Okfuskee County Historical Society
407 W. Broadway
P.O. Box 409
Okemah, OK 74859
Phone : 918-623-2440
E-mail : Okfuskeecohistory2021@yahoo.com January 12, 2023
Greetings from the Okfuskee County Historical Society,
As we move into another new year, we all want to thank you for your past support. Your donations in 2022 allowed us remain open and serve many people. This past year we helped the Oklahoma Blood Institute by providing our large meeting room for blood drives almost monthly. The Woody Guthrie Coalition again used our facility during the Woody Festival and this year’s event turned out to be a big success with visitors arriving from all over the world. The Okemah Pioneer Days and the Okemah Alumni Association was back again and it was great to see all the folks that came back to visit. This of course included the High School Reunions of various years with some seeing their classmates for first time in over 50 years. The Pioneer Day Parade was bigger and better than had been in many years and the Pioneer Day Committee promises us an even better parade in April 2023. Our streets and museum were full of people this year during the parade, a first in several years. All-in-all it was a great Pioneer Days celebration. The Reynolds/Harjo American Legion Post 0123 as well as the local Girl Scout Troop meet here. We even hosted an aviation day put on by Sooner Flight Academy out of Norman for our local kids between age of 8 and 12 years of age.
As you know we are staffed with volunteers, myself, Wayland Bishop, Tom Dennis and Howard “Hoppy” Hopwood and all of us are getting up there in age but volunteer 5 days a week for the good of our community. We also have one AARP employee who works 18 hours a week and is totally funded by AARP. Fred Simon is our employee and he is 85 years of age so this is another service we are providing for our low-income seniors in our area. Fred is about the sixth AARP worker that we have been able to provide work for over the past several years. Others timed out and have had to move on. AARP employees can only work for a certain period of time before they have to move on to another position elsewhere.
We who volunteer here, as well as those who visit believe our building to be the best building in town and we are always receiving compliments. Wayland, Tom, and Hoppy are always updating our displays and making additions to our museum which also is a plus. We have had locals who come into our museum and tell us that they didn’t even know this museum existed and that they were amazed at the history we have on display. Recently we had a family from San Antonio that visited and commented that our museum was one of the best small museums that they have visited and that they have visited hundreds across the southwest. We continue to look at ways to improve our building and currently working to get it on the Historical Register. Over the years there had been some minor architectural changes to front of our building but besides those changes, the building has been intact, same design since early 1920’s so we are hoping that the board that decides if our building is eligible goes ahead and approves our request. If it does happen, we will be able to tap into more grant funds and grants are key to our existence.
We have applied for grants and received two this past year: one for replacing the lights and ceiling tile and one to purchase a new scanner that is computer user friendly. We have newspapers on microfiche dating back to 1902 and we are able to put this on the computer and send to those interested in a story from way back. This new scanner also provides us the enjoyment of reading newspapers back to 1902 and some of the stories are really interesting bits of history. Also, Mr. Tom Dennis has made great strides in updating the records of those buried in our cemeteries across Okfuskee County. We have several volumes of books that contain the graveyard name/location and those buried in those graveyards. Tom has also put together several volumes of obits and cemetery information that one can use by visiting our museum. (OVER)
In closing – just a reminder that your museum is a non-profit, we have no income and the only way we can survive is by your donations. It cost us just in utilities, insurance, and supplies approximately $12,000 per year to stay open and the cost, due to inflation, is rising. Our building maintenance is pretty well under control and we don’t expect to spend a lot to keep us where we are today. One part of building does need attention and that is the outside, we need to one day, and hopefully soon, get it painted in order to preserve the outside structure. But other than the outside we are doing rather well. We continue to work upstairs organizing and repairing in order to one day; put both floors back into operation if indeed we can obtain funding to do so. An elevator to second floor would also be nice but again grant money is just about the only way this will happen and we’ll continue to look. So, as always, we are pleading with each of you for donations in order to keep our doors open. Please send to P.O Box 409, Okemah 74859.
WISHING YOU ALL A BLESSED YEAR!
Ron Gott, President
Wayland Bishop, Vice President and Curator
Tom Dennis, Secretary/Treasurer/Cemeteries
Howard “Hoppy” Hopwood, Archivist and Curator
Okfuskee County History Center
407 West Broadway
P.O. Box 409 (mailing address)
Okemah, OK 74859