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Post by leeshlynch » Tue Apr 21, 2009 11:17 am

Through the generations: Group plans to hear from local historian

By Kandra Wells
Staff Writer

For years, Robert Pulse heard stories about his family and its background. Like many, his ancestral record was handed down through the generations by word of mouth and small tokens archived in a shoebox.

And as with many, his retirement coincided with the time and resources for some serious research into where, and who, he came from.

“My wife and I are budding young genealogists,” Pulse said this morning of the research bug that has bitten both he and his wife, Diane.

They are officers with the Pittsburg County Genealogical and Historical Society — he’s vice president and she’s secretary — donating their time and efforts to an industry they have pursued for years.

“You know, you collect shoeboxes of the stuff, you sit down and listen to your aunts tell you stories,” Robert Pulse said.

“For about a one-year period, we took our fifth-wheel to cities where our families came from. We’d pull up to a library and spend a week or two. Invariably, when we walked in there, we would find out something about our families.”

The Pulses retired to the McAlester area several years ago to be near Lake Eufaula, although Diane’s father’s family had lived in the area years earlier.

“His father was a lineman for the Katy Railroad,” Robert explained.

McAlester’s own history is largely based on the Katy, as local historian Dr. Thurman Shuller will tell you. Shuller is the author of a number of articles chronicling McAlester’s history and one of its founders, William Busby.

The historian will be speaking at an upcoming open house of the Pittsburg County Genealogical and History Society Library set for May 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. During the event, Shuller will autograph copies of the fall 2008 issue of “Chronicles of Oklahoma” on his article recounting Busby’s contributions to Pittsburg County.

“Dr. Shuller will speak to anyone willing to listen about Busby,” Pulse said. “He’s volunteered to talk about Busby until he gets completely worn out.”

The library is at 113 East Carl Albert Pkwy., right next to the Pittsburg County Courthouse that is now under renovation. That’s appropriate, since the courthouse was once “the grandest hotel west of the Mississippi,” Robert Pulse said, referring to the building once known as the Busby Hotel.

Busby also built the Busby Theater and the building that now houses the Historical Society, which at the time was Busby’s office complex for his coal mining, railroad and other business activities.

In addition to information about Busby, visitors to the open house will see library updates thanks to a recent grant and donations from society members and others.

The library houses a collection of more than 3,500 books and documents, including rare items unique to Pittsburg County as well as items for historical and genealogical research from several foreign countries and other counties and states.

Also planned during the open house is a drawing for a door prize valued at more than $100.

The society is a non-profit education society formed in 1979, and is funded with a combination of membership dues and document sales, and celebrates 30 years of service this year. Membership is open to anyone who is interested in historical or genealogical research.

The Pittsburg County Genealogical and History Society organization meets monthly on the first Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Genealogical Library.

For more information on the organization visit http://www.pittsburgcogenealogical.org/

Contact Kandra Wells at kwells@mcalesternews.com

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