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A Wealth of Information

Aaron Pope has seen lots of smiles and a few tear-filled eyes since the long-awaited 1950 census records were released on April 1. As the Genealogy Resource Center coordinator for the Tulsa City-County Library, Pope is in the business of helping people find and learn more about their ancestors. “People are thrilled to be able to get more information about their...

Fostering the Past

Bryant Rickman no longer teaches agriculture, but he’s far from retired. “It’s just kind of swallowed up my life, these horses and all,” says Rickman, who lives near Antlers and is devoted to saving heritage breeds of livestock from extinction. Rickman breeds colonial Spanish horses – also known in Oklahoma as Choctaw ponies because members of the Choctaw tribe acquired them...

Who Are You? 

Genealogy continues to hover as one of the top hobbies in the U.S., and Oklahomans are part of that mushrooming fan base. Active genealogical societies keep interest in tact. Oklahoma Genealogical Society’s (OGS) president Mike Birdsong has been a board member for 12 years. Established in 1955, OGS is the eighth oldest genealogical society in the U.S., and has a...

What’s Left of a Family Legacy

don’t read this unless you like historical mysteries that leave you with more questions than answers…or you’re looking for a spot to stop on your next road trip. Okay, it may not be that big of a mystery. Still, the details are vague, and everything you read says the same thing about the Bonebrake Hardware Store in Erick, Oklahoma –...

Preserving the Past

As Oklahoma’s first certified archivist, Bill Welge received certification from the national Academy of Certified Archivists in 1989. Welge (pronounced “Well-gee” with a hard “g”) says most communities have done a great job at holding onto their histories, but he’s concerned their collections won’t be around for future generations.  “They’re sitting on a wonderful mountain of material, but they don’t...

Remembering Honey Springs

The Civil War in Indian Territory took a devastating toll on the land and its people. More than 107 documented hostile encounters took place in what is now Oklahoma, and none had more impact and long-lasting consequences as the battle at Honey Springs. On a hot July day in 1863, approximately 9,000 men were at Honey Springs, including Maj. Gen....

Evolving Perceptions

How Oklahoma cares for people with developmental disabilities has changed drastically in the last century. Institutionalization was the norm one hundred years ago, but ideas, beliefs and perceptions have evolved, leaving most of those institutions empty today.  The Beginnings: From the impetus of statehood, the legislature realized that parents and families of people with disabilities needed help caring for their loved...

Celebrating 75 Years

In 1946, H.G. Bennett purchased a decommissioned military hospital in Okmulgee for just $1. He envisioned turning it into a vocational school, where returning World War II veterans could receive training for workforce reintegration. A few months later, the Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology (OSUIT) opened its doors to 456 students under the name of Oklahoma A&M College School...

Big Boy No. 4014

Twenty-five Big Boys were built exclusively for Union Pacific Railroad, the first of which was delivered in 1941. The locomotives were 132 feet long and weighed 1.2 million pounds. Because of their great length, the frames of the Big Boys were "hinged," or articulated, to allow them to negotiate curves. They had a 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement, which meant they...

Where History and Culture Merge

Travelers have always played a big role in the life of Elk City.  First came the Texas cattlemen in the late 1800s, who drove their herds through the future town up into Kansas. Then the Choctaw Railroad extended its line out to the budding settlement six years before Oklahoma statehood. A few years later came the glory days of U.S....