Tag Archives: History

Tulsa’s Greenwood Rising Museum

About a month ago I checked out the Greenwood Rising Museum in the Greenwood District of Tulsa just north of downtown.

The museum opened to visitors in August 2021 a little over a 100 years after the Greenwood Massacre in the same area.

The museum has a lot to about the massacre but the emphasis is on the Greenwood community. It also has a lot about the forces of repression against people of color that has been occurring from the early days of Oklahoma right up to the present.

This isn’t the type of museum that has a lot of relics or art to look at. It’s more of a story telling museum using photographs, videos, and displays.

Greenwood was known as the “Black Wall Street” because of its prosperity. Cut off from the white part of town, Greenwood prospered and that was a problem for many in the white community.

The massacre itself lasted less than 24 hours from May 31 to June 1, 1921. A white mob attacked the district and killed several hundred people and burned much of the area to the ground.

No white person was ever brought to justice. The blame was placed squarely on the residents. Although many had insurance nothing was paid under the provisions of riots exemptions.

Afterwards as the community struggled to rebuild, the City of Tulsa responded by requiring brick homes and other things meant to encourage the residents to sell out to white people.

Eventually, the community rebuilt itself and then faced another destructive force. Urban Renewal led to the demolition of many homes and businesses and the construction of a freeway running right through the neighborhood. The white areas south of downtown got below grade freeways to minimze the impact the effect of the highway on the residents. The Greenwood area did not get the same consideration. To this day, there are vast areas just west of Greenwood that are still barren.

The community is resilient and is thriving.

The museum is about a lot more than the massacre.

There is still a fight going on. The Oklahoma legislature has passed laws making it hader to register and vote, aimed squarely at minority voters. The fragile white legislature have also passed laws that inhibit the teaching of the injustices of the past. It might be illegal to bring students to this museum.

I went through the museum, and I did not feel that white people are attacked or disparaged at all. The facility is telling a story in an even handed manner. They are telling the story of their community in a factual manner.

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I highly recommend visiting Greenwood Rising. It is well done.

Note that they are closed for the month of August as they refresh the facility. They announced an interesting thing, you can get a preview of the museum for free on the smartphone app “Bloomberg Connects.” I downloaded it and it is a great app. You can tour lots of museums all across the world not just Greenwood Rising.

So, I recommend check Greenwood Rising out if you happen to be in the Tulsa area. Check the link for hours and other info.

I am posting at My Corner of the World. Come check it out.

A Visit to the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City

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Late last week I met up with my old friends from Texas, Bill and Sharon. We had lunch and caught up with the goings on of our families. We then headed to just south of downtown Oklahoma City to see the brand new First Americans Museum. The museum was first conceived in 1989 and has been through a lot of ups and downs and reconfiguring and finally opened up in 2021. Yep, this museum took 32 years to come into being. It’s worth the wait. The story is here. (Sorry that it is behind a pay wall.)

The spacious entry lobby

I didn’t know what to expect but when I hear “museum” I think of art so I brought my camera but this isn’t that kind of museum. There is lots of art on display but the art is used to help tell the story of the 39 Native American tribes in Oklahoma. And what a story it is.

A story of a population of millions in the Americas before contact with Europeans and to just a few hundred thousand by the start of the 20th century due to enslavement, decimation, neglect, assimilation, and removal. The tribes and their people suffered tremendously. The museum tells that story in a straightforward and plainspoken manner.

The rest of the story is about their resurgence as a resilient people and a culture and their fight for their rights. Today they are thriving but are still fighting hard for their rights and their culture is flourishing. There is so much information presented that my meagre little brain got overloaded, so I’ll have to go back.

So this museum is more about culture, history, and education than about the objects. I recommend it highly if you are in the area. I think my friends Bill and Sharon enjoyed the museum.

Get all the details here.

Cuba, An American History by Ada Ferrer

I just finished reading “Cuba, An American History” by Ada Ferrer.

What an outstanding book that reads like a novel. It tells the history of Cuba from and it’s relationship to America. It starts from Christopher Columbus’s voyages to the “New World” and goes right up to the Biden Administration. (Fun fact, Christopher Columbus never set foot on any part of what is now, the United States of America.)

Some things have always interested me such as why are the United States and Cuba been so much at odds with each other. Also why does Cuba that seemed to love Fidel Castro so much have hundreds of thousands of people who will risk their lives to leave the island given the slightest chance.

Ferrer asserts that our founding fathers had their sights on Cuba as a natural extension of the USA. She also writes that the Monroe Doctrine was more directed at Cuba than Latin America. The US was concerned about Britain trying to take over the island nation.

This is a history book that reads like a novel. I couldn’t put it down as Ms. Ferrer discusses the huge role slavery played in building up their sugar industry and the USA Banks who provided financing for the slave ships that went to Africa to bring enslaved people to Cuba. She writes how after a ten year battle to win their independence from Spain, the USA came in at the last minute and took over Cuba for ten years after the Spanish American War.

I could go on and on but this book is one great read.

Going on a History Tour of Turkey Mountain

This weekend I went on a History Tour of Turkey Mountain hosted by the RiverParks Authority who oversee Turkey Mountain.

Our official tour guide was Ryan Howell who has given the tour a bunch of times and still makes it fresh for everybody.

Old Oilfield Cable

It took about two and half hours and we covered about that many miles but we saw a bunch of Turkey Mountain and he gave us a ton of information. I thought I knew a lot about the Mountain but turns out I didn’t know squat.

Trees Damaged by Beavers Chewing on them

He covered everything about how Turkey Mountain came to be and what its official name is (hint, It’s not Turkey Mountain). Some history of the outlet mall that got moved elsewhere (to never be built) and the Master Plan and all the trails that are getting built. He talked about the difference between the old trails that all eroded and rocky vs the new professionally designed and constructed trails that are designed to shed water and reduce erosion and increase sustainability.

The most instagrammed wagon wheel in Tulsa.

He had tales of hidden Spanish Gold and Viking Runes and magical caves. (Hint, if Ryan knew where the gold was he wouldn’t be giving tours.) He went over the flora and fauna of the mountain and explained about the beavers, bobcats, wild turkeys, deer and Eagles nests and where, in general they can be found.

Oilfield pump apparatus

He talked about invasive species and prescribed burns with “cold fires.” He told us about a still unreleased movie filmed partly on the mountain and showed us the very rock where the lead actress took a power nap during filming. All this and more. I don’t need much excuse to go hiking on Turkey Mountain but this was one of the more memorable outings for me. He also showed us several reminders of Turkey Mountain’s past as a significant oilfield form the 1920’s to the 1960’s.

Ryan has a lot of passion for Turkey Mountain and for educating the public on the resource. The tour costs a nominal amount and 100% of the proceeds go the Mountain. They have the tour several times a year, follow their facebook page to keep abreast of tours and other information

Our World – 2020 Wiley Post/Will Rogers Fly-In

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Sorry for the bad shot!!

Saturday I ventured up to the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch near Oolagah, Oklahoma where the annual Wiley Post/Will Rogers Fly-was taking place. The event is to remember the day that Wiley Post and Will Rogers died in an airplane crash near Point Barrow, Alaska on August 15, 1935.

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Wiley Post was a famous aviator back before World War II. Among other things he was the first pilot to fly solo around the world. He discovered the jet stream and was the inventor of the pressure suit used in high altitude flying.

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Will Rogers is like Mr. Oklahoma. He did everything, vaudeville, movie acting, broadway star, comedian, author, newspaper columnist. He had all sorts of quips including his most famous, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” He was born in Oklahoma near Oolagah and was a member of the Cherokee Tribe.

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This fly-in has been going on for some time. I read an article that this is the 35th year.

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Anybody is welcome to fly-in to the 2000 foot grass airstrip. They were all single engine planes including a news station helicopter that landed for a short while

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The planes were all older, some of them hand built by the owner/pilots and they were all extremely small. Not too many younger pilots present. They all looked to be in their 60’s and above.

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I loved the art work on some of the planes. They went from nice and innocent.

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To a more worldly theme.

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And everything in between.

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This is my favorite. You ever see a more shapely bee butt?

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Back to the aircraft.

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There were a few biplanes.

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This is one of the hand built ones.

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Another view of the bumble bee.

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Some of the planes had the huge soft tires and it looked they could take off in just a few hundred feet.

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There were well over a hundred airplanes there. They come in and land kind of early and starting around 11 am they head out. I asked why and was told it’s August, it’s hot, and none of these aircraft have air conditioning. Okay, I get it. Last time I attended, I lolly gagged around and got there just as everybody was leaving. Don’t be that guy!!

Because of the Covid situation I didn’t tour the house on the grounds. The Ranch is great the rest of the year and has hardly any visitors so show up and take a look. The home is wonderful and is decorated in period style.

I am linking this week with Our World Tuesday.

Our World – T.A. Moulton Barn on Mormon Row

The Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming is a spectacular place and may be the most photogenic area in the world, I don’t know. From majestic mountains and lakes to amazing animals, it has the whole package. I love all that but one of the sights that has amazed me is the Moulton Barn on Mormon Row.

Moulton Barn Mormon Row October 2019

Before there was a National Park there were settlers, including several Latter Day Saint members who in the 1800’s claimed land in what is now Mormon Row and put their homesteads on a road close together. They were there for several decades but the growing season was too short, and the work very hard, and they ended up selling their land and although most of the their buildings are gone there a few left standing including the T.A. Moulton Barn above and what I call the most famous outhouse in the world.

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The buildings are all underneath the Grand Tetons and it makes for a very spectacular setting. I cannot imagine what it would be like to live with such a view every day. Of course the day I was there, the Tetons were obscured by clouds. These buildings were built to last and last they do, although the Moulton family still shows up every few years to do some maintenance. For a while the policy of the Park Service was to just let the buildings go away one way or another (they now deny that this was ever the policy) but now they are more receptive to the preservation of the buildings that are left. Mormon Row is now a National Historic District and so hopefullly they buildings will stand for future generations to come.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday, come join in!

Pearl Harbor – 77 Years Later

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Courtesy of San Diego Air and Space Museum – Flickr Commons

On the morning of December 7, 1941 the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor was attacked by 353 Aircraft from six aircraft carriers of the Japanese Navy. 

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Courtesy of San Diego Air and Space Museum – Flickr Commons

Eight American battleships were damaged, four of them sunk. All but the USS Arizona were raised and six returned to service. Three cruisers, three destroyers, and a couple of other ships were damaged or sunk as well and 188 aircraft destroyed. 

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Courtesy of San Diego Air and Space Museum – Flickr Commons

The Japanese lost 29 aircraft and five midget submarines. It was a huge success for the Imperial Navy except that there were no United States aircraft carriers in the harbor. You see, even then the big battleships although impressive were already outdated. From then on there were very few ship to ship battles, the major battles were carried out by aircraft from over the horizon.

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Courtesy of San Diego Air and Space Museum – Flickr Commons

The most devastating loss was the lives lost. 2403 American lives were lost and 1178 injured. The attack sent shockwaves through America. The Japanese intended the attack to ward off American interference in Japan’s imperialist plans for southeast Asia and of course it had just the opposite effect. America declared war and three and a half years later defeated Japan.

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Courtesy of San Diego Air and Space Museum – Flickr Commons

America has never done well it seems to me when we retreat inside ourselves and declare America First! When we retreat like that, other countries flex their muscles and move into the vacuum that we leave. 

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Several years ago I got to cross a major item off my bucket list when we visited the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.  It was an unexpectedly emotional place for me seeing the sunken ship underneath the memorial and realizing how many people had died there. Usually I am clicking away with my camera but I only took one or two shots on the Memorial, I put the camera away and tried to think about what happened.

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We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the sailors, marines, soldiers and others who died that day.  

Skywatch Friday – Visiting an Old Indian Trader’s Grave

The other day I had a meeting in a field office of my employer’s in Western Oklahoma. I had  a little time afterward so I went on a little drive.

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I drove past a herd of cattle.

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Then a newly drilled well being prepared for fracking. Notice the green pipe in the foreground being built to take gas from the well for processing and delivery to market.

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And then I turned down a muddy farm road to get to this marker.

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And walked a short ways down a grassy path to this humble grave.

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This is where Jesse Chisholm is buried. He  blazed the Chisholm Trail from South Texas to Abilene, Kansas where tens of thousands head of cattle herded north to supply beef for the northeast. He didn’t drive cattle, he was a trader with several stores and developed the trails to restock his stores. He also had good relations with many of the Native American tribes and negotiated to recovery of several women and children who had been kidnapped by the tribes.  He also helped facilitate several peace treaties. He died of food poisoning near where he is buried.

I think it is amazing that somebody who had such a huge part of the history and legends of the West has such a humble grave.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday

Our World – Bellingrath Gardens and Home

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The entire property is lush and provides lots of opportunities for photographs. I loved the greenhouse.

On our recent family vacation we decided to make a small detour and visit the Bellingrath Gardens and Home on the Fowl River near Mobile, Alabama. We were glad we did. It is a 65 acre garden and home built by an early Coca-Cola entrepreneur and his wife. When they died without children, the entire estate passed to a foundation entrusted with the 65 acre garden and home. You can hire professional landscaping company in Macomb, MI to keep your garden clean and tidy.

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I love reflections.

This is one of those places that I have heard about for quite a while and I had high expectations and they were surpassed. The grounds are immaculate and the landscaping design is superb, especially for those of us with a camera. The gardens are just packed with great visuals wherever you go.

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We stayed several hours and still did not see it all. I took over 130 photographs.s

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The place has been maintained well and one can tell from our conversations with the staff and guides that their’s is a labor of love.

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What a great courtyard with a the wrought iron fence on the balconty, big huge windows that open, a little fountain, and archways. And I love the brick.

We paid for a tour of the Bellingrath home and it is exquisite. It was built in the 1920’s and had several features that seemed ahead of its time. They didn’t have electricity at first, but the family anticipating it coming had the house prewired and included features you don’t see today such as automatic lights that come on when you open a closet.

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A shady area with comfortable chairs.

It really looks like a place where one could relax. Lots of quiet shady spots and courtyards.

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I am a sucker for flags and gas lights. REAL gas lights.

And as in the gardens, the house is surrounded by plants.

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The guide showed us where the Bellingrath’s cooks kept the cookies.

The kitchen was superb. They have kept it as it was when it was lived in. Two big ovens and ranges, two big dishwashers, a couple of giant refrigerators. We loved the light airy feeling of the place.

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This was my favorite room. Not the main dining room but another one. Again, big tall windows with great light.

If you want to visit, check out Bellingrath’s web site. Lots of great info on planning and what to see. Being a garden, they always have something going on.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

Skywatch Friday – A Visit to the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch

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Sorry about the decapitated horse to the left.

Continuing from my previous post where brother Bob and I visited the Will Rogers Museum in Claremore, we drove about 20 miles or so north to the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch. The Rogers family name for the place was, the Dog Iron Ranch. We were told at the museum that the ranch was a beautiful place and I can confirm that indeed it is. It is at the end of a road and the property has waterfront on a lake. The place teems with birds and very green grass and nice big trees.

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We met the ranch foreman, Fred. Fred was very bossy and loved to have his photo taken and was just generally very fussy.

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We ventured briefly down a hiking trail and saw this longhorn cows. They checked us out when we first approached and then quickly became bored.

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We didn’t go very far, I hadn’t thought about needing bug spray and if we had gone any farther we would need some. I am not a big fan of chiggers and ticks.

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The house is beautiful. Apparently this kind of house was common in Territorial Oklahoma but is now rare. It was once known as the “The White House on the Verdigris.” The lower floor of the house is open.

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I loved the light from the tall windows.

A beautiful sitting room with a piano. I love those old walls and the fireplace. The house started out as a log cabin, actually two log cabins with a cover over the “dogtrot” between them. The house was expanded gradually and a second story added with two bedrooms. The old dog trot was enclosed and is now the foyer. Somewhere along the way, the white clapboard siding was added. I just love stuff like that.

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And the master bedroom. I love that big multicolored rug.

The ranch is a quiet place with just the horses, donkeys, Fred,  and the birds. Besides the house there is an authentic barn and wood fences. The hiking trail is a little rough but I’d of done it if I had my bug spray. The place has RV spots and and airstrip!! You have to make arrangement in advance to stay out there as there is no staff on site.

I recommend a visit highly. It is one of the nicest place I have been to in Oklahoma.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday