The Century Chest

Excerpt from The Story of Oklahoma City: The Biggest Little City in the World, Vol 1

Edited by William F. Kerr, Ina Gainer
Page 377-378

An unusual incident of the observance of the state’s birthday this year was the placing of what was called a Century Chest in the foundation of the First English Lutheran Church. It was planned by the Ladies’ Aid Society of the Lutheran congregation of which Mrs. George G. Sohlberg was president, and the conception was that the chest should be opened 100 years from that date. Instructions to that effect were written on the chest’s exterior. In it were placed articles of singular significance. Among them were speeches delivered during the evening program by Governor Lee Cruce and May Whit M. Grant, phonograph records of the voices in song of Mrs. C.B. Ames, Mrs. W.B. Moore and M.K. Bennett, a phonograph record of an address by Dr. A.C. Scott, and a manuscript containing instructions to those who open the box on April 22, 2013. This bore a prayer that is to be repeated by those participating in the opening ceremony and it directed that the speech of Governor Cruce should be read to the assemblage by the then governor of the state and the speech of Mayor Grant read by the then mayor of the city.

In his speech Mayor Grant said: “I am conscious that we are making ancestors of ourselves tonight. We are furnishing a text and a message from which one hundred years from today descendants will take a measure of their ancestors. This is the first time in history, I suppose, that an evening’s program was prepared one hundred years before its performance. It was the thought of a genius and that genius is Mrs. Virginia Tucker Sohlberg. An April evening of 2013 will be athrob with the life of a buried day. Voices and presences will be there from far across the century. WE are tonight laying fairy bridgework that will span a century of time. We are forging a bond whose binding power will bring in close communication the lusty living and the distant dead. We, pioneers of Oklahoma City, send our greeting across the century to men and women of 2013. We, who shall have long been dust before this message falls upon your ears, salute you!”

The incidents of this night were vividly recalled less than ninety days later when Mrs. Sohlberg passed away to her reward.