A letter recently received by the secretary of state and referred by that office to the Historical Society reads in part as follows: “I am writing a senior thesis on the ‘History of Oklahoma Territory’ up to the time of statehood, and it has been suggested to me by my history teacher that I write to you and see if you did not have some material on that subject, or could tell me where I could get such information.” Is it possible that there is a teacher of history in an accredited high school in Oklahoma who is not sufficiently informed to direct a pupil to write to the Oklahoma Historical Society for such information?
Among the many interesting items added to the collection of the Oklahoma Historical Society during the past year was one deposited by Mr. R. S. Trulock of Oklahoma City, which includes a flint lock musket with bayonet, a brace of horse pistols, flint lock belt pistol, a saber with leather scabbard, and a large leather cartridge box, all of which date from the American Revolution; also one leather fire bucket and one iron lamp for whale oil or lard oil. The Revolutionary weapons have descended to Mr. Trulock from his great grand uncle, Captain Charles Beardsley of the Connecticut Continental Line. They are all in a remarkably fine state of preservation. The lock of the musket has stamped on it the Royal Crown and the letters “G. R.” (Georgius Rex), thus indicating that it was captured from the British at Saratoga or elsewhere.
Public spirited citizens of Okmulgee have organized an association and have taken over the old Creek Council House for the purpose of establishing therein a library and museum for the proper housing and care of material pertaining to the Creek Nation of Indians. Such a worthy enterprise is deserving of high
commendation and the Oklahoma Historical Society bespeaks for it the generous support of the people of Okmulgee and of that part of the state which was formerly included within the limits of the Creek Nation, generally. Some of the older states, which in the point of area, are equal to but a mere fraction of that of Oklahoma, have each a number of local histotrical associations and societies. There is a field for several such organizations in Oklahoma.
The centennial of the establishment of Fort Gibson and of that of Fort Towson, will arrive during the coming spring. While the effort to have the last regular session of the Legislature provide for the celebration of such anniversaries, on a scale commensurate with their importance, failed of passage, there is no reason why both communities should not plan for an appropriate observance of the same. Such incidents are of real interest to the people of the state at large and there is no reason to believe that creditable celebrations cannot be arranged. Few pople in Oklahoma can realize that these two first military posts were established so long ago that many of the officers and enlisted men of the garrisons were veterans of the Second War with Great Britain, which ended less than ten years before.
A number of Kiowa Indians, resident in Caddo, Comanche and Kiowa counties, are planning for a suitable celebration of the beginning of lasting peace between their tribe and the Government of the United States. The date of this memorable incident in their tribal history was June 2, 1875. They are proposing to erect a monument or marker to commemorate it, on the site of the council, near the northern base of Mount Sheridan.
The Oklahoma Historical Society moved into its present quarters in the basement of the new state capitol less than six years ago. At that time it was believed that the floor space then available would be sufficient to accommodate its expansion for at least eight or ten years. With only sixty to seventy-five per cent of that period elapsed, the Society’s quarters are already comfortably filled. That they will be crowded before arrangements can be made for additional floor space and securing adequate equipment for the same, goes without saying. Although
there have been some suggestions and discussion of the matter of seeking to secure the erection of a special building for the housing of the Society’s collections, it is believed that there is still room for expansion in the capitol, provided that proper equipment can be had.
The meeting of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association, in Oklahoma City, an account of proceedings of which is reproduced in this issue of the Chronicles of Oklahoma, marked an epoch in the development of the Oklahoma Historical Society. The privilege of meeting kindred spirits who are numbered among active workers in similar institutions in other states amounted to a real inspiration to the officers and directors of the Oklahoma Historical Society. While the attendance was not so large as had been expected, and while the weather was scarcely up to the standard for springtime in Oklahoma, the visitors manifested such evident pleasure and satisfaction with the meeting and with the arrangements for their entertainment, that the anxieties of the hosts soon disappeared. The Oklahoma Historical Society benefitted greatly as the result of this meeting. The Mississippi Valley Historical Association and its active workers will always hold a high place in the esteem of the Oklahoma Society. This Society is under a very real obligation to Miss Margaret J. Mitchell, of the University of Oklahoma, to whose initiative and tireless efforts was due not only the bringing of this meeting to Oklahoma City, but also in helping to make it a success.
That popular interest in local history is increasing in Oklahoma is made manifest by the more numerous calls made upon the Oklahoma Historical Society for data and information pertaining to the same. Such requests come largely from teachers and from members of study clubs. The material asked for embraces a wide range of subejcts, including not only the story of pioneer settlements, institutional life, Indian folklore, etc., but also information pertaining to Oklahoma writers and their literary productions. As far as possible the Society endeavors to comply with all such requests, though occasionally there is one of such comprehensiveness that it is unable to do so. Private initiative may be reasonably expected to supply much material
along these lines, and in attractive form. Oklahoma has a wealth of history, legendary lore and traditions which, in due time, must be made easily available for the average student and investigator. The Oklahoma Historical Society’s mission is to gather and preserve this and help to make it available. Teachers, research students, writers, editors and commercial publishers must also have a part in it, however.
The collection of bound files of Oklahoma newspapers and other periodicals which has been gathered and preserved by the Oklahoma Historical Society is one of great value to the state. Less than a year ago a suit was filed in an Oklahoma court, the purpose of which was to invalidate the title to a piece of property upon which the state had built one of its most important reformatory institutions. The suit was made possible because of an error made by a publisher in filing proof of publication of notice to sell the property in question, in the settlement of the estate of a decedent owner. The plant and files of the paper which had published the advertisement had been destroyed by fire in the meantime. A file of the same paper, bound and preserved by the Oklahoma Historical Society, saved the state from having to defend its title in an expensive lawsuit. The value of such a collection will become increasingly apparent as the years go by.
Before he left the office of state superintendent of instruction, Hon. R. H. Wilson turned over to the Oklahoma Historical Society the service flag of the Oklahoma teachers in the World War. It contains the stars and crosses of 1262 Oklahoma educators who served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Red Cross units in 1917 and 1918. Of these, fourteen stars and one cross are of gold, representing those who made the supreme sacrifice. The flag is accompanied by a neatly compiled album containing the essential data, all names being listed alphabetically and also by counties, and each star and cross is listed as representing a particular individual. This honor roll was compiled by Mrs. Emma Harselle-Estill, head of the department of history in the Central State Teachers’ College and the flag was made by Mrs. Luella Covelle, of Edmond. Miss Jessie Watson, secretary of the Central Normal, typed the directory. The flag was formally presented to the Oklahoma Educational Association, November 29, 1918. The Society is glad to give this memento a place in its archives and only regrets its limited facilities for properly displaying the same.