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March 21, 2003

Here's more about the contents of that metal box retrieved years ago from the corner stone of an early day Perry High School building. The container, about the size and shape of a cigar box, apparently was stored originally in the corner stone of Central High School, built in 1911 near the site of the present Elementary school. Since the original corner stone, ceremony was conducted by members of Perry Masonic lodge No. 78, A.F. & A.M., the local school turned the small metal box to officers' of today's lodge. The Masons found it when they moved a few years ago to their new lodge hall on the west side of town. They are planning to offer the box to the Oklahoma Masonic Grand Lodge with offices in Guthrie, and that is where, the articles would be displayed. The exhibit will show the Masonic influence on early day Oklahoma.

All of the artifacts are on paper and they are very fragile now. Here's a quick summary of what's included:

Three newspapers printed in Perry—the August 3, 1911, issue of the Enterprise-Times; August 5, 1911, issue of the same paper; August 3, 1911, issue of the daily Perry Republican; and the April 13, 1911, issue of the German-language newspaper, Oklahoma Neurkerten.

A lengthy, essay entitled, "Historical Contribution of the City of Perry— Masonic Archives at the Laying of the Cornerstone of the City High School Building," dated August 7, 1911, and certified by the signatures of attorney Henry S. Johnston and Judge E. W. Jones, editor of the Perry Republican. (Mr. Johnston, of course, became governor of Oklahoma in the 1920s.)

A typewritten carbon copy of a single-spaced document, containing what appears to be minutes of several Perry board of education meetings, starting with October 17, 1910, when the need for a new High School building was discussed, continuing through the May 18, 1911, meeting. The minutes, on legal-size sheets, were signed by W.N. Stahl and Miss Nellie Hostetler

A printed program with information about Decoration Day activities held on May 29, 1907, starting at 9:30 a.m. with a march for "flower children, members of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) and auxiliary, the W.R.C. (Women's Relief Corps), citizens, the mayor of Perry, city council members, board of education, fire department, and so forth, with a line to be formed by directions of the city marshal and J. F. Cordell, officer of the day."

More details on some of these activities in the next column.