By Jonita Mullins
Three Rivers History
The home of William Martin Gulager on East Okmulgee Avenue is one of many interesting historic homes in Muskogee. These homes all have stories to tell, of their builders and occupants who lived there through the years or of significant events that occurred there in times past. The Gulager Home is no exception.
The Gulagers were connected to the prominent Rogers family of the Cherokee Nation. William’s mother, Martha Schrimsher Gulager, was the sister of Mary Rogers, the mother of Will Rogers. And like Will, Gulager’s younger brother John also spent time in vaudeville and his nephew who was named for him (Clu Gulager) enjoyed fame in Hollywood.
William Martin Gulager was given the nickname Clu Clu, which is a Cherokee word for the bird known as a martin. He came to Muskogee around 1902 and purchased a home that had been a part of the Fort Gibson garrison and which dated to 1867. When the fort had been decommissioned as a military post, the land and property had reverted to the Cherokees. As a Cherokee citizen, Gulager was able to buy this home.
Gulager then dismantled the stone house and moved it to its present location in Muskogee. It took the kind of meticulous work that is rarely seen today to move this home. Each stone and piece of wood was numbered so that it could be reassembled exactly as it had been in Fort Gibson.
The masonry of the fort’s buildings was of extremely high quality. The stones fit together like hand in glove and if they were reassembled in the exact order, that quality would be retained. As a result, this stone house on Okmulgee Avenue has survived all the years since 1867, making it likely one of the oldest structures in Muskogee.
Gulager was born in Tahlequah in 1871 just a few years after his home was built. His parents, Frederick and Martha Gulager were enrolled as Cherokee tribal members with the Dawes Commission. He served in the Oklahoma State Senate from 1922 to 1930 and lived in his historic home until his death in 1960. He is buried in Greenhill Cemetery.
Reach Jonita Mullins at firstname.lastname@example.org.