By ELIZABETH FISHER
In 1926 the Dayton Society of Natural History (DSNH) received one of its largest ethnographic collections. Katharine Houk Talbott of Dayton donated nearly 200 objects from the American Plains, but they were collected by “Dr. A. L. Corey.”
Anson LeGrande Corey, born in 1848 in Potter County, Pennsylvania, headed West at the age of sixteen and never looked back. He formed relationships with Native American communities in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, and was closely associated with the Crow and Arapaho people. Corey was documented as the first white man who ever sat in council with the Arapaho’s, and reportedly “lived among the Indians for more than fifty years.”
He became well known for his artistic talents and training in the “Indian Arts” and taught these skills to the local Native American community at St. Michael’s Mission. Exhibits of this work traveled nationwide. Corey’s skills extended to doctoring the sick and injured often. He never received formal training and was referred to as the “Indian doctor.”
In June 1923, two years before his death, Corey visited Dayton to superintend the arrangement of the “Indian exhibit” he recently sold Mrs. H. E. Talbott. Highly publicized in the Dayton Daily News on October 2, “Lifelong Friend of Indians Spends the Week Here,” Corey spent time with Mrs. H. E. Talbott “…cataloguing the finest collection of Indian treasures ever assembled in this country outside the Smithsonian Institute.” Little is still known of the relationship between Mrs. H. E. Talbott and Corey, but thanks to their efforts the collection gives a rare and fine insight into the American Plains lifeway.
Elizabeth Fisher is the Collections Manager and Registrar for the Dayton Society of Natural History.