Weather delayed it a week, but a group of senior citizens from the Bartlesville area visited sites near Tahlequah and Fort Gibson to learn about Northeast Oklahoma’s Civil War-era history.
On Wednesday, the Bartlesville Elder Care Golden Opportunities program took the seniors on a day-long tour, which featured the Cherokee Capitol Square, George M. Murrell Home, John Ross Museum and the Ross Cemetery, as well as the Fort Gibson Historic Site.
“I’m retired, and I enjoy taking trips with elder care,” said Louise Tate, 80. “I’ve always been interested in history. “The Murrell Home is very unusual. There are a lot of antique items in here that are probably one-of-a-kind.”
Linda Culp, 66, though familiar with Tahlequah, said she learned much on the tour.
“I’ve been visiting [Tahlequah] for 38 years, but I’ve never seen all this,” she said. “I am completely impressed.”
The Cherokee Civil War Tours were organized by the Cherokee Nation to observe the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. The Bartlesville group was transported by the nation from and to the Cherokee Nation Welcome Center in Tulsa.
“We organize these trips through Golden Opportunities to help mature adults live healthy independent lives,” said Jennifer Ennis, community relations coordinator for the program. “We plan activities, such as educational day trips or travel, for any who would like to go. We want to help people get in and out of their homes and be active.”
Ennis said the Cherokee Civil War Tour was a perfect fit for Golden Opportunities.
“The Cherokee Nation has a great tourism center,” she said. “You can just call and talk about what tours they offer. We identified the Civil War tour, and they put together an itinerary with a lunch. They offer guides and find the people who need to go with us.”
During the Murrell Home visit, the guests heard about how the family of George Murrell’s family was sympathetic to the confederacy, while his wife’s family leaned toward the union - which mirrored the split allegiances of the Cherokee populace. They also learned that the Murrell Home was one of the few structures in the area to survive a surge of destruction as the war drew to a close.
Though Golden Opportunities took a Cherokee Civil War Tour a couple of years before, Ennis said this trip offered new sights.
“I’d seen thw courthouse, but I’ve never seen these other areas before,” she said. “This was our first visit to the Honey Springs Battlefield and the Murrell Home. A lot of our people have been talking about this. There is a lot of interest in local history.”
For information about the Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism program, call (877) 779-6977, or visit www. CherokeeTourismOK.com.