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The Clay Family Place Newsletter Biography Page

My name is June Murdock (McDonough) Shaputis. I lived in Chaffee County, Colorado for 33 years and am considered to be one of the local historians of that particular area. I am also, along with my sister, Virginia A. Cook, considered as one of our family's genealogists.

My forte is researching the lives of people buried in Chaffee County, Colorado and White Pine County, Nevada, and sharing their stories and the sources with others for free. I believe, "Rich or poor, famous or infamous, everyone's life is unique and everyone has a story to tell. Each person contributed to this area in some way, good or bad."

I have written a historical column, Over The Shoulder, which has been published in the Chaffee County Times in Buena Vista for many years before moving to Nevada. I am the author of Chaffee County, Colorado, Burials (1987) and Where The Bodies Are (1995) and co-author of A History of Chaffee County (1982) with Suzanne Kelly.

Chaffee County, Colorado, Burials documents thousands of the known burials in Chaffee County, Colorado from about 1860 to 1985. These burials did not just take place in cemeteries, but occurred on ranches, along roads, trails, streams and rivers, and sometimes beside a solitary miner's cabin. All sources that I found regarding these individuals such as newspaper obituaries, maiden names, church records, books written mentioning the person, coroner's records, occupations, some causes of death, etc., are included. This information is presently being made available to the USGenWebProject on its Chaffee County, Colorado page and its Colorado archives page.

Where the Bodies Are, is about the infamous and violent Lake County (Colorado) War, the Vigilantes and their victims, some of whom are buried almost shoulder to shoulder in the Centerville and Nathrop cemeteries.

I have tried to personalize the lives of everyone buried in these cemeteries and tell the story of the Lake County War which began in 1874 by the assassination of George Harrington. A vigilante mob formed to revenge Harrington's murder. This murder was the direct cause of Judge Elias Dyer to be himself assassinated in his Granite courtroom on July 3, 1875 by members of the mob. His murderers were never caught. Several other unsolved murders occurred involving both sides during the next few years.

I was born in Fresno, California and traveled extensively as a child with my mother, Minnie June Ford Murdock, stepfather Daniel Joseph McDonough, and younger sister, "Ginger" Murdock Cook. My stepfather was in the Navy and later, a traveling salesman. As an example of just how extensive our traveling was, I always tell people that, "I attended seven different schools in 7 th grade in seven different states!" I have two younger half sisters, Patricia McDonough Schipple and Jeannette McDonough Dale.

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Larry Shaputis 1999

I moved to Buena Vista, CO from Denver in 1963 with my husband "Larry" Shaputis, who worked at the Climax Molybdenum mine near Leadville for 28 years until the mine closed down in 1991. We became the parents of three sons, Larry Jr., Scott, and Shawn. Larry Jr. is a client of the Developmental Opportunities Organization. Our middle son, Scott, died in 1963 of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and is buried in Buena Vista, Colorado. Shawn is in the Navy. He married Nicole Shokes and we are now the grandparents of four grandchildren, Kyle, Cameron, Cody, and Kira.

While living in Buena Vista, both my husband and I were active in the local volunteer organizations, 4-H, Scouts, EMT's on the ambulance service, search and rescue and Larry was a volunteer county Fireman for 16 years. I volunteered for over 20 years as the curator and guide for the Buena Vista Heritage Museum, and as a public speaker on Chaffee County history for the U.S. Forest Service, public and private schools, groups and organizations. The BVHM has bestowed the title of "Curator Emeritus" on me. Of course we all know what that means... once you was, now you ain't!

Larry and I participated in many melodramas and with community theater groups in Chaffee County such as the Golden Fury Players, The Pick & Shovel Players and others. Larry worked in stage production with the sets, lights and sound. My favorite role is that of the villainess and I especially enjoyed reciting true humorous tombstone epitaphs during the olio section of each performance. Audience members would send me funny epitaphs from their geographical areas and I am in the process of compiling a book on this subject.

The picture on the left  was taken while I played the part of Nell Green in The Incredible Legend of Cock-Eyed Liz several years ago. Since it makes me look great I could not resist posting it here. What wonders a wig, false eyelashes and makeup work. On the right is a current photo of me.. <sigh>

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June Shaputis in Ruth, NV 2000

I have been honored to receive several awards for my contributions to Chaffee County, Colorado. These include:
Citizen of the Year - 1982 - Buena Vista, Colorado
First Lady of Chaffee County , Colorado - 1989
Curator Emeritus of the Buena Vista Heritage Museum - 1996

Most of my Chaffee County Cemetery research that took 25 years to compile can be found online at the USGenWeb Project Archives Chaffee County.

I moved to Ely, Nevada in January of 1996 to be with my hubby who had found work in 1995 at the local  mine after hoping against hope the Climax Mine would reopen after shutting down around 1992.  We now live in Ruth, Nevada, a tiny copper mining town seven miles from Ely, Nevada on our own property at the base of a huge denuded copper ore dump. There are two bars, a post office, and a convenience store with one gas pump here in our one block long business district. I am presently involved in the restoration of the old Community Church into a museum for Ruth, Nevada.

Because of the instability of mining here, and to beat the date of the mines closing, Larry changed his occupation as a heavy equipment operator in a gold mine to being a correctional officer at the Ely Maximum State Prison. The area is now economically depressed because of the large copper mines' and other mines recent closures. But the prison offers job security since they never lay off people to guard "the Governor's wayward children," to quote a friend of ours.

I have been active here with the Support Crisis Line, White Pine Historical and Archeological Society, White Pine Public Museum and submit articles as a stringer to the Ely Daily Times. One of my projects is documenting the Ely City Cemetery and the cemeteries of all the ghost towns and other small towns in White Pine County. This site, is coming along very well.  Cemeteries and Burials

I started a Web Design business in March 1998, called with my good friend, mentor, and computer guru, Dennis Conley.  He is my system manager and saves me from disaster in all technological matters. We try to help local businesses and organizations have affordable web presence but few here can afford even nominal fees, so our business will not be found listed in the stock markets news.  ;-)

I am especially proud of the quality and massive amount of content I have researched and developed on the White Pine Historical & Archaeological Society web site.  This site is the most comprehensive site online for local Pony Express History, White Pine History, Ghost Towns and their cemeteries, Names & Places in White Pine County, Indian Rock Art, How Ely Got It's Name, Populated towns, People, Things To Do In Ely and the area, Climate, Recreational Opportunities, Camping, Mileage Chart, historical photographs and newer pictures of towns and sites, Ely Walking Tour, and many other interesting local pages. I am putting the pages with many of the historical and current photos and additional information of the area online at this site which allows me unlimited space for this purpose. This information can be found at this website White Pine County, Nevada Historical and Other Information.

An interactive White Pine County map that took the late Alva Nick Rogers, an internet and mentor friend of mine in VA, 9 months to develop is available. This map shows Highway 50, the Pony Express route, ghost towns, The Great Basin National Park, populated towns and areas of camping, fishing, and things of interest to both tourists and locals.

The White Pine County Discussion  Board  has become a hugely popular site and provides ex-residents, tourists, locals, and others a way to share their memories of towns that no longer exist, people, and helps others to get answers to queries on almost any subject.

We believe our pages provide a much needed way to help this economically depressed  county promote tourism and depict the pride of history the local residents have in this area to its best advantage. We know of no other web site that has this in-depth kind of "meat and potatoes" information on their sites

Today, I use a Jazzy Power Wheelchair to get around due to a severe disc degeneration disease which makes it difficult to walk and is progressive. My chariot is candy apple red with silver flecks in it. It has 5 speeds and I can perambulate around at about 6 miles an hour and one charge lasts for up to 25 miles. Yee-haw!! Of course I must keep a sharp eye out for the police. You know how they love pulling over red vehicles just because they assume the drivers always break the speed limits! But those who know and love me know that my disability does not effect my mouth! What can I say, but that having a mouth must be genetic. After all, look at one of our relatives, Henry Clay, who was not known for not being able to flap his jaws, was he?

I have a website of our genealogy going all the way back to Charlemagne online, as well as many collateral lines with the sources listed for convenience. This information effects all descendents of the Clay - Green connections. It can be found here: The Shaputis Family History.

My most recent website development project is this Clay Family Place in co-operation with my sister, Gynger Cook. She is the Clay expert and will be supplying material for this newsletter. We hope those of you reading the newsletter will also contribute your information so it can be shared with others.

We plan on retiring in 2003 and moving back to Buena Vista, Colorado where we can once again enjoy our creek-front property with green grass, tall trees, my double car garage sized computer / library room and my "Moby Deck" at 17010 County Road 338. Mom and Pop live in our home there and we appreciate the fact that they do such a good job to take care of it for us until we can go back home. 

Enjoy the sites.



Contact Gynger Cook at or June Shaputis at for submissions.
Site created and maintained by June Shaputis of 7/22/2001

Copyright 2001 by The Clay Family Place Newsletter. All rights reserved. 
Do not reuse any material without written permission.