Schmidt House History Talks Are Here Again: the 2023-2024 Schedule

History talks return to the Schmidt House! After a long closure due to COVID and a construction project, we’re pleased to announce that monthly History Talks are back! Join us each month for a free hour-long talk on social or natural history, each presented by a recognized expert. All talks will be at noon on a specified Thursday. First come, first seated until capacity is reached. 

Schmidt house History Talk

November 2

A Confluence of Conservation: A History of the Nisqually Delta and the US Fish and Wildlife Service

Julia Pinnix, Visitor Services Manager for the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Complex, will speak about the Nisqually Delta, a landscape that embraces time, change, and continuity. Two different cultures clashed here, yet connected to hold a space for wildness. Julia will explore some of the storylines that converge in today’s Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.

December 7

Tales from the Crypt 

The Masonic and Odd Fellows’ cemeteries in Tumwater are more than simply the repository of graves; they are the repository of history and stories, more than can be told in one sitting. Noted local historian Dennis Larsen speaks about a few of the more colorful interments: the Tilley family, spanning three generations from an 1852 wagon train to European royalty; Charles Grainger, Chief Leschi’s hangman; Myron Hawley Ranney, a Congressional Medal of Honor winner; Wittington Johnston Sayre and Ann M. Sayre, vigilantes who hanged a sheriff; and James Biles, the alleged ox killer.

January 4

The Old Olympia Brewery: The Non-Beer Years

Schmidt House curator Karen Johnson will discuss the evolution and varied uses of the old Olympia Brewery Buildings at the base of the lower Tumwater Falls. From 1916 through 1964, the old brewery did not make beer. What other businesses existed on the site, and what buildings did they construct? Are any existing buildings original to the brewery? Karen will answer these questions and debunk a few myths along the way. 

February 1

The Whitman Mission and the Oregon Trail

The Oregon National Historic Trail does not pass through the Whitman Mission just west of Walla Walla, even though the first emigrants traveled that way. The original route to the Mission has been undocumented for more than 170 years. The story of finding that route through evidence in trail documents and field research is presented by Dave Welch, long-time member, officer, and current chair of the mapping and marking committee of the Oregon-California Trails Association.

March 7

Six Degrees of Separation

What do Kurt Cobain, General Douglas MacArthur, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind have in common? Would you believe . . . Leopold Schmidt? In this lighthearted talk, Karen Johnson, Schmidt House curator, will explain how many famous people and events can be connected to the founder of the Olympia Brewing Company—based on the theory that anyone in the world can be connected to anyone else in six steps or less.

April 4

Backyard Birding

Join our guest speaker, George Walter, to learn how to better appreciate and enjoy our avian neighbors. In this illustrated talk, George will discuss local birds, their habits, and identifying characteristics. George is the environmental program manager at the Nisqually Indian Tribe’s natural resources department. He’s been observing birds for over 40 years, and writes a birding column for JOLT News.

May 2

Generationally-Linked Archaeology in Our Region

Noted anthropologist and archaeologist Dr. Dale Croes has spent over 40 years studying Northwest Coast basketry and cordage. He and Salishan Master Basketmaker Ed Carriere have co-authored a book on Salish Sea basketry which traces the evolution of traditional Northwest Coast basketmaking from thousands of years ago to contemporary times. Dr. Croes will explain how basketry offers a tangible connection to the past.

Article written and provided by Karen Johnson, Schmidt House Curator.

Picture of Artesian #81
Artesian #81

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