Generally speaking, people have two images of Oklahoma fixed in their minds. There is the “Grapes of Wrath, Dust Bowl fleeing, Okies in a model T” image or the “Indian teepees and buffalo on a barren plain” image. These stereotypical images have little to do with actual reality. I always find it interesting when Oklahoma receives attention on a national level because these two perceptions tend to pop up fairly regularly. You could say Oklahoma has a bit of an image problem.
So it was particularly gratifying to see Oklahoma honored at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference this past September. The Society has created a new award for travel and tourism related to family history and the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation was chosen along with the Allen County Public Library as the first recipients of the award. Pretty exalted company! For a state that regularly competes with Mississippi for the bottom two spots in just about any national ranking (except college football), it feels really good to find ourselves on the cutting edge of something.
The website is beautiful and packed with great information. For my home county, Osage County, there links to places such as this one:
Osage Tribal Museum, Library and Archives in Pawhuska
There is also courthouse information, cemetery listings, even ghost towns! And being primarily a tourism site, there are links to interesting and fun places to visit. I highly recommend the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve where you can see things like this:
So okay…we do still have some buffalo on a prairie. But this is about the only place in Oklahoma that actually fits that stereotype. The tallgrass prairie is a beautiful spot, especially in the springtime. The buffalo herds roam the Preserve much like they did back before they were hunted almost to extinction. Consequently, sometimes you can get up close and personal with them, but other times they are nowhere to be found, at least in the vicinity of the road. Side note: also in the area is the ranch belonging to the family of the famous blogger Pioneer Woman a.k.a Ree Drummond.
But you’re more likely to see the buffalo.
Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Nancy Shively of Skiatook, OK. Read all her posts at Family Tree University.
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