The tourist from Oklahoma traveling the splendid highways traversing the states east of the Mississippi river cannot help being impressed with the beautiful panorama that is unfurled as his car passes over the well improved landscape, then across rivers and over mountains and through forests primeval. As he rolls along over concrete highways, he is surprised to see so many old fashioned farm improvements that would be considered antique to the people of Oklahoma. The old rail fence is a curiosity to people who have been reared on the western prairie, yet, there are farms and pastures throughout the mountainous regions of West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and Tennessee, entirely enclosed with the old "stake and rider" rail fences.
One thing that makes a lasting impression upon the mind of the traveler from newer sections of the country is the graveyards to be seen at short distances along the highway. Many generations of men and women have lived and died and the only biography left is that engraved on their tombstones. We realize, as Father Ryan has said, "It is a land with a grave in each spot, and a name on each grave that shall not be forgot." We are, indeed, in an old country but the present generation living there is not burdened with memories of the past. They are a live, enterprising, progressive people.
Every student of American history recognizes the territory of the thirteen original States as historic ground. The battles in the early Indian wars, the French and Indian War, and the Revolutionary War, were fought in the eastern part of the United States. While there were battles fought in nearly all of the southern states, yet, Virginia was the battle-ground in the Civil War.
The people now living in the eastern part of our country have not forgotten this, nor do they intend that the traveler shall forget his American history. Everywhere one travels
he finds markers; monuments built to commemorate historic events. Every battlefield from the earliest Indian war down to and including the Civil War, has its monuments. The places upon the battlefields where heroic events took place and where men died as a sacrifice to their cherished ideals, are marked with tablets.
Not only are the battlefields marked with these monuments but the many places where the early settlements were made, eminent characters once lived, and where historic events took place, all remind the traveler that he is at the cradle of the nation.
The student who would have a more thorough knowledge of the history of his own country could matriculate in no better school than a three months trip that would include a visit to all of these places where American history has been made. It would be, however, a waste of time to go upon a historical tour without at least a primary knowledge of American history. It should be a senior rather than a junior course in history. The student should take time to make copious notes from the many historical tablets.
While we write of the fine highways, the well improved landscapes, forests and streams of the country east of the Father of Waters, and while we speak of the "legends and lays enschrining the memories of long vanished days," yet, Oklahoma also has good roads and beautiful landscapes. It has, not only forests and streams, and beautiful landscapes, but, it excels as an agricultural state, and is rich in natural resources. It is true Oklahoma is a country without ruins, yet, it is not a country without history. Oklahoma has its past and its history. It is as important for citizens of this state to know its history, as for citizens of the old states to be familiar with their past. Oklahoma history is interesting, it is romantic and it involves the story of more different Indians tribes than that of any other state. Its political allegiance, since it has been claimed by the white race, has changed several times as different nations assumed sovereignty over its territory.
As stated in the constitution of this society—"The purposes for which the Oklahoma Historical Society is organized are to preserve and perpetuate the history of Oklahoma, its people, to stimulate popular interest in historical study and research, and promote historical knowledge generally." In the
forty years of its existence it has ever had this object in view and we believe it has in the past served the people of the state with fidelity, always keeping in mind that its mission is a sacred trust to be administered for the education, culture and enlightenment of the people of the state.
If there is any one thing that has been neglected, and we cannot say that it is the fault of the Historical Society, it is that of placing substantial markers to designate old trails passing through the state, and tablets to commemorate historic events. Some progress was made when the Thirteenth legislature passed House Bill 149, which had the approval of Gov. Wm. H. Murray, March 31, 1931. This law makes it the duty of the Highway Department to locate the correct line of the old Chisholm Trail across the State of Oklahoma, where it crosses the south line of the State in south Jefferson county to where it crosses the north line in northern Grant county. The Highway Department has also been directed by this Act to establish the correct line of the old Texas Cattle Trail crossing western Oklahoma, where it crosses the south line of the State, crossing Red river at what is known as Doan's Store, and following the line of the trail north where it enters Kansas south of Dodge City. The Department was requested to have a map made of these locations. It has completed the work of designating these two cattle trails and will have the tracings and maps completed soon. No provision, however, was made in the law for placing permanent markers along the trails.
In the year 1930, the Oklahoma Historical Society authorized and employed Miss Muriel Wright and J. Y. Bryce to do research work in the eastern and southeastern part of the State. Mr. Bryce and Miss Wright were well qualified for the work, as they are, not only, historians but they were reared in that section and knew its people, history and traditions. They spent weeks traveling, and definitely located a great many historic spots, including old forts, cantonments and military posts, long since abandoned and their history almost forgotten. They located the site of some of the first schools established in the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, and all of the early trading posts. They followed some of the old trails and noted the fords and crossings on the rivers and smaller streams. They placed markers at many places that recited briefly some of the interesting history of the early days. Mr. Bryce tells of the
work done by himself and Miss Wright in an article published in the September 1930 issue of the Chronicles, entitled, "Temporary Markers of Historic Points."
These markers were on pine boards and were intended only to locate places that had almost been forgotten by this generation, but these markers were only temporary.
Some progress has been made, however, in the past few years in placing permanent monuments to designate historic places and also to honor the memory of pioneer citizens. Some of these monuments were erected by the historical departments of the state schools. The most notable was the monument erected by the Oklahoma College for Women to designate the site of Camp Napoleon, where the great Indian council was held at the close of the Civil War. The story of the dedication of this monument, at Verden, is told in an article by Dr. Anna Lewis, published in the Chronicles of December 1931.
By looking through the indices of the Chronicles for the past ten years the reader will find many articles describing places of historical significance in Oklahoma. There are also maps and drawings of old cattle trails and military routes, but few of these places have ever been designated by permanent markers.
In this issue of the Chronicles there is an article, which is illustrated by a map showing the course of the old California Mail Route, across southeastern Oklahoma. This article is written by Miss Muriel Wright and represents much research and a thorough knowledge of the history, topography and geography of southeastern Oklahoma.
It is to be hoped that, when the depression is lifted and financial conditions are more favorable, the public-spirited people of our state will see that all of these historic places in Oklahoma are designated by the placing of permanent markers and tablets.