Currently, our curator is conducting an inventory of artifacts in the historic Rudd Cabin. One such artifact is a sewing machine that was brought to Denver in a covered wagon by James and Anne Clelland in 1865. James was born in Scotland in 1823 and married Anne in 1845. They immigrated to the United States in 1848 and lived in various states before making their way to Colorado. James moved to Cañon City in 1871 and his family followed a year later. Their only daughter, Frances, married James Peabody who was Governor of Colorado from 1903-1905.
Allen Wilson received a patent on a sewing machine in 1850 and partnered with Nathaniel Wheeler to form the Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Company. The company was highly successful and received numerous awards for its design. In 1905, the Singer corporation purchased the company and continued to promote the Wheeler and Wilson machines for another decade before they were phased out with newer designs.
Traveling in a covered wagon was a massive undertaking where only so much weight could be pulled by the oxen. Food was a priority, so along the way many things would be tossed out if they were deemed less than necessary. For this sewing machine to make it all the way across the plains meant it must have held great value to the family. It was donated to the museum in 1928, making it a wonderful addition to the cabin.
The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.