Spirit of The Old West - Our Mission

The Spirit of the Old West is dedicated to presenting a balanced narrative of both Native Americans and American Settlers—depicting their challenges, their successes and failures, their ways of life. These inspiring stories make up the larger American Story, and the Blackhawk Museum wishes to educate and entertain while preserving these important histories for future generations.

Native Americans

Explore the life of the Plains Indians.

American Settlers

During the early 19th century, citizens of the United States felt the desire to explore westward, the natives were caught in the middle.

Jerry Fick

Jerry Fick was born in 1942 in Redding, Pennsylvania. The son of farmers, Jerry grew up poor, but developed an early fascination with Indians and began collecting Indian artifacts after finding a spear point near the well on his family’s homestead.

His parents and his grandmother (a full-blooded Lenni-Lenape or Delaware Indian) fostered his interests in Indians and helped him find and acquire items of interest. Jerry’s deep passion for history and collecting soon expanded to include pioneer, fur trapping, cowboy, cavalry and gunfighter artifacts.

In 1989 Jerry decided to move his collection to Cody, Wyoming. Here he built Tecumseh’s Frontier Trading Post which housed his artifacts and served as a workshop and storefront for his family’s gift shop. Tens of thousands of visitors toured Jerry’s museum and were fascinated by the topographic table of thousands of miniatures he had built to tell the story of the settlement of the Western Plains of the United States.

In 2014, at the age of 72, with his son’s decision not to carry on the family business, Jerry decided to sell most of his collection to Ken Behring and permanently loan the remainder to Blackhawk Museum.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that anything like this would happen. Until Mr. Behring came along, no one had really been able to see the educational value in my collection. I am glad it has found such a wonderful home – especially where there are so many schools.” – Jerry Fick

Ken Behring

Kenneth E. Behring’s journey to achieve the American dream had humble beginnings.

His experiences in childhood taught him the value of hard work and initiative, and allowed him to hone his skills as a successful businessman at an early age. Throughout his life he has constantly been driven to succeed in every endeavor he pursues, and he has indeed achieved many successes.

However, even with his accomplishments, he did not find true happiness in his life until he discovered a purpose. On June 13, 2000, his 72nd birthday, Ken launched Wheelchair Foundation and announced his pledge to give away one million wheelchairs to people in need of mobility around the world. In philanthropy he has found joy and inspiration, and his experiences have led him to other ventures including the Principal Leadership Institute at U.C. Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education, sponsorship of National History Day in the United States, sponsorship of Global Natural History Day throughout Asia, renovation of the Natural History and American History Museums at the Smithsonian Institute and sponsorship of several exhibits including The Price of Freedom and The American Presidency, as well as the development of more than 30 natural history museums throughout China.

By bringing the Fick Collection of 19th century artifacts to Blackhawk Museum, Mr. Behring hopes to allow everyone the opportunity to better understand both the great challenges and opportunities faced by our forefathers, as well as the leadership and sacrifices required by them in building our nation. This is a collection of artifacts as much as it is a collection of historical events. Each element included tells an important story of our past. Learn explore and enjoy “The Spirit of the Old West.”