Did you know...
African-American attorney and oil man J. Coody Johnson motivated many black businessmen in early-day Oklahoma to establish a Negro State Fair. Opened in 1915 in Muskogee, this event came four years later to Wewoka.
Jeanetta C. Mish
Jeanetta Calhoun Mish
In honor of Poetry Month the Seminole Nation Museum honors native Wewokan and poet Jeanetta Calhoun Mish.
Jeanetta Calhoun Mish was born in Hobart (1961) and moved to Wewoka, her mother’s hometown, in 1962 and graduated from Wewoka High School in 1979. Jeanetta is the daughter of WHS alumni Myrna Sanderson (Mathis) Teague (’58) and Bobby Joe (Compton) Calhoun (’55) and the granddaughter of Jeanette and Luther Sanderson who moved to Wewoka in 1944, following the Big Yank factory when it left Chickasha.
Jeanetta is a scholar, poet, and prose writer who started her academic career at Wewoka Head Start with Mrs. Lucille and in kindergarten with Mrs. Dunlap. Calhoun Mish has said her love of reading and writing was fostered by Wewoka teachers Mrs. Carolina, Mr. Dedmon, and Mr. Shivers. She completed her Ph.D. in American Literature at OU in 2009. Her most recent books are 'Oklahomeland: Essays' (Lamar University Press, 2015) and a poetry collection,'What I Learned at the War' (West End Press, 2016).
Mish’s 2009 poetry collection, 'Work Is Love Made Visible' won the Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (Cowboy Hall of Fame), the WILLA Award from Women Writing the West, and the Oklahoma Book Award. Mish’s chapbook, 'Tongue Tied Woman' (2002), won the national Edda Poetry Chapbook for Women contest sponsored by Soulspeak Press. Her writings have been published in several literary journals and in Oklahoma Today. Jeanetta is editor of award-winning Mongrel Empire Press and Director of The Red Earth Creative Writing MFA Program at Oklahoma City University.
Alongside all of her other great accomplishments, Calhoun Mish has been nominated for Oklahoma State Poets Laureate, a true honor. State Poets Laureates are appointed by the governor of the state for a period of two years. The appointment is made by January 1 of every odd year. If Calhoun Mish is appointed State Poets Laureate, she will be the second Wewokan to receive this honor alongside Rudolph N. Hill. We wish Jeanette Calhoun Mish all the luck with her nomination.
Jeanetta Calhoun Mish's most recent works, 'Oklahomeland: Essays' and 'What I Learned at the War' are available for purchase through the Seminole Nation Museum Gift Shop or on our website. For more information on Jeanetta Calhoun Mish please visit www.tonguetiedwoman.com.
CAUGHT IN A WEWOKA SWITCH!
In the autumn of 1894, during the heyday of railroad migration through the Indian Territory, Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad purchased the Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf rail lines running through the Seminole Nation. Over the next year, Rock Island Railroad developed the railway into a 120-mile route running from the Indian Territory coal mines of McAlester, to the industrial and commercial centers in the Oklahoma Territory. Situated as it was near the western boundary of the Indian Territory, a portion of the line ran through Wewoka - a sizable trading post and capital of the Seminole Nation.
In the early years of the twentieth century, Rock Island established a new depot in Wewoka and built a switching area. The switching area, or “siding,” extended over a half-mile in each direction from the station. This “switch”, as it was generally called, was the largest such system of Rock Island’s west of the Mississippi. Merchants, traders and businessmen for a radius of thirty-five miles ordered goods and supplies, which were then shipped via railroad to the nearest siding. They drove in wagons to accept delivery of these items. In this geographic area, they were shipped to the Wewoka Switch.
In the 1920s, oil was discovered southeast of Wewoka and virtually overnight, the quiet community became a busy, crowded city, teeming with the hustle and bustle of thousands of new occupants. The local population soared from 2,500 to 20,000 in just a few months. Oil field supplies, parts, pipe, casing, drilling rigs and other equipment flooded the Wewoka Switch. Adding to the confusion was the fact that every merchant's stock orders were doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled to meet the voracious needs of the swelling population.
The Boom was on! Lost freight bills, inadequate telephone service, small railroad facilities and other factors added to the immense congestion. Thousands of freight shipments designated elsewhere, thought to be lost in transit, were found hidden in the Wewoka Switch. Local merchants, upon being questioned about late or lost orders, had a standard and faultless reply of, "Yes, I have it, but it's caught in the Wewoka Switch!" - meaning, of course, that they had been unable to retrieve the delivery and were caught in a "tight spot". So common was this confusing situation, that Rock Island Railroad actually adopted a policy of looking for all "lost in transit" merchandise at the Wewoka Switch before searching elsewhere. To save time, they prepared rubber stamps declaring "Search Wewoka Switch" for all missing shipments. The expression, "I'm caught in a Wewoka Switch" grew to mean and imply that one suddenly found himself in a bind or trying, precarious situation. The expression became standard with oil field workers and promoters alike.
In later years, these same oil men, drillers and roughnecks, moving on to bigger and newer oil discoveries, carried the famed phrase, "I'm caught in a Wewoka Switch", to all parts of the world, where its use became universal. Today, it’s a nod to Wewoka’s storied place in history.
Welcome to the Seminole Nation Museum
The Seminole Nation Museum documents and interprets the history and culture of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and the people and events that make its capital, Wewoka, one of the most historically significant and culturally diverse communities in Oklahoma. Through the use of select artifacts, historic photographs and interpretive exhibits, the events and stories that shaped the home of the Seminoles for more than a century are chronicled in a captivating, educational and enlightening experience.