The Saratoga Sun -

By Christy Smith
Special to the Saratoga Sun 

GEM features extraordinary woman and her little dog, too


Did you know the Grand Encampment Museum (GEM) houses collections that highlight the lives of extraordinary women of the Upper North Platte Valley? One such collection is the Lora Webb Nichols collection. Another collection is the Kyner Collection. This collection includes Mrs. Hettie Kyner’s diaries, clothing, letters, manuscripts, and Teddy (the beloved stuffed dog).

Ruth Johanna “Hettie” Parker was born in May of 1862. She had three brothers and spent her childhood and early adult life in a rural community in central New York. She was a slender woman with fine features. She enjoyed sewing and making battenburg lace. She enjoyed dancing and gave voice and music lessons to neighbors. Hettie started writing the first of many diaries in 1896 when she was 34 years of age. All of Hettie’s diaries are archived at the GEM, as well as many of her dresses.

Hettie also loved Teddy, her dog, very much. Teddy was mentioned daily in Hettie’s diaries. Teddy died from his injuries after being run over by a wagon in Omaha, Nebraska. To show her love for Teddy, Hettie took him to a taxidermist so he could be with her for the rest of her life. Although Teddy did not live a long life, he is forever remembered because he is on display at the GEM!

Though Hettie and her husband, James, only lived in Encampment for a short time, they made a big impact. Hettie’s clothing will be showcased at the Spring Tea and Fashion Show and a portion of this collection will also be exhibited in the Doc Culleton Interpretative Center. The exhibit and Spring Tea are possible thanks to a grant from the Wyoming Community Foundation.

Come hear about Ms. Hettie Kyner’s interesting story at the Spring Tea on May 21st at 2 p.m. at the Encampment Opera House. Admission is $10 per person. Proceeds from this event will go toward the GEM Textile Preservation Project. Hettie’s life story will be presented with a display of photos, diaries, and clothing, as well as a short fashion show of some of her own dresses from that time period. This event and the new exhibit is in honor of Ms. Susanna Yatman, granddaughter of Hettie Kyner.

If you are unable to make it to the Spring Tea, stop by the GEM this summer! An exhibit about Hettie and her story will be on display in the Doc Culleton Interpretative Center. And Teddy will be there, too!

The Wyoming Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization that works with donors to support charitable causes they care most about. In 2015 the Wyoming Community Foundation granted $6.1 million to causes across the state.

For information call 307-721-8300 or visit their website at


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