This past week I had a wonderful brush with history when I met with the grandaughter of Nick Tredennick, a long time miner and prominent citizen of Cooke City. This meeting had been years in the making. While researching the Tredennick family for the Museum nearly three years ago I had become acquainted with Kathy Kleppinger; we exchanged emails and she was kind enough to lend the museum family photos to scan and use in our exhibits. This spring I received an email from Kathy saying that her and her husband planned to visit the area in August, and I eagerly wrote a note on my calendar. I knew this would be a very special meeting.
On Sunday, August 7th Kathy and her husband Trig arrived, and not more than two minutes after hugs and initial hellos we were deep in discussion over some photos that she had brought. Her naming the people, I naming the buildings and places. We then toured the museum together, looking for items related to the Tredennick family, which were many. We found school census records with the Tredennick daughters listed, quite possibly written in their mother Helen's hand and images of the family in many of our exhibits. When I mentioned how personal the Tredennick family is to me I was quickly "adopted" into the family. It was thrilling for us both. These are the moments I dream of when building an exhibit.
Kathy left the photos she brought with us to be scanned and returned. Our history has been enriched by this meeting, and I hope hers has as well.
In the coming years, I have a vision of this Museum becoming a place for people to be able to research their history. In order to give visitors the best experience we have to expand our knowledge by inviting them to bring in their family photos, documents and artifacts to share. This year we have purchased a fireproof filing cabinet to protect that which has been given to us. It is the first step in creating a space that can safely house archival material for generations to come. We still need more fire-proof storage units and archival boxes as well as additional scanners. Please join us in supporting this new mission!
Kathy Kleppinger and Kelly with an image of two Tredennick girls and their dog Jim.
The Helena Independent, March 18, 1893
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