 

Having a completely different blog post scheduled to be published this week already in my drafts, I was not expecting to be quite as captivated as I was. However, plans soon change, don't they? I found myself overwhelmed by the need to change my plans. And here's why:

Nearly through the fascinating display of early Spanish influence on western Colorado and the surrounding area, I came across a photo of this item. The museum labeled this piece as a "Decorative sword cover fragment" from a "Masonic Knight's Templar." Found by the Clark family near a stone structure in the Kannah Creek valley. All this particular display had was images of the piece, but I was still captivated. If it ever indicated that the museum had possession of this remarkable piece of history, I missed it. I studied this for some time, finally turning the corner and moving on through the remainder of the exhibit.

As per usual while in a museum, I got separated from the group and wound my way through the rest of the facility on my own. Everyone else had been there at least once, except me, so they graciously allowed me the time and freedom to soak it all in. I was excited to see the pistol belonging to Alfred Packer (convicted of cannibalism in the 1800s in Colorado, but eventually given a full pardon), a replica school house and mining display. What hit me next, though, hit me full in the face.

The actual scabbard portion was there! Right there! 

Forgive me, these are not the best photographs. I could have spent the rest of the day right there in that spot, examining this piece of fraternal history, and all its lovely detail. Made entirely of brass, the engravings were exceptionally well preserved, and such intricate detail! It truly is a piece of art.

The research of the Western Investigations Team (WIT) found that it dates from the 1850s, and may have been from a military unit from that period. The scabbard piece was found with a 19th century muffin-style military button. The site, Kannah Creek, was a common source of fresh water, and certainly a camp site for early survey and military expeditions.

Distinguishable on the scabbard are the traditional image of Emperor Constantine, staring at the cross in the sun, the inverted triangle in the sun, a coat of arms, and a cross with a crown. The last represents the Knight's Templar degree in York Rite masonry. It was originally found in 1961, and had gone missing for forty-five years! It was recovered in 2006 and returned to the museum. The stone structure mentioned above may also be Masonic remnants, but that is yet to be determined.

For me, this was a very exciting find. I was thrilled to discover such a unique and interesting piece of fraternal history right in my own backyard, and on permanent display at a museum down the street from my parents house. (Which means, I can go see it often!)  It may not have been the direction I had planned to go this week, but it certainly has captured my attention and has opened yet another door to walk through. What was fraternal life like for those early explorers, missionaries, and military units? Did they remain engaged in their society or simply walk away from it all?

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