Riverton Museum Site Manager Nathaniel Griffee has unveiled a new exhibit he’s put a lot of time and research into: A Civil War exhibit that displays information about three Civil War veterans buried in Riverton.
Located in the museum’s basement, the display uses primarily historical reproductions loaned to the museum by local living history enthusiast Karl Falken, as well as a few genuine Civil War era artifacts from the museum’s archives, to illustrate Griffee’s research.
“Initially I wanted to do Civil War history,” explained Griffee of his college plans. “I’ve always been super interested.” When Falken approached him with the idea of a Civil War exhibit, he was excited to dive into the archives. Griffee worked with a variety of sources to create the exhibit, including digging through archives of both local newspapers and papers from areas where the veterans had lived previously, such as Texas and Iowa.
Riverton’s three Civil War veterans were from both sides of the conflict: Private Daniel D. Smothers of the Confederate Army, and Captain Aaron N. Buckman and Private Alva M. Flitcraft of the Union Army.
“Smothers especially probably had the most interesting life … a very tragic life,” said Griffee. Smothers, originally from Missouri, came to Fremont County in 1909 and moved to Riverton a few years later.
“Buckman actually was one of the white captains in the first colored infantry,” Griffee went on. When Buckman died, the Riverton Chronicle reported in his obituary that he had been given an honorary title by President Lincoln himself. Some of Buckman’s letters were donated to the museum several decades ago, which also helped Griffee in his research.
Flitcraft’s life is less well-documented than Smothers’ or Buckman’s, but Griffee has managed to find some interesting information about his life and regiment nonetheless, including which Union regiment he served in during the war.
“I’m really happy to have the exhibit; it’s really interesting,” Griffee said.
The exhibit will remain up through mid-June, at which point Griffee plans to replace it with a Revolutionary War exhibit.