Museums & Historic Sites to Visit in Stillwater!

Hey there, welcome to my blog! My name is Kaitlyn and I have a passion for history. I have a master’s degree in history from Oklahoma State University (OSU) and love to write about history tips and museum visits! This post includes some of my favorite museums and historic sites to visit in Stillwater, Oklahoma. For more information about each individual museum or historic site, please click on my blog links or the Instagram posts at the end of each section – let’s get started!


Oklahoma State University – Stillwater Campus

Old Central

Old Central is the oldest building on the Oklahoma State University campus in Stillwater. It currently houses the Honors College at OSU and I had a few classes in the basement when I was a student. It’s a really neat building that contains so much history!

For more information on preservation efforts and current pictures of the building, see my longer blog post: Old Central

Willard Hall (Left) & Edmon Low Library (Right)

OSU Student Union (Left) & Gundersen (Right)

Thatcher Hall Air Park

The Thatcher Hall Air Park at OSU honors ROTC and veterans. There is a plane, two canons, and several plaques to walk around and see. For more information, see my longer blog post: ROTC Thatcher Hall Air Park

Nancy Randolph Davis Statue

The Nancy Randolph Davis statue stands in front of the Nancy Randolph Davis building on Monroe street (this is the middle of the OSU campus). Her story is inspiring and I hope you’ll read my longer blog post to learn more!

For more information, see my longer blog post: Nancy Randolph Davis Statue

Heritage Hall at Gallagher Iba Arena

Heritage Hall inside of Gallagher Iba Arena tells the history of Oklahoma State University athletics. This hall covers all sports at OSU and has some of the coolest memorabilia – like the old Pistol Pete head pictured below. Stop by before or after attending an athletic event at OSU or stop by Monday-Friday during business hours.

For more information, see my longer blog post: Heritage Gall at Gallgher Iba Arena

National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Oklahoma State University is known for its wrestling program which has won 34 NCAA Championships. The National Wrestling Hall of Fame is on the North Eastern corner of the Oklahoma State campus. It’s a neat place to visit with a ton of cool history. Don’t forget your camera so you can take a picture on the podium!

For more information, see my longer blog post: National Wrestling Hall of Fame


OSU Museum of Art

The Oklahoma State University Museum of Art is a small art museum in Downtown Stillwater. Exhibits rotate in and out pretty frequently, so there is always something new to see. The historic building that houses the museum is beautiful!

For more information, see my longer blog post: OSU Museum of Art


Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar

The Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar is one of my favorite places to visit in Stillwater. The museum tells the story of the founding of Stillwater and how the town has progressed. There is also rotating exhibits so there’s something new to see each month!

For more information, see my longer blog post: Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar


Dr. Angie Debo Statue at the Stillwater Public Library

Dr. Angie Debo’s statue stands outside of the Stillwater Public Library. She was an amazing historian with a cool story – read more about her in my longer blog post!

For more information, see my longer blog post: Dr. Angie Debo Statue


Historical Markers in Stillwater

There are other historical markers all across Stillwater! I’ll drop the addresses below so you can go find them if you want to!

Last “Boomer” Town (Left) & Land Run Boundary Line (Right)

Fire Station No. 1 (Left) & Captain David Payne Memorial (Right)

Bonus – Transformers

I know the Transformer statues aren’t historical, but they’re fun to see if you’re visiting Stillwater. Bumblebee is on the West side of Stillwater on highway 51 and Optimus Prime is on the East side of Stillwater on highway 51!

Concluding Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed looking through all of these super cool historic sites and museums! Make sure to use this post when you plan your next trip to Stillwater, Oklahoma.

If you have any questions about the places I visited, please feel free to send me a message on my contact page. 

Happy traveling, friend! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Museums to Visit in Oklahoma City!

Hey there, welcome to my blog! My name is Kaitlyn and I have a passion for sharing history. I have a master’s degree in American history and write about history class tips and museum adventures.

This post includes some of my favorite museums and historic sites to visit in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. For more information about each individual museum, please click on the blog links at the end of each section. There is a lot more information and links to the museum websites in those posts. Let’s get started!

The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. You’ll find Western history, Native American history, art, and so much more in this museum. A few of my favorite galleries include the rodeo gallery, the entertainment gallery, and the military history gallery. There is also a large, educational playground outside that is great for families with kids or cool to just walk around!

For more information, see my longer blog post: National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

First Americans Museum

The First Americans Museum is the newest museum in OKC and talks about Native American history. I learned so much on this trip and hope you’ll go visit!

For more information about this museum, see my longer blog post: First Americans Museum

American Banjo Museum

A banjo museum? Yes, there’s an entire museum dedicated to banjos in Bricktown. There are hundreds of banjos on display and all have a unique story. Many of the instruments have intricate designs which are amazing. Personally, I loved looking at all of the designs on the banjos!

For more information, see my longer blog post: American Banjo Museum

Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and Jim Thorpe Museum

I LOVE sports. So, I knew I had to pay a visit to the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and Jim Thorpe Museum. It’s right next door to the Chickasaw Brickton Ballpark and even has a deck you can walk out on that overlooks the field. It was so cool!

For more information about sports heroes in Oklahoma, see my longer blog post: Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and Jim Thorpe Museum

99’s Museum of Women Pilots

Women’s history is one of my absolute favorite topics to study. When I found out about the 99’s Museum of Women Pilots in OKC, I knew I had to go! This museum is located on the grounds of the Will Rogers Airport – so you can see the planes while driving by! This museum even has items that belonged to Amelia Earhart – go check it out!

For more information about female pilots and their history, see my longer blog post: 99’s Museum of Women Pilots

Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum and Memorial

Visiting the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum and Memorial is a cool experience. I remember going once as a child and seeing all of the firetrucks! As an adult, it’s humbling to walk through the museum and see all of the equipment and learn about the history of firefighting. The Memorial outside the museum is beautiful as well.

For more information, see my longer blog post: Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum

The American Pigeon Museum and Library

The American Pigeon Museum explores the history of pigeons. They also have real pigeons inside the museum and out back!

For more information, see my longer blog post: The American Pigeon Museum

OKC Memorial

For more information, see my longer blog post: (FORTHCOMING, I visited the OKC Memorial and am currently working on my longer blog post. Thank you for being patient.)

OKC Museum of Art

For more information, see my longer blog post: (FORTHCOMING, I am working on writing a blog post about the OKC MOA!)

Concluding Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed looking through all of these super cool historic sites and museums in Oklahoma City! Make sure to use this post when you plan your next trip to OKC because you don’t want to miss out on these cool activities.

If you have any questions about the places I visited, please feel free to send me a message on my contact page.

Happy traveling, friend! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Museums and Historic Sites to Visit in Guthrie!

Hey there – Welcome to my blog! My name is Kaitlyn and I love history. I have a master’s degree in American history from Oklahoma State University and love to write about history tips and museum visits! This post includes some of my favorite museums and historic sites to visit in Guthrie. Let’s get started!

*For more information about each individual museum, please click on my blog links at the end of each section! There’s a lot more information and links to the museum websites in those posts!

Oklahoma Territorial Museum

I loved the Oklahoma Territorial Museum! I visited this museum on a mission… I wanted to see Carrie Nation’s hatchet! She was a prominent Prohibitionist with a reputation for smashing saloons. I found the hatchet and it was definitely as cool as I thought it’d be!

The rest of the museum is amazing – it talks about Oklahoma in the territorial days and early statehood. There are so many cool pieces in this collection. I thought both of the flags on display on the second floor were awesome!

For more information, see my longer blog post: Oklahoma Territorial Museum

Carnegie Library

The Carnegie Library was built in 1902 and is now a part of the Oklahoma Territorial Museum. It was almost destroyed, but a prominent citizen stepped in to save the building. Some of the original furniture is still inside – go check it out!

For more information, see my longer blog post: Carnegie Library

State Capital Publishing Museum

For more information, see my longer blog post: (FORTHCOMING!)

Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore Museum

The Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore Museum is a very unique place. As you can see in the photo below, the walls are lined with historic medicines and items you would have found in a drugstore. The volunteers were super friendly and eager to tell you anything that you wanted to know! Make sure you stop in the room on the right of this photo to see the old dentist office set-up!

For more information, see my longer blog post: Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore Museum

Apothecary Garden

The Apothecary Garden is near the Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore Museum. You enter the gardens through the gate below and can see different kinds of plants. It’s a nice place to stroll through!

For more information, see my longer blog post: Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore Museum

Oklahoma Sports Museum

I have always loved sports and thought the Oklahoma Sports Museum was awesome! I think all Oklahoma sports are probably covered in this museum. Make sure to give yourself a few hours to walk though this place because there is so much to take in! The man inside was very kind and told us all kinds of cool stories about Oklahoma sports.

For more information, see my longer blog post: Oklahoma Sports Museum

Guthrie National Bank Building

The Guthrie National Bank Building has a really cool history. I didn’t get to go inside, but the story of the building is worth reading below!

For more information, see my longer blog post: Guthrie National Bank Building

Concluding Thoughts

There is so much history in Guthrie and this post only mentions a few. In addition to the museums and historic sites, there are historic markers all throughout Historic Downtown Guthrie. I didn’t get to see them all and need to go back! When I go back, I will make sure to update this post. In the meantime, I hope this list inspires you when you make a trip to visit Guthrie!

Happy Traveling – I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Museums & Historic Sites to Visit in Ponca City!

Hey there – Welcome to my blog! My name is Kaitlyn and I love history. I have a master’s degree in American history and love to write about history tips and museum visits! This post includes some of my favorite museums and historic sites to visit in Ponca City, Oklahoma. So, let’s get started!

*For more information about each individual museum, please click on the blog links at the end of each section. There is a lot more information and links to websites in those posts written about the specific location.

Matzene Art Collection at the Ponca City Library

The Matzene Art Collection at the Ponca City Library is one of those hidden gems in Northern Oklahoma. I stumbled across it when doing some research before visiting Ponca City. There are hundreds of pieces of art in this collection and it is free to view. Make sure to stop by the information desk inside the library and ask for a FREE guide to the collection – it’s amazing.

For more information, see my longer blog post: Matzene Art Collection

Ponca City – City Hall

The Ponca City – City Hall Building is beautiful. This wasn’t on my original list of places to stop, but as I was driving through town I had to know what the building was so I turned around. It’s very close to the Ponca City Library so that was nice! City Hall has an interesting history and I loved all of the statues that were outside. I didn’t go inside, but there is a guide online that talks about the history of the inside of the building which was cool.

For more information, see my longer blog post: Ponca City – City Hall

Marland’s Grand Home

E.W. Marland’s Grand Home is beautiful. There are multiple rooms and many floors to explore. Each level tells part of the Marland story. You can purchase a guide book at the front desk and I’d say it’s worth it!

For more information, see my longer blog post: Marland’s Grand Home

Marland Mansion

The Marland Mansion in Ponca City is magnificent. There are multiple levels and rooms to explore. You can see why it’s called the “Palace on the Prairie” – it’s beautiful! I love the architecture of this building and all of the ornate decorations.

They have guided tours through the mansion, but I chose to walk through on my own. I really want to go back for the guided tour because there are 2 buildings you can walk through with the tour that are not available to the public.

For more information, see my longer blog post: Marland Mansion

Pioneer Woman Museum

I loved the Pioneer Woman Museum and have visited more than once. I study women’s history so this museum is one of my favorites in Oklahoma! I learn something new every time I go 🙂

For more information, see my longer blog post: Pioneer Woman Museum

Poncan Theatre

How beautiful is the outside of the Poncan Theatre?! The architecture on the inside is equally as grand and detailed. I walked through the theatre while it was empty and was able to look at the collection of movie posters from the 30s and 40s. They still play movies and host theatre productions. I need to go back and watch a movie one of these days!

For more information, see my longer blog post: Poncan Theatre

CONOCO Museum

The CONOCO Museum was really cool! The staff was so kind and they took the time to talk with me about the history of the museum and Ponca City in general which was amazing. The museum has all kinds of oil history which I found fascinating. Make sure to watch the video at the beginning before walking through the museum! It’s extremely informative and well-done!

For more information, see my longer blog post: CONOCO Museum

Standing Bear Park & Museum

The Standing Bear Park and Museum is one of those places I felt honored to visit. The staff was very kind and they took time to chat with me about the museum which I always think is amazing. Please go visit this museum and learn about the history of Standing Bear and the local tribes.

The park is beautiful and has more information throughout the walking trails. The statues are beautiful as well. Make sure that you take good walking shoes!

For more information, see my longer blog post: (FORTHCOMING)

Cann Gardens and Estate

The Cann Gardens and Estate are beautiful! The home is simple, yet holds an air of sophistication. I loved the stained glass windows in the stairwell and the pictures on the walls. The gardens are beautiful and the perfect place to have a picnic or spend an afternoon relaxing. Make sure to pack some walking shoes for the trail that winds through the garden.

For more information, see my longer blog post: Cann Gardens and Estate

Concluding Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed looking through all of these super cool historic sites and museums in Ponca City! Make sure to use this post when you plan your next trip to Ponca City because you don’t want to miss out on these cool activities.

If you have any questions about the places I visited, please feel free to send me a message on my contact page.

Happy Traveling, friend! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Guthrie National Bank Building: Guthrie, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the Guthrie National Bank building in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Currently, this building houses the Bancfirst location in Guthrie. Let’s get started!

*All photos were taken by myself in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Other image attributions are in the caption below the image and in the source section at the end of this post.

Guthrie National Bank History

The Guthrie National Bank was the first brick structure built in the area. It was completed in the summer of 1889 so that it could host the visiting congressional delegation that would arrive in September. According to the OHS Historical Marker website, “the Guthrie National Bank was the first national bank chartered in the either of the twin territories.”

The original structure was removed and replaced with the current one in 1923.

Guthrie National Bank Historical Marker

“Rushed to completion in the summer of 1889, the Guthrie National Bank building was the first brick structure built in what became Oklahoma Territory. It also proudly claimed many other firsts. It was located where J.W. McNeal of Medicine Lodge, Kansas, opened the McNeal-Little bank with his partner, A.W. Little, the afternoon of April 22, 1889. It became, as the Guthrie National Bank, June 14, 1890 the first national bank chartered in either of the twin territories.” (Guthrie National Bank Historic Marker)

“As premier structure in the infant city, the building housed the ‘grand reception’ for the visiting delegation of Congressmen in September, 1889.” (Guthrie National Bank Historic Marker)

“Once finished, the building was crowded with tenants. Besides the bank, it housed Beadle’s shoe store on the west side, ‘Oklahoma Farmer’ newspaper and the Guthrie Club, a booster organization, shared the basement. Territorial Governor Steele in 1890 had an office on the 2nd floor for a few months, until larger quarters were available.” (Guthrie National Bank Historic Marker)

“After consolidating and acquiring various other Guthrie banks, the parent company crowded out its tenants. It became known as the First National Bank of Guthrie in 1912. The present building replaced the first structure in 1923.” (Guthrie National Bank Historic Marker)

Select Newspaper Clippings About the Guthrie National Bank

Organizing the First National Bank in Guthrie

First National Bank Organized – Guthrie Democrat – Guthrie OK – Aug 13 1890 (Page 2)

National Bank Charter

Charter – Guthrie Democrat – Guthrie OK – Aug 13 1890 (Page 7)

Guthrie National Bank Advertisement Examples

Reports on the Condition of the Bank 1890

Concluding Thoughts

I enjoyed visiting the town of Guthrie – it’s full of Oklahoma history. I’m glad that we stumbled on this sign and I was able to get a picture of it. The history behind the building is fascinating. I hope you’ll make a visit to Guthrie and check out the historic markers and buildings all around town!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Visit

First Street and Oklahoma Avenue in Guthrie, Oklahoma

Sources

*Historical Marker Sign in front of the building

OHS Historical Marker Program (Logan County) – Oklahoma Historical Society Website

Newspapers

Ad 1 – Oklahoma State Capital – Guthrie OK – Sept 13 1890 (Page 7)

Ad 2 – Oklahoma State Capital – Guthrie OK – Sept 27 1890 (Page 7)

Charter – Guthrie Democrat – Guthrie OK – Aug 13 1890 (Page 7)

First National Bank Organized – Guthrie Democrat – Guthrie OK – Aug 13 1890 (Page 2)

Report of the Guthrie National Bank – Oklahoma State Capital – Guthrie OK – Aug 2 1890 (Page 4)

Report of Condition – Oklahoma State Capital – Guthrie OK – Oct 11 1890 (Page 7)

Historic Tuton Pharmacy Building: Arcadia, OK

Hey friend – welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the Historic Tuton Pharmacy Building in Arcadia, Oklahoma. This charming building measures 25 by 70 feet and holds a lot of local history. So, set’s get started!

*Photos were taken by myself in Arcadia, Oklahoma at the Round Barn and Tuton Pharmacy Building.

History of the Building

First State Bank of Arcadia

After purchasing the corner lot, the First State Bank of Arcadia commissioned this two -story sandstone building in 1917. The building entrance is a double-arched doorway on the Southeast corner. It is framed by two large arch-shaped windows. Originally, the windows had stone sills and headers as seen in the drawing below, but they were sadly removed at some point…

Drawing of the Tuton Drugstore that hangs inside the Arcadia Round Barn.
Tuton Building (May 2022)
Round Barn Base

The First State Bank didn’t stand out in town – many of the original buildings in Arcadia were built with the locally quarried sandstone. But, this wasn’t a huge issue because the First State Bank of Arcadia didn’t occupy the building for very long… They sold their corner building to Benjamin Tuton and George Blake for $3,400.

FUN FACT! The sandstone rock is the same material used to build the base of the Round Barn

Blake and Tuton’s Pharmacy

Below are some 1909 newspaper clippings that talk about previous locations of The Arcadia Pharmacy buildings. I would imagine the Blake and Tuton Pharmacy would have looked similar on the inside!

In July 1919, Benjamin (B.F.) Tuton and George Blake moved their drugstore into the building. Tuton, a pioneer businessman in Arcadia, and Blake operated the Arcadia Pharmacy for many years. In 1921, Tuton bought Blake’s share of the pharmacy. He and his son, Thomas ran the pharmacy afterwards.

Tuton Pharmacy – The Arcadia News – Apr 23 1909 (Arcadia, OK) (Page3)

This building has withstood the test of time. The pharmacy was the only building that survived the fire which tore through the Arcadia Business District in June 1924. Many say the structure survived because it is made out of the local sandstone rock.

Here are a few advertisements examples from the pharmacy!

Keeping the business in the family, Thomas’ wife, Ethel, operated the drugstore after his death in 1934. She successfully ran the pharmacy until 1941. 

Ole Country Store

After the pharmacy closed, the building stood vacant from 1941 until 1945. In 1945, the building was leased to a grocer. The building became the “John’s Grocery Store” / “Ole Country Store” in 1945 and operated until 1979! 

National Register of Historic Places

The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 because the Romanesque Revival architecture style. I seriously love this little building and would LOVE to see the inside one day!

Antique Mall

According to an article I read, Ethel and Thomas Tuton’s daughter operated an antique mall on the first floor of the building for a while.

Realtor & Art Gallery

The Chesrow Brown Real Estate company occupied the building for a few years. In May of 2007, the Chesrow/Cesario Art Gallery opened in the building, but it has since closed down. I am not sure how long the gallery was in operation? If anyone knows, send me a message on my contact page! I’d love to know!

Present-Day

Today, the building is empty and has a for sale sign located out front… It’s such a cool building and I hope someone will buy it and honor its history!

May 2022

Concluding Thoughts

I love this little 2-story building in Arcadia, Oklahoma. It’s tucked away behind the Round Barn on Route 66 so you could easily visit both places in one trip.

The map below is inside the Arcadia Round Barn and it shows all of the historic buildings in town with a short description. Scroll through the gallery for closer images. Maybe you’ll find another historic treasure!

I encourage you to look up the local history of the towns you visit – you never know what you might discover!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Visit

201 N. Main Street

Arcadia, OK

Sources

“First State Bank of Arcadia – Arcadia, OK,” waymarking.com

“History,” Town of Arcadia – Website

Town of Arcadia – Website

“Tuton’s Drugstore Building, Arcadia, OK,” route66times.com

Newspapers

Mrs. Blake running the drugstore for a day – The Arcadia Gazette – Arcadia OK – Aug 1 1912 (Page 1)

Blake & Tuton new awning / soda fountain – The Arcadia News – Arcadia OK – Apr 30 1909 (Page 6)

Blake & Tuton New Building Construction south of the hardware store – The Arcadia News – Arcadia OK – Mar 19 1909 (Page 8)

Blake & Tuton moved buildings in 1909 – The Arcadia News – Arcadia OK – Apr 9 1909 (Page 5)

Ad 2 – The Arcadia Star – Arcadia OK – March 8 1906 (Page 1)

Ad 1 – The Arcadia Star – Arcadia, OK – March 8 1906 (Page 1)

Arcadia Pharmacy – CD Blake – The Arcadia Star (Arcadia, OK) – May 27, 1904 (Page 5)

Tuton Pharmacy – The Arcadia News – Apr 23 1909 (Arcadia, OK) (Page3)

Historical Markers in Stillwater, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post. Today, we’re talking about historical markers in Stillwater, OK. I talked my sister into helping me find some of these signs and we had a lot of un!

*All photos in this post were taken by myself in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Historical Markers in this Post:

  • David L. Payne Memorial
  • Stillwater Fire Station No. 1
  • Oklahoma A&M College
  • Last “Boomer” Town
  • Boundary Line
  • See “Concluding Thoughts” for my blog posts about more historical sites and museums you should check out in Stillwater, OK!

David L. Payne Memorial

VISIT: Boomer Lake Park at Washington Street and Lakeview in Stillwater. (Diagonal from the gas station)

Monument for Capt. David L. Payne. He was responsible for the Oklahoma Boomer movement in 1879 which eventually led to the Land Run on April 22, 1889 for the “Unassigned Lands.” Did you know Payne County in Oklahoma was named for him?

Stillwater Fire Station No. 1

VISIT: 120 E 9th Ave, Stillwater, OK 74074

TRAVEL TIP: This historical marker sits right outside of Balanced Coffee which happens to be one of my favorite coffee shops to visit when I’m in Stillwater! The atmosphere is really nice and everyone is so friendly!

“In the early 1930s, an innovative and motivated group of men led by Stillwater Fire Chief J. Ray Pence met and discussed the lack of quality fire service training and materials in the United States, particularly in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. In July 1934, a group of educators and fire service leaders met in this building to draft a series of training manuals to be published ‘as economically as possible while providing thorough and valid information about fire fighting.’ The manuals were subsequently published and distributed by Oklahoma A & M College (Oklahoma State University).”

“This initial meeting and subsequent meetings continuing on a yearly basis, launched what would become the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA). Headquartered at Oklahoma State University, IFSTA is the world’s largest publisher of fire training materials. This nonprofit, volunteer organization, with participants from around the world, continues to grow while maintaining an awareness of its founders and those who contributed to its growth and success. The contributions of Chief J. Ray Pence, Professor W. Fred Heisler, and Professor R.J. Douglas will always be remembered.”

“IFTSA and the fire-related academic, extension, and research efforts of the OSU College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology were all products of these insightful leaders as they met and worked in this historic place.”

“Erected and dedicated this 23th day of July, 1997, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Stillwater Fire Department. Erected by the International Fire Service Training Association, Oklahoma State University Fire Service Programs, and the City of Stillwater Fire Department.” (Stillwater Fire Station No. 1 Historical Marker Sign)

Oklahoma A&M College

VISIT: South Main Street, near south edge of Stillwater. Next to Last “Boomer” Town Historical Marker.

“Serves the State by instruction, experimentation and extension service. Established Dec. 25, 1890, by First Legislative Assembly of Oklahoma Ter. Prairie broken for experimental farm, 1891. ‘Old Central’ dedicated, 1894. Extension division established, 1915.” (Oklahoma A and M College Historical Marker Sign)

Last “Boomer” Town

VISIT: South Main Street, near south edge of Stillwater. Next to Oklahoma A & M Historical Marker.

About 3/4 mi. east

“Here 300 armed ‘boomers’ made their last stand for settlement of the Oklahoma country led by Wm. L. Couch; and surrendered to U.S. Cavalry troops commanded by Col. E. Hatch, Jan. 26, 1885. On this site, the ‘boomers’ had built log cabins and dugouts for their town of Stillwater founded by them on Dec. 12, 1884.” (Last “Boomer” Town Historical Marker Sign)

Boundary Line

VISIT: Intersection of Ranch Street and Washington Avenue in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

1889 and 1893

“On April 22, 1889, the Run for land south in Old Oklahoma began on this line, by Proclamation of Pres. Benj. Harrison. Also, on Sept. 16, 1893, the Run for land north in the Cherokee Outlet began on this line, by Proclamation of Pres. Cleveland. At Booth No. 1, site 3/4 mi. east, thousands registered for the Run in 1893.” (Boundary Line Historical Marker Sign)

Concluding Thoughts

It took me several trips, but I think I finally found all of the historical marker signs in Stillwater, Oklahoma. It was super fun trying to track them all down! I hope you learned something new in this post and are inspired to go find some historical markers near you!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

If you are interested in more Stillwater history, historic sites, or museums check out my other blog posts:

Sources

*Historical Markers in Stillwater, Oklahoma

OHS Historical Marker Program (Payne County) – Oklahoma Historical Society Website

Dr. Angie Debo Statue: Stillwater, OK

Hey friends! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the life of Dr. Angie Debo. She was a pioneering historian and is widely remembered across the state of Oklahoma. Dr. Angie Debo wrote nine books, “edited three, co-authored another, wrote many chapters, articles, and forwards, and presented numerous papers on Native Americans and Oklahoma history.” (Angie Debo Sculpture Project) Let’s get started!

*All photos in this post were taken by myself at the Stillwater Public Library and the Edmon Low Library at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Dr. Angie Debo’s Story

Born on January 30, 1890, Angie Debo spent the first decade of her life in Beattie, Kansas. In November 1899, her family moved to Marshall, Oklahoma Territory. She graduated from Marshall High School in 1913 and taught in local schools from 1913-1915. She then went on to attend the University of Oklahoma (OU) from 1915-1918, graduating from OU in 1918 with a history degree.

After graduation, Debo was the principal at the Village School in Enid from 1918-1919. She then taught for four years at Senior High School in Enid, Oklahoma. Debo soon returned to school and completed her Master’s Degree from the University of Chicago in 1924. She published her master’s thesis, “The Historical Background of the American Policy of Isolation (1924).” It was co-authored by J. Fred Rippy.

Debo returned to teaching at West Texas State Teachers College in Canyon, Texas from 1924-1933. She also taught in local high schools associated with the college. Debo began working on her doctoral degree while teaching at West Texas Teachers College through the University of Oklahoma. Debo finished her Doctorate Degree from the University of Oklahoma OU) in 1933. Debo’s dissertation was titled, “History of the Choctaw Nation: From the Close of the Civil War to the End of the Tribal Period” and was later published as a book titled, “The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic” in 1934. Dr. Debo’s book won the John H. Dunning Prize of the American Historical Association in 1935.

Next, Dr. Debo was the curator of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas for a year (1933-1934). At the end of 1934, Debo moved back home to Marshall, Oklahoma. From 1937-1939, she received a grant from the Social Science Research Council to research and write “The Road to Disappearance.”

In 1937, Dr. Debo helped edit and conduct interviews fro the WPA Indian-Pioneer Project which would late become the Indian Pioneer Papers. From 1940-1941, she was responsible for supervising the Federal Writers Project in Oklahoma.

Dr. Debo published “And Still the Water Runs” in 1940. In 1941, she published “The Road to Disappearance” and “Oklahoma: A Guide to the Sooner.” In 1943, she published “Tulsa: From Creek Town to Oil Capital.” She published her only work of fiction in 1944, “Prairie City, the Story of an American Community.”

Dr. Debo taught summer school at Oklahoma A&M in 1946. She was also a Rockefeller Fellow at the University of Oklahoma (OU) from 1946-1947. She published “Oklahoma, Foot-Loose and Fancy-Free” with some of her funding from the Rockefeller Fellowship.

Dr. Debo was a busy lady in the late forties and fifties. From 1947-1955, she was the curator of maps at Oklahoma A&M (present-day Oklahoma State University). She wrote a column for the Oklahoma City Times titled “This Week in Oklahoma History” from 1952-1954. She was also a book reviewer for the New York Times from 1952-1961. Dr. Debo published “The Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma: Report on Social and Economic Conditions” in 1951. Dr. Debo retired from curating maps at OSU in 1955, but continued researching, writing, traveling, and advocating for Native American rights. Dr. Debo wasn’t done teaching though, and taught Oklahoma History at OSU from 1957-1958.

Dr. Debo published “Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place” in 1976. This book won a few awards including the Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Association of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. For more information about the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, click HERE!

Dr. Angie Debo was interviewed for an Oral History Project at Oklahoma State University from 1981-1985. The oral history and transcript are linked in the sources section at the end of this post if you are interested in listening to it. Dr. Angie Debo passed away on February 21, 1988. She is buried in North Cemetery in Marshall, Oklahoma.

Dr. Angie Debo Statue

There is a statue of Dr. Angie Debo in front of the Stillwater Public Library! The contest for the sculpture required artists to submit a design that would “evoke a combination of libraries, reading, Stillwater, and/or Oklahoma.” (Angie Debo Sculpture Project) Eleven artists submitted 16 proposals, and the winning design of Dr. Angie Debo was submitted by Phyllis Mantik.

At the time of the contest, there were no known statues of Dr. Angie Debo anywhere in the United States. So, this statue was a big deal for Oklahoma! Mantik’s design for the statue included the tribal seals of the Indigenous tribes of Oklahoma along the bottom of the base. Watch the video below to see the base in its entirety.

The Stillwater Public Library Trust received several donations for the sculpture. In total, $63,000 was raised from multiple people and communities. The sculpture of Dr. Angie Debo was the first sculpture on City property in Stillwater!

The statue of Dr. Angie Debo was unveiled on November 18, 2010 at a ceremony attended by over 200 people. Notable guests included Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis and Oklahoma City University & Chickasaw Governor Bill Anoatubby.

RESEARCH TIP: The speeches, programs, and memoranda items can be found in the Oklahoma State University Archives. I have linked the OSU Archives HERE.

“I chose to show Angie Debo as a young woman to focus on her character and highlight that at an early age she chose the life of a scholar rather than what was expected for a woman of her time.”

Phyllis Mantik
(Angie Debo Sculpture Project)

Concluding Thoughts

The Dr. Angie Debo statue is an inspiring place to visit in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Dr. Debo’s story can be an inspiration to us all and I am glad I got to visit the Stillwater Public library and see the statue. I hope you’ll go see it if you’re ever in Stillwater!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Visit

1107 S Duck St

Stillwater, OK 74074

Sources

Statue Information

“Angie Debo Sculpture Project,” Stillwater Public Library.

Dedication of Angie Debo Statue, Stillwater Public Library, Stillwater, Oklahoma Collection, Oklahoma State University Archives, Oklahoma State University Libraries. https://archivesspace.library.okstate.edu/repositories/3/resources/1337.

Chelcey Adami, “Scholar and Activist Angie Debo to be Commemorated in Sculpture,” Stillwater News Press (Stillwater, Oklahoma), March 5, 2010.

Lynda, “Angie Debo,” Stillwater Public Library Blog, December 27, 2010.

Biographical Information

Patricia Loughlin, “Debo, Angie Elbertha,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=DE002.

Angie Debo – Center for Great Plains Studies (University of Nebraska – Lincoln)

Angie Debo Biographical and Archival Information – Oklahoma State University Edmon Low Library

Biography of Angie Debo – OSU Library

Chronology of Angie Debo’s Life – OSU Library

Oral History with Angie Debo – OSU Library

The Angie Debo Collection at the OSU Library – OSU Library

The American Pigeon Museum: Oklahoma City, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we are talking about the American Pigeon Museum located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Did you know that 32 pigeons received the Dickin Medal of Honor during World War II? Keep reading to learn more about this award and the museum that explains the history and importance of pigeons. Let’s get started!

*All photos were taken at the American Pigeon Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Museum History

The American Homing Pigeon Institute (AHPI) was founded in 1973 as a way to honor pigeons and their legacy. It would later be renamed the American Pigeon Museum and Library (APM&L). The land the museum sits on was purchased in 1993. A new building was built on the property in 2013 to house the museum – it’s a larger building which has allowed more of the collection to be placed on display. The collection is pretty impressive if you ask me!

Exhibits

Pigeon History Around the World

The first recorded image of a pigeon dates back to 3000 BC in Iraq – that’s a long time ago! Fast forward a few years to 1600 AD and pigeons were being transported to other countries. In 1606, French settlers brought the Rock Dove to Port Royal, Nova Scotia introducing the bird to the New World. (1600-1900 AD Information Sign in the Museum) Fast forward another 2 centuries and there are several recordings of pigeons in the nineteenth century.

Pigeons in War

The War History exhibit was my favorite exhibit at this museum. It was really interesting to see how pigeons were used in various wars. The World War II section explained how pigeons were used to transport messages. Pigeons have also been used by the Coast Guard to deliver messages!

World War I

World War I began in 1914 and the United States joined the war in April 1917. By July 1917, General John J. Pershing was sending cablegrams asking for two pigeon specialists and 12 enlisted experts. He also wanted to purchase 500 pairs of Homing Pigeons for breeding. He asked for an additional 1,000 pigeons that had been hatched in that year to be sent to the American Army in France. The pigeons were successful in delivering their messages 95% of the time! “The most famous pigeons used by the Allied Forces at this time were The Mocker, President Wilson, Spike, Big Tom, Colonel’s Lady, Kaiser, and Cher Ami to name a few.” (World War I Information Sign in the Museum)

World War II

Pigeons were once again used in World War II. Read the stories of Otto Meyer and Maria Dickin to learn more about their roles with the pigeons in the war effort.

Otto Meyer

Otto Meyer (1905-1991) was an US Army Major during World War II. He was put in charge of the US Army’s world-wide pigeon breeding and training program. Meyer was soon promoted to Commander of the US Army Pigeon Service Agency. He oversaw 3,000 soldiers and 54,000 pigeons!

His favorite pigeon was named Kaiser who lived to be 32 years old. Kaiser served in both World War I and World War II. G.I. Joe was another one of Meyer’s pigeons. He received the Dickin Medal of Honor for saving 1,000 Allied troops by delivering a message in time for them to move.

Otto Meyer continued working with pigeons after WWII. He was the civilian technical advisor of the Signal Corps pigeon breeding and training program. (Otto Meyer Information Sign in the Museum)

Maria Dickin & the Dickin Medal of Honor

Maria Dickin (Sept. 22, 1870 – Jan. 3, 1951) was upset after witnessing the plight of sick animals in East London during World War II. She established the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA). Later, she created the Dickin Medal to recognize the service of animals during WWII. Dickin said the animals had to have demonstrated “conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty while serving or associated with any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence Units.” (Maria Dickin Case in the Museum)

From 1943-1949, 54 Dickin Medals were awarded to animals for their service in WWII. Among the recipients were 32 pigeons, 18 dogs, 3 horses, and 1 cat. The pigeons received the award for delivering messages!

Maria Dickin & the Dickin Medal of Honor

Pigeon Racing

Pigeon racing began around 1875 in the United States and many people still participate today. The sport is especially popular in New York and New Jersey, but it must be noted that pigeon racing takes place in multiple countries around the world.

Pigeon racing is a sport where Racing Homer pigeons are taken to a certain location and then they are released to return home. They will travel 60-600 miles in a given race. The pigeons are specifically trained for these kind of races. The judges measure the bird’s rate of travel to determine the winner. In modern races the pigeons are tracked using a RFID tag to record arrival time. In traditional races, the pigeons were labeled with a rubber ring with an identification number and a special racing clock was utilized. The bird’s rubber ring was placed in the clock to signify when it arrived at the end of the race. “From this timestamp an average speed is measured and a winner of the race can be found.” (Pigeon Racing Information Plaque in the Museum)

Real Pigeons!

How do you tell what kind of pigeon it is that you’re looking at? The Homing & Fancy Pigeon exhibit illustrates the differences between the two breeds of pigeons. To view the “Breeds of Pigeons” Gallery – CLICK HERE!

So, I know I talked about my favorite exhibit earlier in this post, but I have to highlight another awesome feature of this museum. There are REAL, LIVING pigeons in the museum. The pigeons pictured below are kept outside behind the museum and you have to go out the back doors to have access. There were also pigeons inside the museum in a bird cage by the front desk. I liked being able to see the different types of pigeons and their multi-colored feather patterns.

GRAPHIC PHOTO WARNING FOR GALLERY BELOW: Pictured in this gallery are images of pigeon dissections, a pigeon skeleton, feather diagram, and a real preserved pigeon. If you don’t want to see a preserved pigeon then don’t scroll through the gallery below – it is the last picture (#6) in the gallery. The pigeon skeleton photos are (#4) and (#5).

Passenger Pigeons – A Tragic Ending

The Passenger Pigeon is a tragic example of what can happen when species are not taken care of properly. The Passenger Pigeons suffered from habitat loss and hunting. “The last confirmed sighting of wild passenger pigeons occurred at Laurel, Indiana on April 3, 1902, Thirty years earlier, it had been the most abundant bird on the continent. But hunting wiped out the wild flocks by the 1890s, and the few wild survivors couldn’t reestablish the communal lifestyle they needed to survive.” (Going, Going, Gone Information Plaque in the Museum) Some scientists estimate that 3-5 billion passenger pigeons may have been alive when Europeans initially came to America.

Martha – the last Passenger Pigeon in captivity – died at the Cincinnati Zoo on September 1, 1914 at 1 pm at the age of 29. The Cincinnati Zoo donated her body to the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian mounted the bird and placed her on display.

Research Library

The American Pigeon Museum has a dedicated space for a research library. There are lots of different books and records you can look at. You can walk right into the space without making an appointment.

The American Pigeon Museum and Library also has a cool section on their website with articles about pigeons and their history. I have linked it HERE!

Concluding Thoughts

The American Pigeon Museum was a cool museum to visit! I didn’t really know a lot about the history of pigeons before visiting the museum and I definitely learned a lot on this trip. I hope you’ll go check this museum out and see the pigeons!

Happy traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

TRAVEL TIP: This museum is super close to a lot of other museums in OKC! Make sure to check out the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Science Museum, OKC Zoo, Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum, and more in the area!

Visit

2300 N.E. 63rd St.

Oklahoma City, OK 73111

TRAVEL TIP: Museum admission is free!

Sources

The American Pigeon Museum – Website

Breeds of Pigeons Gallery

Information Signs in the Museum Galleries – specific signs labeled within the post when used

Old Central @ OSU: Stillwater, OK

Hey friends! Welcome back to another post – today, we’re talking about historic Old Central and the Oklahoma Museum of Higher Education in Stillwater, Oklahoma. For those of you who don’t know or are new around here, I am a 2-time Oklahoma State University alum. For undergrad, I was a member of the Honors College at OSU and spent some time in Old Central. I had a couple of classes in the basement of the building and my honors advisor’s office was on the first floor! I loved this building and am super excited to write about it today! Let’s get started!

FUN FACT! To see a collection of old Oklahoma State logos click HERE. I LOVE all of them so please don’t ask me to pick a favorite…

History of Old Central

The Morrill Act allowed Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (OAMC) to be founded on the Christmas Day, December 25, 1890. Oklahoma Territorial Governor George W. Steele signed the legislation for the college and agricultural experiment station in Payne County. 200-acres in Stillwater was selected because of the variety of soils for agricultural experimentation. Four homesteaders contributed portions of their land to make the campus. Frank E. Duck and Alfred N. Jarrell were paid to give the southern portion of the campus. Charles A. Vreeland and Oscar M. Morse were paid to give the northern portion of the campus. These four families took land from their homesteads to make the campus possible. The people of Stillwater helped clear the 200-acre tract of tall grass prairie grasses. They did this with a horse and plow and could only complete a few acres a day. This project took months to complete. Temporary buildings were raised for the campus! Keep reading to learn about Old Central – the first permanent building on campus.

James C. Neal was the first director of the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station on the OAMC campus in 1891. Robert J. Barker was the first President of Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College from 1891-1894.

RESEARCH TIP: To view an interactive OSU timeline click HERE. I found this website to be very helpful when researching this post!

The people of Stillwater decided that OAMC needed a permanent building for classes. In 1893, construction began thanks to $10,000 worth of bonds. “The bonds were not only the first issued by Stillwater, but also the first by any municipality in Oklahoma successfully paid at maturity without refinancing.” (OSU Timeline) In total, the building cost $25,000 to complete.

Old Central was made out of sandstone and brick masonry. The heating and cooling system installed in the building was very modern for the time. Old Central was dedicated on June 15, 1894 as the first permanent building at Oklahoma A&M! Students were allowed to use the building beginning in September 1894.

It was originally called ‘College Building’ or ‘(Old) Central Building.’ The local townspeople called the building ‘Stillwater’s Pride.’ (OSU Timeline) The new building housed a chemistry lab, administration offices, classrooms, a large assembly room, and the night watchman’s room. There was also a library which contained 1,600 volumes inside!

In 1914, stabilizing tie-rods were installed to help with the building’s unstable foundation. Soon, more cracks in the walls appeared and the building was deemed unsafe. Old Central was condemned in 1921, but the building was saved in 1928 by Henry G. Bennett. Bennett’s mission to save the building refurbish and restore the structure. Bennett passed away in 1951 and the next President of OSU wanted to destroy the building… But a group of faculty and alumni didn’t let this happen!

More renovations to Old Central began in 1962, but it wasn’t enough. The building was discontinued from use by the university in September 1969. By 1970, the Old Central Committee and Oklahoma Historical Society entered negotiations for preserving the building. The groups decided that making the building into a museum would be the best way to preserve it for future generations to admire. So, the Museum of Higher Education was established.

Old Central has withstood the test of time, it survived “three fires, a tornado, and repeated threats of demolition.” (Spurrier and Roark, 118). Historic Old Central was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 27, 1971 – scroll through the gallery below to see a picture of the certificate! From 1971-1983, Old Central was restored once again.

The Oklahoma Historical Society had an office located in Old Central for the next 3 decades. Their next restoration project began in October 2007. For more information about the restoration process, see the Spurrier and Roark’s article linked at the end of this post! The restoration process took 2 years and cost $6.7 million “to overcome the challenges involved in brining a nineteenth-century building up to twenty-first-century standards.” (Spurrier and Roark, 120-121)

After the renovations, the Honors College at Oklahoma State University moved into Old Central in 2009. It is still the home of the Honors College at the time of this post in June 2022!

Swipe through the gallery below to see Old Central through the various seasons! Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter – we love Old Central in all its glory 🙂

Inside Old Central

First Floor

“The original 1894 bell hangs in the belfry, complete with its original clapper, and although according to tradition students once rang the bell for hours after football victories, hairline cracks now limit its ringing to special occasions such as honors college award ceremonies and visits by prospective students, families, and alumni.” (Spurrier and Roark, 121)

This display case is located on the First Floor of Old Central outside of the Honors College advising offices. For a closer view of its contents, please scroll up to the section about the History of Old Central for more images.

Staircase – South Side

The Watchman’s Room was located in this area. Dormitories didn’t appear on the OAMC campus until 1910. Prior to this many of the students stayed at local boarding houses which cost $2.50 to $5.00 per week. A single male student was allowed to live in Old Central if he acted as the night-watchman and janitor. Francis M. Greriner and Clarence H. McElroy were the first two students to hold the position.

Stairs & Assembly Hall on the Second Floor

The Assembly Hall has had many uses over the years including classroom spaces, ceremonies, and meeting spaces. Today, the large lecture hall seats approximately 120 people. It is a beautiful space. While researching this post, I read that the Honors Hooding ceremony used to take place there. I guess the Honors College had grown since that article was published because my ceremony was held in the Student Union. I also read that some of the first graduation ceremonies at OAMC took place in the Assembly Hall! That’s so cool!

Basement

The basement of Old Central now houses a classroom, computer lab, and restrooms. I took classes in the basement of Old Central when I was a student at Oklahoma State University. It’s a cool space! You can see the door on the left side of the picture that leads to the classroom.

Concluding Thoughts

I love historic Old Central! This building is so special to Oklahoma State University history and Payne County history. It was really cool to be a student and attend classes in the basement and to ring the original bell clapper after I received my Honors Hood for graduation. I love this building and my alma mater. I hope you’ll go visit Oklahoma State University and Old Central. Ever you’ll find us loyal and true!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Visit

Old Central

Oklahoma State University

Stillwater, OK 74075

TRAVEL TIP: Old Central is behind the ConocoPhillips OSU Alumni Center. It’s also very close to Hideaway Pizza and the Fire Station.

Sources

*Information from various plaques and information sheets in Old Central used. I have included pictures above within the post.

Articles

Spurrier, Robert and Roark, Jessica, “Where Honors Lives: Old Central at Oklahoma State University” (2015). Chapters from NCHC Monographs Series. 23.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nchcmonochap/23

Books

Leroy H. Fischer, Historic Old Central – Centennial Histories Series (Stillwater: Oklahoma State University, 1988).

Websites

“Old Central at OSU” – Visit Stillwater Website

“Old Central Collection” – Oklahoma State University Website

“History” – Oklahoma State University Website

“Timeline” – Oklahoma State University Website

Philip Reed Rulon, “Oklahoma State University,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.

First Americans Museum: Oklahoma City, OK

Hey friend – welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the new First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City! The facility is beautiful and there is so much history inside. Let’s go look around!

*All photos used in this post were taken at the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City.

Museum History

The First Americans Museum is a partnership between the State of Oklahoma and The City of Oklahoma City. A Chickasaw Nation subsidiary, the American Indian Cultural Center Foundation, and many donors have also helped make this museum a reality. The architects of the museum were Johnson Fain Architects: Master Planning and Building Concepts, Los Angeles and Hornbeek, Blatt Architects, Co-Prime, Edmond.

The First Americans Museum opened in 2021 and is 175,000 square feet! The building aligns with the cardinal directions which is significant during the winter and summer solstices and the spring and autumnal equinox. (FAM Website, FAQ Page)

The First Americans Museum Mission statement is “To serve as a dynamic center promoting awareness and educating the broader public about the unique cultures, diversity, history, contributions, and resilience of the First American Nations in Oklahoma today.” (FAM Website, About Page) The Museum believes in four core values: respect, reciprocity, relationships, and responsibility.

Indigenous History in Oklahoma

Many of the 39 nations which call Oklahoma home today were forcibly removed to the area throughout the Nineteenth Century. Though a few tribes were originally from the area.

Oklahoma became the 46th state to enter the Union in 1907. The word ‘Oklahoma’ combines two Choctaw words ‘Okla’ and ‘Homma’ which means ‘Red People.’ There are 12 linguistic families spoken in Oklahoma: Algonquian, Athapascan, Caddoan, Iroquoian, Tanoan, Muskogean, Penutian, Jiwere (Siouan), Dhegiha (Siouan), Tonkawan, Uchean, Uto-Aztecan. (FAM Website, FAQ Page)

The following 39 nations live in Oklahoma today: Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town, Apache Tribe of Oklahoma, Caddo Nation, Cherokee Nation, Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes, Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Comanche Nation, Delaware Nation, Delaware Tribe of Indians, Eastern Shawnee Tribe, Euchee (Yuchi) Tribe of Indians, Fort Sill Apache Tribe, Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, Kaw Nation of Oklahoma, Kialegee Tribal Town, Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, Kiowa Tribe, Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, Modoc Tribe, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Osage Nation, Otoe-Missouria Tribe, Ottawa Tribe, Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma, Sac & Fox Nation, Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, Seneca-Cayuga Tribe, Shawnee Tribe, Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, Tonkawa Tribe, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, Wyandotte Nation. (FAM Website, FAQ Page)

For a map of the 39 nations, please click on this link HERE.

TRAVEL TIP: Tribal Gallery Guides are linked HERE. The First Americans Museum website has PDF documents with consultation lists and specific interpretive items and cultural materials from each tribe.


Terms Defined

The First Americans Museum had the following terms defined on a display. I thought this was very helpful, especially if you are not familiar with Indigenous histories.

Museum Exhibits

There are three main exhibit halls in the First Americans Museum. Two are located on the first floor and the third is located on the second floor. OKLA HOMMA and Of the Earth: Creating First Americans Museum are located on the first floor. WINIKO: Life of an Object is located on the second floor.

OKLA HOMMA

The OKLA HOMMA exhibit is in the Tribal Nations Gallery on the first floor and covers 18,000 square feet. This gallery tells the stories of the 39 culturally distinct nations living in Oklahoma today. This space utilizes art, film, interactive media, and a large map on the floor. The gallery discusses origin stories, collective histories, (mis)representation, sports, warriors, and so much more. The museum worked with 39 tribes for over a decade to ensure that everything is accurate.

Pictured below are a few pieces and displays within the exhibit. There is so much more to read and look at in this space. I was very disappointed my memory card filled up half-way through this space… Please go visit this museum to see the rest of the displays!

WINIKO: Life of an Object

Winiko: Life of an Object is from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. According to the brochure, the objects offer “an opportunity to understand the importance of the creation collection and continued relevance of cultural materials today.” (FAM Brochure) This collection contains clothing, drums, and more. I did not take pictures in this space, but encourage you to go check it out!

Of the Earth: Creating First Americans Museum

This exhibit illustrates how the First Americans Museum came to be. There are blueprints and mini-models in the collection. The architectural significance is also explained which I thought was very interesting!

First Americans Museum Timeline

  • 1994: Legislation Created Museum Agency
  • 1994-2006: Site Remediation
  • 2005: Ground Blessing
  • 2008: Mound and Remembrance Walls Constructed
  • 2010: Hall of People Constructed
  • 2013-2016
  • 2017: New Horizons
  • 2021: Site Completion

Concluding Thoughts

I loved this museum – walking through the halls was an honor. I learned so much and plan to go back in the future. You should plan to spend at least a few hours in this museum. We read many of the signs, but didn’t have time to sit and listen to the videos and oral histories on this trip. On my next visit, I plan to sit and listen to everything. The small theater spaces were amazing and there is also a large theater included in museum admission – so be sure to keep that in mind when visiting. Please go check this museum out and take time to learn the history of the First Americans.

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Visit

659 First Americans Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK 73129

TRAVEL TIP: The Thirty Nine Restaurant and Arbor Cafe are located in the museum. Check the First Americans Museum website for restaurant hours and menus. Many of the dishes include “Native ingredients” and several “tribally-specific dishes” are served.

Sources

First Americans Museum – Website

First Americans Museum Website – About Us Page

First Americans Museum Website – FAQ Page

Tribal Gallery Guides – FAM Website

City Hall: Ponca City, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the beautiful city hall building in Ponca City, Oklahoma. While visiting some other historic sites and museums in the area, I drove past this building and had to turn around. I got out of my car, walked around the outside, and took some photos. Let’s go explore the history of the building!

History of Ponca City

Ponca City was founded in the mid-1890s during the Oklahoma Land Run for the Cherokee Strip on September 16, 1893. The founder and first Mayor of Ponca City – B.S. Barnes – was a smart man. He chose the area before the Land Run because of the available water supply, its access to the railroad, and there was a river crossing. Barnes created the “Ponca Townsite Company” in hopes of bringing people to the area. He “sold $2 chances on lots of the settlers gathered to make the land run.” (Informational Plaque about B.S. Barnes outside City Hall)

Barnes was a determined man. He discovered that the US Government had plotted town Northwest of Ponca City for the railroad to stop – this town was called Cross. But, Barnes did not like this at all and he took a few friends and under the cover of darkness they “moved the Cross depot to Ponca City.” (Informational Plaque about B.S. Barnes outside City Hall) Needless to say, the train stopped at Ponca City.

B.S. Barnes was a strong leader who led Ponca City to many of its early successes. “The citizens always had confidence in his ability and integrity and , five days after the run, they elected him as their first mayor.” (Informational Plaque about B.S. Barnes outside City Hall)

RESEARCH TIPS: For more Land Run history, see my posts about the Oklahoma Territorial Museum, the Edmond Historical Society Museum, and the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum.

Now that we’ve talked a little bit about the founding of Ponca City, let’s talk more about the history of the City Hall Building itself! It’s pretty cool!

City Hall Building History

Mayor W.H. McFadden proposed a bond election in February 1916 of $20,000 to build a new convention hall in Ponca City. This bond passed and an additional $25,000 bond was passed in December 1916. The building was designed by architect, Solomon Andrew Layton in 1916 in the Spanish Colonial Style. It was built by Layton and Smith – who also happened to design to the State Capitol Building. Ponca City local – O.F. Keck – was hired as the contractor. “The contract was let for $38,000.” (Ponca City Website – FAQs “When was the current City Hall building first constructed?”) The new auditorium opened on November 14, 1917 with a showing of “Experience,” a Broadway musical play.

FUN FACT! Many of the other buildings in Ponca City are also built in the Spanish Colonial style – just take drive around town and look!

Mayor P.B. Lowrance and the architecture firm of Layton, Smith, and Forsythe helped plan the addition of East and West wings to the facility. A bond issue worth $75,000 was passed in November 1922 for the project. Based in Oklahoma City, the Holmboc Company was awarded the contract for $135,000. Two years later, the Board of Commissioners held their first meeting in the new facility on March 20, 1924. The new East and West wings housed city offices, the police station, and fire station. The expanded center was renamed to the “Civic Center.” These three buildings were separate pieces and wouldn’t be connected for nearly eight decades!

The Civic Auditorium was closed in 1992 because it was deemed a fire hazard by the Ponca City Fire Marshall. The city offices were located in the East and the West wing housed Fire Station No. 1. These areas were deemed safe and were allowed to remain open. A few years later in 1997, the citizens of Ponca City passed a 2-year sales tax that allowed for much needed renovations to be made on Fire Station No. 1 in the West Wing.

After the fire station was renovated, the citizens of Ponca City passed a 3-years sales tax to renovate the rest of the city hall complex. The new complex was designed and renovated by Lewis Associates Architects of Ponca City. They completed the project in 2003 and the building looks stunning!

TRAVEL TIP: Here is a link to a self-guided tour of the inside and outside of the building.

Centennial Plaza

The Centennial Plaza is located in front of City Hall! There are several sculptures, memorials, and plaques that honor various aspects of Ponca City’s rich history. I have included few photos below and hope you enjoy them, but make sure to stop by and see them yourself!

Centennial Monument

The Centennial Monument was created by artist Jo Saylors to commemorate the Land Run. The Land Run took place on September 16, 1893. A century later in 1993, the citizens of Ponca City were given an opportunity to purchase a brick with their name on it to “stake their claim” as a portion of Ponca City’s history. Thousands of people purchased a brick to “stake their claim” – 6,527 people to be exact.

The plaque on the bottom of the Centennial Monument reads: “These 100 donors present this centennial bronze by Jo Saylors in commemoration of the Cherokee Strip Land Run September 16, 1893. Dedicated September 16, 1993.”

Lew Wentz Statue

Jo Saylors also created a sculpture of Lewis Hanes (Lew) Wentz that is on display at City Hall. Lew Wentz (1872-1949) was a wealthy oilman and philanthropist who “always gave.” (Wentz Statue Plaque) This sculpture was a gift from a group of citizens of Ponca City who wanted to honor the memory of Wentz.

The plaque on the bottom gives a lot of valuable information about Wentz’s projects in Ponca City. He was a donor for the Wentz Camp, Wentz Pool, and Wentz Municipal Golf Course. Wentz was a founder for The Society for Crippled Children, the University of Oklahoma Student Loan Fund, and the Oklahoma State University Student Loan Fund.

E.W. Marland Statue

Jo Davidson was commissioned by E.W. Marland (1874-1941) to create the statue of himself. The statue originally sat on the grounds of the Marland estate. Marland loved the arts, especially sculpture. Marland’s widow, Lydie Marland donated the statue to Ponca City in 1951 and it now sits on the southwest corner of City Hall’s lawn.

The bottom of the E.W. Marland statue lists his major accomplishments as the following:

  • Pioneer Oil Developer
  • Philanthropist and Humanitarian
  • Leader in developing the economy, culture, and beauty of Ponca City
  • Donor of Pioneer Woman Statue
  • Governor of Oklahoma
  • United States Congressman

For more information about E.W. Marland, oil history, and the Marland estates check out the following two posts: The Marland’s Grand Home and The Marland Mansion.

Ponca City Memorial Fountain

The Ponca City Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) built the Memorial Fountain to honor those who fought in World War I. The fountain was restored in 1981 by DAR and H.A. “Jack” Mertz. In 1993, the fountain underwent another renovation thanks to the Ponca City and Pioneer Rotary Clubs.

The most recent restoration took place in 2003. Forrest Mertz led the project in honor of his parents H.A. “Jack” and Hattie Mertz, the Ponca City DAR Chapter, and all Veterans. (Ponca City Self Guided Tour)

Concluding Thoughts

I thought this building was very pretty and I am very glad that I stopped to take a few photos. I loved doing the research behind the building and the statues honoring people out front. If you’re ever in Ponca City – make sure to drive by – you won’t be disappointed!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Visit

516 E. Grand Ave.
Ponca City, OK 74604

TRAVEL TIP: City Hall is close to the Ponca City Library. Make sure to stop by the library to check out the Matzene Art Collection. This art collection is definitely a hidden gem and I definitely recommend stopping by! Here’s a post I wrote about the Matzene Art Collection!

TRAVEL TIP: While you’re in downtown Ponca City, make sure to also stop by the L.A. Cann Gardens and Estate! Take a pair of walking shoes to stroll through this beautiful garden and trails. The local garden clubs do an excellent job of maintaining this space. Here’s a post I wrote about the L.A. Cann Gardens and Estate!

Sources

City Hall – Ponca City Website

Ponca City Website – FAQs “When was the current City Hall building first constructed?”

City Hall Self Guided Tour – Ponca City Website

Informational Plaque about B.S. Barnes – Pictured Below

E.W. Marland Statue Plaque – Pictured Below

Lew Wentz Statue Plaque – Pictured Below

Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum: Oklahoma City, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum and Memorial. There are pieces in the museum collection from across the United States, across Oklahoma, and even a piece from the London Fire Brigade. Let’s go look around!

*All photos used in this post were taken inside and outside at the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum in Oklahoma City.

Museum History

The Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum was founded in 1967 in OKC with a groundbreaking ceremony taking place on April 6th. The building was completed in 1969 and opened to the public on June 1st. The Oklahoma State Firefighters Association (OSFA), Oklahoma Fire Chiefs Association (OCFA), and the Oklahoma Retired Firefighters Association (ORFA) also have offices in the building. 

The museum is owned and operated by firefighters of the Oklahoma State Firefighters Association which was founded in 1894. A portion of membership dues help support the museum.

Exhibits

There were several really cool exhibits and artifacts in this museum. I have included a few photos of some of the exhibits. Please make sure to visit the museum or their website for more information.

Alfred P. Murrah Bombing – Rescue Memorial

On April 19, 1995 at 9:02 a.m. a bomb exploded in front of the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City. Many firefighters rushed to the scene to help the injured amongst the chaos. There were two memorials made to honor the firefighters, one is located at the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum and the other is in Washington, D.C. at the International Association of Firefighters office.

I hope to visit the OKC Memorial Museum in Oklahoma City in the future.

Old Fire Station

There is a miniature firehouse built inside the museum which has an early 20th century John Gamewell Alarm System from Enid, Oklahoma. Scroll through the photos below to get a closer look!

Miniature Fire Truck Collection & The Last Alarm Mural

The collection of miniature firetrucks lined one of the walls in the museum and they were super cool to look at!

If you look above the cases in photo 5 you will notice a large mural – this is called The Last Alarm. Lynn Campbell painted the mural while visitors at the museum watched. The mural is 59 feet long and 8 feet tall with each firetruck representing a real truck used by a town.

Fire Pole & Horse Drawn Wagon

Firefighter Gear

There was a wall with firefighting bunker coats from World War II to the present-day. It was really neat to see how the gear changed over time. Scroll through the gallery to read more about each specific set of gear provided by the Morning Pride Manufacturing Co.

Ben Franklin Collection & Early Firefighting Equipment

First Fire Station in Indian Territory

Fort Supply Depot was the location of the first fire station in Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). The log cabin structure was built in 1869 on the plains. The soldiers wanted a structure to protect all of the fire equipment from the elements. It also gave a sense of law and order to the area. 

A little over a century later, the Fort Supply Fire Department donated the log cabin to the Oklahoma State Firefighters Association. The museum staff had to move it from Fort Supply to OKC which is roughly a 3 hour trip covering 160-185 miles depending on your route. 16 people from OKC took a truck and trailer to pick up the log cabin from Fort Supply. The log cabin survived the trip thanks to the diligence of the museum staff. Once the log cabin arrived in OKC the museum staff realized that it wouldn’t fit through the door… So it was carefully broken into pieces and then put back together once all the pieces inside the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum! 

Largest Firefighter Patch Collection in the World!

The Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum has the largest collection of firefighter patches in the world. The patches in the Ben Dancy/Arvin Fennell Memorial Patch Collection come from all over the world – if you zoom in on the photos you can read where the patches are from! The collection wraps around three walls of the museum and the photos don’t do it justice… There are over 7,000 patches in this collection!

In the 1960s, Ben Dancy was the Chief of the Oklahoma City Fire Department. He began putting patches on the wall in June 1969 when the museum opened and continued to do so until he passed away in 1982. Arvin Fennell carried on the patch legacy in Chief Dancy’s honor. Fennell was a retired Assistant Fire Chief from Midwest City. He is responsible for the display cases currently in the museum. Previously, the patch collection had been mounted in a catalogue, but Fennell made cases where you could see all the patches at once. Chief Fennell continued working on the patch collection until he passed in 2015.

Fire Trucks

The museum has over a dozen restored firetrucks inside that you can walk around and look at. There are pieces of equipment from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries in the collection. Scroll through the gallery to view various fire trucks from different eras. We were told that many of the fire trucks still run, which is pretty cool if you ask me!

My Favorite Piece in the Collection

My favorite piece in this museum was probably this hand drawn chemical cart from 1890. A lot of the research I do takes place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so it was cool to see what kind of firefighting equipment they had at the time!

Firefighter’s Memorial

The Memorial is on the Western side of the property. It honors the brave men and women firefighters who have protected and served Oklahoma. The sculpture is titled, Just Another Day and was created by Shahla Rahimi Reynolds (OKC).

The Wall of Valor honors the firefighters who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Other firefighters who have served for over 20 years or retired through disability are also recognized in the memorial.

You can search names on the Memorial Wall on this web page if you scroll down the page – LINK HERE.

Concluding Thoughts

I enjoyed visiting the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum again. I visited once when I was a kid and all I remembered about the museum were the big firetrucks on the inside of the building. So, it was cool to go back and walk around the inside of the museum again and appreciate more of the collection. I learned a lot and hope you’ll go check this place out!

TRAVEL TIP: This museum is located right by the Oklahoma City Zoo, Science Museum Oklahoma, the National Softball Hall of Fame, American Pigeon Museum, and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. So, if you’re traveling from out of town, make sure to visit some of these other cool places that are close by!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Visit

2716 NE 50th St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73111

TRAVEL TIP: There were covered picnic tables outside the museum – it’d be the perfect place for a picnic lunch!

Sources

Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum & Memorial – Website

Memorial Wall Name Search – Web Page

Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum – visitokc.com

Edmond Historical Society & Museum: Edmond, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the Edmond Historical Society Museum in Edmond, Oklahoma. Let’s get started!

*All photos used in this post were taken by myself at the Edmond Historical Society Museum in Edmond, Oklahoma.

Armory & Museum History

Armory History

The Edmond Historical Society is housed in the Edmond Armory that was originally built for the 179th Infantry of the 45th Division of the Oklahoma National Guard. The Edmond Armory was designed by Colonel Bryan W. Nolan – an architect with the 45th Infantry. He helped build and design 35 armories in Oklahoma! Nolan had an impressive career. See the following excerpt from the Edmond Historical Society:

“A batallion commander in World War II, Nolen led the 180th Regiment of Thunderbirds into combat during the invasion of Sicily. He later commanded leadership and combat schools in Italy and North Africa. Also instrumental in the organization of the Oklahoma Nation Guard, he had helped the Howitzer Company of the 180th Infantry Regiment as early as 1921. Nolen was highly decorated, attaining the rank of Colonel.”

“Edmond Armory history” – Virtual Exhibit

The Edmond Armory was paid for by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) which was founded in May 1935 by the Administration of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). The WPA helped create jobs for thousands of Americans who were looking for work. Many were not employed due to the economic depression of the 1930s.

The building was made of native red sandstone rocks and the blueprint used was the “One Unit Artillery” design. The building was comprised of offices, barracks, arms storage, stage, garage, target range, and a large vaulted ceiling drill hall. The same blueprint plan was used for the armories in Duncan, Sulphur, Haskell, and Claremore.

The Edmond Armory was the headquarters for the 45th Division of the National Guard until 1972 when they built a new facility. The armory was then given back to the city of Edmond. Eventually, the building housed other things like a skating rink, community center, meeting hall, and more. To read more about those venues, please see the “Edmond Armory History” link at the end of this blog post.

A Museum

The building was leased by the Edmond Historic Preservation Trust beginning in 1983. The City Council supported their plan for renovating the space. The Edmond Historical Museum and Edmond Arts and Humanities Council are two examples of groups that rented the space during renovations.

The Edmond Historical Society Museum actually started out as a single room in the Edmond Armory. Eventually, the City of Edmond allowed them to use the entire building. The main gallery of the museum once housed the space used for artillery training. The museum’s offices are located in the old barracks, offices, and storage areas.

The Edmond Armory was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 14, 1991!

Exhibits

The variety of exhibits in this museum was impressive! Each section was unique and I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know before. I have included pictures of a handful of the exhibits. You’ll have to pay the museum a visit to see the rest of them! Additionally, the Edmond Historical Society has a few digital exhibits. I am linking one here, “Edmond’s African American History: Land Run to Integration.”

Indigenous History

Edmond sits at a cross-section on the Plains. The Western portion of Edmond has more prairie grasses and open spaces, while the Eastern side of Edmond has more woodland area. This region is known for its mixing of trees and prairie grasses. Several Indigenous peoples have lived on the Plains. The Kaw, Omaha, Quapaw, Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, and Osage peoples are just a few examples.

The Land Run – April 22, 1889

The Land Run took place on April 22, 1889 with the opening of the Unassigned Lands in Indian Territory. The Unassigned Lands include present-day Canadian, Cleveland, Kingfisher, Logan, Payne, and Oklahoma county. Benjamin Harrison was the President of the United States who signed the proclamation which opened approximately 2 million acres for Anglo settlers. Each person could stake a claim of 160 acres for a filing fee of $14.00. A town basically formed overnight around the Edmond Station on Sante Fe Railroad line. 100 to 150 people formed the town of Edmond.

FUN FACT! The Land Run is sometimes referred to as Benjamin “Harrison’s Horse Race.”

For more information about the Land Run, see my blog post about the Oklahoma Territorial Museum in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church opened 2 months after the Land Run. This was the first church built in the Unassigned Lands and they held their first mass on June 24, 1889 with 5 Catholic families in Edmond. The church stood at the corner of Boulevard and First Street.

Inside the Edmond Historical Society Museum stands a replica of the church that is 1/4 size of the original building. It was created as an Edmond Centennial Project (1989) by the Knights of Columbus – a Catholic organization.

Route 66 & Oil History

Route 66 was created in 1926 as one of the first highways in the United States. Arguably, Route 66 is the most universally known highway in the US. Today, Oklahoma has most of the drivable miles on Route 66. The highway also goes through Arizona, California, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, and Texas. For more information about some cool places along Route 66 in Oklahoma, please my blog posts about the Arcadia Round Barn and Pops.

FUN FACT! 13.4 miles of Route 66 pass through Edmond, Oklahoma!

Route 66 encouraged people to drive more which led to a boom in the automobile industry. Many gas stations, service stations, hotels, and restaurants began popping up along the highways across the country to serve travelers. CONOCO played a huge role in the oil industry. For more information about the company, please see my blog post about the Conoco Museum in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Entertainment History

I’ve recently taken an interest in entertainment history so I thought it was interesting to read the plaques about entertainment in Edmond. I want to look further into both the Gem and Broncho Theaters!

For more information about historic theaters, please see my blog post about the Poncan Theater in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Concluding Thoughts

The Edmond Historical Society was a cool museum to visit. They had a lot of different exhibits which made looking around a lot of fun. The exhibits weren’t necessarily related and I really liked that about this place.

Make sure to check out all of the cool digital resources they have for kids, teachers, and adults have their website! They have a full page of games, videos, and tours that are all virtual! I have linked their website in the sources section at the end of this post. I hope you’ll go check it out!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Visit

431 S Boulevard

Edmond, Oklahoma

TRAVEL TIP: Museum Admission is FREE!

Sources

Edmond Historical Society – Website

Virtual Exhibits by the Edmond Historical Society

“Edmond’s African American History: Land Run to Integration”

“Edmond Armory History”

“Edmond ‘Firsts'”

Edmond History Sources

Stan Hoig, Edmond: The Early Years (1976). [I purchased this book in the gift shop!]

Oklahoma Territorial Museum: Guthrie, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the Oklahoma Territorial Museum in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Their collections cover the creation of the Unassigned Lands, the Land Run of 1889, homesteading, territorial government, and state government.

But first, a little bit of Oklahoma history for you! Oklahoma Territory existed from 1890-1907 when it became the state of Oklahoma. Prior to this, it had been Indian Territory. The Land Run (April 22, 1889) opened 2 million acres of land which had promised to Indigenous peoples. Thousands of people flooded into the area (Unassigned Lands). Many towns were established, some being Guthrie, Norman, Oklahoma City, and Stillwater. Guthrie became the capital of Oklahoma Territory. Make sure to read all the way to end to learn about the Outlaw mummy and hatchet-wielding woman who smashed up a saloon in the name of temperance! You don’t want to miss these stories – Let’s get started!

*All photos used in this post were taken by myself at the Oklahoma Territorial Museum in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

Museum History

The Oklahoma Territorial Museum opened in 1973 thanks to the efforts of Fred Pfeiffer. He was a local philanthropist who wanted to save the Carnegie Library in Guthrie after the City threatened to tear it down. Pfeiffer built the museum next to the Carnegie Library so that the important building wouldn’t be torn down. Today, the Carnegie Library and Oklahoma Territorial Museum are connected! For more information, read my post about the Carnegie Library!

Exhibits Inside the Museum

There were so many cool exhibits inside the museum! I have highlighted several of them here, but didn’t talk about all of them… The Oklahoma Territorial Museum website has several pages which talk about their various galleries. I have linked several of the pages in the sources section at the end of this post if you want to know more!

Indian Territory – Indigenous History

This section of the gallery on the first floor talked about Indigenous history in Indian Territory.

Railroad History

This section of the gallery on the first floor talked about railroad history.

The Land Run (1889) & Oklahoma Territory

This section of the gallery on the first floor talked about the history of the Boomers, the Land Run, and more. For more information about the Boomer Movement, see my Instagram post about the David L. Payne Memorial in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Land Run Office

This area on the first floor was set up kind of like a Land Office and I thought it was neat!

Homesteaders

I LOVE reading about homesteading history. So, the homesteading portion of the museum was really cool to see. I especially liked the section that spoke about African American homesteaders because their story is sometimes left out of the narrative of the West.

Homesteaders would choose a piece of land, built a shelter, and had to ‘improve’ the land. Many homesteaders struggled in the aftermath of the Land Run for several years with drought and economic depression. Finally, in 1897 things began to look a little bit better for the farmers in Oklahoma Territory.

African American History in Oklahoma Territory

The exhibit pictured below is outside the museum. It talked about African American history in Oklahoma Territory! You can view this exhibit anytime because it is outside and free for the public to look at.

Law Enforcement in Oklahoma Territory

This section of the museum was on the second floor. My friend and I were casually walking through when I saw the story of Florence L. Hitchcock – the first female deputy in Oklahoma Territory. Very cool! Then there was also the signs that talked about the famous outlaws in Oklahoma.

Newspaper History

Not everyone who participated in the Land Run wanted to homestead. Some people established businesses in the towns. One example of a business is the newspaper! I LOVE newspaper history. So, seeing the section about the “Daily State Capital” was super cool! Keep watching for a future blog post on the State Capital Publishing Museum in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

Journey to Statehood

The Statehood Gallery contains many items from the convention, Oklahoma’s journey to statehood, and the history of the town of Guthrie. Below are some of the items on display in the gallery. Make sure to scroll through all of the pictures in the slideshow below and read the information – there’s some really cool stuff!

46 Stars on the American Flag

Oklahoma became the 46th state on November 16, 1907. This massive flag was given to Oklahoma by the City of Philadelphia Pennsylvania on July 4, 1908. If you look closely at the star in the right corner you’ll see that it is embroidered. It says, “Oklahoma July 4 Fourth 1908.”

Original State of Oklahoma Flag

Did you know that original flag for the state of Oklahoma was not the blue one that we are all familiar with today? The red Oklahoma flag was adopted in 1911 by the Third Legislature. It was meant to commemorate Oklahoma being the 46th state of the United States. Mrs. W.R. Clement made the design. Senator McMechan and Representative Wright showed the design to Congress. The museum plaque beside the flag was full of interesting information! The plaque states that the red Oklahoma flag was phased out in the wake of the First Red Scare (1919-1921). Oklahomans didn’t want to display the red Oklahoma flag for fear of being associated with communism.

The Curious Story of Elmer McCurdy – An American Outlaw

Elmer McCurdy and two other men decided they were going to rob a train that was supposedly carrying a $400,000 Osage Indian royalty payment on October 4, 1911. They flagged down the M.K.&T. #29 train and boarded the cars. They searched high and low, but only turned up $46.00 and a couple of bottles of whiskey. The men had stopped the wrong train and now had the law looking for them.

FUN FACT! Elmer McCurdy also used the aliases ‘Frank Davidson’ and ‘Frank Curtis.’

The three men ran for three days. Finally, Elmer McCurdy was cornered in a hay loft in the Osage Hills by Stringer Felton, Bob Felton, and Dick Wallace. What ensued was an hour long gun battle… resulting in McCurdy’s death. His body was taken to the funeral home of Joseph Johnson in Pawhuska – not too far away. McCurdy’s body was embalmed and stored because nobody wanted to pay for his burial… Eventually, Elmer McCurdy turned into an outlaw mummy. Johnson stood the body of McCurdy up in a corner for people to pay to come see. And people did come see him…

One day in 1916, two strange men appeared in Johnson’s funeral home. They claimed to be the family members of Elmer McCurdy and asked for his body to be returned to them. The men said that McCurdy’s dying mother’s wish was to bring her beloved son home. Johnson didn’t think anything of it and gave the two men McCurdy’s body.

These two men had fooled Johnson – they were actually representatives for The Great Patterson Show. McCurdy’s body was on display for the next 60 years and people soon forget that he was a real mummified person and not a mannequin… One day while filming an episode of a tv show, a person grabbed the arm and pulled. It came off and he was horrified to find that there were real bones inside. The Deputy Medical Examiner confirmed that it was mummified human remains.

Soon, there was a nation-wide search across the United States to discover the identity of the mummy. Elmer McCurdy’s identity was confirmed and he was returned to Guthrie. He is buried at the Summit View Cemetery in Guthrie next to Bill Doolin, founder of the Wild Bunch.

According to an article in The Daily Oklahoman, people come from all over to visit the Oklahoma Territorial Museum because of this story. Very interesting. I remember the first time I heard the story of Elmer McCurdy I was a Graduate Teaching Assistant in graduate school and the professor I worked for that semester included Elmer McCurdy’s story in the lecture. I was intrigued and had to look it up after class!

The Saloon Smasher – Carrie A. Nation

Carrie Nation is one of my favorite people to talk about because she smashed a couple of saloons with a hatchet in Kansas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the name of temperance. These events were often referred to as ‘hatchetations.’ Carrie Nation was an outspoken woman who believed strongly in her Christian faith. She once described herself as a “bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what He doesn’t like.” 

Her first husband died of alcoholism 16 months into their marriage in 1869 and this led to her hatred of liquor. She was forced to raise their daughter alone. She married her second husband in 1874. He was a widower with 5 children of his own. The family moved around a lot. They lived in Seiling, Oklahoma for a few years. The Nations moved to Medicine Lodge, Kansas in 1899. Carrie grew famous for her saloon smashing over the next 2 years. Her husband filed for divorce in 1901 because she was never home. 

Carrie Nation moved to Guthrie, Oklahoma 4 years later. Guthrie was the capitol of Oklahoma Territory at the time and she wanted to make sure that Oklahoma entered the Union as a dry state. She went on a lecture tour and published “The Hatchet” from 1905-1906. She was successful in her efforts and Oklahoma became a dry state on November 16, 1907. Carrie Nation passed away 4 years later in Leavenworth, Kansas. 

One of Carrie Nation’s hatchets and hatchet pins are at the Oklahoma Territorial Museum in Guthrie, Oklahoma (pictured below). According to a museum employee, Carrie Nation once lived in Guthrie for 6 months and would give speeches at a bar, get arrested, and then the bar owner (who brought her there) would bail her out. Carrie Nation drew a crowd wherever she went and he paid to bring her to Oklahoma to hopefully increase the sales at his business. Carrie Nation took every opportunity to speak about the temperance cause she so strongly believed in. 

Concluding Thoughts

I REALLY liked this museum. It’s definitely in my Top 10 favorite museums in Oklahoma list! I loved the layout of the museum and the staff member working the Saturday I went was so kind and knowledgable. I will definitely be going back and plan to spend more time walking though the museum. I hope you’ll pay this museum a visit!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Visit

406 East Oklahoma Avenue

Guthrie, Oklahoma 73044

TRAVEL TIP: This museum requires admission – please see their website for details. I did see on their Instagram page that this year the museum offered free admission on Saturday of 89ers weekend. So, keep that in mind!

Sources

Oklahoma Territorial Museum Sources

Oklahoma Territorial Museum – Website

“Life in the Territory Gallery”

“Oklahoma or Bust Gallery”

“The Outlaw: Elmer McCurdy”

“Spotlight Exhibits”

“Statehood”

Oklahoma Historical Society Sources

“Oklahoma Territorial Museum and Carnegie Library” – Oklahoma Historical Society

Jon D. May, “Doolin, William M.,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=DO007.

Linda D. Wilson, “Nation, Carry Moore,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=NA006.

Other Sources

“The Progressive Era,” American Yawp. Textbook.

Dino Lalli, “Discover Oklahoma: Transition to statehood showcased at Territorial Museum & Carnegie Library, The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), June 5, 2016.

89ers Parade and Celebration – Website

Oklahoma Sports Museum: Guthrie, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post. Today, we’re talking about the Oklahoma Sports Museum located in Guthrie, Oklahoma. They claim to have “the largest collection of Oklahoma Sports artifacts anywhere.” This could very well be true because the museum features nearly every sport you could think of – baseball, football, basketball, softball, rodeo, running, and so much more! Let’s go look around! 

*All photos used in this post were taken by myself at the Oklahoma Sports Museum in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

Museum History

The Oklahoma Sports Museum was opened in 1993 by the Oklahoma Sports Museum Association. This museum was the dream of Coach Richard Hendricks, Ferguson Jenkins, and Hubert “Geese” Ausbie. Coach Hendricks is now the director of the Oklahoma Sports Museum. 

Coach Richard Hendricks and his husky dog met us at the door. He walked around the museum with my friend and I telling us all kinds of cool facts! It was really cool to hear Coach Hendricks talk about the history of Oklahoma sports. As we were leaving, my friend made this comment to me, “He had an answer for every single question that I had. He knew so much.”

Ferguson Jenkins is a Baseball Hall of Fame member. Jenkins was a star player for the Cubs in the sixties and seventies. He lived in Guthrie for a short time and helped found the Oklahoma Sports Museum.

A New Name

The Oklahoma Sports Museum was eventually renamed the ‘Territorial Capital Sports Museum,” even though the signs on the façade outside still read the ‘Oklahoma Sports Museum.’ The goal of this museum is to honor the rich history and legacy of the many athletes to come from and play in Oklahoma. The museum is housed in 3 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Combined, the museum covers 13,000 sq feet of space. It was very large, and we ran out time to see it all… so, I’ll have to go back one day!

Halls of Fame

The Oklahoma High School Baseball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame is on one of the walls. There are over 80 coaches in this hall of fame!

There is a plaque that honors the 45 athletes from Oklahoma in the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame. The plaque gives their name, sport, and tribal affiliation. 

Additionally, the museum honors the 9 women from Oklahoma in the Women’s Oklahoma Golf Association Hall of Fame. 

Galleries

There are six main galleries in the museum: Baseball, Football, Basketball, Golf +Rodeo, Olympics, and Women in Sports. I have included a few images from select galleries – you’ll have to make a trip to the Oklahoma Sports Museum to see the rest!

Baseball

This museum features a TON of cool baseball stuff. If you or someone you know are passionate about baseball, then you NEED to visit this place! Most of the pictures I took were of the baseball gallery collections – it was massive. Coach Hendricks had a lot of really cool insights about a lot of the pieces in this space.

For example, the baseball collection below belonged to Major League Umpire George Barr. The balls in this collection are from the 1930s and 1940s. If you zoom in on the photos you can see who the signature belonged to. This collection is on loan from Seminole State College.

The jerseys on the wall below were members of the Sooner State League. The Sooner State League was active in Oklahoma for about a decade from 1947-1957. This collection belongs to Peter Pierce who has loaned it to the museum.

The bat pictured below is a ‘Babe Ruth Notched Bat.’ He hit 28 of 60 homers with this bat in 1927 when he set the new single-season home run record. Babe Ruth put 28 notches around the Louisville Slugger logo during his famous 1927 season – each time he hit a home run a notch was added to the bat! The Ruth family placed a paper label on the bat that stated: “Each notch on this War Club of the Babe’s represents one apple knocked out of the Ball Orchard.” What a cool piece of sports history!

The following wall in the baseball gallery was dedicated to African American baseball players.

This corner was dedicated to Bobby Murcer. I always think it’s really cool to see Bobby Murcer in the sports museums because my grandma went to school with him. She said he was a nice person!

To conclude the baseball section, we’ll finish with Mickey Mantle. Did you know that the statue wasn’t allowed to have pinstripes on the uniform? The Yankees said they wouldn’t allow it, interesting…

Softball

This section of the museum is dedicated to softball history! The University of Oklahoma softball team was featured prominently in this gallery.

Rodeo

As we were leaving the museum, the rodeo gallery caught my eye and we had to go back through that section of the museum very quickly. There was a lot of cool rodeo stuff in this area and I need to go back and get a better look! We were on a time crunch and didn’t have enough time to explore this gallery as thoroughly as I would have liked to…

Oklahoma State University & The University of Oklahoma

Y’all know I can’t go to a sports museum without looking for the Oklahoma State University stuff, right?! Well, I found a lot of cool stuff, but I couldn’t take pictures of everything… Scroll through the gallery below to see Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton, Eddie Sutton, Henry Iba, Barry Sanders, and more!

For more information about Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton, read my post “Oklahoma Territorial Plaza” about his home located in Perkins, Oklahoma. For more about Oklahoma State University sports, please see my post “Heritage Hall: OSU Sports Museum.”

Concluding Thoughts

The Oklahoma Sports Museum was actually really cool. I didn’t research this museum as thoroughly as I usually do before visiting the museum… My friend and I wound up having a little bit of extra time before we had to leave Guthrie and we were able to stop by to see it! 

I really appreciate all of the time Coach Hendricks spent talking with us. He was so knowledgeable and very kind. I love it when you can tell someone is passionate about what they do and Coach Hendricks is very passionate about Oklahoma sports, indeed. Please stop by and visit this museum!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 

Visit

315 West Oklahoma Avenue 

Guthrie, Oklahoma 73044

Sources

Territorial Capital Sports Museum – website

Newspapers

Berry Travel, “Guthrie Sports Museum to Celebrate 20th Anniversary,” The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), November 9, 2016.

Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore Museum: Guthrie, OK

Hey friend! Welcome to another post! Today, we’re talking about the Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore Museum in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Rumor has it that some of the pieces from this museum we used in a movie being released later this fall (2022)! Keep reading to find out which movie… Let’s get started!

*All photos were taken by myself at the Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

Museum History

The Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore Museum opened in 1992 in the Gaffney Building and is managed by the Oklahoma Pharmacy Heritage Foundation, Inc. The Gaffney Building was opened in 1890.

The idea for the frontier drugstore museum had actually begun in 1970s – inspired by Ralph Enix and his colleagues. They wanted a space to preserve and share the history of pharmacy in Oklahoma.

Museum Collection

The collection in this museum contains items that relate to frontier drugstores which were crucial to keeping communities healthy in the 19th and 20th centuries. It showcases how medicine slowly moved westward across the United States. Many of the communities didn’t have reliable access to a doctor in territorial days, but they sometimes had access to a drugstore.

Medicines of all shapes and sizes line the walls of this unique museum. Many of the bottles contain their original labels and some even have their original contents. In addition to medicine, the museum has an old soda fountain, beauty supplies, and cigar memorabilia. There are several mortar and pestles scattered throughout the museum which were used for compounding different types of medicine.

One thing I learned from this museum was the history of “show globes.” These are glass containers which have different colored liquid medicine in them. They are often on display in windows of drugstores. If you scan the shelves in the slideshow above and below this paragraph, there are different show globes on the tops of various cabinets – look for red, blue, and green liquids in the glass containers!

The museum website says you can hold many of the objects in the museum, but the historian in me just couldn’t start grabbing things. So, I just walked through, looked at things, and took a lot of photos.

The Dentist

The photos below were taken in a small room tucked away in the museum. This is set up like an old dentist office. I would not have wanted to sit in a dentist chair like that… ouch.

Movie Appearance

According to one of the museum staff members – these pieces were used in the new movie coming out this fall, “Killers of the Flower Moon.” A majority of the movie was filmed in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. If you haven’t read the book, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI (2017) by David Grann then I highly recommend checking it out!

Apothecary Garden

Established in 2006, the Apothecary Garden is located next door to the museum and provides a beautiful place for people to walk through in the Historic District of downtown Guthrie. An apothecary garden is a place where herbs and plants have traditionally been grown for medicinal purposes. Apothecary gardens have been around for centuries!

The Centennial Clock was added as a part of The Oklahoma Centennial Celebration in 2007. The clock was donated by the citizens of Guthrie – it cost $40,000 to install! It stands in the center of the Apothecary Garden.

Concluding Thoughts

The Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore Museum and Apothecary Garden in Guthrie, Oklahoma were interesting places to visit. I didn’t know many details about medicinal history before going to this museum. Needless to say, I learned quite a bit and am very thankful for modern medicine. I hope you’ll swing by this museum if you ever get the chance!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Visit

214 West Oklahoma

Guthrie, Oklahoma 73044

Sources

Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore Museum – Website

L.A. Cann Gardens & Estate: Ponca City, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the Lester and Mary Cann Memorial Gardens and Estate in Ponca City, Oklahoma. The Welcome plaque in front of the garden claims “the Cann Garden is a museum for living plants.” The Cann Garden features an “important collection of plants in a display setting.” By definition, I love the idea of a living plant museum. The brochure for the Cann Garden calls it an “enchanting” place and I’d believe it after visiting this place! Let’s go look around and talk about the history!

*All photos used in this post were taken by myself at the L.A. Cann Estate and Memorial Gardens in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

History of the Cann Estate

Lester Cann (1869-1957) was the Kay County Commissioner and later served as the City Manger of Ponca City from 1934-1948. He proudly served the Ponca City community for over 25 years. He married Mary (Smith) Cann (1876-1954) and they had a daughter, Elsie.

Mary, Lester, and Elsie Cann

The Cann’s home – a two-story farmhouse – was built in 1908 in Ponca City. Today, the home has been completely renovated and is beautiful. It is used as a meeting space for many of the local garden clubs and organizations. Additionally, you can reserve the garden for special occasions like weddings or other activities.

Elsie ensured the legacy of her parents would never be forgotten by donating the farmhouse and 10 acres of gardens to the city of Ponca City in August 1975. She wanted an emphasis put on garden activities for the citizens of Ponca City to enjoy.

The above photo on the top left is Elsie (Cann) Brown. I am not sure who the other people in the photos are… If you know and would like to tell me so I can update this article – please send me a message on my contact page!

Inside the Cann Farmhouse

The Cann home was built in 1908 and the interior has been renovated. Below are some photos from the first floor of the home. I loved the stained glass window in the staircase – it was unexpected, but added a nice pop of color to the space.

TRAVEL TIP: You can schedule an appointment to tour the turn-of-the-century homestead farmhouse.

The Gardens

More fence posts that supported another entrance into the estate and gardens.

The Gardens are maintained by many of the local garden clubs. If you walk through the gardens, there are several benches, plaques, and tiles on the pathways honoring these clubs. There are over 2,500 feet of walkways in the Cann Garden according to the Kay County Master Gardener bench in the gardens. Make sure to pack comfortable walking shoes!

TRAVEL TIP: Here is a map of the Cann Memorial Garden Walking Trails. The garden is open daily to the public from daylight until dark!

In addition to being a garden, Cann is also a dedicated arboretum! An arboretum is a space dedicated to growing multiple types of trees.

The Cann Gardens feature “a formal garden containing several hundred varieties of annuals and perennials planted in unique color displays. There are over 100 species of trees that have been planted since 1980 and more to be added in the future.”

Kay County master gardener bench – dedicated 2017

Events at the Cann Gardens

The Cann Garden hosts an annual plant sale in May. For more information about the plant sale please contact the Cann Garden.

The Annual Herb Festival is held the first Saturday of June every year. Their mission is to “educate about herbs, gardening and to provide tools and crafts for outside. Also, to share the beauty of Cann Gardens and to invite guests to Ponca City while supporting the programs of the Survivor Resource Network along with increasing awareness and knowledge of services provided to Kay and Noble County survivors of domestic violence.” (Ponca City Herb Festival Website) For more information about the herb festival or to visit their website – CLICK HERE!

Saturday, June 4, 2022, will be the 29th Annual Ponca City Herb Festival from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be vendors from Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. You will have an opportunity to purchase plants, herbs, handmade items, jams, and more. There are also children’s activities, seminars, and entertainment for everyone to enjoy.

FUN FACT: While researching this post, I found a recipe for Jalapeño and Confetti Pepper Jelly from the Ponca City Council of Garden Clubs.

Concluding Thoughts

I really enjoyed having an opportunity to walk around the Cann Memorial Gardens and Estate. The walking trails were well-kept and the landscaping was beautiful. There are several gazebos where you could easily host a picnic! Next time I go back, I know I’ll be packing my picnic bag!

I hope you’ll go check out the Cann Garden in Ponca City. If you can’t make it to Ponca City – go check out your local botanical garden! Ask about the history of the garden – you never know what you might learn!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Visit

1500 E Grand Avenue

Ponca City, Oklahoma 74604

TRAVEL TIP: This is located at the Corner of 14th & Grand Avenue.

Sources

The Gardens

“L.A. Cann Memorial Gardens” – Brochure

“L.A. Cann Estate” – Ponca City Website

“Cann Memorial Garden Walking Trail” – Map produced by Ponca City

“Lester & Mary Cann Memorial Botanical Gardens” – TravelOK.com

“Ponca City Herb Festival” – Website

“29th Annual Ponca City Herb Festival,” Ponca Post (Ponca City, OK)

Sherry Munchmore, “The Ponca City Garden Clubs’ Red and Green Christmas Jelly,” Ponca City Monthly, November 23, 2021.

The People

Lester Cann – Find A Grave

Mary Smith Cann – Find A Grave

Elsie Cann Brown – Find A Grave

Percy Brown – Find A Grave

1889 Territorial Schoolhouse: Edmond, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post. Today, we’re talking about the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse in Edmond, Oklahoma. I had driven by it before, but had never been inside – so it was really cool to finally be able to see it! Let’s go look around and talk about the fascinating history!

The schoolhouse is estimated to be the “oldest, documented, public building in Oklahoma County.”

Crowder, 1

*All photos used in this post were taken by myself at the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse or the Edmond Historical Society Museum. Please see the captions for photos taken at the Edmond Historical Society.

Schoolhouse History

This Territorial Schoolhouse opened in 1889 in Edmond, Oklahoma Territory. Some have suggested it may have been the first schoolhouse built after the Land Run on April 22, 1889. This Land Run was for the so-called Unassigned Lands. U.S. President Benjamin Harrison ‘opened’ the lands at noon on April 22, 1889 and approximately 200 people staked their claim in Edmond. Hundreds more went to Guthrie and Oklahoma (City) Station, but I’ll talk more about the Land Run in my post about the Oklahoma Territorial Museum (I’ll link it here when it’s finished!)

The Ladies School Aid Society organized in June 1889 to raise funds to build the school and hire a teacher. The Ladies School Aid Society purchased lumber on credit in Edmond, Oklahoma Territory to build the schoolhouse. Jennie Foster was the president of the society which had 15 members. Julia Pfaff, Ellen Wilderson, and Fannie Morrison were active members named in James L. Crowder’s The History of Edmond’s 1889 Schoolhouse (2011). These women were able to pay back the credit and raise money for the teacher’s salary. This was to be a free school for students to attend which wasn’t normal at this time, as most schools required some form of tuition. The first class took place on September 16, 1889 and was taught by Miss Ollie McCormick who was paid $30 per month ($240 per year).

The schoolhouse was repainted for the 1890 school year costing a total of $20 (that is roughly $630 today). Miss McCormick left after her first year in Edmond and three other people volunteered to take her place. Col. H.H. Moose, Lucy E. Twyford, and Phoeba L. Bowen would be the temporary instructors. Ten students graduated from the eighth and final grade in 1890 – so a graduation ceremony was held! How exciting! 🙂

This photograph was taken by Charles Dake in Edmond, Oklahoma in 1890. You can see from the image the location of the schoolhouse and St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. (This church will be discussed further in my post about the Edmond Historical Society Museum so stay tuned for that!)
Photo taken at the Edmond Historical Society. There are copies of this photo at the schoolhouse, but I wasn’t able to get a picture there because the historical interpreters were using it.

In 1891, Lucy E. Twyford and Ethel Gregg were the schoolhouse teachers. A bell tower was added to the schoolhouse building in February – it weighted 325 pounds! It was added to the north end of the structure.

The building wasn’t large enough to accommodate all of the students and had to be expanded in 1892. A 24′ x 24′ addition was built on the south side of the building. It was now officially a two-room schoolhouse! Estella Thompson and Ida Belt were the new teachers.

Events at the Schoolhouse

In addition to holding classes, the schoolhouse was considered to be the center of the community and many meetings were held there. Church services, funerals, and weddings are just a handful of events that took place at the schoolhouse in addition to classes.

There are four recorded churches that met in the schoolhouse. The Methodist Episcopal Church began meeting on November 9, 1889. The Christian Church held their first meeting on January 19, 1890. The Presbyterian Church met for the first time on April 6, 1890. Finally, the Baptist Church began meeting on May 11, 1890. (Crowder, 5)

Selling the Schoolhouse

The schoolhouse was sold in 1899 and it became a private residence. Hardy “Pete” Anglea bought the schoolhouse and some of the surrounding area. He had the 1892 addition taken off of the building because he didn’t like. In 1903, he moved the ENTIRE building 50 feet to a new foundation. He also added some new windows to the building.

In April 1908, Daniel McGowan bought the building from Anglea.

W.G. Pledger bought the home in 1919 (I assume from Pledger, but I am not sure).

The final owner – P.R. Sanders – purchased the home in 1927 for his family. The Sanders family lived there for many years and eventually opened a business on the first floor in 1950. This was known as “Sanders Camera Shop.” The business closed in 1975 and the building sat empty for the next 25 years… Paul Sanders loved the building and didn’t want to sell it to someone who would just knock it down. Interestingly, Sanders didn’t know about the building’s history as the original schoolhouse. Keep reading to find out how they discovered the building’s unknown history!

Saving the Schoolhouse

Lucille Warrick is credited with discovering the schoolhouse’s history! It is believed the schoolhouse is the final structure built in 1889 that is still standing in Edmond and this made the preservation efforts so much more important. The city of Edmond began the process to acquire the building in 1998. Several companies and foundations made contributions to the Edmond Historic Preservation Trust to help purchase the building from Sanders. In May 2001, the building was officially purchased from the Sanders Family Trust for $100,000.

In 2001, the Edmond Historic Preservation Trust began renovating the building. The inside of the schoolhouse was discovered after years of being covered up by wallpaper. The original wall paint was made from burnt sweet potatoes and milk – that’s interesting. During the restoration process, the original blackboards were discovered on the walls (see photos below). This put to rest any claims that the building wasn’t the original schoolhouse! 

The restoration was finished in time for the Oklahoma Centennial Project by the Edmond Historic Preservation Trust in 2007. The schoolhouse was officially opened to the public for tours in 2007 as a result.

Concluding Thoughts

The 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse in Edmond, Oklahoma was a cool place to visit. The historical interpreters working were very kind and gave a presentation for all visitors who came through the door. They personalized their presentation based on the knowledge you had when you came in the door. It was very cool! I hope you’ll go check this place out!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Visit

124 East 2nd Street

Edmond, OK 73034

TRAVEL TIP: The 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse is open on most Saturdays from 1-4 p.m. in the afternoons. Admission is free!

Sources

James L. Crowder. “The History of Edmond’s 1889 Schoolhouse.” Edmond Historic Preservation Trust. (2011).

“Welcome to Edmond’s 1889 Schoolhouse” – Flyer/Handout

Edmond Historical Society – Website

Edmond Historic Preservation Trust – Website

Carnegie Library: Guthrie, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the Carnegie Library in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Let’s get started!

*All photos in this post were taken by myself at the Carnegie Library in Guthrie, Oklahoma unless otherwise noted in the image captions.

Carnegie Library History

Inside the Library

The Carnegie Library in Guthrie was the second Carnegie Library built in Oklahoma in 1902. J.H. Bennett designed the library in the Second Renaissance Revival Style. The building has 2 stories with a beautiful domed roof. Much of the original tile, wood, and furnishings have been preserved and are still in the building today! Take a look at some of the photos I took on the inside! (There was a wedding scheduled the next day so that is why there are so many decorations.)

Significant Events in History at the Carnegie Library in Guthrie, Oklahoma

The Carnegie Library in Guthrie is significant to Oklahoma history. Oklahoma’s last territorial governor, Frank Frantz was inaugurated at the Carnegie Library in 1906. The following year on November 16, 1907, Charles N. Haskell was sworn in as the first governor of Oklahoma. During the inauguration, a symbolic wedding was held between “Mr. Oklahoma Territory and Miss Indian Territory to symbolize the wedding of the two territories into one state” (Oklahoma Territorial Museum Website). The statue pictured to the right depicts the ceremony.

Who was Andrew Carnegie?

You might be wondering why the name ‘Carnegie’ is significant and why he was important? Well, Andrew Carnegie was a very wealthy steel magnate in the late 19th century. His company was called, “Carnegie Steel.” He would later sell out one of his companies to J.P. Morgan who would found the U.S. Steel Corporation.

Carnegie donated much of his wealth to philanthropic projects. For example, he donated funds to build 2,811 libraries around the world – 25 of which were located in Oklahoma!

Carnegie Libraries in Oklahoma

Here is a list of all Carnegie libraries in Oklahoma! Click on the photo to see how much each library’s grant amounted to and when it was given. I think I might need to go see some more of these buildings! Stay tuned… 🙂

Saving the Carnegie Library

National Register of Historic Places

Today, the Carnegie Library in Guthrie is the oldest Carnegie Library still standing in Oklahoma and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

A New Museum

The Carnegie Library was the City of Guthrie’s public library until 1972. Then they decided they wanted to tear it down and build a bigger library. The building was saved by Fred Pfeiffer because he promised to build a museum next door if the city wouldn’t tear the library down. Thankfully, the city agreed to this plan. Today, the Oklahoma Territorial Museum and Carnegie Library are connected and you can walk through the building during museum hours. 

Concluding Thoughts

The Carnegie Library and Oklahoma Territorial Museum are definitely worth a visit the next time you’re in Guthrie, Oklahoma. The staff was kind and very helpful! There is so much Oklahoma history in this museum!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Visit

406 East Oklahoma Avenue

Guthrie, Oklahoma 73044

Sources

Oklahoma Territorial Museum and Carnegie Library – Website

Portraits

“Andrew Carnegie,” c. 1900, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian Open Access.