Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

May 6, 2014

1840s Lawn social

Murrell Home plays host to traditional annual event

TAHLEQUAH — The George Murrell Home came to life Saturday, as present met the past during the annual 1840s Lawn Social.

The event featured music, dancing, croquet, a blacksmith, a general store and a Maypole, as well as ribbons to weave.

Women in hoop skirts and men in vests and other finery cracked croquet balls with mallets, bringing history to life.

Gary and Sandra Briscoe, from Shawnee, were enjoying the game.

“We love history and being able to teach. This helps keep history alive,” said Gary. “We’re with the 77th Pennsylvania Re-enactor Group. Usually I dress up as a soldier; this day I’m a civilian.”

The couple said they enjoy seeing the old houses and how people lived. Before their daughter had an Oklahoma history class, they took her all over the state to teach her history.

Visitors Tom and Patricia Garroutte brought along friend Mildred Gibbs, for an outing from Go Ye Village.

“I grew up here, but I’ve been gone 70 years,” said Tom.

He enjoyed the blacksmith in particular, and the women in period dresses.

“The blacksmith was terrific, so friendly and he seemed to be quite adept at what he was doing, telling folks step by step what he was doing,” said Tom.

“We discussed details. My grandfather had a blacksmith shop in the Gideon area; he made all sorts of things.”

The friendly staff impressed Patricia.

“People here are so very nice and interesting,” she said.

For Mildred, it was a joy to look at the house.

“It’s so well-preserved, or restored; they take good care of it,” she said.

Lots of children played, ran and watched the activities all around the Murrell Home. Laura Garrett brought her three children: Brooke, 9; Andra, 8; and Alex, 8. She also brought a picnic lunch.

“We came to see the lawn games,” she said. “It’s my first time to come for an event. When I was in grade school, we came to go through the house. This looked like something fun and relaxing to do on the weekend, away from video games and TV. We usually rush around with baseball and softball.”

Brooke was watching the croquet game to see who would win.

“I like the big skirts, but what if they can’t find the ball if it goes through their dress?” she wondered.

The kids had a chance to play croquet when the game ended. Correy Twilley, with the Fort Gibson Historic Site, stopped to explain the game to the kids.

“You play in the order of the colors on the stake,” he said, starting from the beginning.

The kids lined up by the colors on their mallets, taking turns hitting their wooden balls.

“I’m just enjoying the day; it’s a lot of fun,” Twilley said. “I’ve always liked how peaceful and serene it is here. Events like this bring the community together to play and do things they wouldn’t usually do.”

History is important to Twilley.

“If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you’re doomed to make them again, and if you do succeed, you’ll know how to do that again,” said Twilley. “You don’t have to make those mistakes.”

After completing the game of croquet, Historical Interpreter Jennifer Frazee stopped for a drink of cool water before the Maypole dance began.

“The croquet was fun. I learned I could push the hoops back and step on the end of it so I could see to hit the ball,” she said.

Site Manager Dave Fowler also enjoyed the Maypole event.

“We’ve never done that here before, and I’m excited to see it happen,” Fowler said. “We’ve had a great turnout of visitors and re-enactors.”

A group was gathered around the blacksmith, watching him work, listening to his stories. Trent Miller, 12, liked everything about being at the Murrell Home.

“The blacksmith is awesome; the big house is really cool,” Miller said. “I’m going to come back next year dressed in pre-Civil War clothes. It would be pretty cool.”

Omar Reed, the blacksmith, works at the Fort Gibson Historical Site.

“We’re redoing the fort,” he told visitors as he checked to see his heating metal pieces glowed red. “Some of this, like these ‘S’ hooks, will show up over there [at the fort]. In the future, we’ll make a meat hook for the smokehouse here.”

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