Eric Standridge is a freelance writer with an interest in history. His main focus is writing about Oklahoma.
Life on the Rugged Plains
In the late 1800s, pioneers began to trickle into what would later become the state of Oklahoma. They were a group of brave individuals who carved out homes and settlements on the western frontier, searching for a brighter future or running from their past. Enduring harsh summers and cold winters, these early settlers learned to live without modern conveniences like electricity and plumbing. Their rugged determination led the way for others, and they established churches, schools, post offices, and doctor’s offices with very few resources and a lot of hard work.
Early life in Oklahoma was not easy. Most of these early settlers started out with only an uncultivated piece of land. At times, entire families would be brought to settle in Oklahoma. It was typical for these families to settle near other Oklahoma settlers in order to share resources. At first, the families would construct a one or two room house made of rough wood and packed with clay to keep the inside dry. Then the harsh work of clearing the ground and planting crops would begin.
Life on the farm was not suitable for every settler. Early entrepreneurs would set up trading posts nearby large groups of families in order to make a living. As more people arrived in the area, these trading posts soon became the center of a new town. Many of these early towns are still evident in modern Oklahoma, as they became the main streets and downtowns of most modern cities.
In 1994, in honor of those brave Oklahoma Settlers that have gone before them Marilyn Moore Tate and her husband, Kenneth, began the construction of Prairie Song.
History Behind the Museum
The past is vividly alive at this recreated 1800s pioneer village museum. The museum is Tucked away in the rolling hills of Washington and Nowata counties, near Dewey, Oklahoma. Hidden from the view of passersby, Prairie Song is an authentically constructed 1800s pioneer settlement.
The ranch on which Prairie Song is located has a long and colorful history. It was founded in the late 1800's on almost 30 sections of land by W. S. Moore.
W.S. Moore was a life-long cattleman. Before statehood, cattle was the largest business in Oklahoma. He quickly earned a strong reputation, and people from all around came to purchase cows and horses raised on the ranch.
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During the time that W. S. Moore owned the ranch, movie star cowboys Tom Mix and Will Rogers both worked on the Horseshoe L Ranch, as it was then known.
When W. S. Moore died, his son, Sherman Monsieur Moore, inherited the ranch. Moore never bread and raised his horses for sale purposes. However, his horses were often sought out by the public, including quite a few professional rodeo cowboys.
W.S. Moore was among the founders of the American Quarter Horse Association. During that time, he originated a quarter horse show in Dewey that continued for more than 26 years – the largest show of its kind in the world. Moore also succeeded in his banking and oil producing endeavors.
When Sherman Monsieur Moore died in 1994, his daughter, Marilyn Moore Tate and her husband, Kenneth, began the construction of Prairie Song.
A Frontier Village Museum
In true pioneer fashion. Kenneth Tate used no blueprints or computers when building Prairie Song. Most of the buildings have been personally constructed by Kenneth with the help of just a few other individuals. His outstanding craftsmanship, accompanied by Marilyn's meticulous attention to detail in selecting antique furnishings, has resulted in a beautiful, unique labor of love.
They honor their families and the cowboy cultural heritage with this collection of buildings on land homesteaded by Marilyn's grandfather in the early 1890s. All of the buildings are fully outfitted with period articles, exemplifying in detail how early Oklahoman Pioneers would have lived. Each structure was built with hand-hewn Arkansas 'bull pine' and Missouri red and white oak, exactly in the same fashion and with the same tools that Pioneers would have used. This village is about as close as one can come to visiting the late 1800's without traveling back in time.
A complete listing of buildings located within the Prairie Song ranch include: A log schoolhouse, a pioneer bank, general and hardware stores, a blacksmith shop, a schoolhouse and school-marm’s residence, an authentic homestead cabin, a cowboy line shack, a covered bridge, a post office, a doctor’s office, a rock jailhouse, a two-story saloon (complete with brothel upstairs), a trading post, a railroad depot, a small chapel that is lighted only by lantern and natural light from its stained glass windows, a smokehouse, wash shed, dance hall, mule barn, blacksmith shop, and water tower.
In each of these buildings, one can occasionally find amusing tidbits about the wild west. In one brothel, there is a sign that reads, "Remove spurs before getting in bed."
Prairie Song has been restocked with Texas longhorns, the original breed of cattle which were driven up the trail by Marilyn's grandfather from Texas to the Moore Ranch. This lifelike replica of a pioneer village stands in the midst of an authentic working ranch from the late 1800’s and shows life, work and play as it was in those days.
Prairie Song Location
Prairie Song Official Website
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© 2010 Eric Standridge