From left to right: Cort Conley, Sr. Mary Paulé Tacke, Charlie Cone, Frances Wisner, Sabi Frei, Bill Wassmuth, and Ray Holes.

“Sometimes, reality is too complex, but stories will give it a form,” said author Cort Conley.

The Gem State author wrapped up the 2018 Fall Lecture Series for the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude on Oct. 25, speaking on unique Idaho County characters and of some less familiar backstories.

“When I was asked to come tell stories connected to the museum’s incredible new displays, I couldn’t refuse because this is a special place and it has a special history,” Conley said. “We all live in a network of stories, and some of them take up residence in our hearts. In the words of [novelist] Eudora Welty, ‘They just come out, like a mouse from its hole.’”

Conley’s presentation was the official celebration of the new Historical Museum exhibit featuring people of Camas Prairie and the surrounding river areas. From saintly service abroad to clowning to saddle craftsmanship, the reasons why these people are remembered are varied and compelling.

Sister Mary Paulé Tacke founded schools in Africa and developed a reputation for bad driving. Charlie Cone tried many different career endeavors but never gave up his love of clowning. Frances Wisner grew a broad readership as a columnist from her remote home on the Salmon River. Sabi Frei became a legend from simple dedication and good cheer. Bill Wassmuth was a human rights activist who helped thwart white supremacists in Idaho. Ray Holes sent expertly crafted saddles around the world from his shop in Grangeville. These are just a few of the people you will meet on your next visit to the Historical Museum.

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