Pawhuska has become a destination for fans of the Pioneer Woman, bringing in thousands of visitors each month.
Travel bloggers Ann and Steve Teget loved the town so much, they left their home in Nebraska to call Pawhuska home.
“We love it here, and we want other people to love it here,” said Ann.
Ann and Steve are the masterminds behind the travel blog, Postcard Jar. The Tegets came up with that name through a tradition they have of sending themselves postcards during trips, kind of like a journal entry. Then every postcard goes in special jar, a “postcard jar.”
“It’s a blog about extraordinary travel for ordinary people,” Steve said. “We try to encourage people to get out of their comfort zone and go places and see new things.”
They couple has been all over the world - but say there’s no place like Pawhuska.
Like thousands of other people, the Tegets made their first trip to Osage County a few years ago to visit The Pioneer Woman's Mercantile.
“We just fell in love with this town,” Ann said. “So we just kind of found excuse after excuse to come back and visit again...and again and again.”
“I remember leaving town, and we looked at each other and said we don't want to go,” said Steve.
It felt like home, they said. And now it is.
“We were kind of open to whatever God had for us,” Ann said.
They packed up and moved to Pawhuska from Nebraska last year to work on the blog full time, which has plenty of posts about Pawhuska.
“I think for people to get a real feel for Pawhuska, you need to stay here and while we don't have a chain hotel, we do have some small hotels in town and over a dozen incredible AirBNBs,” Ann said.
The couple says most people come to town, eat and shop at The Merc, then leave.
So they're using their blog to show folks some of the other fun things. One of their most popular posts is about 70-plus things to do in Pawhuska. The Tegets hope it inspires Merc visitors to stay a little longer.
“There is so much to do here that we are passionate about getting people to come and stay and experience some of these other things this area,” Ann said.
The couple is so committed to bringing folks to Pawhuska that they offer up their own house, Postcard Place, as an AirBNB.
“[Staying here], you really just get a full feel for what small life in Oklahoma is really like,” Ann said.
The Tegets say The Immaculate Conception Catholic Church is a must see with its one-of-a-kind stained glass window designed in Germany in 1910, depicting, at the time, living parishioners of the Osage tribe. Depicting living people for artwork in a Catholic church is something that hadn’t happened before or since.
Father Sean Donovan says the window had to have special approval from the Pope. The priest traveled to Munich to make sure the artists accurately depicted the tribe.
“The parish didn't want a German guess about what Osage people look like, so that's why we got permission to having living people of the parish depicted in the window to show the evangelization of the tribe,” said Rev. Donovan.
World War I broke out as the craftsmen worked on the windows. They put the process on hold so they could protect the project.
“They took each frame of stained glass, boxed up in wood, sealed it and then buried it in the sand bars around southern Germany and hoped they would survive the war,” Rev. Donovan said.
The windows made it through and were shipped from Munich to Pawhuska in 1919.
Church parishioners now give tours of what some call the "Cathedral of the Osage."
After your tour at the church, you’ll want to drop in for a pop at Handy’s. It’s the number one stop on the Postcard Jar’s list.
It's convenience store run by 79-year-old twin sisters, Margie Shaw and Martha Hayes.
They don’t have gas pumps, public bathrooms or beer, but they do have a top secret pop mixture that brings in hundreds of customers ever day.
“People come in here all the time, notice we have a sign that says 'Best Pop in Pawhuska,'" Martha said.
“It really is,” Margie added.
That’s not a claim the sisters came up with, it's comes straight from the customers.
“On a slow day we might run 400 pops, on a busy day 800. And I looked yesterday - we ran 675,” said Martha.
The ice is the other secret weapon. They have cubed, pellet...or hand-dipped.
“[The hand-dipped ice] will not dispense out of a dispenser because it's so fine, and it's real easy for people to eat,” Martha said. “People go on vacation and they can't wait to get back to Pawhuska to get a pop.”
But more than pop, it's Martha and Margie that keep people coming back.
And since the blog posted about Handy’s, the gals have turned into celebrities. They visitors from all over the world who stop in wanting to meet and take a picture with the twins.
“We're glad to give them a picture, if we didn't break their camera,” Margie said laughing.
The twins have been running the store for 30 years; it’s their second career in life. They worked in banking 40 years before taking over at Handy’s.
When asked how long they’ll keep working they said forever.
“Probably til The Lord calls us home,” Martha said.
“We love working,” Margie added.
Of course the Tegets are regulars at Handy’s and have taken their pictures with the convenience store stars, too.