American Folklore

American Folklore: Oklahoma

American Folklore: Oklahoma

Oklahoma has been inhabited by humans for millennia, since likely just after the last ice age. It was explored by the Spanish in 1541, claimed by the French in the 1700s, and became part of the United States in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase. It was a territory for Native Americans until 1888. It has plenty of intriguing folklore. Here are some of the highlights.

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Admitted to the union in 1907 as the 46th state, it began being used for a territory for Native Americans in 1834 and was not opened up to legal settlement by other Americans until 1888. The name “Oklahoma” is a Choctaw word, okla humma, meaning “red people,” and was a phrase in that language that described the Native American people across all tribes. In fact, it was Choctaw chief Allen Wright who suggested the name for the territory during treaty negotiations for the area just after the Civil War.

Archaeological evidence suggests that Native American tribes have lived in Oklahoma since just after the end of the last ice age. Many tribes have called the area home over the millennia, including some of the famous Mississippian mound-building cultures. The first known European to explore the area was Francisco Vazquez de Coronado in 1541. However, it was French explorers who first claimed the area for a European nation in the 1700s. It became part of the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

Oklahoma has had thousands of years of human habitation to develop some wonderful folklore of its own. Here are some of the highlights of it.

Shaman’s Portal

In Beaver, Oklahoma, there are some creepy and mysterious sand dunes. Reports of weird things happening there go back to de Coronado’s exploration of the area in 1541. In one report of the visit, some of de Coronado’s men disappeared while on the dunes, each in individual flashes of green lightning. The local Native Americans already knew about the dunes, which they called Shaman’s Portal, and had been avoiding them for centuries before de Coronado and his men arrived.

Native Americans and some others believe the dunes to be a portal to another dimension or universe. Others think something strange is going on there with electromagnetic energy, or that the area is similar in nature to the Bermuda Triangle. Dr. Mark Thatcher studied the dunes for three years after an archaeologist from Oklahoma State University sent him a letter saying that strange things were happening there. When Dr. Thatcher arrived to conduct his own studies, he was chased away from the dunes by men wearing white suits and carrying government IDs.

Some people believe the presence of government men means that the dunes are the site of a UFO crash, and a UFO is hidden under the dunes. Whatever the nature of the dunes, anyone who attempts to study them and learns anything significant about them is either chased away and somehow made to be silent on what they learned, or they disappear.

The Friendly Ghosts of the Stone Lion Inn

The Stone Lion Inn in Guthrie, Oklahoma is a gorgeous Victorian mansion that used to be the home of a wealthy man named F.E. Houghton. Houghton made the house large because he had a big family. However, he lost a young daughter when she became ill with whooping cough and the maid gave her the wrong medicine. Young Augusta Houghton’s ghost is often seen and heard playing in the inn, and she likes to play with the toys that children who stay at the inn bring with them.

Also haunting the inn is F.E. Houghton himself. He is usually seen wearing a top hat and trailing cigar smoke behind him. He is known to be quite a gentleman and helps guests do things like turning off (or on) ceiling fans that would otherwise be out of reach to them.

The Tulsa Hex House

It sounds like it could be the name of a movie, but the Hex House of Tulsa, Oklahoma is a real place. In 1944, two women were discovered being held captive in the house. Their captor was a woman named Carolann Smith, and she regularly beat the women and seemed to have them under some sort of hypnotic control. The women worked and gave their paychecks to Smith, while she made them stay in the unheated basement of the house.

The police were tipped off to something odd going on at the house when Smith tried to obtain eight food ration books for herself during WWII. She used the names of the captive women, some fake names, and the name of her deceased dog to obtain the books. When police were alerted to the attempted scam, they investigated her house and found the women, Nell Willetta Horner, and Virginia Evans. Horner and Evans were half-starved and living in rags, while Smith lived above them in luxury.

The house was filled with books on witchcraft and mind control, and she apparently had managed to bend Horner and Evans completely to her will, though no one ever figured out quite how she did it with such apparent success. Locals thought she was a witch. Smith did a year in jail for perjury, and her house became known as the Hex House. As the Hex House, it was a popular Halloween hangout spot of local teenagers for decades after Horner and Evans were freed.

The Haunted Chalkboard of the Bird Creek School

If you want to try your hand at learning whether ghosts are real, give the Bird Creek School in Osage County, Oklahoma a whirl. It is located in the middle of pretty much nowhere and is a one-room schoolhouse that was used in the early 1900s to teach Native American children. Those who visit it have said that it is quite haunted. The building itself is rather creepy, and presences can be sensed in it by many who visit. However, if you want evidence of ghosts that is more tangible, the proof can be found if you write your name on the school’s chalkboard. If you do this and leave the building, the ghosts who haunt it will erase or scratch out your name from the board while you are gone. When you return, you will see the evidence of it. That’s your proof of ghosts right there.


Will Moneymaker

Will established Ancestral Findings in 1995 and has helped genealogy researchers for over 25 years. He is also a freelance photographer, husband of twenty-eight years, father of four children, and has one grandchild.