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Living History: The Murrell Home in Oklahoma


    This past weekend, my daughter and I set off on a gorgeous late spring morning, just after torrential rains and window-shaking thunderstorms the night before. The storms had brought in cooler temperatures, which get fewer and farther between as we head toward summer out here in Oklahoma.
   We were headed toward The Murrell Home in Park Hill, OK, just outside of Tahlequah. It was a place I'd read about that sounded very intriguing, but I wasnt prepared for such a gorgeous house in breath-taking grounds. Here, in the woodlands of Oklahoma of all places, was a wonderfully restored antebellum home, built just after the Trail of Tears in the 1840s. It is the only remaining home from this time period in Oklahoma. And I was in love with it from the get-go.


    The story of this house is so intriguing, and it no small feat that it still stands today. It was built by merchant George M. Murrell, who had married Minerva, the niece of Principal Chief John Ross of the Cherokee Nation. The ancestral lands of the Cherokee were in the southern states, and George, a native Virginian, met the Ross family in Tennessee when he started working for Lewis Ross.
   In quite the shocking turn of events, George ran off with Lewis Ross's 15 year old daughter Minerva and got married. It seemed to have worked out alright though, because Murrell was welcomed into the prestigious Ross clan as a son. And when government pressures led to the forced removal of the Cherokees from their ancestral land, the Murrells joined their Ross family members and made the arduous and often deadly trip to Indian Territory to start a new life. This trek has now become known as The Trail of Tears.

     The Murrell and Ross families settled in the small community of Park Hill, near modern day Tahlequah, living first in a log cabin by the creek, and then building their gorgeous Greek Revival Plantation home. The Murrells, having originated in Virginia, were slave owners, and some Cherokee families also owned slaves. Slave labor was used to create the home and outbuildings and running of the household. It's hard to imagine how a marginalized people could marginalize others, but that is an uncomfortable part of history that cannot be ignored. We must learn from it.
   And while the Murrells, with their general store business and connection to the Ross family were affluent in their time in place, their high rank in society couldnt prevent Minerva from contracting Malaria, which she battled for several years until succumbing to fever. A couple of years later, George Murrell married Minerva's younger sister, Amanda, and together they had 6 children.


   The plantation thrived through the next two decades, but then the entire area of northeastern Indian Territory was ravaged by the Civil War. Union and Confederate soldiers both rampaged and looted the area, burning or destroying many of the homes and buildings of the settlers, including the home of Chief John Ross. Somehow the Murrell's Home, called Hunter's Home because George liked to indulge in English style fox hunts on the grounds, survived.
   The Murrells left the territory for the duration of the war, leaving it in the care of Ross family members. After the war they did not return to live there full time, preferring to stay in other family homes in Virginia and Louisiana. However, the Indian Territory house remained in Ross family hands into statehood. The home passed through a series of owners from 1912 to 1948, when it was bought by the state of Oklahoma and opened as a museum in the 1950s. The first curator of the museum was Jennie Ross Cobb, who had lived in the house as a child, and remembered the decor and furniture of the home from childhood. Because of her efforts and expertise, about 80% of the furnishings in the home are original to the home, having been gathered back from Ross family members to return to the house.



   There is a gorgeous working garden in the back yard, and you can buy the produce freshly picked from it. There is a smokehouse on the property build in the 1890s, a spring house right on the bank of the creek, and smaller log outbuilding on the grounds.
  It is a beautiful living history museum, and I was excited to hear that they have living history events every third saturday. This saturday they were making corn husk dolls, and Audrey was able to make one of her own. There were also chickens, baby turkeys and an accommodating cat on the grounds, all of which Audrey had to fawn and fuss over. I think she loved it just as much as I did! I cant wait to go back to visit. You can check their website for more coming events. I am anxious for the fall when they'll have an antique farming event and also ghost story tours near halloween.


 
   After our self guided tour of the house (no pics inside, sorry to say!) and petting all the animals and exploring the grounds, we headed back towards home. If you're a lover of history, classic architecture, heirloom gardening, or just gorgeous places in general, The Murrell Home is a wonderful place to visit!
   Perhaps I'll see you there?

Folk Art Landscapes



    Some of my most recent folk art pieces are these fun 12x12" landscape pieces, made just in time for the warm summer months. I had so much fun painting these iconic American themes--- and was inspired to paint one focusing on the ocean and New England island life, and another an old fashioned farm homestead.

  They are both currently in my etsy shop, and looking for a good home!
Hope you're having a wonderful weekend,
~H

Postcards from Little House On The Prairie


     For the past week or so we've been listening to the Little House on the Prairie series on CD while we're in the car. And since we are just finishing our first year of home learning, we decided to take advantage of our flexible schedule. On Mother's Day Evening, as we came to the end of Little House on the Prairie, I asked the kids "What do you say we go visit the Little House site in Kansas tomorrow?" Well, of course the answer was yes! And off we went on a sunny prairie morning to see where Ma, Pa, Mary, Laura and Baby Carrie lived so very long ago...



    I've been a fan of the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder since I was just about Audrey's age when the school librarian handed me a beat up copy of Little House on the Prairie that was about to be thrown out. It was dog eared and crumbling even then. But I fell in love.
   Like much of the best classic kids lit, its still good to adult ears, and I'll admit, has been a bit of a salve to my worried mama heart. Awful news seems to hurling at us left and right in the world, our country, and even on the local level. It's kept me up at night with worry, and its made me fret over the state of the world in which I'm raising my children in.
   Funnily enough though, I've taken to heart Laura's lessons, most of which come from Ma, in which happiness is a state of mind. "What must be done is best done cheerfully," Ma tells us in her quiet, stoic way. She is a perfect example of how a  hopeful attitude and thankfulness for the blessings we have can help us overcome the greatest odds.
  And so as we roamed around this Little House site, which was green and fresh and gorgeous on this bright May day, I felt happy and optimistic.  It was interesting to think how such comfort could come from the writings of the child that had roamed there so very many years ago.





   On the grounds of the site is a little post office and an old school building that have moved there to be enjoyed by the public. I loved seeing all the old things, and being reminded of how simple and homespun prairie life was. And ironically, since we've joined a home school co-op, our learning environment has a lot more in common with how the Ingalls girls were learning in 'the olden days.'

   We came away from the Little House site inspired and hopeful, and with some pride in our prairie landscape.  There is beauty out here, and I can relate better to my own prairie dwelling ancestors who settled not so very far from this place. And I also am so glad to be hearing stories of hope and adventure, light and family. There is too much darkness in this world. Too many stories being stripped of their hope (ahem, looking at you, awful Anne of Green Gables remake!) to languish in despair, and that's simply no way to live.

  And, after all, if there's one thing that the prairie has in abundance, it's light....


Wishing you love, light and hope, from my prairie home to yours....
~H

"Eliza's Knitting" Now available as prints!


   Hi there, friends! Just popping in to let you know that I have PRINTS of my latest painting, Eliza's Knitting, now available in my Etsy shop! You can get this image as an 8x10" or deluxe 11x14" print with the name of the painting on the bottom (see image above). Im really pleased with how they came out and am looking forward to painting more colonial crafters!
And can you believe it, it's Friday! Nearly the weekend! Its a gray and wet morning here, since we have overnight thunderstorms. The birds are singing though and all the animals are fed. And the baby is still asleep so--- so far, so good!
  Hope you have a wonderful weekend and Mother's Day! I've got plenty of art in the etsy shop if you're needing a treat for a special mama (or yourself!)
  talk more later--
H

Tasha Tuesday: Handcrafting:: Antiques:: and New Art


   This weekend I got the chance to indulge my inner-Tasha Tudor and create beautiful thing among amazing antiques. How lucky was I, to get to set up on the porch at Blue Heron with my spinning wheel and spin in the shade, with so many gorgeous old things nearby.
  I have such a weakness for antiques, especially the Early American pieces. Their colors are so rich and deep, although they've seen centuries of wear. There's nothing better than a piece that is worn smooth from being handled for decades. And Blue Heron is definitely the only place in Oklahoma where you can feel a little bit like Tasha, surrounded by old beautiful things.
    We finally had a weekend that wasn't cold and wet-- if you can believe it. It was a proper prairie spring day on Saturday, with clear blue skies and lots of sun. But it was lovely in the shade, and I've been spinning up some lush white wool.

  I've been thinking lately about Tasha and how she had so many hobbies, but she was able to stay focused on her work and not get sidetracked into "maybe I should try adding this or that to my business...." and lose her artistic focus. That's something that I've really taken to heart as of late, as I try to renew my focus on art and not go in a thousand different directions.
  What she was so good at was indulging her interests, and then using them to make her art even more amazing. That is a lesson I think is worth learning for me now, as time has become so precious as the kids get older, and we have committed to homeschooling for the foreseeable future. I need to use my many hobbies and interests to make my own art more interesting and true. Yet another lesson learned from my favorite artist!


   And while I've been trying to be more intentional with my time, I am allowing myself to have fun just for the sake of--- fun! I am still working on this rug hooking project of a tulip and heart design on linen. I had seen a design similar to it on pinterest and so I sketched it out on some linen and I'm still plugging away at it--- I think next time I wont make a piece that's so large. I'm also trying to decide how I'd like to finish it;; should I bind off the edges like a proper rug, or sew it with a calico back and stuff it to be a pillow?

   Perhaps most exciting of all of my projects is this new painting that I just finished called "Eliza's Knitting." Taking Tasha's lead and combining my own interests to make interesting art, I've made a colonial girl sitting at a window knitting! I've decided to do a whole series called "Colonial Crafters", depicting people doing all sorts of crafts. I've already started my second one....any suggestions for crafts you'd like to see painted?

   The original painting is currently for sale in my etsy shop--- I'm so happy with how it came out! A few months ago I found a book about decorating in the Colonial Williamsburg style at Good Will and it had a lot of good fabric swatch examples; using those as inspiration, I created the floral curtain panel and the simple red calico pattern of her dress. I am fond of red. And salt box houses! This piece has more of a New England lanscape, but my next piece will definitely have more of a Williamsburg flair.

  And so...that's what I've been working on these past few days! So much of it is always a work in progress. But I'm happy to have the painting ready to go! I've also got some requests to send prints to a lovely little shop in Eureka Springs and I'm so very excited about it! More on that soon....

Til next time, Craft On!~
And Happy Tasha Tuesday!~
~H

This post is part of the "Craft On" series hosted by Frontier Dreams. Visit her blog to see more of the posts from this week's crafters!

Prim Open House & June Painting Class!


   The ladies at Blue Heron Antiques in Jenks, OK have been very busy getting their beautiful shop ready for the spring open house, and I am thrilled to say that some of my art is in the mix! Just this afternoon I dropped off a few more original pieces to sell in the open house, which is this coming Friday and Saturday (May 5 and 6) from 10 am-5 pm.

   If you're near northeastern Oklahoma and love early American style, this shop is something you must see for yourself. Along with amazing early antiques (you wont see anything like their pieces anywhere else in Oklahoma!) they also have art, candles, handmade soaps and sewn items. I'm very eager to back and see it all on the first day of the open house! Here are a few sneak peeks while we wait though:




   Looks like we'll have gorgeous, sunny weather for this open house too, so it will be the perfect time to shop and find some kindred spirits out here on the prairie! It seems like each time I visit the shop I meet someone knew who loves the same 'old timey things' that I do. And everyone knows who Tasha Tudor is! It's just a magical place! :D

  I am also excited to announce I'm offering my FIRST workshop out in the studio this summer--- create your OWN 4x4" folk art square house painting out in my 100 year old carriage house. We'll paint and laugh and carry on ;) it should be a lot of fun! Email me if you're interested Im keeping the class small for starting, and so that we all have lots of room to work and get the attention needed. Email me if you're interested!

   Well, I will have more to share with you soon! Thanks so much for stopping by!~
H

Crafting On: Yarn and Barn Yard

    It's a funny little piece of spring here--- the roses have bloomed, but it keeps turning stormy and cold. These pretty climbing roses ( a hearty yellow climber from the feed store and a cherished David Austin Rose called 'Strawberry Hill) seem to have done alright though....they're on the east facing wall of the studio, and so are protected by 101 year old brick work from the squalls that run in from the west.


  Spring is, perhaps, the prettiest time here (aside from an odd autumn here in there if the summer hasnt been too brutal and worn out the trees before they can glow with fall color.) April in Oklahoma will lull you into thinking this is an impossibly lush, green place. It's probably when most settlers came and said "oh, what a lovely place! Let's stay!" and then weren't they surprised when July and August rolled around ;).......


   Currently we've been having the best time with the newest addition to our little 'urban homestead'....we got a new baby rabbit and a young chicken. Some wires must have gotten crossed because now the chicken just wants to be with the rabbits (she thinks the hens are too much drama) it's hilarious.

   Aside from animal husbandry though, I've been spinning and making new yarn, and am in the midst of 'circling the wagons' as they say. Im trying to simplify my life and commitments, get myself focused and a little replenished. Which is so hard to do, isnt it? Because it often involves saying no to people and feeling like you're being selfish for guarding your time and energy. But sometimes...you just gotta!


   Something fun we are planning around here is a monthly 'tea and craft' date, I'm thinking perhaps the last saturday of each month. We're getting together this coming Saturday with lunch at The Burnett Mansion at 11 am and the coming back to my studio to craft from 1-5. Anyone is welcome to come, and if it better suits your schedule to come sometime in the afternoon, drop ins are welcome! The studio is at 120 E McKinley in Sapulpa, OK. Let me know if you'd like to come!

  And because this is a little bit about crafting and crafting already done (I just finished those skeins above that are white and pink, which get their pink from madder root dye!) I'll add this to the Keep Calm and Craft On round up! Visit Frontier Dreams to see more!

thanks so much for coming by--- what are you up to with your crafts and projects?
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