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Old West History Comes Alive in Duncan

John sits amongst two great-granddaughters and the widow of a grandson of the legendary Comanche Chief Quanah Parker. He grew up and graduated from Duncan High with one of the ladies, Beth Cowan (left), and Quanah’s grandson, Quanah Cox, was one of his coaches. The latter's widow, Mary Frances Cox, stands right, and her daughter (and Beth's sister) Katherine Rogers stands middle.


It was an Old West history-drenched evening this past Thursday, March 16, as John spoke about Oklahoma’s Ancient-Statehood period before nearly one hundred people at the Stephens County Historical Museum’s annual fundraiser. He presented an extensive slide show and spotlighted numerous of the memorable Stephens County-related events and people from that eventful period. These included the Dodge-Leavenworth U.S. Dragoons’ peacemaking expedition to the Plains Indian tribes, the Chisholm Trail cattle drives, Quanah Parker and the Plains Indian Wars, and the Marlow Brothers (after whom the John Wayne film The Sons of Katie Elder was based).

John is an avid supporter of the Stephens County Historical Museum.

Durant artist Neal Taylor’s ( epic painting of a Chisholm Trail cattle drive. The greatest overland stock trail in history thundered through present-day Oklahoma towns such as Waurika, Comanche, Duncan, Marlow, Rush Springs, Chickasha, El Reno, Kingfisher, and Enid.


“The job Cova Williams and museum volunteers and supporters have done with the museum, which resides in the building that used to house the county armory when we grew up, is unbelievable,” he said. “The building includes numerous fascinating room-sized displays and even larger.”

Two of the five Marlow Brothers, Charles and George, for whom the Stephens County town of Marlow was named, and whose rousing story inspired the John Wayne-Dean Martin Western film classic The Sons of Katie Elder.


“Visiting the museum can transport you back into a simpler time,” said Cova Williams, executive director of the museum. “You can literally ‘step’ into Grandma's kitchen or the family dentist's offices. You’ll see authentic room vignettes filled with treasured antiques, memorabilia, and other artifacts depicting pioneer life in Oklahoma.”

One extensive display reveals the area’s Native American heritage in an original setting with an exceptional arrowhead collection. The museum offers abundant goodies for those interested in early-day photography, music, crafts, Indian lore, farming or machines.

A room-sized pioneer schoolroom display, one of numerous such exhibits in the Stephens County Historical Museum in Duncan.


Notable exhibits include Stephens County photography dating from 1892, area archaeological samples, a pioneer drug store, a blacksmith shop, legal offices and medical offices of the era, extensive photographic and county records collections, one- and two-room schoolhouses, which have virtually disappeared from the American landscape, and a gift shop.

For more information about the Stephens County Historical Museum, call 580-252-0717 or e-mail

John, sitting next to his wife Grace, signs books after his presentation in Duncan for the Stephens County Historical Museum. Photo by Duncan Banner reporter Linda Provost.

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