As a nonprofit organization, the Western Oklahoma Historical Society concentrates its efforts on preserving artifacts related to western Oklahoma and promoting interest in the study and research of the area. The organization concentrates on all of western Oklahoma but specifically on Beckham and Roger Mills Counties. The National Route 66 Museum and Old Town Museum complex is the largest history museum in western Oklahoma, and as such, much of the Society’s work focuses on that. Over the years, the Western Oklahoma Historical Society has helped to fund several additions to the museum including the Farm and Ranch Museum, the Blacksmith Shop, the General Store, and the Education Building.
In addition, WOHS hosts an annual flea market in Ackley Park the first weekend of October and an ongoing art show in the Education Building featuring western Oklahoma artists. Each year, the Society also honors individuals from western Oklahoma who have made significant contributions to the area by inducting them into the Western Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
The Western Oklahoma Historical Society (WOHS) strives to perpetuate the history, study, and appreciation of western Oklahoma. The purpose of the WOHS is to collect and preserve artifacts, objects, publications, photographs or other materials related to western Oklahoma and to disseminate historical information to the community through exhibits, educational programs, and events.
The history of the Western Oklahoma Historical Society is intertwined with the creation of the Old Town Museum. In 1965, the city of Elk City, using a $25,000 bond and $10,000 in donations, purchased a 6,000 square foot building belonging to Martin Funeral Home along with the land it resided on at the corner of Third Street and Pioneer Road. A new foundation was poured, and using items donated by area residents, the house was furnished to resemble life in 1907. Named the Old Town Museum, the house was opened to the public.
Shortly after the establishment of the Old Town Museum, several forward-thinking community leaders created the Western Oklahoma Historical Society to provide ongoing support with Arthur McComas as president; Pat Baker, vice president; and Dean Peninger, treasurer. Board members were Paul Peeler, Jr; Glen Kelly; Bess Thornton; L. V. Baker, Jr.; Gene Grubitz, Jr.; Addeline Royse; Larry Wade; Mrs. Walter Blackburn; Velma Dobler; Mrs. J. P. Thurmond; Vera Gibbs; and Raymond McVeigh. The WOHS disbanded once the museum was running smoothly but re-emerged as a museum support group in 1972 with Gene Grubitz as president.
The Society’s involvement with the museum continued as it expanded with the National Route 66 Transportation Museum in 1998. Through the years the Society has had a hand in bringing the Farm and Ranch Museum, the Blacksmith Shop, the Education Building, and most recently the General Store to the museum complex.
The Western Oklahoma Historical Society expanded its activities to include the annual flea market and the Western Oklahoma Hall of Fame. The Society has also published three books about the history of western Oklahoma: Prairie Fire: a Pioneer History of Western Oklahoma, Prairie Wedding, and Elk City Rising from the Prairie. The books are compilations of the history of the area along with the stories of local families.
The Western Oklahoma Historical Society continues its relevancy with the establishment of website and the digital preservation of historic documents and photographs.
WOHS Board meets the fourth Monday of the month at 11:00 a.m. at Western Technology Center, 301 Western Dr., Elk City, Oklahoma
|Mike Blevins||1st Vice President||-|
|Doug Haught||2nd Vice President||-|
|Randy Haggard||Museum Commission Chair||-|
|Farm & Ranch Museum||Jim Coffey|
|Blacksmith Shop||Cory Spieker|
|General Store||Victor Weatherly|
|Hall of Fame||Cory Spieker|
|Flea Market||Kenneth Hart|
|Art Show||Donnie Jordan|
|C. Dale McClain||1977-1978|
|Rev. Roy Rowlan||1992-1993|