Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

July 11, 2013

Interpreters at the Murrel Home take guests back in time

TAHLEQUAH — Before the Murrell Home existed, the land was pasture and woods, with a creek running through it.

After George and Minerva Murrell bought it, trees were cleared for a Cherokee family plantation home. Theirs is a love story.

And there are tales of action and adventure, tragedy and triumph.

“A lot of visitors don’t understand this place was a fully operating plantation, what they did here, the plantation economy,” said historical Interpreter Amanda Pritchett.

The antebellum period in Indian Territory was the golden age of the Cherokees, Pritchett said.

The social and economic institutions were being rebuilt after the Trail of Tears.

The staff is letting visitors know that Park Hill was the important social community of the time, Pritchett said.

“We’re ready to make it one of the premier sites in this area. It’s so unique; there’s no place in the country that has the history of this place,” she said. “All the ethnic groups, the socio-economic groups and different elements, social institutions, seminaries, the fact the chief lived here. All these different subjects you can study in one place.”

“We get to talk to interesting people and do research about things history geeks like me love,” Pritchett said. “People come here because they want to learn about Cherokees and the history of this area. People don’t realize we have this history here.”

And they didn’t realize Indians had houses like the Murrell Home, added Jennifer Frazee, the new historical Interpreter at the Murrell Home.

“They thought they were living in teepees,” Frazee said.

The staff members are developing a new site plan, based on their interpretive plan. Recently they completed a new interpretive plan, which looks at the overall themes and the story they want to tell about the house.

“The story we want visitors to learn while here are the site – how we can interpret that story for the visitor, where we are now and where we want to be,” said Pritchett.

The interpretive plan includes how they address static displays, programming and special events, publications and online context.

The last one was done in the 1990s, Pritchett said: “It’s something we’ve been needing to do for a long time.”

Four new outdoor fiberglass exhibit panels, funded by a grant from the National Park Service, will be in place before the end of the year, Pritchett said. The smokehouse, spring house, barn and corral area and basic history will each be featured on a panel.

When an archaeology survey was conducted in March, researchers found the foundation of the barn. They already knew what it looked like because photos exist.

“When we’re doing interpretive events, we’ll remove the panels and return them, for when people are walking around and can see them to understand more of the history,” Pritchett said.

After completing the text for three of the exhibit panels, Pritchett is now working on the fourth. The information will be sent to Oklahoma City for the Oklahoma Historical Society graphic artist to put it all together with photos.

“We expect to have them in place in the next few months, maybe by the end of summer,” Pritchett said.

They’re working on rebuilding all the exhibits in the house and new descriptive panels for each room.

“They’ll be updated, easier to read and lower profile,” she said.

With 11 years at the Murrell Home, Pritchett has seen improvements all along.

“I love the history of this place,” she said. “When Shirley Pettengill was here, she kicked it up a notch. She did all the research and physical restoration. We’re building on what she did with the interpretive plan.”

The staff has gone through the house and outside areas, and made goals and objectives to help them tell the story better.

“All the rooms and those areas will get upgrades in the next five years,” Pritchett said. “George and Minerva’s bedroom, where she was sick with malaria, will display medicine bottles, and there will be information about the illness and treatment for the disease.”

It will be one of the temporary projects they’ll make into a program and exhibit.

“We have some of the entries of the doctors who treated Minerva, like Dr. Jonathan Brown, an Army doctor,” she said. ”Jennifer [Frazee] has been researching that.”

Since January, Frazee has been the second historical interpreter at the Murrell Home. She’s completing a master’s in American Studies at Northeastern State University and interned through NSU as an undergraduate. Last summer, she was the cabin interpreter.

“This place has a way of getting under your skin,” Frazee said. “I like history. This property has changed since George and Minerva came here. Then it was owned by an ‘old settler’ and the Murrells transformed the area.”

The Murrells were young when they eloped, and the house tells a story of action and adventure, tragedy and triumph.

“Anybody could come here and find something they love,” Frazee said.

Pritchett has been reading second wife Amanda Murrell’s diary from 1850.

One afternoon, they’d just gotten out of their dresses and were in their chemises when Dr. Wood called unexpectedly.

“It took them two hours to redress to visit with him,” said Pritchett.

Frazee was surprised and pleased to see their sense of humor.

“Now I understand that everything, people, are just the way they are today,” she said. “They were well-educated and spent time together, with no television or cell phones.”

This summer, a new cabin interpreter, Travis Wolfe, joined the staff. He’s a graduate student at NSU.

Other changes are in the works. This spring, the Lawn Social was moved from June to the first weekend in May, due to the heat with which the women, in particular, have to cope in such heavy and layered clothing.

“And this year, it was snowy the first weekend in May and it rained a little,” Pritchett said, “but it was cooler.”

The Historical Society schedules all its events in the spring and fall, she said.

“Nothing was going on that weekend in the community here or for the Historical Society, so that’s when it will be from now on,” Pritchett said.

Upcoming events through the end of the year include the Cherokee National Holiday on Labor Day weekend; Ghost Stories Oct. 26-26; and the Christmas Open House Dec. 8.

“The [Cherokee] Holiday weekend is always special for us; we’re one of the many places you can go during the weekend,” Pritchett said.

1
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

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
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster 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 Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Stocks