Welcome back. Breaking news and long overdue is the announcement of a new museum in Pawhuska but friends this time it has little to do with Ree Drummond. Born on June 13, 1918 in Foraker, Oklahoma this man who the museum is dedicated to grew up on what is now the Nature Conservancy’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve but back then it was the Chapman Barnard Ranch and it was huge! It is said that he could ride and rope by the age of four and in Pawhuska where his dad was well known, most people just called him “son.” Millionaire film maker Howard Hughes first noticed “son’s” skills in 1940 when he hired him to bring a load of horses to Hollywood to make the film Outlaw. Hughes gave “son” more work taking care of the horses and that led to doing stunt work for the stars of Hughes’ films. John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Joel McCrea, James Stewart and Henry Fonda all called on “son” to do their stunts and double for them riding horses. In 1953 this man who often came back to visit the place he called home set the world record for professional calf roping, also winning the world championship in team roping along the way. By this time in his life he was acting as well, co-starring with the biggest box office stars of the day and even starring in his own pictures. His first starring role in Mighty Joe Young was filmed the same year “son” and John Wayne were in She Wore A Yellow Ribbon and they went on to make many other movies together. Dozens of film and T.V. roles came his way along with numerous awards and then in 1971 he won the biggest award of all for his performance in The Last Picture Show. This man had done something no other person has accomplished before, winning both an Oskar and a world rodeo championship. Yes, by now I hope most of you know I’m talking about Ben “son” Johnson, Jr. He is in the Western Heritage Center and Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City and he also has a star on the famous “Walk of Fame” in Hollywood. In his later years, in addition to supporting everything he could in Pawhuska, Ben worked to raise money on a national level for many causes including disadvantaged and disabled children, cancer research and the fight against cystic fibrosis. Ben died on April 8, 1996 while visiting his mom and it was a day when family, friends and fans from Pawhuska to Hollywood all cried. Now you know why this museum is long overdue. I hope you are wondering when and where is the Grand Opening so here’s your answer: June 12-15th from 9AM-6PM each day. The museum is located at 201 East 6th Street which is right around the corner from the Pioneer Woamn’s Mercantile. I also heard that the actor Buck Henry of Gunsmoke fame and several other old Hollywood friends will be around town during this period. As for me, I’m bound for Haskell, Texas for the Wild Horse Prairie Days which is a huge sanctioned ranch rodeo and I’m told by the organizers that all the top ranch teams from around the country will there . I’ll tell you all about it next week. Till then, I’ll see ya down the road….
Welcome back. This weekend Tulsa will host the world’s largest gun show and of course I will be there. The following weekend I’ll be in Oklahoma City for the annual Western Heritage Award ceremonies at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. If deep down inside you’re a cowboy this event is one you won’t want to miss. I’ve covered the awards for the past six years and every year they get better. If you want to meet some real cowboys this is the place. How about movie cowboys like Keven Costner who is being inducted into the Hall of Fame this year? He’ll be there along with Buck Taylor from Gun Smoke and a dozen others. If you like cowboy music Michael Martin Murphy and Red Stegall are just two of the musicians who will be attending. You can’t have a good party without great food and I’m told this year’s menu will be the best yet. Ranching and the cowboy way of life have always been important in this part of the county and many famous ranches have been established in the Osage. Reading up on ranches in the area from the 1940s to the present day one name that sticks out is Adcock. The Adcock family raise cattle on thousands of acres relying on love and hard work to make their ranch a success. The Osage was well known for both grass and oil from the early days of settlement and many other families got their start here as well. It was 1864 when Henry Foster brought 5600 head of Texas cattle to the Osage for grazing and then in 1898 he received the lease for the drilling rights in all of Osage County. When Foster began to auction off parts of that lease many new oil companies were formed and fortunes made. One man who took advantage of this opportunity was John R. Kane who was already in the oil business. Kane had moved his family from Pennsylvania to Kansas where he had started a successful ranch in the Osage. The Kane and Foster families became related through marriage and the couple had a son, John H. Kane. John H. put together several large ranches in Washington County and he had two sons, Richard and John M. John M. also had two sons John F. and Henry F. who kept the family legacy going and as most people in Osage and Washington counties know their descendants play a large role in these communities today. Another family from the Osage that has played an important part in the development of the area has a name that is now known for revitalizing the town of Pawhuska and that of course is Drummond. Fred Drummond emigrated from Scotland in 1882 and soon afterwards he opened the Hominy Trading Company. The business was a success and over time the Drummond family grew to be one of the largest and most respected landowners in the region. Osage County has another landowner you may know of, radio and T.V. personality Bill Curtis. Although Bill’s ranch is mostly in Kansas just outside of Sedan, it sits on the famous Osage prairie. The Red Buffalo as he calls it is approximately ten thousand acres and he runs a cow calf operation there. Other Osage County ranches that long time locals may be aware of include the Strom family’s Valley View Ranch near Hulah Lake, the Hughes family ranch and the Osage Land and Cattle Company which was founded by past Phillips CEO Boots Adams. Of course there are many others, some old and some new but there‘s only one that grew to encompass over 375,000 acre. Elder Care’s big fundraiser will be held there on May 11th and next week I will be bringing you the history of this ranch from a personal perspective. Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…. #
Welcome back. Volunteers are the backbone of most of the events in our community and as I travel around the country I find that this is true everywhere. From schools events and parades to a wide range of fundraising events, volunteer support is key to the success of these programs. In Bartlesville where there are many not for profit organizations volunteers play an essential role doing everything from working in kitchens and answering phones to serving on Boards of Directors. There is truly a place for everyone who wants to serve their community so no wonder we have a national volunteer appreciation day! Sponsors are also critically important to the success of not for profit programs and fundraising events. Without the financial and in-kind support of generous individuals and businesses the events that we all enjoy from the Cow Thieves and Outlaws Reunion at Woolaroc to SUNFEST would not be possible. SUNFEST is a perfect example of what I mean. For thirty seven years this impressive three day festival has been completely run by volunteers and thanks to donors and sponsors it is always free. This year SUNFEST will be offering not only fabulous music, delicious food and an exciting arts and crafts show but also a big car exhibit and numerous youth events. The theme for 2019 is “One Town, One Home, One Family.” You gotta love it! Driving down the road from Springfield, MO I’ve been giving these topics a lot of thought and I tend to think a bit like Waite Phillips did when he was quoted as saying “the only things we keep permanently are those we giveaway.” As I have mentioned, this week I am headed to Amarillo, TX for the Texas Gun and Knife Show at the Amarillo Civic Center. With all the history and attractions this town has to offer I’m sure my visit will go by way too fast. I plan to do a follow up story and bring you all the scoop. From Amarillo it will be on to the biggest trade show of its kind in the state of Kansas. The show is held in Kansas City and I’m told to expect thousands of people so if the creek don’t rise I’ll be filling you in on this trip the following week. I’ll end this week with a mention of the passing of another icon in local history. His name was Lee Stone and he was the last in a great group of people that included Dick Kane, Arnold Moore and Tom Sears among many others. Till next time I’ll see ya down the road……….
Welcome back. Coffeyville, Kansas, a town whose history has always interested me, was the place to be last Friday and Saturday. Yes, as I wrote about last week it was the location for the big Inter-State Farm and Home Show which is becoming an annual event and with good weather people came out in big numbers. Farmers, welders, homebuilders, this show had something for every working person. I can tell you it was also lots of fun and organizers tell me to look for an even bigger show next year. This week I’m headed out to Springfield, Missouri where I’m doing a book signing at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds. Springfield is a place I’ve written about before but since I haven’t been there in a while I thought I’d revisit some local history. Springfield was officially incorporated in 1838 but long before then the area was inhabited by the Kickapoo, Delaware and Osage tribes. The early economy was centered on trade and the town grew into an important commercial hub. Today tourism is a key part of the economy due to Springfield’s proximity to Branson and all its attractions. The region also has many lakes and rivers which attract people for fishing, camping and water sports. With a population of around 159,000, Springfield is home to many arts organizations which appeal to both residents and visitors including a symphony orchestra, an opera company, a regional theater company and an art museum. In addition there are many festivals that take place throughout the year such as the Missouri Food Truck Festival and the spring Japanese Festival. From 1955-1961 Springfield hosted Ozark Jubilee and several related spin-off shows which featured performances by country music stars. The shows were broadcast around the country by ABC TV and brought attention to the town. The Ozark Empire Fairgrounds where I’ll be is a story in itself. There are two large buildings capable of holding thousands of people for any kind of event you can imagine. They also have a big rodeo arena and numerous livestock barns. Food stalls are scattered around the property which offer a wide variety of fair foods during events, all surrounded by giant parking lots. If this wasn’t enough, on the south side of the property sits the Springfield Zoo which is one of the nicest zoos I’ve seen for a town of this size. On a local note I recently learned that a beloved community leader is about to retire and move out of town to be closer to family. This is a person who has met sports legends, prominent politicians and top performers from around the country. He has also dedicated himself to many important causes in the community including Crime Stoppers and Elder Care’s The Good, The Bad and The Barbeque. A voice on the radio for twenty-five years, Charlie Taraboletti has kept us all informed on the important events of the day from sports to weather and politics. I know we all wish him well.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…. #
Welcome back. With all the talk of border security along with President Trump’s visit to the border town of Nogales, Arizona this week I thought I’d take you there with me. I should add that in the seventeen years I have been writing for this paper I have stayed away from politics and today’s column is no different, I am simply trying to give you readers an idea of what this place is like and its history. Founded in 1884, Nogales is the largest border town in Arizona with a population of over 20,000 people but on the Mexican side of the border the population grows to 212,533 folks. Just a short 100 mile drive from Tucson which is the second largest city in Arizona, Nogales has four ports of entry bringing over thirty billion dollars’ worth of goods from Mexico into the United States every year. This trade has a big economic impact on thousands of people on both sides of the border and for a long time that border was left mostly unattended. The area that surrounds the border is marked by rolling hills and valleys full of the black walnut trees that Nogales was named for when it was still part of Mexico. Back in 1955 the film version of Oklahoma was filmed here and the rugged terrain has attracted many other movie and TV productions over the years. Except for a few cattle ranches this arid region has been a no man’s land during hot summer days when temperatures rise well above 100 degrees and in the winter when the cold winds can kill you. There’s not much surface water out here and critters like rattlesnakes and badgers are common, all of which can mean trouble for humans. Yet despite these difficulties people have been crossing the border in this area for years, making a path across the imaginary line separating the two countries. In the1970s smugglers of all kinds used the passage to bring in any kind of contraband a person could think of to make a buck on. If it was something they couldn’t bring through customs, they simply walked ten miles outside of town and took their goods across the border there. Taxi cab drivers could usually spot a person who needed a ride to that area and they were always obliging. The smugglers always looked the same, Americans dressed in dark clothes with hiking boots and carrying a canteen or two. Once they were dropped off they waited until the dead of night before starting their twelve mile trek across the border. Up and down treacherous rocky hills they walked all night, arriving at dawn to a prearranged meeting with a partner. If they were late the driver wouldn’t wait, figuring they had killed by snakes or other smugglers or arrested by the Mexican federal troops. If the smugglers made it, the drive back to Tucson along long deserted roads could be just as tricky. Bandits lay in wait for dumb Americans and the price to get by them was high. When smugglers disappeared it didn’t usually make the news but it happened all the time along the border of Arizona and Mexico. What we will do about border security in this area now, only history will tell. Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road….
This weekend (January 5th-6th) I will be at the R&K Gun Show at the Tulsa Fairgrounds selling Footprints in the Dew and Before the Dew. The hours are 9-5 on Saturday and 9-4 on Sunday. Happy New Year everyone!
Welcome back. In last week’s column you learned a bit about the Drummond family and their relationship to the king of Hungary. This week it’s another family dynasty and their history which stretches across not only Washington County but the entire four state region. It all started in 1905 when Herbert Tyler and his son Donald came to the area looking for two things, natural gas and large deposits of limestone and shale. Both were plentiful just east of Dewey and in February 1908 after buying land, drilling for gas and building the first of several concrete silos, the Tylers sold the first sack of concrete in the state.
A success from day one, the Tylers were one of the town’s largest employers and many of their workers were Mexican Americans who had migrated and settled in Dewey. The job paid twenty cents an hour for twelve hour shifts seven days a week and it was hard work but I learned from my research that these men also had fun when I read that they had their own band. Yes friends, the Dewey Portland Cement Mexican Band as they were called played whenever they could find the time.
A plant manager and co-owner of the company, Don was also an oil producer, cattleman and big time philanthropist. He not only gave money for youth in agriculture, he financed the building of the Ag center and the Dewey fairgrounds and then the construction of the library. In addition he donated the land for Don Tyler City Park.
According to the books published by the Washington County Historical Society it was the success of the concrete plant and then the new smelter west of Bartlesville that pushed growth in the area. Frank Overlees, William Johnstone, George Keeler and Frank Phillips were all building WAn early legend in the construction business, Felix went on to build the Phillips mansion and many other homes and churches in the community. His son Arthur followed in his footsteps, then Charles, then his grandson Arthur who took over in 1962 and of course today the companies are run by Art’s sons John and Tom which is another story.
By 1908 Bartlesville and Dewey had grown so much that the Bartlesville Interurban Company was formed to provide transportation in and around the towns. There were three train cars, a large one for the trip to Dewey, a smaller one for service to Smelter town and the last one for the Bartlesville loop as it was called. The cars ran both ways and the fare was ten cents each way. With all this growth back in the 1900s, Bartlesville was on its way to becoming the community we know today. The next time you drive down Don Tyler Boulevard in Dewey or Johnstone, Keeler, Adams or Phillips, remember the contributions of these early business leaders who shaped so much of what we have here in Bartlesville and Dewey.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road……
Welcome back. Bartlesville and Dewey, Oklahoma are known by visitors as towns full of museums. The Philips and Price families saw to that and the many others who followed their example have preserved this important history. As for me, this Saturday I’ll be following in the footsteps of a Tulsa legend when I make tracks for the home of Sam Travis, the early 20th century oil tycoon who built the house which is now the Tulsa Historical Society. It was back in the so-called “Golden Age” and Tulsa was the oil capitol of the world when brothers Sam and Dave Travis built their mansions on what was then remote land out on South Peoria. The Italianate Revival style homes sit side by side and as Tulsa grew the magnificent houses changed owners several times up to the present day.
Today Dave’s home is the Tulsa Garden Center which is a great destination throughout the year and Sam’s is the Historical Society. Filled with artifacts from Tulsa’s past, they also host traveling exhibitions, all focused on the history of Tulsa and Oklahoma. This Saturday, my new friend and traveling partner, the author and lawyer Ken Frates and I will be there to talk about our books and there will also be a screening of my documentary Footprints in the Dew: The Last Ten Tapes at 11AM. I’m looking forward to hearing Kent speak about his best-selling book about the Roger Wheeler murder and friends thanks to the Historical Society it’s free. Admission to the museum, Kent’s presentation and the film, it’s all free and you history buffs should plan to attend. Call the museum at (918) 712-9484 for more information.
Now a little more Tulsa history, back in 1848 when the Perryman Cemetery was created 32nd and Utica was out in the sticks. Who were these folks you might ask? The Perrymans became one of Tulsa’s founding families when they were forced to move to “Tulsey Tulova” after an outbreak of cholera in the area where they were living.
Family members, friends and unknown Civil War soldiers were buried in the cemetery, including John Perryman who was Tulsa’s first postmaster and Hannah Hayes Alexander a survivor of the trail of tears. In all around fifty people are buried there today along with several unknown graves. The last person to be buried there was William Shirk in 1941.
might say that’s an interesting story but here’s the scoop. The old cemetery is located in what has become a very busy part of town and it is kept in beautiful shape not by the city but by dedicated volunteers from the Tulsa Historical Society. The old grave markers are something to see if you’re ever in this part of the city. It’s hard to imagine that the Perrymans once ran cattle on 60,000 acres there!
I hope to see you in Tulsa but if not, till next time I’ll see ya down the road…..