Written by Mike Linderman, Sectional Archaeology Manager at Angel Mounds State Historic Site
It’s not everyday that someone calls and offers up a collection of bobcats, bear and deer. But Charlotte Skelton did just that when she decided to retire from her taxidermy business. Skelton had been working in her taxidermy shop for nearly 20 years, all starting with a dare from her husband. Years ago he had a goose mounted, and she claimed that she could do better than the shoddy job they received with the bird. That started her career. Skelton came by Angel Mounds State Historic Site one day and spoke with me about whether or not we would want some animal mounts. Thinking she was talking about a couple of ducks and maybe a squirrel, I was amazed to find out she was talking about over 60 mounts, ranging from bobcats to black bears to mountain lions to deer in a full run.
I quickly called Damon Lowe, curator of biology at the Indiana State Museum, and we agreed that this was not a collection to let slip through our fingers. With the help of the New Harmony State Historic Site staff, over 10 loads of animal mounts were delivered to Angel Mounds.
We initially kept them in a secure room out of view of the public, but every time we opened the door, the prying eyes of the visitors caught a glimpse of this great collection and they were wowed. So, with that in mind, we decided to create an exhibit with the mounts for the winter and it has been one of most popular exhibits.
We plan to have the exhibit up for sometime until it gets shipped to the Indiana State Museum for processing. Our goal is to incorporate some of the mounts into a more permanent situation with our Mississippian exhibit at the site, with hopefully a rotating showing of them periodically through the years.
Animals of North America: The Charlotte Skelton Collection
Dec. 21, 2009 – Jan. 25, 2010
Tues. – Sat., 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sun., 1 – 5 p.m.
For one month only, an impressive collection of animal mounts originating from Texas all the way to Alaska is on display. Highlights include deer, black bears, birds, coyotes, pheasants, a badger, a wolverine, rattlesnakes and much more.