By: Macy Goodnight | Category: Rogers County | Issue: June 2021
Catoosa Historical Society Board and Volunteers, (left to right) Kayce Nelson, Beverly Kiger, Marcella Pense, Marilyn Pasco, Evelyn Martin, and Teresa McAfee-O’Donnell
Oklahoman’s are no strangers to outlaw history, with legends and tales of a bygone era romanticized in story and song. The Catoosa Historical Society and Museum is excited to share WANTED: Dead or Alive – Oklahoma’s Legendary Outlaws, an exhibit of the state’s most infamous criminals from before Statehood, through the late 1950s.
This thrilling event will be held at the Catoosa Historical Museum, 217 S. Cherokee Street, beginning June 7 through Aug. 9, 2021, on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays (excluding July 3), from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is FREE. Visitors will experience a photographic journey through time, in an exhibit comprised of images of some of the state’s most famous criminals, drawn directly from the records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the University of Oklahoma Western History Collections, the National Archives, Oklahoma Historical Society archives, and private lenders. Mugshots, crime scene locations, and more can be viewed in a timeline spanning over 70 years of history.
Some familiar names will be recognized, such as The Doolin and Dalton Gangs, Ma Barker and more. Belle Starr and Blue Duck will be also be traveling with this amazing exhibit. Blue Duck was convicted of murder in Ft. Smith and was almost hung. His sentence was commuted, and he died at home of poor health. He is buried at a local cemetery in Catoosa.
Many outlaws reputedly passed through town during its primetime. In 1882, Catoosa was the farthest point west that the railroad went, and it was a large, thriving community. According to local historians, a 1937 newspaper account of the town’s history records the late 1800s Catoosa as “a lawless, godless, hell-roaring Cowtown…the worst in Indian Territory.” Sometimes the stories are not as much about the location as they are the individual,” said Catoosa Historical Society President, Teresa McAfee-O’Donnell. “Although many of the stories feature despicable characters, others tell of people whose lives went temporarily astray.”
Museum and Museum complex.
“We chose the outlaw exhibit because it is interesting and has ties to our local history. The outlaw known as Blue Duck is buried in Catoosa’s Dick Duck cemetery that is down the street,” stated Kayce Nelson, CHS Vice President. “We want to attract people to the community and to the museum, we think this exhibit is something people will come see.”
Catoosa’s history is vast, in that there are so many stories to tell. The Historical Museum is an engaging interpretation of the community’s past and resilience. Teresa’s mother, Georgia E. McAfee, was committed to honoring the lives that built the foundation of the town, and she is recognized as being instrumental in the establishment of the Catoosa Historical Society, as well as her vision for the museum complex, which was built under her leadership and direction. The main building of the complex is an exact replica of their original train depot, built to its exact specifications. A recent addition of a replica post office, exactly as it was in the early days, was built in memory of Georgia, under the guidance of her family and funded by her husband. The Post Office replica building was built to match the original floor plan, but was enlarged slightly to provide space for the museum displays and previous Postmaster and mail courier, Newt Foster’s Model A. Teresa is committed to carrying on her mother’s legacy. It was her mother’s dream that it would be built someday, and it will be the site for the Outlaw exhibit in the coming months.
For more information, follow them on Facebook @catoosahistory, or call (918) 266-3296.
1931 Model A Ford, Original Post Masters Car, belonged to Newton M. Foster.
Georgia E. McAfee (1945-2019), was committed to honoring the lives that built the foundation of the town, and she is recognized as being instrumental in the establishment of the Catoosa Historical Society, as well as her vision for the museum complex, which was built under her leadership and direction.
217 S. Cherokee Street | Catoosa, OK
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