#lookback: Treet Family: Windsor Parlor Organ

A series where we take a #lookback at the stories and history of our community, brought to you by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

The Lander Pioneer Museum recently received a donation of a beautiful Windsor Parlor organ. The organ, from the early 1900s, belonged to the Treet family who had a cabin in Sinks Canyon.

Before radio and TV, homes that could afford it almost always had a piano or organ where the family and friends would often gather to play and hear music. Getting such an instrument to Lander usually meant ordering it from a Sears or Montgomery Ward catalog, then having the organ or piano shipped. This often required a long journey in a freight wagon to town, then a farm wagon to the home.

The famous Montgomery Ward Department Store chain manufactured and sold pianos under the Windsor and Clayton brand names from about 1900 until about 1949. Both Clayton and Windsor pianos were sold by the thousands in larger Montgomery Ward stores and in their sales catalogs. Much of their success was accredited to Montgomery Ward’s aggressive financing plans which made their pianos available to people all over the country.

Since Montgomery Ward sold these instruments through their mail order catalogs, they were often sent to the most rural parts of the country, usually by wagon and train. They would go to both extreme hot and cold climates, dry and moist climates, and the manufacturer had to guarantee them to hold up. Many people think since a piano was made and sold by Montgomery Ward that it must be an average quality piano. These pianos were, in fact, exceedingly well made with substantial tone quality and excellent workmanship.

During the mid to late 19th Century, most major manufacturers were building organs for home use. These were commonly referred to a “Parlor Organs”, “Reed Organs” and “Pump Organs”. These organs were operated via pumping of large foot pedals which would force air across a bank of reeds. Early organs were fairly basic in design and appearance, but the organs built in the last quarter of the 19th Century were some of the most elaborate and lavish instruments money could buy. The organs built during this era often had very high backs with carved panels, shelves, mirrors, etc. They were truly a hallmark in Victorian design! By the-turn-of-the-century, the organ had all but disappeared as the piano became the instrument of choice for the American home.

Next up for the Fremont County Museums

October 6th, 3pm at the Riverton Museum, “Ghost Stories, Urban Myths & Legends: By Alma Law”

Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

October 13th, Noon at the Riverton Museum, “Fall Fest for Kids”

Children’s Exploration Series

October 20th, 3pm at the Dubois Museum, “Halloween Crafts & Games”

Children’s Exploration Series

October 26, 6:30pm at the Riverton Museum, “Haunted Downtown Walking Tour”

Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series

October 26 & 27, 6:00-9:00pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Halloween Night at the Museum”

Children’s Exploration Series

The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum work extremely hard to provide programs, care for the facilities, create exhibits and care for the thousands of artifacts and archival documents in the collections of the museums. In order to consistently accomplish these objectives the museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector. Please make your tax deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Fremont County Museums 450 N 2nd Rm 320 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.