As we celebrate the Sublette County Centennial, did you ever stop to think how truly unique this place is? Try to think of another community that, for the average person, can only be visited by wheels on pavement. And, ten decades ago those roads were dirt, if at all.
Now name another county whose history has been maintained in writing by a group of everyday women. One dare not call them ordinary, though I doubt you know much about them.
Over the next few weeks you will meet a few of them.
It’s always best to start at the beginning.
Imagine a young woman Lora Neal, well-educated for the times, teaching school in Ogallala, Neb. around 1906. She married a rancher and all went well for a few years until a horrid blizzard killed all the livestock.
They moved on to ranch near Merna here in Sublette County and welcomed their fourth child. Busy with family and ranch, Lora Neal Jewett also involved herself with the school board, politics and a national writers club. This latter passion she brought into existence here as what is now known as the Sublette County Artists’ Guild.
Five other women joined her in 1928 — Josephine Jons Jones, Marie Meyer, Mary Annette Murdock, Louise “Louie” Rathbun and May McAlister Sommers — all of them educated and most of them schoolteachers. One was a linguist, another Pinedale’s first librarian and a third became the county superintendent of schools. Two members moved away but cherished their time in the group; the other five continued until they passed away.
Participation in their writers’ club offered these ladies an outlet for their writing talents, encouragement to grow and share, and doubtless many fun afternoons.
Can’t you just hear Josephine Jons Jones call out “Tell me some words that rhyme with cellophane,” or May McAlister Sommers wondering if readers would believe her story, Things are not what they seem, or suspect it may be a tall tale? You will have to locate a copy of Carvings on the Aspens and decide for yourself. Mrs. Jones’ poem is reprinted here with one by Marie Meyer.
Over its 94-year history the Sublette County Artists’ Guild has put out seven publications featuring members’ contributions in poetry, personal experiences and local history. Excerpts from these will be read by today’s members in conjunction with Delsa Allen’s photography exhibition and reception at the Lovatt Room at the Pinedale Library on Oct. 14.
Today there came a-sailing
A fairy aeroplane.
A dragon-fly as shining
As though made of cellophane.
As crystal clear as innocence
It floated there above
Frail and effervescent
Like a maid’s first love!
By Josephine Irby Jons
Sere sage raises clumpy brush
As if to try and rush, heavenward.
To earth it’s tethered
Hard and fast-intact!
Sage brush at the edge of spring
Is a tangy, spicy, living thing,
But winter paints in desolation
Wyoming’s gift of decoration
By Marie Meyer