Can you identify the symbols on this quilt? It’s a mystery.

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By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

A few months ago while at the Nowata County Historical Society Museum I noticed an exhibit about a mystery quilt. Dated Monday, Dec. 18, 1915, the quilt’s mystery lies in the cryptic symbols on each square. As the photo shows some quilt squares contain letters and numbers, while others contain flowers, stars and even a cube. The mystery quilt was the catalyst for this column.

I had the Nowata County Historical Society President
Although I don’t possess the requisite patience, or skill, to construct a quilt, I do appreciate them for the warmth they provide and their artistic beauty.

Recently I had the flu and was grateful for my quilt, heated by my husband in the dryer, to warm me when I had the chills. The quilt’s weight provides its own comfort. I love the rare moments when my teen son joins me on the sofa with quilt covering us or the cat decides to perch precariously on my side to nap while I’m under the quilt.

Quilts have provided much more than comfort in the past, however.

“Quilts served many purposes during the Civil War. From acting as a medium for patriotic statements to serving as a way to keep soldiers warm in the field, these historic textiles had an important place in the conflict between North and South,” according to the website https://antiques.lovetoknow.com/Civil_War_Quilt_Patterns.

Although not everyone believes them, some historians claim slaves used a quilt code to navigate the Underground Railroad. The book “Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad” suggests that quiltmakers would display the quilts letting slaves know when to prepare for and make their escape. A wrench patterned quilt indicated that they should gather tools for the escape. The wagon wheel pattern meant slaves should pack what they planned to take with them.

In doing my research for this column, I learned the names of popular quilt patterns. Here are a few of them — the log cabin, pinwheel, nine patch, double wedding ring, churn dash, eight-pointed star, friendship star, grandmother’s garden, corn and beans, liberty wheel, God’s eye and drunkard’s path.

Each quilt pattern had meaning and purpose. For example, the log cabin symbolized home, warmth, love and security to pioneers. The center square of log cabin quilts are red to representing the hearth, the focal point of life in a cabin or home. The name, Log Cabin, comes from the narrow strips of fabric, or “logs” arranged around the center square, according to the http://www.nps.gov website.

The nine patch quilt served as an introduction to quilting in pioneer days. It is one of the simplest and quickest quilts to sew and was a way to use up every small scrap of fabric available. On the prairie, sewing was an essential skill. Girls learned to sew blocks before they learned to read. At an early age, often as young as three or four, girls were taught to piece simple blocks. Many were very skilled at piecing a block by age five. Edith White, who grew up in the mid-1800s remembered, ‘Before I was five years old, I had pieced one side of a quilt, setting at my mother‟s knee half an hour a day.’ This training was called ‘fireside training.’”

As pioneers traveled West quilts were used as burial shrouds. Information from the website for http://www.nps.gov states, “wood was often scarce for coffins, so families used what was available and appropriate. Wrapping a loved one in a quilt was a way of not only preparing the body for burial, but of giving reassurance to the living that the decreased person was still linked to his or her family.”

More recently Quilts of Valor has sought to honor veterans by giving them quilts. According to their website, the first QOV was awarded by founder Catherine Roberts in November 2003 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) to a young soldier from Minnesota who had lost his leg in Iraq. The Quilts of Valor movement spread from Catherine Robert’s home in Seaford, Del., across the country. The organization’s original mission statement was “to cover all those service members and veterans wounded physically or psychologically with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.” Quilts of Valor has given 200,000 quilts to veterans in all 50 states.

A few months ago while at the Nowata County Historical Society Museum I noticed an exhibit about a mystery quilt. Dated Monday, Dec. 18, 1915, the quilt’s mystery lies in the cryptic symbols on each square. As the photo shows some quilt squares contain letters and numbers, while others contain flowers, stars and even a cube. Could the symbols be brands? I’d love to hear from anyone who recognizes a brand. Could they be Native American orthography? I shared the photo with a number of quilters, but no one was sure what the symbols might mean.

“The quilt appears to be a random group of squares and rectangles, fabric could be from military uniforms, olive green navy, black, brown and a tweed strip. It was found in a dog pen in the city of Delaware, by the family of J. J. Adams,” said Nowata Historical Society President Carroll Craun.
If any of the readers have an idea, please email me at rmckee@examiner-enterprise.com.

Christie’s Visits Woolaroc Museum – NY City meets the Osage Hills!

Bartlesville, OK March 2, 2017
Press Release by Jeanette Swindell, Green Country Marketing

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The unique relationship between Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve in Bartlesville, Oklahoma with Christie’s of New York is one more example of how this once “best kept secret” has exploded onto the national scene in the last ten years. In 2013, Woolaroc hosted its first national art show with The Lewis & Clark “Corps of Discovery” Retrospective and Sale which was followed by The Best of the Best Art Show in 2015 that featured eight of the world’s finest wildlife artists. Due to the successes of both of these shows, Woolaroc will again be hosting a major show in October, 2017 (The Best of the Best 2017) that will feature the works of Bill Anton, George Carlson, Tim Cherry, Len Chmiel, Steve Kestrel, T. Allen Lawson, Dean Mitchell and Andrew Peters. According to Woolaroc CEO Bob Fraser, “our ability to host such high quality shows at Woolaroc has been helped by the quality of our relationships with such groups as Christie’s. To those who may have never heard of Woolaroc, the praise and validation from such an esteemed group provides us credibility with galleries, artists and collectors that otherwise would have been hard for us to reach.”

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The relationship between Christie’s and Woolaroc began in 2007. For thirty years, a privately owned masterpiece by world-renowned artist, Thomas Moran was on loan to Woolaroc and maintained a prominent location on the gallery walls of the museum. After thirty years in the museum the family made the decision that it was time to sell the painting, and engaged the world famous Christie’s of New York to handle the sale. The Moran sold for more than $17 million, establishing a record for such a sale.

During the appraising and preparation for auction, a friendship was formed between Christie’s and Woolaroc and has been blooming ever since. Chairman and President of Christie’s Americas, Marc Porter, declared the collection “one of the finest, most complete collections of southwest art in the world.” One visit led to several more over the next few years and the result has been a powerful alliance between Woolaroc and Christie’s.

In November 2016, Christie’s hosted two of the Woolaroc staff at their American Art Sale in New York City and last week, three of Christie’s top people returned to Woolaroc in order to see the improvements that have been made to the museum since their last visit. Tylee Abbott, Associate Vice President and American Art Specialist at Christie’s stated “I had heard so much about this incredible museum and it has been on my “must see” list for a long time, but even with so much build up, it exceeded my expectations.” Allison Whiting, Senior Vice President and Director of Museum Services said “this was my fourth visit in the last ten years and I am always amazed by the depth of their collection.

The Woolaroc staff does an incredible job of maintaining the historic feel of a museum that started in 1928 and at the same time, they keep it updated and fresh with new exhibits and state of the art technology. We at Christie’s feel fortunate to share such a strong relationship with this American treasure.”

Founded in 1925 by oilman Frank Phillips, Woolaroc is a 3,700 acre working ranch that has a 50,000 square foot museum and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, D.C., and a NARM (North American Reciprocal Museum) member. Woolaroc is located 12 miles SW of Bartlesville, Oklahoma and 45 miles NW of Tulsa, Oklahoma on State Highway 123. Visit http://www.woolaroc.org for admission and hours of operation.

Osage Nation Museum to hold Holiday Ornament Craft Workshop

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By: Hallie Winter, Osage Nation Museum Curator

Pawhuska, OK—The Osage Nation Museum is happy to announce the award of a Charitable Grant from the Osage Nation Foundation. This grant will be used to fund the 1st Annual Creative Community Holiday Ornament Craft Workshop.

The ONM will host their first annual Creative Community Holiday Ornament Craft Workshop during the month of December. Starting on December 1st the ONM will have their Imagination Station set up with materials for visitors to make a holiday ornament. The Imagination Station is an engaging, interactive area in the museum’s exhibit gallery that is geared towards our youth visitors. However, visitors of all ages are welcome to participate. The ONM staff select activities that correlate with current exhibits and special programming to facilitate the hands on participation of visitors in a meaningful, creative and educational way. The activity for the month of December will be a simple paper cut out ornament with Osage designs. By using Osage themes and motifs this will help visitors learn about Osage culture while connecting with the Museum’s collection. Visitors can either take their ornament home or leave it with museum staff for inclusion on the ONM’s Holiday Tree.

Another station will be set up in the museum’s gallery that will tie into the Creative Community Holiday Ornament Craft Workshop. We ask visitors to add to our paper chain garland, using the theme: #weloveonm. We invite visitors to write down what they love about the ONM, these written comments will make up the paper chain garland that will decorate the ONM holiday tree.
On Saturday, December 10th the ONM will host a 6 hour pop in event, no registration required. The event will be held from 10:00am – 4:00pm. This will be open to the public and all ages are welcome. The ONM will be collaborating with Osage Artists, the Wah Zha Zhi Cultural Center and the ON Education STEAM department to produce unique, thoughtful and educational ornaments. We will have four craft stations set up, each with an Osage artist and teaching assistants to help visitors create one of a kind holiday ornaments. Each of the four stations will have a holiday ornament craft that is geared towards youth and easy to make.

The ONM will have two ornaments that visitors can make which tie into the Museum’s collection and mission statement. The Wah Zha Zhi Cultural Center and the ON Education STEAM program will also have tables set up with one ornament each for visitors to make. We will ask the patrons to leave their ornament at the museum when it is complete. Participants will also be able to leave their hand print for the ONM’s Holiday Tree Skirt. We will be procuring enough materials to produce 200 of each ornament.

On Friday, December 16th from 5:00-7:00pm the ONM will host the first annual Creative Community Holiday Tree Lighting. Visitors will be able to come and see our holiday tree that has been decorated with the ornaments produced throughout the month of December. Santa will be at the museum for a photo op.

Participants will be able to pick up their hand made ornaments the following week from the museum.

Hallie Winter, Curator at the Osage Nation Museum said, “The staff at the ONM would like to thank the Osage Nation Foundation Board for approving our grant application to create the1st Annual Creative Community Holiday Ornament Craft Workshop. This workshop will engage and enhance relations with our local community while providing a fun filled, ONM collections related activity. While the target audience for participation is the youth in our community this event is all-inclusive and we hope to connect with a multitude of individuals of all ages. This workshop and resulting event will not only engage the youth but their parents as well, leading to return visits and reinforcing the museum’s “brand” as a welcoming, engaging and educational resource for our community and tourists alike. We are happy to be collaborating with the Wah Zha Zhi Cultural Center and the ON Education Department on this endeavor. ”

About the Osage Nation Museum:

The premiere destination to experience Osage history, art, and culture
Visit the Osage Nation Museum (ONM) in historic Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Our continuously changing exhibits convey the story of the Osage people throughout history and celebrate Osage culture today. Highlights include an extensive photograph collection, historical artifacts, and traditional and contemporary art. Founded in 1938, the ONM is the oldest tribally owned museum in the United States.

Admission and parking is free.

Contact Information:

Phone: 918-287-5441
Fax: 918-287-5227
Email: museum@osagenation-nsn.gov
Website: http://www.osagenation-nsn.gov/museum
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OsageNationMuseum/

Location:
819 Grandview Avenue Pawhuska, OK 74056 

Exciting Changes Continue at Woolaroc

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Press Release By: Green Country Marketing

Four years ago, Woolaroc decided that it was time to give Frank Phillips’ wonderful museum a nice touch up. That “touch up” turned into new state of the art lighting throughout the entire museum, new wall colors, new staging of the art, new exhibits and room by room by room from the Dome Room to downstairs in Gallery 9, this graceful national treasure was carefully updated. In the process, something really special became even better.

On November 23rd, the final piece of the puzzle will fall into place — Gallery 10, which use to house the Phil Phillips Colt Collection before it was relocated to Gallery 8, has been transformed into something very special. A guest touring Woolaroc will see one of the world’s finest collections of southwest art, Native American blankets, the famous Woolaroc airplane, the incredible gun collection and the reproduction of Uncle Frank’s New York City office….. your tour of this museum will conclude with a combination of nostalgia, fun and smiles.

As you enter Gallery 10, you will find a large scale, double-tracked miniature train exhibit that is complete with stores, shops, animals, lakes, tunnels and much more. Surrounding this train exhibit will be the wonderful doll collection of Woolaroc, staged and displayed along with a new series of old toys dating from as early as 1917. Along the walls you will see other unique exhibits from toy soldiers to wagon trains to a wall of old vintage Phillips 66 oil cars. “We are proud of the improvements that we have made over the last four years” said Woolaroc CEO Bob Fraser. “Many of these things have been made possible because of the great success and support from our annual Cow Thieves & Outlaws Reunion party and our semi-annual Best of the Best National Art Show….without them, the depth and scope of these improvements would not have been possible.”

Once again, the staff at Woolaroc has turned a concept and a dream into reality. Through the leadership of Museum Director Shiloh Thurman and the construction skills of Woolaroc carpenters Tim Sydebotham and Chris Buchanan, Woolaroc “magic” has happened once again. According to Thurman, “once we came up with the idea and got it approved in concept, we spent months researching the various sizes and types of trains we should have, how to maintain them, how to wire them, how to design the set and how to build the support structures around the set. We are very pleased with the final product and think that kids and adults will all love the new room…..while a bit different than the usual Woolaroc exhibit, it stays true to the mission of all that we do.”

“Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Dolls” is the perfect ending to a magical tour through this national treasure…..the employees of Woolaroc invite you to come see this newest addition.

Woolaroc is open Wednesday thru Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm and beginning November 25th, Wonderland of Lights will be open from 5-9 pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday thru Friday, December 23rd.

A Guided Tour of the Osage Nation Museum with Curator, Hallie Winter

Osage Nation Museum Curator, Hallie Winter

Osage Nation Museum Curator, Hallie Winter


By: Roseanne McKee

Curator Hallie Winter, who became the museum’s curator in May 2016, spoke to Pawhuska People about the updates she and Collections Manager, Callie Martin, are making at the Osage Nation Museum.

Describing her vision, Curator Hallie Winter said: “What we wanted to do was make the place more warm and inviting and feel like home. That had a lot to do with our color choices for the walls.

Some lighting and fire system improvements have also been made.

“We’re getting new LED track lighting; there is a new fire suppression system, not utilizing water; it doesn’t remove all the oxygen, so it’s still safe, less harmful to the art and a lot better than water,” Winter explained.

Display cases have gotten a facelift as well.

“We to wanted stay true to the original case that’s here so we played up that. We’ve redone a lot of our other display cases to match. They were covered in paint, so we’ve stripped them, and tried to match them the best we could. We also had some cases donated by the other museum in town, the Osage County Historical Society Museum.”

In the main gallery is what she described as a semi-permanent exhibit, which beautifully tells Osage history chronologically through artifacts, text and photos.

“It’s is a loose timeline of Osage history. The objects will change periodically for object safe-keeping and to give them a rest … and bring out new ones.

“We start with the origin story in this corner,” Winter said, pointing to the northeast corner of the main gallery.

A print of the mural showing Osages descending to earth and landing is part of the display. The original mural is located at the Osage Congress, located just south of the museum.

“If guests want to see the full-sized mural, they can go next door to the [Osage Congress] Chambers to see it.”

Maps are an important part of telling the Osage history story.

“Then we move to our ancestor lands in pre-history. This shows our migration patterns,” Winter said.

Winter pointed out the time period from 500 to 900 A.D.

“Those are different routes we took and then you can see as it goes down after 1350, when we were in the Missouri River Valley; then we started moving out. The Osage Historic Preservation Department has been working really hard on this. The information for these maps comes from them. They keep adding to it as they are making more discoveries,” Winter explained.

The orange portion of one of the maps shows Osage ancestral territory. The map shows as far east as Pennsylvania and north into Illinois.
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The displays also feature artifacts or objects and tools the Osage would have used, Winter said, — “flutes, pipes and also some of the stones for grinding corn and grain for food preparation and before leather how they made pouches.”

When the display describes contact with Westerners, artifacts that resulted from trade are featured.

“We tell the story of when the explorers first came into contact with the Osage and what happened as a result of that, which is trade; so we have trade tokens, early trade beads and metal products. We have a photo of one of the first trading stores in Osage County in Fairfax.
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Museum guests are encouraged to share what they know about photos and displayed items, Winter added.

“We are still fine tuning the information. People come in, they may know information and that’s been really helpful,” Winter said.

One case showcases Osage art and traditional forms of artwork.
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“We have a little bit of everything: ribbon work, finger weaving, moccasins, designs on old parfleches.” Parfleches are bags made of different materials, such as bison hide, Winter explained.

There is a display case devoted to describing what Osages did with the wealth derived from the Osage oil and gas estate. International travel became an Osage leisure pastime.

Next, was a display describing Osage treaties.

“When we were doing treaties, we would pass the pipe. When we travelled to Washington D.C., we’d dress in our finest,” Winter explained. “In a lot of the treaties, the government was supposed to give us tools for farming as a condition,” Winter said.

The government display case “tells a little about the Osage government and how it’s evolved over the past few hundred years,” Winter said.

Part II of the Winter Interview Coming Soon!

Osage Nation’s Mobile Museum

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Press Release by Hallie Winter, Osage Nation Museum Curator

Pawhuska, OK—The Osage Nation Museum is proud to announce the 2nd Annual Mobile Museum.  In honor of Native American Heritage month the Osage Nation Museum has a traveling exhibit of items from our permanent collection displayed in the Osage Nation Child Care’s Resource on Wheels van.  Last year the Mobile Museum made stops at the public libraries in Osage County.  This year the Mobile Museum will again travel throughout Osage County to offer a glimpse of what our museum has to offer to students in grades K-12.  Since the mobile museum is being made part of the school day curriculum, these events are not open to the general public. 

Working closely with the Osage Nation’s Education Department, the ONM staff utilized the school advocates to set up a schedule to travel to each school in Osage County.  A part of the ONM’s mission is to create “educational programs that nurture creativity and encourage active learning.”  The Mobile Museum is one such program that the ONM is excited to be continuing for its second year.
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Hallie Winter, Curator at the Osage Nation Museum said, “Education of the public about Osage history and culture is very important to us here at the ONM.  What better place to start than with the youth in our community.  By traveling to the Osage county schools the ONM is able to reach a large audience of children in grades K-12.  It is our hope that they will learn about the Osage Nation during their visit to the Mobile Museum and in doing so will tell their parents about it and we will begin to see more families come into the ONM in Pawhuska.  We have chosen Native American Heritage month to accompany the curriculum and other Native American Heritage events that the schools may have planned.  This is an important month for Native culture and we are proud to do our part.”

John D. Free Tribute Opens at Woolaroc Museum

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By Roseanne McKee

On the evening of Oct. 14, at Woolaroc Museum outside Bartlesville, Okla., family and relatives of the Western sculptor and painter, the late John D. Free, gathered.
img_3770 The extended Free Family

Among those in attendance were sons of the artist: John, Mark and Matt Free, the artist’s sister, Delores Theis, her husband, Raymond Theis, and their son, Chris Theis.

His son, John Free spoke at the Tribute first.
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“Dad was born in Pawhuska in Osage County. His grandmother was a full-blood Osage. He was very proud of that heritage and that part of his life.

“Probably the most important thing that happened to him was that he grew up on his grandfather’s ranch. That boyhood growing up on the ranch, of course he didn’t know at the time, would be the focus of his whole life from then on. He learned about horses and being a cowboy and about cows. He learned from his grandfather about being an old rancher was at that time. That was so special to him … and a tremendous influence and it shaped his art career probably in a way no one ever imagined.

“He was always drawing and modeling as a little boy. He was always drawing horses, and cow and cowboys; he said he did this for as long as he could remember.

“Early in his career he’d go to small shows in this area.”

Free shared that at these shows, his father encountered artists who encouraged him to believe that his career could grow.

“You’ve got to remember back in the late 50’s, early 60’s, he was making a living from the art business.

“The most important thing that happened at that time – he did a one-man show at the Gilcrease Museum and a man named Thomas Lewis approached him and asked if he would be in his gallery at Taos, New Mexico.

“Lewis was a great artist and a great gallery man and he took dad under his wing. He taught him about painting. And the most important thing he did was to give him clay and said see what you can do with this. Dad returned with one of the first sculptures that was cast into bronze. It was a cowboy, I think, roping a wolf. Thomas Lewis sold that piece and that was the beginning of a relationship between a gallery owner and an artist. And from then on dad’s career grew.

“He was in galleries in New York City, Carmel, California, all throughout the Southwest. He stayed busy doing things that he never dreamed that he could stay busy at and make a living.

“He was named a member of the National Academy of Western Art at the Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Cowboy Artists of America, and also the Free West, which was the old Academy of Western Art. He was always proud that he was a member of these organizations.

“At this time, he was travelling a lot. The art business allowed him to do something else he was happy to do and that was to fly. He was able to buy a plane and fly to these places. That was something he’d always wanted to do and this allowed him to do that.
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He was a pilot and his son, John Free flew with him and loved it too, he said. “He flew a 175 all across the United States,” John Free said.

“In 1980 he partnered with his brother-in-law, Ed Bivens, and they opened the Bronze Horse Art Gallery, which is still operating today [in Pawhuska]. Our family has worked for more than 100 artists and we produce thousands of sculptures that have gone all the way across the United States and around the world. He was always proud of that – that through these endeavors he was able to open a foundry and see a lot of artists’ careers start from that foundry and grow. We’ve been doing it for over 30 years. It’s hard to believe.

“Dad said he was always fortunate to make a living doing something he loved so much. And if he didn’t do it making a living, it would be his hobby.

“When asked about his favorite piece, he’d say, ‘the one that just sold and went out the door.’

“He said he looked forward to being able to continue to press his ideas, impressions and beliefs through the language of sculpting and painting in a simple and traditional manner.

“He always did a lot of research and he read a lot, which gave him ideas for pieces. And he also liked telling the stories to his grandkids about things he learned about.

“And probably last, but not least, the greatest influence in his art career was probably his wife, Rhema, without her, he probably would not have had a career. As an artist, taking care of business is not what you do. And mom was his partner, accountant, bookkeeper, scheduler, travel agent, the buffer between him and the rest of the world. And she did it very well.

“He’d have been very humbled by this tribute, and the people that appreciate his work, so on behalf of the family — thank you very much.”

Next, the artist’s nephew, Chris Theis, spoke at the Tribute.img_3739

“My uncle John, you may have known him as John D. Free, Western artist, but I just knew him as Uncle John and he was my hero and still is today. Uncle John was an influencer. When you around, when you look at these pieces and you look around at yourself and these pieces, you see influence. You see somebody that really was a time machine in a man because he takes you to a place you’ve never been before. He takes you to a place America was.

In his sculptures, “He had a gift from God to put action and motion within stillness.”

Chris Theis spoke of his uncle’s encouragement to be creative by giving him molding clay when he was a child. Although he did not take up sculpting, Theis found his place as the Creative Director for T.D. Jakes Ministries.
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“It’s also generational because my son is a graphic artist [for Fox Sports] and a lot of what I do is directing other artists…The show I direct is called ‘The Potters Touch’ and currently we’re redesigning the graphics package,” Theis said. “I’m very glad to be a small part of his legacy and as I said, he’s always been my hero.”

During the reception, a friends of the artist, August and wife, Ginny Hague, shared that there would be a knock at his back door and John Free would open the screen door and hand Ginny Hague, a scroll and say ‘here’s something for you.’
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“Ginny would just unroll it and it would be a pencil sketch. He gave us more than one, but this one was special because he wrote on it, ‘To a Special Friend,’” August Hague said.

August and Ginny Hague recalled a special week they had spent with the artist and other friends when a group of them brought their campers to Pine Bluff to do some work on a church together.

“We had a real good time. John and I built a cross and he even made the nails,” August Hague said.

Ginny Hague said she videotaped the raising of the cross and many tears were shed as the group sang ‘The Old Rugged Cross.’

“We came back home and we all said ‘we need to do that again,’ but we never did. It’s sad, but we never did,” August Hague said wistfully.

The John D. Free Tribute at Woolaroc Museum continues through Dec. 31. The exhibit, includes some sculptures for purchase.

Woolaroc Museum may be reached by phone at: 918-336-0307. Directions are part of the telephonic recording. Woolaroc’s winter hours are: Wed. – Sun. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Woolaroc is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Visit their website at: http://www.woolaroc.org/ to learn more!