Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

February 24, 2014

Cherokee National Prison Museum commemorates escape

TAHLEQUAH — Commemorating a daring escape from its walls, the Cherokee National Prison Museum invited visitors Friday to have their pictures taken in period garb behind its venerable bars.

“Escape to the Cherokee National Prison Museum” recalled the bold escape of Tom Ross and Cornelia Hendricks. The two were never recaptured, though it is reported they both returned to live in Tahlequah.

“This was an opportunity to educate the public about the prison,” said Travis Owens, manager of planning and development for Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism. “It allows us to remember one of the prison’s notable escapes, and people like the idea of getting their pictures taken behind bards. It’s a fun twist: People get a commemorative photo, and they can learn about the escape and the entire history of the prison.”

On Feb. 26, 1886, the Cherokee Advocate reported: “Tom Ross an inmate at the National Prison de camped last Sunday taking with him the High Sheriff’s fine bay horse. Cornelia Hendricks also disappeared at the same time on R.B. Ross’ large dun horse. No tidings as yet to their whereabouts, although a reward of fifty five dollars has been offered.”

The New York Times reported the escape on March 8, after receiving a dispatch from Little Rock, Ark., the day before.

The Cherokee National Prison was the first penitentiary in Indian Territory and the only facility to hold prisoners in the territory for nearly 30 years. Conditions were what might be expected in a 19th Century territorial prison, and punishments could be harsh for the most egregious offenses. Many citizens believed a prison contradicted more traditional Cherokee methods of dealing with criminal behavior.

However, Owens said the Cherokee Nation took an alternate view of crime and punishment.

“It wasn’t just about punishment, but also reform,” he said. “Prisoners were taught trades and learned to return as citizens of the Nation. As the Nation progressed, this institution was one of the ways we adapted and took care of the Cherokee people. Perhaps someone had endangered the life of another, but we tried to bring that person back in. The museum is one more way to share Cherokee history and culture with the public.”

In its early days, the prison sat on a large spread of land. There was a 40-acre garden and the gallows was sited away from the building. The original structure had three stories, though the top floor was removed when it was condemned. It remained in use by Cherokee County until 1979. The facility was vacant before the Nation funded a renovation and opened it as a museum in 2011.

“The prison is an asset to Tahlequah,” Owens said. “We invite everyone to embrace this facility and enjoy its the significance to the community.”

The Cherokee National Prison Museum is at 124 E. Choctaw St. Hours are Tuesday - Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students, and children under 5 are admitted free. For information, call (877) 779-6977 or visit www.cherokeetourismok.com.

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

To read about the history of the Cherokee National Prison Museum, go to  tahlequahTDP.com

srowley@tahlequahdailypress.com

1
Text Only
Local News
  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-TonsOffTahl-A.jpg Tribes, city, NSU launch Tons Off Tahlequah campaign

    When studies are conducted about whether Americans are living healthy lifestyles, Oklahoma often ranks poorly among the states.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts-Trail-show-1.jpg Jackson takes prize

    Cherokee Heritage Center Museum Curator Mickel Yantz kicked off his 10th anniversary at the venue with the opening of the 43rd annual Trail of Tears Art Show this past Friday.
    “The Trail of Tears show was my first exhibit opening when I arrived 10 years ago,” said Yantz. “Since that time, the show has changed so dramatically; we’ve added so many new artists, and the art work has excelled over time. It’s like Christmas for me.”
    Yantz said he was exceptionally pleased with the opening reception.
    “We had a fantastic turnout,” said Yantz. “We had a lot of fun and sold some artwork, which is great for opening night.”
    The exhibit is on display at the Cherokee Heritage Center through May 26. This year’s show features 130 pieces of art spanning eight different categories, including basketry, graphics, jewelry, miniature, painting, pottery and sculpture.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • churchguy.jpg Some NSU students find Church of Monett offensive

    They turn heads every time they show up on campus, and some students at Northeastern State University are offended by their presence.
    The Church of Monett, Mo., has made periodic trips to Tahlequah to stage quiet demonstrations in public campus spaces in recent years. They carry signs that read, “Wives, Obey your Husbands,”; “To be Married to the divorced is Adultery”; and “Don’t be deceived: fornicators homosexuals idolaters adulterers thieves drunkards - shall not inherit God’s Kingdom.”

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teen sent to hospital after being struck by tractor-trailer

    An 18-year-old Tahlequah man was struck by a tractor-trailer early Tuesday morning on the State Highway 51 bypass near Mimosa Lane.
    Tahlequah Police Capt. Tom Jones said officers responded to the scene at about 5:40 a.m., when Sage Sohns was found injured and lying in the road. A medical helicopter responded to the scene to transport Sohns to a Tulsa hospital, where he was being treated for a closed-head injury, police said.

    April 16, 2014

  • TPS board hears architect presentations for cafeteria

    Members of the Tahlequah Public Schools Board of Education heard from four architectural firms seeking a contract for construction at Cherokee Elementary School.
    TPS plans to build a cafeteria-auditorium and a music room with a stage, which may also serve as a safe room during storms.

    April 16, 2014

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Stocks