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19th century comes to state with new living history program

Starting Saturday, the Oklahoma Historical Society will present a dramatic new living history program at the George M. Murrell Home in Park Hill, displaying for visitors how 19th-century Oklahomans operated plantations and all the work that was required for residents.

Murrell Home visitors will see people performing tasks such as gardening, planting, tending, harvesting, animal driving, shepherding, laundry and cooking. This is just one of a series of Oklahoma Historical Society living history programs, including Devon Energy Oil and Gas Park programs, the Fort Washita Rendezvous, the re-enactment of the Civil War battle at Honey Springs Battlefield and numerous others each year.

"Living history programs have helped OHS provide visitors with dramatic ways to understand and enjoy how Oklahomans pioneered ways to live," said Bob Blackburn, executive director of the society. "Living history also demonstrates how they fought in military events and developed industries, cities and towns."

The Murrell Home interior has been restored over the years to its antebellum glory by the society, said Jennifer Frazee, historical interpreter of the home. Now, after touring the house, visitors can step off the back porch and see a smokehouse and learn the processes used to preserve meats for a large group of people, she said.

"Then they can wander into the kitchen garden that the staff researched, built and now maintains," Frazee said. "The staff demonstrates 19th-century gardening practices, harvesting and preservation. A visitor may see a gardener planting, tending and harvesting, or gathering seeds for next year."

Visitors will learn how water was supplied and food was stored. The staff also has established plantation field crops, including oats, sorghum and corn. In addition, the society staff has started to develop a program to demonstrate the uses of animals on a plantation.

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