Woodward past and present

For several years, Dr. Deena Fisher toyed with the idea of doing an updated book about Woodward area history. The previous books about Woodward County were the following: Below Devil’s Gap: The Story of Woodward County by Louise B. James in 1984 and Images of America: Woodward County by Ian Swart in 2009.

“The idea for the book had kind of been on my mind for a long time,” Fisher said. “Arcadia Publishing Company contacted me about doing an updated book about Woodward and gave me several ideas. All the sudden the past and present idea made sense to me. I thought it would be fun to contrast the past with where we are today.

“As I thought about the book, I needed a photographer that is a historian or at least has a historic perspective. So, I thought of Robin Hohweiler because I’d worked with him at the museum. I talked him into using talent he had for what we needed for this book. He took all the photos and really got into the history of each one of the buildings. He would then write it up and run it by me.”

“I helped get some photos for him and to find information we needed from the past, making sure that it was accurate,” Fisher added. “I spent a lot of time calling people who are trying to preserve the history of their churches. They went into closets and basements to find the original photos for me.

“The town has shifted a little bit due to the tornado (1947) for where things are now located. I think it’s interesting. There is a history of each location. You don’t just preserve history. That’s one thing I’ve learned being president of the Oklahoma Historical Society and being on the board for so many years. You can’t hoard history. You’ve got to show it off, keep it going, and keep it alive.”

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“By December of 2019, she (Dr. Deena Fisher) finally strong-armed me into helping her write the book. I learned from that day on there’s no saying “NO” to Deena. Resistance is futile,” joked Robin Hohweiler, grant-writer and social media director for Plains Indians and Pioneers Museum. “It was really a year-long effort in 2020. I started taking photos on January 1, 2020 and I don’t think I stopped until sometime in October.

“The book is past and present. We were able to pull photos from the museum’s collection and go find each particular building—if it was still standing.”

In addition to taking photographs for the book, Hohweiler also gathered information about each of these locations as they existed in both the past and the present.

“Some of the standing structures in Woodward are more than 100 years old,” Hohweiler said. “We did commercial buildings, residences, churches, schools, and government buildings. At least one of the older commercial buildings that are still standing along Main Street date back to the 1800s.”

Hohweiler enjoyed the challenge of finding “nuggets” of history and buildings not well-known to most people.

“These are used to catch the attention of readers and viewers of this book,” he said. “There is a lot of hidden history in Woodward that is great to discover.”

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Fisher and Hohweiler both experienced a variety of challenges in writing this book. The book could only have a limited quantity of texts and photos, plus a maximum number of pages that the book could contain. The book also had to include places in Woodward that have both past and present information including original photographs. No copies of photographs were allowed.

Hohweiler experienced a surprise challenge when uploading the book to the publisher via the rural internet services at his house. This resulted in only being able to send one chapter at a time to the publisher instead of sending the whole book in one upload.

A special exhibit of images and facts included in this book took place at the Plains Indians and Pioneers Museum in June, which was scheduled to coincide with the book’s release by Arcadia Publishing. Unfortunately, the book’s publication date was postponed.

Copies of the new book, Woodward (Past and Present), will be available February 22nd. The Plains Indians and Pioneers Museum plans to host a Book Signing for Dr. Deena Fisher and Robin Hohweiler the end of February or in early March. Books will be available for purchase and signing at the Woodward museum on that day.

Books will be available for purchase and signing at the Woodward museum on that day. Books can also be purchased via Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Target.com, and possibly at Woodward’s Walmart Supercenter.

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