Butterfly Lodge Museum offers glimpse into adventurer's life

<i>Photo by Stan Bindell/NHO</i><br>
Butterfly sign

<i>Photo by Stan Bindell/NHO</i><br> Butterfly sign

Butterfly Museum is misnamed, but it is worth seeing because it tells the life of two adventurers: James Willard Schultz and Lone Wolf.

There are some displays of long gone butterflies at the museum, but there is much more about the life and times of Schultz and Lone Wolf.

The information given below is from literature handed out at the Butterfly Lodge Museum.

Schultz, who lived from 1859-1947, came to Arizona in the early 1900s to finish his first book, "My Life As An Indian." From 1906-1908, he lived and worked on the Pima Indian Reservation while helping the Smithsonian Institute with the excavation of Casa Grande.

In 1913, John Butler built a hunting lodge in Greer. Butler was the husband of "Aunt Molly," and now there is a Butler Lodge named after her in Greer. The Butlers were the parents of Vince, a longtime Round Valley rancher. Schultz followed as the first tourist to build a cabin in the area. Warren Hanna, who wrote Schultz's biography, wrote "Schultz looked forward to the time when he could own a mountain retreat where there was an abundance of wildlife, including grizzlies and fabulous hunting."

Hanna recounted how Schultz selected a site in a small open meadow beside the clear headwaters of the Little Colorado River.

"It was surrounded by a veritable garden of wildflowers and there were countless butterflies."

Thus Schultz named it Apuni Oyis, or Butterfly Lodge. He ended up writing 37 books before he died in 1947. The books became synonymous with adventure in the American West. He wrote for children's magazines including Youth Companion, American Boy, Boy's Life and Forest and Stream.

Schultz escaped a West Point future in 1877 by taking a Missouri River steamboat from St. Louis to 2,000 miles away in Ft. Benton, Mont. This is where he fell in love with the countryside and the Blackfeet Indians. He served as a trapper in Glacier National Park, but also became a fierce advocate for Indian rights. In 1879, he married Blackfoot maiden Natahki. They had a son Hart Merriam Schultz, also known as Lone Wolf.

Lone Wolf was raised on the Blackfoot Reservation but drifted to the southwest after the death of his mother in 1903. By 1906, he found his way to the Grand Canyon where he became a cowboy, guide and painter. He later attended the Art Students League School in Los Angeles and the Chicago Art Institute.

His paintings and bronzes are found in the museum's collection.

In the early 1900s, Lone Wolf and his father reunited in Greer. In 1914, Lone Wolf spent some time at his father's Arizona mountain cabin in Greer. In 1920, Schultz built Lone Wolf a small cottage on the property that has since been removed.

Lone Wolf was a prolific painter of Indians and frontier scenes. Lone Wolf kept a winter-spring studio on the Greer property and a teepee studio in Glacier Park, Montana, in the summer-fall. Lone Wolf had one-man art shows in Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix and many other major cities. His paintings were purchased by Santa Fe Railroad as well as President Herbert Hoover and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge. Today, his paintings are found in collections of several museums and universities.

Although his father was white, Lone Wolf considered himself an Indian. His Greer Lodge displayed tomahawks, buffalo hide suitcases, Indian rugs, beaded outfits and war bonnets.

A five-by-eight foot painting of missionary Jacob Hamblin by Lone Wolf continues to hang in the Mormon Church in Eager. Lone Wolf died at almost the age of 88 in Tucson.

Schultz and Lone Wolf found inspiration in Greer: Schultz for his writing and Lone Wolf for his paintings as they both used their art forms to depict the west.

The Butterfly Lodge Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Admission is $2 per adult with a lesser fee for children. The Butterfly Lodge Museum is located on the southeast corner of State Rt. 373 and County Rd 1126.

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