Reaching skyward from the Canadian County prairie, Piedmont’s first two-story brick building houses the Piedmont Historical Society Museum. The structure was built in 1917 as the Piedmont State Bank, chartered in 1903. Employees lived in the back of the first floor, while the Masonic Lodge was upstairs. 

One of the museum founders, Lois Dickerson, says that the historical society and museum were established in tandem in 1991 to house a massive photography collection, and the founders wanted the old bank building. 

“This building was in bad shape, and the price tag was $35,000,” she says. “We had a lot of fundraisers. Then local leaders paid off the remainder of the note and replaced the roof.”

As a kid, country music icon Vince Gill spent a lot of time at the old Stover Hall, which enjoys its own museum display, and includes Gill’s lyrics for the song he wrote about the hall itself. Other museum goodies include the old jail cell and Piedmont’s first gas pump – which has a crank that turns the pump from the back. Board member Darlene Blair Mitchell points to the ornate, 19th century organ that her great-great-grandmother brought by covered wagon in 1889. And there’s a comprehensive military collection, too.

The Piedmont post office, from 1903 to 1977, somehow ended up in Oklahoma City and then was sold at auction. Gill donated items which society members auctioned to raise money to bring the post office home. Now, a museum-quality dehumidifier hums, alongside the old-time postal mail boxes and windows, with artifacts and thousands of historic images nearby. 

Society members faithfully maintain the museum structure’s integrity, including the pressed tin ceiling tiles, stained glass windows and white-and-green-octagonal-ceramic-floor tiles. 

Society board members and sisters Janet Treece Clayton and Sharron Treece Olson explain the role their great-great-grandfather, James McGranahan, played in Piedmont’s early days: Listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places, the McGranahan Homestead is nearby, with buffalo wallows dotting the land where cattle rumbled through on the Chisholm Trail. 

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Located at 101 Monroe Avenue N.W., the museum is free and open by appointment and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., except on holidays. Call 405-317-2592 for more information. 

Descendents Abound

In 1903, part of an original ’89er quarter section was given for a town site, and Piedmont was born. But when the railroad chugged through in 1904, the settlement really began growing. Still a rural and agricultural community, Piedmont’s population was 7,402 in 2020.

The society members are active, making sure the past is available for everyone to enjoy. For funding, they hold an annual garage sale. And the annual Piedmont Founder’s Day festivities take place the first Saturday following Labor Day. That’s when the society sells pie by the slice and pulled pork sandwiches that society president Paul Francel says are “crazy good.” 

Various descendants of Piedmont’s founding families remain in the area, with surnames such as Treece, Stout, McGranahan, Simpson, Washecheck, Wiedemann, Dickerson, Wessel and Blair.

And it’s hard not to mention that 12-year-old Sarah “Byrd” Gill and her brother George Gill entered the territory for one of the land runs. Yes – Vince Gill is on their family tree.