Chronicles of Oklahoma

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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 4, No. 1
March, 1926
FEBRUARY 2, 1926.

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It is with pleasure I submit the report of my activities of the past year. In the beginning I would like to state, more towns have been visited, more territory has been covered, and a greater number of people been interviewed than in any year I have been connected with the Society.

I am quite sure the importance of our historical collection is better known and appreciated than ever before. I am very grateful to the club women of the state who have co-operated with me in bringing this work before the public. At each of the nine district club conventions and the Biennial meeting in Bartlesville I was given time to speak of this important work. Many club women have become members of the Society, and the old Board comprising fifteen women from as many different sections of the state are a hundred percent membership.

The most important collection I have procured this year is that of Alex Posey, the Creek Indian Poet, who is the foremost writer of the Five Civilized Tribes to date. He was a newspaper man, and was also interested in historical collections. Since Mr. Posey’s death his widow has had the collection stored. It includes eighty-two articles; clay cooking vessels, baskets, pottery, beaded work, ball sticks, a scalping knife, wooden spoons and other things of minor importance. They would easily fill a number of cases if we could properly arrange them.

Mr. Joe Bartles of Dewey, who is the grandson of Charles Journeycake, the late Chief of the Delawares, has loaned to the Society his interesting collection. This collection consists of a full Indian suit of buck-skin, a beaded hunting bag, which was the personal property of his grandfather, and some other beaded articles, with one of the most valuable historical things yet procured, the pipe of peace used by William Penn when the treaty with the Delawares in 1682 was made.

Mr. R. R. Mitchell, of Sulphur, the step-father of Mrs. J. R . Frazier, one of our Board members, loaned a very in-

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teresting collection of thirty-five articles. This is a foreign collection from the Philippine Islands. Mr. Mitchell’s son was in the service of the United States there for four years when he made this collection.

Mr. Thomas Alford, a Shawnee Indian and a great nephew of the noted Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, gave us pictures of historic interest, a pipe of peace that had been in his family over a hundred years. Thomas Alford was the protege of Alice Longfellow when he was in school in Hampton Roads, Va. He placed in our keeping two letters from her.

One large silver medal given by President Thomas Jefferson to William Harrison, a Choctaw, for meritorious service, the great grandfather of the present Chief of the Choctaws, William Harrison, is loaned by Eddie McBrayer, a descendant of William Harrison the first.

Mr. A. F. Chamberlin of Vinita has placed with us a box of 56 small cuts, the first used to illustrate tracts and Bible stories in the Cherokee language. These were purchased is Philadelphia to be used on the first hand press brought to the state in 1871.

From Mr. Will Porter of Tulsa, the soil of Chief Pleasant Porter of the Creek Nation, I procured the loan of a magnificent war bonnet, which was his father’s; it is the most elaborate one we have in our collection.

From Holmes Colbert of Calera, I secured a loan of an old gun used by General Albert Pike, when he made his hunting trips in company with old Holmes Colbert down in the Chickasaw Nation.

From Mrs. William Settle, of McAlester, I secured the loan of a beautiful large silk flag which was sent by her son from France in 1919 when he was in the Army of Occupation. The flag is called the Presidential flag.

From some of the Kickapoo Indians I secured a rare old utility bag, made of the fiber of trees; it is unusual because these fibers are colored before they are woven; the stripes are very regular and of pleasing shades; it is the only one of the kind we have.

I was asked to assist in assembling a historical exhibit for the biennial meeting of club women which was held in

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November at Bartlesville. As things could not be loaned from the Society, I was glad to go with some of the club women to try to get loans for that special time. Mrs. A. L. Welch, the wife of the Indian Agent at Shawnee, was very enthusiastic over the work, and through her I met a number of Kickapoo and Pottawatomie Indians. We were very fortunate in getting a Kickapoo man to make us a miniature flag house. He was willing for me to bring this flag house to the museum for permanent exhibition after the biennial. This particular piece has attracted no little attention. It takes the place of the skin or cloth tepee of the Plains Indians. Some of the old Indians still live in them in winter. I have the promise of a bark house in miniature, when spring comes, for that is the only time of the year they can be made, when the sap is just right.

On my trip to Okmulgee I procured a number of old pictures, among the number are three Chiefs of the Creek Nation, Moty Tiger, Martin Chicote, and Is-par-noche. On other trips I secured the pictures of John Jumper and Hurlbutta Micco of the Seminoles, a life sized picture of Judge George W. Scraper of the Cherokees, which is an oil painting.

The great importance of collecting the pictures of the leading men of the different tribes was impressed upon my mind when the members of our committee attempted to enlarge the pictures of the Chiefs and Governors of the Choctaws and Chickasaws, and found many of them could not easily be secured, although I had been years assembling them, I had written many letters in order to secure several, one was sent me from California. After I had lost hope of getting one, I advertised in two different county papers for a picture I thought should be in that locality.

Through the interest of the Society of the Colonial Dame of Oklahoma, who are ready to assist in historical work, I have been given the use of a Victrola, traveling case size, and a recording machine. The two cost a hundred dollars. This will greatly enlarge my work. It is very important that the language of the different tribes should be preserved, as well as the music. Mr. Thorlow Lieurance, the exponant of Indian music, has a machine like the one bought for my use, and he thinks it quite easy to handle, but I am hoping to practice on the machine and get satisfactory results this spring

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and summer. A number of other things have been added to our collection of minor importance.

In the time given me to make my report I would like to add during the month of August my vacation was spent in New York and the New England states where I visited twenty-three museums and art galleries. This might seem like a physical impossibility, but it must be remembered the states are small and near together, and in the larger cities there were several museums. Even the smaller towns had a special building for their treasures.

I learned much about the work of a great museum. Every courtesy was extended to me. I certainly learned to know more of the value of things, and to prize more highly our own collection.

Every day I am more convinced of the possibilities of Oklahoma’s Historical Society. With the proper housing of our collection we could make as creditable showing as the majority of museums of other states.

If we cannot get the next legislature to agree to appropriate sufficient money to build an imposing historical building, let us be willing to have just a unit of one built. Then we can gracefully ask people to help us do things that will make a showing. Today our department is only a little more than a store room for the most valuable historical possessions of the state of Oklahoma. Let us prepare to lay our plans for our building before the next legislators are elected. Ever keep in mind we can make our museum the mecca of the world for students seeking information on Indian subjects.

Respectfully submitted,

Supervisor Indian Department.

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