Oklahoma Roses a tourist’s companion romance


The book, “Oklahoma Roses, a tourist’s companion romance”, a 350-page, Christian romance novel set in the present day, which takes place in Hominy and the surrounding area, is available for purchase at Cha’ Tullis Gallery on Main St. and The Frederick Drummond Home on Price Ave. in Hominy for $15.24 (tax included).

The book contains scenes in historic downtown Pawhuska at the Constantine Theater and Bad Brad’s Barbecue.

In Hominy scenes take place at The Drummond Home, the Mexican Restaurant in the Train Depot, the Cha’ Tullis Gallery, the Marland Station, Hominy City Council and Vintage Treasures. There are also many other scenes that take place throughout Osage and Washington Counties at spots locals love and tourists will enjoy.

The book is sold in Pawhuska at: Sister’s Attic, Krazy Kow, The Funky Pearl, and Hair Razors. The Osage County Historical Society Museum has signed copies for sale.

The book is sold in Bartlesville at Moxie on 2nd, Price Tower Gift Shop, and in Dewey at The Vintage Loft.

The book is also available for purchase on Kindle at Amazon’s website or by mail to Roseanne McKee, PO Box 1273, Pawhuska, OK 74056 for $18.57 with tax and shipping included.

Here is a sneak peak (chapter one):

Noelle Sanders, a willowy blonde with straight, shoulder-length hair and blue eyes, walked quickly to her car as the Oklahoma wind rustled autumn leaves at her feet. She drew her red scarf closer with one hand and searched in her coat pocket for her keys with the other.

It was a Wednesday and Noelle headed west to the convenience store for a late afternoon cappuccino to warm her up – a midweek treat.

She was just placing the lid on the takeout cup when she heard a voice behind her.

“Noelle, how are you?”

She whirled around and saw his handsome smile. She recognized him from her high school days. It was Taylor Nolan. All six feet of him in a business suit that couldn’t hide the muscles from hours at the gym. Noelle drew a breath of expensive cologne as he moved closer.

“Doing well. What brings you back to town? I heard you’d moved to Houston.”

“I did, but I just took a new position at Drent Oil and they wanted me to be here. It’s closer to family, so I’m good with that.”

“Well, congratulations,” Noelle said with a smile.

“We should get together. What’s your number?” Taylor asked as he readied his cell phone for the number as if it were a foregone conclusion that she’d agree.

Internally, she paused, but he didn’t notice.

She gave him her number.

“I’ll call you soon,” he said and touched her elbow.

Noelle made her way to the checkout as Taylor disappeared into another part of the store.

What had she just done? She was already interested in Grayson, the handsome, dark haired cowboy with green eyes, whom she had met recently. True, they had not yet gone out on their first date, but it was scheduled for Saturday.

She drove home on automatic pilot.

As Noelle turned onto her street, her mind shifted. What did she have in the fridge? She made a mental checklist: romaine, tomatoes, feta, olives. Greek salad with her homemade vinaigrette sounded perfect after a long day of serving customers at the credit union.

She  laid down her purse, keys and cappuccino on the foyer table, slid off her coat and scarf, hung them on one of the rows of wooden pegs along the foyer wall and headed to the living room where she lit the fireplace. She loved the high stone fireplace exterior and rough-cut wood mantel. This fireplace was something she loved about the house she had inherited from her grandmother.

She knew it was early in the season to be using the fireplace, but she hadn’t adjusted to the sudden temperature change that was typical of Oklahoma weather on the open plains.

After warming up, she returned to the foyer for her cappuccino, which she finished as she thought about the events of the day. Her contemplation was interrupted by a text from her Aunt Julie asking if they were still on for lunch on Saturday. She texted back that they were, and that noon would be fine.

She turned her attention to making the Greek salad. The salad was soon ready, and she sat at the wooden kitchen table, said grace and began pouring her delicious, home-made red wine vinaigrette on the salad. Still her favorite, the secret ingredient was a spoonful of spicy horseradish mustard.

After putting the dishes in the dishwasher, Noelle studied the kitchen calendar, which held all of her appointments. Her date with Grayson was handwritten on the calendar for Saturday night at 7 p.m. They were to meet at a local downtown restaurant, Frank & Lola’s.

Should she tell him about Taylor? If Taylor didn’t call, she wouldn’t need to… but what if he did call. Noelle had never dated two men at once. How would that work, she wondered?

Just a friendly date — what’s wrong with dating both of them? She didn’t have an easy answer.

The house was warmer, so Noelle turned off the fireplace and headed to the bedroom where she changed into workout clothes, got out her exercise mat and started the VCR. After her strength and stretching work-out, she always felt revived.

Time for some herbal tea and a few chapters of the novel she was reading. Old fashioned, she preferred reading from an actual book rather than an electronic device.

After a couple of hours, she took a shower, got into her cornflower cotton pajamas and drifted easily to sleep in her antique cherry sleigh bed under the patchwork quilt made by her late grandmother Ruth.

The next morning on her way to work, Noelle found herself thinking of Grayson Whelan, the handsome cowboy who she had met recently at the annual Cow thieves and Outlaws Reunion dinner at the estate of the deceased oil tycoon, Frank Phillips, who was largely responsible for putting Bartlesville on the map. The estate, just outside of the city, named Woolaroc, had become a museum and wildlife preserve. Each fall since 1927, Woolaroc had hosted a party on the shores of Clyde Lake for cowboys, socialites, thieves, bankers, and lawmen.

Noelle was a loan officer at the local credit union and so she was lucky enough to be offered one of the coveted tickets to the event. Grayson introduced himself during the cocktail hour and they soon struck up a conversation.

What she learned was that he was the owner of Whelan Ranch near the city of Hominy in Osage County. Grayson had been educated at Delaware Valley University in Pennsylvania and had earned a B.A. in History.

“You didn’t study ranch management or agriculture?” Noelle asked.

“No, my dad taught me that and I’d always wanted to study world history,” Grayson explained. “I figured I’d settle here, but I wanted a bigger world view, you know? I try to save up and go somewhere I haven’t been about every other year.”

“Where have you been?”

“Well, my family is part Irish, so I started with Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. We’re also Native American and that’s why I decided to go to Pennsylvania to college. That’s where my mom’s tribe, which is Lenape or Delaware, is from. The Delaware lived in the region that is now the Delaware Valley in Pennsylvania and in the state of Delaware before they were forced out and settled in Oklahoma.”

“That is really interesting. It’s meaningful to know your ancestry, isn’t it?”

“Definitely. Have you traveled?”

“No, my family used their extra money to send me to college, and didn’t travel until they moved to Vail, Colorado, because of my mom’s allergies.”

“Where would you go if you could?” he asked.

Noelle thought for a moment and said, “I think the Scandinavian countries would be interesting to visit, Norway, Sweden.” She paused, “I’m of Norwegian descent, so it would be fun to see where my ancestors came from. Like you did.”

“That makes sense. Travelling to those places definitely added a new dimension to my life,” Grayson replied looking across the evening landscape as if he were picturing Ireland.

A band started and Grayson asked, “Would you like to dance?”

“As long as you understand that I’m not that good at two-stepping, sure,” Noelle said, feeling bold.

Grayson took her hand and led her to the outdoor dance floor. Soon they were laughing and two-stepping to the fiddle of a local country band.

“You’re better than you think,” Grayson whispered to her.

Noelle smiled to herself remembering the moment.

It had been a good first meeting and she had said, yes, without hesitation when he had asked if they could go out sometime.

With Grayson in the picture, it really didn’t make sense to go out with Taylor. But, in her many discussions with Aunt Julie, she had always been advised to play the field before making a decision. So, she reasoned that it only made sense to get to know both men better before limiting herself to just one of them.

Archaeological digs at Cahokia Mounds

Cahokia Tools on display at Cahokia Visitor’s Center/Museum
Photo by Roseanne McKee


By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Last week’s article provided an introduction to Cahokia located near St. Louis, Mo. This week’s column details past archaeological digs at Cahokia.

Archaeologists at Cahokia excavated an area that had previously been used as a drive-in movie theater in the 1980s. They dug down until they reached the level of the Mississippian period over an area covering several hundred square miles. There were many houses there. When the archaeologists find something it is called a feature, such as a circular area of discolored soil that indicates a storage bin, the museum’s archaeology exhibit video narrator explained.

“At Cahokia the small arrowheads found in mound 72 … we have an idea that these materials are from an area near the Spiro site in Oklahoma — some hundreds of miles away,” the archaeologist on the museum video said, which shows Cahokia’s link to Oklahoma.

“Over the years there have been many field investigations at Cahokia, including the excavation of mound 72 and the dig that revealed Woodhenge,” the archaeologist on video said. “In the 70s a highway project led to the most massive field investigation ever conducted in this region. Many communities from Cahokia’s time were found allowing scientists to study how these smaller towns interacted with their much larger neighbors. Field investigations of a site, which occur just before a site is to be destroyed by construction, are called salvage archaeology.”

Another example of salvage archaeology is the location of the Cahokia museum itself.

“A thorough investigation of this site had to be conducted before construction of this site could begin,” the video narrator explained.

Because it is some distance from Monks Mound, the greatest mound, the excavation of mound 72 revealed information about how ordinary people lived. The careful collection and excavation was meticulous work, but necessary to increase knowledge of Cahokia, the video narrator said.

Monks Mound (mound 38) received its name from the group of Trappist Monks who lived on one of the nearby mounds, according to the Cahokia website. “The Monks never lived on the biggest mound but gardened its first terrace and nearby areas,” the Cahokia website states.

Once archaeological finds were gathered, follow-up work took place in the laboratory, which included: identifying, cleaning, labeling the fragments found and preparing them for analysis.

The archaeological remains from the dig were highly fragmented, even stone tools, the video explained. Tools, such as hoes and spears and arrowheads, were studied to determine the time period they are from and what they were used for.

Bones from the site are compared with modern animals to help identify them — for example a white-tailed deer’s bones are compared with the bones found in the dig.

Similar work takes place in the botanist lab where plants/seeds found are compared with today’s plants and seeds.

In this excavation, archaeologists learned that the diets of people had declined as their intake of carbohydrates increased over time.

The reason Cahokia began to decline sometime in the 13th or early 14th century remains a mystery. The society may also have declined over many years as Cahokia’s authority was challenged.

According to the video overview of Cahokia, “poor nutrition and disease were growing problems. Weather changes and climate, dwindling resources and a growing population or perhaps growing class warfare, conflicts within the group, or from the outside also contributed to the decline.”

Present-day archaeological digs are ongoing and so continue to reveal information about the people who inhabited the 2,200 acres known as Cahokia.

To learn more about Cahokia or to plan a trip, visit the Cahokia website at https://cahokiamounds.org/.

History: Oklahoma takes shape


By Roseanne McKee

Reprinted with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

A month ago today, May 2, was a significant day in Oklahoma history. It was the day that an Act took effect that provided the initial framework for the land in Oklahoma to be governed.

In the book “Oklahoma’s Governors, 1890-1907” guest editor LeRoy H. Fischer wrote that “on May 2, 1890, Congress passed the Oklahoma Territory Organic Act, which provided for the organization of Oklahoma Territory; from it the present state government of Oklahoma evolved.”

The Organic Act authorized the appointment by President Harrison of a governor, a supreme court consisting of three judges (who also served as district court judges), a legislature with a 26-member House of Representatives, a 13-member Council and a voter-elected delegate to Congress, Fischer said. The laws of Nebraska applied until laws were enacted.

The Act provided that all reservations in Oklahoma territory, when opened to settlement, became part of Oklahoma Territory.

The Act named Guthrie as the territorial capital, Fischer said.

The first election in the territory was held Aug. 5, 1890. Fourteen Republicans, eight Democrats and four People’s Party Alliance members were elected to serve in the House of Representatives. The Council had six Republicans, five Democrats and two People’s Party Alliance members.

Then, on Nov. 4, 1890, an election was held to choose the first territorial delegate to Congress — David A. Harvey.

The Act also “authorized President Harrison to appoint a commission to negotiate with the tribes of western Indian Territory to open their surplus lands for settlement,” Fischer wrote.

The Jerome Commission, as it was called, consisted of David H. Jerome, chair (also the former Michigan governor) Warren G. Sayre of Indiana and Alfred M. Wilson of Arkansas.

Over the next five years, the Commission negotiated with each tribe such that an individual allotment became privately owned by each man, woman and child on the official tribal rolls.

Once that had been accomplished, the surplus land was purchased by the U.S. government to be homesteaded.

A series of land runs followed — Sept. 22, 1891, creating Lincoln and Pottawatomie counties, April 19, 1892, creating six counties (Blaine, Dewey, Day, Roger Mills, Custer and Washita, but Dewey was later abolished by Constitutional Convention) and the largest land run Sept. 16, 1893 of what was known as the Cherokee Outlet, creating seven counties Kay, Pawnee, Noble, Grant, Garfield, Woods and Woodward (with others added later by Constitutional Convention).
Additionally, land was reserved for higher education institutions, and public buildings in section 13.

“In 1895, the surplus Kickapoo lands were opened to homeseekers, but so little land was available that the Kickapoos received allotments of only eighty acres each,” Fischer said.

Sooners were becoming an increasingly big problem and so an alternate lottery method was used when Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, Wichita and Caddo surplus lands of more than 2,000,000 acres were opened in August 1901. A one-half section of land in each township was reserved to provide income for public purposes with additional sections in each township set aside for special purposes, Fisher said.

Land located between two rivers was given to Oklahoma Territory by the 1906 Constitutional Convention that had been part of Texas. This added 1,400,000 acres which became Greer, Harmon, Jackson and part of Beckham counties.

Smaller pieces of land became available when Congress dissolved the Ponca, Otoe, Missouria and Kaw reservations.

“The Big Pasture Reserve, made up of land in both Comanche and Tillman counties, was finally sold at auction by sealed bids in 1906,” Fischer wrote. “That same year the Osage Nation was dissolved by Congress, with each tribal member receiving over 500 acres of land.”
At that point, “all reservations west of Indian Territory — the home of the Five Civilized Tribes — became part of Oklahoma Territory by the eve of Oklahoma statehood,” said Fischer.
Those settling in Oklahoma Territory had to find ways to make a living and find enough food, and it wasn’t always easy.
Settlers bartered for basics and sold cut cedar posts to ranchers or followed the wheat harvest north.
Sod homes were common, Fischer explained.
An article by Eric Standridge on the website hubpages.com entitled “Oklahoma History: Pioneer Life in Early Oklahoma” stated that the “settlers’ first homes were very crude one-room houses build out of raw timber.” Later, they build two-story log homes, but most homes had no screens at the door. he said.
“Windows were square places left in the logs and covered with greased paper,” Standridge said, or settlers chose not to have windows at all.

The wild game settlers hunted were — wild turkey, quail and prairie chicken; wild sand plums were plentiful and so became popular for canning and drying, Fischer said.

Standridge added that settlers usually brought enough grain with them to plant crops and at wild turkeys, geese, deer and elk. Prairie chickens were also abundant, Standridge said.

According to the book “Taste of the States: A Food History of America,” pioneer women in Oklahoma invented a stew of rabbit, turnips, and flour gravy, and something called Oklahoma stew made from hard Spanish wheat and beef.

“Wild pecans were used in pie fillings, and Pioneer Pecan Pie became famous all over the states.

“Pickles and preserves were made from watermelon rinds. Watermelons originally grew on Indian farms and were later raised by settlers.”

Smoking and salting meats was essential in those days and cooking was done over an open fire in iron kettles, Standridge said. The kettles were set on tri-cornered iron holders.

“Skillets, pots and tin pans were also used and every family had a huge brass kettle in which they made their soap, apple butter, maple syrup, and rendered out the lard,” Standridge wrote.

Tallow candles made by the family provided light and garments were handmade, he said.

Oklahomans have come a long way since those early days. They stand on the shoulders of their ancestors.

The Oklahoma motto translated from Latin means “labor conquers all things” and as I reflect on Oklahoma’s past, I think it has.