2015 YouthWorks adopts Historical Society Museum, Edith Layton school house

Kathryn SwanJ-C Correspondent
2015 YouthWorks adopts Historical Society Museum, Edith Layton school house

In an earlier article, I reported on a group of YouthWorks volunteers from Evansville, Indiana, who was touring the Osage County Historical Society Museum. After a week of community service work, the group was having a little R&R while exploring the rich history of Pawhuska and Osage County. Impressed with the Museum’s remarkable collection, word quickly spread about this little “jewel” of the Osage. Appreciating that the Museum was operating solely by local volunteers, YouthWorks asked if they could “adopt” the Historical Society Museum for the remainder of the summer.

Kat Call’s (YouthWorks Virginia church leader) remarks mimic those of many visitors to the newly restored historic Museum. She said, “Wow, I was here (in Pawhuska) a year ago. I asked to come back. I can’t believe how much the Museum has changed!” Call expressed her appreciation of the beautifully displayed exhibits with so many Osage County artifacts.

“YouthWorks volunteers from San Antonio, Texas, and Kansas City, Missouri, recently cleaned and restored the Edith Layton one-room school house which was originally Liberty School District #76,” said OCHS President Shirley Roberts. “Sadly, the building had fallen into disrepair from lengthy use for storage and no maintenance. Thanks to YouthWorks’ efforts, this historic school house is now ready for one-day school trips from area schools. Groups will be treated to teacher-led tours which will delve into how students were educated in Osage County one hundred years ago. Afterwards, they will be invited to visit the beautifully restored Osage County Historical Society Museum which depicts early day life of Osage County Native Americans, pioneers, cowboys, oil, military and the 1st Boy Scout Troop in America and more.”

Volunteer Museum Gift Shop Manager Mary K. Warren added, “The Museum is excited to have 20-30 YouthWorks volunteers report every Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. This will continue throughout the summer.”

Roberts said, “The origin of the Osage County Historical Society Museum is quite interesting. It began in one room of the Triangle Building in 1963 by the GFWC Heeko Club as part of a ‘Community Improvement Project.’ The Museum’s mission is to create educational opportunities for all ages by collecting, preserving and sharing materials that reflect the rich history of Osage County.”

The Museum moved into current location in 1966 when the Santa Fe RR abandoned their branch line into Osage County. GFWC Heeko donated $7,000. Renovation was made possible through additional gifts of money, labor, materials and memberships. The Museum officially opened to public on June 8, 1968. Mrs. Betty White Smith served as volunteer Director-Curator until her death in 2006. The Museum sustained extensive smoke damage from a fire on January 9, 2013, closed for renovations and re-opened in March of 2014. Since November of 2014, the Museum has been managed by a staff of dedicated volunteers.

“Warren added, “The Museum bookstore features a vast assortment of books by Osage County authors, about Osage County, the Osage people and other Native American tribes, including rare, out-of-print books. A massive book sale is now in progress and will continue through the end of July with discounts ranging from 10 to 50 percent.”

The Osage County Historical Museum is located at 700 Lynn Avenue and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information, call 918-287-9119 or visit www.osagecohistoricalmuseum.com. “You can also like us on Facebook,” said Roberts. “The Museum attracts an average of 200 visitors a month from around the world. We continue to welcome donations of photos and artifacts relating to our County’s rich history.”