By Dena Weigel Bell
WaKeeney Travel Blog
Old West lore is filled with wild and tragic stories of tough men and women looking for their version of the American Dream on the Western frontier. Their journeys often led them to saloons and bawdy houses populating the cowtowns that popped up on the unsettled prairie.
In celebration of Kansas Day, the Trego County Historical Society welcomes Marla Matkin, an independent scholar and living history performer, to entertain us with their stories in a living history presentation called “Cowboys and Soiled Doves.
Matkin’s love for history developed at an early age and she has spent her life studying the complex lives of legendary Western heroes brought to life in books and on-screen. She now shares these stories through a character she’s created named Contessa, engaging audiences with a “first-hand” account of what life was really like in the boomtowns and upon the range of America’s empty interior. With a twinkle in her eye and tantalizing sense of humor, she describes a world where grit and determination won the day.
Matkin traces her roots back to southwest Kansas, where in 1877 her great-grandparents claimed a homestead near Dodge City, a town notorious for hosting legendary characters, such as Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid. Today, Matkin calls WaKeeney’s northern neighbor, Hill City, her home and for twenty years she has performed as Contessa throughout the Midwest and further, including at the Smithsonian, Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City and several National Park Service sites.
Matlin’s program will be the highlight of the Historical Society’s annual Kansas Day program. During your visit, you can also explore the museum’s large collection of Western artifacts. Many of the pieces come from local families, providing guests of the museum deeper insight into the history of Trego County through the stories of its citizens, past and present.
Please join us at the Trego County Historical Society on Sunday, January 21 at 2 p.m. for their annual Kansas Day celebration featuring living history performer Marla Matkin’s presentation on “Cowboys and Soiled Doves.”