Remembering The 101 Ranch

Thursday, February 7th 2008, 10:41 pm
By: News On 6

The 101 Ranch long dissolved into history, but now thousands of items from the ranch are on display at Gilcrease Museum.  Gilcrease bought a substantial collection of ranch artifacts.  The News On 6's Emory Bryan reports Gilcrease describes it as the largest addition to their collection, ever.

One family spent a lifetime collecting historic items from 101 Ranch.  Even for Randi and Fred Wightman, the benefactors who helped buy this collection; Thursday was their first look at what was the largest private collection of 101 Ranch artifacts.  It's in the basement of Gilcrease Museum, which just bought the collection, for $2 million.

Curator Randy Ramer says it's a treasure of Oklahoma territory history.

"Originals in wonderful condition.  Things you just can't find anywhere," said Gilcrease curator Randy Ramer.

There are the boots of actual cowboys, their buckles, their pistols, their hats.  The ranch where they worked was hundreds of thousands of acres in size, near present day Ponca City.  It became the setting for tremendous Wild West shows and the first western movies of the early 1900's.  Memorabilia from all of that is in the collection that now belongs to Gilcrease.

"The definitive, bar none, the definitive 101 Ranch collection is now back home in Oklahoma," said 101 Ranch historian Michael Wallis.

Wallis wrote a book about the Ranch, stories the collection helps illuminate.  He says people are still attracted to stories of the early west.

"They'll want to see a collection that really has no equal in breadth or scope," said 101 Ranch historian Michael Wallis.

Gilcrease has a big job ahead cataloguing 3,700 objects and explaining their significance.  They were all collected by a Jerry and Ruth Murphey, a Texas couple who fell in love with the 101.

 "Jerry's Grandmother was a performer, an Indian performer at the ranch and he had this connection to the ranch and it just became a passion for them," said Gilcrease curator Randy Ramer.

The first display of the 101 Ranch collection will open in July.  The cost of the collection was shared by the City of Tulsa, the Gilcrease Endowment and the Wightman family.