A group on Facebook has turned into an ever-evolving, crowd-sourced archive of Tahlequah, and currently has 2,800 members.
A get-together for members of “You Might Be From Tahlequah If...” is scheduled for the Dream Theatre on Saturday, May 17, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will be a fundraiser for the Thompson House and a time for sharing memories.
The Facebook group was started by Terrill White in August 2011. White is a history buff and a native of Tahlequah, but he currently lives in Fort Gibson. He said that within the first few hours of the group’s existence, over 300 people had joined and began sharing stories and photos.
It didn’t take long before there were over 1,000 members, and White added four others as administrators: Beverly Cannon, Tammy Phillips, Don Garner and Robert Kashwer. The administrators monitor for rude behavior, help keep posts on topic, and because it is a closed group, accept new member requests.
Of the five administrators, Phillips is the only one to currently live in Tahlequah. Organizing the venue, volunteers, and speakers for the gathering has been her task. She has been sorting through photos and videos from the group’s page for the past two months, while working on a multimedia presentation that will be shown at the Dream Theatre.
“Right now, I’m winding up the sorting through of the group’s pictures to get a select few ready for the DVD,” said Phillips. “There are over 2,900 that have been posted to the page. The DVD will have almost 300 pictures. Most will be of the downtown area dating as far back as the late 1800s.”
Most of the photos shared in the group are from private collections. Group administrators say the value of having these photographs shared, and the stories and memories that accompany them, is priceless.
“A lot of those pictures would have never been seen by the general public without this Facebook page,” said Phillips. “I believe what is most valuable on this page, aside from our pictures, are our more ‘mature’ members. They have been able to tell us so much about the history of Tahlequah – things you won’t find at the library. Without this Facebook page, some of that history would have, most likely, over the years, disappeared.”
Before the video is shown, historian Beth Herrington will give a talk on the history of Tahlequah. Then, after the video, she will lead the group on a walking tour from the Dream to Choctaw Street, talking about the pre-statehood business area of Muskogee Avenue.
Herrington is donating her time for this event, so the organizers have decided to help raise money for one of her interests, the Thompson House. Donations will be accepted at the get-together, and money from refreshments will go toward the fund.
For more information about the Facebook group, the event, and Tahlequah, go to www.facebook.com/groups/tahlequah.