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April 2, 2005

Some Noble County history

Noble County is so very fortunate to be the home of the Cherokee Strip Museum and Rose Hill School out on West Fir Avenue in Perry. The museum and school and the artifacts they contain are a fitting tribute to the men, women and children who converted the barren, wind-swept plains of this area into a fruitful plain after the great Cherokee Strip land opening of September 16, 1893.

The museum and school, now part of the Oklahoma Historical Society collection of significant eras, tell the story of how all this came about. It is a romantic, dramatic tale, and we who now live in the old Cherokee Outlet are grateful for the preservation of important steps in the development of the place we now call home. The paid professionals and the volunteers who staff the local museum are devoted to their work and guests who visit the facility are among the beneficiaries of their dedication.

There is a parallel interest in the possibility of having another museum that would simply tell the story of Perry's own growth and development. As I understand it, they are talking about a collection that would show how Perry sprang up, overnight, on that fateful day in 1893, and progressed to what we now have here.

This is a distinctively different part of the Strip, and we are so close to the time of the opening that many elements of that era are still housed in boxes and plain wrappers, in family attics and elsewhere. Would it not be great if all those things could be assembled and displayed in an appropriate building, perhaps in the downtown area where local folks and visitors could see them? They would not necessarily be a part of the Cherokee Strip Museum, but would focus on just the establishment, growth and development of this little city. Sounds like a good idea to me. In that way it would complement the Museum and become a different, but vital, part of the story. Maybe it is just something to think about, but I have seen some of the family-owned, historic relics and I know they would be of great general interest.

It will be interesting to see if anything along this line develops. If it does, it will not be a hit and miss proposition. There will have to be some specific goals established and someone will have to take the lead. Remember how Dr. Robert S. Taylor, Bertha Malzahn, Ethel L. Johnston and a handful of others made the present museum a reality? It began as a space-filler in the Perry Carnegie Library. In the meantime, the rest of us can dream about it and search for a means to make it possible.

There have been some attempts to tell the public about the Cherokee Strip land run and subsequent happenings here but for the most part they have been overly romanticized or rewritten to the point that they are meaningless. Books and movies have tried to help (for example, Far and Away) but the dramatized versions have failed to tell the real story.

Maybe Perry, the Queen City of the Cherokee Strip, can take the lead in bringing about a true story of one proud city that came into existence when the Cherokee Outlet was opened to settle-ment.