Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

December 15, 2010

Murrell Home goes merry

Murrell Home volunteers say Christmas is their favorite time of year, and last weekend’s visitors agreed.

TAHLEQUAH — Flute and piano music beckoned visitors into the George M. Murrell home Sunday during its 10th annual Christmas open house.

The traditional Victorian decor shined, as did the women in their hoop skirts and men in period costume, who gave the illusion of walking through the double antebellum doors and into the past.

Living history is one of the most fun ways to learn about one’s ancestors and the times in which they lived. Knowledgeable volunteers describing events with real people brings the historic home to life.

“The clothing, the way they were dressed – it was nice,” said Gloria Williford. “When I came years ago, they had mannequins.”

The old photographs intrigued Williford’s daughter, Ann Reneau, while granddaughter Hannah, 5, found a different attraction.

“I find them fascinating,” Reneau said of the upstairs wall display. “Hannah liked the soldier. She kept wanting to talk to him. He was really nice.”

Megan Morton said the rooms were pretty, and the people were nice.

“We’re looking forward to coming back. We love it here,” she said.

Greeter Judy Gamble also loves being at the Murrell Home. The first thing she did when she retired was join the Friends group.

“I absolutely love history and Cherokee history. This is the only plantation home left in Oklahoma.” Gamble said.

She’s traveled extensively with her daughter, touring old mansions in communities across the South, even going to Natchez four or five times.

First-time visitors Tom and Julie Kittell, of Broken Arrow, enjoy looking at old houses. After they saw the Murrell Home featured on the news, they said they knew they had to see it.

“I appreciate the architecture. It’s cool how the rooms have a cutaway in the wall so you can see how it was built,” he said. “The re-enacting people are very informed.”

Historical objects and places appeal to Julie.

“I like how they’re getting all the belongings back, and that relatives saved things and are sending them,” she said.

The couple is already making plans to visit again for the Lawn Social, the first Saturday in June.

When Melissa Lay, of Tulsa, saw the Murrell Home on TV, she knew her daughter would want to come.

“I saw the story on Channel 6 and when I told my daughter, she insisted we come,” Lay said. “We like old houses. So we hopped in the car.”

Looking for Christmas presents in the gift shop, daughter Holly Lay was chatting with her mom.

“I love the decorations of everything, and the wall paper and furniture,” she said as they moved toward the next room with refreshments from the era. “I love the decor, the old wood and rugs.”

In one corner of a room where refreshments were served is a display cabinet with a recently completed exhibit that features the actual hat worn by George Murrell and other vestments from the archives, which Northeastern State University student Elaina Ross created during an internship at the site.

Upstairs, surrounded by vintage photographs of the home and former family displayed on the walls, Veronica Gaston demonstrated a variety of fiber arts, including work on a spinning wheel.

“I enjoy the history, I like the style and the period of time,” said James Beach of Westville, who brought his family. “It’s been several years since I was here. I like that picture of Spring Hill where they were uprooted from.”

They came to Tahlequah to celebrate their granddaughter’s birthday, wife Ella May Beach said.

“We’ve kept up with the improvements at the Murrell Home since the house was purchased by the state in the late ‘60s. It’s really pretty now,” Beach said. “I love the Christmas decorations they use. The Christmas tree is an example of how they used to light the trees with candles. The ladies and men in costumes really add a lot.”

Since retiring as site director, Shirley Pettengill has continued to volunteer, doing what she enjoys most: the newsletter, and dressing up for special events and school tours.

“There’s a dedicated handful of volunteers here, and we can always use help,” Pettengill said.

Since the inception of Friends of the Murrell Home, Gengy Edwards has been one of those volunteers.

“The home is beautiful. I enjoy sharing it with people and getting the word out,” she said.

Belinda Burnett likes to support the place.

“We just love doing this. It’s a wonderful place,” Burnett said. “It’s the only pre-Civil War plantation home in the state of Oklahoma. There were a lot like it around, but they were burned down. In the South, there are a lot of homes like this. Not in Oklahoma.”

Her daughter, Amanda Pritchett, is on staff, and said this is her favorite event of the year.

“I have to work, but I really enjoy seeing the old house decorated, the music, atmosphere; I think it’s the best time to visit,” Pritchett said.

This is also the favorite event for David Fowler, site director.

“The house always looks great and everyone has a good time,” he said.


Text Only
Local News
  • ths-jazz-2.jpg THS jazz band gets up early to hone performance skills

    It means getting up an hour earlier, and it doesn’t count as a class, but the jazz band at Tahlequah High School enjoys the dedication of a group of enthusiastic students.
    The THS Jazz Band practices every day at 7 a.m., an hour before the start of classes. It numbers 17, and is led by Director Orien Landis.
    “They have to do this before school and they get no class credit, but we have a full band,” Landis said. “They are really excited about this.”

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Easter-basket-kid.jpg Easter traditions date back centuries

    Some Christians may lament a partial shift of focus, but a Christian holy day - perhaps the most holy of all – is this Sunday, and it will be marked with celebrations all around the world.
    The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. For centuries, the observant have fasted, reflected or done penance in the weeks leading to the holiday. But today, many also associate the holiday with the Easter bunny, candy, and kites. In 2013, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some oppose minimum wage hike; others decry strong-arming by state

    President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate recently announced a push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $10.10. On the heels of the announcement, an initiative petition was introduced in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10. If it gained 80,000 signatures, it would be put to a vote of the people.
    This legislative session, a bill passed prohibiting municipalities from setting a minimum was or vacation and sick-day requirements. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law earlier this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Phone scam takes $500 from couple

    Authorities are warning Cherokee County residents to watch for a costly phone scam that recently targeted a local couple and ended in their loss of $500.
    According to sheriff’s deputies, a couple contacted authorities after losing $500 to the scam. The couple received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as “Mr. Green.” He told the couple they had won $1.5 million through Publisher’s Clearing House, but to collect the money, the couple would have to purchase a $500 money card to cover various fees.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missing local teen found dead

    The body of a missing 17-year-old boy was found in southern Cherokee County on Thursday, sheriff’s investigators said.
    Brikk Pritchett was reported missing earlier this month after disappearing on March 30, a day before his 17th birthday.

    April 18, 2014

  • 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


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.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism