How we started
In 1965 a group of Dewey businessmen were looking for ways to bring tourists to the city. It was known that Tom Mix, the first cowboy mega movie star, had lived and worked in Dewey before becoming famous. He wife, Olive Stokes Mix, - actually his middle wife (of five) - was raised in Dewey, and his daughter Ruth was born here. It was also known that when Tom died a judge had given many of Tom's personal possessions to a neighbor. If the city could somehow obtain these items and arrange to showcase them in a Dewey museum it was believed the museum would be an excellent way to attract tourists.
Turns out those businessmen were right. But there were some rough trails along the way. The group was very successful in locating the heir of the original gentleman who inherited the collection, raising the money to make the purchase, and getting it transported to Dewey from California. However, once the collection arrived in Dewey they discovered perhaps they hadn't thought quite far enough ahead. No one in the group had much of an idea of how to run a museum or how to handle a valuable collection of museum articles; nor did they have a place to display all of these items. These young men were convinced their idea was a good one, so they forged ahead, rented a building and had it renovated to accommodate this historical collection. Sadly they still had no idea how to manage a museum or care for the collection they had acquired and no money to hire someone who did. Eventually a deal was forged with the Oklahoma Historical Society to purchase the collection and the building where the collection was housed. The Oklahoma Historical Society solved the expertise and care concerns, and the museum continues to be operated today as an OHS affiliate museum under the day-to-day management of a local Tom Mix Museum Board of Directors. The City of Dewey provides significant financial support to the museum with the balance of the operating funds raised from gift shop proceeds, memberships and other generous donors and benefactors.
The vision of the original group of Dewey businessmen continues to be realized today as several thousand visitors come to the museum each year. A large portion of these are from out of state, a surprising number from other countries and many come to town specifically to visit the museum. We can just about guarantee you will not be disappointed with your visit to the Tom Mix Museum. Most visitors are surprised that the collection is not simply Tom Mix memorabilia but that virtually all of the items actually belonged to Tom and were used by him in his daily activities. It is a collection that is truly unique in all the world.