Maps and Memory

A piece of Wyoming history is coming into my care. The map, “The History and Romance of Wyoming” prepared by Dr. Grace Raymond Hebard and Paul M. Paine in 1928 and reprinted in 1936, was a gift to Wyoming flag designer, Verna Keays Keyes and now to me.

Map of the History and Romance of Wyoming
Map of the History and Romance of Wyoming, Box 74, Grace Raymond Hebard Papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

One of Keyes’ granddaughter, Rebecca Keays, is both generous and inspired in her determination to honor her grandmother’s service to Wyoming. Through good fortune and a great librarian at the Natrona County Library, I was connected with Rebecca the week of my first presentation of, “The Wyoming State Flag and the Women Who Make it Fly” in September 2019. Since then, we have shared information about Verna, research, and ideas. This familial connection to Verna has enriched my understanding and my presentations, starting most modestly with a scanned copy of a 1936 letter that the family recently donated to the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum.

I wrote before about the reproduction of this map that helped to spur me into action: getting my business license and selling my presentations. For every presentation I’ve given so far, I have that map displayed next to me, “The History and Romance of Wyoming.” At first, it was just an example of Dr. Hebard’s interests in Wyoming and her romanticizing tendencies. After the family shared this 1936 letter with me, I was suddenly able to tie the map to Verna and the flag.

In February, 1936 Dr. Hebard mailed a copy of her History and Romance map to Verna, reminiscing, “Those were wonderful days, were they not, Verna, when we were working hard to get a flag and I little thought we could get anything so lasting and satisfactory.”

February 10, 1936 letter from Dr. Hebard to Verna Keays Keyes- Keays Family Collection
February 10, 1936 letter from Dr. Grace Hebard to Verna Keays Keyes, Courtesy of Rebecca Keays Family Collection, Original currently held in the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum collection

Early in 1936, Dr. Hebard sent out several letters similar to this where she reminisced about the work she accomplished in her lifetime. It is likely that this was the last correspondence between Verna and Dr. Hebard. Later in October of that year, Dr. Hebard would succumb to the illness she battled for the last several years. As evidenced by the map and letter, Verna’s flag was a treasured piece of Hebard’s romantic Wyoming, which featured many of her vast interests across the state.

The map, itself, was drawn by Paul M. Paine under Dr. Hebard’s direction and using the materials she gathered, such as maps, trail information, photographs of livestock, and the literature of the state. The maps, photographs, and trail information were, of course, all created and complied by Dr. Hebard.

Paul M. Paine at a Writing Desk
Paul M. Paine at a Writing Desk, George W. Fenner World War I Photographs, Syracuse, NY, 1918, Onondaga County Public Library, Local History and Genealogy.

Paine was a prominent librarian in Syracuse, New York, who by 1928 was becoming well known for his delightfully artistic educational maps. Dr. Hebard displayed his maps in her classroom and was determined to have one done in the same style for Wyoming. She was particularly fond of, “The Booklovers Map of the British Isles” (1927). She enjoyed the red seal on the side and the “other attractive bits of art that add greatly to its appearance.”[1]  Dr. Hebard’s map would feature these elements tenfold starting with a border of illustrated Wyoming scenes and symbols. The illustrations continue onto the map depicting historic events, topography, and wildlife. She envisioned using the map in her course on the History of Wyoming and perhaps selling it to libraries across the states.

Like many of her projects on Wyoming, Dr. Hebard was willing to invest her own money to make it happen. In the same letter where she details what she likes about the British Isles map, she assures Paine that she will bear the cost and ease the burden of research, “I presume that the stumbling clock which is not an uncommon one in this life, would be the expense of financing all such artistic pieces of work as you have put out for other purposes.” [2] Their other letters show a record of Dr. Hebard paying Paine for his labor and giving him a percentage from the sales of the map. She also sent checks to the printers, bought a zinc etching of the map, and took on the expense of mailing the finished product to Paine’s list of friends. The map began printing in 1928 and continued on into the 1930s, being sold to students and interested parties for 75 cents a copy.

The way Dr. Hebard took on financing the map beyond its first print in 1928 and into the 30s, prompted Paine to write her, “It seems to me that you are taking a risk in letting me set the figure myself, but I judge from this and former experiences that you are somewhat reckless.” [3] His letter goes on to lament on his struggles to get a similar map of Pennsylvania published. Hebard’s somewhat reckless investment in the Wyoming map prompted him to opine, “I wish there was a Grace Raymond Hebard in Pennsylvania.” Recklessly determined, Hebard accomplished her goals for Wyoming no matter the cost.

In early 1936, with the opportunity presented by the need to have a new zinc etching made, Hebard and Paine revised the map by changing two dates and adjusting some of the illustrations. “While I am about it, I think I will try to improve the map in some other details. One of the horses which appear on the margin is no credit to Wyoming, but belongs in the bone yard.” [4] That year, Dr. Hebard turned the sale of the map over to the American Association of University Women as a fundraiser for their scholarships. Again, she took on the costs of the new zinc etching and printing. Paine was happy to join her cause, “You are doing a generous act and I want to help you in any way I can.” [5]  It was the year Dr. Hebard was reminiscing over her accomplishments and wrapping up her business. That year she donated thousands of dollars to her sister’s memorial scholarship and turning over the sales of this map, she ensured that the visual summary of her life’s work on Wyoming would continue to benefit the education of women well into the future.

To say that I am honored to become the steward of this map is an understatement. I feel a responsibility to make it accessible to Wyomingites and to utilize it as a tool to educate about the history of the state. In that way, it is serving its original function as a teaching aid. Hopefully, like it did in 1936, it will also help to fund this education and further my research on Wyoming.

There is, however, another dimension to taking on this stewardship– and that is Verna. Her papers, artwork, and artifacts can be found in the museum and library in her hometown of Buffalo, at the American Heritage Center in Laramie, at the State Museum and State Archives in Cheyenne, and still with her family. Verna Keays Keyes is scattered and letters, like the one featured in this blog post, were only known to the family before last year. Before taking on the responsibility of this map, I was already in the process of gathering Verna. How do we remember a life? It starts with what is left behind and where it ends up. As a historian and researcher, I have been asked by several descendants for my opinion on where their family artifacts and papers should go. If not to stay with the family, I tend to prefer the open-access of an archive over a museum with rotating displays, plexiglass between you and the collection, and fuzzy rules on research. I must admit that I have never factored myself into this until now. Now, as the new repository for this artifact, I feel a weighty responsibility for this history and a strengthened determination to not allow her story to remain scattered and unknown across the state.

[1] Letter, Dr. Grace Raymond Hebard to Paul M. Paine, January 14, 1928, Box 41, Folder 9, GRH Papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

[2] Ibid.Box 41, Folder 9, GRH Papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

[3] Letter, Paul M. Paine to Dr. Grace Raymond Hebard, August 3, 1931.Box 41, Folder 9, GRH Papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

[4] Letter, Paul M. Paine to Dr. Grace Raymond Hebard, February 24, 1936.Box 41, Folder 9, GRH Papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

[5] Ibid.Box 41, Folder 9, GRH Papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

1 thought on “Maps and Memory”

  1. It is very special that you are talking to people who knew Verna Keyes and the letters she wrote to them and her special attachment to Wyoming. It reminded me of a song from the play Wicked called “For Good”. …people who we meet and learn from can change our lives for the good. Keep up your good research on the history of the Wyoming Flag, Map and Mrs Keyes. We enjoy and learn from your writings about historical information.

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