Ray and the boys visit Oklahoma

This series of photos come from the photo album my father-in-law kept while he was in the Air Force. I don’t know exactly where he was stationed, but at some point, he and his friends were in Oklahoma. While there, they visited the Will Rogers Memorial Museum and Birthplace Ranch. Will Rogers was a pioneer of vaudeville and early Hollywood, gaining fame first as a trick roper, and later as a humorist. He had intended to retire to Claremore, OK with his wife and family, and had purchased a large piece of property there. After his death in a plane crash in 1935, it was decided that a memorial would be created. During the Great Depression, raising funds was difficult, but people gave pennies, nickels and dimes to help fund the purchase of the land and set aside funding to build the museum. After the state of Oklahoma set aside funds to supplement the grass roots campaign, the museum was finally built in 1938.

These two photos were taken in front of the original location of this statue. It is a casting of the “Riding Into The Sunset” statue (sometimes called Will Rogers and Soapsuds) made by his friend Amon G Carter. The original is located in Fort Worth, Texas at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. There are two other castings of the statue, located in Dallas and Lubbock. The statue was moved later to a location near the tomb of Will Rogers and his family. I can’t nail down a date of when it was moved, but I know for sure it was after Ray visited, so after 1953. The new location also added a high pedestal under the statue, likely to prevent people from climbing on it.

This picture shows the sunken tomb where Will Rogers, his wife and several family members are buried. Though Rogers was originally interred in California, his body was moved in 1944.

This unnamed friend of Ray’s posed in front of the sign with the name Rogers on it. Will Rogers is a famous name that most people today will not really be able to associate with anyone other than someone from the old days. I myself did not know he had been more of a vaudeville name than a early Westerns movie name. I encourage you to learn more about Will Rogers, including his Cherokee lineage. He was a really interesting person.


Cemetery Visits by Intense Guy

Site visitor Intense Guy lives near where our latest family lived and died, and recently visited two cemeteries seeking their final resting places. His story is a testament to genealogy and how powerful these old photographs can be for later generations. Read on, courtesy of Iggy:

I drove to the old Zion Presbyterian Church were William L. Mearns is buried and … it was quite an experience.  The cemetery is quite small – only about 20 graves wide by about 10 rows – In the first row to the right of the entrance gate is William L. Mearn’s beautiful grave stone.  I’ve been researching him long enough that somehow I felt like I “knew” him.  The arrangement of the graves is interesting. From left to right:

Emma Fulton Mearns – Samuel J. Mearns – William L Mearns – Amy T. Rittenhouse Mearns … with Amy on the end of the row


In the second row to the right – Sarah Rittenhouse, wife of Jeremiah Rittenhouse (Amy’s father), Jeremiah Rittenhouse, Benjamin Rittenhouse, David Rittenhouse, some space, and then Gertrude Rittenhouse Roberson and her Dr. husband.

In the row behind right behind Gertrude is Sylvester Bowlsby and his wife.  In this row are all the Lair’s (they were related to William via the Rittenhouses I think)


I took a bunch of pictures.

I then drove to a cemetery about 1/2 mile away in “Brick Meeting House” and pulled in. When I opened the car door, the gravestone immediately outside was Mr. and Mrs. Rutledge T. Gifford.  About three graves away was Annie Chandlee and her husband.  Emma Chandlee and her unmarried sister were a couple graves further down the row.  I found a bunch of Scarboroughs too.

Thanks for putting up with me and my “obsession”.  I felt like these people were trying to talk to me – but I can’t understand what they are saying.

Between the photos and the graves, these people somehow become more real, don’t you think? Click on the photos for a larger image. Iggy, as always, thank you for your deep interest in this family and your fantastic research skills. Hopefully we will find someone who loves these pillars of the late Victorian middle class as much as we do!

%d bloggers like this: