Celebrate Christmas the pioneer way at various Oklahoma historic sites

Oklahoma historic sites will offer tours and holiday-themed activities around the state.
BY MAX NICHOLS Published: November 25, 2012
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During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Oklahoma pioneers decorated their homes for the Christmas holidays with natural materials that looked attractive at this time of year.

On Christmas Day, they visited neighbors and joined together to perform and sing traditional Christmas music.

For years, visitors have enjoyed pioneer Christmas decorations and celebrations at historic sites operated by the Oklahoma Historical Society.

This year, they will be available at the Sod House Museum southeast of Aline on State Highway 8, the Murrell Home at Park Hill three miles south of Tahlequah, the Cherokee Strip Museum in Perry, Fort Gibson Historic Site in Fort Gibson and the Oklahoma Territorial Museum in Guthrie.

“Many people have the mistaken impression that Oklahoma history consists only of dates, events and places,” said Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. “In reality, museums and historic sites across the state add texture to Oklahoma history with personal stories reflecting both folk traditions and the cultural baggage brought to the state by successive waves of immigrant families.”

Sod House Museum

Visitors can enjoy a true pioneer Christmas at the Sod House Museum with music provided by The Silver Strings Band from 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 8 during the Christmas Open House, said Sod House Museum Director Renee Trindle. Admission will be free.

“A pioneer Christmas tree often was decorated with bits of ribbon, yarn, berries, popcorn or paper strings and homemade decorations,” Trindle said. “Some homemade decorations were figures or dolls made of straw or strips of fabric. Cookie-dough ornaments and gingerbread men also were popular. We decorated a tree just like this for the Sod House Christmas decorations.”

The two-room Sod House was built in 1894 by Marshall McCully, using bricks made of thick buffalo grass. He lived there until 1909.

The Historical Society took over the house and formed the Sod House Museum in 1963.

The Sod House Quilters have completed a Christmas quilt and will hold a silent auction during the open house. They also will provide cookies and apple cider.

Murrell Home

The Murrell Home was built in 1845 by George and Minerva Murrell after moving to Indian Territory with the Cherokees on the Trail of Tears in 1838-39. George, who was born in Lynchburg, Va., moved to Athens, Tenn. In 1834, he married Minerva Ross, daughter of Lewis and Fannie Ross. Lewis was the brother of John Ross, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1828 to 1866.

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