Joseph B. Thoburn
When Frank H. Greer passed away, Oklahoma lost one of its most notable and outstanding pioneers. Indeed, it is doubtful if, in its activities and its influence, the career of any other pioneer of Oklahoma Territory touched the life, civic ideals and institutions as widely and as fully as did that of Frank H. Greer, the story of whose life, to which "30" was written, August 8, 1933, is an essential part of the source material of the sort from which the ultimate history of Oklahoma is to be written.
Frank Hilton Greer was born in Leavenworth, Kansas, July 21, 1862. He was the fourth child, two of his elder brothers having died in infancy, and son of Samuel Wiley and Clotida (Hilton) Greer. Samuel W. Greer was a native of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, where his paternal grandfather, of Irish birth and Scottish extraction had settled, prior to the American Revolution. The maiden name of Samuel W. Greer's mother was O'Hagerty, so she was of Irish birth or descent. Samuel W. Greer had completed his education at Oberlin College, with the purpose of qualifying himself for the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. At Xenia, Ohio, he met Miss Clotilda Hilton, of Zanesville, in the same state. She was a member of the Hilton family which had been prominent in the earlier history of Cincinnati. Prior to her marriage she had been engaged in educational work. She was a woman of strong character and of pronounced personality. Samuel W. Greer and Clotilda Hilton were married at Oskaloosa, Iowa, in 1855, after which they fared forth to the then recently settled and newly organized Territory of Kansas. He had found employment as superintendent of schools at Leavenworth. A year or two later he was appointed to the position of Territorial Superintendent of public instruction, a position in which there had been but a single predecessor, who had held the office but a short time, so the task of organizing the educational depart-
ment of the Territorial Government devolved largely upon Superintendent Greer. It is said that some of the school legislation which he prepared and which was enacted into law by the Legislative Assembly of the Territory is still in force and effect in the statute books of the State of Kansas, after a lapse of more than three-quarters of a century.
Mrs. Greer had been a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Her maternal grandfather had been a very noted Methodist minister. After her marriage, however, her denominational relationship was changed to that of the Presbyterian Church, of which her husband was a communicant. But her religion was not a matter of sectarianism, so her spiritual service was just as consecrated in the one church as it had been in the other. And so, in a home which had the presence and example of a dignified, cultured and scholarly father, on the one side, and that of devotion and perfect faith in the ultimate triumph of the spirit of eternal righteousness, on the part of the mother, it was only to have been expected that the children of such a union would manifest marked ability and unusual individuality.
Samuel W. Greer, then but recently retired from official life in Kansas, was in Washington at the outbreak of the Civil War, a few weeks after the inauguration of President Lincoln. There, he was one of the organizing members of the famous "Frontier Guard," which kept watch and ward over the White House for several weeks, until adequate military protection of the national capital, both environmental and internal, could be arranged. Then, this company of Western volunteers, who were there only temporarily, was disbanded. A year later, Mr. Greer recruited a company which was mustered into the Federal volunteer military service as Troop "I," of the 15th Kansas Cavalry, of which he was commissioned captain and which he commanded until the end of the War, three years later. It is not of record that he led any dashing cavalry charges, but he held the confidence of his superiors and commanded the respect of his men; also that, in the absence of the chaplain, he visited the sick and wounded, comforted the dying and read the burial service for those who had "paid the last full measure of devotion."
The end of the War found Captain Greer with shattered health and his material affairs suffering from lack of attention during his absence in the Army service. After several years of struggle to recuperate and rehabilitate his material resources, he finally succeeded in liquidating the latter and found that but little more than a pittance was left with which to make a new start. With this slender capital, it was determined that he should turn to life in the open in the hope that he might regain his health. He accordingly filed a homestead entry upon a quarter of a section of Government land in Cowley County, Kansas, and preparations were made for the removal of the family to this homestead claim. This was in the spring of 1871. The family consisted of Mrs. Greer, three young sons—Edwin, Frank and Bert, and twin baby daughters, then but a few weeks old. A wagon and team of horses were secured for the move of about 175 miles. Into this wagon were packed clothing and household essentials. Mrs. Greer did much of the driving, for the reason that the Captain was virtually an invalid, scarcely able to sit up on the wagon seat much of the time. Even at that, however, the journey was undertaken with hearts that were filled with hope. There were sore trials in store for this family circle. One of the horses laid down and died. Manifestly the journey could not be completed with just one horse to draw a loaded two-horse wagon. It would have been a heart-rending discouragement to some folks so situated. Not so with this courageous-hearted pioneer wife and mother. With the aid of Frank and his elder brother, Edwin, she secured a small tent from the wagon, set it up, arranged therein the pallets upon which part of the family were to sleep. Then the boys were given their supper which had been cooked on the camp-fire, after which they went to bed in the tent. Then their mother secured her Bible and seated herself by the camp-fire where she could read by its light and, after rereading its treasured promises, which she knew and could repeat from memory, she wrestled in prayer for faith to trust that all of their needs would be supplied. At breakfast the next morning she quietly yet convincingly assured the family circle that she had made a draft on "the Bank of Providence" and that God would provide them with a team with which they would be enabled to complete their journey to the homestead and establish
their new home. Several days were spent in waiting for this to come to pass, but she never doubted the outcome. With her buoyant faith she attended to the wants of the family and inspired each and all with such an expectancy of certain relief that there could be no such thing as disappointment or failure. One evening, an immigrant party, having several wagons, camped near by. The next morning, when it departed, a lame ox was left behind. Mrs. Greer fed this ox and bathed its swollen foot and, in a few days, it was sufficiently recovered from its lameness to be of use, whereupon, it was hitched to the wagon with the surviving horse and the journey to the Cowley County homestead was resumed and completed, while in her prayers she never failed to acknowledge gratefully the answer to her petition for help in the day of distress and sore need. In after years her children often recalled "Mother's Providential team," and it is a tradition in the Greer family that neither Frank nor his brother Edwin could ever narrate this incident in family history without the tears streaming down their cheeks, as they recalled the quiet courage, the devoted tenderness and unquestioning faith of their mother, despite the infirmities of the invalid husband and father and the utter dependence of a brood of young children.
Through hardships and privations that would have discouraged or defeated less courageous spirits, the homestead was opened up for cultivation and production. Although Captain Greer never regained his full strength, his general health was measurably improved and, as if there could be no sacrifice without some compensation, physical weakness seemed to give opportunity for greater mental activity. A finished scholar, himself, the wife and mother of the family always seemed to be his intellectual equal even though her scholastic training had not been carried quite as far as had his. So, as he was wont to read aloud and call attention to what he had read, it was the wife and mother who analyzed, compared, drew conclusions and commented upon the subject or theme thus brought under consideration. Though engaged in the most homely, common, every-day domestic tasks, she always found something worth while to be drawn from such discussions that would warrant a helpful or inspiring comment. It was her mind that pondered and reasoned and interpreted the meanings and significances to the listening members
of the household. She was a truly wonderful woman, of keenly acquisitive and brilliant mentality and possessed of moral ideals and ethical standards that were not open to question or to doubt, for, with all of her gifts of mind and understanding, she combined a child-like trust in the omnipotence and omniscience of the Source of all Wisdom and all Power. Indeed, her demonstration in the instance of the "Providential team," already related, is said to have been only one of many such incidents in her life which had given proof of the efficacy of her faith.
Though Frank Greer's elder brother, Edwin, like other lads of his age, was greatly interested in pioneer life, he did not take to farming as a means of gaining a livelihood, so, within a year or two after the family settled in Cowley County, he left home and sought and secured employment in Winfield, the county seat, distant but a few miles from the Greer homestead. It was not easy for a boy to find employment in a frontier town, in those days, but he persevered and, finally, he found a position as an apprentice, or "devil," in the print-shop of the Winfield "Courier." Mastering "the art of preservative of arts," he gradually advanced until he was enabled to purchase a one-third interest in the business. Later, this was increased to a half-interest and, eventually, he became the sole owner of the newspaper and its mechanical equipment.
On the farm, the original one-room claim house, with its "lean-to" kitchen, was replaced by a more commodious and more comfortable structure. Even in the lean pioneer years, this humble home had always been pervaded by an atmosphere of culture, refinement and reverently spiritual thoughtfulness and, though educational facilities and opportunities were meagre in comparison with those which were ultimately developed in the Community, so that what might have seemed to be lacking in the way of scholastic training for the young minds and hearts was more than compensated by the stimulus and inspiration of the domestic environment. Small and crowded as the pioneer home was in the beginning, it had its family library—works on history, biography, philosophy and science, with a measure of worth-while fiction which had won its way into a permanent place in Anglo-American literature, nor had poetry been overlooked in its primary selection. In addition to these books, the frugal domestic budget always provided for several standard
magazines or reviews. It was the custom of the family to read selections from permanent or periodical literature every evening and then discuss it in the circle so that all, even to the youngest, had a chance to hear or discuss the theme under consideration. This was the sort of an atmosphere in which Frank Greer had been reared and it fitted him to meet and mingle with cultured, scholarly people anywhere and any time. It was because of this intellectual environment at home, during the years of his childhood and youth, that few who met him casually in his later life, could realize that the stern necessities of pioneer life had closed the door of opportunity for college or university training to him.
When Frank Greer was sixteen years old, he, too, left the farm and sought employment in Winfield. Then, the homestead farm was sold and the family moved to town, in 1878, as two younger sons did not take to farming. (Charles, the youngest member of the family, was born after settlement in Cowley County.) Eventually all of the three younger sons followed in the wake of the eldest brother by taking to the printing trade or to newspaper work. When Frank first went to Winfield, he found work as a clerk in a drygoods store for a time, but if was not long before his brother Edwin took him into the Courier office, where he not only got a fair knowledge of the printing trade, but also became a writer. As a local reporter he was noted for his zeal and efficiency, usually turning in more "copy" than there was space to be filled. His father lived several years after the family moved into Winfield. Though he was in frail health, he was ever keenly alive to all that was going on around him and continued to be a great reader. As a young man, Frank took an active part in the social life of the community, which was then at its best in Winfield.
In 1888, a few months before the opening of the first lands to homestead settlement in the Oklahoma country, Frank H. Greer and Miss Blanche Byers, of Winfield, were married. The bride was a young woman of great beauty and was possessed of a most charming personality. As the time for this great land opening drew near, Frank Greer became greatly interested as, indeed, most of the bright, ambitious, intelligent young men living along the border of the other states which adjoined the old Indian Territory, of which Oklahoma was then a part, were likewise in-
terested. Of course, he wanted to go into the newspaper business. His brother Edwin had been conducting a successful and profitable business in the same line for many years and, after canvassing the whole matter, he agreed to back Frank in such an undertaking. The building of the Santa Fe railway line between Arkansas City, Kansas, and Purcell, Indian Territory, which had been completed and put into operation only about a year and a half before the opening of Oklahoma, was projected and men who were connected with the legal department of the Santa Fe Company were citizens of Winfield. These men were naturally influential in the formulation of the policy of that great corporation with regard to the Oklahoma country when it was thrown open to settlement. That there would be one or two good towns along this railway line, (which, as yet, was the only railway that had been constructed across the lands that were to be thrown open to settlement), was a foregone conclusion. That one of these would be the beneficiary of the influence and favor of the railway company, was likewise to be expected. The sequel proved that the town thus favored was Guthrie, the site of which was just south of where the Santa Fe line crossed the Cimarron. So, Guthrie was favored first in the location of one of the two first Government land offices and, later by its designation as the temporary seat of the territorial government. Under such circumstances, it was not strange that the Greer Brothers, Edwin P. and Frank H., should have received a "straight tip" from authoritative sources, in selecting a location for the business which they had in mind. We are fortunate in having Frank Greer's own story of his coming to Oklahoma, as he wrote it many years ago. This account under the caption of "Early Romance of Oklahoma" is herewith reproduced just as it was published:
"On April 20, 1889, I got ready to start for Oklahoma. I had arranged with R. L. Millspaugh, familiarly known to his friends as 'Aub,' and W. H. Bruington, two genial and ambitious young men, to make the trip with me. After bidding my wife good-bye and giving her ten dollars out of the thirty-nine I had in my pocket, I went to the home of my mother. Before bidding me good-bye, she said she desired to commit me to the providence of God, Who, she knew, would protect my footsteps and prosper my future. So we went into her bed-room and there
knelt by the bedside and I remember how fervently she appealed to the Lord about the prospects of the wonderful new land and submitted to His care her boy who was going to cast his lot in the new Eden.
"I recollect my thoughts on leaving the house—with that prayer fresh in my mind and tears still in my eyes, of the peculiar ambitions of a young man starting into a new country with but twenty-nine dollars in his pocket and nothing but this amount of cash capital and the hopes and prayers of a sainted mother and a loving wife on which to found a newspaper business and expecting as firmly to found it as if he had a million with which to do it.
"The paper had already been started and three issues had come out. Just how I expected to bring out the rest of the issues was considerably more in imagination than in reality.
"To me, one of the important incidents of that first week in Guthrie was the arrival of my mother on that first train. She got a lot out on East Oklahoma Avenue, which she sold on April 24th for ninety dollars. She brought the ninety dollars down to the State Capital tent and, handing the money to me said: 'Frank, the Lord has answered ninety dollars' worth of my prayer for you on the night you started for Oklahoma.' And the ninety dollars assisted in founding the State Capital.
"Millspaugh, Bruington and I went to Arkansas City, where were thousands of 'boomers' ranged along the line of the Cherokee Strip. We negotiated with the engineer and brakeman for a ride on a freight train through the Strip, expecting to stop at the line between the Strip and the Oklahoma lands that were to be thrown open for settlement, near the site upon which Orlando was afterward built. We mounted a carload of telephone poles about twelve o'clock at night, the load having been arranged to form convenient cracks or crevices large enough to conceal an ordinary man. Millspaugh was a heavy fellow, and I remember that he had a hard time finding a place large enough to conceal himself. Of course the editor had small trouble on that score as he was slim enough to fit in almost anywhere in any sort of a crack. There were soldiers all along the line and there seemed to be a great deal of freight coming into Oklahoma in ad-
vance of the opening, for the train stopped distressingly often and, every time it stopped, it would slide us along on the car floor with the telegraph poles, sometimes removing patches of cuticle in the operation.
"One of our fellow travelers on that ride was an Irishman. I remember that his feet touched my head, as he was in the same 'compartment' with me. Millspaugh was a traveling man and, therefore, a great talker, and he persisted in making laughable comments, until, finally, the Irishman said:
" 'Does yez hear the sojers? If yez spalpeens will shut yer mouths an' study the stars, yez will not be so much in danger of havin' to git off an' drill wid Uncle Sam's blue-coats.' A little later I heard one Irishman say to another: 'Pat, will yez give me the loan of yer spade for about five minutes at twelve o'clock, on Monday?' to which Pat made answer: 'Ye fool, does yez think I a-carryin' this spade becus I love the likes of yez? I expect to git me a claim an' this spade will be in use by a better man than yez about the time ye'll be afther a-wantin' to use it.'
"When we arrived at Orlando, the freight train seemed to have no notion of stopping. There were thousands of people, on the boundary line where it was intersected by the railway track, as this train went shooting past them at thirty miles an hour. That was Sunday morning, and we passed the station at Guthrie a little after daylight. There I saw Captain H. G. Cavanaugh, U. S. Army, with a few enlisted men standing at 'parade rest' on the station platform, looking for 'Sooners.' However, as they did not search the tall timbers in our car, we were not discovered. The way that train moved sort of worried me. We wanted to stop somewhere in Oklahoma and, the closer to Guthrie the better. We wanted to roll off but the train was making too much speed for that. We talked the matter over. Millspaugh was equal to every emergency. A brakeman was going along—Millspaugh slipped him a coin, the train began to slow down and when it was making about ten miles per hour, we took our chances and jumped. It was about the greatest jolt I ever had when I landed. I had rolled in the moist earth and was covered with dirt. My dinner bucket, in which I had three clean handkerchiefs, a pair of socks, a Silver King onion, some salt and several sand-
wiches, was smashed. When we got together and surveyed the situation we decided to go up the ravine that lies just west of the old Charley Brown place about two miles south of Guthrie. Walking through the woods, we came to a beautiful pool of crystal clear water, about ten feet deep, at the head of a little canyon. This brimming basin at the foot of a ledge of rock about twenty feet high was one of the most charming bits of landscape scenery that I ever saw in Oklahoma. Here we built a small fire though we could not make much of a camp, as each of us had only his overcoat and one small blanket and a dinnerpail. At noon we ate lunch. Mine consisted of a sandwich and a slice from the big Silver King onion, Millspaugh and Bruington each had a hard-boiled egg with a sandwich. After lunch and a drink of water from the pool, we went up on the hill whence, with Millspaugh's spy-glass, we could see about 500 people walking around over the Guthrie townsite. It was humiliating for us to realize that, while we were skulking around in the brush, others were right out in the open sizing up the choice lots upon which to pounce and claim the next day. During the afternoon we circled around and came on to Guthrie townsite from the northeast, about nine o'clock in the evening. We were in a gully close to where the Christian Church was afterward built. We heard horses coming at a gallop. Having no chance to escape, we threw ourselves down in the grass. One cavalry horse, on a very good canter, passed within three feet of my head, and I did not dare move as I knew that the troopers were looking for 'Sooners' and, if they could have gotten hold of us, they would have taken us into camp and held us as long as it suited them. This one scare was enongh for us, so we went back up the gully, near the site of the present Baldwin home, where we made ourselves as comfortable as possible with our overcoats and blankets and tried to sleep.
"On Monday morning we came out far enough to see people moving around on the Land Office hill. The only man we met to speak to was one who caught Millspaugh with his head far enough out of the brush to be seen. The stranger drew down his Winchester on Millspaugh and ordered him to come up to the bank, which he did. Millspaugh was a good jollier, so he soon had the man mollified and in a talking mood. This man said that
his name was Ransom Payne and that he was a deputy U. S. marshal. This was about ten o'clock, Monday morning, April 22d, and Payne was on the land he afterward tried to hold as his homestead and for which he tried to establish a valid claim through years of litigation in the courts! At 12 o'clock, high noon, Millspaugh put up a stick on the bank, having marked it "This is my claim. R. L. Millspaugh." He thus regarded himself in a position to contest Ransom Payne, but he soon afterward abandoned all hope of securing a claim.
"I cut a stick, attached a shingle on the top, went out on the south half of East Guthrie, a little west of where the Capital school house was afterward built, set up this sign, claiming the tract as my homestead. I remember that, as I stood there, about half past twelve o'clock, looking west, there was not a soul in sight that I could see, as far as where the Bank of the Indian Territory afterward erected its building. This was the tract for which Veder B. Paine afterward strove, carrying his case clear up to the U. S. Supreme Court. One of the strange things to me was that three days afterward, I sauntered back on that hill and found my stake still standing, with my name on the shingle, though all of the land around it had been taken and there were tents everywhere.
"At about ten minutes after twelve o'clock, I located on the corner of Broad and Cleveland avenue, where the Mrs. William Blincos home was afterward built. That afternoon, I put up the tent office of the State Capital, which had been brought from Winfield in a mule-wagon, by "the Winfield crowd," as far as the western edge of the Iowa Indian reservation which was eight miles east of Guthrie. This whole "Winfield crowd" became very anxious and uneasy because of the Sooners who were continuously slipping by them on the border and disappearing in the direction of Guthrie, so they finally crossed the line themselves and came within one mile of Guthrie, whence they made the run at the appointed hour—theoretically covering eight miles in fifteen minutes. These Winfield men, being early on the ground, were soon the proud possessors of about all of the lots on Broad Street. They held a meeting in the Bretton House a week before the date set for the opening, and arranged to send an engineer to choose the best site for the town. This engineer came to Guthrie, looked over the ground and picked East Guthrie as being the most avail-
able site and not too far from the railway station, with Broad Street as the principal business thoroughfare of the town. So, these Winfield men who made the run were provided with blueprints, and they took possession of what they supposed would be the most valuable property in the new town, very quietly and in good order. They were thoroughly organized for quick and effective action in an emergency. Ex-sheriff Nipp, of Cowley County, was chosen as the captain and Col. Tom F. Soward, former department commander of the Kansas G. A. R., was the chief orator of the aggregation. Police whistles were to be used as signals by members in distress or danger and every Winfield man had a police whistle in his vest pocket. One blast on the whistle meant, 'I am in trouble,' two blasts meant, 'Get ready!' and three blasts sounded the call to 'Come quick!'
"The first men that I met after locating on my lot was a big, broad-shouldered westerner with a fractured left ear, armed with a Colt's six-shoooter and a Bowie knife, and a little, thick-set, red-headed man who was likewise armed and equipped. Each had his coat on his arm. The tall man came up on the run, out of breath, with the red-headed fellow about twenty feet behind. The tall man said: "What are you doing here? This is my lot. I took it half an hour ago and went off to get a drink." Then he threw down his coat on my lot and the red-headed man threw his down immediately north of mine. I expostulated with the tall man but he would not listen. I told him he would have trouble soon. Then I took out my police whistle and gave one shrill blast, followed by a second blast of the same sort. When the third signal sounded, forty of the Winfield crowd appeared like a flash, whereupon the tall man and his red-headed companion gave up their bluff and started over toward the Land Office. The tall man was Volney Hoggett, who was prominent afterward as a candidate for mayor of Guthrie in the first election held under the provisional municipal organization. The red-headed man was Paddy Moran, subsequently a rather conspicuous lawyer in the community for a time.
"After Hoggett left my lot, the State Capital tent was soon up. With the tent there had been brought signs that I had had painted on strips of white oil cloth. These signs were soon attached to the tent so that the way-farer might read: 'The Okla-
homa State Capital, the first paper published in Oklahoma.' At four o'clock p. m., the Daily State Capital (the first issue after the opening having been printed at Winfield) was on sale among the tents of Guthrie. Some big men became newsboys. There was not much to do except to watch your lot and, where the crowd was as harmonious as the one from Winfield, it was not necessary for me to stick close to my domain, so I was one of the newsboys myself. A. D. Henderson, a hardware merchant from Winfield was another, while my older brother, Ed. P. Greer, the Winfield publisher, was a loud-voiced news vendor, as was Arthur Locke, of Harrisonville, Missouri. Nearly every man with whom I was acquainted volunteered to sell papers and was given a chance. The papers went like hot cakes and those who sold them rceived half. It was great sport for the big fellows who playfully laid aside their dignity for the occasion. Some of them proved to be splendid salesmen, stentorian-voiced and acute. One of the most amusing experiences I had in those days was when Arthur Locke and I took a trip to Oklahoma City three days later with about 200 copies of the paper. Its name led the people of that town to think that the State Capital had been printed in Oklahoma City. At that time no paper had been printed there. Locke took one tented street, and I took the other and in a little while we had sold the entire package, proving ourselves to be the "howlingest" newsboys that had yet appeared.
"On the 25th, I sold my lot for $150. Will T. Little and Frank Prouty were running a small job-printing shop and a little paper called the 'Get Up,' in a tent. I asked Frank Prouty what he would take for his outfit. He said $300. It was a very scanty outfit with a few cases of type and an old job-press. I said: 'I will give you $100 in cash and two notes, due in thirty and sixty days.' He said: 'I will take it,' and in less than an hour from that time the material had all been moved to the frame building which Horace Speed was erecting for the State Capital on Oklahoma Avenue, and which then had only the sides up and the rafters for the roof, with part of the floor laid. There was a tremendous demand for job work. Letter-heads were turned out at $15 per thousand, envelopes at $12 per thousand and business cards at $10 per thousand. So rushing was the business that, as fast as money was taken in, new material had to be added to
the plant. I purchased a small job-press at Winfield and paid $15 to have it sent by express to Guthrie. It arrived at 11:30 p. m. and, in an hour's time, it was installed on the print shop and job work was being kicked off on it. Everybody was trying to get his sign up and his business started, so fancy prices were not objected to. On April 28th the new frame building was completed and the paper began to come out in approved style. As there were but three fonts of advertising type, those first issues were rare specimens of typography. One of the first necessities was furniture, so "Missouri," who was one of the unique early-day printers, climbed over the fence into Lou DeStuigger's lumber yard and secured a pine board. Then, a tramp printer who had drifted in—and all such were geniuses—sawed this board into very serviceable furniture for filling in the columns between the lines of advertising. Such was newspaper business under difficulties, and I mention this now as evidence of what can be done when one has to achieve the seemingly impossible.
"At first, part of the paper, with the general news of the outside world, came in the form of a 'ready-print' from the Winfield Courier, the local news being printed on a Washington hand press. But in a short time the State Capital was equipped with a Campbell cylinder press, with a battery of several job presses, all operated by steam power, with fairly good material—all bought with money that had been earned after the enterprise was inaugurated on the opening day. The average profits of the business were from $50 to $75 per day during the first twenty days.
"With the election of provisional officers and the organization of a de facto municipal government, the State Capital led a strenuous life. The first issues were about the hottest thing in the way of journalism that was ever seen in Oklahoma. I remember that, after the government of East Guthrie had been running for about fifty days, there was a belief that the money was being squandered as $10,000 had been raised in occupation taxes and there was not a dollar in the treasury, with nothing to show for it. The officers refused the State Capital access to the books. The management of the State Capital placed a man in the city clerk's office so, while the clerk was out, the books were secured. The editor of the State Capital, with one assistant, took
the books into the engine room of the printing plant and checked receipt's and expenditures over, item by item.
"The next morning the paper presented full details of the financial transactions of the city government, with date and page of each item in the cashbook and many other things that the people wanted to know. And the peculiar thing about it was that, when the clerk returned to his office in the morning, he found the books in their proper place and apparently undisturbed.
"The editor had told no one how or when he came into Oklahoma, and no one knew except Millspaugh and Bruington. They saw the attitude of the paper on the 'sooner' question, yet never, to my knowledge, did either of them ever tell anyone of the romantic entrance of the trio into the promised land. 'Aub' Millspaugh was later postmaster at Winfield, Kansas, and Will Bruington is a leading hardware merchant of Pawnee, Oklahoma. As companions in such an adventure, they were princes and as friends, the truest and most loyal.
"The State Capital immediately saw that if it were to succeed, it must array itself vigorously on the side of the law-abiding citizens—the man who came in legally and who honestly tried to abide by the rules and regulations in the Government, in his effort to make a home in the new country. Personally, I made no further effort of any kind to claim land or town-lots and the paper became the hottest anti-sooner organ in the Territory. There was a terrible furor among the 'Sooners.' They accused Greer of being a 'sooner' and, therefore, a traitor of the 'sooners,' but Greer kept battling away for the law-abiding, non-sooner element. When the disputed East Guthrie townsite properties came up for trial, there was a determined attempt to show that Greer was a 'sooner.' Running through four hundred pages of typewritten testimony will be found the attempts of Dan Widmer and other attorneys of Ransom Payne and V. B. Paine to show that the editor of the State Capital was a 'sooner,' and that his paper was a part of a great conspiracy for the 'soonering' of East Guthrie. Greer denied nothing but kept the even tenor of his way and backed up the impartial and faithful enforcement of the land laws. The story of how I came into Oklahoma was never told until a few years ago, and it was only told
then because those troublesome days were past. The attitude of the State Capital had been vindicated. The Government had declared that a strict adherence to the laws and the rules promulgated in the Executive proclamation must be strictly construed and enforced and the paper advocated acceptance of that declared intention.
"Among the early-day rivals of the State Capital was Milton W. Reynolds, 'Kicking Bird,' who was the pioneer journalistic Oklahoma Booster, even back in the days of Capt. David L. Payne. We had many editorial tilts with him, but nothing of that kind ever disturbed the feeling of personal friendship which existed between us. He was a real newspaper man. I shall never forget with what tremor I looked over the fine printing plant which he installed on South Second Street about ten days after the opening. But the field soon became too strenuous for him and he sought a new location at Edmond. He was elected a member of the First Territorial Legislative Assembly but died before the date set for it to convene. He is now a sacred memory of the early newspaper life of the state.
"Another unique character in Oklahoma newspaperdom, who figured in early days at Guthrie, was Col. W. P. Thompson who established the Daily News. Thompson had been associated with the Kansas City Times, as also had Milt Reynolds. He essayed the long-haired western type. His was the most peculiar journalism ever seen in the West. He was too picturesque to last. He was said to have once been the mechanical superintendent of the New York Tribune. He was a man of wide experience and was possessed of much ability, of a strange ungovernable kind. He sold his paper to Winfield S. Smith in 1892. When last heard from, he was an inmate of the Confederate Soldiers' Home, in Tennessee. There were fifteen newspapers during the first year in Guthrie—there were no less than fifteen newspapers started, none of which lived a year. The State Capital supported D. P. Dyer for mayor of Guthrie in his first and second campaigns and won a signal victory in the election of James M. Dooley over D. M. Ross. One of the conspicuous features of that campaign were the seven charges brought against an opposition candidate, ranging from petty larceny to highway robbery and the spend-
ing of a thousand dollars to send a man to Missouri to get the proof. Hades will never be hotter than that campaign was.
"The editor of the State Capital was secretary of the first townsite meeting held in Guthrie. Its chairman was Major Constantine, of Wisconsin, a man of fine presence and excellent ability. He stood in a wagon and nearly 15,000 people were present, nearly all men. There were but five women then on the townsite. One of the cherished memories of this meeting was the presence of my mother. After the chairman and secretary had been elected, my mother, who was the only woman visible in the crowd, raised her hand and said: 'Mr. Chairman, we are about to open the chief city of a great, new commonwealth. We are to have a country here, rich in resources and full of possibilities. We should not start such a city or begin life in such a country without first asking for the blessing of God upon our doings.'
"The chairman then called upon Mrs. Greer to lead in prayer, and I remember the fervency of that prayer and of how she referred to the great future that was before the people of Oklahoma and asked that Divine Wisdom would guide the people in their deliberations and lead their footsteps in the paths of righteousness. Seven years later, a few days before the end of her earthly journey, she reminded me of that incident, stating that it was one of the proudest services of her life to have been privileged to offer the first prayer in a public meeting in Guthrie.
"The early days of the State Capital and of Guthrie were full of romance, the details of which are still familiar to many of the people. The editor was but a boy when the State Capital was founded. The oldest man around the shop was W. H. Wilson, a Christian minister, from Missouri. Wilson was solicitor for advertising and for job work, and people generally, over the townsite, regarded him as 'the old man' and publisher of the paper, and myself as the son. Wilson was very loyal to the State Capital and he got into occasional rows trying to sustain the reputation of the 'old man' and answering personally for that which appeared in the paper during those turbulent days. One of my distinct recollections is of a round-up which he had with a German clothier, from Fort Scott, Kansas. There was something in the paper that the Fort Scott man did not like and, in the heat of the argument, he called Wilson a liar. Wilson having been
something of an athlete, very quickly sent the German through a show-case and then left the building. The German, who was in his shirt-sleeves and bleeding as if he were just from a butcher's block, rushed into the office and said: 'Bub, vere iss your Vadder?' I said: 'I guess he is up town.' 'Vell, I come to apologice. He vass der best man. I called him a liar and you see how I look now. Bub, tell der old man to come down and I set him up. He vas a great vighter and I vant to shake him mit der friendly hand.' Wilson is now on a homestead in Roger Mills County, still virile, preaching occasionally and the savant of his neighborhood.
"On the Sunday prior to March 30, 1889, Govenor Humphrey, Lieutenant Governor Felt and a number of other prominent Kansans came through Oklahoma in a special Pullman car. The Governor and the other state officers who belonged to the State Board of Railway assessment, had been out over the state in the performance of that special duty and they concluded to spend Sunday in seeing Oklahoma before it was opened to settlement. The bill had passed Congress March 3d, but the presidential proclamation setting the date for the formal opening had not yet been issued. En route to Oklahoma, the party stopped in Winfield, where Wm. P. Hackney (an attorney of the Santa Fe Railway Company), my brother (Ed. P. Greer) and I joined it. We alighted from the train at Purcell, Oklahoma City and Guthrie. We all walked up the hill from the railway station at Guthrie and remarked upon the beauty of the town site. Yet most of the members of the party seemed to prefer the site of Oklahoma City to that of Guthrie. Practically all of the crowd tried to persuade me to start my newspaper venture at Oklahoma City instead of at Guthrie. The forms for the first issue of the State Capital were then made up, with space reserved for the President's proclamation for the opening of Oklahoma, and were being held till the proclamation was issued. The date line of the paper was then Guthrie. At first I was inclined to their view and, after I returned home to Winfield, I went to the composing room, took out the type of the date line and replaced the name Guthrie with Oklahoma City. When the proclamation came out, however, locating one of the Government district land offices at Guthrie, I restored the name of Guthrie to the date line.
"The next time I came into Oklahoma was after the proclamation had been issued, but some days before the date set for the opening; namely, on April 13th. Capt. W. L. Couch, who had succeeded Capt. David L. Payne, as the leader of the 'Boomers,' after the death of the latter, was making a trip into Oklahoma and he persuaded me to accompany him. Our first stop was at Guthrie, and that night I slept on the Guthrie town site for the first time. Captain Couch and I slept in wall bunks in the little red section house. He occupied a lower berth and I had an upper berth. Our supper was eaten out of doors and the biscuits which we ate had been baked in an old fashioned Dutch oven. After supper we went down to the Cottonwood River and sat with our feet banging over the bank. Looking down into the crystal clear waters of the Cottonwood, Captain Couch detailed to me how he and Payne had located at Stillwater then on the North Canadian and finally near Oklahoma City and other places and how they had come in and been driven out many times. We stopped again at Oklahoma City where there was simply the railway station, the commissary and quartermasters warehouse, whence military stores intended for Fort Reno were temporarily housed before being freighted to that post by wagon. Then, going on through to Purcell, we returned again to Oklahoma City, Monday night. Captain Couch was a great partizan of Oklahoma City, then as ever afterward. He did his best to persuade me to locate at Oklahoma City and start my paper there.
"It will be remembered that Couch took a claim immediately west of Oklahoma City where he was killed by a rival claimant. His widow had a long struggle to try to hold the claim but she finally lost it.
"Couch was a man of real ability and considerable refinement. No one would suspect from his appearance that he was a rough and tumble pioneer boomer he was reputed by the press to be prior to the final opening of the country. Of his courage and honesty there has never been any doubt. He was companionable and possessed of a seemingly endless fund of authentic reminiscences. Oklahoma never had a more devoted citizen."
When Frank Greer settled at Guthrie, on the day of the opening of the Oklahoma country, it meant a great change in his life. At Winfield he had been the younger brother and understudy of the editor and publisher of the leading newspaper of Winfield and Cowley County. At Guthrie, events and his own personality so shaped his destiny that he became the editor and publisher of what was not only the leading journalistic exponent of the community but of the newly peopled territory as well. From thence onward, he sat in every caucus, conference or council that was hastily convened to consider the best interests of Guthrie in every crisis. His fellow consultants in such gatherings were all his seniors in years and most of them were past-masters and post-graduates in the gentle art of political intrigue. Always before such a session was closed Greer would be called upon for an expression of opinion and, usually, he held his own with the wisest of the older heads on such discussions. Likewise, when matters of grave concern to the interest of the whole territory had to be weighed by its wise men, there, Frank Greer was also called into conference. He seemed to have a personal interest in every public institution in Oklahoma.
Frank Greer was one of the founders and organizers of the Oklahoma Press Association, of which he served as vice-president in 1894-5 and as president, in 1904-5. He attended the sessions of the National Editorial Association and, on such occasions, he was the life of the Oklahoma delegation. He once received the unanimous endorsement and support of the press associations of both Oklahoma and Indian Territory for the presidency of the National Association but was defeated in the election. He was ever a strong and unyielding partizan of any and every cause which he espoused, and it was the object of his devotion. Born and reared in Kansas, of Free State pioneer stock, it went without saying that his political affiliations were with the Republican Party. He supported Guthrie in its struggle to hold the territorial capital in the First Legislative Assembly, yet, when that struggle was over, he still held many warm friendships in the communities with which he had had to take issue. Two years later, in 1892, he was elected to membership in the Territorial House of Representatives, in the sessions of which he served with ability and keen attention to details. Among his fellow repre-
sentatives was Dan W. Peery who, as a member of the Oklahoma County delegation in the House during the sessions of the First Territorial Legislative Assembly in 1890-91, had had a prominent and rather exciting part in the effort to have the Territorial capital removed to Oklahoma City. In an October, 1893, issue of the Yukon Register, there appeared the following item:
"Mr. Peery, ex-legislator and boodler, called on us yesterday. He is engaged in the legitimate business of running a threshing machine. We hope he will shell out more satisfactory results than he did as a member of the legislature. If we remember correctly he was a member of the first Oklahoma legislature, the man who stole the bill removing the capital from Guthrie. He is now a partner of M. L. Stanley, the late member of the legislature who was was accused of selling out to the democrats for $500.00. We are glad to say that Mr. Peery and Mr. Stanley are now both engaged in legitimate enterprises. Mr. Stanley is running a livery stable and Mr. Peery a threshing machine."
Commenting upon this slurring item, Frank Greer, from the viewpoint of a radically different partizan alignment, had the following to say about Dan Perry:
"The Register does Mr. Peery a grave injustice. The State Capital will not allow misrepresentation of any man that it knows to be honorable. If there are any honest men in Oklahoma, Dan Peery is one of them. He is honest in his political convictions, honest in all his business relations, honest in his friendships and in his aversions—and conscientious in all things. His honesty stood the test in the first legislature; in the last legislature Peery's integrity stood as firm as a rock. No man who knew him was foolish enough to try to bribe him—those who tried it were spurned and their projects thereafter had his opposition. Peery was one of the best members of the last legislature; a hard, conscientious worker, an uncompromising democrat, liberal in his treatment of measures and of fellow members.
"Dan is not too high toned to run a threshing machine or to do anything that is honorable, and that is more than can be said of hundreds of young men in Oklahoma.
"Looking at Dan Peery as a man, and knowing him as the State Capital does we pronounce him cleanest among Oklahoma democrats."
At the annual meeting of the Oklahoma Press Association, held at Kingfisher, May 26, 1893, Mr. Greer was one of the supporters of the movement to organize the Oklahoma Historical Society and was elected as one of its first board of directors. He served continuously on the directorate and was vice-president of the Society for a number of years, as also a member of its executive committee. His service in these capacities was distinguished for faithfulness and devotion and he was seldom if ever absent from any meeting, either regular or called, until after statehood, when pressure of business affairs began to interfere with his attendance. In those days, the directors of the Historical Society were nearly all newspaper men of the public-spirited, self-sacrificing type. Under the guidance of such a directorate, it was modest in its aims and achievements, yet it laid the foundation for more pretentious attainments and manifestations in more recent times. Frank Greer's part in its counsels in those days of small beginnings was a matter of no mean importance.
It is not known whether Frank Greer had any part with other Republican politicians in the colonization of Guthrie and certain other portions of Logan County with negro settlers in the fore part of 1890 "in order to make the city and county both safely Republican," but if he did do so, he doubtless repented for it afterward. Upon one occasion, several years afterward, the "Afro-American" Republicans of Logan County bolted the party ticket in a body and made a full set of nominations of their own. Matters began to look blue for the regular Republican county ticket, likewise very blue for the county printing in the State Capital office, where revenue from that source was sorely needed. County leaders, scouting about, found out that Afro-American leaders were willing to sell out but that they should have fancy prices on such a deal. Then Frank Greer announced in a caucus over the situation that he thought he could solve the problem without any cash outlay. Accordingly, the following evening, accompanied by a friend he dropped into a rally of the "Afro-American" malcontents, which was being held in an empty store
building three or four doors below the State Capital office, on the opposite side of the street. Old "Judge" Napier Perkins ("The Old African Lion"), of leonine-voice, of aldermanic physique and of a dark coffee color, who was presiding over the deliberation of the occasion, immediately became excited and began to sputter: "Mistah Greeah, what does you-all want heah?" only to be waved aside by a graceful gesture of Greer's hand, as he answered: "Oh, go on with your meeting, boys, we do not want to interrupt or interfere—after you are through we may have a few words to say." But it was noticeable that the audience lost interest in the speech of the speaker of the occasion and the speaker noticing that fact, too, soon brought his address to a conclusion, whereupon the presiding officer of the meeting said: "Now, Mistah Greeah, we's ready to listen to you-all." Arising to his feet, Greer first faced the audience and said: "Boys, we did not come here to bother you; I just have something to say to the chairman of this meeting, but you can listen to what I have to say, if you want to do so." Then, turning toward the expectant chairman, he said: "Judge Napier Perkins, I want you to tell this audience what you did with that $4,640.80 that Old 'Cap' Taylor paid to you in the alley in the rear of Old Mose's saloon, at half past eight o'clock last Tuesday evening." ("Cap" Taylor was treasurer of the Democratic county committee of Logan County and, as such, probably had not handled $64.80 of party campaign money since assuming the duties of that position). Chairman Napier Perkins began to sputter and stutter in protest, but was silenced by Greer who said: "Don't try to explain to me—make your explanations to these boys." Frank Greer and the friend who had accompanied him picked up their hats and left "Judge" Perkins to " 'splain de inexplicable." With practically the entire audience demanding to be informed what the chairman of the meeting "done wid all dat money"; the independent Afro-American Republican movement speedily collapsed.
Reared and trained in what had originally been a small-town, country newspaper print-shop, Greer was master of the mechanics of newspaper production. So, too, he had edited rural correspondence, written local news and even occasionally tried his hand in grinding out editorial copy. And, of course, he had
to be a close student of advertising and circulation management in order to keep such an enterprise as the Daily State Capital afloat. Naturally, as the business expanded, attention to the management of the organization called for an increasing share of his personal attention. Though he delighted in writing, his time and attention was under such constant requisition in the buisness office that there was but little opportunity to engage in writing, so employes on the editorial staff did most of that. However, when a really interesting news item had come under his personal observation, or a crisis in public affairs seemed to call for a dignified and incisive editorial expression he could, and did, forget business cares for the nonce, and write in pleasing style. Generally, he wrote by hand, with pen or pencil, as he had had but little limited acquaintance with the keys of a typewriter. But, however pleasing his diction and power of expression, his chirography was reputedly as atrocious as that for which Horace Greely had been noted. An interesting story in that connection is related by Earl Croxton, who was in the service of the State Capital for a number of years, as reporter, local writer and, finally, as managing editor. As he tells the story it relates to another member of the staff. It reads as follows:
"Al Hough, head linotyper in the composing room had the distinction of being able to read Frank Greer's handwriting without difficulty, so when the Chief turned in any copy, it was always turned over to Hough. A peripatetic news writer, Frank B. Elser, had dropped in just when such help was needed and was put to work, temporarily, at least. We were not allowed much for salaries in those days, but I promised Elser to try to get better pay for him at the first opportunity, though, at the time, I had no idea how it could be done. But, as it turned out, Elser 'got in bad' with Mr. Greer and spoiled all of my plans for trying to keep him.
"It all happened because of Greer's handwriting. He had been in the office while Elser was out and had written a short feature story. He handed the copy to Joe Satterthwait, a reporter, and left the office for a few moments. Elser returned just then and Satterthwait handed Greer's copy to Elser, but without explanation as to who had written it. To this day, I have no idea how Elser succeeded in reading what Greer had
written, though, evidently he did read it. Naturally, he thought it was in Joe's handwriting and so he immediately began to dress Joe down. Satterthwait was informed that it was the best local story that had been submitted for that edition but that the handwriting was abominable, adding that he would accept no more like it. Mr. Greer happened to return to the office just in time to hear all of Elser's comments. Elser was let out shortly afterward. He went from Guthrie to Kansas City, where he worked for a time. Thence he went to New York City, where, in his work on the Sun, he abundantly justified the faith that we had in him. During the World War he was in London, helping to handle war news for the Associated Press. Later, we learned that he became a successful playright."
The years sped by. The youth who had come to Guthrie on the opening day to establish the first newspaper in Oklahoma, had developed into a man with all of the attributes of leadership in community and in commonwealth. He had built up the largest and most important publishing enterprise in Oklahoma and also its most important commercial printing and binding establishment. Then there came a Sabbath day, nearly a dozen years after the beginning, when the State Capital plant all went up in flames and smoke, with a money loss of nearly $200,000 and only $26,000 of insurance. The people of Guthrie promptly raised a subscription of $50,000 for him to use in his own business, as long as he might want it, but he declined to accept it in any form other than as personal loans to be paid back with interest. Moreover, the business men of Oklahoma City sent a committee to wait on him and offer to duplicate the destroyed plant if he would install and operate it in Oklahoma City, but his loyalty to the community which he had helped found and build, and whose people had always been his neighbors and friends, was such that he could not consider such a change, so he declined the Oklahoma City offer and cast his lot anew with Guthrie. And Guthrie's interests were his interests, regardless of personal inclinations, preferences or predilections. Thus, when the final struggle arose as to whether the two territories should be admitted into the Union as one state or as two states, for reasons of purely local policy the people of Guthrie espoused the two-state side of the controversy, when it had small chance of win-
ning, and Frank Greer joined whole-heartedly with them in the support of their chosen course, even when it was apparently a losing proposition. Likewise, his attitude toward the adoption of the state constitution and toward the first state administration, reflected the sentiment of his home-town folk and, ultimately, aroused a spirit of antagonism which resulted in the premature removal of the capital and its location at Oklahoma City. With this there came also the collapse of his business affairs and the death of the wife of his youth, after which he left Guthrie and settled at Tulsa, to essay a new start in life, in other lines than those which he had hitherto followed.
When Frank Greer went to Tulsa after bidding a hasty farewell to the scene of the dreams and early successes of his youth, he was "down," for the time being, but a long way from being "out." For a number of years prior to that time, Tulsa had been experiencing a growth and development in population, wealth, commerce and industry that was without precedent, with the possible exception of San Francisco during the years immediately following the discovery of gold in California. Up to that time, Frank Greer had been known in Tulsa only as an ultra partizan of separate statehood, of opposition to the adoption of the state constitution and as the champion of Guthrie in its efforts to hold the state capital but, to Tulsa, with its eyes upon the future, these were no longer issues—they belonged to the past. Other Guthrie men had preceded Greer to Tulsa, so he was not lacking in the element of introduction, neither was Tulsa lacking in an accurate appraisal of the man and his ability. So, Frank H. Greer was welcomed to Tulsa, where many another man had come before him to essay a new start in life—and had succeeded. The light of courage was still in his eyes. He was pleased with the Tulsa welcome, which he accepted modestly. He embarked in a line of business that was new to him. He was industrious and enegetic. He appreciated the loyalty of old friends and friendships and he attracted a great circle of new friends and associations, though he did not seek prominence. Slowly, prosperity began to return to him. Shortly after his settlement in Tulsa, he met Mrs. Laura Leigh Hanson, a lady of recognized culture, gifted with a gracious personality and unusual mentality. Their marriage followed. His home life, which had ended almost
simultaneously with the collapse of his business organization in Guthrie, was thus happily restored and, with this came new inspiration and renewed business ambition. All seemed to augur well for the future. His home was congenial. His business prospects were satisfactory. His wife was the soul of loyalty and devotion as she was his wisest counselor, and, also, as of old, his favorite diversion was to find rest and relaxation in the companionship of the books in his home library. Then came failing health and lack of strength to devote personal attention to business affairs. The spirit of the wolf-pack, ever present in an atmosphere of tensest human activity and ever jealous of outstanding business achievement, as well as fairly familiar with the methods of an all too prevalent receivership racket, was not slow to seize upon a pretext to twist factual transaction into fictitious misdeed, when the man most concerned was flat on his back, unable to consult with his attorney, to say nothing of going into court and personally appearing in defense of his own interests, so, a solvent business enterprise was forced into an unwarranted receivership, while trumped up charges were made the basis of indictment. Throughout all of this, Mrs. Greer shielding her husband from calumny while ministering to him in his failing strength, nobly stood by him and resented the aspersions thus cast upon his integrity and fairness as a business man, but, despite all that could be done to save him who had helped and lifted and befriended his fellow men, he was struck down by envious spirits who, for the sake of paltry personal gains, were willing to rend and wreck and ruin him at the end of life's journey.
The end came to Frank Greer on August 8, 1933, just a few days past his 71st birthday anniversary. The funeral services which were of the simplest and most unostentatious order, were largely attended but they were not few that mourned elsewhere, for there were hosts of friends in remote parts of the state who had known him in pioneering days. The foregoing sketch of his life and career cannot be more fittingly closed than by appending the tribute which was paid to his memory by Walter Ferguson, likewise a brilliant personality, product of generations of pioneer forbears, who, in his own person, had been reared under pioneering conditions in Oklahoma and who, but a few weeks since, crossed that Great Divide toward which all pioneers are trudging
"To me, the death of Frank Greer is more than the passing of an individual—it is the passing of an age. When we say long, final farewell to Frank Greer, we bid an eternal farewell to an epoch. So long has Greer typified the spirit of Old Oklahoma that his death seems to mark the border-line between this age and yesterday.
"History is filled with the praises of men who have taken a city, but there is too little said of these who built one. Greer not only built the typical, outstanding city of young Oklahoma, but he exercised and emphasized a leadership in creating the structure of an American state, more than any other man connected with the enterprise.
"In the tremendous shifting of interests following statehood, the intervening World War and the confusion of the past four years of economic disorder, we are perhaps too prone to forget primitive beginnings, the pioneer efforts of those who fought the initial battle.
"Frank Greer came to Guthrie, April 22, 1889, to found his home in a city of tents and confusion, but of hopes and dreams. The most cosmopolitan crowd, with the most varied interests ever assembled on an American townsite were in Guthrie and with no semblance of order, outline or program. There was no law save that the weak should perish and only the strong survive. New leaders were in their places and their domination over men, and the foundation was laid for a future American state. Law and order had to be established; property rights had to be made secure, houses were to be built—and only those with faith and vision were to last.
"Greer, a determined, resolute, intrepid character, filled with the fiery zeal of a crusader—imbued with the spirit of the Kansas pioneer, determined to be one of the leading actors in the rapidly unfolding drama and setting about to bring order out of chaos, distributed a newspaper which he had caused to be printed in a border Kansas town, a few days before. If was merely the announcement that Frank Greer would edit the dominant newspaper in the new territorial capital and that the paper proposed to be the leading force in the development and building of the
new territory. His arrival had such unmistakable signs of determination and resolution on this never-again-to-be-witnessed scene, the thousands of strangers camped on this primitive townsite on the banks of the Cottonwood knew that one of their future leaders was a tall young editor by the name of Frank Greer. The type on this paper was set by Omer K. Benedict, another great Oklahoman who passed away only a few weeks ago.
"Rapidly shaping his plans, Greer organized his office force, gathered together the scattered material and created a plant for the production of a newspaper. In a short time he was printing the Guthrie State Capital. Every issue was a challenge to the innumerable rivals that were bidding for public attention. Under Greer's dominant and forceful leadership, it survived the early stages of indiscriminate competition and when law came to 'the last' American frontier' and the forms and functions of government by co-operative effort, Greer's paper forged to the front as the voice of Oklahoma Territory.
"Setting about to make Guthrie the dominant city of Oklahoma Territory, Greer faced every form of townsite rivalry and railroad promotion and built the most colorful, glamorous and picturesque that the pioneer West ever knew—went down the long, long trail to statehood, when the political changes that, in those days, meant so much to the existence of a newspaper, brought the end of his effort. His paper died in a hopeless fight, with its back against the wall, trying to save the city which he had almost built with his own hands and which was the child of his brilliant mind. He refused to see that Guthrie,—the Republican city, was doomed as the future capital of the future Democratic State of Oklahoma, to which Oklahoma Territory had been added, and he went down with his colors flying and his face to the enemy.
"So violent was the terrific struggle between Oklahoma City and Guthrie for supremacy that it resembled the county-seat wars of Kansas. The railroads, which held the potent influence, were doing everything to make Oklahoma City the metropolis. —Only the Guthrie Capital flew the flag of Guthrie's defiance and, putting his tremendous personality, and his wonderful brain and magnificent courage into every page and every line of the morn-
ing paper, Greer held for Guthrie the power which a leading newspaper of a state or territory can give a city.
"Frank Greer was a striking personality of the early days, perhaps, and certainly to me, the most outstanding. He was a vigorous, aggressive, courageous editor. Every issue of his paper reflected his remarkable individuality. The files of the old Guthrie Capital comprise a history of early Oklahoma, and the proud lines penned so fearlessly and so tirelessly by Frank Greer constitute the saga of its people.
"He was the poet and the prophet of that vast romance and to those in the years to come, who read his chronicles, he will ever be the embodiment of the spirit of Oklahoma."
—JOSEPH B. THOBURN.