Bio: Teeples, Violet “Vi” (Thunderbird Museum - 1976)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Teeples

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 8/19/1976

Teeples, Violet “Vi” (Thunderbird Museum - 1976)

Meet Vi Teeples, Indian historian, amateur anthropologist, etc., etc.

By Jean Anderson

It is difficult to find one adjective to describe Violet Teeples of Hatfield. She is not only dynamic and energetic; she is also an amateur anthropologist, Archaeologist, historian, beachcomber, artist, designer, lecturer, nature lover, business woman and carpenter.

Vi has boundless energy and accomplishes what she sets out to do regardless of the number of hours of hard work involved.

Her Thunderbird Museum is an outgrown of her lifelong hobby of collecting Indian artifacts and historical items. What began as a two or three-room Indian museum has mushroomed into 20 rooms of exhibits.

In 1971 she received an award of merit from the State Historical Society “for development of one of the state’s finest privately-owned museums.” Her work was stated to be “distinguished service to history.”

The description accompanying the award adds, “Miss Teeples has personally created the diagrams and life-size room settings that balance case exhibits of Indian artifacts, specialized collections and a variety of items and documents relating to area and local history.”

It states Vi also has the unique distinction of having served as president of two-county historical societies, the Jackson and first president of the Clark County Society.

Through her personal efforts while president of the Jackson County Society, it became owner of Gullickson’s Glen west of Black River Falls, where there are many historic pictographs. The society received the state “Outstanding Certificate of Merit” for the achievement and development of Gullickson’s Glen, Red Cloud Park and Red Cloud Memorial marker, east of Black River Falls.

The development of Red Cloud Park and Red Cloud marker were in memory of Congressional Medal of Honor winner Col. Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr.

These two achievements may not have come had it not been for the close friendship between Vi and the Winnebago Indians.

Vi attended grade school at both the Hatfield and Halcyon schools and recalls several Winnebago children being enrolled there. At Halcyon, the parents of the Winnebago children erected their wigwams in the school yard in the fall and stayed there through the winter term.

“I used to spend a lot of time with them after school and enjoyed listening to their stories,” she said. “I think I first became interested in anthropology at that time and the Indian people have always been my friends.”

Her father, Oscar Teeples, was the superintendent of the Hatfield Power House and they lived nearby. The water that came into the faucets at the house came out of the canal and it could only be used for washing clothes, dishes or bath water. Drinking water had to be carried from a spring each day.

“One day when I was a little girl,” Vi said, “It was my turn to carry the water, and right beside the spring I found my first arrowhead. When I got home, I told my parents, ‘Someday I am going to have the largest arrowhead collection in the world.’ From that day, my greatest hobby has been looking for Indian artifacts.”

She wanted to know more about the origin of Indians and about arrowheads which were associated with their way of life. To satisfy her interest, she has traveled extensively in the United States, Canada and Mexico, read many volumes on Indians, studied reports filed by experts on related subjects, visited many museums and displays about Indians and her interest has grown into a life work.

As there was no written record of the immigrants who trudged presumably from Asia to Alaska and then into this region, she continues to be intrigued by all things which serve as tell-tale evidence indicating how those people lived, traveled and looked.

While on a vacation in Arizona several years ago, she took a course in archaeology and worked with a group on a dig there and with a state archaeologist at Gullickson’s Glen.

In studying Jackson County history, Vi has found that many different Indians frequented the Black River Valley for hundreds of years prior to the arrival of the white man.

They made heavy axes and hammers from the wedge-shaped granite rocks found in the river bed and from the number of arrows, spearheads, knives, skin scrapers and other sharp instruments, she has found along Lake Arbutus in Hatfield, she feels certain battles were fought there on numerous occasions.

During the late 1960s Vi’s father asked if she was still interested in starting a museum, for the thousands of artifacts, and when she answered ‘yes’, he purchased the old Hatfield Hotel for a home for her Thunderbird Museum.

After the building was moved to a new lot, Vi began the task of remodeling it into a museum.

“I liked to do carpenter work as a youngster and my dad said, I was always happy when I had a

(The balance of this article is on another page and I did not receive it. If I do get it in future, I will be sure to put it on here. Dmk)



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