Part of its Main Street USA area (US-81 in the case of Kingfisher) contains the splendid turn-of-the-century red-brick houses and places of business that have since turned to other uses. Whatever this red brick building had once been, it is now the office of the Pioneer Telephone Company and remains one of the largest of Kingfisher's early buildings.
Begun in 1903 but destroyed by a severe storm, the cornerstone of Sts Peter and Paul Catholic Church were eventually laid in 1909. This is by far the most conspicuous and ornate church building in Kingfisher, filled with stained-glass windows and sitting on the southeast corner of Main and Don Blanding. The belltower and elongated spire are the tallest part and together make this fine church the tallest building in town.
Mass schedule: Sa 5:30p, Su 8:00a, 10:00a; M, W, Th, F - 7:30a
Abraham Seay rose from being an officer in the Civil War (his war sword is one of the relics on display downstairs) to a circuit court judge (Missouri District) to Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma Territory. For all his wealth, Seay lived at a time when architecture had to supply the seasonal wants for temperature in a household. Seay's bedroom is not the largest in the house, nor from appearances the most comfortable. It was however the coolest in the summer and the warmest in the winter.
Inside the Seay Mansion, most of the furnishings are authentic relics of the Seay family (the territorial governor is buried in Kingfisher). Whatever happened to the third floor is at present a mystery, but history records that the governor's balls were given there. Built for $13,000 in 1892 and furnished for another $2,000, the decor is believed to be historically accurate and the many relics were donated by scions of the Seay family (no better badge of authenticity!)
Pronounced 'say' if you are a townsman and 'see' if you are a family member, the Seay Mansion represents what amounts to Oklahoma's first governor's mansion. Built by patriach Abraham Jefferson Seay from about 1892 (during which time he was Oklahoma's territorial governor), this illustrious house was originally a three-story mansion built on 15 acres on what was called "Horizon Hill." For years the mansion sat unattended until a promising restoration work began in the 1960s. Admission is free, given by attendants from the Chisholm Trail Museum (across the street).
Once the Masonic Temple in Kingfisher, this Main Street building has since been resurrected as a movie theater (one screen). Most of the old downtown buildings in the Main Street USA area are now filled (as they are elsewhere) by lawyers' offices, jewelry and knick-knack stores and the occasional cafe. Current movies are screened at the 89er Theater, and what better way to enjoy a good film than by watching in a 100-year-old building!
This interesting structure sits adjacent to the Rock Island Line, which essentially covered the same ground as the Chisholm Trail for transporting cattle from Texas to the rail lines running to the east coast from Kansas. In 1889, this office and a similar one in Guthrie provided homestead regulations to the would-be settlers of the Oklahoma Land Run, the 2-million acre tract in the center of the state. Later to become the federal post office (since abandoned), this cream-colored building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Bank of Kingfisher Building was constructed by the Doaks brothers almost immediately after the Land Run opened this area to white settlement in April 1889. The fixtures and furnishings were collected from several other banks from nearby Okeene and Hennessey, as well as other banks in Kingfisher, but all are from the same era (1890s). The opening scene of the 1972 film "Dillinger" was filmed inside this bank.
Next to the Gant School in the Village stands the Harmony Church, a prime example of rural places of worship near 1900. For those familiar with Cades Coves in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this single-story white structure with an ultra-modest belltower will seem quite in line with church buildings throughout the U.S. during this period. The pulpit stands less than a foot above the common floor and in effect stands within the congregation, which is grassroots worship and community bonding at the core.
In 1890s Oklahoma (and elsewhere), pupils sometimes traveled for miles to reach the schoolhouse (i.e. which led to the mythology of our parents' walking uphill both to and from school). Before statehood and its accompanying statutes, there was no uniform body of texts from which to study. Students brought whatever existed at home, which meant that classes were taught from books published in surrounding states! The Gant School in the Kingfisher Village was built about 1890 from materials costing about $100.
One of the starkest but most appealing of the Village's attractions especially for young visitors is the macabre steel cage -- once an actual jail cell. Of the hundreds of schoolchildren who visit the Chisholm Trail Museum annually, letters back to the curator repeatedly cite the jail as the favorite attraction for ages 5-12. My own daughter (at 16 months) found it to be true even for one of her own tender age.
Next to the Cole Cabin is the Dalton Cabin, a similar structure to the former but with wooden floors (somewhat of a class distinction among cabins). While not much different in other respects to the Cole Cabin, the Dalton Cabin was the home of Adaline Dalton, mother of the infamous Dalton Gang that lost two of its three members to gunfire during a botched dual bank robbery in Coffeyville, Kansas, in 1892. Adaline lived in these stark quarters by herself from 1919 till her death in 1925.
In the so-called "Kingfisher Village" behind the Chisholm Trail Museum stand several remnants of turn-of-the-century Oklahoma. In the Cole Cabin you'll find Spartan accommodations -- a small twin bed, a dirt floor typical of the era, and a small pot-bellied stove. Chamber pots, a few cups and plates and a pitched roof are all earmarks of such early dwellings. This particular cabin was built around 1890 near Hennessey before being removed to the "Village."
In its vast holdings, the Chisholm Trail Museum has a wide variety of agricultural implements and other western and rural accouterments. Early harvesters, threshers, wagons, and buggies fill an entire room, while saddles, eating utensils and a host of other items line every conceivable wall space. On somewhat of an incongruous note, there is even a display containing major kinds of mammal and bird life in Oklahoma.
This museum does not look particularly inviting from the outside, and its raison d'etre wouldn't necessarily appeal to the masses, but this museum is actually a hybrid of local and Oklahoma state history. In his first few minutes, the visitor is assailed with everything there is to know about cattle runs, barbed wire, early Oklahoma rustlers, and even prehistoric man and woolly mammoth in Oklahoma. The real delights lie somewhat behind this modest facade.