In 1974, a large collection of over 1,800 objects were donated the museum by Laura Huntley. Laura was an avid antique collector and the items in the donation are a valuable resource to the museum.
Laura was born to Albert and Ella (Romke) Giem in Castle Rock, Colorado on April 2, 1895. From there, the family moved to Lytle, Colorado in El Paso County before arriving in the Eight Mile area around 1907. At the time, the children living in the area generally walked over to the Parkdale school. About 1910, the Giem family moved to Cañon City and Laura attended South Cañon High School and was part of the class of 1914.
Laura had first met Paul Huntley while attending school in Parkdale. Later, at the time she lived in Cañon City, Paul was working at the ranch of Dave Walker which was 30 miles from Cañon City. The couple didn’t often have the chance to see each other. Paul began working for Lon Gribble in 1913 and the Gribble Ranch was 20 miles from Cañon City and Paul would ride over to visit Laura when he could. He continued to ask her to marry him and she finally agreed to on Christmas Eve of 1913 with the stipulation he ask her father. Upon being asked, her father said he didn’t want his daughter marrying a no-good, go-to-hell cowboy with only a saddle and a job. Undeterred, the pair found a way to get permission, despite Paul being only 20 and Laura only 18, and they were married on December 24, 1913. As Paul was still working at the Lon Gribble ranch, he and Laura made their way there after their marriage. It had snowed earlier that month so Paul and Laura got a ride from Dave Walker and Lon Gribble as far as 12 Mile, as far as the Buick touring car could go in the deep snow. The newlyweds then walked the rest of the way to the ranch with Paul carrying Laura’s possessions in a suitcase. Paul was making $20 a month with room and board at the ranch where the couple stayed for 5 years.
In 1918, the Huntley’s moved to a homestead on Wilson Creek in North Webster Park. At that time, they had about 100 head of cattle. Then, in 1923, Paul went into partnership with Dudley VanBuskirk. That partnership went on for 20 years before Paul sold out. The couple bought a ranch in Coaldale in the 1950s, selling the land and all the cattle in 1970.
Laura was no stranger to horses, even making a 20-mile round trip horseback ride to the mailbox when she and Paul lived in Webster Park. Every Monday and Friday, Laura would ride the 10 miles to the mailbox, pick up the mail, and ride the 10 miles back home. Paul recalls the first time he saw Laura she was about 12 years old and was riding a horse, herding her parents’ small herd of cattle.
The Rudd House behind the museum was dedicated July 4, 1976 as part of the bicentennial/centennial celebrations of the United States and Colorado. Laura’s collection was placed in the Rudd House and she and Paul were special guests during the dedication.
Laura passed away in 1989 at the age of 94 and is buried in Lakeside Cemetery.
The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.