Workers help historians solve some Wheeler Stallard secrets
Some dusty items found recently in the walls of the Aspen Historical Society’s Wheeler Stallard House raise some questions, but they may also provide some answers.Did a hollow ball with a rattle inside entertain a child or a pet? What did a check for $144 buy 100 years ago? We can only guess.But the check, along with other documents, apparently confirms at least one uncertain aspect of the building’s history – that the Stallard family actually lived in the Wheeler Stallard House.The objects were found during a renovation of the house, which has been used for many years by the historical society as a museum.Workers tearing out walls as part of the renovation project have discovered a number of items that apparently fell down inside the walls from the attic over the years. The objects include numerous canceled checks, a few letters, pages from an issue of “Engineering and Mining Journal,” a Christmas gift guide from 1886, a tarnished glass Christmas ornament, probably from the 1930s, and the hollow wooden ball, thought to be from Victorian times.Letters addressed to Edgar Stallard and more than a dozen canceled checks imprinted with “Edgar Stallard Real Estate and Loans” and “The First National Bank, Aspen, Co” make it more certain Stallard and his family actually lived in the house in the early years of the twentieth century. There has been some question because, though the Stallards were thought to have occupied the house in 1905, documents show they did not buy it until 1917.”This place had a sketchy history, but this validates that they were here,” said Bonnie Murry, president of the society’s board of trustees.The checks are canceled with the word “PAID” punched through the middle. Some are written for small amounts and others for larger sums. They are dated between 1893 and 1897.”Most of the stuff predates the Stallards’ occupancy of the house,” said Lisa Hancock, curator for the Historical Society. But that likely explains why the items were in the attic, she noted.Members of the construction crew brought each of their finds to historical society staff members, said Sami Pierson, the society’s archivist.”It was just like opening Christmas presents,” Murry said.A typed letter to Mr. Stallard, dated Dec. 14, 1903, is on stationery of the Salt Lake Theatre and the Salt Lake Dramatic Association. It is signed by a George D. Pyper.Another letter, this one handwritten, is dated Sept. 26, 1904. It is on the stationery of a Salt Lake City hotel, and its author’s signature is unreadable.A third letter, dated April 4, 1887, is from the Grand River Coal and Coke Co. in Glenwood Springs. It is signed “Wally.”A booklet, entitled “What Shall We Give Our Friends,” dated 1886, is subtitled “A Guide In The Selection Of Holiday Gifts.” It was put out by E. P. Dutton & Co., and suggests gifts such as stationery, “colorbooks” for children, and songs.The pages from the “Engineering and Mining Journal,” dated Nov. 17, 1883, contain mining stock quotes, bullion market quotes, and short articles on various mining operations around the American West.Also found was a torn fragment of the front page of “The Aspen Times,” from Oct. 18, 1926, and a gilt-edged card with a reproduction of an odd painting, depicting a canoe and paddler apparently paddling into a bush on the waters of a mountain lake.The workers also discovered, upon removing water-damaged wall paneling on the second floor, that the front bedroom was originally connected to the west bedroom by a large doorway, to form a suite.
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