Pueblo County, Colorado
Contributed by Jean, Gracie, Phyllis and Karen.
Pueblo Chieftain 4-27-1991 – At 91, She Digs Her Work – Eileen Schaar is mad. She's mad because her memory is fading. She's mad because she can't scale canyons or crawl through caves. She's mad because she's "a little wobbly." "It does make me mad," she said of her limitations. "But when you get past 90, you shouldn't be doing these things." What Ms. Schaar would like to be doing is digging and exploring. As the oldest member of the Colorado Archaeological Society, she has spent nearly 50 years searching for clues about lifetimes past. Ms. Schaar, who will turn 91 this December, last took part in a dig about five years ago. But while her longtime passion has been curtailed, she has no plans to go gently into that good night. "I'm in excellent health," she said Friday. "I don't take any medicine. Not a thing. I don't even have a doctor." Her exposure to archaeology came in 1944. At the urging of friends, Ms. Schaar joined a cave excavation in the Canyon of the Tabequache, about nine miles from Nucla. The nine-person team, led by the late Dr. C.T. Hurst, lived in a tent colony for two weeks as they conducted the historic dig. The group found "the missing link between the Folsom culture (Early Man) of 10,000 years ago and that of the Basketmakers, who existed 1,600 years ago," said Ed Simonich, a member of the Pueblo Chapter of the state archaeological group and a close friend of Ms. Schaar. "It was quite a find." For Ms. Schaar, however, the memories of that dig are much more personal. "I found an arrowhead, a beautiful arrowhead," she said. "It was my first find. "I put it in my pocket to keep. Then I lost it. "Also, we were spread out in the cave, and I found a fabulous pink quartzite shelf. But I had gotten separated from the group and was so embarrassed to be lost, I didn't report the find." Ms. Schaar has taken part in countless digs and surveys since, including the Bandelier and Ghost Ranch survey in New Mexico; the Draper Cave excavation in Fremont County; and the Dave Fountain site excavation in southeastern Pueblo County, during which a 54-year-old aboriginal female, dating back to 350 AD, was removed and preserved for study. Most of her archaeological work has focused on American Indians, and her findings sadly have convinced her that, "We were awfully cruel to Indians. I donate a lot of money to various Indian causes, such as Indian schools. We treated them terribly." Ms. Schaar also was a pioneer in the Pueblo business community. She was the city's first dental hygienist, going to work for Dr. George Cramer in the 1920s after graduating from Denver University's dental program. "It was very different then," she said. "When we had an extraction, we gave them ether, did the work, then laid them out in the office until they came to." Ms. Schaar also was a charter member of the League Club of Pueblo Business and Professional Women, which was formed in July 1934. Her "wonderful life" wasn't always so. When she was 5 years old, her mother died. Unable to care for Ms. Schaar and her sister Ruby, John Schaar placed his children in the Sacred Heart Orphanage. Five years later, in 1910, Schaar managed to purchase a home and reclaim his daughters. Ms. Schaar retired in 1971 after a 50-year dental career. Besides her archaeological work, Ms. Schaar has spent most of her time helping fellow senior citizens, visiting them in their homes and working as a volunteer for the Senior Resource Development Agency, serving lunches. Today, Ms. Schaar has no living relatives. She never married, saying, "I was too busy." But she has many friends. Friday, for example, Ms. Schaar had a busy dance card. She and a friend planned to view the quilting display at Mineral Palace Park, an art show at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center, and a performance by the Impossible Players. She is busy planning a dinner party at her home, and is excited about traveling soon to a Salida nursing home to visit "an old flame." She also enjoys visiting her cabin in Rye, where "50 years ago, 11 of us gals would go there and get on our skis. We had a great time." At 7 p.m. Thursday at the Sirloin Stockade, 1607 S. Prairie, the Pueblo Archaeological Society will meet to honor Ms. Schaar for being the oldest member of the state society. It will be a simple tribute, but as Simonich said: "She has done some amazing things."
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