Howdy! Welcome to the Black American West Museum! Founded in 1971 by Paul W. Stewart, the Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving and disseminating the contributions of Blacks in the Old West.
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WHAT IS THE BLACK AMERICAN WEST MUSEUM AND HERITAGE CENTER
While famous for telling the story of Black cowboys, we are broader than this with interests in the stories of all those early Blacks who came west and performed as miners, soldiers, homesteaders, ranchers, blacksmiths, schoolteachers, lawmen, and every other profession needed to build up the West. In fact, the Museum itself is in the home of Dr. Justina Ford, Colorado's first Black woman doctor!
Our Museum is broken into many diverse exhibits such as our homestead exhibit. This exhibit is primarily dedicated to the town of Dearfield, Colorado. Dearfield was a Black pioneer town founded by O.T. Jackson in 1910 just east of Greeley, Colorado. It was a bustling town of approximately 500 residents founded on the principles of Booker T. Washington. It was successful until the 1930s when depression, drought and dust storms forced most of the residents back to the cities. In the early 1940s, the town dwindled to about a dozen full time residents and finally ended shortly thereafter. The town is now a ghost town and the Museum owns many of the city lots.
In the Cowboy exhibit, there are many items and photographs from famous and not-so-famous Black cowboys. See saddles, spurs, hats, chaps, boots and other cowboy necessities from many of these cowboys. Learn how each of these daily tools of the Black cowboy were used and valued. Did you know that 1 in 3 cowboys were Black?
In the military exhibits, you will see the story of the Buffalo Soldiers. These were the Black military units, both cavalry and infantry, and their stories which were very important to settling of West and beyond. Also, learn about the Tuskegee airmen and their heroics during World War II in their support of our winning war effort. In addition to many photographs and timelines, we have uniforms, saddles, weapons and additional tools of the soldier of the West.
When you have finished with the exhibits of the Museum, visit our hall of education and catch an old Western movie starring Herbert Jeffries, a singing Black cowboy from the 1930s. Or perhaps, you would like to learn more about Dearfield, Colorado? We have the answer in a short (30 minute) video which is both entertaining and educational. We also have many other documentaries on the Black West.
Finally, come on back upstairs to our bookstore and browse the many titles that we have on hand about the Old West and the many Blacks that helped build it. If we are not too busy, our docents can talk with you at length about any questions you might have, sign you up for a membership, or just listen to anything that might be on your mind. You see we still believe in Western hospitality!