McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

November 14, 2013

Historic day at Heritage Center Saturday

ENID, Okla. — The desk used by a vice president of the first Oklahoma Constitutional Convention will be on display Saturday in Enid.

It was used by Albert H. Ellis, whose name is roughly carved into the wooden, slant-top writing desk. A Cherokee Strip boomer, Ellis settled in Garfield County at Hayward, near Covington, before entering politics.

The desk will be on display at Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center 1-3 p.m. Saturday for the center’s monthly hands-on history Family Saturday. This month, the center celebrates Statehood Day, the anniversary of Oklahoma joining the union.

Ellis already had served in the Territorial Legislature when he was one of two men selected as vice presidents of the convention, which set the first laws of the land in Oklahoma. After statehood in 1907, he was elected as the first state representative from his area, earning the No. 2 leadership spot in the House during the first legislative session in Guthrie.

He served one term in the newly formed Legislature but was voted out by a slim margin. Modern-day Ellis County, to the west of Enid, is named for him.

Among the artifacts on display Saturday will be replicas of the 14 flags that have flown over Oklahoma, including the standard carried by Spanish conquistador Coronado as he roamed the Great Plains 500 years ago.

The event will celebrate Oklahoma’s birthday, Nov. 16.

“It’s to commemorate 106 years of Oklahoma being a state,” said Education Director Cody Jolliff. “We’ll have campaign buttons they can make for statehood, posters and we’ll have some games. We’ll talk about the women’s suffrage movement and have some booths set up.”

Standard admission rates apply. Members of CSRHC get in free.

“It’ll be a fun day for kids to come out,” Jolliff said.

The Ellis desk and an accompanying chair were donated by his family in 1966 to Sons and Daughters of the Cherokee Strip, and are now kept at the Heritage Center.

Also on display Saturday will be a gavel that was used during the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention.

Ellis’ desk is rough for wear. Upon inspection, it shows pockmarks and gouges, including the owner’s name etched into the lid top. Inside the soft-brown desk is a placard with a description.

Dave Kennedy curates the center’s artifacts.

“I think it’s great to have these pieces from that time frame,” he said.

Kennedy said this isn’t the first time the desk has been shown to the public, but this will be the first specific event tied to Oklahoma’s Statehood Day at the center.

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