Now Available: Printed Edition of the 2016 ALHFAM Conference Proceedings

For over 35 years, the Association for Living History, Farm and
Agricultural Museums (ALHFAM) has published the presentations and workshops presented at each Annual Conference in monograph form.

Until 2017, these Proceedings were published in hard copy and distributed by ALHFAM. Beginning with the 2016 Proceedings, the board made the decision to make the entire volume available to all ALHFAM members as a PDF via the ALHFAM website. If you are not a current ALHFAM member, please join us! Membership starts at $25/year for students and seniors; details are here:

The ALHFAM board understands that there are members who would prefer to have a hard copy of the Proceedings for themselves and that there would be non-members who could not access the PDF via the website and so would want to purchase one. They are available via Amazon for $20 plus shipping (member and non-member price). Volumes from 2012-2015 will be available for purchase soon.

Links to the Amazon page, the PDF, and the table of contents for the 2016 volume are on the ALHFAM website:

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Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch

On the final day of the 2018 ALHFAM conference one of our final stops will be the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch near Oologah, Oklahoma. As the name suggests, the ranch is the birthplace of famed cowboy humorist Will Rogers. However, well before Will Rogers was entertaining the country on stage, in newspapers, over the radio, or in movies, his father, Clem Rogers, had made a name for himself as a successful rancher, businessman, and politician, and this white Greek-Revival style ranch house was the center of the Rogers’ family life.


Clement Vann Rogers was born in 1839 in Indian Territory. Even in his youth, Clem was known as stern, independent and hardworking. His father, Robert Rogers, died in 1840, leaving Clem and his mother, Sally Vann, to care for their small family farm. Clem attended a local Baptist mission school and later attended the Cherokee Male Seminary in Tahlequah for a few semesters. However, Clem was more interested in starting his own ranch than he was in going to school. In 1855, when he was sixteen, he was hired to help drive a herd of 500 longhorn steers from Indian Territory to Kansas City, and Clem Rogers quit school for good.

Clem set up a ranch and trading post along Rabb’s Creek. However, it wasn’t long before the Civil War broke out, and the homestead was abandoned when Clem enlisted as an officer with the 1st Cherokee Mounted Rifles volunteer regiment and his wife, Mary America Schrimsher Rogers, left to stay with her family. By the end of the Civil War, the ranch was gone. Clem set to work rebuilding his herd, and by 1870 the family was back on a ranch in a new location. Clem and his former slaves, Rabb and Huse, began building the ranch house that came to be known as the “White House on the Verdigris” in 1873. By the time Will Rogers was born in 1879, the Rogers’ Ranch was more than 60,000 acres with nearly 10,000 head of longhorn cattle.

In 1889 the Missouri Pacific Railway bisected the Rogers Ranch, creating east and west sections. The railroad also brought settlers. Though the land within the Cherokee Nation was collectively owned by the Cherokees and leased by individual tribal members, white settlers started showing up. This was the end of the Rogers Ranch as it once was. By the late 1890s, through the Curtis and Dawes Acts, the federal government would take the land collectively owned by the tribes, and individually allot land to tribal citizens. The Rogers Ranch was reduced to about 140 acres with Clem and Will Rogers’ allotments. Clem was able to buy land around him reaching nearly 2,000 acres, but the ranch would never be what it once was.

Clem Rogers eventually moved into Claremore, served as a vice president in the new First National Bank, opened a livery stable, and was a part owner of the Sequoyah Hotel. In 1898 he put his young son Will in charge of the Rogers’ Ranch. Will renamed the ranch the “Dog Iron,” after his cattle brand, but by 1902 Will had moved on. The ranch was operated by tenant farmers, and the house fell into disrepair. By the late 1920s, Will Rogers had become an international superstar. He bought his sister’s share of the ranch and put his nephew, Herb McSpadden, in charge. The McSpadden family revived the ranch and lived in the ranch house until 1960, when the house was divided into two pieces and moved to the top of the hill where it now sits to save it from the flood waters when the Army Corps of Engineers dammed up the Verdigris River to create Oologah Lake. Since that time, the Rogers’ ranch house has been open to the public as a historic site so visitors from all over the world can visit the birthplace of Will Rogers.

Contributed by Jacob Krumwiede, Assistant Director, Will Rogers Memorial Museums



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Hunter’s Home

Hunters HomeOne of the 2018 ALHFAM conference highlights will be a visit to George and Minerva Murrell’s 19th-century plantation mansion, “Hunter’s Home.” Sturdily constructed in Greek Revival style, the mansion is located in Park Hill, Oklahoma, just outside of Tahlequah.


George Murrell

George Murrell, a white man born to a prominent Virginia family, moved to Tennessee in the early 1800s, where he met his future wife, Minerva, daughter of Cherokee treasurer Lewis Ross and niece of Chief John Ross. After their marriage, George and Minerva settled in Tennessee but were forced to relocate with the signing of the Indian Removal Act. The couple traveled with the rest of Minerva’s family to Park Hill, Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, where they settled among the other wealthy families of the Nation. This area, rich in culture and society, came to be known as the Athens of Indian Territory.


Minerva Ross Murrell

It was here that George built his wife a mansion, which they named “Hunter’s Home.” George claimed 800 acres in Park Hill and established a plantation that featured the mansion, a spring house built over a cold spring, a large walnut barn, smokehouse, grist mill, corn crib, and nine cabins that served as homes for the enslaved people who worked the plantation. Murrell also maintained a mercantile establishment on the property for the first part of the 1840s.


Minerva contracted malaria in 1850 and passed away from complications in 1855. This not only left George without his beloved wife, but it also left him without a connection to the Cherokee Nation. In 1856 George inherited “Tally Ho,” a sugar plantation in Bayou Goula, Louisiana, and in 1857 he married Minerva’s younger sister, Amanda.


Amanda Ross Murrell

Once wed, George and Amanda began to winter in Louisiana and summer at “Hunter’s Home.” When the Civil War began, George went to Virginia to help raise a militia to fight for the Confederacy. Amanda followed a year later with their ten-month-old son, leaving her aunt Eliza and her cousin Eliza Jane to care for the property.


During the Civil War, the house was raided many times by both Union and Confederate troops. After the war the Murrells never returned to live in Indian Territory. Various Ross family members lived in the home over the years. When individual allotment of land was forced on the Cherokees, the house and some of the property were allotted to Lula Bruce, a family member. In 1912 Lula sold the property, and it passed out of the Ross family. The home fell into disrepair. In 1948 the State of Oklahoma purchased the property. The first curator hired for the site was Jennie Ross Cobb, who had lived in the home as a young girl in the 1890s and early 1900s. Jennie brought with her photographs she had taken while she lived there. Using those photographs, and with the help of other family members, Jennie began to gather many of the original furnishings, letters, and other materials that were in the home when the Murrells lived there.

Written by Jennifer Frazee, Hunter’s Home Interpreter

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ALHFAM 2018 Annual Meeting & Conference Fellowships

The application for fellowships to attend the 2018 ALHFAM Annual Meeting & Conference in Tahlequah, OK, June 1-5, 2018, is now available.

Fellowships are awarded to individual members who have not previously received a fellowship, and those who have not attended an ALHFAM annual conference are especially encouraged to apply.

Fellowships included full conference registration ($400) plus $300 towards travel or lodging expenses.

Applications are due on or before March 15, 2018, and recipients will be notified by April 1, 2018.

A link to the fellowship application can be found here:

If you have any questions, please contact Alisa Crawford, chair of the Fellowship Committee. Her contact information is on the application form.

We look forward to seeing you in June!

Martha Katz-Hyman
ALHFAM Communications Manager

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Walking the Talk

by James Macklen

Living history museums are great places to visit to see different lifestyles. We need to show our support as we are able. One of the best ways to show support is to incorporate some of the newly-discovered practices in our homes. That’s what I do on my farm, and antique equipment is my choice for getting work done.


I use a 1939 John Deere B with a flat belt attached to a buzz rig to process limb wood. It’s easier on my back to move along because I can stand up. While others are going to a gym to exercise, jumping from machine to machine and staring at a wall, I’m outdoors enjoying the scenery and sun. At the end of the day, it’s plain who’s had the greater overall benefit, especially when you consider that sometimes neighbors stop by to visit and lend a hand. Even kids can enjoy stacking wood when it’s a group effort. Suddenly, buzzing wood turns therapeutic for everyone. And even if no one comes, the simple joy of “thought” beats a cell phone conversation any day.

For haying, I match tractors to certain implements for maximum performance. For example, a John Deere 2630 is used to mow, a 1946 John Deere A to rake, and a 1964 John Deere 3020 to bale hay. I put up over 3,000 bales, and while there are others who put up way more, it’s still enough for me to keep my eye on the weather because I want a good product and so do my customers. When figuring out if the weather will hold to make hay, I listen to the weatherman and watch the signs and rhythms of nature. There’s a lot that happens right there in front of our eyes if we take the time to experience what nature tries to teach us.

Be prepared if you are successful with any new practice; it makes you hungry for another and another, and on it goes! Now is a good time to get started while antique equipment is being sold for a fraction of what it’s worth. We need to keep these valuable practices alive. Often, they don’t take any more time than the “labor saving devices” that are thrown in our faces every day.

James Macklen is a 2010 graduate of SUNY Cobleskill having majored in Diesel Mechanics.  He works full time as a diesel mechanic for Porter-Dale Farms and is the owner of a 100 acre farm, North 40 Clover  

Posted in Agricultural Museum, ALHFAM, Farm Museum, Historic Agriculture, Historic Farming, Living History | 1 Comment

Cherokee National Treasures to Teach ALHFAM Conference Workshops

The 2018 Program Committee has been busy lining up some special workshops for the conference in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Three workshops will be taught by Cherokee National Treasures. National Treasures are Cherokee Nation citizens who have been recognized for their exceptional knowledge of Cherokee art forms and cultural practices.

Workshops will include:

Cherokee Basketry

A historical overview of round reed or “root runner” basketry will accompany the class on basket making.  After the Cherokee Removal, round reed baskets made from honeysuckle and buckbrush plants gained popularity. Students will make a typical Cherokee double-walled basket of commercial reed.


The art of twining bags with color designs is an old style of Cherokee textile weaving.  A short historical overview will be given.  Students will make a small bag and strap using the twining technique.


A brief history of Cherokee arrowhead making and use of aboriginal and modern tools will be taught.  Participants will keep modern tools.


Participants will make Cherokee moccasins, also known as pucker toe moccasins. A short historical overview, shoe measurements, and construction will be taught. Each participant will make a make a pair of deerskin moccasins.

Each of these workshops will have a limited enrollment so be sure to sign-up early.

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Accommodations for the 2018 Conference

Cobb Hall

Lodging accommodations for the 2018 conference will be in Cobb Hall on the campus of Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Like me I know many of you left your college dorm days in the distant past, but Cobb Hall is nothing like my dorm experience. The dorm first opened for students in 2016. Each room has its own vanity area and two rooms share a separate shower and toilet area. Each room has a small refrigerator and microwave, but we promise to feed you enough so that the microwave is not really needed.

new hall room layout

Cobb Hall is named for Isabel Cobb (1858-1947), the first woman physician in Indian Territory. Cobb attended the Cherokee Female Seminary in Tahlequah graduating in 1879. After continuing her education at Glendale Female College in Glendale, Ohio, Cobb returned to teach at the seminary from 1882 until it burned in 1887. She entered Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1888 receiving her medical degree in 1892. Cobb returned to the Cherokee Nation in 1893 to practice medicine. Working from a farmhouse on the family homestead, “Dr. Belle” primarily cared for women and children.

Find out more about Dr. Cobb at

A hotel option will be offered but nothing can be more convenient than Cobb Hall. It is a short walk (really I promise) from the dorm to the University Center where sessions, meals, the auction, and the presidential banquet will be held—all in the same building.

If you are a vendor make plans to set-up a booth in the vendor area. We have a lockable room so no there will be no need to pack up your wares at the end of the day.

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