English-born taxidermist opened a shop in Glenwood | PostIndependent.com

English-born taxidermist opened a shop in Glenwood

Willa Soncarty
Frontier Historical Society and Museum

William Cross possessed great respect of and fascination for nature and all of her wonders. He was a scholar, a naturalist and later a taxidermist.

Cross was born in England in November 1856. As a young man, he worked as a groundskeeper on an English estate. Always seeking to learn as much as he could about nature, he took his scholarly knowledge and augmented it with his experience on the grounds. The marriage of experience and schooling created a man who had a high sense of detail and possessed a great respect for life.

By 1886, Cross and his wife, Alice, emigrated to Toronto, Canada, where he opened a taxidermy shop. The skill, patience, care and detail Cross placed in the preservation of the largest or smallest animal specimens won him international attention and numerous awards. Some of his work was possessed by Czar Nicholas of Russia. The British Museum displayed many of his specimens.

For a few years, Cross taught taxidermy at Heidelberg University in Ohio. He and his family then moved to Glenwood Springs where he established a taxidermy business in 1895.

Hunting was a popular pastime in the area, with tourists desiring to take back to their homes the trophies they had landed. Cross’ compassion for the living compelled him to preserve these birds and animals respectfully, giving him the local reputation as a premiere taxidermist. He took his work to the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 and the Lewis and Clark Exposition in 1905, winning awards in both competitions.

The taxidermist grew flowers as a hobby. Cross’ gardens on Grand Avenue blazed with color from roses, hollyhocks, nasturtiums, cosmos and sweet peas. However, he was best known for his dahlias, of which he created new varieties.

Cross died in 1941. Fittingly, he was laid to rest among nature in Linwood Cemetery.

The Frontier Historical Society Museum’s 2006 calendar is available at the museum store, Book Train, Through the Looking Glass and the Chamber. This year’s offering contains historic photographs of events in Glenwood Springs, including the opening of the first Grand Avenue bridge, Professor Harrington’s All Star Minstrels, the Ginger Cookie Band and square dancing in the middle of Grand Avenue. All proceeds benefit the museum. For more information, call 945-4448.

“Frontier Diary” is provided to the Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Winter hours are 1-4 p.m. Monday and Thursday through Saturday.

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