The Last Homestead tells the story of Linda and Harold “Mac” McKinstry, a young couple who homesteaded at the mouth of Pacific Creek in 1915, not far from the location of the original town of Moran. The family faced significant challenges in this wild and isolated spot, but their story nevertheless evokes the sense of adventure and wonder they experienced in the midst of the wilderness they so passionately loved.
The Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum’s Last Homestead project sprung from the gift of the family’s memoirs in 2013 with the enthusiastic blessing of the McKinstry’s
youngest daughter, Stella. These are truly unique sources that give unprecedented access into the lives of Rocky Mountain homesteaders one hundred years ago. When JHHSM opened its travelling exhibit based on the memoirs in September of 2014, several generations of the family drove to Jackson from as far away as Colorado to celebrate. Jackson Hole’s status as a celebrated tourist destination means the exhibit can reach a national and even international audience.
The Last Homestead also traveled to several locations across Wyoming to share the story of a family’s struggles and triumphs in the last years of the frontier era. The McKinstry diaries tell of hardships like long winters, fires, droughts, disease epidemics, and close encounters with natural disasters and wildlife, but they also convey a deep love of the wilderness and the joy of raising a family and making a life on the plains. Supplemented with family photographs and images from the museum’s collection, this exhibit presents a compelling and personal look into the overlooked topic of twentieth-century homesteading.
The exhibit is now available online at http://jacksonholehistory.org/the-last-homestead/.