Great State: Chickasaw White House Was Home and Birthplace to Governors

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EMET, OKLAHOMA -- When Douglas H. Johnston and his wife Bettie built their new home most of their neighbors still lived in log cabins.

"Very, very few people lived in a home such as this," says historian Glenda Galvan.

These days Galvan and her staff take care of this Governor's mansion as though the Johnstons might be coming back any minute.

Glenda explains, "As though we have snuck into the house to take a look."

Johnston served as Governor of the Chickasaw Nation twice.

His second term lasted nearly forty years.

He and his attorney, 'Alfalfa' Bill Murray guided the tribe through the transition to statehood, fraudulent land claims, and a successful lawsuit against the federal government.

Glenda stands in front of an old roll top desk that he used and pointed out, "his humidor and his cigar tray. He did like his cigars."

A lot of that work was done here in this beautiful house that wife Betty hoped would be called 'Breezy Meadows'.

Instead, most people just called it what it was.

"Because it's never been painted anything but white."

The White House was anything but plain.

The family spent considerable sums on hand-printed wall paper.

Douglas imported a fancy settee as a wedding present.

The house still boasts the same fine furnishings, even a hot water tank in the kitchen.

Johnston's son became an accomplished violinist.

His daughter attended art schools in Europe and came back to render most of the paintings in the house.

Glenda says, "Roughly 80 percent of the furniture and furnishings are original to the family."

The Johnston's descendants lived here into the 1970's.

Glenda was here for the extensive restoration project completed in 2005.

She helped un-pack the boxes full of original items than went right back to their original locations.

Of the restoration, Galvan says, "Its a win-win for all of us."

The town of Emet doesn't jump out on a state map.

Johnston County is named after its famous Chickasaw governor but you have to look to find his 'White House'.

It sits fully restored now in the same breezy meadow where it was built 120 years ago, looking as good as it ever did.

The Chickasaw White House is open for free tours Wednesday thru Saturday from 10:00 to 4:00.

The Johnstons were well-known for their hospitality so staff still serve lemonade on Fridays and ice cream on Saturdays.

A bowl of candy sits in the parlor for visitors every day.

For more information about the White House go to http://www.chickasawcountry.com/WhiteHouse‎