Voices

Beaver

By Paulene Hodges

 

6-13-19

Dr Long on the way to make house calls in Beaver before many roads were available

9-26-19

Gretchen Lawson Murphy continued  her story of her life without conveniences on the farm, now in the1920’s and early 1930’s and of adding to the number in her family:

"Then Eileen was born and such a tiny little girl she was. We were so happy with her, and she was so much company for me during the long days. She was so tiny and like to be in the room with me, so not having highchairs, walkers, or such, I put blankets in the bowl of the separator, which stood by the window, and she was happy watching me and looking out of the window.

When she was six months old, Pat’s father and mother and Charles decided to move to the farm, too. But the day they arrived, tragedy struck. Pat and Grandfather Murphy were bringing some feed from the field and Grandfather Murphy, riding on the feed, was knocked from the truck by a low hanging telephone wire and, though taken to the hospital and given all possible care, never regained consciousness and died a few days later. Shortly after that Grandmother Murphy and Charles went back to Lincoln.

When Eileen was seventeen months old, Doyle was born. He was a large, healthy baby, and Eileen appointed herself as his nursemaid. In fact, she helped too much, and I had a time keeping her from smothering him with love and affection. Before Doyle was born, a stranger came by Dad’s house in town and wanted something to do just for his meals. In those days, we weren’t afraid of afraid of strangers as we are today. There have always been odd characters around, of course, but not the violent hippie type. I was nearing broomcorn season and help would be needed to pull and bale, so Dad hired him, and he came to stay at the farm. He would give no name but "Jasper" and we knew not if that was his first or last name but respected his privacy and asked for no other name.

He proved to be a good worker, and stayed on past broomcorn time and took over the job of chore man. In addition, he was so fond of children and asked if he could look after Eileen. She spent hours outside with him while he worked with the chickens, and you could hear her chattering to him and hear him talking or singing to her. After Doyle had arrived and reached a few months, he, too, became Jasper’s charge. Pat at one time on a dare made a bid at the sale on a poor old horse so dilapidated and sway-backed that he looked like something in a comic book. The poor old thing was content to walk slowing around while eating the clover in the yard, with Eileen and Doyle seated snugly on his sway back, and Jasper keeping watch.

When Doyle was only a few weeks old, he became terribly sick and by night had reached the stage where nothing we could do would help. There was a bad blizzard that night, but Pat managed to get through on the phone to the hospital and ten set out to go get the medicine. It was impossible to use the car so he went horseback through Floris, then to Forgan, as other roads were impassable, then caught a ride to Beaver, got the medicine and started back. In the meantime, the teacher, Vera Wilmoth, who lived in the back portion of the schoolhouse with her with her two little boys, had heard Pat call town on the party line, and fearing he would not make it in time, she called and offered some patent medicine she used for her boys, advising that I dilute it a little for a baby. She bundled the boys up in heavy coats and with the medicine and a lantern, they made it down the hill to the house. I followed directions, and by the time Pat finally made it back next morning, the medicine had worked so beautifully, and Doyle was much better. I wish I had kept the bottle so that I would remember what the medicine was.

By then the drought was becoming critical, and the dust and dirt storms more frequent and severe until farming or ranching was no longer practical or hardly possible. There was pasture or feed for the cattle or livestock, and I was planning on selling my two hundred chickens when some kind-hearted soul came one day when we were and took them. Dad and Pat finally made arrangement to move the cattle to pasture in Eastern Kansas. The pasture bill practically took the price of the cattle and very little was finally from them. We finally decided to move to Beaver in hope that Pat could find work of some kind. He managed a bob for a while, then it was gone, so he went back to Lincoln to try there. I stayed in Beaver with Eileen and Doyle and just managed to get by. Pad had no luck in Lincoln, and after a few weeks came back and did a little truck driving now and then, Then both Eileen and Doyle came down with the whooping cough.

There was no vacacaine for that at the time, and they simply had to wear it out or let it wear them out. Eileen got over it okay, but Doyle was too little to spit out the poison, and be became so sick. He lost the use of his arms and legs, and the pain was terrible. The doctors insisted it was weakness from the whooping cough, but we insisted on something more definite so they furnished us with the name of a specialist in Wichita, and we took him there. There were days of tests and examinations before they decided it was Rheumatic Fever ( a disease little known about that that time.) He was in the hospital for three weeks, and they provided a cot in the room so I could help care for him. With Pat out of work most of the time, there was little money available, and it was all we could do to take care of the bills, and most of that time I managed on coffee in the morning, a sandwich at noon, and a glass of milk at night. One thing, it kept me in shape, though at that time I weighed less than a hundred pounds.

After we could go home, Doyle was bedfast for several months, his arms and legs wrapped in layer of cotton and liniment. Eileen helped more than she could know, for she was devoted to him and sat by his bed hours on end, telling him stories or stringing buttons for him. She would also read, with the book upside down, such fascinating stories. Finally, after learning all over again to first crawl, then to walk, he was up and about again, and on the doctor’s advice, his tonsils were removed. I had Eileen’s taken out at the same time, and sat between them, hold a hand of each, until they felt secure again.

During that time, Pat had taken a job driving a truck for Groendyke who was just starting in the business. The pay was little, even for those days, $15.00 a week and pay his own expenses, but it was better than nothing. It meant long hours and sometimes days away from home. And then Dad, who at the time Doyle was born, had discovered he had diabetes in a bad form, went for a check-up and was advised by the doctor that he had best get someone, preferably a member of the family, to come into the office to learn the business. Herbert was still in high school, so Dad asked me. It offered me the chance, not only to learn the business, and, eventually become a part of it, it also meant I could earn a little money. The teaching jobs were all taken, so there had been no chance there. I knew nothing about the business or even how to type, but I took a typewriter home, and with an instruction book, I started in. At the office, I began at the bottom to learn every phase possible.

( Editor’s note: So began another phase of Gretchen Lawson Murphy’s life.)More to follow next week!)

 

9-19-19

Gretchen Lawson Murphy continued her story of her life without conveniences on the farm, now in the1920’s and early 1930’s and of adding to the number in her family:

"Then Eileen was born and such a tiny little girl she was. We were so happy with her, and she was so much company for me during the long days. She was so tiny and like to be in the room with me, so not having highchairs, walkers, or such, I put blankets in the bowl of the separator, which stood by the window, and she was happy watching me and looking out of the window.

When she was six months old, Pat’s father and mother and Charles decided to move to the farm, too. But the day they arrived, tragedy struck. Pat and Grandfather Murphy were bringing some feed from the field and Grandfather Murphy, riding on the feed, was knocked from the truck by a low hanging telephone wire and, though taken to the hospital and given all possible care, never regained consciousness and died a few days later. Shortly after that Grandmother Murphy and Charles went back to Lincoln.

When Eileen was seventeen months old, Doyle was born. He was a large, healthy baby, and Eileen appointed herself as his nursemaid. In fact, she helped too much, and I had a time keeping her from smothering him with love and affection. Before Doyle was born, a stranger came by Dad’s house in town and wanted something to do just for his meals. In those days, we weren’t afraid of afraid of strangers as we are today. There have always been odd characters around, of course, but not the violent hippie type. I was nearing broomcorn season and help would be needed to pull and bale, so Dad hired him, and he came to stay at the farm.

He would give no name but "Jasper" and we knew not if that was his first or last name but respected his privacy and asked for no other name. He proved to be a good worker, and stayed on past broomcorn time and took over the job of chore man. In addition, he was so fond of children and asked if he could look after Eileen. She spent hours outside with him while he worked with the chickens, and you could hear her chattering to him and hear him talking or singing to her. After Doyle had arrived and reached a few months, he, too, became Jasper’s charge. Pat at one time on a dare made a bid at the sale on a poor old horse so dilapidated and sway-backed that he looked like something in a comic book. The poor old thing was content to walk slowing around while eating the clover in the yard, with Eileen and Doyle seated snugly on his sway back, and Jasper keeping watch.

When Doyle was only a few weeks old, he became terribly sick and by night had reached the stage where nothing we could do would help. There was a bad blizzard that night, but Pat managed to get through on the phone to the hospital and ten set out to go get the medicine. It was impossible to use the car so he went horseback through Floris, then to Forgan, as other roads were impassable, then caught a ride to Beaver, got the medicine and started back. In the meantime, the teacher, Vera Wilmoth, who lived in the back portion of the schoolhouse with her with her two little boys, had heard Pat call town on the party line, and fearing he would not make it in time, she called and offered some patent medicine she used for her boys, advising that I dilute it a little for a baby. She bundled the boys up in heavy coats and with the medicine and a lantern, they made it down the hill to the house. I followed directions, and by the time Pat finally made it back next morning, the medicine had worked so beautifully, and Doyle was much better. I wish I had kept the bottle so that I would remember what the medicine was.

By then the drought was becoming critical, and the dust and dirt storms more frequent and severe until farming or ranching was no longer practical or hardly possible. There was pasture or feed for the cattle or livestock, and I was planning on selling my two hundred chickens when some kind-hearted soul came one day when we were and took them. Dad and Pat finally made arrangement to move the cattle to pasture in Eastern Kansas. The pasture bill practically took the price of the cattle and very little was finally from them. We finally decided to move to Beaver in hope that Pat could find work of some kind. He managed a bob for a while, then it was gone, so he went back to Lincoln to try there. I stayed in Beaver with Eileen and Doyle and just managed to get by. Pad had no luck in Lincoln, and after a few weeks came back and did a little truck driving now and then, Then both Eileen and Doyle came down with the whooping cough. There was novacacaine for that at the time, and they simply had to wear it out or let it wear them out. Eileen got over it okay, but Doyle was too little to spit out the poison, and be became so sick. He lost the use of his arms and legs, and the pain was terrible. The doctors insisted it was weakness from the whooping cough, but we insisted on something more definite so they furnished us with the name of a specialist in Wichita, and we took him there. There were days of tests and examinations before they decided it was Rheumatic Fever ( a disease little known about that that time.) He was in the hospital for three weeks, and they provided a cot in the room so I could help care for him. With Pat out of work most of the time, there was little money available, and it was all we could do to take care of the bills, and most of that time I managed on coffee in the morning, a sandwich at noon, and a glass of milk at night. One thing, it kept me in shape, though at that time I weighed less than a hundred pounds.

After we could go home, Doyle was bedfast for several months, his arms and legs wrapped in layer of cotton and liniment. Eileen helped more than she could know, for she was devoted to him and sat by his bed hours on end, telling him stories or stringing buttons for him. She would also read, with the book upside down, such fascinating stories. Finally, after learning all over again to first crawl, then to walk, he was up and about again, and on the doctor’s advice, his tonsils were removed. I had Eileen’s taken out at the same time, and sat between them, hold a hand of each, until they felt secure again.

During that time, Pat had taken a job driving a truck for Groendyke who was just starting in the business. The pay was little, even for those days, $15.00 a week and pay his own expenses, but it was better than nothing. It meant long hours and sometimes days away from home. And then Dad, who at the time Doyle was born, had discovered he had diabetes in a bad form, went for a check-up and was advised by the doctor that he had best get someone, preferably a member of the family, to come into the office to learn the business. Herbert was still in high school, so Dad asked me. It offered me the chance, not only to learn the business, and, eventually become a part of it, it also meant I could earn a little money. The teaching jobs were all taken, so there had been no chance there. I knew nothing about the business or even how to type, but I took a typewriter home, and with an instruction book, I started in. At the office, I began at the bottom to learn every phase possible.

( Editor’s note: So began another phase of Gretchen Lawson Murphy’s life.)More to follow next week!)

 

9-12-19

Gretchen Lawson began her teaching career in El Reno, Oklahoma where the year was filled with wonderful times and lasting friendships. She wrote in 1976:

"All these years I still was in touch with a friend, Willa Fosher, and now she asked me if I would be interested in joining her in California to teach in a new school and community. The school asked for a transcript and references, which I furnished, and soon a contract came. The salary was far ahead of what Oklahoma was offering, and I was ready to accept—but Mother, who had never wanted me to leave Beaver, even to teach at El Reno—became so upset at the idea and worked herself into such a state that Dad called and asked me to re-consider and return to Beaver.

So ended that opportunity, and I returned to Beaver for another year in the schools there. I was disappointed, but at that time Louise Tracy, with whom I had grown up and knew so well, had finished the University and was teaching there that year, too. Also there were several others I knew so well who were teaching, either in Beaver or nearby, and we all had so many good times that year. Louise taught Spanish, and I taught Latin, and during the year we put on a combination short play in Spanish and Latin. I also coached most of the regular plays.

All was not easy sailing, and we had problems, too. Young people of today sincerely believe that they have the only problems that ever were, but, believe me, each generation has similar problems. The one big difference I see now in comparing the present with the past, both as a student and as a teacher, is the big and almost utter lack in the youth of today of respect in action, thought, and voice for the for the experience and achievements of not only for the preceding generation, but of all generations past. They want and seek change, which is good, but they have no solution nor offer any workable plan by which these changes can work or take place. This get without giving attitude is a result of a change in home life and the educational program, together with, together with radicals who have been with every generation, and who rely on the "non-thinking" sheep of the times to follow their destructive programs. Today we need youth who think, believe in, and respect the great minds who conceived and built this nation, and who gave them the rights and privileges enjoyed by no other nation and who wish to add construction, not destruction. Believe me, there were problem children, both when I was a child, and when I taught, but they were willing to listen and talk and the majority never resorted to destruction of property or physical violence to others.

They recognized the fact that if they expected cooperation and respect from others, they must give the same in return, and that life is not a one way street for the use of a few.

During the last year in Beaver, mother decided to take in a room, much to my disgust as I felt that home privacy being invaded. Busy with teaching and activities, I did not meet this individual for a few weeks. At first I disliked him immensely and avoided him as much as possible. One night I was grading papers, and he came in and sat down at the table with me. Without being absolutely impolite, it was necessary to talk to him some. Gradually, I came to know him and eventually dated him, and by the time he accepted a better job back in his home state, we had become engaged. He left after a total stay in Beaver of 8 weeks, returning in late March for a day’s visit, and again in June when we were married. During time I spent in Norman and El Reno, I had become engaged to two men, both of whom I thought so much of, but neither engagement worked out, due to circumstances and differences of ideas. Hence, I was somewhat skeptical!

PART II Marriage In Spite of Skepticism!

In spite of our skepticism, Pat and I had many ideas in common and while I can’t say that either of us was in love at the time, the marriage worked out to the satisfaction of both of us. As to not knowing each other for long before marriage, I think of the remark and old friend made to me just before I was married, "A long acquaintance is not necessary for marriage is but a leap in the dark anyway."

We went directly to Nebraska where Pat had work at Eagle, about 10 miles from Lincoln. I was a total stranger there and had met none of his relatives except his mother who came to the wedding, and I felt truly as if I had landed in the world of giants, for the entire family, including his mother and sister, were larger than Pat. As I look back now, I laugh at our first home. Pat had no furniture, and what little I had was left in Beaver for the time being. Young people of today, and my own children, would never believe the conditions under which we set up housekeeping. We had two rooms in an old house next to the shop in which he worked. There was no refrigeration nor icebox, no gas heat, one electric light drop-in each room, and no plug-ins. We cooked and heated water on a two- burner kerosene stove to wash and to bathe. We had an iron bedstead, a small table, two chairs, and a curtained-off corner for a clothes closet. After a few months Pat got a better job at Crete, Nebraska, and we found a two-room apartment in an old residence, but the bath had to be shared with another couple. After a few months there, and with no chance of advancement, we moved again, this time to Satanta, Kansas. There were no apartments available, but we did find a small two room house next to a big dance hall. The town was new and wild and on dance nights, it was impossible to sleep. The fumes from the garages over the years were beginning to affect Pat (so when Dad made him the offer of taking over the farm (my uncle had long left to go back to Hutchinson and hired managers were not the answers). Pat jumped at the chance since he had been raised on a farm and loved outdoor life and animals. Thus we made our next move to the farm west of Beaver. The house there was nothing to brag about, but it was better than any we had had so far. It, too, had only two rooms, though later on we added a room and a large screened porch.

There is nothing quite like life on a farm or small ranch. It is hard, but there is so much that can be had no other place in the world. The days were long, for there was much to do, break out new fields, plant crops, mend fences, raise chickens, turkeys, geese, and guineas, care for the cattle, horses, and other livestock, and plant garden. I had never lived on a farm so everything had to be learned and there was always something to do. Our day began at 4:30 A. M. Our house was located in a little valley about a hundred yards from a small creek and there were many large cottonwood trees, giving plenty of shade in summer and protection in winter. Our nearest neighbor lived three miles away, and I had known them for years so we had many good times at their house and ours. The other families in that portion of the county were all congenial and friendly, and that first year we all formed something of a club or organization, and once a month, we would all gather at one of the farms and spend the evening together. There would be dancing on a large platform, card playing, or just sitting and visiting as each desired while the children played. Each family brought food and ice cream was made during the evening. There were feasts such as I have never seen before or since.

Topping the hill to the east of the hoarse was a little school house known as Kokomo West District, and while at that time I had no children, I was still very much interested in schools and served as a member of the School Board for a couple of years. The School House, too, served as a meeting place for the Community Christmas Party.

 

9-5-19

The continued story of the beginning of Forgan, written by Frank Nichols, one of the first business owners there in 1912:

"By the end of that first year of settlement of Forgan, there had been 53 businesses established. In addition to those listed in the previous article about the establishment of the town are these, all established in 1912:

Farmers Coal Year, John A Marshall

Pullman Café, J. C. Cain

Angleton Meat Market, C.P. Angleton

Ogilvie Millinery Shop. Mrs. T. L. Ogilvie, Owner

Adkissson Clothing Co, "Scabby" W. B. Adkisson, Owner

Methodist Church was moved into town from 1 mile north

Stafford Real Estate Co., Wm Stafford

Dr. J. C. Cowhick

Dr. J. C. Buckmaster

Dr. Enfield

Dr. D. B. Marshall

Forgan Warehouse, J. H. Lawson, Owner

Strickland Feed Barn and Yard (later sold to Woodfill & Simmons in 1913)

Nichols Feed Yard, Floyd O. Nichols

P. Hardy Cash Grocery

The following four businesses were all Carpenter Contracters:

Meador & Wentworth

L. T. Thorn

William & Peck

The following were Dray Operators:

L. T. Marvel

John L. Vandevender

Tom Kidd

Joe Hutson

Also in 1912 the following businesses were established:

Ft. Supply Telephone Company

Hardy & Herron, Secondhand Furniture, P. Hardy & Ed Herron

Midget Café, W. J. Struck

Tailoring Shop, Wm Stafford & Frank Allen

W. C. Price, Jewelry

H. R. Brockelman, Produce

M. P. Carpenter, Butcher Shop

P. H.Kraft, Blacksmith Shop

Beaver Mercantile Company, Homer Poling, Manager (died March 23, 1913)

In 1913, Elk Hotel, Oscar Gardner, was established,

In 1914 Davis Drug Store, N. B. Davis, Owner,

In 1914, Lewis Hall and Mercantile Store Building, B. C. Lewis, Owner.

A Special Election was called and held On January 21, 1913, with the following elected to serve as Forgan’s first officers, and sworn in on January 22nd 1913:

Floyd O. Nichols, Mayor

W. L. Allen, Member of the Town Board

T. L. Ogilvie, Member of the Town Board

F. E. Nichols, Town Treasurer

C. M. Yocum, Town Clerk (Yocum resigned later and H. P. Barrett was appointed)

Homer Poling, Justice of Peace

R. E. Judd, City Marshall

The Town of Forgan was then incorporated, and $25,000 for a Water Works Bond was voted on March 4, 1913.

The steel for the railroad was completed into Forgan on September 7, 1912, and the first passenger train arrived on September 15, 1921. A Beaver County Celebration with a banquet was held in the evening. Speakers were Mr. J. C. Collins of Wichita Falls, Texas, and the Hon. J. W. Cullwell of Beaver City. Many attended from Beaver City.

A City Well was dug in the middle of the street between the First State Bank and the Truax Hardware Company. The Well was dug 250 feet and was so salty that the water could not be used. The well was filled up with 100 feet of sand and gravel. An Electric Light Plant was installed in May 1916

The First School Building was erected in 1913, with nine rooms, a two story building; however, the first school had been conducted in the Methodist Church building, and a country school building was moved into town and adjoined the Church building. The first teachers were George E. Nichols, Principal; Mrs. Mattie Gregg, Intermediate Grades; and Mrs. Maude Nichols, Primary Grades. The enrollment the first year was 140. The average daily attendance was 128.

Easter Sunday, March 23, 1913, which was the earliest Easter during the past fifty-seven years, will be remembered by all who were unfortunate to be located in Beaver County as one of the worst dust and sand storms that had ever visited in these parts since the coming of the homesteaders.

On this date, also, the first Justice of the Peace, Homer Poling, passed away. The Pallbearers were the Officers of the Town who had been elected just two months prior to his passing.

The first of many changes to come through the years began when O. H. Cafky of Elk City, Oklahoma, bought out the interests in the First State Bank in Forgan from Bertha McPherson Stine of Woodward. The transfer was made in the early part of January 1915. Otto Stallings was transferred to a bank in Capron, Oklahoma, and Frank Nichols joined the forces of the Southwestern Hardware Company. The First National Bank was established in 1918, with H. Hobble as Cashier. And the City sold out the Water and Light Plant to the Texas-Louisiana Power Company.

By the Mid-1920’s this little railroad town had grown to about 2,000 people, and the Peak Years of Forgan’s commercial activities were from 1913 to 1919. From 1919 to 1929 were exceptionally good Commercial years. However, the latter part of 1929, the World Stock Market Crisis was felt in Forgan financial circles. In spite of that, the streets were finally paved in April, May, and June of 1930."

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article by Frank Nichols, and written in 1932, is one of the most enlightening about this railroad town built in the first years of the homesteaders and the settlement of Beaver County. The article about the town he described was written by a man who had helped build it and gave a first-hand account. The town of Forgan prospered and would probably have continued to do so except for two devastating events: The coming the Dust Bowl in 1931 that lasted for 10 years, and then the removal of the railroad in the early 1960’s.

 

8-22-19

The following accounts continue the reminisces of Gretchen Lawson Murphy about her early childhood as one of the first settlers in Beaver City. It has been interesting to me to read her original manuscript as she wrote it in 1976, and of her accounts before there were more than 2 blocks in Beaver, and these had only one or two buildings. Since I had edited a number of such accounts by early day settlers through the years, it was interesting to me to compare the similarities and differences as each writer remembered the same places and events! It would also be interesting to interview her today to see how she views the ways technology has made another new world in Beaver City!

Gretchen continued:

Some incidents from my life set forth mostly with the thought in mind that both my children and grandchildren might know some of my experiences and some of the reasons for my appreciation of the conveniences and ease of today’s living conditions. This is not a biography or history, and there remain so many things untold. The grammar is incorrect in many places and the typing is not the best. It is just a story that may let anyone who reads it know and understand a little more about me and life in those earlier times.

With all the inventions and discoveries of today that have made life easier and conditions more pleasant, I cannot help but feel we have forfeited much in our acceptance and use of them. The ability to cope with many situations, the art of survival under circumstances beyond our control, the consideration and thoughtfulness and help of human beings, and the art of being a Friend and having Friends has been neglected and sometimes totally lost somewhere along the way.

My father, H. N. Lawson, was a postal clerk on the Hutchinson and Southern Railroad, with a run from Hutchinson, Kansas, to Blackwell, Oklahoma. His schedule was four days on and 3 days off. He had attended school in Hutchinson and at Washburn College, in Topeka, Kansas. He was associated with his father in newspaper work where his father owned the paper in Hutchinson. He wanted to enter some business of his own, went to Beaver City, Oklahoma, and opened an Abstract Office in 1907, the year Oklahoma became a state.

My mother was the eldest child of a family of five children of T.W. Payne and Mary Jane McDermed Payne. Her father was born in England, coming to this country at age 4. Her grandfather had come to this country earlier and established a home in Iowa, and his wife, my great-grandmother, with their only surviving child (two children had died when the ship they were on was shipwrecked and they were returned to Liverpool, England, where they had to spend and entire year before securing passage on another ship. In Iowa, other children after my grandfather’s marriage to my grandmother they, with two of his brothers moved to Kansas, where my mother was born near Castleton, Kansas. Later they moved to Nickerson, Kansas, where they established a brick kiln and to this day a number of buildings still stand, built the bricks they made. He was also associated with his brother-in-law, Frank Vincent, in the first salt refinery in Hutchinson, known as the Vincent Salt Plant and later sold to the Morton Salt Plant.

My father and mother had a small apartment in the home of his sister, Ollie May, and it was there I was born. At birth my eyes became infected, and for some time, where there was a question if I would have sight. My eyes were kept bandaged for months. However, all worked out and while my eyes were and have always been somewhat weak, I have been able to see and thus enjoy my most precious gift.

‘Both families, my father’s and mother’s, were a closely knit group with strong family ties, and my early years were filled with huge family gatherings and visits to grandparents, aunts, uncle, and cousins. I grew up knowing all of my relatives, a privilege scarcely known to youngsters today.

In 1907, when I was two and a half years old, we moved to Beaver, Oklahoma, to quite a change in living conditions. The town of Beaver City, though a town in what was known as the Strip, consisted of few buildings, some of sod and some of frame, with a town well in the center of the street. At first there were only two blocks, but it grew to having two livery stables, two hotels, two or three general stores, with a post office in one, and with a bank, a café, and a number of saloons, a blacksmith shop, a few office buildings, and the Presbyterian Church, the oldest Protestant Church in the State. [Details of these buildings have been described in earlier articles recently published in the VOICES column.] Another point of interest in the early days was the cotton gin. There was quite a bit of cotton raised there, and the gin does a good business, and broomcorn was another big crop. Neither of these in 1976 is even grown today in the area.

A family who had a four room house decided to rent two rooms of it so that we moved, and then later on, we found an entire house to rent when the owner moved from Beaver. Dad had our furniture sent from Hutchinson, and with all that room, I felt like a queen. Then when I was about five, Daddy bought a house, only two rooms, but all our own. Today in the midst of affluence and modern way of living, it would seem a shack, but not to use then. It had a big year, three fifty foot lots, and our own well. Now we could keep milk, butter and foods fresh and cool, by lowering them in containers into the cool well water.

As the years passed, new people came, another Church was added, and more stores opened. About this time Mother and I were in Hutchinson for a visit, when a neighbor managed to get word to Mother that Daddy was very ill with typhoid fever, so we immediately started for home. We came on the train to Liberal, but we had to change trains at Bucklin. Just before reaching Bucklin, Mother decided to take me to the toilet, as it was some distance between depots and just time enough to make the change. Everything was fine until we started to open to door to go back to our seat and found that the lock had broken. We managed to attract the attention of the conductor (who was a friend of Daddy and Mother), who, in turn, got the brakeman, and they tried to take the look off, but with time run out, he finally decided to have the brakeman crawl around the end of the coach and into the toilet by way of the tiny window. It was a good thing he was a small man, or he would never have made it. Mother stood me in the tiny lavatory and she stood on the stool to give us as much room as possible, and finally, they took the door from the hinges, and we gathered our things just as the train pulled into Bucklin.

Trains always fascinated me, and since Dad had been appointed Tax Representative for that Railroad and had been mail clerk, too, for such a long time, at one time when he went to Hutchinson, he took me along , and we both rode in the engine most of the way. The engineer even let me pull the cord to blow the whistle several time. That really gave me something to brag about to my friends, and I was the envy of all. The ride in the coaches was something else. There was no air conditioning, and windows were raised to let in the air, but also that let in the smoke and little hot cinders from the wood and coal burning engines, and we arrived a little worse for the wear.

Dad was very sick for a long time and required special nursing, so a nurse came from Hutchinson to care for him. I think I nearly gave her a heart attack once. Our yard was full of little ground squirrels and horned toads and lizards. I especially like the baby horned toads, so one day I walked in, holding two tiny ones, and she screamed and knocked them from my hand and telling mother they were as poison as a rattlesnake if they bit you. I had played with them many times and had never been bitten and hear learned that if you placed them on you and scratched or rubbed the head that it would stay there for hours without moving. I never did like that nurse after that.

Then other sickness came. Mother was stricken overnight with inflammatory rheumatism, and while the night before she was all right the night before, when morning came she was in great pain and unable to walk. I was not yet six years old, but Dad and I together tried to care for her and do the necessary work. I was already good at dishwashing, and now learned to cook simple things with Dad’s help. Finally, the doctor said he could do no more for Mother, so Aunt Bill came from Hutchinson and stayed a while, then took Mother and me back to Hutchinson.

[Editor’s note: It would be interesting to hear Gretchen compare the care and cures in medicine by 1976 when Gretchen wrote this to these early needs to go elsewhere for any kind of professional care and treatment.

 

8-15-19

Gretchen Lawson Murphy continued her memoirs of early Beaver City, as it was originally called:

"The well in the center of the main Street was abandoned for a modern water system, although by then most families had their own well or cistern. But we still had to depend upon wood, coal, and chips for heat and upon coal oil or gasoline stoves for cooking for a number of years. Ironically, those chips would make Beaver famous in the future!

A little south of the First National Bank building was erected a two story brick building. I do not recall what, at first, the first story was used for, but the upper floor was rental rooms. It may have been at that time that Uncle Jim and Aunt Ellie Thompson had sold their hotel and built this for a rooming house, and used the first floor as an office and living quarters. I do know that they had it at about that time. There was an outside stairway opening into the front portion of the building, too. Upstairs was a row of small rooms on either side of a long narrow hall. At one time, a Dr. Levi came to Beaver City, rented several of the rooms, converted them into a small hospital I remember him quite well as he had a son about my age who was very good-looking! This was Beaver’s first hospital. Later, Howard Floyd purchased the building and operated a furniture store there.

As I mentioned before, Uncle Jim did not believe in banks and kept his money hidden. Aunt Ellie, who continued to run the rooming house after his death, kept her money in the same way, and years later, when I was in the Office with Daddy and Herbert and wrote her insurance for her, she would call me on the telephone, and in a low, whispering voice, tell me to hurry over. That meant that no one else was around to either see or hear as when she would pay me the premium. I always rushed over, and she would have me sit down, then she would disappear into the back part, and then, would re-appear and hand me the money, all in one dollar bills, each carefully folded and creased into little squares about one inch in size. As I left she would admonish me, "Don’t let anyone see what you have."

When Daddy first established the office, Beaver County consisted of one county, the now three counties: Beaver, Texas, and Cimarron, and his records covered the entire area. During those early days, he also had two partners, though each partnership lasted only a short time. One partner was a fellow named Clark and the other partner was Bert Wright, whom Daddy had known in Hutchinson before coming to Beaver City. After the Strip was divided into the three counties, Bert Wright and family lived in Guymon, and he ran the Office located there. Later Daddy sold the records and office in Boise City and the one in Guymon. The Guymon office was sold to old friends, the Farris family. I remember once or twice that Daddy would hire a buggy and team from one of the liberal stables, and we could drive to Guymon for a few days visit with the Wrights and the Farris families.

In 1912, not long after the town had begun to grow, Beaver City had a terrible blizzard. Mother, who was bedfast with inflammatory rheumatism, and I were in Hutchinson where she was undergoing treatment, but Daddy was in Beaver to keep the office going. I became ill with pneumonia, and the Dr. thought it was necessary to send for Daddy. There were mountains of snow everywhere in and around the County.

Fences were completely covered and all roads blocked. Farmers and ranchers were losing livestock by the hundred, and even rabbits and coyotes starved to death. Finally, Daddy found some men who would make a try to get to Liberal where he could catch the train. There were four men, including Daddy, with a wagon and six horses. At the end of three days, they had managed to get as far as Old Floris where they had to turn back. I am certain that most everyone has seen pictures of that terrible winter.

In 1918 there was the outbreak of the terrible flu epidemic. Miracle drugs had not been developed at that time, and the two doctors in Beaver and other doctors in surrounding towns, worked day and night to do all they could, but in spite of every effort, death was everywhere and hardly a family escaped the loss of a loved one, and in some instances, several members of a family were wiped out. It was so highly contagious that only a very few would venture in to help, and each family was left on its own to do the best they could. Fevers ran so high, and nothing could break them, so they just had to run their course. Groceries and supplies were ordered by telephone, and the delivery boy would place the bag or basket inside the yard and call out and leave before someone came out to pick it up. All public meetings, gatherings, and schools were cancelled. Both Daddy and I had the flu. Herbert, just a baby, was recovering from the whooping cough but did not get it, nor did Mother. My fever was so high, and both Daddy and I were delirious, but we recovered eventually with only one had effect for me—the fever had caused my hair to fall out, and I was quite a sight for some time. Now with new drugs and preventive medicines, there is little such danger of an epidemic happening again.

The building of the railroad was a boon to Beaver, and a number of men in Beaver City spent hours and hours of time and planning for it. The MK &T had been built to Forgan, and our railroad was a line connecting Beaver City to that line. However, the train ran regularly, and freight and supplies were not such a problem, and the train also carried a passenger coach each trip. I remember the first trip the train made, and Daddy saw to it that I was aboard. Later, when the passenger service was discontinued, Carey Barker ran a taxi service and met the train at Forgan each evening. When I was attending OU, I would take the train from Oklahoma City, change to the MK&T along the way, and arrive in Forgan in the evening, and then ride the taxi (a Model T. Ford) to Beaver, being "brought-up" on all the latest news by Carey.

So many changes were taking place in Beaver: the river, so many years having to be forded, then the old wooden bridge, later replaced by the present bridge, and then the railroad bridge. The old Toll Gate was done away with, and the road re-routed and opened to the public. The Loofbourrow house in the hills was purchased by John Sanders.

The Kile Blacksmith was moved to the back of the block, and the Ford Agency was built and owned by L. L. Long and John Lawson (no relation, although both his father and mother had the same first names as did Daddy’s mother and father!). Next to the Mercantile Building, on the south, a brick building was built and occupied by Harry Truax as a hardware store. He also served as Undertaker. Another man opened what was known as a Confectionary Store where now (1976) a clothing store is located. He had candies, soft drinks, and sometimes ice cream was brought in from Liberal. This was the gathering place of young people. He would also order special ice creams and desserts for Clubs and parties. Once Mother placed an order for ice cream to be delivered just before serving time. The time came and no ice cream and no word, so Mother called, and he had completely forgotten to even order it and had gone to a basketball game. Mother ended up by serving only the cake she had made.

The summer after my class had graduated from High School, during the 4th of July Celebration, the old wooden high school building caught fire and burned. I had attended all 4 years of high school there and have many memories of that time. Mr. Tenney and Mr. Andrews were Superintendents then and some of the teachers were Miss Barr, Miss Roberts, Mr. Wolff, Miss Daniels, Mr. Sweet, Mrs. Leonard, Lois Quinn, Miss Staker, and Miss Davis.

It was in my junior year that the high school, paper, the Spotlight, was first published and printed every two weeks, at the price of fifty cents per year. I have one of the early papers, and perhaps some of the Advertisers and the Ads would be of interest, so I will list a few:

1.Carter-Tracy Hardware Co.

2. Bradshaw & Son, Painters and Paper-hangers

3. Davis Drug Co. at Forgan

4. Dickson & Dickson, Attorneys

5. O.K.Barber Shop and Baths

6. T. P. Braidwood Abstracter

7. Truax-Walker Hardware Co.

8. H. N. Lawson

9. W. T. Quinn and E. L. Fickel Abstracter

10. J. O. Miles Groceries, Flour and Feed

11. Globe Theatre Admission: Adults 30 cents Children 10 cents

12. John W. Savage Farm Loans

13. J. W. Culwell Attorney

14. John Spohn Attorney

15. Narrow Gauge Café A. L. MacArthur

16. Fred C. Tracy Drugs, Dry Goods, and Notions

17. Provost Brothers Garage and Machine Shop: Overland 4 Coupe $1015.00 delivered

18. Annie L. Jones The Milliner

In late 1929, plans were made for a hospital. Two doctors were to be in charge, Dr. T. D. Bengegerdes and Dr. E. A. McGrew. Until the hospital could be built and equipped, they had their offices and hospital rooms in the upper floor of the two story brick building on Second St. (in the building later owned by Charles Miles). They continued there from 1930 until the hospital was ready.

The Post Office has had four locations in Beaver, and, oddly enough, has always been on only two streets—twice on Douglas Avenue and twice on 2nd Street. The first was on Douglas Avenue between 1st and 2nd Streets.

 

8-8-19

Gretchen Lawson Murphy continued her description of local activities in the early 1900’s:

"The County Fairs came into existence soon after we moved to Beaver, and they were something to be looked forward to by everyone. If I remember correctly, thought I may be in error, the first Fair was held approximately south of the present Nursing Homer. There were no buildings, but a few tents and a shed or two, and I remember so clearly, a horse drawn Merry-Go-Round. Rides were five cents, and how we all saved our pennies for those rides. The horse, a poor, tired old thing, would drag slowly round and round, fastened to a long pole, slowly turning the merry-go-round upon which were some battered, worn and frayed horses, but which to us were glamorous. There was no music of any kind.

As it is today, the women displayed their handwork and canned goods and bakery products. The men displayed their farm products and animals. It was a good Fair then and is now an outstanding County Fair in the 1970’s.

Dances were a part of the social life, too. Some of them were rather wild and rough, but soon a Dance Club was formed and held every two weeks, for members only, including their guests. Music was home talent, but very good. These dances were held at the K P Hall (which served the community as a Dance Hall for many years). Your membership card had to be presented at the door. Dance programs were printed, and dances spoken for and written down, as at a most formal dance. I was allowed to go with my parents a number of times and learned to dance there, though, of course, at that time the dances were the waltz, the one-step, two-step, and fox trot.

The first years we were in Beaver wild game was plentiful, and we had quail, prairie chicken, ducks, rabbits, which together with chickens, served between butchering at the meat market. There was little, and I mean very little, fresh fruit or vegetables, except home grown, and farmers who lived near Beaver City would sometimes bring these to town to sell them at the stores or peddle them along the streets, and how welcome they were. I actually thought when I was little that bananas and oranges and most apples came only at Christmas time.

One story I must tell about bananas. Once when I was very small, before starting to school, a small freighter wagon came through town with whole stalks of bananas, carefully packed in straw. I do not recall the price, but I do know that at the time, it was considered high. Some persons bought only a few bananas, and few, my Daddy among them, managed to buy a half stalk. One of the men was Billy Quinn, who at that time had three children. Having allowed the children several bananas that evening, the children were being put to bed, and their prayers being heard. Rex finished his prayer, and then said in a rather loud voice, "Lord, please let my Dad let me have just one more banana tonight." I do not know if he got it or not.

Of course, one of the activities that grew years later came about out of a must for survival and comfort of each and every family, especially for the rural areas, the cow chip fuel supply, humorously referred to by many as "Heifer City Coal". Most families kept a supply on hand for coal was scarce and so was wood of any kind, and what coal there was had to be brought in by wagons and sometimes the supply ran out before more arrived. Chips were gathered in a number of ways. Usually, the women and children took gunny sacks, which could be dragged along, and picked up the chips from the pastures, either dragging the sacks on back to the yard or leaving them at a certain place in the pasture, where later the man would take the wagon and load all of the chips in that. Either way, the stacks of chips were huge and stacked in such a way as to prevent snow and rain from soaking them, and they would always be dry enough to burn. They were counted on as much as coal was and used to both heat and cook with. They gave off an intense heat. There a number of pictures still to be seen of some of the chip piles of the early days. With the importance of the chips in early day history, the present Cow Chip Throwing Contest held each year helps keep that portion of our history alive. I believe though that at each celebration, a demonstration of cooking with chip heat would be of interest to everyone. From stories of the cowboys and of those who might be caught out in the open in storms, they, too, used the Chip to cook their meals and to keep warm.

Electricity finally came to Beaver, but before that, entertaining at night was quite a chore. Since each family had only a limited number of lamps or lighting facilities (some had pressurized lamps or lanterns, using mantels) when one of the events took place, front room stand tables (no one had heard of card tables and chairs) and dining room chairs had to be carried from the home of neighbors or friends to the home in question, and lamps borrowed. Next day, everything had to be returned and all lamps had to be filled and the chimneys cleaned. For the card clubs, since there were no tally cards, the ladies made them and some were quite fancy. There were a number of these Clubs, and those together with extra parties now and then made for a social life and good time. There were probably many I do not recall, but some of them were (before bridge became popular) 599 Club, Whist Club, 42 club, and, of course, lots of Pitch parties.

The town built an electric plant, together with an ice plant, and the day the electricity was turned on was a big day for us all. There was only one real draw-back each night at 11:45, the lights would blink off and on as a signal that at midnight the lights would be shut off until morning. (It is a good thing that there were only ice-boxes and no electric refrigerators, or defrosting would have really been automatic!. At the blinking of the lights, you either had other lighting arrangement made in advance or all activities stopped at that time. But either way, there was a lot of activity during that fifteen minute period.

With the coming of electricity, two families, Beatys and Embersons moved to Beaver City. Either on the corner where the Gym later stood or on the corner north where the Cleaners now stands (I am not sure which) they built a long, narrow building for a "Picture Show". At the back of the building they built a small two room house where one of the families lived. Of course, all movies were silent, in black and white and shown on a small screen. Each show consisted of a comedy, a news reel (weeks and sometimes a month old) and one main feature. Also each week there was a portion of a Serial, which we wouldn’t miss for anything. Depending upon the length of the Feature were the varying number of reels, and with the ending of each reel, the lights would be turned on while the operator changed to the next reel. Sometimes this took a little time and you spent that talking with those seated near you. All seats were folding chairs, and it is a good thing the movies was silent for was a constant moving and scraping of chairs.

I remember distinctly one family who always attended each show. The man, a very nice person, who operated a dray in Beaver, but who had not had the opportunity of much schooling and had difficulty in reading the conversations and explanation inserted on the screen, and whose wife obligingly read aloud everything to him. Her voice was loud enough to be of help to those too young to read, also. At the front of the theatre just below the screen were an old player piano and usually some girl either played that from rolls available or played from sheet music. Needless to say, the music did not always fit the theme or mood of the picture.

Later on, this business was sold to Frank Spangler who continued to run the show there. Sometime later, Frank built a new building and sold the old location to Mr. Cates, Lou Baggerly’s father, who, with his family, operated a store there.

The location of the new theatre is where the present "Picture Show" is now (1976) and remodeled many times over and with other owners. The theatre was also used for all high school and home talent plays and practices had to be conducted in the afternoons when there was no matinee or after the show at night."

Still more early day Beaver City stories to come!

 

7-25-19

Gretchen Lawson Murphy remembered in 1976 when she wrote her memoirs that the town of Beaver City celebrated every occasion! She wrote about her life when she came to the town in 1907 and growing up to help with these occasions.

"Another well-remembered and well-prepared for was Decoration Day. This, too, involved the work of everyone, and everyone participated in it. There were speeches and talks, and the Old Soldiers dressed in their uniforms. There was a general gathering place, usually in front of the KP Hall, since there was no public building large enough to accommodate and the crowd. Anyone who could play an instrument joined in forming a band, and the volume made up for the quality. All little girls dressed in white, and the little boys wore their Sunday best. The day before everyone had gathered flowers from the prairies and made them into bouquets or wreaths, with a few loose flowers for special use. A parade formed on the Main Street, the band and the Soldiers leading, followed by several hay racks and wagons filled with the flower girls with their baskets of flowers. These were followed by persons on foot and in wagons and buggies. This parade wound its way to the Cemetery, where the flower girls decorated the graves and scattered the loose flowers along the paths. After this and after a program, it was noon time and since the distance was far from town, and since so very many had come from a great distance in the country, practically everyone had brought a basket lunch, so friends and neighbors and relatives gathered by wagons and buggies and shared meals. They sat in the shade of the wagons and buggies and visiting continued into the afternoon. At this time and occasion, friends who had not seen each other for weeks, months, or even a year, enjoyed the renewing of acquaintances and friendships. This was perhaps one day of the year when even some relatives could be together.

The Fourth of July was another day for Community celebration. Usually there was a program of some kind, including speeches, and though fireworks were scarce, the most was made of the few there were. I remember most the picnics. There were a few scattered places along the streams where there were trees, mostly cottonwood, and almost everyone who had a ride or could find a ride would do so. Wagons, buggies, and hayracks were filled to overflowing with people and food. Usually some of the men would go the night before or in the early morning hours and fish, for there were many good fishing holes then. As the crowd assembled, the fish were cleaned and fried and enjoyed as a breakfast or mid-morning snack. All of the women were excellent cooks, and there would be mounds of fried chicken, cakes and pies of all kinds, salads, homemade bread, preserves and jelly, and always the big tubs of lemonade. The day was spent visiting with friends and families, and always an impromptu program for entertainment. Reluctantly, the crowd would leave, looking forward to another gathering the next year.

Fishing also made up summertime fun and made for a variety of food, as well. Families so inclined used to go together for overnight fishing trips. I remember we went several times to a place on Six Mile. Of course, with no ice, the fish had to be eaten right away, and though we might overeat, everyone enjoyed it all.

There were some special days that used to be observed in the busy world of today have been forgotten and discarded. One such day was May Day, the first day of May schools always had a program and a May Pole Dance. The children and some adults made May Baskets, little boxes painted bright colors or woven paper baskets and filled them with wild flowers and gave them to friends.

Especially did they remember the sick and elderly. It was the custom to place the basket at the door, knock and then run and hide so the individual would not know the identity of the giver. In Beaver City and the surrounding prairies at this time of year were such a variety of gorgeous wild flowers, most of which have died out over the years, but then the myriads of colors made a beautiful sight. There were both large and small bright yellow buttercups; a bright yellow, almost orange daisy with a deep brown center; little yellow daisies; a beautiful little blue daisy; deep color wine cups; and creamy wax flowers of the soap weed; the various colored larkspur kind of flower (some pink, some white, and some lavender; and the big bright brown, orange, and red daisy that we called the Indian flower; and in the lower places especially along streams and near the river, a flower, resembling flax, and in the lower places along streams and near the river, a flower, which in later years I tried to raise but with no luck usually a single flower to a single stem, with a leaf and flower exactly like a tulip, only smaller. Then there was a variety of cactus flowers, which while not suitable for picking, did add to the beauty of the scene. There were others, but these I remember best.

Thanksgiving Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter were all celebrated, as well, for remember, we had to make our own entertainment at that time.

School activities were numerous, too. There was always a last day of school picnic, usually at the san hills, when both pupils and teachers had a good time. Friday afternoons were special, too, when parents and friends were invited to school events. There were spelling matches, ciphering, songs, and readings. We had no athletic teams, but we did have track meets with so many events that practically everyone could participate.

I look back now at some of my early teachers, and the teaching and training they did, and can thank them for many things I learned that are not taught in present day classrooms. The two teachers I remember best were Mrs. Edna (Tweedie) Green and Mrs. Ethel (Smith) Fry, my 2nd and 5th grade teachers. We learned both the essential and practical, and while schools today offer a greater variety of subjects and learning opportunities, statistics today show that in the basic studies of reading, writing, and grammar, we are sinking farther and farther down the scale."

(Editor’s note: One wonders what Mrs. Murphy would say today about the curriculum!)

More next week about early Beaver City!

 

7-18-19

Gretchen Lawson Murphy continued her memories of Beaver City in its early days as follows:

"Regardless of the small population of Beaver City, the social life flourished both as a town and as a community with the farmers and ranchers joining in. Lack of conveniences such as electricity, gas, and other things did not hinder it one bit. Lamps and lanterns furnished light and cow chips, together with some wood and a little coal, furnished the heat needed. There were so many kinds of activities that it will be hard to tell about them all. There were several Ladies Clubs and organizations, such as the Richardson Art and Embroidery Society organized in 1907 of which Mother was a Charter Member. Later on was the Social Hour Club. Then there were the Church Societies. The members did beautiful handwork and held bazaars to help earn money. Their work sold well, especially at Christmas time to those who were not talented along those lines. Then there were quilting bees, also popular and participated in by town and rural ladies alike. Later on by a number of years, but still early day, the Bide-A-Wee Club was organized and became a widely known organization. I believe it was the longest existing club in Beaver City. There were a number of Lodges, too: Masonic, Eastern Star, IOOF, Rebeccas, and Knights of Pythias.

Soon after we came to Beaver City, the Methodist Church was built on the black just west of the Courthouse, and where the present Church stands. Church Socials formed a big part of the social life, and these included many kinds of entertainment—a general getting together with programs and entertainment and visiting with neighbors and friends—an Ice Cream Social to help raise financial funds—Oyster Suppers—Special Occasion Gatherings, such as April Fool Parties—Tacky Parties—Come As You Are Parties—and always a big Sunday School Picnic, which always drew a big crowd and basket after basket of delicious food and big tubs of lemonade. Of course, at first with only the Presbyterian Church there, those of other denominations also attended, who, of course, as their own churches were organized and built, attended those, but so many of the early townspeople were Presbyterians and we had a fairly large congregation. However, many were drawn to the larger and modern churches, since it was the desire of many to maintain the little church just as it was in its original form and place of origin. It, too, is a strange fact that so very many of the original townspeople or their descendants, who from time to time, moved from Beaver, were members of this Presbyterian Church. Some of these families (and I know there are many I have failed to list here) were Culwells, Loofbourrows, Stranathans, A. D. Humphreys, Kemballs, Beegles, Charlie Potters, Peckham Families, Twyfords, Longs, Foshers, Norton, McKillips, and many more. During all manner of hardships and adversities, the little Church has continues to exist and maintain its place in the Community and Town. If the original number of members and attendants could return, the little Church could no longer hold them all. I am so happy that in these days and times of "Tear Down and Rebuild" the strength of a few has been sufficient to save and keep the little historic Church, which I am sure, if those citizens of Beaver would today now stop, pause and reflect, either they could personally remember, or would have memories of stories told by their parents, of the many, many times the little Church had served them and their needs, and the influence it has had upon their lives, and of their friends and neighbors.

And while I am on the subject of the Church, I think it would be appropriate to tell of the early Christmas Programs I remember so well. Not only because I was a child, but because everyone, children, young people, parents, and the elderly all worked to gather to make these celebrations a success, it seems that the real Spirit of Christmas prevailed more than it does today. Well before the time, some of the men would scout along the banks of the small streams and from the very few trees (cottonwood) would select the best one they could find. They built a stand for it and stood it at the end of the little platform or stage at the front. Then, about a week before Christmas, the ladies and children would gather at the church for several days of that week and painstakingly cover each branch, large and small, with cotton and white cloth.

Several of the merchants would save the tin foil which came wrapped around tobacco, and the children would cut starts and circles for the ornaments. Just before the big night, we would string cranberries and popcorn and hang on the tree. To us, it was beautiful and to this day I never decorate a tree without the memory of those early trees flashing across my mind. During that week, the ladies also stitched (by hand) from mosquito netting, sacks to hold a few pieces of hard candy, some nuts, and either an orange or apple (whichever was available), which were distributed at the end of the program by Santa to every child and adult. There was always a program, usually of great length, as no child was overlooked but each and every one had a part, in recitations, or songs, and sometimes more than one number. There was always a huge stack of gifts around the tree, placed there by parents, friends, relatives, and teachers, and it was hard to wait until time for distribution came. Santa read the names aloud and each person came forward to receive the present. They were not like the gifts of today that surround trees or are given to others. There were very few "store bought" gifts. If one had the opportunity to go to a larger town or had friends or relatives who could send gifts, these made a big showing, but most presents were homemade, with love and care and thought going into the making of each one. There were a few stores that did have a few toys at Christmas time, such as a few dolls, little wagons, and such items. No one had heard of wind-up toys, plastic toys, performing toys or such. Most gifts were to wear or use.

Two incidents stand out in my memory, and while not of interest to others, were of much interest to me. Since we had relatives in Hutchinson and since I was the first of the grandchildren, and since Aunt Bill gave me so many lovely things, I had received from her this particular Christmas, a beautiful doll. It had blond hair, blue eyes that closed, a china head and kid-body with arms and legs fully jointed. Mother allowed me to take it to the program. I had always loved giving recitations and had a rather long one that night. When I was called upon, I carefully placed my doll in my place and went to the platform. Halfway through my recitation, I looked down and saw Hale Loofbourrow holding and swinging my doll by one leg. I was so upset that I could hardly finish and when it was over I ran, not walked, down and we had a tussle over the doll, until our mothers separated us.

The second incident involved by brother Herbert, a number of years later on. He and his friend and side-kick, Junior Long were seated together. It was the custom to have the program, followed by the arrival of Santa Claus. Some years the part of Santa would be played by some member of another church and some years by one of our members. He would announce his coming with a jingling of sleigh bells, rush through the doors with a hearty "HO HO HO", make a few remarks to various adults on his way to the front of the church, then check with the Superintendent or person in charge, as to the behavior of the youngsters, then with helpers he would distribute the gifts, calling out each name, and we would rush forward to receive the gift.

On this particular night, I noticed Herbert and Junior rushing to the back of the church when they heard the bells, and then as Santa sped down the aisle, the boys dropped to their knees and looked at Santa’s feet. Junior smiled, nudged Herbert, and said, ‘Yep, as I thought, it’s him, that is my Dad’s shoes.’

We had celebrations every holiday, which will be described in future articles!"

 

7-11-19

Gretchen Lawson Murphy continued her remembrance of early day Beaver City. She wrote this in 1976, but her stories are from her childhood when she and her family moved to Beaver City in 1907 and there were only 2 blocks in the town itself, and few actual buildings. She wrote:

"A building I do remember, having played around and in it with other children, and I doubt there are many persons left who do remember it, was the cotton gin. It stood some distance north of the Thompson Hotel. Believe it or not, in early days quite a bit of cotton was grown in Beaver County, and for some time the gin was quite active. There was an old picture of bales of cotton waiting to be picked up by the freighters. At one time I had a picture of the old gin, but it was either lost or misplaced. Quantities of these old time pictures belonging to my family and to other old timers were mistakenly taken to the Museum and should have been returned to their rightful owners. Another crop, once a big thing, but now seldom mentioned, was broom corn. This, too, was shipped by freight wagons from Beaver City.

Going back now to roads leading from Beaver City, there was one road through the sand hills that passed through the property owned and occupied by a Mr. Loofbourrow, father of Judge Loofbourrow. At that time, this was the only road out of Beaver to the north and passed through his yard just to the east of his house, and he erected a toll gate, which he kept locked, and when you call approached from either direction, you called out or rang a bell attached to the post, upon which he or a member of the family came out, collected a fee and then unlocked the gate. I clearly remember going through there a number of times. No one was exempt. This property later was owned and occupied by John Sanders. The Jim Lane Trading Post was the stopping place on this road, called the Lane Trading Post, and part of the Jones & Plummer Trail from Tascosa, Texas, to Dodge City, Kansas, a freight trail. (Editor’s note: one can see a good view of that road, Trail, in a painting by the late Mark Mayo, with the figures of the real Jones & Plummer included. This hangs in the Jones & Plummer Trail Museum, built in the early 1980’s and located on the Fairgrounds in Beaver. This may also be the location of the missing pictures earlier mentioned in this article by Mrs. Murphy since the donated pictures from the original Museum, made from the Lane Trading Post building, were relocated to the current Museum.)

Beaver City also had a newspaper, at that time The Herald although it had previously been known as The Territorial Advocate, and is now The Herald-Democrat. The Democrat was owned and operated by a Mr. L. B. Tooker, whose office was just west of the Dr. Munsell building. He later sold to Maude O. Thomas.

Of course, when Beaver City was established in 1880, history shows that the town was really crude and conditions rough, but by the time we came in 1907, the year of Statehood, it was considered a thriving, modern town. Of course, there was no paving, just dirt streets and mostly dirt walks in front of buildings, or boardwalks, and it behooved one to talk in the center of the walk, or boards, as the loose ends might fly up and hit you. However, if you were careful under such a happening and hold the board up a little, you might be lucky and find a few stray coins dropped by passersby. In somewhat the same manner, I used to search under the wooden bridge in front of Daddy’s office and find coins that gave me added spending money.

At this time, and until several years later, there were no electric lights, no gas heat, no refrigeration, and no water system. Coal oil lamps furnished all the lighting, cowchips, a little wood, very little since there were no trees except along the little streams, and if you were rich you might have a small coal pile that furnished heat for warming and cooking, and water came from the town well, or as I said, if you were rich, you had your own well in your yard. Milk, butter and food was kept fresh by either putting them in a container and lowering it into your well, or by placing them in a pan or trough, covering them with a clean cloth and filling the pan or trough with water and let the water travel back and forth through the cloth. Unless it was winter and ice could be had, or unless it could be packed in ice and brought in by a fast horse and buggy. Ice cream was an unheard of luxury and treat. I was about 10 years old before the town had electricity. At that time and ice plant was built, and we could get a little ice now and then. I seem to remember that before that time someone built a small building and loaded it with hay and straw and tried to keep ice cut from the river in winter time.

I must have been about 5 years of age, as it was before I started to school, that the main block on the west side of Main Street caught fire during the night and burned. Everyone in town turned out, and the bucket brigade worked at top speed, but practically the entire block was destroyed. Those who had stores and offices on the east side hurriedly carried out merchandise and records and equipment to a place of safety. I remember Mother and Daddy carrying the books and records from the office as far away as possible. By morning the block on the west was a blackened ruin, with only one or two buildings partly left standing. I remember how Billy Culwell and I took my little wagon and sorted through the ruins of the Mercantile, gathered burned cans of food, a ruined coffee grinder, and other things for a play store we had in the Culwell barn. As we were making one trip, a man (we later learned he was the photographer) told us to stop. We were really scared and thought we would be arrested for taking the things, but he came back with his camera and took our picture.

Soon, since pioneers never gave up in face of adversity, the mess was cleared away and buildings replaced and business went on as usual. All the buildings there were replaced were much better and improved the looks of the street. The courthouse was re-built on its present site on West Second. Several years later, during the night time again, the east side caught fire and buildings were destroyed. Again buildings were replaced, and the town went on. By that time, however, Daddy had built his office on Second Street and west of Main Street and so escaped the destruction.

The mail hack must be told about. Other than freight wagons, strictly for supplies and freight, either the personal conveyances of individuals, horseback travel, wagons or buggies, the mail hack was the only means of leaving or getting into Beaver City. The hack was a spring wagon with a canvas top and sides, square shaped, with planks placed across for seats. There were no backs to the seats, and it became very uncomfortable during the long ride. The route covered between Meade and Beaver City with stops at certain designated farm houses for change of horses and sometimes of driver. There were a number of small streams to be crossed, all of which must be forded. Most of the horses were only half broken and trained with some of the drivers were never quite sober, most rides were wild and erratic. The Stage Coach would have been a luxury to ride compared with the early day mail hack. One particular stop I remember quite well, and I believe that some of the family still live in Beaver County. This was the Sorter family, and a meal was usually served there or at least a stop for coffee. In addition to the meal, Mrs. Sorter always had a jar of cookies, and, of course, I always got several. Mother and I made several trips on this hack, and my aunt who came to see us remarked, ‘Only real love would have undertaken a ride like that.’

The long ride on the hack, plus the train ride from Meade to Hutchinson was quite different from a like trip of today, with fast cars and good highways, for there were no highways then, but mostly worn wagon trails across the hills and prairies. Even years later when Daddy bought his first car, a Ford Touring car, it was a long and hard trip for there were no marked highways of any kind except for what was known as the Cannon Ball Trail, which consisted of a round black circle painted on telephone poles along the way, one perhaps every two or three miles and very hard to see. If you met another car, it was necessary to move out of one rut to allow it to pass. Dry weather was not so bad but after a rain, the mud presented difficulties. In order to make the trip in one day, it was necessary to leave before daylight and then you would arrive after dark, and since there might not be a place along the way to obtain food, you always took plenty of food and water with you.

As to the mail hack, it was always a welcome arrival wherever it stopped."

 

7-4-19

If anyone ever deserved the honor of being named Pioneer Parade Marshal, it is Dr. Harold Kachel of Beaver County. This past celebration of Pioneer Days in May of this year, he was so honored. Although his event began in 1937, it was not until 1964 that someone was chosen as the Parade Marshal, although the Pioneer Queens had been honored from 1940.

Harold was born in 1928 to Sam W. and Mary Bukowski Kachel in a sod house 10 miles south-southwest of Beaver on the wind-swept plains of the Oklahoma Panhandle. He was the youngest of six children born to the Kachels. He started school at the Barker Schoolhouse, a one-room building located east of Balko. The school was colorfully called Possum Trot by the grades one-through eight students who attended since there were lots of possums just off the banks of Clear Creek, according to Harold.

Harold finished grade school at Balko and transferred to Beaver, where he stayed in town during the week and went to the farm on weekends and holidays. He played football for the Beaver Dusters, too, and graduated in 1946. After high school, he enlisted in the Armed Services and served during World War II for two years in the U. S. Army Air Force. Most of his service was with the Air Transport Command Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron stationed at Tokyo’s International Airport in Japan, where he worked in the message center handling top-secret material.

After his discharge, he returned home to rural Balko to help his father and older brother with their farming operations. He also began attending Panhandle A & M College (now Panhandle State University) in Goodwell on the GI Bill where he graduated in 1952. He then taught industrial arts and science in the newly formed Yarbrough School District. He also found time to pursue his favorite hobby, hunting for Native American artifacts.

In 1955 Harold earned a Master’s degree from Oklahoma A & M. And he also married Joan Overton at the Overton farm home six miles south of Beaver. He then pursued a Doctorate in Education from the University of Northern Colorado University in Greeley. He has also completed graduate studies at Oregon State University and at the University of New Mexico.

Beginning in 1957, Harold began a 33-year tenure at Oklahoma Panhandle A & M, seeing the institution change names a number of times. He served in all positions in the Industrial Arts Department—instructor, professor, and head of the department—and also served as chairman of the school’s division of Applied Arts, and later of the Division of Business and Applied Arts. He also helped spearhead plans for the construction of Carter Hall and provided a general layout for the building. In 1988, he became the Registrar of the University and Vice-President of Academic and Administrative Affairs in 1989. He retired from full-time work at the University in 1990, although he continued to teach for the Department of Teacher Education for a few years. From outside of his chosen discipline, Harold taught a very popular adult and continuing education course called Anthropology of the Oklahoma Panhandle, with some 70 students attending the first class, and with 130 people going on the first field trips to archaeological sites of note in the Panhandle.

Dr. Kachel is also the author of An Identification of Philosophical Beliefs of Professional Leaders and Industrial Arts Teachers, as well as co-author of two picture histories of the Panhandle. He served several years on the State of Oklahoma Teacher Education Team, whose members evaluated education programs in state colleges. He also served with the North Central Association and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

In 1965, Harold was appointed Curator of the No Man’s Land Historical Museum for the No Man’s Land Historical Society, and his wife, Joan, also began working at the Museum. After the Museum became affiliated with the Oklahoma Historical Society’s Department of Museums, Joan became a Museum Attendant. In 1992, he and Joan were recognized for their combined 47 years of service to the No Man’s Land Historical Society. Harold continues to serve on the Board of Directors.

Interestingly, among the many, many Museum projects on which the couple worked was the Pioneer Days Queen display, with photographs and biographies of each recipient of the honor. Taken collectively, the display shares unique perspectives of the Oklahoma Panhandle’s pioneer history. In 1992, Joan and Harold were recognized for their combined 47 years of service to the No Man’s Land Historical Museum.

In addition, Harold and Joan have been active in the conservation movement and care of the historic farm on which they live south of Beaver, with the planting trees and shelter belts and developing wise farming practices.

The Kachels have three children—Connie, Stan, and Lea. Connie and Stan are OPSU graduates, and Lea graduated from Central State University in Edmond, Oklahoma. Connie and her husband, Phil White, live in Wichita, Kansas; Stan and his wife make their home in Hook; and Lea and her husband Mike Morgan live in Oklahoma City.

It is ironic that each year Guymon celebrates their Annual Pioneer Days and advertises their recognition of Panhandle Pioneers. This year is their 87th celebration, and yet in all these years since they have been naming a Pioneer Parade Marshal or a Pioneer Queen, the Selection Committee had overlooked the fact that the Panhandle has not been just one county since statehood! In fact, the first formal government was with Cimarron Territory, an area that covered the entire Panhandle, with Beaver City as its capital. Even when the Panhandle became a part of Oklahoma Territory, it was called the Seventh County. Texas County and Guymon would not exist for several more years.

And yet in the years of the Celebration, there have been only two Parade Marshals from what is now Beaver County, one of which was an Honorary Marshal, and two from Cimarron County. Furthermore, there has been only one Pioneer Queen from Beaver County, two Queens and one Marshall from Southwest Kansas, and the others from Texas County, mostly from Guymon itself! Evidently, no Queens could be found in Cimarron County!

Fortunately, this year the second Marshal from Beaver County was recognized, the first one being Otto Barby in 1964 who was just listed as an Honorary Marshal.

But enough griping! Beaver County is proud to finally have one of their outstanding citizens recognized as a Pioneer Parade Marshal.

 

6-27-19

When the Volume I of the Beaver County History book was published in 1969, we were so fortunate to have many stories of the early settlers of Beaver County, including those who had come directly from Southern Europe. Today’s story continues from last week’s immigrant story with that of a family in the northwest part of the County. It is taken from information in the article written by Linda Plett for the history book.

Henry Boese came to America in July 1876. He and his wife Maria Remple brought with them one son fourteen years old and a set of twins who were only six years old, then had a son born aboard ship July 4, 1876. This was quite a journey. When they docked, then there was the long train ride to Kansas. This must have been rough for a mother and a new baby, along with the other children! They settled in McPherson County near Inman, Kansas, where a son Jacob was born in 1880.

Henry’s and Marie’s children would homestead in Beaver County: David five and a half miles east of Turpin; Peter just a half mile west of David; an Anna and her husband J. J. Epp one and one-half mile east of the Mennonite Church, founded in 1907. Jacob (Jake) would come to Beaver County as he and his brother Peter owned and operated a threshing machine with a Rumley Oil Pull steam-engine. He had seen crookneck maize that grew so tall that men could not reach it to hand top it. If this was what Beaver County produced, he did not want this kind of land, they could keep it! Back he went. But in 1917 he changed his mind, when it seemed his brothers were not going back to Kansas; he purchased one quarter of land from a James M. Matthews, who had homesteaded in 1910. It was located one mile north and two and three-fourth miles east of Turpin.

The improvements were a wooden windmill, an old barn, a very small building that would house a few chickens, and a dugout large enough for a bedroom. One room above ground served as a kitchen, dining-room, living-room, and the stairway. They soon started building a four room house 24’ by 24’. Peter, Jake’s brother, was a carpenter by trade, and others helped. However, before it was finished, another daughter was born. Mrs. Boese had a few encounters with snakes in the dugout, and now had to be even more alert with the new baby, lest she get snake bit. This added to her already busy schedule. When the house was finished, except for some cabinet work, and winter was coming on, they moved in.

Their happiness was shattered when the baby was stricken with infantile paralysis when she was one year old. She was taken to Chicago for treatment and finally fitted with braces. When she was three years old, she died of diphtheria. By now a son Henry J. had also joined the family and was the pride and joy of them all, and, of course, got to go everywhere with his dad. Later, another daughter, Mildred, came to complete the family.

Jake did not farm very long with horses; he said they did not like him, and he did not live them, so the best thing was to buy a tractor as soon as he could afford one. He and his brother Peter invented a part for their machinery for which a received patent from the Government.

Jake and his wife, Susie Abrahams, who had also emigrated from Russia, had four children, all who were educated in the Pleasant Valley School. Linda married George H. Plett and moved to a farm in the Greenough District. Their sons Leo and Vernon were educated at Greenough until they annexed with Turpin and Forgan. They graduated at Turpin. Mary Ann was married to Aldo Becker, and they moved to a farm in the Turpin District. They reared three sons, also who received their education at Turpin.

Henry married Thelma Dirks and moved to a farm in the Turpin District. Both their children were educated at Turpin. Mildred was married to John L. Schultz of Ringwood, Oklahoma, whom she met while she attended Oklahoma Bible Academy at Meno, Oklahoma. They lived there for a year before coming to live on the Boese farm, and Mr. and Mrs. Boese retired and moved to a home in Liberal, Kansas. The Shultz’s’ children were also educated at Turpin and at the Oklahoma Bible Academy.

Jake and Marie lived in Liberal for ten years, then they bought a home and moved it to Turpin where they lived until her health failed. After spending a while in the hospital in Beaver, she moved to the Pioneer Nursing Home in Beaver in 1961 and passed away in 1967. Jake, however, stayed in Turpin as long as he could take care of himself, but after a period in the hospital, he also went to the nursing home where he shared a room with Marie for a short time. He died of a heart attack in 1964.

The Boese family is an example of newly arrived immigrants enduring hardships, but surviving and prospering to make a new and good life for themselves in America, where they also contributed much to their communities.

 

6-20-19

The following story from the past is from a manuscript contributed by Sherry Jenkins and written by Gretchen Lawson Murphy in 1976 after she had moved to Colorado. Gretchen was two and a half years old when her family moved to Beaver in 1907, and H. N. Lawson began a title company to take care of all the newcomers at the time. The manuscript has so much interesting early description of the town and area that this is the first of several installments to come.

In Mrs. Lawson’s words she says, "I was two and a half years of age when we moved to Beaver, and therefore, except for vague memories of some things, clear recollections did not take place until a few years later. I do recall, however, the wild ride in the Mail Hack from Meade, Kansas, to Beaver, and my joy at seeing Daddy again. I, too, dimly remember the room which Daddy, Mother, and I, together with my little dog, Togo, shared in the Thompson Hotel, and the walks that Mother and I took to explore and town, and most of all, I recall the meals at the hotel. In my description of the buildings in Beaver at that time, I think I shall begin with the Hotel since it was my first home there.

The Hotel was a two story building owned by a Mr. and Mrs. Jim Thompson, better known by all as Uncle Jim and Aunt Ellie. It was located on the west side of Douglas Avenue at the intersection of what I believe is the Main Street. The first floor contained a small office used also as a lobby, containing a very large wood and coal burning stove and the only room ever really warm during the winter months, and the living quarters of the owners, and a few rental rooms along the front, some with outside doors, and it was one of these which we occupied.

Approximately the back two thirds of the first floor was the dining room and kitchen. The dining room was quite large and contained a number of long tables made from planks with benches as seats. Aunt Ellie was a wonderful cook, and business was good with transients, freighters, travelers, and those without home facilities both eating and rooming there. In addition, it was the custom of many families to have their Sunday meal there. Meals were served Family Style, with men waiters helping in passing the food down the long lines and refilling dishes. Meals were twenty-five cents, which included dessert and drink. Uncle Jim did not believe in banks and actually kept his money in an old sack from which he would make change (going into his rooms to do so, in order that no one could see where he kept the sack).

The Robertsons were early residents of Beaver and had a son just my age named Bill Robertson, and on Sundays, he and I would put on quite an argument over the one high chair the hotel owned. One of the waiters, and quite a character in Beaver, was a huge man with fiery red hair and named Hill. He was called Red Hill and took a fancy to me and would always carry me back to the kitchen for an extra serving of the dessert of the day. Another of my favorites was an elderly gentleman, Mrs. Loofbourrow’s father, who faithfully brought me a small sack of my favorite penny candy, Licorice Alligators, which he held until guessed what was in the sack. He did this because I called them "Gollygators".

The upper story of the building was made up of very small rooms opening into a long narrow hallway. All rooms were just large enough to accommodate bed, one or two straight back chairs, and once in a while, a tiny table, a commode with wash bowl and pitcher. There were no clothes closets and no stove for heat. It was at this hotel that Daddy spent his first month in Beaver while getting his records together and preparing to open his office.

His story was told in a letter to Mother and is most interesting. At the end of that month, he was still unable to find either a building for an office or living quarters for us, but he managed to persuade Uncle Jim, (who had no use for women and would not rent rooms to them or hire them as help of any kind) to let Mother and me share Daddy’s room, but only until he could find some kind of place for us to live. I slept on two chairs pushed up against the bed. We had the northeast corner room, and I remember Mother and Daddy telling about the nights they were awakened by a terrible scratching, bumping sound, and discovered huge hogs scratching and rubbing against the corner of the building. There were no laws or rules requiring animals to be penned.

Eventually Daddy found a small place on Douglas Avenue for us to live."

Part II

In this second episode by Gretchen Lawson Murphy, written in 1976, she describes early day Beaver, and the buildings along what she sometimes calls Main Street, or sometimes Douglas Avenue, as well as where they lived after their first experience in the Thompson Hotel.

"Eventually, Daddy found a small (very small) building on the east side of Douglas Avenue (the main street). That block and the one directly across the on the west were the only two completely fill blocks in town. (This was 1907.) All other blocks had only scattered buildings and many vacant lots. The building Daddy found had only one rather small room, with two windows and a door at the front and a back door with a small pane of glass. It was wedged in between two buildings that extended back beyond the office, and this narrow space, bare without even a weed growing back beyond the office, was the only yard I had to play in. Daddy strung a wire across the one room and Mother hung a curtain there, giving us two rooms. The front third of the room, Daddy used as an office and the rest was our home.

Since all of our furniture was stored in Hutchinson, Daddy hunted around and got a Topsy stove that served for both heating and cooking, an iron bedstead and mattress, a small square stand table, two chairs, and even a trundle bed for me. We used orange crates or ones similar to them for cupboards, and I used one as a chair. Mother hung a curtain across a corner of the room for a clothes closet. Since Mother had brought only a trunk with us, I had only one rag doll to play with, but I loved my little white Poodle, Togo, and we spent hours together.

In the front part of the building on Douglas, Daddy’s office was a far cry from the office of today. There was just room for one table used as a desk—no typewriter, and all records and abstracts were written by hand. There were two chairs. Work and records were stacked neatly on the table. Daddy, upon his arrival, had immediately started to copy County Records in order to meet requirements of an Abstracter. He also started his own system of Tax Cards that proved invaluable as years went by. During the first year, his father came to Beaver and, having some experience in an Abstract Office in Hutchinson, he helped Daddy compile his records.

On the north side of the building was an enclosed stairway, leading up to the upper story of the building next door. It was the custom of two elderly ladies to each day climb the stairs halfway to the top and while sitting on the stairs, they would smoke their corncob pipes and relate the latest gossip. I used to watch for them and would quietly sit on the lower steps and listen and watch. I missed all this when we moved from that office, but I would find opportunities to go to the office as often as possible.

As of that time, Beaver was a very tiny town, only a few hundred people. As I think back and try to visualize places, I remember some of the buildings. The Courthouse was in the process of completion after having burned in a fire earlier. It was in the exact location of the present day building. It was of concrete blocks, two stories and basement, with a huge attic space and a dome on top. In the early years Daddy purchased a machine for taking pictures of records and rented this attic space for its use. Some of the photostatic records are still in use in the present office. On the map of Beaver there was designated an area as the Courthouse Square but which was never utilized as such. It was located south across from the site of the present Nursing Home."

More episodes to come!

 

6-13-19

In this day of controversy over Obamacare, Medicare, and all other tenants of medicine, we tend to forget that without early day pioneer doctors, there would have been NO medical care on the frontier, and certainly not in No Man’s Land in its early settlement. Doctors practiced out of their homes and traveled on horseback or with a buggy to their patients.

When one of those early doctors came to Beaver in the spring of 1906, Beaver City looked like an up and coming town with a future for medical practice. Dr. Lindsey Lowder Long was born on a farm in Neosho County, Kansas, and at an early age decided he wanted to be a doctor. He entered the University Medical College of Kansas City, Missouri, and received his M. D. degree from that school. In the spring of 1898 he moved to Alva, Oklahoma, to begin the practice of medicine.

In September 1899 he married Maude Beegle, in Alva, and in 1906 he decided to take some post-graduate work at the Chicago Polyclinic and then to change his location of practice. He took the train to Englewood, Kansas, and then a buggy for Beaver, which took twelve hours. At that time, the town of Beaver City had a population of about 250. After he decided to settle there, he hired a man to drive him to Liberal, where he took the train on to Chicago. He said at that time, he saw only one frame house between Beaver and Liberal, the rest being dugouts and soddies. He completed his course in Chicago, then returned to move his family from Alva to Beaver. His practice was varied and interesting, and he often related many amusing as well as tragic stories of those early pioneer days.

One of those stories was about a trip to the country to the Sallee place. They lived in a dugout, along with their five children. All except the father and one of the children had pneumonia. With the help of a nurse from Liberal, he moved all the sick from the dugout to a tent for fresh air and gave constant care, and all eventually recovered.

For many years, Dr. Long was the only doctor in that part of No Man’s Land. For a short time, he shared medical offices with Dr. Munsell. He served a full fifty years of medical practice, first practicing with a horse and buggy, but then abandoning them in 1909 in favor of a one cylinder auto that he named "Brush." The auto was late replaced with a Model-T Ford that was the first of several. In 1923 the Longs built a large brick house, a part of which became the medical offices for Dr. Long, a house that is an historical landmark in Beaver today.

The Longs became active in civic and social organizations in Beaver, with Dr. Long’s interest centered in the Masonic Lodge of Beaver, which he helped establish. He received the Scottish Rite degree in 1912, the Knight Commander of the Court of Honour in 1921, and the 33rd degree in 1927. He also served as mayor of Beaver for twelve years, and was a member of the school board for many years, as well as a director of the First National Bank.

At the outbreak of World War I, Dr. Long served as county superintendent of health for Beaver County, and so, automatically, was the physician member of the local draft board. That job brought many headaches, disagreements, and heart-rending decisions, and untold hours of toil with no pay. However, he felt it was his duty to his country, as well as to his community.

Dr. Long was a partner with John Lawson in the Ford Garage business and later bought Mr. Lawson’s share and operated the business for many years. He was also a partner with Harry Beegle in the drug store business for several years.

Dr. Long’s wife Maude Beegle Long had attended college at Greeley, Colorado, and taught school at a little one room school in the country near Alva for a year before marrying Dr. Long in 1899. Their first child, Lenore, was born in Alva in 1902. They then moved to Beaver where their second child, Lindsey L. was born.

Mrs. Long was active in the Presbyterian Church and taught Sunday School for many years. She was also active in many of the women’s clubs, including the Federated Arts Club, the Federated Women’s Club, and Bide-A-Wee. She was Past Matron of the Eastern Star Lodge and member of the P. E. O. She especially enjoyed entertaining with her relatives, a nephew and his wife Harry and Coreen Beegle, and her niece Fay Fickel and her husband Elmer.

Mrs. Long died in 1961, and Dr. Long followed her in death in 1964. Both are laid to rest in the Beaver Cemetery. Both were exemplary models of early pioneers in Beaver County.

 

6-6-19

(NOTE: This is an article we ran about a year ago concerning Amanda Bolinger, who was an Academic All-Stater)

Finally, after thirty-two years, Beaver County has a student winner of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence Award! Beaver Schools, but the entire county and especially the 4-H Club, should be especially proud as Amanda Bolinger was one of the recipients of this scholarship. She is the first winner of this award from Beaver County, and one of the three from the entire Panhandle. Those of us who know Amanda well, who have worked with her in the school or in 4-H, are not surprised at her honor. She has received many awards during her secondary school years in grades 7-12, as well as in elementary.

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence was established thirty-two years ago while David L. Boren was serving as a U. S. Senator from Oklahoma. He brought together a group of Oklahoma Business and Community Leaders with the common goal of improving public education in the state. All agreed that private investing was crucial to the success of public schools in Oklahoma. Today, the foundation is a non-profit, charitable organization supported by private contributions and led by a 180-member Board of Trustees composed of leaders in business, education, and public service from throughout Oklahoma. A current Trustee is Linda Downing from Beaver.

Through the years, the Foundation has focused on five key programs: The Academic Awards Program has provided more than $4.6 million in scholarships and cash awards since 1987 to honor outstanding seniors as Academic All-Staters and exceptional educators for Medal for Excellence winners. In addition to the awards for students, five educators also receive monetary awards and honors. Beaver County has had two of these during the past thirty-two years, Sheryl Melton from Beaver in 2008 and me, Pauline Hodges, from Forgan High School in 1993, both for secondary teaching.

The Foundation also provides fellowships each summer for Oklahoma fifth and eighth grade teachers to attend the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute in Williamsburg, Virginia. The organization also co-sponsors the annual Colonial Day at the Capitol, an engaging and action-packed day of learning that brings history to life for students.

Another program the Foundation sponsors is the Local Education Foundation Outreach Program, providing services to local education foundations and building one of the nation’s largest networks of school foundations, with more than 220 established to date. It provides free training and resources to school foundations across the states and provides the Fall Forum for Oklahoma School Foundations and other training and networking events for school foundation volunteers and public school supporters.

Beaver School students have especially benefitted from the David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative. Through this initiative, the foundation works with school districts, businesses, faith groups and mentoring organizations to promote mentoring as a positive step toward academic success. The foundation sponsors the annual Oklahoma Mentor Day to recognize outstanding youth mentors from across the states and helps organize the Coaches Mentoring Challenge to recruit new mentors.

In addition, the Foundation has a Professional Development Funding for Teachers that was begun in 2003. These grants have helped 689 teachers attend national conferences and institutes in their chosen fields. Some 852 Oklahoma educators have received Fund for Teachers grants totaling more than $3 million.

The winners of these awards are selected from nominations by schools and community leaders by a Selection Committee of 29 members from all over the state. These are volunteers who must evaluate hundreds of nominations. The Committee is chaired by Tulsa attorney Tresa B. Adwan and functions independently of all other foundation activities.

An Academic Awards Banquet was attended by several hundred parents and educators on Saturday, May 19, in Norman where each honoree was recognized. Amanda was unable to attend since Beaver’s graduation ceremony was at the same time, but she was recognized anyway. The Oklahoma Arts Institute Orchestra and Chorus, made up of students from all over the state, provided the anthem and fanfare, as well a musical overture by Verdi. The keynote speaker, Johan N. Neem, Professor History from Western Washington University, talked about how to educate in a democracy, for a democracy, and received a standing ovation. Dick Pryor, former reporter for OETA, now the general manager of KGOU Radio, was Master of Ceremonies.

I had never heard of this organization until I was personally called in 1993 by then Senator Boren to tell me that I was receiving the award for Secondary School Teaching. Since that time I have served on the advisory board and helped with other activities, but more importantly, I have seen it grow and be recognized for its truly outstanding work for our schools.

My big disappointment and chagrin through the years has been my frustration at trying to get schools to nominate students for this prestigious award every year. I personally traveled to every school in the Panhandle for fifteen of the twenty-five years since my becoming aware of the award, just to get administrators and teachers to nominate their students. One counselor actually refused to talk to me about it. And an administrator said, "We don’t play favorites here!" As if recognizing school excellence is exactly playing favorites. Folks other than school personnel can nominate candidates, but without a school nomination, it isn’t as powerful. My argument is that every, every school in the Panhandle has more than one potential winner, as well as an educator (administrator or teacher) worthy of the honors bestowed. And a $1,000 scholarship for a student is not to be ignored! Let’s get busy and nominate students every, every year!

Again, congratulations to Amanda Bolinger! We are so proud of you!

 

5-23-19

As I watched each segment of the Ken Burns film about Vietnam, I was struck by how uninformed the public was during those almost twenty years we were involved in the Far East. Oh, yes, we were aware of newscasts in the evening with Walter Cronkite and others, we knew about the protests against the war, and some of us had relatives over there…but the general public didn’t seem to be as aware and concerned, at least in the Panhandle, as we are today in every event everywhere!

Having worked with Burns on the Dust Bowl film, I knew what a thorough job he would do in the making of the Vietnam film, about what a perfectionist he is for accuracy and for telling all sides of an issue or problem, and how long he is willing to take to get that perfection. In fact, his crews were working on the Vietnam film and one about the History of Country Music (which will air next year) during the production of the Dust Bowl film. It took over five years to make the Dust Bowl film, ten years to complete the one on Vietnam, and almost ten to do the Country Music one.

As I watched each of the ten episodes of the Vietnam film, I thought about the young nephew who lived with his uncle and me, along with his mother and other siblings, off and on when he was growing up. His name was Wayne Michael Wilson. He was born to Wayne and Rena Jo Hodges Wilson October 1, 1948, and started life west of Beaver on a ranch/farm. He attended schools at Beaver and Forgan, as well as in Amarillo and Andrews, Texas, and graduated from Beaver High School in May of 1966. Mike loved horses and rodeos and being a cowboy.

One particular year when Mike was staying at our house, he was in early junior high years. He had been investigating my little library and came running into the kitchen where he handed me a copy of a book by John Hershey entitled Tarawa. He was so excited!

"Is this my daddy’s name in this book?" he asked.

"Yes," I replied, "he was one of those Marines in WW II who helped liberate that island", I replied. "He was a hero."

I still remember exactly when Mike replied, "I’m going to be just like him and be a Marine."

Yes, he did grow up to be a Marine at the exact time for him to end up in Vietnam during the worst of the war there. And, he, too, became a hero. He received the Navy Commendation Medal posthumously for service as recorded in the following Citation on August 15, 1969.

"For meritorious service while serving as a Squad Leader with Company M, Third Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam from July 8, 1968, to May 30, 1969. Throughout this period, Corporal Wilson performed his duties in an exemplary and highly professional manner. … He repeatedly distinguished himself by his courage under fire. On May 30, 1969, while occupying a defensive position on Hill 452, four miles east of Khe Sanh, Company M’s perimeter was assaulted by a large North Vietnamese Army force. Continuously exposing himself to enemy fire, Corporal Wilson moved throughout the fire-swept terrain, offering words of encouragement to his men and skillfully directing their fire. Alertly observing a seriously wounded Marine, he was fearlessly rushing forward to assist him when he was mortally wounded by hostile small arms fire…By his initiative, aggressive fighting spirit and unwavering devotion to duty, Corporal Wilson upheld the finest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service." Signed: Lt. General H. W. Buse, Jr. Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific.

A Memorial Service was held for Mike at the Beaver High School Auditorium on June 12, 1969, with military honors, and he is buried in the Beaver Cemetery. He had carried on the service and tradition of his father Wayne Miller Wilson, and his grandfather, Willie Miller "Billy" Wilson, who had served their country in two World Wars.

Other information about Mike’s life is in Volume I of the Beaver County History, in the Memorial pages.

I was grateful to view the actual photography of the Khe Sanh battle in the Burns’ film since that underscored what a terrible sacrifice Mike and his comrades made there. Some pundit on television recently criticized Burns for showing these actual battle scenes; how stupid of this critic to want to ignore the reality of war when it is our soldiers fighting there. As one of my dear friends in Fort Collins, Colorado, said several years ago to me, "Old men in Washington make war so young men can go overseas and die. It is easy to say for those who haven’t been there and fought the battle."

That friend was a veteran of the 101st Division who was in Germany in World War II so I suspect his comment was right on! Thank you to Ken Burns for spending those ten years making this film and for PBS for showing it.

 

5-9-19

In reviewing articles and books about the history of No Man’s Land, I rediscovered two articles published in Volume II of the Beaver County History book, each written by pioneer settlers or their descendant. The first is from that of Dwight Leonard who wrote the introduction to the book. The following are actual quotes or paraphrases from his text:

"We know that the archaeologists tell us that the forerunners to the Indians, as we know them, roamed this area some ten to twelve thousand years ago, and those early day citizens of these western plains had improved the arrowhead to what is now known as the Folsom point, some of which were first found near Folsom, New Mexico. Before that was the Clovis point which was used approximately twelve thousand years ago, and before that there have been arrowhead points known as the Sandia point that were made perhaps as early as twenty thousand years ago. These were mostly discovered and unearthed at cities in the eastern area of the present state of New Mexico. However, it is thought that the creators of these points and their counterparts roamed in this area, as well as in the more arid New Mexico country.

Other peoples who roamed these prairies before us were the basket weavers, a mummified body of which is on display at the No Man’s Land Historical Society Museum in Goodwell. Many arrowheads have been found in Beaver County, especially during the windy days of the 1930’s when topsoil was moved here and there by the wind, uncovering the camp grounds of the Indians of the past. The late Clifford Goodner of Beaver had a collection of over four hundred such arrowheads." Today it is difficult, but not impossible, to uncover such artifacts since many, many people have collected them, some of which they then donated to the No Man’s Land Museum, or later to the Jones & Plummer Museum. Others, of course, have their own small and private collections.

Fred Tracy’s account of our early day peoples in the same publication recounts the story of the mummy described above. He says that it was found under a huge cliff or cavern in what is today Cimarron County. Neither snow nor rain had ever reached the body. Archeologists estimate that the child was a resident there over 3500 years ago. In looking at the body of this child, one can see the visible image of human beings who were living in this land thousands of years before the birth of Christ.

Tracy said that " it is estimated that the child was buried during what was called the Basket Weaver age, as judged by the manner of burial. One arm and one leg were brought together and bound with a string. Its impression is still visible on the mummy. The child’s features are more Asiatic cast than that of the modern American Indian. The eyes have an Asiatic slant; the teeth are prominent; and the hair is a heavy course black. This body should, in fact, be declared an original pioneer of our Panhandle, according to Tracy.

Later, in excavating for a highway, they the bones of prehistoric animals were found. Further excavation uncovered many tons of bones, some estimated to be from animals seventy feet in length. The evidence show that the animals had become entrapped in ether a swamp or high water holes. Several years ago many representatives from universities visited a hillside just southeast of Beaver City, and by splitting rocks found they could recover the prefect impressions of huge leaves in the rock, as perfect as though the leaves had first been placed in a book and pressed, then sealed in the rocks. Also, from the same rocks, skeletons of fish were recovered, evidence that at time period this hillside had been under water. There was also evidence that there had been trees of some tropical variety, evidence that the climate here had been far different from that of the present."

About twenty years after the publication of this account by Tracy, a road builder in the Balko area uncovered a bones belonging to a prehistoric creature. He had the foresight to stop his excavation and call an archeologist for further uncovering. This creature was obviously from prehistoric times. Hopefully, the archaeologists now exploring the area for more artifacts will be able to enlighten us more on prehistoric eras.

Those Indians who roamed this area at the time of Columbus, and whom we call Comanches, Apaches, and Kiowas, are considered quite modern compared to these prehistoric folk! And even though we would like to count the explorations of Coronado in this area some four hundred plus years ago as the first evidence of modern day people, we are ignoring the remains of the houses of the slab people discovered along the Beaver River, a few of which were moved to the former Mark Mayo Ranch. Although they are more modern that the prehistoric ones described by Leonard and Tracy, they are much earlier than the coming of these modern Indians and of Coronado.

I continue to insist that the history of Beaver County and its surrounding area is unique and interesting. I would hope that our schools, as well as parents, keep that history alive and relevant to students of today. Although I, too, think technology is wonderful, the past of our ancestors is far more important and far-reaching for our descendants.

 

5-2-19

Much of the material in the following article is taken from an article by Willis and Merlee Lansden for publication in Volume II Beaver County History.

In this day of our love for high tech, it is easy to forget the very important part the newspaper played in our early settlement of No Man’s Land. When the very first ranchers, then homesteaders, came to our area, there weren’t even any telephones, and certainly no other means of getting news unless it was by telegraph at a railroad station…and in our Beaver County, no railroads came until 1912, and that one only from Gate to the new town of Forgan…not to Beaver for another 14 years, nor to Ivanhoe, Gray, Dombey, Floris, or Clearlake!

Beaver County was actually more fortunate than most early settled counties and areas in that there were several early day papers. The Herald-Democrat is the oldest business in Beaver County. It has run continuously since 1887, although it has changed names and ownership several times, but it still remains a permanent institution of the County. The Territorial Advocate was established in the summer of 1887, probably in July or August. Men named Estes and Eldridge were its founders and publishers. These publishers put out three or four issues, after which they sold out to George Payne in September of that same year. Payne died in 1887, and that year the paper was sold to J. C. Hodge who was the manager of a publishing company. He changed the name to the Beaver Advocate. Hodge continued the former policies of the paper, however, and sold it in 1895 to Lily and Dolly Wright. The Wright sisters started their first number off under the caption Beaver Herald, Number 1, Volume 1. They later resumed the volume number of the Beaver Advocate. It was not unusual at all in those days for women to be the publishers of newspapers. After all, they had more time to do so than some of the men who were performing manual labor and running businesses that women were not yet "capable" or allowed to run.

January 30,1896, marked the first issue of the Beaver Herald under the ownership of W. I. Drummond and I. S. Drummond. The paper announced its policy as Republican but not "radical" enough to scratch all the Democrats and Populists off the subscription list!

On February 17, 1898, Noah Daves took charge of the Beaver Herald, buying it from Drummond who had run it for two years. Daves was at that time also County Superintendent of Schools. On December 29 of that same year, the paper was sold to F. S. Drummond, then County Clerk of Beaver County. Daves announced that he had sold the paper because he was not a practical printer.

Noah Daves resumed charge of the Beaver Herald on April 12, 1899, purchasing it back from F. S. Drummond, who retired because the newspaper was taking all his time, and he was bound to attend to his official duties as County Clerk. Daves added Miss Maude O. Thomas to his staff as Associate Editor on August 9, 1900. In February 1902 Miss Thomas took over the paper after having worked on it for two years. That was a blessing in many ways in that it brought stability since she ran the paper until 1923.

At the same time of the establishment of the Beaver Herald, a new paper was established by W. B. Newman, on June 7, 1906. Several years later L. B. Tooker consolidated the Beaver County Democrat with a number of the other papers in the county and called his paper The Democrat. In 1920 this paper as purchased from L. B. Tooker by A. W. Cox and A. L. Kimball. At the time the papers consolidated into the Democrat, including the Beaver County Democrat, The Forgan Enterprise, the LaKemp Mirror, the Ivanhoe News the Beaver County Republican, and the Farmer’s News (Knowles). The Gate Valley Star became a part of the Democrat conglomerate in 1907.

In 1923 A. L. Kimball purchased the Beaver Herald from Maude O. Thomas to form The Herald-Democrat. Kimball was the editor and publisher. The Forgan Eagle was then consolidated with the Herald-Democrat in 1927. In 1928 the Herald-Democrat again changed hands when it was purchased by H. H. Hubbart who owned and published the paper until 1944 when Willis and Merlee Lansden bought the paper. They completely modernized the plant with new and better equipment. They also, in 1966, moved the paper from West Second Street to its present location on Douglas Avenue. And today their son and grandson and granddaughter-in-law are the owners and publishers of the paper.

In the meantime, L. L. Beardsley, W. L. Beardsley, A. J. Stephen, E. I. Haworth, and Bernadine Nylund were busy publishing the Gate Valley Star, later called the Gate City News. The paper was a vital part of Gate City as it was growing rapidly after its move from two other locations to that of the new railroad coming west. By 1912 there were at least 25 businesses, lodge halls, churches, and baseball and basketball teams.

The two towns of Ivanhoe had not one but two newspapers, also, the Ivanhoe News and the South Ivanhoe Sentinel. Both papers flourished until the new railroad coming west missed both towns and located across the line in Texas.

At the same time the Beardsleys were publishing papers in Gate City, they were helping establish the new town on the new Wichita and Northwestern Railroad building into Beaver County, that of Forgan. As a result, on the sixth day of June in 1912 the first Forgan Enterprise was published. Its first edition was a four-column six-page paper. Business was so good that Mr. Tooker, the owner of the plant, had to enlarge in order to take care of the growing business demand. On September 3 of that year the Beaver County Democrat was consolidated with the Forgan Enterprise and with the combined circulation, the Forgan paper was soon recognized as one of the strongest in the County. Several years later, when Mr. Tooker published the Beaver Democrat, Chancy Rice succeeded him as publisher in Forgan.

Later, the Forgan Eagle was established by Mr. A. L. Kimball who sold it to Edith Sloan after he purchased the Democrat in 1925. Mrs. Derthick served as a local editor until the paper was later absorbed by the Democrat. A short time later Percy Torrey published the Forgan Advocate, selling it to W. Ray Brashear, who eventually sold it the Herald-Democrat. However, Mr. Hubbart, and later the Lansdens, continued to publish the Forgan Advocate through the 1940’s. I, the author of this Voices article, can attest to that since when I was almost fourteen, Mr. Lansden hired me to write the "social" news of Forgan for the paper. That was my first experience and venture into becoming a professional writer! It was not until nearly fifty years later that I found out that he had invented that job for me after my family had lost the farm in the Dust Bowl and were having a very hard time financially! Mr. Lansden paid me 25 cents per column inch, and it is amazing how much social news a small town can generate at that rate of pay!

In this day of high technology, it is easy to forget how important newspapers were to rural areas. Few people, if any, in my childhood had radios, few in the Dust Bowl could afford a newspaper, so we shared with our neighbors, and how else would we have known about the new Conservation Movement that grew out of the terrible dirt blowing around us, or about a man in Germany named Hitler, or about the Asian countries overrunning their neighbors? Or about a famous prize-fighter named Joe Louis? I walked across the field everyday when I was a little girl to get the neighbor’s copy of The Wichita Beacon. Even before I was in the first grade, I was attempting to read it. And when my parents went to Beaver on farm business, my dad would buy a copy of The Herald Democrat if he had enough money in his pocket. My parents instilled the value of newspapers in me, and I have never lost it.

 

4-25-19

In the fall of 1887 an election took place for sheriff. There were two factions in Stevens County, and two tickets were nominated, one called the Peoples ticket and the other, the Citizens ticket. On the Peoples ticket John M. Cross and Sam Robinson were rival candidates. Cross was successful, which caused Robinson to feel bitterly toward him. At the election, Cross defeated Dalton, the Citizens candidate, by a majority in Cross’ favor. Cross was a very peaceful man and had not become involved in any of the former factional fights between the two towns. At first the election seemed to be satisfactory to the Hugoton people, some of them went on Cross’ bond.

Robinson lived at Woodsdale, prior to his defeat in the election, where he had run a hotel. After the election he moved his hotel building to Hugoton. He was made City Marshal and while in that position, he ran a gambling house and drank a great deal. His conduct was so offensive to the best citizens of the town that they appealed to the county officers to close up his place.

In June, 1888, the question of voting bonds to the Rock Island railroad in consideration of building two lines through the county came up. One branch was to run by Woodsdale and Moonlight in the north part of the County, leaving Hugoton midway between the two lines. The result of the election intensified the feeling of Hugoton against Woodsdale. The trouble began a few days before the election on the bon question. A heated discussion took place at Voorhees and a row occurred between the supporters of Woodsdale and Hugoton. Sam Robinson flourished his pistol and struck James Gerrond, the under sheriff, on the head with it. Robinson was now a justice of the peace at Woodsdale. A few days later Ed Short, a deputy sheriff went to Hugoton to arrest Robinson, and was driven from the town, several shots being exchanged. A conflict was eminent but the State Militia hurried to the scene and prevented it. Short retained possession of the warrant and on Saturday, July 21, 1888, while in Voorhees, he learned that Sam Robinson, Charles and Orin Cook, and A. M. Donald were in No Man’s Land, fishing, and determined to go after Robinson. On Sunday, in company with two or three other men, he set out to arrest Robinson. They proceeded to Foff’s creek in the Strip, where a man named Reed was catching wild horses. When within a half mile of where Robinson and his crowd were camped, Short sent a note to Robinson asking him to surrender, stating that he could not escape as he had enough men to take him. The Cooks advised Robinson to get on his horse and leave, which he did. Short and his party gave chase, finally corralling Robinson but unable to effect his capture, and a messenger was dispatched to Wooddale for Sheriff Cross.

As soon as the sheriff received the news he summoned C. W. Eaton, Robert Hubbard, and Tonney to go with him, and on Tuesday evening they started to Short’s assistance. They went to the place from which the messenger had started but failed to find either Robinson or Short. When Short and his own men gave chase to Robinson, the Cooks went to Hugoton. Short and his men chased Short out of No Man’s Land, and returned to search for Robinson’s party which they met about dark on the 25th.

Sheriff Cross and his posse failing to find either Short or Robinson started back to Stevens County on Wednesday evening. Some of the horses gave out and they walked and led them several miles. About 9 o’clock night they went to a camp of haymakers at the head of Wild Horse Lake about 8miles south of the Kansas line, where they got some water and let the horses rest and graze. They talked with the campers a while and lay down to rest on the hay. Eaton and Wilcox got up into a wagon nearby. The moon had risen. They were suddenly surprised by the appearance of Robinson and his men who had completely surrounded them, and who commanded them to surrender and raise their hands. They were searched for arms, but had left their Winchesters tied to their saddles, about 6 feet distant. Robinson said "Sheriff Cross, you are my man" and fired at him with a Winchester, killing him instantly. He turned to Hubbard and said, "I want you" and shot him, too.

At the same time J. B. Chamberlain, chairman of the county board of commissioners of Stevens County, took Tonney’s revolver, stepping back a few feet, leveled the gun and fired. As he did so, Tonney, having his hands up, made a sudden movement and received a flesh wound in the shoulder. The force of the bullet knocked him down. When he realized the situation he feigned death. Robinson and his party when discovering Eaton and Wilcox, who on hearing the firing had climbed out of the wagon, shot them also, Eaton running several hundred yards before receiving the fatal shot. Cross, Eaton, Hubbard and Wilcox were all shot again to be sure they were dead. Robinson and his crowd pulled Tonney around by the foot to see for sure if he were dead. Chamberlain assured them that he was as he had given him a center shot.

After killing, the haymakers asked Robinson what they must do, for if the Woodsdale came out and found the bodies of the men, they might kill them. He told them to hitch up their teams and follow them. They did so and all started north together. After they had been gone a short time, Tonney got up and got his horse and started for Voorhees, almost fifteen miles to the northeast. His horse was run down, and he himself was very weak from exhaustion and loss of blood. It was nearly noon the next day when he got to Voorhees. On reaching there he found that the news of the bloody tragedy had preceded him, and men had gone after the bodies of the slaughtered men. An officer started to take him to Liberal, so that he could get away, as it was feared that the Hugoton crowd would hunt him and kill him, but he was too weak to stand the trip and was hidden in the corn field of a physician until friends from Woodsdale, under the leadership of George Pierson, arrived and took him away. Robinson and his gang, after escorting the haymakers home, returned to the scene of the butchery and discovered that Tonney had gone. They set out to hunt him but went in exactly the opposite direction of their intended victim. After this shooting of Cross and his men, several citizens of Hugoton threatened to burn the town of Voorheees and drive the inhabitants out of the country, because they had assisted Tonney after he was wounded. Excitement was at fever heat, and State Officials, together with eight companies of Kansas National Guards were ordered to Stevens County. Martial law was proclaimed which lasted about one month.

As mentioned in Part I article, the case was tried in court in Paris, Texas. Since there were no eye witnesses to the killings, other than the killers themselves, it was impossible to prove who actually killed these men.

 

4-18-19

This account of the tragedy was given by a man named Tonney, the sole survivor of the Wild Horse Lake massacre that took place in No Man’s Land six miles south of the Kansas line and about five miles west of the present county road from Optima to Hugoton, Kansas, in Stevens County. It is from the papers of A. M. McCoy, and preserved by Gretchen Lawson Murphy.

It was originally printed in the newspaper in Beaver County, Oklahoma Territory, but since the massacre took place in 1886 before there was an Oklahoma Territory, the case was tried at Paris, Texas, the same place the murder in Beer City south of Liberal was tried a couple of years later.

This story is so long that it will be printed in two sections in two successive weeks. It is presented here exactly as in the papers of McCoy.

To get to the origin of the trouble that culminated in the Cross murder it will be necessary for me to go back for a period of time before the event. Stevens County, Kansas was temporarily organized in June 1886, and Hugoton was designated by the Governor was the temporary county seat. The Governor appointed J. W. Calvert, county clerk and J. B. Chamberlain, J. R. Roberson and W. A. Clark as county commissioners.

An election was held in August of the same year for the permanent location of the county seat. Hugoton was settled in 1885, and was the candidate of the southwestern portion of the county. The partisans of Woodsdale opposed permanent organization, because they did not believe there was sufficient population in the country as the law required that a county should have 2,500 before it could permanently organize and choose its county seat. But the Hugoton faction was enterprising, and proceeded to take a census in order to overcome the difficulty that confronted their ambitious scheme. People were enumerated who had no residence there. Young men, yet in their teens were enrolled as householders and having numerous progeny. By these methods they showed that the county had a population 2,762, when as a matter of fact the county contained less than 1,000 persons. The order for election was obtained and published by posting notices in the unfrequented sandhills, where they could hardly be found with a search warrant. It was evident that the whole business was a fraud, the partisans at Woodsdale did not vote, but Hugoton polled nearly as many votes as there were men, women and children in the county. The election was afterward held to be invalid by the state supreme court, but the legislature legalized the fraud by an act of confirming the organization.

A few days after the vote on permanent organization, Sam Wood, a prominent attorney of Topeka, and founder of Woodsdale, was kidnapped on the Cimarron River, in Hamilton County, which lies north of Woodsdale, by a party of leading citizens from Hugoton, and carried to that place a forged warrant. Col. Wood had been collecting evidence to prove the census a fraudulent one, in order to have the election set aside, and was hurrying across the county to file notice of a contest before the time required by law had expired. When captured, Capt. J. C. Price and Ola Groff were with him. Groff was driving. Wood saw his captors as they approached him, and handed the papers in the contest to the driver, who put them under his feet in the hay.

They were taken by a circuitous route to Hugoton, where they arrived after dark. After reaching Hugoton, Groff escaped with the papers, which he conveyed to friend who got them to Topeka in time to have the election declared null and void.

The morning after reaching Hugoton the kidnappers, E. Bowden, John J. Jackson, J. B. Chamberlain, Joe Gaston and Bill Izor, started with Wood and Price in a covered hack, with a supply wagon and six horses. A cowboy named George Pierson, who saw the Hugoton party when they captured Wood, Price and Groff, went to the Augresy ranch in Stevens county and told Wood’s friends what he had seen. A rumor had reached Woodsdale that Wood had sold out and gone east. A messenger was immediately dispatched to Fargo Springs, twenty miles east, to make certain if it were true. In the meantime it was learned that he had not gone east, but had been taken south. Six men had started the next day in pursuit, and learned from some bone hunters that they had seen a covered hack wagon with Wood and Price. The Hugoton party was taken completely by surprise. They were waiting at a spring for Joe Gaston who had separated from the others in their flight. Wood and Price and their captors were taken back to Garden City, where the Hugoton party was placed under arrest.

The case was transferred to Stevens County where it was dismissed by County Attorney John Hall, an accessory to the murder of Sheriff Cross. Some of the parties implicated in the kidnapping affair were leading members of the Church, and money had been raised for the building of the Church and appropriated for buying the outfit with which Wood and Price were spirited out of the country.

(If the reader is asking, "What does this have to do with the Wild Horse Massacre?" the answer is "Everything." All of this was laying the conditions that lead to the massacre! ) See next week’s Part II of this account of the wild times in the 1880’s in our country.

erritory Celebration, it is fitting that we look at some of the stories of the past that were actually written by our pioneers. In this and following stories in the weeks to come, we’ll print excerpts from old manuscripts originally written by A. M. McCoy. These manuscripts were given by Gretchen Lawson Murphy to her niece Sherry Lawson Jenkins several years ago. Thanks to Sherry, they are still preserved and intact. They are reproduced exactly as the original manuscript without changes. McCoy writes:

REMINISCENCES

From August 1911 to May 1930 is a long time for newspaper "copy" to await publication, but such was the fate of the article printed below. It is from the pen of A. M. McCoy, under the date of September 12, 1924, who wrote from his home in Cuthbert, Georgia, to Fred C. Tracy, then the Mayor of Beaver, and enclosed this article with this explanation: "In cleaning out an old desk I ran across a rough outline of an article I chanced to see in The St. Louis Republic. Not being certain I sent it, I was prompted to rewrite it and add some things that came to my mind, and send it to you, knowing it sometimes is hard to get first had facts of early history.: Mr. McCoy went on to say without boasting, he believed he was one of the best posted men in this country in those days on what was going on.

Mr. Tracy received the manuscript, and being busy, put it in his desk for later consideration. He just got around to give that consideration last week, when, like Mr. McCoy, he was cleaning out a desk.

So here is the much delayed bit of history:

In an article published in The Republic of July 27, on No Man’s Land, the writer began with 1886. There is a great deal of interesting history previous to that. And as I am able to go back a few years farther I will endeavor to give you an outline in a rambling way.

I think it was in 1878 that Towers and Gudgell and a man by the name of Ford established ranches on Coldwater Creek near the line between No Man’s Land and Texas. The winter of 1878 and ’79 a firm of livestock commission merchants of St. Louis (Hunter, Evans and Hunter) had a small herd from the old Chism Ranch in New Mexico, wintered on Hackberry, a small tributary of the Palo Duro; and Reed Word and Biler, a southern Texas firm, had a small herd wintered on the Beaver.

They had their dugout at the Red Banks, which is about four miles west of the town of Beaver. They both had moved out in the Spring of 1879. In 1878, Bartholomew Crawford, who was a native of Illinois and an oldtime buffalo hunter, built a two-room picket house on Sharps Creek at the crossing of the old Fort Bascum trail. He kept a little store and took care of the traveling public; (what is usually called a "road ranch). In July, 1889, Hardesty Bros., men with a herd of cattle that they moved down from the Arkansas River, and the writer got in on the Beaver between Sharps Creek and the Palo Duro at the same time. There were the first two ranches located in No Man’s Land that expected to try to stay.

That same late Summer or Fall, E. C. Dudley and Son, located on the Beaver, west of Coldwater, and Healy and Sons and Toot Over located on Beaver below Clear Creek. That winter the writer stayed in an old sod house that some buffalo hunters had built on Bull Creek, and that winter, 1870 and ’80, I build a dugout at the lower end of my range, which was on a small creek about a mile west of the Jones and Plummer trail. The timber that was needed, I got out of the sand hills at the Red Banks. In 880, Arnold Brothers, located a small ranch on Hackberry which is a small tributary to the Palo Duro and in 1881, Kramer Brothers, located on the Beaver and Clear Creek and built an adobe house about one mile west of the crossing of the Jones and Plummer trail, very near where I built my dugout."

*Mr. McCoy had many more pages of manuscripts about early day settlement of No Man’s Land, which will be included in articles to come in the next newspaper editions.

 

3-14-19

One of the delights of teaching is receiving a thank you note from a student. The following good sense poem was sent to me several years ago by Lindsay Carter, one of the outstanding students I had at Forgan High School. It is from poem by Sally Deems-Magyordy with Portal Publications. Although if the reader was in one of my grammar classes, this may be more interesting than the way I taught it, but a lot more meaningful! It is never too late to correct your English!!!

ALL I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LIFE I LEARNED FROM MY ENGLISH TEACHER

A missed period may be a problem.

Don’t let your participles dangle.

If you’re not sure where a colon belongs, consult an anatomy book.

Sometimes the use of body language is much more effective than words.

The book is always better than the movie.

If you have something to say, do it with as few words as possible because if you go off on a tangent, people get lost and think, "What’s the point?" and lose interest and think you’re weird, you know what I mean?

Life can be a tragedy, but more often it’s a comedy.

Punctuate your life with laughter.

Don’t live in the past tense.

Sometimes it’s fun being the object of a preposition.

Everyone has a story worth writing.

If your autobiography wouldn’t fill a page, you need more excitement in your life.

Don’t be a rebel without a clause.

Never be afraid to use question marks. After all, nobody has all the answers.

Live life with an exclamation point!

And remember, think of life as an epic poem, not a sentence.

Also, readers, remember never to correct someone else’s grammar unless he or she is your student, and you never, ever make fun of someone else’s speech unless you have absolutely perfect use of the language yourself…and as Professor Higgins said in the famous musical My Fair Lady, "They haven’t spoken English in America in years!"

Oklahoma itself has five different dialects of the English language, and ours in the Panhandle is really more like that of the West Texas Panhandle with a nasal twang! One of the most interesting Oklahoma dialects is like that in the play Greater Tuna, a Broadway popular play a few years ago and that is set in southwest Oklahoma with their unique nasal twang! I produced it at Forgan High School, and again with the same actors produced it in Beaver a few years ago, since at that time I had a student from Hollis, Oklahoma, with the even more perfect Southwest Oklahoma twang since that is where the play is set! I didn’t even have to coach him!

Even with 53 years of experience in education and 3 degrees, two of which are in English, I would never be so rude as to correct others unless they asked me to do so. And when I edit books, unless a book is scholarly, I never correct quoted speech since the author is usually trying to imitate the spoken speech of the area where the book is set.

Try to really listen to others’ spoken dialects! You can have fun unless you are rude and make fun of the speaker! Just guess what their backgrounds are and where they grew up! And listen to your own recorded speech sometime!

 

3-7-19

In this day and age, even rural areas in Beaver County have access to a pharmacy, either connected to a hospital or on a corner of a town within twenty-five miles. That was not true in 1891 when Carter and Fred Tracy moved to the town of Beaver. When they began their hardware business and established a department store in the next block, Carter also practiced pharmacy as he was licensed to do so in Illinois from whence he migrated. Then Fred, his son, studied pharmacy with his father and also became a pharmacist in the department store on the corner where Downing’s Market is located today. Carter Tracy kept his pharmacy license for 60 years.

In 1890 the lot on which the future Beegle Drug Store was first purchased by one Harry A. Chaffin. The property changed hands in 1916 when it was purchased by Norah Davis, who with his son Doyle, later operated the Davis Drug Company at Forgan. Reportedly, the building that became Beegle Drug was erected by Mr. Davis. Records show that the property was purchased by Dr. L. L. Long on December 16, 1919.

It was not until 1929 when Harry Beegle came to Beaver and entered into a partnership with his uncle, Dr. L. L. Long in the L & B Drug Store that Beaver had as a separate store for prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs. Harry purchased Dr. Long’s interest in the Drug Store and continued to operate it as the Beegle Drug Store for many years. Dr. Long had practiced medicine out of his home and dispensed any drugs from his office until going into partnership with Mr. Beegle. The Beegles, Harry and his wife Corean Drum Beegle, operated the store until 1946 when it changed ownership and became the B and J Store, and later that year came under the management of O. G. Henderson who was already associated with the company

Harry Beegle, son of Albert and Nettie Beegle, was born in Nebraska in 1894. He served in the United States Army before he came to Beaver and entered into partnership with his uncle.

He was married to Corean Drum, daughter of Thomas and Achia Hesson Drum, in 1920. They had three children: Lloyd, Dorothy Faye Baggerly, and Morris. Harry and Corean were active in the Presbyterian Church of Beaver. During the years, the church was without a minister, and Corean was largely responsible for its continuance. She served as a Sunday School Superintendent for 20 years. Both the Beegles were major contributors to the life of Beaver City, as well as providing access to prescriptions and an over-the-counter soda fountain, a very popular place for teen-agers!

Like the Beegles before them, the Hendersons became a vital asset to the Beaver Community. They moved to Beaver in 1946 as managers and owners of the B & J Store.

Moving to Beaver with the family was a four-year-old son, Jim G., and Iva’s sister Claire Fox who made her home with the Hendersons at that time. The entire family became active in the operation of the B & J Store, including Jim, who while quite young, delivered orders to and from the soda foundation.

Prior to moving to Beaver, both O. G. and Iva had been active in the teaching profession. Iva’s degree was in home economics and primary education, and O. G.’s degree was in secondary school administration. O. G. resigned his position as Principal of the Higgins, Texas, Independent School System in order to complete his Master’s degree at the University of Colorado in 1940. Shortly thereafter, he accepted a position as Superintendent of Schools in the Dacoma, Oklahoma, School System. In 1942 O. G. and Iva moved to Booker, Texas, where Iva served as high school Principal, and O. G. served as Superintendent of Schools.

Their early years in Beaver were busy ones for the Hendersons. The business hours for the B & J Store were from 8:00 a. m. to 11:00 p. m., seven days a week. The store sometimes closed for part of the day on Christmas Day only. In addition, both, as the Beegles had been, were active in civic organizations as well as both working full time in the store.

Today when we can buy prescription drugs on-line or drive to a the pharmacy in Beaver or to Walgreen’s Pharmacy in nearby towns, we forget or never knew how hard some of these early pioneers in the field worked to make convenient and safe medicine available.

 

2-17-19

One of the influential women of Beaver County was Opal Canaday Stockton Whittaker. Her story is from story Volume III of the Beaver County History book in 1993. Opal Canaday Stockton Whittaker, was born in 1908 in Bogard, Missouri. She came to Beaver County with her parents, Rube and Ethel Canaday, and sister Mildred in 1908.They came by train to Englewood, Kansas, then by freight train to Gate, Oklahoma. Her family lived near Gate for three years. He helped other homesteaders get settled and hauled freight from Englewood to Gate.
In 1909 a son, Emmett, joined the family, and in 1911 her dad bought a homestead near Mocane. On this quarter the family lived in a one-room sod house for some time. A railroad track was laid through Mocane in 1912 and 1913. A daughter, Lena Ruth, was born in the sod house, but he lived for only three days. In 1914 the family moved south of Forgan about three miles. Here another daughter was born (Ethel Bernice) in 1914. However, the family moved back to Mocane to send Mildred and Opal to school. Coy Morgan of Gate was their first teacher. In 1916 Ruby Nadine joined the family, and in 1917 Sumner LeRoy was the last child to be born.
Opal’s influence began when she became a school teacher, following that vocation for 45 years, 1928 -1973, all in Beaver County except at Buffalo in Harper County for two years and at Luther Hill (a country school southeast of Laverne in Ellis County) for four months. She went to grade school at Mocane and continued there until the first year of high school. Her sister Mildred and Opal were in the same class. They went to Knowles High School for their freshman year in 1923 and lived in an upstairs room at the Jack Batemans and spent the weekends at home; they traveled in a Model T when it would run, otherwise a lumber wagon was used for transportation. In 1924 Opal went to Forgan High School, graduating in 1927, the largest class to graduate there. In that class were 21 girls and 5 boys: Florence Brooks, Opal Bilbro, Opal Canaday, Margaret Curt, Grace Delamarter, Bessie Desper, Goldie Desper, Nannie Dabney, Pauline Fincher, Lorna Gregg, Myrtle Glover, Wynona Hetrick, Gilbert Hodges, Faye Harrington, Forest James, Verene Jones, Inez Lansden, Golda Mills, Harry Messersmith, Fern Nichols, Marvin Nash, Lowell Robins, Ruth Sallee, Norma Taylor, Myrtle Watt, and Lucile Williamson. The class motto was "The Door to Success Is Labeled ‘Push.’"
he last week of school, before sunrise one morning, the class went to the sand hills north of Beaver to cook breakfast. They had fried eggs and bacon, boiled eggs and coffee. They had a dozen boiled eggs left over. Some of the class went to a store in Beaver and sold the eggs and bought candy. The classmates didn’t worry about who bought the eggs, but the candy was good!
Opal attended PAMC in Goodwell, Oklahoma, for one full year 1927-1928, and got a two-year elementary teaching certificate. She attended summer school, took Extension courses, went to night classes, took classes on Saturdays, and took 31 hours correspondence courses to get her degrees. Opal finished her B. S. degree at Panhandle State in 1954 and her Master’s degree at Northwestern in Alva in 1964.
Her teaching career began in 1938 when she taught in one-room schools for the next 21 years. She had as few as five students or as many as 28. She taught all 8 grades, did the janitor work, and walked to school. Her lowest salary was $60 per month at Mocane School, District #101 in 1933-34, the height of the Dust Bowl and Depression! The schools where she taught were Garland, Zelma, Pleasant Valley, Glendale, Blue Grass southwest of Laverne, Highland south of Gate, Luther Hill southeast of Laverne, Rosston, East Nye, Gate, Buffalo, retiring in 1973. Her longest teaching time was the 22 years at Gate. In 1959 Opal was selected Beaver County Teacher of the Year. In 1965 the graduating senior class at Gate dedicated the yearbook to her; she had started these seniors in first grade at Gate.In the meantime, she married and raised three children: Patrick, Rita, and Michael. Her influence as a teacher reached several generations.

 

 

1-31-19

One of the women I admired most when I was in late high school and on into my adult life was Delia Hodges Sprague, long before I actually married into her family. She was certainly a leader in the cultural aspect of Forgan during the late 1920’s and 1930’s, and even later when she acted as a mentor to some of the plays and drama courses I taught as a high school teacher in Forgan. The material for this article is taken from one written by her daughter Jacqueline Sprague King that appeared in Volume III of Beaver County History in 1993.

Delia Hodges, the second daughter of Gilbert and Lillie Hodges, early Forgan settlers, was a pioneer in her own right. A born leader, she was the first woman in Forgan daring enough to "bob" her long hair, a scandalous action in those days. Teacher, writer, mother, she was born with a spirit able to cross intimidating barriers. I think what she could do today almost a hundred years later with all the changes culturally, politically, and career-wise we have made for women!

Although she was born in Prairie Grove, Arkansas, in 1900 and lived many places, Forgan was always her home. She graduated from Forgan High School in 1920 and joked about being the salutatorian in a class of two. Her friend, Edna Mayo, was the valedictorian. When Delia packed to attend Oklahoma College for Women at Chickasha, her younger sister Lucille placed her shoes in Delia’s trunk, hoping to be allowed to accompany her sister on the Katy train trip. A homesick Delia cried when she unpacked and found the tiny shoes!

After two years at Chickasha, Miss Hodges decided to transfer to the Williams School of Expression and Dramatic Art in Ithaca, New York. Without funds, but endowed with determination and bred with a pioneer backbone, she started her journey to New York in 1923 with $25, a strong will and belief that in American you could do anything you wanted. In an era when women had just been allowed to vote, the 22 year-old woman journeyed across the country in Boxcars to New York, and, upon arrival, auditioned and won a scholarship at Williams Conservatory. She took whatever work was available to support herself and at one time held three jobs to keep herself in school. After her graduation recital in 1927, she received a standing ovation.

After a brief stay in Chicago, Delia returned to Forgan and opened a school of drama, using her training to enrich the cultural lived in Beaver County in the late 1920’s and 1930’s. Remember, Forgan had nearly 2,000 residents in the 1920’s and early ‘30’s. She taught both adult and children’s’ classes and presented many plays at the Alta Theatre in Forgan.

One performance on December 11, 1929, was to raise money for the Forgan Grade School Library. Admission was 25 cents for those over 12 and 15 cents for those under. In a newspaper advertising the event, Delia stated that although money was needed, those without funds would not be turned away, since if forced to pay, she herself would not be able to attend. One of the many plays she presented at the Alta Theatre in Forgan was Water Babies. A skillful director and makeup artist, she turned the ordinary citizens of Forgan and Beaver into accomplished actors, and her productions offered entertainment of a professional quality to amuse a pre-television audience.

After her marriage to Fred Sprague, she had three children: James, Joan, and Jacqueline. As a single parent by 1938, she raised and educated her children alone. Insurmountable barriers were only challenges to Delia. She made her own scenery for Water Babies, using a beautiful blue-green fabric. When her son James needed new clothes to start school at the end of the Depression, the ever-undauntable Mrs. Sprague cut up the scenery to make outfits for him to wear, making him one of the best-dressed first graders in Beaver in these starched and ironed crisp creations! All of these children became quite successful in business and medical professions.

Delia wrote many of the readings and plays she directed. Some were published by The Drama Shop, an entertainment publishing company. She wrote a book in 1979 called Acting Is My Therapy. A talented writer, she was a member of the American Pen Women and had many articles and short stores published.

She taught from 1942 to 1965 at Greenough High School in 1945 and Forgan Grade School from ‘952 to 1955. After retiring, she returned to Chickasha and studied speech therapy, staying in the same room she had occupied 49 years earlier. At the age of 69 she began a new career helping handicapped children and stroke victims.

Delia died in Tulsa in 1981 and was buried near her beloved Forgan where she had forever left her footprints in the sandy soil of western Oklahoma.

 

1-17-19

The following story if from Volume I of the Beaver County History book and was written by Earl and Ada Kerns, two people who were so instrumental in helping the Beaver County Historical Society publish this volume.

"Two young men, S. P. Kerns and Fred Tracy, came into No Man’s Land in 1884 seeking their fortunes. Thinking that they had found their Utopia, they encouraged their parents, the James Kerns and Carter Tracys, to come the following year. They came by rail, shipping all their worldly possessions into Dodge City, the nearest rail station.

S. P. (Sam) Kerns homesteaded on-half mile northwest of the present site of Gate. He married Bertha Grasham who had come into the community to assist her brothers, Jess, Sherm, and James in the post office and to teach School. To this union were born three sons, Earl, James, and Thomas. Mrs. Kerns died in 1908, leaving her husband with the task of rearing their three sons.

Many were the experiences had had with the boys. He returned from the field one hot day to find his sons with some neighboring boys had been playing cowboy and riding his fattening hogs. Several of the hogs did not survive. Another time he found that every can of a new case of port and beans had been opened and the pork missing but with the beans remaining. Calling a council with his sons, he learned that Earl, the oldest, had been opening the cans and would eat the pork before the youngest, Tom, had a chance to get any, so this day he decided he would have some port and had been guilty of the deed.

Sam Kerns was a farmer and rancher. He is credited with growing the first wheat in Oklahoma Territory in 1902-1903, which produced twenty bushels per acre. He was very active in the community and civic affairs. He assisted in securing the right of way for the M. K. & T. Railroad that came into the country in 1911-1912. He was one of the committee appointed to go to Englewood, Kansas, in 1835 to make application for mail service and a post office in the community, and it was he who suggested the name of "Gate City" for the post office, the second to be located in No Man’s Land.

He lived through many hair raising experiences of early days, including the activities of vigilantes. One of the two large cottonwood trees known as "The Hangman’s Tree" stood for years on the original homestead where his son Earl, and his wife, Ada Cope Kerns, later lived."

The following section is from Volume III of the Beaver County history books and is an update about Earl and Ada Kerns, written by the Editorial Committee for this volume.

"Earl volunteered for Army service in 1917 and was immediately sent to France where he served in four major engagements: St. Mihiel, Argonne Forest, Aisne Marne, and Chateau Theirry. He was honorably discharged with the rank of wagoner, having the duty of being a right hand man to his commanding officer. She later served in the United States Army of Occupation.

Earl and Ada Cope were married in 1923 and resided in Gate where he worked as a mechanic. During the Dust Bowl days he purchased a small acreage of his father’s homestead and started a grade A dairy. He sold the dairy in 1962 and spent his time in farming and ranching. He was very active in community affairs, serving 40 years on the Beaver County Fair Board, 30 years on Northwestern Electric Cooperative Board of Trustees, 27 years on the Beaver County Farm Bureau, and 35 years as Chairman of the Gate Election Board. He also helped organize and served many years on the Northwest Royalty Owners Association, served on Oklahoma State Dairy Association, and the Golden Spread Dairy Association.

Earl was also the secretary-treasurer of the Gate Cemetery Association for 42 years and served on many agricultural boards. He was a past master of the Gate White Star Masonic Lodge, member of the Beaver County American Legion No 149, and a member of the American Jersey Cattle Club and Angus Association.

Earl received Beaver County Jaycees Outstanding Citizenship Award and WKY Oklahoma Farmer-Rancher Award in 1970. He was named to membership of the Oklahoma State University and Golden Age Dairymen Hall of Fame. He received Beaver County Honorary Membership and State Meritorious 4-H Service Award.

He attended civil defense training school and worked many years helping to bring electricity and telephone s to the rural people of the Panhandle. He served as a member of the legislative committee of the Oklahoma Northwest, Inc. He also received recognition from President Harry Truman for his service on the Beaver County Selective Service Board during World War II.

In addition to supporting Earl’s many endeavors, Ada was equally productive and supportive of her community and county. The Beaver County Jaycees awarded Ada the Outstanding Citizens Award in 1978. She also received the WCTU Gate Woman of the Year Award in 1973. The Farm Bureau honored her with a 28-year award when she retired from the Board in 1976. Ada served as a state delegate to the National Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas, in 1977. She received a 50-year pin from the Order of the Eastern Star in 1983. She served over 50 years on the Beaver County Library Board, retiring in 1990, and was active in the Farm Bureau, the Beaver County Retired Teachers Association, and the Gate United Methodist Church.

Ada enjoyed and served as the Extension Homemakers County Council President, as well as Secretary of the State Extension Homemakers Council. She attended an international meeting of the Associated Country Women of the World in Ireland and constantly worked to promote good will and understanding to our world neighbors. She traveled abroad with the WKY Radio Broadcaster Tour and visited countries in Europe, observing rural, agricultural and farming operations.

She has served as district, county, and state leader in her political party and served on the Oklahoma Rural Area Development Committee, as well as serving on Senator Bartlett’s task force committee. She also served on the Red Carpet County Board of Directors, was a weather observer for the 25 years, a member of the Eastern Start for over 50 years, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the Beaver County Library Board, the Beaver County Historical Society, the Beaver County Farm Bureau, and the Laverne Hospital Volunteer Auxiliary. She helped to compile and write a "History of the Panhandle" and was very influential in the established of the Museum in Gate.

In addition, she and her husband Earl helped many young people to attend Citizenship Training Seminars and acted as mentors in their home, as well as helping them through college. They certainly carried out the values and ideals of their pioneer ancestors in Beaver County.

 

1-10-19

Maybe it is just my own interest in history, but I am shocked and appalled that we no longer teach the past history of our area, especially of the towns that have survived despite the hardships they endured. And it is even more important to recognize those folk who were the leaders, making the towns and areas successful despite the Depression, the Dust Bowl, two World Wars, and continuous strife in Washington! I have, therefore, begun a short series to recount the lives of some of those important leaders in Beaver County. Most of my information comes from the volumes of history produced by the Beaver County Historical Society during the past fifty years, as well as my own experience and memories.

With the shortage of doctors in rural areas, we especially appreciate one of the first to settle this new land, Dr. John Calvin Duncan of Forgan. Dr. Duncan, his wife Nora, and their children were prominent citizens of Forgan for many, many years. His son Robert Thomas Duncan wrote the following for Volume I of the Beaver County History series. Much of it is a first-hand account of what Forgan was like in early days.

His son said, "My father John Calvin Duncan, M. D., was born at Bradyville, Tennessee, in 1871 He taught school and later graduated from the University of Tennessee Medical School. My mother Nora Ellen (Bates) Duncan was born in 1872 at Bentonville, Arkansas, and was a school teacher.

Father purchased Dr. Enfield’s practice in Forgan and moved there in 1915. He came in a Studebaker auto known as an E. M. F.30. He built a house on the corner of Wichita Falls and Main Street.

The oldest son, Dean, was born at Gravette, Arkansas, in 1902, and came to Forgan in a freight car on the railroad (then called the Wichita Falls and Northwestern) with our hired man and our horses. Dad had practiced in Coal County, Oklahoma, and kept horses to use during the muddy weather.

The second son, John Davis Duncan, was born in 1904 at Hogan, former Indian Territory. The third son Robert Thomas Duncan was born in 1911, at Clarita, Oklahoma.

Mother and I (Robert Thomas) arrived at Forgan on April 30, 1916, by train. I wandered downtown the next day and got lost, and Harold LeCrone guided me home! Remember, Forgan was a much larger town than today!

Dean attended Beaver and Forgan Schools, graduating in 1919. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1923 and from Tulane University in 1925 as a medical doctor. He was a physician, F.A.C.P, specializing in neurology and psychiatry. He passed away in Shreveport, Louisiana, in April 1960. John went to Beaver High School, graduated from the University of Missouri, in 1926, and was in the oil business in Lubbock, Texas.

I attended Forgan High School, graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1930, and the Chicago Musical College in 1931, and have been in the general insurance business in San Antonio since 1945.

As for community activities, my mother was "it". She taught school at Beaver in 1917-18 and at Forgan until the Thirties. She was an Eastern Star and was presented with the fifty year pin. She was president of the Mothers’ Club, a Girl Scout leader, city treasurer, and Beaver County Red Cross Chairman for many years. Her Red Cross work was so outstanding that in 1940, she was sent to Washington, D. C., to take part in making plans for the Red Cross effort in the Great War then in prospect.

There were no trees at Forgan when I was a little boy. My parents bought trees out of a catalog from Mr. Beardsley who lived near us. We set out maple trees and catalpas. When I was at O. U., I brought elm switches from Norman and they grew to large trees at our old home site.

I started to Forgan School after Christmas in 1916. Maude Nichols our teacher. Her husband Henry Nichols ran the Equity Elevator. Forgan was a busy town then; it had a light plant east of town where the wells are now for city water. Farmers came to trade on Saturdays, driving their teams in, and during harvest, their wagons cut the soft sandy roads to pieces. Horses were hitched four or more abreast, as roads were wide. There was much fenced-in buffalo grass. The southwest corner of the first section line west of Forgan was grass and had a large prairie dog town.

I remember two bakeries, two drug stores, two hardware stores, several cafes, two hotels, and a drummer coming in on the evening train, and maybe taking the "hack" to Liberal after calling on their customers.

I remember swimming at the grove between Beaver and Forgan (now the Park) and large picnics were always held at the grove. We were always told not to go to the sandhills, but most of us did, anyway.

I also remember getting my Eagle Scout Badge at a court of honor at the Methodist Church in Forgan in February 1926. We were supposed to go to Amarillo, but a blizzard came instead. There were 13 Eagle Scouts that year in the Texas Panhandle Council, which ran from below Lubbock, Texas, to Forgan.

We also had a "Chautauqua" in tents, and medicine shows, and harvest hands and people on their way to their claims in Colorado, traveling in their tents, were regular events in Forgan. There was a great sandstorm of 1923 stranded 13 cars and wagons between our house and the first section line west about ¼ mile of Forgan.

I remember my father going out on sick calls in all weather and at any time of night. In the flu epidemic of 1918, he went without sleep for days at a time; Mother would stay by the phone. Once he failed to arrive at a call, and the men went out hunting for him. He was found in a ditch where the car had run off after he had dozed, he was so tired."

Dr. Duncan was the "go-to" doctor until his death in 1942 at Shattuck, and he was buried at the Forgan Cemetery with Masonic Services. Mrs. Duncan lived until 1959 and is also buried at the Forgan Cemetery.

 

 

1-3-19

Keith Drum was a prominent lawyer for many years in Beaver. He reached adulthood and college age during the Depression and Dust Bowl years when it was hard to just survive, much less have money for college. His father had lost his job and had trouble finding a job paying enough to support a family. Fortunately, his mother Ruth was teaching school which saved them from being like so many others during this hard, hard time. A job with his uncle and aunt provided money for Keith to pursue college and law school after graduating from Beaver High School.

In the previous VOICES articles, Keith has told the stories of both sides of his Drum and Weir families. In the last paragraphs of the article from which those are quoted, he continued his own story in Volume III of the Beaver County History.

"Dr. L. L. Long and Harry Beegle ran the drugstore in town, and Dr. Long had an office in the back of the store. The variety of exotic smells in that office stands out in my memories. Harry Beegle bought out Dr. Long and ran the Beegle Drug Store for years. Harry had married my Aunt Corean, and I was most fortunate to get a job there in 1930 where I worked steadily until 1934 when I had saved enough to start college. I was able to work there during the summers for the next six years, and, had it not been for that job, I would have been unable to complete my law degree at the University of Oklahoma in 1940. I will forever be grateful to my Uncle Harry and Aunt Corean.

In 1940 I ran for County Attorney of Beaver County against F. C. Tracy and was elected. In July 1942 I was called to active duty in World War II. I spent 43 months in the service, 32 of which I was in the Southwest Pacific with the amphibious engineers as a small boad commander and beach control officer in New Guinea and the Philippines. It is not surprising that a boy from Oklahoma wound up as a boat commander in the Army!

After the War, I had the pleasure of practicing law with two fine lawyers, Charles Miles and Merle Lansden, both of whom are now deceased. Merle became District Judge in 1967, and I have continued to practice law in Beaver with a variety of associates. As I write this, I am age 75 and active in the law practice with Jerry Venable, son of Gaylen Venable of Beaver and a fine and able young lawyer who keeps me on my toes. I would retire if I knew anything else to do. It is rather sad to realize that I know more people in the cemetery south of town than I know in town. It is not easy being a survivor, but I don’t think much of the alternative."

I, the editor of this article, Pauline, was his wife-in-heart, and treasured his sharing his memories, both happy and sad, with me. He helped me write history articles, he cheered me on when I was discouraged, we laughed and cried together, all priceless in my memories. Two special times were when he wrote and I edited the story of pioneer J.R. Quinn, and also when I sat in his office with Glen Carrier and Keith as they established the Glen Carrier Scholarship, which they then appointed me to run. And I was privileged to deliver his eulogy at the First Christian Church in Beaver where he had been a member for many years.

In addition to surviving and succeeding hard financial times of the Thirties, Keith lost his first wife Phebe Jane Bolin Drum in childbirth; he was drafted into the Army to serve in the South Pacific even though he was a single dad with a two year old child; he lost his second wife to cancer, and his second son at an early age from a birth defect. He served with the boat battalion in the South Pacific, helping to re-capture islands held by the Japanese.

Keith lived until December 17, 2004. In spite of tragedies in his life, he conquered his alcoholism, he kept on working and helping others, both through his law firm and through his service in Rotary Club in Beaver, in his long leadership in AA in Beaver, and as a member of the Fraternal Order of the Masonic Lodge, as a member of the Board of Directors for the Sheltered Workshop, and a supporter of the Beaver County Historical Society.

He is survived by his son Keith, Jr., and wife Sue, who live in Yorba Linda, California, their daughter Simone who lives in Italy; as well as by his daughter Shannon Knapke, her husband Don, and their three children of Beaver.

I was so pleased to be able to join Shannon in creating a memorial as a replica of his law office at the Jones & Plummer Museum, using the furniture and equipment from his actual office on Second Street. In addition, photos of his battalion unit are on display

Keith’s was a life well-lived in spite of hardships and tragedy.

 

12-27-18

This is a continuation of the article Keith Drum wrote for Volume III Beaver County History in 1993. In Part I about the Drum and Weir families, he tells of these two families coming to Beaver County and making a difference in the growth and prosperity of the area for many years. Keith continued:

Ada Weir married W. T. "Billy" Quinn and lived in the town of Beaver where he was a partner in the original Beaver Telephone Company and was a partner with his brother-in-law Elmer Fickel in the Beaver County Abstract Office. Billy also served for many years as Justice of the Peace of Beaver County. Billy and Ada had five children, Lois, Guy, Rex, Zoa, and Max. Max was killed in action in France during World War II. Zoa married Buddy Kiker and lived in McAllen, Texas, and Lois lived in Denver, Colorado. Billy and Ada were active in the establishment of the First Christian Church in Beaver and were responsible for keeping it going during the Depression and Dust Bowl of the 1930’s.

Mae Weir married Elmer Fickel and worked in the Abstract Office until her death of dust pneumonia in 1935. Among other achievements, Mae had attended high school in Wichita, Kansas, where she was valedictorian of her graduating class, she was active in several women’s organizations and helped organize the No Man’s Land in Goodwell, Oklahoma, Elmer also operated a cattle ranch southeast of the town of Beaver, which he barely managed to hold onto during the Depression by working at other jobs. They had one child, Doreen, who is married to J. D. Ferguson and lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She continued to own the Fickel Ranch until her death.

Jennie Weir married Lynn Russell who working in a grocery store operated by Billy Quinn’s brothers in Beaver, and he also farmed north of the town of Beaver. They had four children: Myrna, Weir, Coy, and Lynnabell. Jennie served for a time as Court Clerk of Beaver County before moving to Arkansas to live with Myrna. They later moved to moved to California where she died in 1940. And Herbert Weir moved to Kansas where he married Nora Collier.

They were both killed in a railroad crossing accident in 1941. They had no children. Frank Weir married Goldia May, and they had one child, Shirley, and lived in Beaver where she worked in the Soil Conservation office for several years, and where Shirley as a popular and successful student in the Beaver Schools. Ray Weir operated restaurants in the towns of Beaver, Oklahoma; Perryton, Texas; and Woodward, Oklahoma, later traveling as a salesman. He had three children, Jack, Billy and Neva, none of whom remained in Beaver after adulthood.

Ralph Weir served in France during World War I and later taught school, where he met and married Celia Evans who lived south of Laverne. Ralph served as Deputy County Assessor and later as Postmaster in the town of Beaver, as well as serving as a rural mail carrier out of the Beaver Post Office. His wife Celia worked as a clerk in the Beaver post Office for a time before they both retired. They had who children, Merlin, who died as a child, and Nelva Jean. Ralph and Celia later moved to California to be near their daughter, and after he died in his 90’s, she moved to live near her daughter and her husband Sheldon Shores in Kennewick, Washington.

I, Keith Drum, was born in the Beaver, Oklahoma, on January 1, 1916. Dad had moved to Beaver to work for his Uncle Henry in the County Assessor’s office where he met and later married Ruth Weir, who was then teaching school at the Moon School southwest of Beaver. Dad also worked in the County Clerk’s Office, served as Deputy County Sheriff under Hardin Williams, and as Deputy County Treasurer under T. M. Cowan. The family moved to Woodward, Oklahoma, where Clif, my dad, worked as Deputy County Treasurer and as City Clerk until the fall of 1929 when we moved back to Beaver. My mother, Ruth, taught school in Woodward while there, and resumed her teaching career in Beaver when they moved back. In her lifetime, Ruth taught school for 52 years and was teaching in Perryton, Texas, when she passed away in 1968. Clif died in Perryton in 1965.

My own recollections of my childhood in Beaver, Oklahoma bring back many fond memories. No doubt the times were hard, but those are not what I do recall. I had several aunts and uncles and cousins living in the community, as you can tell from the previous paragraphs! I so looked forward to family reunions at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Memorial Days, especially as an only child! The tables were always loaded with good things to eat.

I well remember the town of Beaver of my childhood. Most vivid of these memories are of a red sleepy little town with dirt streets, tin awnings, a red brick schoolhouse, and smelly outhouses. There was a BM&E Railroad bridge over the Beaver River on our way to the sandhills where a bunch of us spent many a summer day running up and down the sand dunes.

The County Fairs were the first I saw an airplane and was introduced to the pilot, a fella by the name of Clyde Cessna, who had landed just west of the fairgrounds. I believe it was Frank Spangler who ran the Beaver Theatre where I could go to the afternoon matinees and watch Tom Mix and the movie Perils of Pauline for the price of a dime! Mr. and Mrs. Maddox had a bakery where my parents had a charge account, and the bakery made delicious cinnamon rolls. I supplied myself and my friends with these on a charge account for a time until my folks found out what I was doing and put a stop to it! Everybody had charge accounts in those days, and I remember the J. O Miles on the east side of the street where Charles, John and Mike Miles would give me a hard time when I went in. My Uncle Corwin worked as a butcher in Stranathan’s Meat Market one the corner and where the floor was covered with sawdust. Frank Laughrin, who drove a beautiful Maxwell touring car, and George Cafky ran the Bank of Beaver City, and W. H. Wells presided over the First National Bank. Aura Foster had a livery stable across the street north of Stranathans’s meat Market. Ike Phelps and Uley Wright had the Chevrolet Garage and Long and Lawson ran the Ford Garage a block south. Across the street from the Chevrolet Garage was the F. C. Tracy Dry Goods Store and Pharmacy, and on the north side of the garage was the Carter Tracy Hardware.

J. M. Cates had a store on the corner a block south of the Ford Garage where he bought cream and eggs, copper and lead, and sold groceries. At Thanksgiving time, he sold turkeys, and I earned a few nickels cleaning turkeys at a nickel each. There was a water well at the intersection by the Ford Garage. I recall seeing some drunk run into it with his Model T one Christmas night when we were walking home from the Christmas program at the Christian Church.

When I look back at it, I had a happy and interesting childhood in a prospering and growing town!

 

12-20-18

Two of the pioneer families of early Beaver County who left a lasting impression and whose descendants would have a great influence in the County and Community were the Drums and the Weirs. The following story of these families was originally written for Volume III of the Beaver County History book by Keith Drum a few years before his death. At the time he wrote it, he was a retired lawyer living in Beaver. His story follows:

"My parents were Clifton K. "Cliff" Drum and Ruth Weir Drum, and I am their only child. Of particular interest to me about these families are stories I have been told about my grandparents, and my personal recollections of my relatives. T. C. Drum was born in Bethel, Ohio, in 1954. He was of Scotch Irish descent. His wife was Achia Hesson of German descent, born in 1871. T. C. and Achia moved from Fredonia, Kansas to Beaver County in 1908 where he bought a relinquishment on 160 acres of land from the U. S. Government and took out his first mortgage from the U. S. Government in 1910.

Samuel Weir was of Scotch Irish descent, and born in Canada in 1857. In 1879 S. B. Weir married Ida Estella Barrett of English descent. They had ten children, several of whom later lived in Beaver County

T. C. Drum made a living of sorts playing his violin in theatre pit orchestras in Iowa and Kansas before moving to Beaver County. He moved his family to Oklahoma on the recommendation of his brother Henry who had filed on land in southeastern Beaver County. T. C. was apparently more of a musician than he was a farmer, and it took a few years for the early settlers in Beaver County realizes that you could starve to death on 160 acres of patented land in this county. My dad told that their main staple of diet some years was thickened milk as they had no meat with which to make gravy. I can barely recall visiting the half-dugout home on the Drum farm as a small child, where I took my first fall from a horse and played cowboy. I remember one trip with my dad on a wagon loaded with bundle feed when it got so cold that Dad covered me with bundles of feed in the wagon bed to keep me warm. For entertainment in those days Granddad Drum played his fiddle, and Dad played his cornet at the country picnics where they had foot races, horse races, played baseball and had a general good time with neighbors.

I never did learn how much formal education my father had, certainly no high school, but he read a lot and told me that they had great debates at the local schoolhouse where the neighbors held their lyceum, and association providing inspirational lectures, concerts, and entertainment on a regular basis.

T. C. Drum suffered a stroke and was bedfast for some time at the farm before they finally moved to Shattuck, Oklahoma, to be close to a doctor, and T. C. Drum initially passed away in November of 1920 and was buried in Shattuck. Achia remained in Shattuck where she helped support herself and the two of her children still at home, Lois and Dorothy, as expert needle workers making quilts.

Clif Drum, oldest child of T. C. and Achia, moved to the town of Beaver where he married Ruth Weir in 1915. I am their only child. Ruth became a teacher for many years in the Beaver Schools. Clif died in July of 1965, and Ruth died in February of 1968. Both are buried in the Beaver Cemetery. Corean Drum moved to Beaver where she married Harry Beegle in 1920. The operated the Beegle Drum Store for many years. They had three children, Lloyd who lived in Wisconsin, Dorothy Faye who lived in Spearman, Texas, and Morris who lived in Loveland, Colorado. All three of these children attended Beaver Schools.

Achia Hesson Drum was the only grandparent I was privileged to know. She was a wonderful storyteller and a special grandmother to me. I spent the summer of 1926 with her and Lois while my mother attended college in Alva. Lois was less than a year older than I. Unfortunately, I do not remember any of the stories she told us, but I do remember that every Saturday morning she would give Lois and me a dose of Sal-Hepatica to keep us healthy. I grew up to even like the stuff!

Clif, Dorothy, and Walt inherited their dad’s musical ability, and the house was filled with music when they all got together. Clif was bandmaster in Beaver and Woodward in those early years when we had town bands and could play any instrument. Dorothy was a talented piano player, and Walt played piano and the guitar.

My great-grandfather Peter Hesson was in the Northern Army during the Civil War. He was on convalescent leave in Washington, D. C., and was in the Ford Theatre when President Lincoln was shot. My grandfather Samuel B. Weir must have had an interesting life. My mother told me that he personally delivered each of his ten children. He became so expert at this task that he was often called to perform this service in and around Beaver while he lived there. She remembered that several families passing through in covered wagons would part in their yard until their child was born so he could assist with the delivery.

S. B. weir married his wife, Ida, in Esterville, Iowa, in 1879 and lived there for a time before moving to Oberlin, Kansas, then sometime later moving by covered wagon to Texas and on to near Beaver where they lived until sometime after statehood in 1907 when they moved back to Oberlin, Kansas. My mother, Ruth Drum, was born in 1892 in a half-dugout located about where the Beaver County Jail and Sheriff’s Office are now located. They later moved to a farm just west of the Beaver Schools where he raised cattle and kids until they moved back to Oberlin where he died in 1914.

While in Beaver, he served for a time as county sheriff prior to statehood when Beaver County included all of the Oklahoma Panhandle. When Fred C. Tracy served as a member of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention, he listed S. B. Weir and himself as practicing lawyers in Beaver County, and they thereby became eligible to practice law in Oklahoma when it became a state under what is referred to as the "grandfather clause" of the Constitution. S. B. Weir served a term as a county judge in Oberlin, Kansas, prior to his death."

***Mr. Drum’s story will continue in the next issue of Voices as he had so much, much more of interest to tell about these families in early Beaver County, as well as in his own career as a lawyer in Beaver for many years.

 

12-13-18

One of the joys of my life was the opportunity to study the art of painting with that great art teacher, Dord Fitz, who came to Beaver for several years, as well as to Liberal and other nearby towns, to offer art classes to those who wanted to take them. Fitz was living in Shattuck and had been head of the art department for 16 years at the University of Kentucky. He taught all forms of painting: water color, oil, charcoal, and pastels.

It had never occurred to me that I might be able to paint! But with the insistence of Doralee Miles, Celestine Barby, and Mary Evelyn Leonard, I reluctantly agreed to attend a class or two. At first, my work was quite primitive, but then Dord took the brush out of my hand, gave me a larger one, and made some other suggestions. Low and behold! I found I could do some passably good landscapes with oils!

But the real gift of being in the class was the inspiration I received from the gifted members who had been painting for years! I also realized that not only had these folks studied with Dord Fitz, but Mary Spurgeon had studied with Harvey Dunn at the University of Wyoming, as well as others who had instruction from the Famous Artists’ Commercial and Fine Arts Courses. Also, thanks to Dord Fitz and such patrons as Celestine Barby, they brought such famous artists as Elaine DeKooning to the area. A fine artist herself, Celestine encouraged famous people in the art world to come to our area to speak and demonstrate their skills. She also encouraged local potential artists to take advantage of the courses offered here in Beaver and other nearby towns.

Although there are many more who were to benefit from these classes, some of the best known are the following, whose stories are also contained in Volume III of the Beaver County History book:

Mary Spurgeon did not have much beauty to nourish her interest in art during her youth in the Dirty Thirties in the Dodge City area. An exception was the brilliant dust-laden sunsets and the excellent lines of the fine horses she rode. Her busy life as a mother and rancher, years of barrel racing and rodeo with her family, allowed little opportunity for commissions of of friends and their animals. Her work through the years showed that each of her subjects had its own distinctive personality whether it is human or animal, as evidence in its expression, posture, and attitude. Mary’s work has been on exhibition many times at the County Fairs, at the Gate Museum, and in the marvelous sculpture on display at the Jones & Plummer Museum.

Mary Alice Phelps Gregg was always interested in art, even in grade school, and in the eighth grade received a blue ribbon on her water color exhibit. She had no formal art training until 1967 when she enrolled in Dord Fitz’s class in Beaver. She remained in Fitz’s class until 1984 and completed many paintings, most of which were exhibited at the Bank of Beaver as one of the "Beaver Bank Ladies".

Dorothy Gray Gaona was an Oklahoma native and a resident of Beaver County since 1942, and she had became interested in art in her childhood. She first took an active interest when she took her first formal training with Fitz, and she continued training with him for ten years. She also took a course in oil portraiture at the Carizzo Lodge Art School in Ruidosa, New Mexico, under Ken Freeman of Scottsdale, Arizona, and artist for Leanin’ Tree card company. Her favorite subject matter was of nostalgic scenes of the Southwest, windmills, old houses, and barns depicting the homesteads and lifestyles of early Oklahoma and Texas, and landscapes of the every-changing country. Dorothy worked in several media: oil, watercolor, pastels, and pen and ink, but she preferred oils. She did a number of paintings and drawings for charities across the state and has sold a number of paintings. For years, various paintings of hers have hung in the Jones & Plummer Trail Museum at different times.

Pauline Pirtle of Beaver painted in various media, including watercolor, oil, pastels, and mixed media, for years and years. She had always liked to draw and paint, and her first triumph was in the fifth grade when she won a coloring contest and received a prize from one of her teachers. She signed her paintings as "Paula." She also studied with Dord Fitz, as well as Len Slesick, Emilo Cabellero, and Carlos Fry. She also studied charcoal drawing with Darrell Elliott. "Art enriched my life," she always said.

Mary Evelyn Leonard was another who began in 1966 studying with Dord Fitz. She worked in several media, predominately in oils and watercolors. She had a pallet knife and enjoyed using that technique very much. She did a number of paintings depicting the history of the area and of various historical buildings, such as the local Presbyterian Church where her father-in-law had been a pastor. She had studied with all the teachers who gave classes in the County, but felt that Dord Fitz had be most influence on her work. Mary Evelyn was always a staunch supporter of art in the area, encouraging others to join classes, exhibit their work, and express themselves through their artistic abilities.

Vergie Chaloupek saw paintings at the home of Beryl Overton that made her wonder if she could paint. In high school she had had an art teacher who encouraged her, although most of what she drew was maps. In 1972 she joined the class of Dord Fitz and was very pleased, as his teaching was thorough, and she learned what was necessary to paint pictures that she could feel pleased with. She painted portraits, abstracts, still life, and enjoyed painting animals. She also studied with Dr. Cabarello, Elaine De Kooning, Stephen Cramer, Jan Lyle, and others. Her first art shows were in Perryton, Boise City, and in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. She was one of the "Beaver Bank Ladies" art exhibits at the Bank. Twice a month the local artists in Beaver met at Wilma Girk’s to enjoy painting together. Over the years she sold as many as 100 paintings, as well as donations of some for causes and displays.

Harold Lloyd Phelps was also an artist, doing wood carving, especially of birds to which he was particularly attracted. After spending the next 30 years, after serving in World War II, in business, he took up painting as a means of fulfilling his artistic urge. He had no formal training, only by trial and error. He later belonged to the Ark River Valley Artist Club, and showed his paintings at art festivals at various times. He devoted his painting to Southwest art, the Indians of which he found the most colorful. He found great pleasure to see his work displayed and enjoyed.

In my own case, I studied with Dord Fitz for two years, then moved to Colorado. I continued to paint for years, completing over 300 landscapes. I was never a great painter, but I took great joy in doing the artistic work I had learned from my great teacher, and I even sold quite a few to help finance more degrees in education!

One of Dord Fitz’s greatest successes was Dick Robinson who studied with Fitz in Liberal while he was still a student in Forgan High School, thanks to Celestine and Paul M. Barby driving him there each week. He then studied art at Northwestern Oklahoma State University and became an art teacher at Turpin for nearly 30 years. He also taught art to the rest of the Panhandle through Interactive Television.

The folks named in this article are just a few who had artistic talents and who brought such talents to a rural area that sometimes is under-appreciated!

 

12-6-18

Will Schmoker bought land in 1902 to start his own ranch on the state line in Kansas where it joined the newly formed Oklahoma Territory. The previous owner William T. Dick had filed on the land S 18-6-26 in 1887, building a sod house, then later a two room bunkhouse build from an old house previously near the property. One room was for hired help, the other for cottonseed storage.

Schmoker’s new brand was the Lazy S Cross filed in Beaver County, or the Lazy S in Kansas. The Kansas line was only a mile north of the new filing. Mr. Schmoker had been in Meade County along Crooked Creek since 1880 where his family had a sheep ranch, changing to cattle over the years. Mr. Schmoker built a four room frame house in which he and his wife started housekeeping after their marriage in 1904. As more land became available, they purchased it. The Danks were Schmoker’s in-laws’ and he purchased their land just to the west when they moved to Eastern Kansas in 1909. In 1914 Schmoker built a large cement barn, using old wheels, rake teeth, and other junk iron to make it last "forever." It was a place of many barn dances in the 1920’s. The piano from the house was moved out to the barn to provide music for the dances. It would take six to eight men to move it, but it was worth it as the dances would last until the wee hours of the next morning!

Supplies had to be obtained in the nearest towns, Englewood or Meade, Kansas, using a team and wagon or a buggy. During the haying season, Mrs. Schmoker sometimes stacked hay if help was short. Their daughter Fannie also helped during haying season that often lasted several weeks. Cattle were driven to Englewood or later to Mocane for sale. Some of the neighbors who acted as cowboys to drive the cattle to the railroad were Tom Judy, Emil Johannsen, Johnny Spurgeon, and Noel Rhodes. Mrs. Schmoker helped get the herd started, then went back to get the team and buggy with lunch for the men.

Branding time was again a neighborhood event, and with no chutes or calf cradles at that time to help it along. Cottonseed cake was hauled from Englewood with teams and wagons until the new town of Forgan was built in 1911-12 on the new railroad. It had been hauled through Mocane until the Mackey bridge across the Cimarron River was built in 1930. Mr. Schmoker bought a Model A truck upon the bridge being built. Even then, the river was sometimes a hazard during flood times, but not as much as for the teams and wagons.

At about the same time as Schmoker, the Danks, and others were building ranches, Mr. and Mrs. T. J. Judy came to the area in 1886 from Missouri, although both he was born in Kentucky. His wife, the daughter of a Confederate soldier, was born in Virginia, but whose family moved to Missouri in 1876. In January 1884 Mr. and Mrs. Judy and their two children, Hubert and Pearl, moved to Wise County Texas, then in 1885 to Anthony, Kansas, in a covered wagon, following the Chisholm Trail, where they spent the winter of 1885-1886. In March of 1886, the Judys started to No Man’s Land with two covered wagons, corn in one and household goods in the other. They squatted on land three miles north of Kiowa Creek on the old Tuttle Trail near where the Custer Post Office was later established. Their only neighbors were J. A. Matthews and Arthur Howe, bachelors, and Mr. and Mrs. Al Parsons at the mouth of Coon Creek. Mrs. Judy was said to be the first white woman to settle along Kiowa Creek (south of the present location of Gate and west of Laverne). A third child, Bessie, was born in the first sod house to which they had added one room. In 1895 Mr. Judy sold his place and rented the Hawkins’ place to the south where another child, T. A., was born. F

In 1897 the Judy family moved to the Braidwood place eleven miles east of Beaver City on the south side of the river. They lived in a small house there until they bought the Carter place and could get the Braidwood house moved to the new location. About 1900 Mr. Judy was elected assessor of Beaver County, which at that time included the whole area that is now called the Panhandle. He had two buggy teams to make his assessment rounds. In 1904 he sold this land to Frank and Bob Maple, seeing that with more settlers coming to Beaver County, he would not have enough range land for his cattle. By this time, his oldest daughter, Pearl, had married Bob Maple and established a home on Timber Creek three miles south of Mocane.

Mr. and Mrs. Judy moved in a covered wagon to six miles north of Burden, Kansas, where they ranched until returning to Beaver County in 1915 with their son Tom, to three miles north of Mocane. Tom enlisted in the Army and was in France during W. W. II, returning to the ranch in 1919, where he and his wife resided with their two children until the children were grown. Mr. T. J. Judy died in 1936, and Mrs. T. J. (Adelaide) Judy died in 1943.

Cattle had always been Mr. Judy’s main interest, but some farming was done to raise feed for the livestock. In 1928 the ranch was sold to the Judy’s son Tom (T. A.) and his wife

 

11-27-18

Material for the following article is taken from one compiled in 1993 by Wayne Lewis and from his interviews with Ernestine Maphet, as well as from current information from Karen Bond, current manager of the Museum and Library described.

One of the most interesting establishments to visit on a journey east on Highway 64 is the GATEway to the Panhandle Museum and Library in Gate. It was the last of March 1975 when the mayor of Tate was getting ready for the monthly city meeting and went to the post office for the city mail. As he talked with the postmaster, Ernestine Maphet, she stood facing the stately old bank building across the street. Watching the rich history of the community disappear had disturbed her for a long time. The topic of conservation had turned to the fast decay of the old bank building, built in 1912. "I wish," said the postmaster, "there was some way we could make a museum and library out of the old building and preserve it, as well as some of our history." He replied, "You take care of the paperwork we need, and I’ll get a meeting together, and we’ll see what can be done," was his reply.

The Mayor Raymond Tillery set a meeting for April 5, and a large group of people turned out. The non-profit organization "GATEway to the Panhandle Association" was organized. The postmaster, Ernestine Maphet, was elected president; Robert Heglin, first vice-president; Raymond Tillery, second vice-president; Helen Miller, secretary-treasurer; board members were Charlie Berends, Jessie Sizelove, and Ada Kerns; recorder Marie Sizelove.

There were many problems involved in using the old bank building, with the south wall really beyond repair. Jess Sizelove and Ora DeSpain suggested using the old depot. It was for sale with the lots; however, the price was way beyond the means of the organization. The building could be purchased for $400.00, lots two blocks west of the depot purchased for $100.00. A fund raising dinner was set up, and the work was ready to begin.

Jay Wolf had jacks for house moving, as well as experience, and Ora DeSpain had helped move houses, too. They spearheaded the moving. Thirty men were involved in the very hard job. The old building was very heavy and in sad shape. There were very few men or women in the community who were not involved in the restoration of the old depot. After months of volunteer labor, the depot was moved, patched up, cleaned up, painted and improved. From the outside it looked as it did when it was built in 1912: painted pea green with dark green trim. On the inside, floors were shored up, and paneling carpet added. The old lobby and warehouse and displayed artifacts of the community, and the ticket room became the library.

Things were hardly ready when Gate was accepted as a Bicentennial Community, with the official ceremony and presentation of the Bicentennial flag set for Friday, August 29, 1975. Gate was among only 11 Bicentennial cities in Northwest Oklahoma to be accepted of a select group of 133 communities in Oklahoma and one of the smallest towns. The selection was because of the Museum and Library establishment and the gathering of materials to be made into a history of the community.

All was ready by April 13, 1976, for Gate’s 90th birthday. A big celebration was planned, climaxing a year of hard work. The Bicentennial Celebration as set for July 3rd and 4th. Saturday, July 3rd, the Pony Express left Gate to carry special letters to Laverne at 8 a. m. At 9:30 a. m. a special Historical Tour left from the Museum. By 1:30 the group was back in town, ready for the games and contest. Highlight was the new contest sponsored by the Museum called the "Bone Pickin’, based on actual historical facts of the community.

July 4, Sunday morning at 10:30 old-fashioned church services were held in the park. Gate Methodist, Gate Friends, and Knowles Nazarene Churches were in charge, basket lunch in the park was finished in time for the 1 p. m ringing of all freedom bells across the nation, with Gate church bell joining them. Promptly at 2:00 p. m. dedication services were held at the Museum, with over 200 people attending. Because of the thousands of hours of labor, time, and money put into the project and the number of people involved, the GATEway to the Panhandle Museum and Library Association was chosen to receive a Distinguished Service Award from the Oklahoma Heritage Association.

It was voted to make the Historical Tour and the Bone Pickin’ annual events, the tour to be held on the birthday date, and the Bone Pickin’ to be held the last of May on Memorial weekend.

The Museum and Library and their programs and services grew over the years, and more room was needed, so in 1983, 1984, and 1985 over $7,000 was raised to add on a new building. A state grant was applied for to obtain matching funds. Much paperwork and criteria were required for this grant. After waiting a year with no word about the grant, another was applied for and received. The building as almost finished when word was received that the first grant had been approved of, also. This grant was used by the city’s badly needed new water lines and repair.

Today the GATEway to the Panhandle Museum and Library is open two days a week, with numerous activities planned throughout the year, such as dinners, and a book listing all the Veterans of the area has been published, with copies sent to the other area museums. This has been especially appreciated by the communities. Karen Bond is the manager and curator of the Museum, succeeding long years provided by Ernestine Maphet.

 

11-15-18

When I wrote a Voices article about the Jones & Plummer Trail Museum a couple of years ago, I little realized how fast it was out-growing its facilities! That is one of the problems of success! We have to keep growing to keep up with it! This Museum is a testament to what a community can do if it puts its mind and effort into the success of it endeavor. But it is now in need of additional room and space for more artifacts from our county residents. The Beaver County Historical Society needs at least $150,000 to make this expansion possible, but if one looks at the success of the past thirty-seven years of the Museum, one can see that it is possible to meet these needs.

If one looks at the projects and endeavors completed by the current curator of the Beaver County Historical Society, who owns the Museum, Robbie Hancock and the current Board of Directors, he or she should not be surprised at the successes. Since Robbie began her tenure as a real curator, not just a manager, she has renovated and restored, as well as re-labeled every case and artifact in the Museum. She has recruited money to support projects as she worked to recruit artifacts that tell the unique history of the No Man’s Land from the time of its first settlers to the current era. Some of the exhibits that are truly outstanding are the Veterans’ Exhibit honoring those from Beaver County who served our country, as well as the huge saddle collection from the family of Dr. Calhoon, the many showcases of smaller artifacts that give a significant history of our past, and pictures of the first towns and schools in the County, many of which no longer exist.

The Museum is considered one of the best museums in Oklahoma, as well as certainly that of the Panhandle. There are visitors from at least five different countries and thirty-five states who have visited our Museum. Its location on the Fairgrounds has facilitated many visitors who come to the County Fairs and the Cimarron Territory Celebrations and Cow-chip Throwing Events.

The history of the Museum itself is a tribute to the members of the Beaver County Historical Society who recruited donations in 1981 to build the original section of the Museum. It was built entirely from these donations. The following were the officers and board of directors in charge at the time: Felice Calhoon, president; Willie Harvey, vice-president; O. G. Henderson, secretary; Rheva Bridgewater, treasurer; Fannie Judy, Berenice Jackson, Ralph Rector, and Pauline Cross, members. Within ten years, donations were given to build an addition to the north end of the building, the Fannie Judy Room that houses the pro-type bank, general stores, barber shop, dentist office, pro-type rooms of early-day houses, and artifacts from and early law office. In addition, it holds a wagon and buggy, two pump organs, and a piano. In the years since, a one-room school house, an outhouse, and an early-day windmill were added to the Museum grounds, and an enclosed area was added to display old machinery. And in the past few years, Felice Calhoon donated funds to build a large addition to the east side of the original buildings with room for her husband’s medical equipment and saddle equipment, but also a room in which to hold business meetings.

A gold mine of historical information and pictures of the builders of Beaver County, as well as surrounding areas exists at the Jones & Plummer Trail Museum in Beaver. Not only are there artifacts from early day ranchers and farmers, as well as towns, schools, churches, and settlements, there is a whole room of saddles that were used in early times. There are replicas of rooms in stores, homes, banks, and school houses, dentist offices, law offices, and barber shops.

In addition to all these treasures, there is an original buggy driven by Tom Judy when he was courting Fannie Schmoker on the Cimarron River, uniforms from different war times, ancient medical instruments, and musical instruments.

But, in addition, the real one-room school house on the grounds, used in the early 1900’s and now used again to replicate what it was like to go to such a school in 1912 on the Barby Ranch. Nowadays various women act as the teacher for a day with county schools’ fourth graders where they read from the McGuffy Reader, have spelling bees and ciphering matches, and even sometimes have to sit in a dunce’s chair! They bring their lunches in a pail as the former pupils would have done. They also play early-day games at noon with volunteers, such as hop-scotch, jacks, and marbles, and then they spend time touring the Museum building, as well as the machine museum behind the main building.

All of this seems, at times, to be a well-kept secret, even though the Manager and Curator Robbie Hancock has completely renovated the Museum during the last few years, restored and exhibited many of the artifacts that were hidden in corners and back rooms, and made it very accessible.

But maybe the least known of all these treasures is the Bookstore! Here is a trove of history books about the area before Territorial Days, much less Statehood, as well as more recent titles to learn about where your folks came from, how they lived and survived the hard times of homesteading, early-day ranching, as well as the Dust Bowl. There are three huge volumes of stories and pictures of the history of the first, as well as modern, residents of the County. In addition, there is a picture history, written six years ago, filled with early day photographs of such folks as the Tracys, Angletons, Thomases (all 3 sets of them), the Drums, the Phelps, the Wells, the Judys, the Barbys, and many, many more from all around the County, and pictures of the towns, first streets, and stores in the County.

Check out this treasure. But be sure to allow yourself time, as you won’t want to leave once you start looking and exploring this gold mine of the County. The Jones & Plummer Trail Museum is open from 11:00 to 3:00 Monday through Saturday, or by appointment. The phone number is 580-625-4439.

But even more importantly, get involved in the new building campaign fund to add on rooms for the large number of items the people of Beaver County wish to donate to the Museum. There is a need for room for large machinery as well as for smaller items. Please contact your neighbors, the public utilities companies who benefit, too, from exposure to the Museum in telling their stories, and donate yourself to this worthy cause!

 

10-25-18

In reviewing articles and books about the history of No Man’s Land, I rediscovered two articles published in Volume II of the Beaver County History book, each written by pioneer settlers or their descendant. The first is from that of Dwight Leonard who wrote the introduction to the book.

The following are actual quotes or paraphrases from his text: "We know that the archaeologists tell us that the forerunners to the Indians, as we know them, roamed this area some ten to twelve thousand years ago, and those early day citizens of these western plains had improved the arrowhead to what is now known as the Folsom point, some of which were first found near Folsom, New Mexico. Before that was the Clovis point which was used approximately twelve thousand years ago, and before that there have been arrowhead points known as the Sandia point that were made perhaps as early as twenty thousand years ago.

These were mostly discovered and unearthed at cities in the eastern area of the present state of New Mexico. However, it is thought that the creators of these points and their counterparts roamed in this area, as well as in the more arid New Mexico country.

Other peoples who roamed these prairies before us were the basket weavers, a mummified body of which is on display at the No Man’s Land Historical Society Museum in Goodwell. Many arrowheads have been found in Beaver County, especially during the windy days of the 1930’s when topsoil was moved here and there by the wind, uncovering the camp grounds of the Indians of the past. The late Clifford Goodner of Beaver had a collection of over four hundred such arrowheads." Today it is difficult, but not impossible, to uncover such artifacts since many, many people have collected them, some of which they then donated to the No Man’s Land Museum, or later to the Jones & Plummer Museum. Others, of course, have their own small and private collections.

Fred Tracy’s account of our early day peoples in the same publication recounts the story of the mummy described above. He says that it was found under a huge cliff or cavern in what is today Cimarron County. Neither snow nor rain had ever reached the body. Archeologists estimate that the child was a resident there over 3500 years ago. In looking at the body of this child, one can see the visible image of human beings who were living in this land thousands of years before the birth of Christ.

Tracy said that " it is estimated that the child was buried during what was called the Basket Weaver age, as judged by the manner of burial. One arm and one leg were brought together and bound with a string. Its impression is still visible on the mummy. The child’s features are more Asiatic cast than that of the modern American Indian. The eyes have an Asiatic slant; the teeth are prominent; and the hair is a heavy course black. This body should, in fact, be declared an original pioneer of our Panhandle, according to Tracy.

Later, in excavating for a highway, they the bones of prehistoric animals were found. Further excavation uncovered many tons of bones, some estimated to be from animals seventy feet in length. The evidence show that the animals had become entrapped in ether a swamp or high water holes. Several years ago many representatives from universities visited a hillside just southeast of Beaver City, and by splitting rocks found they could recover the prefect impressions of huge leaves in the rock, as perfect as though the leaves had first been placed in a book and pressed, then sealed in the rocks. Also, from the same rocks, skeletons of fish were recovered, evidence that at time period this hillside had been under water. There was also evidence that there had been trees of some tropical variety, evidence that the climate here had been far different from that of the present."

About twenty years after the publication of this account by Tracy, a road builder in the Balko area uncovered a bones belonging to a prehistoric creature. He had the foresight to stop his excavation and call an archeologist for further uncovering. This creature was obviously from prehistoric times. Hopefully, the archaeologists now exploring the area for more artifacts will be able to enlighten us more on prehistoric eras.

Those Indians who roamed this area at the time of Columbus, and whom we call Comanches, Apaches, and Kiowas, are considered quite modern compared to these prehistoric folk! And even though we would like to count the explorations of Coronado in this area some four hundred plus years ago as the first evidence of modern day people, we are ignoring the remains of the houses of the slab people discovered along the Beaver River, a few of which were moved to the former Mark Mayo Ranch. Although they are more modern that the prehistoric ones described by Leonard and Tracy, they are much earlier than the coming of these modern Indians and of Coronado.

I continue to insist that the history of Beaver County and its surrounding area is unique and interesting. I would hope that our schools, as well as parents, keep that history alive and relevant to students of today. Although I, too, think technology is wonderful, the past of our ancestors is far more important and far-reaching for our descendants.

 

10-4-18

When I was a child, I heard my mother, especially, refer to folks from Dombey. It wasn’t until I was older that I thought it was a town, but by the time we actually moved to Turpin, which is south of the site of the original town of Dombey, did I realize that a town didn’t exist. The following story of the early day community of Dombey is from a radio program broadcast from an Amarillo, Texas, radio station in 1944. I reprinted it, with permission, of course, from that source for Volume III of the Beaver County History. It was originally written by Iven Parmelee from a script by Laura V. Hammer.

Dombey was in No Man’s Land, later called the Panhandle, three miles north of the Beaver River and between Liberal, Kansas, and Perryton, Texas. It wasn’t really an incorporated town, but rather a good farming community where Kafir and row crops grew in the breaks and wheat grew in the "Flats". Dombey had a post office in the front yard of the postmaster, Mrs Tillie Neill. She and her husband were ranch folks there back in 1885. And he was the postmaster until he passed away and she resumed his duties. The first postmaster had been Howard M. Drake, who was later a state representative from the district, and who named the post office from a book he was reading at the time, entitled Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens.

One of the early settlers in 1905 was W. C. (Walt) Parmelee and his brother Deloss who came there from northern Kansas. Even though he often related their adventures getting caught in a flood in the Cimarron River while trying to establish a homestead, Walt and his bride, a school teacher, lived in a dugout. Six children were born to them there, five boys and a girl. There was a good doctor in the neighborhood, Walt said, if you could catch him sober. No matter what the disease was he came to treat, the first question he asked was, " Have you any whiskey?" He gave one teaspoonful to the patient and drank the rest himself! That was the standard treatment. The Parmalees lived in their dugout for eight years before they built their story-and-a-half house. No one in the neighborhood had any money, yet everyone is happy. Neighbors helped neighbors, cook, wash, nurse, and on to the next.

The only friction in the community that was ever known was over education. Folks moved in on almost every quarter section. Children were plentiful. They needed schooling. Yet some folks said, "Education ruins boys and girls and makes them so they won’t work!" That, of course, was what the man with 12 children said. The bachelors in the neighborhood were especially opposed to schooling. However, a school meeting was held, and $70 was collected for a schoolhouse. "I haven’t any money, but I have a hog I can sell and turn the money over to you that I think will bring $8.00" said Jim Floyd. "An’ I’ll give the land for the school grounds’" he also told them.

"Jim, you need that hog for your family," friends urged. "But my children need schoolin’ more than food," returned Jim. The school was started. It was called Deep Water, maybe because it was so far down to the water table there. Anyhow, a dugout with a two-foot wall above ground, little windows, and a good plank roof was built. There was no school district yet, but Mrs. W. C. Parmelee started to teach every morning. Prairie dogs and owls came in the broken window panes and roosted on the charts, but school went on the just the same. The greatest problem was books. No one was able to buy new ones, and how could Mrs. Parmelee teach with Ohio, books, Kansas books, and Texas books, all brought by the settlers with them? But she did it, and the pupils learned a lot. That school was an influence in their whole lives. It was two years before Mrs. Parmelee collected her pay, but she kept on just the same.

Another school meeting was held. This time the community wanted to bond the district and build a real school house. That man with 12 children, who didn’t believe in education, was there again, as were the bachelors. One of them had a six-shooter on his hip and said he was a taxpayer in the community and dares anyone to vote for the bond issue. It passed anyway! So the bachelor went home with his pistol on his hip and a big, big chip on his shoulder.

Eight years pass, and another school meeting was held. This time the question is whether or not to transport the whole Dombey School to a nearby high school. The man with 12 children does not like this, neither do the bachelors, and even some parents said they did not want their children leaving home at daylight and getting home at dark. It took several meetings to sell this idea, but as one "Dombeyite" said, "We wore ‘em out." The school bus took the children to a good high school at Turpin, and the school building was used for community gatherings.

So that is the story of Dombey where these pioneer folks built a good life for their families and themselves.

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When the first volumes of the Beaver County History books were written, it was difficult to find someone to write the history of one of the very first towns in No Man’s Land, Neutral City. Finally, in 1969, Earl and Ada Kerns who lived just east of Gate, were able to write the following information. In the intervening years, I have briefly referred to it in my column, but this account by Mr. and Mrs. Kerns remains the best available.

"Very little authentic information is available about Neutral City, a sod town built in the late 1800’s two miles west of the present town of Gate on the south side of U. S. 64 Highway. The land was owned by the Harvey Lupton estate, NW 56-T4-R28, at the time this article was written.

W. B. Kite recalls plowing the land where the town was located, with a team and walling plow and finding it necessary for him and his small brother, Lacey, to use a slip to move some of the remaining sod where the buildings and livery stable had stood. They used the dirt to fill the holes where the dugout had been.

Stories related indicate that this, as was early Gate, a rather rough town frequented by outlaws. A related incident we have often heard repeated is of a mother and her small child driving to the store for groceries when a drunken outlaw, coming from Tate on horseback, fired several shots from his six guns, over the heads of the horses. This frightened them and caused them to turn sharply. The buggy overturned; the Mother, being a true pioneer, held the reins, uprighted the buggy, and returned home, without her groceries. That night the vigilantes came to town and found the outlaw in the saloon drinking and playing cards.

Another story often related by the early settlers was that of an outlaw stopping at the saloon for a drink. The bartender, wanted to make conservation, asked him what his business was; his reply was "I came here to start a graveyard." But he was not quick enough on the draw, and a graveyard was started west of Neutral City.

A friend, L. L. Beardsley, tells of riding the range and finding a piece of board on the grass, this being very unusual as there was only one frame building in Neutral City. He stopped, and upon investigation, found it to be a grave marker. Then he noticed two sunken places where apparently there were two graves.

Informants say that a wagon tongue was used for hanging at Neutral City rather than taking victims to the Hanging Tree north of Gate, a distance of two and one half miles."

Obviously, as Gate City grew and later homesteaders came, as well as the railroad coming in 1912, Neutral City went by the wayside, and through the years was forgotten, except by old-timers such as Mr. Beardsley. We are fortunate to have and history accounts left.

 

9-6-18

One of the pioneer families, the Anshutz, that were a part of the settlement of what later became Beaver County actually lived just across the line in Kansas from No Man’s Land before it was settled, and on the road to Englewood or Meade. Their son Wallace and his wife would later become prominent residents of Beaver City, and their niece Fannie Judy was instrumental in the improvement and upkeep of the Jones & Plummer Trail Museum. The following information is taken, in part, from the article Mrs. Judy wrote for Volume II of the Beaver County History book in 1970. Mrs. Judy writes:

Just east of the Schmoker ranch, after his marriage to Carrie Schmoker, my father’s sister, M. W. (Doc) Anshutz established his ranch in 1892. Uncle Doc had come west in 1887 to Spearville, Kansas, and then to Dodge City where he met a buffalo hunter, "Prairie Dog Dave", and came with him into No Man’s Land. In 1881 he started working on the Taintor Ranch and continued until establishing his own home on the Cimarron. A house was moved from Englewood and was their home the remaining years. Originally, the house was on low ground in a large grove of trees near the river. After the big flood of May 3, 1914, the house was moved onto higher ground. A new barn, corrals, and other buildings were constructed. Trees were planted. Life was started over after that horrifying experience.

When my father, Mr. Schmoker, saw the wall of water coming early that morning, he saddled his horse and rode as fast as possible to the Anshutz home (1 mile east) to warn them to get out to higher ground. Aunt Carrie and son Fred (age 9) ran to the chicken house to rescue the baby chicks. My father ran after them to tell them to get out before the water reached them. He grabbed Fred and ran around north of the henhouse and grabbed a fence post as the water was there. Aunt Carrie ran east, the water caught her and rolled her over and over. She grabbed a sagebrush, pulling herself from one brush to another until she reached dry ground. My father managed to lift Fred onto the roof of the chickenhouse, and then managed to get himself up there. Aunt Carrie took the horse and rode east to the Spurgeon ranch for help. The water had backed up into the draws so she had to go farther north through the rough hills and canyons. After arriving at Spurgeon’s, two men were at once on their way, following the usual road with horses swimming the intervening draws. John Spurgeon, riding my father’s faithful horse, Headlight, rescued little Fred. Then a rope was thrown to my father to put around his waist.

He let himself down into the water, which swept him off his feet. The pull on the saddle horn caused the horse to lose his footing, temporarily, but he regained his foothold and pulled my father to dry ground. Uncle Doc and the hired man, Claude Whitehead, were caught in the house. They stayed there about 12 hours, at which time the water was subsiding. The grove of trees helped catch the debris, so the house stood, although the water was halfway up the windows. Uncle Doc started to pick up what he thought was a necktie. It was a striped snake!

The Anshutz home was a favorite stopping place for people traveling to Englewood or Meade. The latchstring was always out to everyone making those long trips, as that was the code of the old time west. Aunt Carrie and Uncle Doc lived on the ranch until his death in 1940. She then lived with their son Wallace and his wife until her death in 1949. The ranch was later owned by Alfred and Russel Barby."

 

8-23-18

Anyone wishing to learn more about the unique past of the Panhandle, No Man’s Land, or adjacent counties in southeastern Colorado should take advantage of stopping at the Jones & Plummer Train Museum on their way to the Fair Grounds. The Museum carries most of the fiction and non-fiction books by former Forgan resident Sanora Babb, one of which was even used in Ken Burns’ film The Dust Bowl. It also carries several of her other books, all of which have to do with area history. The Museum also carries history accounts by many other local authors, such as Fred Tracy, who Recollections of No Man’s Land is one of the most accurate accounts written, not only of current day Beaver County, but also of Territorial Days when Beaver County included the entire Panhandle area.

Other books worth searching for local history include the three large, leather bound editions of History of Beaver County available, which include literally hundreds of family histories. Also worth exploring are the picture histories of Beaver and Texas Counties compiled by four Beaver County historians: Harold Kachel, Pauline Hodges, Joe Lansden, and Kathal Bales. The same publisher earlier had printed a pictorial account of the Panhandle by a professor at Oklahoma Panhandle State University that includes some interesting pictures, but may not be as authentic as the two edited by local authors, but worth investigating for information.

As far as Babb’s books are concerned, her best known, of course, is the one about the Dust Bowl, which while using fictional names, is an actual account of her family in Cimarron County, and later in the migrant camps of California. One that would be of local interest to older readers would be The Lost Traveler, the first part set in Forgan and is an actual account of the life of the Babbs’ there, including her father’s gambling life to provide money for his family, in addition to the bakery his wife ran, the building of which still stands on Forgan’s Main Street. Older readers will recognize some of the colorful characters, even with fictitious names, including the local druggist’ mother and the ladies of a church who convinced the school

Superintendent to deny Sanora giving the valedictory speech at graduation, even though she is listed as the valedictorian! They didn’t think it seemly that a gambler’s daughter could be the valedictorian, especially since the graduation exercises were to be held in a church while the school was being remodeled!

A book written twenty years later by Babb, An Owl On Every Post, told the true story of her family moving just south of Two Buttes, Colorado, to live with her grandfather who had homesteaded there. It is an accurate account of what it was like for five people to live in a one-room dugout and to raise broomcorn for a living, which at one time in the first part of the twentieth century was true of many homesteaders in Beaver County.

When the family got enough money together, they moved to Elkhart, Kansas, while Sanora was in elementary school, moving primarily so she could go to school, as there were no country schools near their dugout in Baca County, Colorado. Four years later they would move to Forgan, Oklahoma, where they opened the bakery she describes in her earlier book, and Sanora would attend and graduate from high school at age sixteen, going to work for the local Forgan newspaper at age sixteen. She won a one-year scholarship to the University of Kansas, which she attended that one year until money ran out, then she returned to her parents home, who by that time had moved to Garden City, Kansas, where she later set the second half of The Lost Traveler. She worked for the Garden City Herald until the late 1920’s when she moved to California, became a screen writer, and worked for the U. S. Government migrant camps.

She would later use all of these experiences in her books: her real family and their years in the dugout in Colorado became the story of An Owl On Every Post; her life in Forgan, her family’s bakery and her denial of being the valedictorian, as well as her father’s career as a professional gambler in Forgan and in Garden City, were the story of The Lost Traveler; and her most famous book and most recent one Whose Names Are Unknown is the true story of her grandfather later trying to farm in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, during the Dirty Thirties, and of her own work in the California Migrant Camps.

Unfortunately, she did not turn the five years she and her husband, James Wong Howe, spent in Mexico to keep from being sent to prison for being a Communist for her work in the migrant camps twenty years earlier and for illegally marrying an Asian in California, which was against state law, into a book. However, within five years Senator McCarthy, the one who instigated the prosecution of dozens and dozens of "so-called Communists" had been indicted himself for false accusations, which ended the threat to Sanora and her husband. She could return to writing and he to being the cinema photographer for the over 130 films on which he worked, one of which was Gone With the Wind.

The Jones & Plummer Trail Museum has many other books with which to explore the past of our area. One of interest about Beaver City in the earlier part of the Twentieth Century is Ila Potter Burgardt’s novel set in the actual historic hotel her family ran in the north edge of Beaver during the 1930’s and early 1940’s entitled Those Were the Days. Ila outlived the taint her family received from living in a hotel with a somewhat scandalous past and gossip that she was the bootlegger’s daughter. She became an international director for Mary Kay Cosmetics and a very wealthy woman! You might also want to read Samuel Hall’s true story of his mother, a widow with three little boys, who survived the hard times of the Dust Bowl and later living on a very sandy farm near Greenough. She worked hard to make ends meet, and is one to be greatly admired for her courage, and a true example of other women of her time. The book is titled Daughter of the Cimarron.

 

8-2-18

(The information contained in this story is from notes given the Beaver County Historical Society in 1969 by the widow of Ross Rizley. A more complete history of Mr. Rizley can be found in Volume I of the Beaver County History book, along with a history of the Rizley family.)

One of the most successful and important natives of Beaver County was Ross Rizley, but today many folks have forgotten his contributions, or the younger generation has never heard of him. Rizley’s life was an example of a man who rose from a humble pioneer life to high positions in both the State and Federal governments. His life was an affirmation of faith that characters traits, coupled with ambition, can enable a man to rise above his humble beginnings.

Rizley was the son of Robert Martin Rizley and Bell McCown Rizley, and born in 1892. He attended Elmwood country school. After attending the Summer Normal Schools in Beaver, he taught in the country schools of Beaver County, the first when he was just seventeen. As a youngster, Ross’s ambition was to be the best calf-roper and square-dance caller in the countryside. Seventy years later, he had lived the life of an attorney-at-law, politician, a high Federal government official, and a Federal District Judge. He had also attained the distinction of being a great-grandfather. Even though he had occupied many positions of power and influence, both in the Sate and Federal governments, he was known to his many grandchildren as "Daddy Ross."

In 1912 at the age of twenty, Ross read an advertisement in the Kansas City Star newspaper, advertising that any ambitious young man who wanted to attend the Kansas City School of Law, could work his way through the law school He responded to this advertisement, and the school secured work that enabled him to pay his way while attending this college. He sold his team of horses and used a portion of the proceeds to buy a ticket to Kansas City. There he became a clerk in the law offices of Lathrop, Morrow, Fox, and Moore, and was able to earn a sufficient amount to finance his schooling through the three year course.

Ross was admitted to the Missouri Bar in 1914, and after his graduation in June of 1915, was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar. He returned to Beaver where he became associated with the late R. H. Loofbourrow, former District Judge and former member of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Ross began his political career in 1918 as County Attorney of Beaver County. He resigned after one year to enter the law practice in Guymon with H. E. G. Putnam. Ross continued to practice law in Guymon from 1920 to 1940. He also served as City Attorney and School Board Member in Guymon. In 1930 Ross was elected to the Oklahoma State Senate where he served four years. In 1938, he was nominated by the Republican Party as their candidate for Governor. He was not elected, but in 1940 he was elected to Congress from the 8th Congressional District and served for four terms. He served as a member of the Agriculture Committee, and as a member of the Rules Committee, one of the most important committees in Congress. In 1948 he was persuaded to become a candidate for the United State Senate and won the Republican nomination.

Ross served as a delegate of Oklahoma to the Republican National Conventions in 1928, 1936, 1944, 1948, and 1952. During his years in Washington, he served as Chief Legal Officer for the Post Office Department, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, Board Member of the Commodity Credit Corporation, and Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board.

In 1956, Ross was appointed United States District Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma. As such he was noted for his patience and fairness. He occupied this position until his death in 1969. As a Republican Federal Judge in the State of Oklahoma, he had the honor of administering the oath of office to the first Republican Governor of Oklahoma, Henry Bellmon, in 1963.

In addition to his great public service, he remained at heart a family man. He and his wife Ruby Seal were parents of seven children, grandparents of twenty-seven grandchildren, as well as enjoying great-grandchildren throughout the years.

 

Mr. L. L. Beardsley was a prominent settler and historian in Beaver County in its beginnings. He operated the Beardsley Drug Store in the original town of Gate. And he was one of the major contributors of stories and references for Volume II of the Beaver County History book, as evidenced by his name listed in the reference section 24 times. One of the stories he agreed to write for the Editorial Board of the book is about a riot in 1890 in Beaver City. And although we have not come to riots at the state capitol yet this year, at least we are beset by disgruntled teachers, state employees, and students who can’t get the Legislature to do their job.

Maybe the Legislature needs to read Beardsley’s account of our riot as it might be a good lesson in how not to do one or how to avoid one.

In the 1890’s Beaver City was the county seat, long before statehood. It had territorial status, with Beaver City being the county seat of the entire Neutral Strip and the Seventh County, as it was known at that time in Oklahoma Territory. Therefore, the County was 34 ½ miles wide, 167 miles long, with an elevation at the northwest corner of 4,978 feet, and about 2,200 feet at the east county line, encompassing what we call the Panhandle today.

The first courts of Beaver County were shot up by ruffians who did not want law and order in the area. A few offenders had been tried in court at Denison, Texas, which was a long way to drive horses and was an expensive trip. The men who supposedly shot Brushy Bush, the self-appointed sheriff of Beer City were also tried at Paris, Texas, a long way from the site of the shooting where the original shooter was actually Pussy-cat Nell, followed by seventeen others who shot Brushy so that no one would know which bullet killed him. Anyway, taking the accused two men for trial in Texas was much too far, but there were no courts nearby that could avoid a confrontation before statehood. So the officers of the county were anxious to enforce the laws and hold court in the county without its being broken by a riot.

After trying to hold court, the county officers and the district judge appealed to the President of the United States for help and protections so they could hold court and dispose of some accumulated cases without another riot. The Government sent Cris Madsen, U. S. Marshal, who drove to Beaver City with U. S. Marshal Judge Buford. They got to town, and the people expressed surprised at seeing just one marshal. Cris told them they had just had one riot, and they could go ahead and hold a term of court. The judge and Cris got a room at the hotel and went to bed.

There was a saloon across the street. They soon heard some shooting. Cris got up and dressed, put on his gun and went to the saloon. As he went in the door, he saw a man coming toward him from the back of the building and shooting off his six-shooter into the roof. Cris met him, and then hit him beside the head with his six-shooter, knocking him down and taking his gun. Cris then walked up to the bar and told the bartender to hand over the keys and for everybody to get outside. Cris Madsen then locked up the saloon and helped patch up the man’s head before going back to bed.

Before statehood, the regular term of District Court in Beaver County was looked forward to as a big get together and holiday for many of the settlers. Those from the west end (Cimarron County today) would be two big days on the road and camp for meals and sleep. Some rode a horse and loaded their bed in the chuck wagon. They made camp nearby, so they had a place to eat and sleep while attending court. But, remember, this was before around the clock court on television, so it was worth the trouble to get to the court for the spectator entertainment!

 

6-21-18

I contend that President Donald Trump could profit from a lesson on the history of the Oklahoma Panhandle as it regards immigrants. If we hadn’t had immigrants, we would have had no population of modern man. True, there is evidence of pre-historic dwellings of the slab people, some dinosaur bones in what became later Cimarron County, and even some Folsom and Clovis spear points that are more recent, but as to modern mankind, the Plains Indians were too smart to try to live in an area with so little rainfall and water of any kind.

The Spanish explorers in the 1500’s obviously came through here looking for the Seven Cities of Cibola, but not finding them, moved on. True, evidence of their armor has been found in Beaver County and in various other places in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, but they, too, found water in what became New Mexico and South Texas. But first permanent dwellings were in the early 1800’s in the far west edge of what became known as No Man’s Land. They were made by families named Lujan, Baca, and Bernal, all from northeastern New Mexico Territory, who came to raise sheep to feed travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. They also brought horses, the culture of houses for shelter, and their Christian religion.

So when Trump wants to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, he needs to read his history; if it hadn’t been for those early Spaniards, we would have been settled much later. And these folks obviously were respected since their descendants still live in the area, and even helped settle the southeastern corner of Colorado, where the county is named for one of the families: Baca.

The history of immigrants to what became Beaver County is highly interesting since they brought their various European cultures with them. And their descendants still are in Beaver County. In the next two or three issues of my column, I shall give the history of some of those families who were so important to our settlement. I, of course, have already written about several, as it is impossible to mention anyone whose family didn’t migrate, and that would include any full blood Native Americans of modern times, since all them have been "emigrated" by force to settle in Oklahoma, beginning with the Five Civilized Tribes and now with the thirty-nine tribes that have found homes here by force. And the U. S. Government didn’t choose to re-settle anyone by force to No Man’s Land, only to the civilized areas!

Beginning in the late 1800’s when the sparsely populated area in what became the Panhandle became known east of the 98th Meridian, especially in Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, and the land in the western edge of Indian Territory was opened for settlement, folks took advantage of the Homestead Act and filed claims, especially near Beaver City.

And about the same time, groups of Christians who were being persecuted for their religious beliefs in Europe heard about the area where there were no restrictions as how they were practiced. This seemed an ideal place to which to immigrate. How grateful later settlers would be to those pioneers who settled and got things organized for more "modern" living.

 

6-14-18

In this day of controversy over Obamacare, Medicare, and all other tenants of medicine, we tend to forget that without early day pioneer doctors, there would have been NO medical care on the frontier, and certainly not in No Man’s Land in its early settlement. Doctors practiced out of their homes and traveled on horseback or with a buggy to their patients.

When one of those early doctors came to Beaver in the spring of 1906, Beaver City looked like an up and coming town with a future for medical practice. Dr. Lindsey Lowder Long was born on a farm in Neosho County, Kansas, and at an early age decided he wanted to be a doctor. He entered the University Medical College of Kansas City, Missouri, and received his M. D. degree from that school. In the spring of 1898 he moved to Alva, Oklahoma, to begin the practice of medicine.

In September 1899 he married Maude Beegle, in Alva, and in 1906 he decided to take some post-graduate work at the Chicago Polyclinic and then to change his location of practice. He took the train to Englewood, Kansas, and then a buggy for Beaver, which took twelve hours. At that time, the town of Beaver City had a population of about 250. After he decided to settle there, he hired a man to drive him to Liberal, where he took the train on to Chicago. He said at that time, he saw only one frame house between Beaver and Liberal, the rest being dugouts and soddies. He completed his course in Chicago, then returned to move his family from Alva to Beaver. His practice was varied and interesting, and he often related many amusing as well as tragic stories of those early pioneer days.

One of those stories was about a trip to the country to the Sallee place. They lived in a dugout, along with their five children. All except the father and one of the children had pneumonia. With the help of a nurse from Liberal, he moved all the sick from the dugout to a tent for fresh air and gave constant care, and all eventually recovered.

For many years, Dr. Long was the only doctor in that part of No Man’s Land. For a short time, he shared medical offices with Dr. Munsell. He served a full fifty years of medical practice, first practicing with a horse and buggy, but then abandoning them in 1909 in favor of a one cylinder auto that he named "Brush." The auto was late replaced with a Model-T Ford that was the first of several. In 1923 the Longs built a large brick house, a part of which became the medical offices for Dr. Long, a house that is an historical landmark in Beaver today.

The Longs became active in civic and social organizations in Beaver, with Dr. Long’s interest centered in the Masonic Lodge of Beaver, which he helped establish. He received the Scottish Rite degree in 1912, the Knight Commander of the Court of Honour in 1921, and the 33rd degree in 1927. He also served as mayor of Beaver for twelve years, and was a member of the school board for many years, as well as a director of the First National Bank.

At the outbreak of World War I, Dr. Long served as county superintendent of health for Beaver County, and so, automatically, was the physician member of the local draft board. That job brought many headaches, disagreements, and heart-rending decisions, and untold hours of toil with no pay. However, he felt it was his duty to his country, as well as to his community.

Dr. Long was a partner with John Lawson in the Ford Garage business and later bought Mr. Lawson’s share and operated the business for many years. He was also a partner with Harry Beegle in the drug store business for several years.

Dr. Long’s wife Maude Beegle Long had attended college at Greeley, Colorado, and taught school at a little one room school in the country near Alva for a year before marrying Dr. Long in 1899. Their first child, Lenore, was born in Alva in 1902. They then moved to Beaver where their second child, Lindsey L. was born.

Mrs. Long was active in the Presbyterian Church and taught Sunday School for many years. She was also active in many of the women’s clubs, including the Federated Arts Club, the Federated Women’s Club, and Bide-A-Wee. She was Past Matron of the Eastern Star Lodge and member of the P. E. O. She especially enjoyed entertaining with her relatives, a nephew and his wife Harry and Coreen Beegle, and her niece Fay Fickel and her husband Elmer.

Mrs. Long died in 1961, and Dr. Long followed her in death in 1964. Both are laid to rest in the Beaver Cemetery. Both were exemplary models of early pioneers in Beaver County.

 

 

6-7-18

A man who had a lasting influence on the history of Beaver County, as well as on the town of Liberal and Seward County, Kansas, was John E. George. That name is forgotten or never heard by today’s residences of the area.

It was in 1885 that he located in what is now Beaver County. He had been born in Comal County, Texas, in 1859. He had only the advantage of the rural schools in Comal and Hays Counties. His boyhood was spent in the cattle country, and in 1877, when he was seventeen, he trailed a herd of cattle belonging to J. L. Driskill & Son up the old Chisholm Train from below Corpus Christi to Dodge City, Kansas. At that time his home was in San Marcos.

He and nine other cowboys landed in Dodge City with 3,500 head of cattle. This accomplished, the young Texan decided to remain in Kansas, and he worked as a cowboy on the Driskill Ranch in Clark County for five and a half years. During the years he was working there, he managed to accumulate a small herd of cattle of his owned. He also worked for the Beverly Brothers and George Anderson until his own herd became of a size to require all of his time.

In 1878, when he was only eighteen, the Cheyennes made their last raid into Kansas, and he joined the soldiers who came to the aid of the settlers and helped drive the Indians out of that area. In 1885 he located in what is today Beaver County. The following January most of his herd froze to death in the big blizzard that caused the loss of thousands of cattle in the plains country. So in order to get a new start, he took a bunch of cattle on shares and cared for them near Nara Visa, New Mexico. He later returned to the Beaver River and developed his ranch there. At first he ran cattle from the Beaver River nearly to Liberal, but as the settlers began to come in, he started to acquire land of his own, eventually securing a 13,000 acre ranch in Beaver County, as well as one of 3,500 acres in Texas County.

In 1899 he came to Liberal, purchasing an interest in the dry good firm of Kilgore, Hayes & George, and finally buying out his partners and later selling the entire business. He then went into the grocery business with J. P. Odell and later acquired the entire business, which came to be known as the J. E. George Grocery Company. In the early days of Liberal, he purchased the business on the corner of Second Street and Kansas Avenue for $1,800. He built the first brick business in Liberal at that corner.

When the Liberal State Bank was organized July 13, 1900, he was elected its president, and when the institution was later changed to the First National Bank, he continued as its head. He also organized the Moscow State Bank and served as one of the directors and principal stockholders, serving both banks until his death. However, he also help reorganize and convert a state bank into the First National Bank at Dalhart, Texas; was one of the organizers of the State Bank of Tyrone; organize the First State Bank of Beaver, which was later liquidated and the depositors paid off. He was also a stockholder in the First National Bank at Guymon and in the First National Bank of Goodwell.

In 1896 he was elected a member of the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature from Beaver County. He helped pass both a free range and quarantine bill, serving on one of the important committees. He also served as the mayor of Liberal and as a councilman. Yes, he was an important figure to both Oklahoma Territory and Southwest Kansas. His "soddy" on the Beaver River and his feeding grounds were almost imminent domain. For all practical purposes, the Beaver River was the south side of his pasture, but he grazed the country to within a few miles of Liberal, and his periodical roundups occurred anywhere within a radius of fifty miles. He was one of the few cattlemen who never changed his brand, which as the "T Bar T." Of course, he did change his breed of cattle through the years. From the slab-sided mongrel stock he handled in his first ranch, he changed to Herefords. Until the Rock Island Railroad came to Liberal, he drove his cattle to Dodge City or Harper, Kansas, or to Tyrone to sell if the railroad wasn’t completed yet.

Mr. George also did much to develop his farming interests, chiefly to furnish rough feed, oil cake, and hay to sustain his stock through the winters instead of just letting them shift for themselves, as was once the custom in early days of ranching.

He was also a real factor in politics in Beaver County, and in 1896 was elected a member of the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature to represent the area that later became the Seventh County of Oklahoma Territory. The Democrats controlled the House, and Mr. George was chairman of one of the important committees. The platform and express object for which he was sent to the Legislature was to get through "a free range and quarantine bill." He did not introduce the bills to do these, but he helped pass both measures. The purpose of the latter was to quarantine Texas cattle from Oklahoma, especially from the Neutral Strip. He also voted to locate the Alva Norman School and gave his support to other appropriations for educational and other state institutions.

The Grocery business that he had founded in 1899 was later sold to his son-in-law T. J. Blakemore in 1920 and became the twenty-eight store chain of the Ideal Food Stores located in the Oklahoma Panhandle, the Texas Panhandle, and Southwest Kansas. These were essential to the history and well-being of Beaver County since large food stores were unknown in the area until the coming of the Ideal chain. Of course, small grocery stores existed in the very early days, but the Ideal chain prompted other grocers to expand, as well as bringing in items that smaller stores could not afford to stock. In 1960 the chain was merged with Allied Supermarkets, Inc., but the individual stores kept their names for years.

From my personal perspective—I can barely remember Mr. George in Liberal when I was in town with my parents, but I heard about him, his ranches, and his stores as a little girl. I knew my parents respected him. And then when I grew up, I shopped in those Ideal Food Stores in Forgan and Beaver, as well as in Liberal. And ironically, his daughter married T. J. Blakemore whose mother was a Hodges, a cousin to the Hodges in Forgan! So I always knew that Mr. George was an important man and loved to hear my father and mother talk about him and his accomplishments!

 

5-3-18

James R Quinn was one of the prominent and important early settlers of Beaver City, and served as the First County Commissioner when No Man’s Land became a territory. His family name appears on street signs in two county seat, and one of his sons owned an abstract company in Beaver for many years, and another younger son died a hero in World War II. But how soon we forget these pioneers’ contributions to making our area a livable and prosperous one. Stories of the Quinns appear in Volumes I and II of the Beaver County History books, as well as in a book compiled from the original manuscript by Mr. Quinn about the family coming to Beaver County, which was edited by Keith Drum, a relative, and published by the No Man’s Land Historical Society.

One of the important writings of Mr. Quinn is in Volume II, in which he describes what was happening in the area that would become Beaver County when he and his family came there in 1887 and in the following years. The story is told here in his own words,

"A freight train would usually consist of three sections with three wagons in each, drawn by four teams of horses and miles. There was a jerk line on the lead team, which was generally mules and smaller than the teams next to the wagons. This was held by the driver who rode the near horse next to the wagons. The first wagon was a very large one with a high box, loaded with several tons of freight. The trail wagon, which as much smaller, was loaded with camp equipment, such as food, feed for the teams, bedding and other things necessary for making a long trip of several days. The wagons were covered with heavy canvas, stretched over bows attached to the wagon bed, to protect the supplies from the weather.

There was also a stage coach that passed by each day on the Tascosa Trail from Dodge City, Kansas, to Beaver City, Oklahoma. It was an eight passenger coach, well painted and finished, looking very attractive. One passenger could ride in the seat with the driver. This coach was drawn by four spirited, well matched and well groomed horses. This was the fastest method of travel in those days on the plains. For about four months during the summer and fall of 1887, I worked on the H. A. Busing Ranch, about four miles north of our claim on the Cimarron River. At this ranch the stage coach changed horses and the passengers were served dinner. It was part of my duty to take care of the horses. About 10 o’clock each morning, I would run the horses in from the pasture, feed, curry, and harness them so all would be ready when the coach came in to make the change. I would then unharness, water, and feed the tired team. This was the daily routine. The rest of my time on the ranch was spent looking after stock and doing a little farming.

In the spring of 1888, the Rock Island Railroad was completed to Liberal, Kansas, bringing transportation much closer to the people of No Man’s Land. One time on returning from a trip to Liberal, it started raining and kept it up all day and part of the night. There was no trail of any kind. We lost our direction but finally crossed fresh wagon tracks in the wet sod and as the tracks showed to be a mile and a horse with a colt following, we knew that it was our own tracks and we were driving in a circle. We were really lost so we struck camp for the night, cold and hungry. Everything was too wet to make a fire so we ate cold food, rolled up in our tarpaulins with wet clothes and were soon asleep. The next morning the sun was shining but appeared in the west. We all knew we were west of home, so we headed toward the sun. It was nearly sun down when we came in sight of home. Mother and the children were glad to see us. Considering the number of hours we were driving home, we must have been west of where Hooker is now located.

On May 2, 1890, the Organic Act became a law, organizing Oklahoma Territory, and President Harrison appointed George W. Steele of Indiana as our first Territorial Governor. He in turn appointed the officers of the seven counties of the New Territory, which included the counties of Logan, Cleveland, Pay, Kingfisher, Canadian, and Beaver. Governor Steel then appointed me one of the first County Commissioners, which office I held until August 5, 1891. The salary I received was quite a boost to the family budget.

In 1901, the last of the Indian country was opened for settlement. Many who had registered did not draw claims so they drifted west to Woods and Beaver Counties in search of homesteads. In 1902-1903-1904 most of the good land of Beaver County was filed on. This was the end of free range for cattlemen and ranchers."

**The Tascosa Trail to which Mr. Quinn refers was in all likelihood the Jones & Plummer Trail that originated in Tascosa, but was a separate trail from the Tascosa Trail that ran through what was later called Texas County. Certainly the description Mr. Quinn made fits the Jones & Plummer Trail. Incidentally, when the Quinns moved into the town of Beaver in 1908, they purchased the oldest house in Beaver, formerly owned by Jim Lane, the first homeowner in Beaver, who had maintained a trading post in his home to serve the needs of the Jones & Plummer Trail in earlier times. It was a sod house made of Beaver River salt grass sod. Later, James Quinn added three more rooms, weather boarded the sod part, and stuccoed the entire house on the outside. The family of J. R. Quinn lived in it until his death in1926. It still stands as a benchmark to the past and the history of Beaver County.

Also, for millennial readers, the "dinner" referred to in Mr. Quinn’s writing would be served at noon, not as an evening meal, more commonly referred to as "supper". That was because rural people, whether ranchers or farmers, needed a heavier meal at noon to continue working outside at their chores or on their rangeland. And rural folks continue that language even today when times have changed as to when one needs another meal! And readers should also note that Beaver City in 1887 was not in Oklahoma Territory, which did not exist until 1890.

 

4-26-18

The old town site of Rothwell approximately ten miles west of Beaver is long forgotten. Few people not history buffs know it even existed, much less the important part it played in the history of Cimarron Territory! The section line of S19-T4-R-22 ran through the middle of the town. It stood about one mile north of where the old West Kokomo schoolhouse. Its stores served surrounding communities and towns, such as Gray, Boyd, and Balko. There were several buildings in the town; some cannot be identified. It is known that there was a hotel, a general store, two or three saloons, a church, livery stable, and a post office. Application for the Rothwell Post Office was filed in September 1887. James S. Hart served as postmaster until L. H. Savage took over in August 1897. Mail could be left at Rothwell to be put off the stage that ran from Tascosa, Texas, to Dodge City, Kansas.

There are still several indentations of dugouts and old ruts showing that there was a lot of traffic through this town. Rothwell seems to have become a "Ghost Town" of sorts about the year 1890. At least, this was the year the hotel was moved from the site. However, there were records in the County Superintendent’s office showing that Jennie Potter taught school there in 1890-91, and Maud Ashcraft taught in 1896-97.

The most significant reason we should know about Rothwell, however, is the part it played in the formation of Cimarron Territory and No Man’s Land’s attempt to be independent of the rest of Indian Territory. Beaver City had elected Owen G. Chase as a delegate to try to get recognition and admission of the newly created Cimarron Territory to the Union. Other men in the area who were involved in trying to get recognition were R. M. Overstreet, R. A. Allen, James Lane, Sr., W. P. Olive, George Scranage, A. Mundell, John Wells, J. C. Hodges, Elmer Tompkins, W. J. Kline, as well as a number of others. However, a formal petition was written and signed in 1887 by a number of prominent and ambitious men at Rothwell who were not able to secure the representation they desired in Washington, and they held another convention in Rothwell and elected John Dale to represent them there.

All was going well with these groups until they disagreed on where the Territorial County seat would be located, Beaver City or Rothwell, and who should be their delegates to Washington. For several years the town of Beaver City had been divided into two factions. Rev. R. M. Overstreet, a close personal and political friend of the governor of Kansas and a conservative Scot Presbyterian, had become the head of one faction, his followers being members of or associated with the various churches, and the general run of business men of the town. Dr. Chase was a non-practicing physician and a politician, real estate dealer, and promoter of town sites. He was the leader of the other faction, which consisted of some businessmen and residents to who hoped to realize gain from the success of their leader in his promotions. Both Chase and Overstreet were major contenders, with groups taking sides with one or the other. Finally, Chase was selected Chairman, with Overstreet, Secretary, and J. C. Hodge as the Treasurer. And the county seat was to be Beaver City. (This decision, of course, became the death knell for Rothwell, although nearly thirty years later the town of Floris was re-located to within a few miles of the Rothwell location in order to serve the new railroad line from Forgan to Hooker. )

Several months later delegates met to organize three representative districts, divided by the meridian lines, with the 100th Meridian to the 102st, as the First District, from the 101st Meridian to the 102nd as the Second District, and from the 102nd to the 103rd as the Third District. (Readers will note that these are the legal County lines in the Panhandle today.)

When I began researching material for the first Beaver County history book, some of the old timers who had known Chase and Overstreet were still bitter about the demise of the town of Rothwell! For a very detailed, descriptive, and entertaining account of these arguments, read Fred C. Tracy’s book Recollections of No Man’s Land, which is available at the Jones & Plummer Museum, or at the Beaver County Library.

4-19-18

With the second week of teacher walk-outs at our State Capitol, it is time for me to give a history lesson about my own early education experience growing up in Beaver County and the Panhandle. My schooling was most typical of the times, the first half of the Twentieth Century, and in my case, the 1930’s. My first schooling would have been called "home-schooling" today, as my parents, especially my father, taught me to read and write long before I became school age, which was six at that time. There were no kindergartens, even in the town schools, much less in the one-room schools located about every six miles within the farming areas of the County.

Where we lived when I was born and until age six, there were Irving School a mile and a half from our farm; Pleasant View about four miles away; Floris that was about seven miles away; Turpin six miles in the opposite direction from Floris; Locust Grove 89, about four miles away, as well as Greenough some thirteen miles away. One would think that my opportunity for schooling would be opportune; not so. There were no school buses, we had only one vehicle that my dad had to use to go to work on the W. P. A, and all these, in my parent’s opinion, were too far for an almost six year old to walk to the location. With the exception of Turpin and Greenough, these were all one-room schools financed and supported by the local area residents. Teachers were not required to have formal education other than probably an eighth grade level, but even that was negotiable. Women teachers were required to be single, live at their parents’ homes, or with another single woman. They could not live alone and be considered fit for teaching children! Of course, these rules did not necessarily apply to men teachers, but it was strongly emphasized that they should rent a room from the parents of the school children if they did not live with their parents. In some cases, men were allowed to live together if they were both teachers, but this was highly discouraged.

The one-room schools were exactly that: almost always wood built with side windows and a front door, no back door in case of fire or other disaster. There would be a wooden stand or bench with a bucket of water and a dipper for the children to get drinks of water, usually located by the door for children to use as they entered the building. There was also a wash basin beside the water bucket so that the students could wash their hands if they had to…notice, not "needed to" but "had to" if they had mud or sticky materials on their hands…Never mind any germs. And there were hooks on the wall for coats, and a stand for lunch sacks and pails.

As far as rest rooms were concerned, there weren’t any…only outside toilets, usually one designated for the boys, one for the girls, but not always that way at every school. Furthermore, some even had two-hole seats in some toilets. And like those at homes, the toilet paper was usually an old catalog or some such publication donated by the parents. These toilets were most often several feet away from the school building so that in cold weather, it was no fun to get to them!

And, of course, there were no lunch rooms…students brought their own sack lunches or in a metal lunch pail. The food consisted of whatever the family could afford and get prepared. And in my days, it was in the Dust Bowl, and many families had little to eat at any time, much less to send in lunches. I was fortunate in that even after we lost our farm to foreclosure and moved to Floris, my mother kept chickens so she would fry up a piece for my lunch, or if Dad’s $3.00 a day salary allowed, she would walk the two blocks to the general store and buy what she called "lunch meat" that was baloney meat. Or she would make bread and butter sandwiches. Sometimes she would be able to make some cookies, boil an egg, or have another treat. But I was more fortunate than some of the others in my school who had little to eat. If the kids lived within close distance to the schoolhouse, they sometimes walked home, although some didn’t have very much there to eat either.

There would be desks of varying heights, usually with one seat, but nearly always a few with double or even triple seat width. These were usually saved for older students. Grade levels varied from first through eighth grade, with the eighth grade boys seated in the very back, then the eighth grade girls, and so on until the first graders were right in front of the teacher. The number of pupils varied from two or three to fifteen or sixteen. And, of course, each student was able to listen in on the lessons for other grades, sometimes to the detriment of studying his or her own work or doing the assigned written work. Although for a student such as I who could already read and write, that was a benefit to be able to listen in on what the upper grades were learning.

As described above, the teacher often had little education beyond the eighth grade, although a few had high school levels…not necessarily a diploma, but at least a few grade levels. My own first grade teacher was about nineteen and lived three miles from the school with her parents. I liked her and thought she was so nice, except when she paddled me for refusing to learn how to write manuscript penmanship. My father had already taught me cursive, and I was pretty good with it, so I wadded up my paper and threw it and the pencil at the teacher, upon announcing that I did not need manuscript writing! I remember that the paddling didn’t really hurt, but I was mortified when the older boys laughed and pointed their fingers at me!

Of course, our much-used textbooks were the McGuffy Reader and a red spelling book. When I informed Miss Margarite that I could already read and didn’t want that ugly McGuffy book but a harder one, and that I had already read Pollyanna, quite a long book, so I should be able to read a different book in school. She told me not to lie to her, and sent a note home to my parents about my behavior. My father made himself late for work the next day to walk me across the school yard with the dirt blowing in our faces, where he had a conference with Miss Margarite. She promptly moved me to the third grade reading class!

We also had spelling bees and ciphering matches. I loved the first and hated the second as arithmetic was not my favorite subject. I had learned math by playing cards with my parents long before school anyway, especially pitch, and by playing dominoes.

Our playground equipment was a merry-go-round and a teeter-totter…no slide or anything else, so we became good at playing games when the dirt wasn’t blowing so bad that we couldn’t see across the school yard. That was actually a blessing for us, I think, as we had to learn how to estimate what the other students would do.

I only attended that one-room school for one year, and then we moved to Turpin where the schools was grades 1-12, in a two-story building, with a real rest room and several toilet stalls! And in the center of the building, there was a big basketball court! We even had a lunch room with soup and sandwiches every day. And there were school buses for the students who did not live in town. Actually, my family didn’t live in town, but we were directly across Highway 64 so that I could walk to school every day if the dirt wasn’t blowing too bad. And we only had two grades per room, not one through eight. I still liked to listen to the upper grade when I could!

Furthermore, both the teachers that I had during my second and third grades there had had a year or so of college instruction on how to teach. Both of them, of course, had to be single ladies: one lived with her father and sister, who was also a teacher there; and the third grade teacher supposedly lived with her parents on a farm nearby. When I moved to Forgan for fourth grade, she had moved also to teach fifth grade at Forgan. It was many, many years later that she told me that she had been married when she lived both places, but that they kept it a secret and didn’t live together until the law changed. She had changed schools as some of the neighbors had become suspicious about her and her husband’s steady dating so often! And since he was a Dust Bowl farmer, they needed her salary to keep the farm…thus keeping their marriage a secret for several years.

As the years progressed, the schools improved, standards increased, and teachers were allowed to live normal lives. However, primitive as those early schools were, I learned a great deal and even became a teacher myself some twenty years later! And, like my third grade teacher, I did so to help buy cows for our ranch…but I didn’t have to keep it a secret! Ironically, that first one-room school building I had attended in Floris became a music building at the Forgan Schools during my first year as a teacher there. My classroom window even looked out upon it! And even more ironic, fifty years later I became the head of the reading and language arts program for a 76,000 student school district in Denver and in charge of teaching hand-writing. One day the phone rang and a wobbly little old lady voice said, "Are you that Pauline Arnett I had in first grade, that one I gave a spanking to because she wouldn’t learn to write manuscript?" Yes, it was Miss Margarite who then lived in a senior center in my huge school district! And she had seen my name and new appointment in the local newspaper! She still remembered me!

 

 

3-15-18

Much of the material in the following article is taken from an article by Willis and Merlee Lansden for publication in Volume II Beaver County History.

In this day of our love for high tech, it is easy to forget the very important part the newspaper played in our early settlement of No Man’s Land. When the very first ranchers, then homesteaders, came to our area, there weren’t even any telephones, and certainly no other means of getting news unless it was by telegraph at a railroad station…and in our Beaver County, no railroads came until 1912, and that one only from Gate to the new town of Forgan…not to Beaver for another 14 years, nor to Ivanhoe, Gray, Dombey, Floris, or Clearlake!

Beaver County was actually more fortunate than most early settled counties and areas in that there were several early day papers. The Herald-Democrat is the oldest business in Beaver County. It has run continuously since 1887, although it has changed names and ownership several times, but it still remains a permanent institution of the County. The Territorial Advocate was established in the summer of 1887, probably in July or August. Men named Estes and Eldridge were its founders and publishers.

These publishers put out three or four issues, after which they sold out to George Payne in September of that same year. Payne died in 1887, and that year the paper was sold to J. C. Hodge who was the manager of a publishing company. He changed the name to the Beaver Advocate. Hodge continued the former policies of the paper, however, and sold it in 1895 to Lily and Dolly Wright. The Wright sisters started their first number off under the caption Beaver Herald, Number 1, Volume 1. They later resumed the volume number of the Beaver Advocate.

It was not unusual at all in those days for women to be the publishers of newspapers. After all, they had more time to do so than some of the men who were performing manual labor and running businesses that women were not yet "capable" or allowed to run.

January 30,1896, marked the first issue of the Beaver Herald under the ownership of W. I. Drummond and I. S. Drummond. The paper announced its policy as Republican but not "radical" enough to scratch all the Democrats and Populists off the subscription list!

On February 17, 1898, Noah Daves took charge of the Beaver Herald, buying it from Drummond who had run it for two years. Daves was at that time also County Superintendent of Schools. On December 29 of that same year, the paper was sold to F. S. Drummond, then County Clerk of Beaver County. Daves announced that he had sold the paper because he was not a practical printer.

Noah Daves resumed charge of the Beaver Herald on April 12, 1899, purchasing it back from F. S. Drummond, who retired because the newspaper was taking all his time, and he was bound to attend to his official duties as County Clerk. Daves added Miss Maude O. Thomas to his staff as Associate Editor on August 9, 1900. In February 1902 Miss Thomas took over the paper after having worked on it for two years. That was a blessing in many ways in that it brought stability since she ran the paper until 1923.

At the same time of the establishment of the Beaver Herald, a new paper was established by W. B. Newman, on June 7, 1906. Several years later L. B. Tooker consolidated the Beaver County Democrat with a number of the other papers in the county and called his paper The Democrat. In 1920 this paper as purchased from L. B. Tooker by A. W. Cox and A. L. Kimball. At the time the papers consolidated into the Democrat, including the Beaver County Democrat, The Forgan Enterprise, the LaKemp Mirror, the Ivanhoe News the Beaver County Republican, and the Farmer’s News (Knowles). The Gate Valley Star became a part of the Democrat conglomerate in 1907.

In 1923 A. L. Kimball purchased the Beaver Herald from Maude O. Thomas to form The Herald-Democrat. Kimball was the editor and publisher. The Forgan Eagle was then consolidated with the Herald-Democrat in 1927. In 1928 the Herald-Democrat again changed hands when it was purchased by H. H. Hubbart who owned and published the paper until 1944 when Willis and Merlee Lansden bought the paper. They completely modernized the plant with new and better equipment. They also, in 1966, moved the paper from West Second Street to its present location on Douglas Avenue. And today their son and grandson and granddaughter-in-law are the owners and publishers of the paper.

In the meantime, L. L. Beardsley, W. L. Beardsley, A. J. Stephen, E. I. Haworth, and Bernadine Nylund were busy publishing the Gate Valley Star, later called the Gate City News. The paper was a vital part of Gate City as it was growing rapidly after its move from two other locations to that of the new railroad coming west. By 1912 there were at least 25 businesses, lodge halls, churches, and baseball and basketball teams.

The two towns of Ivanhoe had not one but two newspapers, also, the Ivanhoe News and the South Ivanhoe Sentinel. Both papers flourished until the new railroad coming west missed both towns and located across the line in Texas.

At the same time the Beardsleys were publishing papers in Gate City, they were helping establish the new town on the new Wichita and Northwestern Railroad building into Beaver County, that of Forgan. As a result, on the sixth day of June in 1912 the first Forgan Enterprise was published. Its first edition was a four-column six-page paper. Business was so good that Mr. Tooker, the owner of the plant, had to enlarge in order to take care of the growing business demand. On September 3 of that year the Beaver County Democrat was consolidated with the Forgan Enterprise and with the combined circulation, the Forgan paper was soon recognized as one of the strongest in the County. Several years later, when Mr. Tooker published the Beaver Democrat, Chancy Rice succeeded him as publisher in Forgan.

Later, the Forgan Eagle was established by Mr. A. L. Kimball who sold it to Edith Sloan after he purchased the Democrat in 1925. Mrs. Derthick served as a local editor until the paper was later absorbed by the Democrat. A short time later Percy Torrey published the Forgan Advocate, selling it to W. RayBrashear, who eventually sold it the Herald-Democrat. However, Mr. Hubbart, and later the Lansdens, continued to publish the Forgan Advocate through the 1940’s. I, the author of this Voices article, can attest to that since when I was almost fourteen, Mr. Lansden hired me to write the "social" news of Forgan for the paper. That was my first experience and venture into becoming a professional writer! It was not until nearly fifty years later that I found out that he had invented that job for me after my family had lost the farm in the Dust Bowl and were having a very hard time financially! Mr. Lansden paid me 25 cents per column inch, and it is amazing how much social news a small town can generate at that rate of pay!

In this day of high technology, it is easy to forget how important newspapers were to rural areas. Few people, if any, in my childhood had radios, few in the Dust Bowl could afford a newspaper, so we shared with our neighbors, and how else would we have known about the new Conservation Movement that grew out of the terrible dirt blowing around us, or about a man in Germany named Hitler, or about the Asian countries overrunning their neighbors? Or about a famous prize-fighter named Joe Louis? I walked across the field everyday when I was a little girl to get the neighbor’s copy of The Wichita Beacon. Even before I was in the first grade, I was attempting to read it. And when my parents went to Beaver on farm business, my dad would buy a copy of The Herald Democrat if he had enough money in his pocket. My parents instilled the value of newspapers in me, and I have never lost it.

 

 

2-22-18

     

One of the many things Beaver County residents should be proud of is how many books that have been written either by or about Beaver County residents and their history. I was always amazed as I traveled in my educational consulting work at how ignorant folks east of the 100th Meridian were about the Panhandle and No Man’s Land. And even in this day and age of high tech and television, that ignorance continues, but there is no excuse for it as there have been both print and film to enlighten these folk.

The first book about Beaver County was published in 1969 by the Oklahoma Extension Homemaker’s Council who formed a Historical Society in the process. It is the first of three volumes that includes family histories, local government history, business histories, stories of schools and churches from the 1880’s until 1969. The later two histories, one in 1970 by the same group, and one in 1993 by the Beaver County Historical Society continue these family and organization histories. They are invaluable as a source of information. They also reflect the hours and hours of work by Beaver County citizens in order to research and record their past. It was difficult to get a printer for the first volume, and only because I, the editor, had published the Forgan Yearbooks would Taylor Publishing Company even talk to us about a book that other publishers thought no one would buy. A thousand copies later, it was no problem to get the company to publish Volume II. By the time that the 1993 edition was ready to print, it was not a problem to find a publisher, as area and local histories had become the "in" thing to do for local historical societies!

Although there had been books published with sections or reference about No Man’s Land and the Panhandle, especially those by a Liberal newspaperman named Harry E. Chrisman, no specific book about the area had been written…or so everyone thought. In fact, a manuscript was written about his early days by the first sheriff of No Man’s Land, Jim Herron, who by that time was a wanted man and living in Arizona and state of Washington to escape a trial at Meade, Kansas. His manuscript remained with his granddaughter in Washington until, quite by accident, in 1965 Chrisman, who had moved to Denver, met her and obtained her copy, then in 1972 published the story of Herron’s early days in No Man’s Land and Beaver City entitled Fifty Years on the Owl Hoot Trail. (Owl Hoot Trail was a slang word for "outlaw", of course.) Chrisman researched the story told by Herron for accuracy before getting it to his publisher.

Another of the first books written about Beaver County was that written by Fred C. Tracy and entitled Recollections of No Man’s Land. His unpublished manuscript sat on dusty shelves at two area museums until the mid-nineties when the No Man’s Land Historical Society published it. Fred gave a detailed account of the settlement of the Panhandle, and of the history of Beaver County when it encompassed the entire Panhandle. Because he was involved in politics, businesses, and establishment of the first state government, the book is full of accurate history. It is also full of amusing stories of prominent citizens, especially local businessmen up and down Douglas Avenue.

Two other books have been published by Arcadia Publishers with picture history of Beaver County and Texas County early days. These are both edited by local authors: the Beaver County history by Harold Kachel, Joe Lansden, and Pauline Hodges; the Texas County history by Harold Kachel, Kathel Bales, and Pauline Hodges. These came off the presses during the past ten years but the pictures are, for the most part, from the history of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Current residents will recognize their relatives in some of the pictures…and maybe even their "outlaws"!!!

J. D. Bilbro, who grew up in Forgan, and who became one of the top cotton researchers in the country wrote a memoir of his early life, entitled The Dust Bowl Kid, even though he spent his professional life in or near Lubbock, Texas, in U. S. Department of Agriculture stations or at the University there, he never forgot those early Dust Bowl days!

Another author who wrote about her early life in Beaver is Ila Potter Burguardt, who, as many others did had a hard time financially during the Depression and Dust Bowl days but survived those hard times to become an International Representative for Mary Kay Cosmetics, traveled all over the world, and lives in San Antonio today as one of their most successful financial officers. Her book Those Were the Days would be a good reminder to those young people who are struggling that hard work and determination often pays good dividends!

Another former Forgan man Samuel Hall wrote a fiction account of the real-life struggle of his mother in his book Daughter of the Cimarron. Even though it uses fictional names, a reader who lived near Greenough and west of Forgan in the first half of the last century will recognize some of those farmer neighbors of Sam’s family. In real life, Sam’s father died at an early age, leaving Mrs. Hall with three boys to raise alone. Sam uses her real life experiences in his fictional character to survive the hard times.

And then there is the wonderful story written by Carrie and Will Anshutz of their early days on the Cimarron north of Forgan. Carrie Schmoker was a pioneer, teacher, and rancher’s wife. She married "Doc" Anshutz who was an adventurer, cowboy, and cattleman. Their stories of hard times in their book are better than any movie, especially when Carrie writes about the wall of water coming down the Cimarron and her jumping, with a child in her arms, on top of the chicken house to survive drowning as she was carried along by the water. The title of their book is Cimarron Chronicles and published by Ohnick Enterprises in Meade, Kansas.

Another valuable history of early day ranching in Beaver County is found in the book by George Healy, Frank Belle Healy, and Frank Dale Healy II who father and sons drove cattle from their ranch on Padre Island, Texas, through Beaver County and on to Dodge City to sell. They eventually established one of the very first ranches in Beaver County, and George Healy later became a prominent resident and businessman in Beaver. Frank Belle Healy became the head of the Land Office in Tyrone, unheard of for a woman in those days. The book that recounts their story is The Called It Cimarron published by DDH Press in Tucson, Arizona.

And, of course, one of the most prolific writers from Beaver County was Sanora Babb who was a screenwriter in Hollywood, but who wrote a number of books about her home area of Forgan, and even earlier childhood near Two Buttes, Colorado. Her fiction book at used the real town of Forgan in the 1920’s when the population was close to 2,000 is entitled The Lost Traveler. Many incidents in the book are from her real life, such as the fact that the real Sanora who was the valedictorian of her class was not allowed to be recognized as such at graduation since her real father was the town gambler! Her book about her grandfather and parents homesteading in Baca County, Colorado, is entitled An Owl On Every Post and is based on the family’s real life experience, although Sanora used fictional names. But the book that made her famous in just the last six years is Those Whose Names Are Unknown, based on the farming of her grandfather during the Dust Bowl in Cimarron County, and Sanora’s real life work in the migrant camps of California. She even loaned the notes from the migrant camps to John Steinbeck who used them for the migrant scenes in his book Grapes of Wrath, with her permission, of course. The event that made her book famous, of course, is that Ken Burns used it in the making of his film The Dust Bowl that was released in 2012.

All of these books are carried by the Jones & Plummer Trail Museum, or the Museum can obtain them for purchase. They also carry recent books by a current Forgan author, Charles Lemieux, Jr., which are up-to-date and more recent activities! He would be most happy to provide a signed copies for sale!

So it is quite evident that the No Man’s Land folk may be colorful but they are neither ignorant nor illiterate. And the books they have provided through the years are both informational and entertaining. Go by the Jones & Plummer Trail and see for yourself!

                                                                                 

2-15-18

Since our President is so taken with declaring illegal voting, polling places, and voters, he needs to investigate voting in our Beaver County history to set things straight. We have had it correct and above question or Federal investigation every way since May 2, 1890. True, we did have some dissension during the time of Cimarron Territory about elected delegates, but with the coming of Oklahoma Territory, that was all settled! We could send the President our good example for his use!

The copy of the following document by Territorial Governor George W. Steele should set the President straight on how proper voting is done: (*Note: Remember, Beaver County was all of the Panhandle at that time, and its official name was "The Seventh County".)

Governor Steele issued this proclamation:

In accordance with the provisions of Section II of the Act of Congress to provide a temporary government for the Territory of Oklahoma, etc, approved May 2, 1890, I announce the following precincts and voting places for the coming election August 15, 1890, and hereby appoint the election officers for the various precincts in the several counties as follows:

Seventh County Beaver County Precinct No 1 Voting place, Gate City; Judges, J. W. Tunnecliff, Fred S. Grasham, and William Clark. Clerks: Fred Tracy and J. M. Grasham.

Precinct No. 2 Voting place, Garland; Judges, Elihu Moore, Nathan J. Rhodes, Dave Mackey. Clerks, W. H. Millium and Fred Taintor.

Precinct No. 3 Voting place. Alpine; Judges, Charles Tannehill, T. L. Braidwood, W. J. Maple. Clerks, Frank J. Healy and George F. Walker.

Precinct No. 4 Voting Place, Benton; Judges, Walter Perkins, James Waller, John Stewart. Clerks, William Green and Lyman Savage.

Precinct No. 5 Voting Place, Blue Grass; Judges, W. B. Stanley, John Farrah, J. T. Wells. Clerks, H. French and John Van Gieson.

Precinct No. 6 Voting place, Logan; Judges, Henry Drum, W. Bohn, G. Stoddars. Clerks, Elmer Harlan and George Redemer.

Precinct 7 Voting Place, Beaver. Judges, John R. Thomas, S. B. Weir, David Miller. Clerks, Robert Dickson and O. K. Rogers.

Precinct 8 Voting place, Davis; Judges, Charles Davis, N. N. McGowan, David Kile. Clerks, Robert Rizley and O. C. Owebs.

Precinct No. 9 Voting Place, Kokomo; Judges, W. M. Wiseman, W. M. Jones, I. J. Wilson. Clerks, Abe Riley and John McCullom.

*The document goes on to name the Precincts and Voting places for the rest of the Seventh County, all the way to Kenton and Optima, a total of 17, in all. These places are listed as follows, although the personnel at the voting places have been omitted: Paladora, Grand Valley, Buffalo, Hardesty, Optima, ZH Ranch (between Kenton and the Kansas line), Welch (near Metcalf), 101 Ranch (again near Kenton). Some of the prominent names among the personnel running the voting places that will be familiar to those in today’s Beaver County are M. L. Kramer, Richard Quinn, G. W. Hubbard.

Also, some of those listed in what is the Seventh County’s personnel for voting places that folks will recognize are the following: Fred Tracy, Dave Mackey, Fred Taintor, T. L. Braidwood, W. J. Maple, Frank J. Healy, Lyman Savage, William Green, J. T. Wells, Henry Drum, George Reimer, S. B. Weir, John R. Thomas, N. G. McGowan, David Kile, and Robert Rizley. Some of these men or their relatives or descendants went on to run for territory, state, and county offices themselves: Fred Tracy, Robert Rizley, Henry Drum, S. B. Weir, David Kile, T. L. Braidwood.

Certainly, having the entire Seventh County from Gate to Kenton to supervise and keep honest and accurate was a heavy job for the personnel folks who supervised. Notice that of just the voting places listed for the first nine precincts, none of these towns or villages or schools used has existed for decades! Only Gate and Beaver are considered towns today…not that every voting place had to be a recognized town, of course, but in some cases these voting places are no longer even recognized as "neighborhoods", much less towns.

We should also consider that women did not have the right to vote during that time, and that it was no easy task for even the men to get to a voting place. Their travel would have been on foot, horseback or buggy or, perhaps, wagon. Nor did they have drivers’ licenses for identification, although probably the officials supervising the voting places knew the voters personally and were possibly their neighbors down the road.

So my chagrin towards those who are too lazy to go vote is understandable, when they have the much easier opportunity today with transportation, even if they no longer drive themselves, and when voter identification is provided if they aren’t too lazy to go register to vote! When I hear folks say, "Oh, well, my vote doesn’t matter," it is tempting to just lash out with a fist to put that person straight…when we are one of the few countries in the entire world who have the right to vote for all its citizens!

 

By Paulene Hodges

01-25-17

By Pauline Hodges

As I have traveled around the state during the past few years in my work with the afterward of the Dust Bowl film, I have been struck by the many, many trophies in the front halls of secondary schools, all of them, of course, for athletic achievements. Not that I am unaware of how hard those are to achieve, having had sons and grandchildren play all kinds of sports, as well as having done so myself many years ago! What is lacking are those achievements for music, art, public speaking, debate, FFA, National Honor Society, and the 4-H, all of which represent lifelong skills and learning for the rest of our students’ lives. Where is the picture of the graduate who was president of three major universities and served as head of the Western Interstate Commission for Education, or the men who died in Japan, Germany, or were war prisoners in both countries, or the woman who was the science coordinator of the school district in Alaska and worked with NASA and the National Science Foundation, or the graduate who became one of the top cotton researchers in this country, or the one who became nationally known for his work with mobile speech and hearing programs on Indian Reservations. I could go on and on about our area’s successful graduates who could be inspirations to current students.

And even more troubling is the lack of plaques or pictures of our war heroes and of the graduates who have served with honor in our military, or given their lives for our country. Nor do I see acknowledgement in our museums,with the exception of the Jones & Plummer Trail Museum. I was most appalled during the three times I came back to my home high school to teach during the last twenty-five years, that my students didn’t know the names of those heroes, nor did they know about WW II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, much less about the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan! And some of their relatives had participated in them, and some of the veterans lived down the street or in the community.

Well, I have to admit that some students had heard of the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, but knew few details or if we had any connections to those who fought in those wars. But when I had one of my classes read John Hersey’s classic history Hiroshima, one of my students complained because she said, "It’s so boring and nothing happened." Needless to say, I disabused her of that idea, but I am concerned that while the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Governor fight about testing, testing, testing, and grading schools, we in our local schools need to be concerned about curricula beyond a textbook and a test. And it is not just in the local area, it is statewide and nationwide. For instance, in the last school district where I was an administrator in Denver, the Board of Education voted to remove all negative information from the American history classes, such as the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the Alamo, Custer’s Last Stand, the Women’s Rights Movement for Suffrage, and many others. Fortunately, the hundreds of parents in that huge district of over 100,000 students protested, but my point is that we as patrons, board of education members, alumna members,and concerned citizens should be helping decide what is taught, who is honored, and where our priorities are. Those of us who are alumni in the area schools should be working with school personnel to help recognize these heroes, to write their stories, provide money for plaques, find information, tell their stories to classes.

Even though I may have retired five times and am an old lady, I have seen in my fifty-three years in the education business what damage we can do, not out of malice but out of neglect. It would be great to walk into school buildings and find pictures and plaques of our heroes, our honored students, those who made a difference in our community, state, and nation. Yes, that would take work and effort on the part of the whole community, but it would also be paying a debt of gratitude to those who have done so much.

12-14-17

As I see the multitude of ads on TV or in the newspaper to sell Christmas gifts by the millions, I am aware of how long I have lived and how differently we celebrate that religious holiday nowadays…of course, most of what I see does not depict religion or celebration of Christ’s birth unless it is done by a church. The general population does not seem aware of why we celebrate, and, of course, the merchants do not know that it is NOT just a season to make the most money for the year.

Of course, when I was a child in Beaver County, the climate disaster of the Dust Bowl, as well as the Depression, determined much of our attitude toward holidays. Furthermore, unless people drove fifteen or twenty miles, or even more, they did not have other than print media to tell them how to celebrate or what to buy. If they went to church, then they learned "the reason for the season" but certainly not from the public view.

My family was more or less typical of all families’ celebrations at the time…there weren’t any except at church or at a community school house program through the week. For example, I remember when I was little, about five years old, attending the Irving Schoolhouse that was two and a half miles from our house where there was a Christmas tree, singing by the children who attended that school, and sacks of candy with an orange inside as the gifts each of the children received. I was not yet in school, but everyone nearby attended this event. We never had a Christmas tree at our house as we couldn’t afford to buy one, and certainly there were none to cut…not even other trees in most places because of the drought and dirt blowing. I never felt deprived, however, as only one other neighbor near us had a Christmas tree. These folks would invite us over to look at it, for which we were grateful. Then when I was six and we had lost the farm, when we had moved to Floris across the road from the one-room schoolhouse, the school again had the community Christmas tree with the same music. However, in 1935 times were so bad that no candy was handed out that year. But the population of the entire little village and all the neighbors on farms around attended the "celebration."

And, we children did not get nor expect gifts from our families. I had heard of Santa Claus, but I thought he just came to the school event. Some families who sewed tried to make gifts for Christmas, and some of our neighbors made fudge candy as gifts. I envied these as we were having such a hard time that my mother did not have money to buy cloth to sew gifts nor for extra sugar or cocoa and other ingredients to make fudge or cookies.

The next year when we moved to Turpin to a consolidated school, the programs for the holiday were more elaborate simply because there were more kids to participate, and Turpin actually had a little rhythm band to play the music. Once in awhile the two or three merchants, along with one or two merchants from Liberal, would provide candy for the kids in the audience. But that was the extent of the festivities. By that time my Uncle Arthur Arnett had moved to Liberal after his disastrous attempt to farm in Baca County, Colorado, at the beginning of the Dust Bowl. He had lost his farm, even as we had. However, he had gotten a job with a car dealer in Liberal, he had no children to spend money for, and so he bought me a small doll and some doll dishes to use for the doll. I was so thrilled to get a present. The second year we lived there, he bought me a copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and since I loved books but had never had a new book of my own, I was in reading Heaven!

He also bought me a Shirley Temple doll, even though I was fast getting out of the "doll" stage of growing up. But I treasured all those gifts until I passed them on to other neighbor kids as I became an adult. (Well, not the book, just the dolls.)

Nor did we ever have a Christmas dinner at our house nor attend one anywhere else. We had some relatives living down the road, but no money for extra food, much less for a feast. We often visited the relatives and, if anyone had some spare change, the adults drank coffee they had made, and there might be a cookie left over to eat. What the adults did was visit with each other, sharing tales of old and better times, talking about the absent kinfolk, and we kids played outside if the dust wasn’t too bad, or inside if it was. We had the usual kid games but no toys to play with. Once in awhile some kid would show up with a sling shot, or with paper dolls, or there would be checkers or cards if the adults weren’t playing with them. If we were outside, we played Tag, or Hide-and-Seek…or if anyone was lucky enough to have some marbles, we, mostly the boys, played marbles. Needless to say, these marbles were prized possessions. Once in a while someone would have a set of Jacks, if we were lucky. Even the girls could play with them!

It was not until 1940 when the Dust Bowl had been somewhat controlled, the Depression had ended, and people began to raise crops again, that any Christmas celebrations at homes were resumed. When I was ten years old, my dad brought home a little Christmas tree that sat upon the little library table, and which I decorated with a few handmade pieces I had made of paper, and a short secondhand piece of silver garland. And they were able to buy me a present that year, also, which was a little set of china dishes for the two dolls I still had from the Turpin days. I kept those dishes until my middle age years, I treasured them so. We even had a Christmas dinner at our house for just the three of us, but we certainly could not afford a turkey, dressing, cranberries, fancy salads, pies… or anything other than a regular meal of some cured ham, potatoes, a can of green beans, and my mother’s Angel Food cake. She was so happy to have enough chickens to produce enough eggs for Angle Food! We thought we were feasting!

In later years, when I was a teacher at Forgan Schools, we were able to have elaborate school musical Christmas programs, and the Lions Club and others handed out the sacks of candy again, I was grateful for what a difference from those tough, early years we were able to make. And then the churches were often able to afford to have community dinners that included everyone who wanted to attend. Those were wonderful for the ones who hadn’t really gotten "back on their feet" from hard times and didn’t eat very well on any day, or for those who did not have family with whom to share a feast.

So as I look at all the elaborate decorations, see all the expensive gifts advertised, and even attend some of the fancy programs myself, I wonder if we still have all the real meaning of Christmas of sharing and helping others that these folks in hard times had.

Well, I have to admit that some students had heard of the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, but knew few details or if we had any connections to those who fought in those wars. But when I had one of my classes read John Hersey’s classic history Hiroshima, one of my students complained because she said, "It’s so boring and nothing happened." Needless to say, I disabused her of that idea, but I am concerned that while the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Governor fight about testing, testing, testing, and grading schools, we in our local schools need to be concerned about curricula beyond a textbook and a test. And it is not just in the local area, it is statewide and nationwide. For instance, in the last school district where I was an administrator in Denver, the Board of Education voted to remove all negative information from the American history classes, such as the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the Alamo, Custer’s Last Stand, the Women’s Rights Movement for Suffrage, and many others. Fortunately, the hundreds of parents in that huge district of over 100,000 students protested, but my point is that we as patrons, board of education members, alumna members, Voicesand concerned citizens should be helping decide what is taught, who is honored, and where our priorities are. Those of us who are alumni in the area schools should be working with school personnel to help recognize these heroes, to write their stories, provide money for plaques, find information, tell their stories to classes.

Even though I may have retired five times and am an old lady, I have seen in my fifty-three years in the education business what damage we can do, not out of malice but out of neglect. It would be great to walk into school buildings and find pictures and plaques of our heroes, our honored students, those who made a difference in our community, state, and nation. Yes, that would take work and effort on the part of the whole community, but it would also be paying a debt of gratitude to those who have done so much.

 

11-23-17

t is ironic that the Oklahoma Legislature today cannot find it important enough to fund public schools or to pay teachers’ salaries commensurate with that of surrounding states so that we can keep certified and qualified teachers to serve our children. Today we have over 1500 uncertified teachers working in our schools! It is ironic since one of the very first and most important tasks and commitments our early pioneers had in settling this country was to provide free, public education for their children. Every since the 1880’s in Beaver County, schools have been considered important, and its citizens sacrificed to provide the buildings and teachers for such.

That commitment is evident in that through the years we had recognition by the Territory or State of Oklahoma of over 200 country schools in operation during the last part of the 1800’s and first half of the 1900’s, all in Beaver County. That was in addition to the fact that every town had its own school. In Volume II, Beaver County History, published in 1971, there are stories of 102 of these country schools. In addition to this commitment, after World War I, there began a movement to provide training for teachers, to provide guidance for a standard curriculum, and to continue to elect a County Superintendent to supervise and be administrator for the quality of all these schools. Of course, as the rural population decreased, transportation improved, and a demand for more grades to be taught, school districts were consolidated and annexed to surrounding towns. The role of the County Superintendent changed, also, to that of serving as a coordinating agency for both elementary and high school districts. Also, a State Department of Education was created, and schools were provided State services if the districts were not large enough to hire specialists for special education or physically handicapped students. The County Superintendent’s Office was finally eliminated in the 1970’s as school administrators were required to have special training in administration and were able to take over the duties formerly done by the County office.

The first schools in Beaver County were in sod schoolhouses, one-room plank buildings, or in the homes of the area settlers. Before there was any government of any form in No Man’s Land, there was a school built by the settlers. It was built in 1887 in the town of Beaver, a sod building. The first teacher was Mary Hunter who taught that first term 1887-1888. She was paid for her services by volunteer subscription (meaning that the parents of the children taught collectively paid for her services). In 1890 the first Territorial Government authorized the Board of County Commissioners to appoint a County Superintendent. He (of course, since women weren’t "capable" in those days) was to organize schools districts and perform the duties of his office. His salary was fixed at five dollars per day, so that for the first six days of work he drew a total of thirty dollars. This man was L. B. Whitten. Later that year, R. G. Dunlop succeeded Whitten, and he organized the Elmwood District. In 1891 school was taught by Miss May Overstreet in Beaver City in what was the Will Thomas residence, and a Mrs. Blanchard taught the upper grades in a building across the street (later called Douglas Avenue).

Of course, older folks such as I can remember well those one-room schools where we began our education. Well, that isn’t exactly true since my parents actually taught me to read and write before I was five, as well as teaching me some simple arithmetic and basic history. I was not an exception, of course, as many folks did so as they valued education, not being able to have much themselves. My first school was a one-room school at Floris, Oklahoma, where we moved to after we had lost our farm to foreclosure in the Dust Bowl. Luckily for me, we rented the Baptist Parsonage across the street from the school since the Church could no longer afford a pastor in 1935. Many days my mother walked me to school, however, since the dirt was blowing so bad on the unpaved streets and school yard, we could not see the building across the street.

My first teacher was Miss Margarite Dunlap who was in her early twenties, with only a few weeks of formal training to be a teacher, but she managed to teach grades one through eight quite efficiently. Of course, since it was in the middle of the Depression and the Dust Bowl, women were not allowed to be married and teach since the husband was supposed to be head of the household and make the living. It was permissible, of course, for the man to be married. Miss Dunlap used the Laidlaw reading book, and expected all first graders to learn manuscript printing, with second graders moving up to cursive writing. My problem was that my parents had taught me cursive, not manuscript, and being the independent Miss Sassy, I wadded up my paper and threw it and the pencil at Miss Dunlap, announcing that I did not need manuscript, that it was just for little kids. She paddled me for doing that; it didn’t hurt, but I was mortified as the 8th grade boys laughed about it excessively! I also got into trouble "lying" to her when I said I had read the book Pollyanna.

But that school was typical of those early schools in Beaver County, as well as in most other rural areas. However, Beaver City managed to get a Normal Institute in the early 1890’s where they could train teachers in intensive meetings for two weeks in July. The students could then get a certificate to verify that they had had teacher training. Some of these first teachers in that Institute were May Overstreet, B. E. Blanchard, and County Superintendent R. G. Dunlop. A picture in Volume II Beaver County History of the students there in 1912 shows five rows of both men and women preparing to be teachers!

Today’s Oklahoma Legislature needs a lesson in the history of schools in their state, and the early-day value placed on educating our children to be good citizens and business people!

 

 

 

11-16-17

A great book that is a source of both information and entertainment is that written by Virginia Frantz, formerly of the Bethany/Balko communities and entitled Keepin’ It Together. Virginia wrote this book while she was being filmed to be in Ken Burns’ film about the Dust Bowl, as well as taking a class that I taught in Guymon for the Word Weavers organization about writing memoirs. It is one of the most accurate accounts of the day-to-day life on a farm in Beaver County in the worst of the Dirty Thirties, and it is so readable that middle school students in grades 5-8 can understand and appreciate what a "terrible, awful, no-good time" that was. But it is also a good read for adults, especially those who lived through these times themselves, or those whose parents did and who then told their children about it.

Although Virginia writes it as fiction, it is the true story of how her father had to go to Colorado to get work in the worst part of the Dust Bowl times in order to pay the mortgage on their farm west of Balko, as well as to buy groceries for the family and feed for the livestock. That left her mother and two daughters to take over the chores, get the girls to school with no car or school bus available, as well as the girls participating in an after school program. There were also the tasks of getting to the general store, as well as getting to church on Sundays.

Those who did live through these times will appreciate the neighbors pitching in for transportation and other help when needed. That is what these homesteaders had to do to survive the worst of times, as well as it just being the way folks did in those days. One of the best scenes is at the end of the book when the girls go to the end-of-school picnic and the mother stays home as she is pregnant and doesn’t feel like walking to the picnic grounds, while carrying the picnic basket. She warns the girls not to get into the swimming hole, as the other kids will do. But kindly neighbors volunteer to sit on the bank with the girls while they dip their feet in the water. However, the father shows up just at that moment as he as returned from his work in the adjoining state!

Many folks in Beaver County will remember Virginia Kerns Frantz, the author,whose real parents were Bill and Virgie (Cherry) Kerns, prominent farmers near Highway 3 and Balko and Bethany. Virginia was a graduate of Bethany High School, and a few years after becoming a single parent of seven children, she persuaded the President of Oklahoma Panhandle State University, Marvin McKee, to let her become a "dorm mother/supervisor", along with her kids, so she could continue her degree and become a teacher. She did so, living in the barracks housing that was put in place at PAMC after World War II, and then she obtained a job teaching in Guymon where she continued until her retirement. She also became active in civic organizations in the Guymon Community, as well as in her church. Her children, Jeanene Seaton, Cheryl Oquin, Nayoma Cooper, Patsy Barton, Rocky Frantz, Kara Sue Lawrence, and Clay Frantz, grew up to carry on the responsibility of being good and productive citizens no matter where they live today. One of these, of course, Clay, still lives in Beaver County east of Hardesty.

Virginia Frantz’s book is sold at the Jones & Plummer Trail Museum, as well as by Mrs. Frantz herself, out of her home in Guymon.

 

11-2-17

Paulene Hodges

Beaver County is so fortunate to have a high quality, well run Museum for its use. In addition, the County is also closely connected to No Man’s Land Museum in Goodwell that serves the entire Panhandle with quality exhibits and access to anyone in the Panhandle area. In addition, the Historical Society in charge of the NML Museum provides monthly programs for the public. Beaver County residents were part of the founding group to create this Museum, just as it was for the Jones & Plummer Trail Museum in Beaver. In addition, to these two, there are three others in the Panhandle available to area residents: the Museum at Gate, the one in Boise City, and the one in Kenton. In addition, Perryton and Liberal have quality museums available to those in the adjoining states. These Museums are all of importance to our residents today as they are records of our ancestors who came as trail drivers, early day ranchers and squatters, and as homesteaders.

We in No Man’s Land have one of the most interesting histories of any in the United States. And I am appalled sometimes when I meet complete ignorance about that history!!! I invite you to just learn of the history of the two of these Museums, then go spend time in them to view our colorful past.

The first real Museum to exist officially in the Panhandle is the No Man’s Land Museum that was organized in 1932 when the faculty of Oklahoma Panhandle Agricultural and Mechanical College in Goodwell first organized the Panhandle Museum Club with Clifton Lynch as the president. Along with the help of students and friends of the college, this Club created exhibits that focused on natural history artifacts. The original name was simply the Panhandle Museum. The present name is derived from one that was one applied to the area that is now the Panhandle of Oklahoma. When Texas came into the Union as a State instead of a Republic, this strip became known as Neutral Strip of No Man’s Land until it became part of Oklahoma Territory in 1890. The No Man’s Land Historical Society was organized October 3, 1934, to preserve and perpetuate the history of the Panhandle of Oklahoma. It was an outgrowth of four separate groups: The Panhandle Museum Club, a student organization at Panhandle State College; the Texas County Old Settlers Association; Cimarron County Old Timers Association; and the Pioneers of No Man’s Land of Beaver County. Board Members of the Society are from each of the three counties making up the Panhandle. Some of the early Beaver County Pioneer Board members were T. C. Braidwood, Fred Tracy, Elmer L. Fickel, Billy Quinn, and Mrs. R. H. Loofburrow.

The Museum was originally housed on the third floor of Sewell-Loofburrow on the College campus where the office of the faculty member most responsible for its creation, Nolan McWhirter, was located. It was housed there until it was moved to the second floor of Hughes-Strong Hall. The Museum continued to be on campus for sixteen more years until funds were raised in 1950 to build a brick building located just east of the College campus at 207 West Sewell. The No Man’s Land Historical Society sponsored a major renovation of its heating and air-conditioning systems in 1995 and installed a multi-layered security system. Then most recently in 2012 the Historical Society voted to build a new wing on the southeast side of the Museum to house larger artifacts. This has been a major asset for the unique collections.

From its beginning until about twenty years ago, the Museum was run by university faculty appointed by the University. The Museum was later run in partnership with the Oklahoma Historical Society and Oklahoma Panhandle State University, with the President of the College ( later renamed University) automatically serving as a Museum Member. The new President has declined that honor, but Board Members are working to have a University administrator again serve on the Board. At the present time operation is by the No Man’s Land Historical Society. Two of its most prominent curators have been curator Harold Kachel, along with his wife Joan, from Beaver when he was a faculty member at the University, then in the late 1990’s until 2003 operated by the curator Ken Turner. All three of these curators and leaders brought innovations and expansions to the Museum, as well as adding new exhibits and artifacts from donors near and far. The present Curator is Sue Weissinger who served as assistant to the former Curator. Current Board members representing Beaver County Historical Society are Harold Kachel, Chris Berry, and Don Jenkins.

No Man’s Land Museum strives to present a comprehensive study of the Oklahoma Panhandle and its borderlands from prehistoric to present day human inhabitants. Many unique items include a large collection of Plains Indian arrowheads, a catlinite peace pipe presented to a Hooker resident by Blackfoot Chief Two Guns Whitecalf, and the first printing press to cross the Mississippi. Also featured is a two-headed calf that was a prominent exhibit on the 1932 opening day of the original Museum. Among the most famous of the exhibits are the William E. Baker Archaeological Collections; the mummy of the Basket Maker Indian; and a most recent dinosaur skeleton uncovered near Balko twelve years ago. Also featured is an extensive photo exhibit of Dust Bowl days.

I have listed No Man’s Museum as the first in the Panhandle, and, officially that is true, although pioneers unofficially kept their treasures until the younger generation had sense enough to preserve them! So I expect there were many collections before an official one existed. A year ago I wrote an article about the museum in Beaver City that existed long before the current Museum here was built. In case you, this year’s reader, didn’t read it or have forgotten the information, I’ll recall some of it for you. A prominent Beaver County resident, Lee Hulse, who was the County Superintendent, lived in the original sod house in Beaver in the 1930’s and 1940’s, which was the Jim Lane Trading Post on the Jones & Plummer Trail. He began to collect the early day artifacts he discovered when he visited schools and families in the County. When he retired and moved, the Sharp family lived there and continued adding artifacts to Mr. Hulse’s collection. Mrs. Sharp and her daughter kept the building open to the public as a Museum. It was maintained and kept open during their lifetimes when the father of the family was also involved with the cattle auction in town. The building itself still stands behind a feed store on the Old Main Street.

The present Jones & Plummer Trail Museum was a project of the Beaver County Historical Society in 1981, years after the Sharps were no longer living in the original building. Two volumes of history about the area had been published, an international Cowchip Throwing Contest had become world known, and it was time to house the artifacts from that fascinating time in a more spacious and climate-suited building. The Beaver County Historical Society that had been so instrumental in the publications of the early histories, as well as in helping organizing the cowchip contest, took it upon themselves to get the new building established. With help from Beaver County, the club members, and generous donations by Beaver County residents, the building was set on Beaver County Fairgrounds land in 1981. Those officers and Board of Directors members were Felice Calhoon, president; Willie Harvey, vice-president; O. G.Henderson, secretary; Rheva Bridgewater, treasurer; Fannie Judy, Berenice Jackson, Ralph Rector, and Pauline Cross, Board members.

An addition was added to the north side of the original building in the late 1980’s to house replicas of an early bank, general store, law office, barbershop, kitchen, living room, and bedroom, as well as room for displays of glass cases, saddles, and a buggy. In addition, to this area is the Healy Room where the donations of very early day ranch family Healy are displayed. Then in 2012-13 Felice Calhoon donated an additional wing to the east side to house her late husband Dr. Ed Calhoon’s saddle collection and doctors’ equipment. A meeting room there is also a great help to the Historical Society.

In 1990 the Little Red Schoolhouse from the Barby Ranch was moved onto the property just east of the Museum building, where, after extensive cleaning by three older women members of the Historical Society, Della Poorbaugh, Ozella Hendricks, and Pauline Hodges, using garden hoses, push brooms, and dust rags it became a schoolhouse again. They even re-caulked the chimney that was falling apart! Since then it has been used to provide one-day experiences for County fourth grade students to find out what it would be like to go to such a school each year! The school today even has a dunce chair, and a bucket and dipper (even though the students don’t actually drink from them!). And, unlike the original dunce chair idea, today’s fourth graders try their best to get sent there for an hour or so!!! Students bring their lunches in a pail…and no frozen food, or plastic, is allowed! Through the years, volunteer former teachers have provided the instruction and conducted the spelling bees and ciphering matches, along with help from volunteers from the Historical Society. Students are then taken to the Museum to view the proto-type rooms and artifacts, along with volunteers to explain it all.

These two Museums, along with the others at Gate, Boise City, and Kenton are worth the time and effort to visit. And they are great educational tours for school groups. And, most importantly, they help us remember and preserve our past and the great pioneers who settled here.

10-19-17

Paulene Hodges

Having recently spent a hour on the phone with a editor in a nationally known publishing house, explaining that John Steinbeck did not set his famous book Grapes of Wrath in the Oklahoma part of the Dust Bowl, and in my talking with folks in Central Oklahoma, I am once again struck with how little people really know about this book and author; in fact, the beginning of the book is set in far eastern Oklahoma near the Arkansas line. I am even shocked to find that folks in some parts of Oklahoma do not even know where the Dust Bowl took place. I have even had people ask me why Ken Burns did not use Steinbeck’s work in the Dust Bowl film. Furthermore, the editor, who had handled publication of Sanora Babb’s books, did not realize the difference in climate and soils between the Panhandle and Eastern Oklahoma or what difference that made between the two books. I was surprised since the editor is a big fan of Sanora’s work. (So, of course, being the old and former school teacher that I am, I gave her a lecture!)

Sanora Babb may not have been recognized for her writing skills during her youth at Forgan, or even when she was a screen writer in Hollywood, or as a new author who continued to write and set her novels in the Panhandle area, in Baca County, Colorado, and even in Forgan. She continued her writing until her death at 97, and her most recent fame came when Ken Burns used her book Whose Names Are Unknown in the film about the Dust Bowl which aired about five years ago. Burns gave her credit for the content he used, as well as publicized the book itself. I find that writers and publishers to this day confuse her work with that of John Steinbeck and his book Grapes of Wrath which is set in the Depression and in the migrant camps of California. Babb’s book that was written at the same time was about her grandfather trying to farm in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, as well as in the migrant camps in California where she worked for the Federal Government trying to help the workers there. Some of her migrants, like those of Steinbeck, were from the Dust Bowl, but not all of them.

When both authors submitted their books at almost the same time to Random House, Bennett Cerf, the head publisher did not think two books on this topic in 1939 would be sellers, given the hard times financially as well as physically for people. He chose Steinbeck’s since he was already a published author. Many years later when Babb’s book was published, Cerf apologized to her and said he had made a mistake not to run both at the same time.

Of course, I am not surprised that Cerf did not understand these works since people, even in Oklahoma today, do not understand that Steinbeck’s book was not about farmers fleeing the Dust Bowl! His farmers, the Joads, were feeling the effects of the Depression and drop in farm product prices due to the Depression and Stock Market Crisis. Yes, their bank had foreclosed, but their situation was that they had had a small farm on the eastern edge of Oklahoma, near Checotah, and the characters and setting of Babb’s book was the Panhandle where the Dust Bowl was occurring and in California. The ironic thing is that Babb loaned her migrant camp notes to Steinbeck to use in his part of Grapes of Wrath that is set there, with her permission and that of the publisher, of course.

Sanora Babb grew up in several places from Red Rock, Oklahoma, to Two Butte, Colorado, to Forgan, Oklahoma, Garden City, Kansas, and to the University of Kansas before moving to California to become a screen writer. Her parents owned a bakery in Forgan, and her father was a professional gambler, as a number of other area men were in the 1920’s. When she graduated with a 4.0 Grade Point Average and was the valedictorian of her class, some of the Forgan "society ladies" persuaded the Superintendent that it would be "scandalous" to have a gambler’s daughter give a public speech for the school! Sanora got even with them, because thirty years later when her novel The Lost Traveler was published, it was set in Forgan, although by a fictitious name, but obviously including these same ladies by other names!

Another interesting fact about Babb is that twenty years after her work in the migrant camps, Senator Joseph McCarthy who was adamant that everyone in Hollywood was a Communist, branded her as a Communist as she had worked in the camps, when she was a young college student she had attended an English teachers meeting held in the Soviet Union to help Russians improve their schooling, and then, she had committed a "real" crime by marrying an Asian-American man who worked in the film business in California, and there was a state law forbidding such a crime. Never mind that the man was James Wong Howe, the cinematographer for the film Gone With the Wind and 130 other films in Hollywood. Babb and her husband hid out in Mexico until McCarthy and his tirade went away!

I am sure McCarthy is turning over in his grave at the thought that this terrible woman received many, many honors and had books published. Justice will out!!! Sanora lived to be 97, and was recognized for her good writing and good works, in spite of the Forgan ladies or McCarthy!

 

 

 

 

 

Beaver