Chronicles of Oklahoma

Skip Navigation

Electronic Publishing Center
Oklahoma Historical Society
Chronicles Homepage
Search all Volumes
Copyright 2001
Purchase an Issue

Table of Contents Index Volume List Search All Volumes Home

Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 17, No. 2
June, 1939
HISTORICAL NOTES

Page 229

An historical society was formed, last year, among the student body of the Central High School at Tulsa. This organization is sponsored by Mrs. Louise M. Whitham, an instructor in history in the school. Last year this society procured and placed in the high school museum, the old wooden mail boxes which were used in the first post office which was established in Tulsa on March 25, 1879, and of which Josiah C. Perryman was the first postmaster.

In the high school auditorium on March 23, 1939 an interesting public meeting of the society was held, which was presided over by Russell W. Woods, its president. Participating in the program were Charles James, James Reed, Prentiss Owens, Robert Troutman, Bettie Major, Robert Dugger, Charles Allen, Raymond McConahy, Melvin Clark, Joseph Wright and Morris Billington. An engaging feature of this meeting was the presentation, by the society, to the high school museum, of a leather bound booklet containing one of the few remaining copies of the Treaty of 1866 between the United States and the Cherokees translated into the Cherokee language.

This High School Society embraces a membership of 80 members of the senior class and is exhibiting an active interest in the early history of Tulsa and of Oklahoma. It deservedly receives the fullest cooperation and recognition of the State Historical Society.

On March 3, 1939, Judge John B. Meserve gave the following address on Indian Territory Day, at Tulsa:

We are speaking in the past tense today. Speaking of a past to which few, if any, of us belong but of a past which belongs to each of us and in which the lengthening years must not diminish our interest. It is a factual past upon which sterling concrete forces built the splendid realizations so outstanding in Eastern Oklahoma, today. We shall be responsive in our interest to the picture which is being offered in Tulsa, imaginative and non-factual though it may be, but we must not be remiss in

Page 230

thought of the men and women red and white, whose capable efforts fashioned the foundation upon which our culture and advancement rests.

The background of Eastern Oklahoma history is without a corollary in American annals. A century ago 60,000 Indians grouped as the Five Civilized Tribes became enforced emigrants to the old Indian Territory. They were not a warlike nor nomadic people. They responded to the ideals of capable leadership. The primitive impulses of these folk had been mellowed through their immediate contact with organized white society in the East and by the strain of white blood then coursing through their veins. The influence of the white Christian missionaries was highly potent and helped to chart their course in the West. In their removal to the Territory, these simple folk had reached the end of the trail. Here their caravan finally rested.

This was virtually the home of the red man and as he recovered from the sorrow and wreckage of removal, five self-chosen, semi-independent republics were formed with an administration of political affairs which met their requirements. The tribal courts were effective in the control of all tribal delinquencies but were without jurisdiction to discipline the adventurous white man who came among them. During those formative days, there were quite a few designing white renegades who made of this Indian country, a convenient rendezvous to escape punishment for offenses committed in the States. All jurisdiction over the conduct of these non-citizen whites was reposed in the United States Court at Ft. Smith, Arkansas. The authority so vested was exercised in a vigorous manner by the celebrated Judge Isaac C. Parker, who ascended the Ft. Smith bench in May 1875, his celebrated career being concluded by death in November, 1896. During his regime some 13,000 criminal cases were disposed of by the judge, and all for offenses committed in the old Indian Territory. In commenting upon the so-called lawless days in the Territory, the eminent jurist, in his concluding days, wrote:-

"Dont understand that what I say about these ruffians is directed against the Indians. Twenty-one years experience with them has taught me that they are religiously inclined, law abiding, authority respecting people. The Indian race is not one of criminals.

Page 231

For the years I have been holding court, my judgment is that the number of Indians who have been charged with high crimes, compared with the citizens of the United States is about ten per cent. There has never been any trouble growing out of the amount of crime committed by the Indians. The vast majority of persons who commit those crimes are persons who have taken refuge in that country from some other State or Territory of the Union."

During those hectic days, the Indian population was in the vast majority in the Territory. This testimonial of the capable judge exonerates the Indians of the Five Tribes from responsibility for any so-called reign of lawlessness which may have obtained. As an evidence of the higher ideals of these simple folk, it is also interesting to observe a report of the secretary of the Cherokee Temperance Society under date of October 15, 1845, wherein is reported a membership of 3,058. This membership was solely from a tribe which at that time consisted of less than 15,000 people counting men, women and children. Of course, they had bootleggers then just as we have bootleggers today and as they have them in other states.

The inference must not be indulged that the thousands of white settlers who cast their lot among the Indians in the old Territory, were soldiers of fortune. They were pioneers of a worthy class. These courageous men and women led in the development of the country and aided the Indians in their economic and social adjustments. The white men who came to the Territory in those formative days to establish their permanent abode, were far from being of a derelict class. As communities were extablished by their joint venture with the red man, schools and places of spiritual worship were established, police protection provided and the orderly processes of law and order carefully recognized. It is erroneous to indulge a thought that the condition was one of border ruffianry. Life and property were as secure, if not more so, than in adjoining states. The movement of vast herds of cattle across the Territory provoked some sporadic acts of defiance of the law during the cow season. Gun toting which became too general resulted in much reckless shooting but these conditions were no worse nor alarming than those which prevailed in the adjoining states of Texas, Arkansas and Kansas

Page 232

during those hectic years. The Indian Territory was not the only "hot" spot in the west during those early days.

Typical of the sterling worthwhile cattle men, who led in the higher purposes of frontier life were W. E. Halsell of Vinita, whose ranch near Collinsville is still intact; Charles Clinton of Keifer, who introduced high grade cattle, hogs and corn into the country, of which he made disposition among the Indians, thus enabling them to improve their own industry; F. B. Severs of Muskogee, N. B. Moore of Haskell, Jay Forsythe of Tulsa and W. A. Graham of Pryor, each engaged extensively in the cattle business. These outstanding pioneers among the cattle men not only carefully observed the law, but rigidly enforced such an observance by their employees. Any mention of those early days would be incomplete without a pause in regard to the memory of J. M. Hall and H. C. Hall, his brother, whose contributions to the early development of Tulsa and its environs, was of so marked a character.

The stouthearted white men who established themselves among these Indians and whose accomplishments have left a lasting impress, must not be confused with the renegades from the States who entered the Territory with the avowed purpose and intent of using this country as a safe retreat from which they might carry on their nefarious practices.

The communities established through the joint efforts of the white men and the Indian leaders flourished and grew and today, cities of metropolitan proportions have completely supplanted the old order of things. Tulsa, Muskogee, Ardmore, Vinita, Okmulgee, McAlester and other numerous thriving modern cities evidence the concrete efforts of the early pioneers who coordinated with the Indians.

The picture would be incomplete without paying homage to the patient, self-sacrificing efforts of the Christian missionaries. Many of them accompanied the Indians in their enforced trek to the West, a century ago. Mission schools were established and maintained by them as they regimented these people within the shadow of the Cross. Seminaries and academies were established by the tribal governments. Supportive of the efforts of the mis-

Page 233

sionaries and the Indians in that behalf were the white pioneers. As communities were formed thought was given to the intellectual and spiritual welfare.

Such is the engaging panorama of our past, which moves like a phantom caravan across the years. As for the Indian whom we have all learned to love, he long ago abandoned his dream pipe. He left the "land of dreams" to enter the "land of promise." His traditional oddities lost their signifiance. He has become thoroughly sophisticated and his duel with the white man long has been concluded. Not unlike the ancient Briton, whose blood became intermingled with that of the successive hordes of Saxons, Danes and Normans, the Indian has fused his blood, language and culture with that of the white man. The Oklahoma Indian has risen to his full stature as an American citizen.

The Oklahoma State Society, Sons of the American Revolution, held its annual meeting at Tulsa, on February 22, 1939. The session was addressed by Judge Franklin E. Kennamer after which the following officers were chosen for the ensuing year:

Hal D. Downing, Oklahoma City, State President; Charles W. Grimes, Tulsa, Thomas R. Orr, Muskogee and John B. Whitney, Oklahoma City, Vice-Presidents; W. A. Jennings, Oklahoma City, Registrar; John S. Davenport, Tulsa, Chaplain; A. N. Leecraft, Durant, Historian; W. J. Crowe, Oklahoma City, Secretary-Treasurer; and J. Garfield Buell, Tulsa, Delegate; and H. H. Cloudman, Oklahoma City, Alternate to the National Meeting in May; and Arthur B. Honnold, Tulsa, Trustee on the National Board.

Resolutions were passed approving and endorsing the preparedness program of the General Government. The society saw much progress and growth during this year of the administration of Judge Arthur B. Honnold, the retiring State President.

Huge special editions containing thousands of columns about Oklahoma history were published by several newspapers in April in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of old Oklahoma Territory to white settlement. Among the out-

Page 234

standing special editions were the 292-page issue published April 23 by the Daily Oklahoman, one of the largest papers ever published in the southwest; a 44-page issue of the Okemah Daily Leader; a 32-page edition of the Guthrie Register-News; a 46-page edition of the Guthrie Daily Leader; and a 16-page edition of the Panhandle Herald, Guymon. Many other state papers observed the golden anniversary with special sections and stories. Other papers planning big fiftieth anniversary editions will not publish them until later in the year. The mammoth edition of the Daily Oklahoman told a complete story of the development of the State in the past fifty years through articles and pictures. Special articles on the state's politics, industry, commerce, agriculture, transportation, churches, schools, and the scores of other developments in the state were published. To make its historical edition easier to preserve and read, the Kingfisher Free Press published a special magazine section on slick paper, with a cover of gold paper signifying that it was a golden anniversary issue. The lead article in the magazine section was a story of the run published in serial form in the Free Press in 1905. It was an authentic account by one of the participants in the run, J. V. Admire, original receiver of the land office and later editor of the Free Press. The special editions of the Panhandle Herald, Guthrie Daily Leader, Okemah Daily Leader and Capitol Hill Beacon were issued in connection with pioneer day celebrations held in Guymon, Guthrie, Okemah and Oklahoma City.1

Plans for additional repairs to the old Quaker church, south of Shawnee, were outlined at a recent meeting of the building committee of the Pottawatomie County Historical society. The building, the first church established in Pottawatomie county will be used as a museum for historical relics of the county. A new roof was completed on the building recently.2

The transfer to the National Archives of most of the records of the office of Indian affairs through 1921, with some series extending through 1936, has now been completed. Received with this material were records of the former Alaska division of the





Page 235

office of education, 1883-1931, and of the board of Indian commissioners, 1869-1935.3 Other records recently transferred include maps, many of which deal with the Seminole Indian wars in Florida.

Preparations have been started in Enid for the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the opening of the Cherokee Strip in 1943 with a special five-man committee to function this year, as officials make plans for the 1939 festival in Enid. Russell J. Green, president of the Cherokee Strip Association, sponsors, named Dr. Eugene S. Briggs, President of Phillips University, as chairman of the golden anniversary committee. The other members are DeWitt Waller, George Rainey, L. E. McKnight and Frank Carter, the latter being secretary. At the same time, President Green said that preliminary arrangements for the 1939 festival had been launched with budgets of the various divisions increased to nearly double what they were last year. He said committees had been instructed to start preparations now for the anniversary observance.

Plans are being worked out for the special committee to work with the general festival group, climaxing the strip celebrations in the fiftieth anniversary fete in 1943.4

The Meeker unit of the Lincoln County Historical society celebrated the town's 36th birthday anniversary, March 16, 1939, as it was March 16, 1903, that Meeker was formally opened after the town of Clifton was moved to the present site on the coming of the railroad. Members of the society, their families, and some invited guests had an old-fashioned dinner in the dining room of the Baptist church when the table was laid with old dishes, including butter dishes, spoonholders, and turned-down plates on knives and forks. After dinner there was an informal program following the singing of "America" and the invocation by Rev. J. G. Cansler. The first speaker was Mrs. Aletha Conner, vice-president, who told of the starting of the society and its objectives. James W. Moffitt, Secretary of the Oklahoma Historical Society,





Page 236

addressed the group on the work of a local historical society. The meeting was then turned over to the society for a reminiscent hour during which many told of early day experiences, of traveling and plowing with ox teams, of riding mule or horseback, and of living in dug-outs. Preceding the talks there was a short musical program of old-time music. A medley of old tunes,5 popular forty years ago, was sung. Among those taking part were the following: Rev. J. G. Cansler, President; Mrs. Milton Clark, President of the Meeker Unit; Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Hampton; Mr. and Mrs. A. W. Duke; Mr. and Mrs. R. P. Roope, Miss S. Carrie Thomson; O. S. Robinson; Woodrow Gray, Mrs. E. M. Caldwell; Mrs. J. G. Cansler; Miss Louise Thomson; Mr. and Mrs. Walter Primm, and Mrs. George Primm.6

Dave Vandivier, of the Chickasha Daily Express, was elevated from the vice presidency to the presidency of the Oklahoma Press Association at the closing business session of the spring convention May 5 and 6 at Tulsa. C. O. Doggett, publisher of the Cherokee Messenger and Republican, was named vice president to succeed Vandivier, and Fred E. Tarman, publisher of the Norman Transcript, was elected to his ninth term as treasurer. Named to the board of directors were H. Merle Woods, El Reno American, retiring president; W. R. Martineau, Oklahoma Live Stock News, Oklahoma City, re-elected; Robert V. Peterson, Wewoka Times-Democrat; and S. E. Lee, Harper County Journal, Buffalo, elected for one year, to succeed Doggett. Vernon T. Sanford, secretary-manager, was reappointed to that post by the board of directors.7

On May 15, 1939, at the University of Oklahoma, a dinner was given in recognition of Dr. Edward Everett Dale for his twenty-five years of service to the University of Oklahoma Department of History by his colleagues, students, and other friends. The following program, prepared under the direction of Dr. A. K. Christian, was given: Greetings from the Administration, Dr. W. B. Bizzell; Dr. Dale as a Student, Dr. Roy Gittinger; as a







Page 237

Scholar, Dr. M. L. Wardell; as a Teacher, Dr. Loren N. Brown; Our Appreciation, Dr. Ralph H. Records, and Responses, Dr. E. E. Dale, Head of the Department of History. Dr. C. C. Rister served as toastmaster. A portrait of Dr. Dale was presented to him to be hung in the Frank Phillips collection in the University Library. Recognition was also given Mrs. Dale.

On October 10, Salina, Mayes County and eastern Oklahoma will hold the second annual celebration in observance of the founding of Salina. The last session of the legislature adopted a joint resolution making October 10, Oklahoma Historical Day in commemoration of the birth anniversary and deeds of Major Chouteau.

On May 21, 1939, was observed the one hundreth anniversary of the founding of the Baptist Mission Church four miles north of Westville, Oklahoma. The following program was given: Address of Welcome, T. J. Welch; songs by the Peavine Indian choir; sermon by the Reverend Sam West. After a basket dinner on the grounds, other talks were given, interspersed with singing. Old time citizens and former pupils of the Baptist Mission School enjoyed the reunion and talked over happenings of other years.8 Not only is this one of the oldest churches in the state, but also at this place for several years was published the first periodical printed in Oklahoma. Here in 1843 was established the Baptist Mission Press.9





Return to top


Electronic Publishing Center | OSU Home | Search this Site