In looking through the archives Monday, for another story, the hand print of Dat-So-La-Lee came up. So today, we tell the story of her:
Dat-So-La-Lee was a Washo (or Washoe) Indian woman who was born near the place that became the mining town of Sheridan in Carson Valley. She was also known by her given name Dabuda. Her birth date is believed to have been 1829. Her father’s name was DA DA uongala and her mother’s name is unknown.
Dat-So-La-Lee lived in and around Carson City, Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe sometime around 1899. Dabuda became known as Dat-So-La-Lee. This nickname suited her nicely. It was musical like her weaving.
In 1888, Dat-So-La-Lee married Charlie Keyser, who was part Washo and took his name from the family that owned the Keyser and Elrod Ranch in Nevada’s Carson Valley. At this time she took the name Louisa Keyser.
Louisa came to Abe Cohn’s attention in 1895 when he bought four willow-covered bottles she had made. He later became her sponsor, business manager, and press agent. Dat-So-La-Lee and Charlie led a comfortable life with Abe and Amy Cohn. From 1895 until Charlie’s death in 1928, all of their expenses were taken care of by the Cohns. They traveled to Lake Tahoe every summer where Cohn had provided another home for them near Tahoe Tavern and Louisa (Dat-So-La-Lee) traveled extensively with the Cohns to arts and crafts exhibits. In return for their providing room and board, the Cohns received Dat-So-La-Lee’s baskets.
She used her hand print, which was copyrighted, to certify bills of sale. The receipts included the hand print, a description of the basket, stitches to the inch, design, and time involved in its construction — a lovely gesture devised by the Cohns. She wove baskets for Cohns’ Emporium for approximately 30 years until her death in 1925.
Original biographical sketch by Sally Wilkins from an unpublished research paper by Kim Von Aspern. Revision done by Dixie Westergard in 2005. Edited by Holly Van Valkenburgh from biography at www.nevadawomen.org.
The Popcorn Stand is written Tuesday through Saturday by the editorial staff of the Nevada Appeal. It tackles topics of a different nature or topics that make us go “hmm.” We welcome your thoughts and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.