John returns to Duncan, the town where he grew up, at 7 p.m. this Thursday to deliver his brand new Oklahoma History presentation, including images from his book "The Oklahomans: The Story of Oklahoma and Its People," Vol. 1, at a free public event for the Stephens County Historical Museum. Location is the Duncan Moose Lodge, 1712 W Seminole Road, Duncan, OK 73533. For more information, call 580-252-0717.
John was recently featured in an article for The Duncan Banner, written by Linda Provost and posted March 12th. Read the article below:
History book writer to serve as key note speaker for museum membership drive
Museum director Cova Williams, left, Duncan High history teacher Kc Barrington and book writer John Dwyer at the library where Barrington is presented her copy of the book.
Ten years ago, Duncan native John J. Dwyer didn’t know he would be writing one of the most epic Oklahoma history books ever attempted. He just knew he loved, and still loves, history.
“I have a double barreled disease. I love historical fiction and non-fiction,” he said. “It’s complicated enough to be a writer — I still haven’t figured out if it’s a blessing or curse.”
The love of history came from his mom.
“From growing up in Duncan my mom just raised us in a house where history and heroes were just part of our DNA,” Dwyer said. “We knew people from history like they were our own family members. I don’t know what it was in her that she inoculated that but as I look back, I have just been interested in history, and particularly American history.”
In 2006, at the urging of his family and the Oklahoma Historical Society, John returned to Oklahoma to tackle the colossal task of writing “The Oklahomans,” which was endorsed as an official project of the Oklahoma Centennial Commission. He has completed volume 1 (Ancient – Statehood) and a portion of volume 2 (Statehood –Present), which releases in November 2018.
Dwyer is currently serving his in his 11th year as Adjunct Professor of History and Ethics at Southern Nazarene University.
The tone of history textbooks is something Dwyer wanted to steer clear of with the book “The Oklahomans.”
“So many of these book (are boring) and it’s not particularly the authors fault they just have so many restrictions on them — ‘here’s what you need to do’ ‘here’s the objectives and the goals’ ‘here’s what you can say here’s what you can’t’ and by the time they make it all just right they’ve a lot of time choked the life out of the narrative and we wonder why these books are boring,” he said. “It all happened behind the scenes before it got in print.”
Duncan High School’s Oklahoma History teacher Kc Barrington was given a book to use as she saw fit.
“My history book that we have now is very dry so I basically have put it to the side and use it as a guide for where I am supposed to be at in this point of the year and I pull primary sources and use different activities in my class room,” she said. “But with this book I have a lot of primary sources right there and it’s not like printing off 100 sheets of paper here, so they can read a letter from John Ross. There’s a lot more art work to view. A lot of the students I deal with have never been to the capitol building, have never been to museums outside of Duncan, Oklahoma, so that also opens up a door and a pathway to things they haven’t had a opportunity to see.”
Dwyer joked he wished he had a teacher like Barrington because his teacher “didn’t want to be there as much as us (the students).”
The love of history is one of the reasons Dwyer was invited to be the guest speaker at the Stephens County Historical Museum’s membership dinner.
Cova Williams, director of the museum, said the dinner was at 7 p.m. March 16 at the Duncan Moose Lodge, located 1712 W. Seminole Rd.
“John will be the speaker at our membership dinner,” she said. “That’s our big fund raiser for the year and it’s a free meal for our members — they need to RSVP so I know how much food to buy.”
Williams said the guests were welcome to hear Dwyer and learn more about the museum’s mission.
“It’s a good opportunity for me to express the importance of helping the museum because we are funded by memberships and donations,” she said. “John has agreed to be our speaker and we are very excited to have him.”