Learning History While Making Memories

The prairie winds of Oklahoma were blowing, as the third grade students of Jones Elementary got a little taste of history in their re-creation of the Oklahoma Land Run on Monday morning. Every year Mr. Jack Brooks and his wife, Wynona Brooks, open the doors of their historic home, the C.G. Jones Farmstead, to allow bus loads of children to experience the past first-hand.

The Farmstead

Jack and Wynona Brooks standing outside the historic C.G. Jones Farmstead, which the couple restored in the early 2000’s.

Mr. and Mrs. Brooks acquired the property in 1994, but did not know it’s historical significance until many years later. When long-time tenants moved out of the home, the Brooks began making plans to tear it down. At that time, the house was a muddled mess, with several patchwork additions that made the exterior of the home an eyesore. Inside, the conditions were worse, with erratic electrical lines running askew in the interior of the home, and many other safety concerns. Mrs. Brooks says that the stairwell is what changed her mind. “When I came in and looked at the stairwell, I thought, I can’t destroy this house.” They began to dig into the history of the home, and discovered that it was originally owned by Mr. C.G. Jones, the founder and namesake of our town. “We decided that this house has got too much history,” stated Mrs. Brooks, and their renovations began shortly afterward.

The process of renovating the 1907 farmhouse was very tedious, as they stripped off all the non-original layers of the home to find the original bones underneath. They found old bricks around the farm that say “Chandler OT” which are original statehood bricks. When going through the process to certify the home with Oklahoma Historical Preservation Society, the Chairman asked Mrs. Brooks, “What do you want to do with this place?” Her response was simple. “My dream is to see the kids have a land run.” The renovations were completed in 2001, and the land run tradition began just a few years later.

Third Grade Land Run

Now, in one of the greatest traditions our community offers to the students of Jones, third grade Longhorns look forward to the field trip to the Jones Farmstead every year. The Brooks family and members of the Jones Historical Society share the story of C.G. Jones and let them participate in a bona fide re-creation of the land run.

Students come dressed in period clothing, carting their covered wagons and sack lunches. They line up along the white picket fence and await the call to stake their claim. This historic re-creation even includes a few Sooners (aka cheaters) who jump their claim early. Once they’ve found their land, the students take their property markers to the “land office” to acquire a deed. The best part, the deeds are replicas of the certificates issued to real homesteaders back in 1889.

This event is not only special to the Brooks family, but other Jones residents as well. John McEwen’s family has been a part of the Jones community since the land run. His great grandfather was a homesteader, and their family’s original claim was near 122nd and Hogback, just across the river. He was able to bring his great grandson, Trae McEwen, a fourth grader at Jones Elementary, to the event this year. The McEwens can count back seven generations of their family that have resided in Jones.

John McEwen with his great grandson, Trae McEwen, enjoying the festivities together. Their family can trace their heritage back to the land run, counting seven generations of McEwens in Jones.

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