June Murdock Shaputis' Biography Page
Family Genealogist and Chaffee County, Colorado Historian

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June Shaputis 2000

 

Hi. My name is June Murdock (McDonough) Shaputis. I lived in Chaffee County, Colorado for 33 years and am considered to be one of the local historians of that particular area. I am also one of my family's genealogists.

My forte is researching the lives of people buried in Chaffee County, Colorado and sharing their stories and the sources with others for free. I believe, "Rich or poor, famous or infamous, everyone's life is unique and everyone has a story to tell. Each person contributed to this area in some way, good or bad."

I have written a historical column, Over The Shoulder, which has been published in the Chaffee County Times in Buena Vista for many years. I am the author of Chaffee County, Colorado, Burials (1987) and Where The Bodies Are (1995) and co-author of A History of Chaffee County (1982) with Suzanne Kelly.

Chaffee County, Colorado, Burials documents thousands of the known burials in Chaffee County, Colorado from about 1860 to 1985. These burials did not just take place in cemeteries, but occurred on ranches, along roads, trails, streams and rivers, and sometimes beside a solitary miner's cabin. All sources that I found regarding these individuals such as newspaper obituaries, maiden names, church records, books written mentioning the person, coroner's records, occupations, some causes of death, etc., are included. This information is presently being made available to the USGenWebProject on its Chaffee County, Colorado page and its Colorado archives page.

Where the Bodies Are, is about the infamous and violent Lake County (Colorado) War, the Vigilantes and their victims, some of whom are buried almost shoulder to shoulder in the Centerville and Nathrop cemeteries.

I have tried to personalize the lives of everyone buried in these cemeteries and tell the story of the Lake County War which began in 1874 by the assassination of George Harrington. A vigilante mob formed to revenge Harrington's murder. This murder was the direct cause of Judge Elias Dyer to be himself assassinated in his Granite courtroom on July 3, 1875 by members of the mob. His murderers were never caught. Several other unsolved murders occurred involving both sides during the next few years.

I was born in Fresno, California and traveled extensively as a child with my mother, Minnie June Ford Murdock, stepfather Daniel Joseph McDonough, and younger sister, "Ginger" Murdock Cook. My stepfather was in the Navy and later, a traveling salesman. As an example of just how extensive our traveling was, I always tell people that, "I attended seven different schools in 7 th grade in seven different states!" I have two younger half sisters, Patricia McDonough Schipple and Jeannie McDonough Dale.

I moved to Buena Vista, CO from Denver in 1963 with my husband "Larry" Shaputis, who worked at the Climax Molybdenum mine near Leadville for 28 years until the mine closed down in 1991. We became the parents of three sons, Larry Jr., Scott, and Shawn. Larry Jr. is a client of the Developmental Opportunities Organization. Our middle son, Scott, died in 1963 of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and is buried in Buena Vista, Colorado. Shawn is in the Navy. He married Nicole Shokes and we are now the grandparents of four grandchildren, Kyle, Cameron, Cody, and Kira.

While living in Buena Vista, both my husband and I were active in the local volunteer organizations, 4-H, Scouts, EMT's on the ambulance service, search and rescue and Larry was a volunteer county Fireman for 16 years. I volunteered for over 20 years as the curator and guide for the Buena Vista Heritage Museum, and as a public speaker on Chaffee County history for the U.S. Forest Service, public and private schools, groups and organizations.

Larry and I participated in many melodramas and with community theater groups in Chaffee County such as the Golden Fury Players, The Pick & Shovel Players and others. Larry worked in stage production with the sets, lights and sound. My favorite role is that of the villainess and I especially enjoyed reciting true humorous tombstone epitaphs during the olio section of each performance. Audience members would send me funny epitaphs from their geographical areas and I am in the process of compiling a book on this subject.

I have been honored to receive several awards for my contributions to Chaffee County, Colorado. These include:

I moved to Nevada in January of 1996 to be with my hubby who had found work in 1995 at the local  mine after hoping against hope the Climax Mine would reopen after shutting down around 1992.  We now live in Ruth, Nevada, a tiny copper mining town seven miles from Ely, Nevada. 

Because of the instability of mining here, Larry changed his occupation as a heavy equipment operator in a gold mine to being a correctional officer at the Ely Maximum State Prison. The area is now economically depressed because of the large copper mines' and other mines recent closures.

I have been active with the Support Crisis Line, White Pine Historical and Archeological Society, White Pine Public Museum and submit articles as a stringer to the Ely Daily Times. One of my projects is documenting the Ely City Cemetery and the cemeteries of all the ghost towns and other small towns in White Pine County. This site, is coming along very well.  Cemeteries and Burials

I started a Web Design business in March 1998, called webpanda.us with my good friend, mentor, and computer guru, Dennis Conley.  He is my system manager and saves me in all technological matters. We try to help local businesses and organizations have affordable web presence. 

I am especially proud of the quality and massive amount of content I have researched and developed on the White Pine Historical & Archaeological Society web site.  This site is the most comprehensive site online for local Pony Express History, White Pine History, Ghost Towns and their cemeteries, Names & Places in White Pine County, Indian Rock Art, How Ely Got It's Name, Populated towns, People, Things To Do In Ely and the area, Climate, Recreational Opportunities, Camping, Mileage Chart, historical photographs and newer pictures of towns and sites, Ely Walking Tour, and many other interesting local pages. 

An interactive White Pine County map that took Alva Nick Rogers, a friend of mine in VA, 9 months to develop is available. This map shows Highway 50, the Pony Express route, ghost towns, The Great Basin National Park, populated towns and areas of camping, fishing, and things of interest to both tourists and locals.

The White Pine County Discussion  Board  has become a hugely popular site and provides ex-residents, tourists, locals, and others a way to share their memories of towns that no longer exist, people, and helps others to get answers to queries on almost any subject.

We believe our webpanda.us pages provide a much needed way to help this economically depressed  county promote tourism and depict the pride of history the local residents have in this area to its best advantage. We know of no other web site that has this in-depth kind of "meat and potatoes" information on their sites.


Links to Chaffee County, Colorado sites on the Web

Chaffee Co., Colorado newspapers
Colorado 14ners (scenery, things to do, history)
US GenWeb Project

 

 

 

 

 


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