Bringing in people from far and wide, Jim enjoyed getting to know his customers and befriended many. Famous Army scouts, cowboys, settlers, cattle barons, and lawmen would all frequent the pharmacy sharing with Jim their stories of life, work, and war.
Before landing in Buffalo, Wyoming, Jim had grown up on a Lakota reservation and was fluent in the Lakota language. Through this and his caring nature, he became a trusted friend of the region’s Native Americans. They brought him many gifts throughout the years including guns, war bonnets, tools, medicine bags, bows, arrows, and clothing. As word about the gifts got out, local residents began donating mementos of historic names, places, and events from Johnson County.
All of the artifacts Jim received have a unique role in telling of the culture and history of Johnson County. After Jim Gatchell’s death in 1954, his family generously donated his vast collection to the people of Johnson County with the provision that a museum be built to house it. After three years of fundraising, the museum was established in 1957.
Nearly forty years later in the early 1990s, the museum came upon hard times financially as Johnson County struggled with a declining economy. In an effort to keep the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum in operation, a group of community-minded individuals formed the Gatchell Museum Association, Inc. The GMA made it their mission to raise money for future support of the museum and they have been building an endowment fund and supporting many museum projects ever since.
To learn more about the Gatchell Museum Association, Inc., visit our GMA site page!
Our museum is dedicated to sustaining the late Jim Gatchell’s vision of preserving the history of Johnson County, Wyoming through the collection and conservation of related art and artifacts. We will develop interpretive exhibits, publications, and programs to help educate our visitors on the historical events that shaped modern-day Johnson County.
Our vision is to become a nationally-recognized, community-supported museum for local and regional history.
Johnson County (JC) provides funding as available for the operation of the museum through the county mill levy authorized under Wyoming Statute 39-12-1-4(b)(i)(D). JC provides funding for maintenance and infrastructure. JC appoints a board of trustees as provided under Wyoming Statute 18-10-101 through 105.
The museum board of trustees is responsible for employing and supervising an executive director who is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the museum. The museum board of trustees holds monthly public meetings where they review expenditures and incomes of the museum.
In recent years, JC has contributed approximately half of the museum’s overall budgeted income. Other sources of income include admissions, store sales, grants, and donations.
The museum board of trustees meets on the second Thursday of each month at 3:00 p.m. at the museum. The meetings are open to the public. Please contact Director Sylvia Bruner if you wish to be scheduled on the agenda.
You can access our public meeting notes, documents, and records at our Google Drive archives here.
If you would like to donate directly to support the projects and programs of the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum, please consider donating to the museum’s restricted funds.
These funds are used solely for their defined purposes and are built by the generosity of our donors. No county/taxpayer funds are included.
Current and ongoing projects include: