About the Buildings

  The Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum is one large complex originally made up of two buildings. The first building, located behind the Johnson County Courthouse, is where the museum began in 1957. In 1987 the Johnson County Library moved and the county decided that the old library building would become part of the museum in 1989. The two buildings were connected and today, the museum houses the exhibits while the old library building became the Visitors’ Lobby and the Museum Store.

 
 

  The building of the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum’s store was originally the Johnson County Library. The building itself is one of the 1,679 libraries philanthropist Andrew Carnegie built across the United States between 1886 and 1919. The Johnson County Library was added to the National Register

Why is the museum named Johnson County Library?

of Historic Places on November 7, 1976. Due to the requirements of the National Register, when the building was added to the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum, the Johnson County Library sign was retained.

The Jenkins Family Homestead

  Located in front of the museum is the Jenkins Family log cabin. The cabin was built in 1916 by Marshall D. Jenkins, just north of the town of Kaycee. When the Homestead Act of 1862 was passed many families such as the Jenkins packed their belongings and headed to Wyoming to create a new life for themselves.

  Homesteading in Wyoming meant facing the challenges of heat, drought, hail, lightning, blizzards, isolation, lawlessness, and backbreaking labor. In 1925 Jenkins sold his homestead patents, including the cabin, and moved his family to Midwest, Wyoming. In 1982 Polly Jenkins purchased her childhood home and moved it to Story, Wyoming. The log cabin reached its final destination at the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum in 2005 when the family donated the homestead and its contents.