NOTES FROM THE NORTHERN STANDARD, 1842-1849
In December of 1835 a band of one hundred and seventy-four young men, led by Edwin Morehouse, sailed from New York harbor bound for Texas to aid the Anglo-Americans of that region in their struggle for independence from Mexico.1 One member of the expedition was a young law student of Massachusetts birth, a cousin several times removed of the inventor of the telegraph; his name was Charles Denny Morse and he would reach the age of twenty-one on January 31, 1836.2 The Morehouse command was delayed at Nassau when a British brig-of-war, the Serpent, took them into port for investigation on the charge of piracy.3 At this place young Morse, having given his name as Charles D. Morse, observed that the British clerk had written it with a French form as Charles De Morse; so pleased was the young man that he used the same spelling until the end of his days.4 The British admiralty court soon acquitted the defendants of the freebooting charge and they proceeded to Texas by way of New Orleans, arriving too late to take part in the battle of San Jacinto.5
Young De Morse definitely cast his lot with the young Texas republic and was a Texan for the remainder of his days. He served in the Texas army and the Texas navy; he practiced law in Matagorda and Austin; he was stock commissioner under President Mirabeau B. Lamar, having the task of attempting to fund and bond the public debt; and in 1841 and 1842 he was reporter for the Texas House of Representatives, publishing a small daily paper in connection with his other duties.6 It was this journalistic effort which led De Morse into the field in which he occupied himself for the rest of his life and earned for himself the posthumous title, "The Father of Texas Journalism."7 De Morse, being at variance with many policies of President Sam Houston, desired to change his occupation by 1842. He therefore accepted the invitation of members of the Texas Congress from the Red River district to establish himself in northeast Texas and begin publication of a newspaper.8 The result of this decision was the appearance at Clarksville, county
1Encyclopedia of the New West (Marshall, Texas, 1881), I, 259n; Harvey Lewis Graham, The Northern Standard, 1842-1848: A Texas Frontier Newspaper (unpublished master's thesis, The University of Texas, 1928), 1 ff.
7The current visitor to Clarksville, Texas, may see the cenotaph erected to "Colonel Charles De Morse, the Father of Texas Journalism." His old home is now occupied by his granddaughter, Isabel De Morse Latimer.
seat of Red River County, Texas, on August 20, 1842, of the first issue of The Northern Standard, a weekly of most exceptional standards for a frontier community.9
From the very first Editor De Morse seems to have courted subscriptions, advertisements, and news from the Indian nations to the north of Red River. He and his readers were chiefly interested in events at the United States government posts of Fort Towson and Fort Washita and the settlements nearby those establishments, for the citizens of northeast Texas were closely connected economically and socially, although not politically, with the partblood Indians and the whites who inhabited the Indian country. The citizenship of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, or rather the citizens of those Nations who resided along the Red River, depended upon the same arteries of traffic, the River and the military roads, as did the citizenship of north Texas for communication with the East. Both profited by the influx of settlers to Texas when it became apparent that the Lone Star Republic was to become a state in the Union. Both benefited from the increased traffic through the region when gold was discovered in California. Both used slave labor on big plantations and had the same general attitudes toward the problems of the peculiar institution. The result was that at least until 1849, when The Choctaw Telegraph was established at Doaksville, The Northern Standard was the organ which best articulated enlightened public sentiment for the upper Red River valley, for dwellers in the Indian country as well as in northeast Texas.10 There are no subscription lists of The Northern Standard available which would demonstrate just how widespread was its coverage of the Indian country, but inferences may be drawn from items and advertisements appearing in the columns of the paper itself.11
9Complete files of this perodical are in the library of the University of Texas, from the first issue in 1842 to the last in 1887. They were donated to the University by Mrs. Isabella Gordon De Morse Latimer, daughter of Charles De Morse. Graham, op. cit., preface. Dr. Rex W. Strickland, in speaking of The Northern Standard, says: "Indeed one may well reckon [it] as one of the most potent educational influences on the frontier." Rex W. Strickland, Anglo-American Activities in Northeastern Texas, 1803-1845 (unpublished Ph. D. thesis, The University of Texas, 1936), 393.
10The Choctaw Telegraph was published at Doaksville near Fort Towson from May 3 to December 20, 1849; the publisher was D. G. Ball, the editor Daniel Folsom. American Newspapers, 1821-1936 (New York, 1937); Grant Foreman, The Five Civilized Tribes (Norman, Oklahoma, 1934), 70; Personal Letter, Librarian of Congress, June 12, 1940. The Choctaw Intelligencer succeeded the Telegraph, appearing from June 6, 1850, until January 7, 1852; the Intelligencer was published by L. D. Alsobrook with J. P. Kingsbury and J. E. Dwight as editors. Ibid., and The Choctaw Intelligencer, October 15, 1851 (Photostat in the possession of R. M. Firebaugh, Hugo, Oklahoma) .
11Dr. Charles W. Ramsdell, professor of history at The University of Texas, who was largely instrumental in obtaining the files of The Northern Standard for the University library, has never discovered any subscription lists of the paper. Personal Letter, July 26, 1939. A visit and interview with Isabel De Morse Latimer at Clarksville, Texas, August 31, 1939, failed to reveal any such lists at the old home of Charles De Morse.
The first issue of the weekly, that of August 20, 1842, carried the name of "Lorenzo Delano, P. M. Park Hill, Cherokee Nation" in the list of "Agents for the Standard."12 Little news or advertising was ever published from the Cherokee Nation, however, as it was too far away, being geographically a part of the Arkansas River valley and thus more naturally joined by socio-economic ties to the state of Arkansas. Abundant evidence is furnished, on the other hand, by the columns of the Standard that the Texas paper was a news medium for the areas around Fort Towson and Fort Washita in the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations. The fourth issue named for the first time among the "Agents" that of "G. C. Gooding, P. M. Fort Towson."13 Other mention of Gooding did not occur until almost a year and a half later when an advertisement for "A. P. Gray & Campbell Commission Merchants, No. 41 New Levee st., New Orleans" gave the postmaster as a reference in a list of three: "Refer to Gov. James S. Conway, La Fayette, Ark. G.C. Gooding, Fort Towson, Arkansas, Bryarly & Campbell, Shreveport Louisiana."14 From June, 1845, until well into 1846 the Fort Towson postmaster ran a large advertisement for his "Cheap Cash Store;"15
12The Northern Standard (Clarksville, Texas), August 20, 1842. Hereafter any date cited alone will be understood to refer to this publication.
14January 13, 1844. Gooding was also the post sutler. Grant Foreman, Advancing the Frontier (Norman, Oklahoma, 1933) , 85 and 104.
15June 7, 1845, et seq. The full advertisement may be of interest, since it must almost be an inventory of goods carried in a typical frontier store:
"CHEAP CASH STORE.
JUST RECEIVED, direct from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and New Orleans, by steamers Col. Harney, Frontier, Revenue, Hempstead and Agnes, Two Thousand packages of Goods, which are now opening and for sale low for CASH, by GEORGE C. GOODING, at his old stand in FORT TOWSON, consistng of the following articles, viz.
500 pieces Prints, of various colors,
40 pieces De Lains, Do
10 pieces Cashmere, Do
10 pieces black, blue, and blue-black Silks, Silk, Woolen, Cotton and knit Shawls,
BLEACHED AND BROWN COTTONS:
1000 pieces 3-4 Brown Cottons,
100 pieces 4-4 Brown Cottons,
100 pieces 5-4 Brown Cottons,
100 pieces 6-4 Brown Cottons,
800 pieces 3-4 4-4 5-4 & 6-4 Bleached Cottons,
Alpacas, Lawns, Muslins, Edgings, &c.
Bonnets and Caps, Ribbons of various kinds, and colors, Tapes, Thread, Needles, Pins, Cotton Cord, Stay Lacings, together with a large supply of such articles as are usually wanted by Ladies.
50 Boxes Boots and shoes, a few cases fine French Boots, 4 cases Ladies Shoes.
Linen, Cotton, Calico and Hickory Shirts.
50 Bags Coffee, 50 bbls Brown Sugar, 4 bbls. Loaf Sugar, 4 bbls. Crushed Sugar, Pepper, Allspice, Almonds, Sweet Crackers, Water Crackers, Nutmegs, Cloves, Cinnamon, Mace, Catsup, Jellies, Pickles of all kinds, Lemon, and other Syrup, Olive Oil, Olives, Capers, Prunes, Raisins, Mustard, &c. &c., manufactured by and direct from Wm. Underwood, Boston, Segars, Tobacco of various kinds.
Crockery and Glass ware, of ALL KINDS Tin Ware, Hardware and Cutlery, Nails, Iron &c. &c., Horse Shoes and Nails.
Together with every other article generally wanted in this country.
My business having increased, I am prepared to sell low, for Cash or Country Produce. Friends, Please give us a call at the Old Stand.
Fort Towson, May 20th 1845"
in 1847 he was running another notice in conjunction with his cousin, Henry Gooding, proprietor of the Star Hotel in Clarksville, in an attempt to sell a closed carriage and a surveyor's compass.16
A stronger factor, however, than the purchase of advertising space in the paper worked for a close relationship between the Clarksville editor and the Fort Towson postmaster. This factor developed from the circumstance that the mail service of the Texas republic, at least that which served the northern settlements along Red River, left much to be desired; the result of this circumstance was the establishment of a private mail service to connect Clarksville with Fort Towson, thus giving the former community the advantage of the latter's superior communications with points north and east. The postal facilities of the north Texas town remained poor for a year or two after the admission of Texas into the Union, the dependence of Clarksville on Fort Towson for news from the United States and the outside world continuing until 1846 or 1847. Evidence of the situation was manifested in the second issue of the Standard when De Morse announced that he had arranged for a private mail service between Pine Creek and Fort Towson, thus connecting the Texas mail system with that of the United States.17 The editor stated the details of the project thus:
Arrangements will be made, so that those who contribute to the support of the project, will have their letters and papers from the United
16March 6, 1847, et seq. The advertisement was:
A close [sic] carriage of large size, and in good order—original cost, in Petersburg, Va. $500. Will be sold low for Cash or on good terms for produce.
Also a Surveyor's Compass, first quality, and in good order.
Apply to Henry Gooding
Star Hotel, Clarksville or
Geo. C. Gooding P. M.
The degree of relationship between George and Henry Gooding was determined by an interview with Mrs. Roxie Gooding of Goodland, Oklahoma, August 9, 1940. Mrs. Gooding is the widow of Henry Leavenworth Gooding, son of George C. Gooding.
17August 27, 1842. Pine Creek refers to the mouth of that creek on the Texas side of Red River and opposite the mouth of the Kiamichi River in the Choctaw Nation.
States, sent here, and can pay their postage here, instead of sending to Towson. None except subscribers to the route will be accommodated.18
The route went into effect immediately, some trouble being encountered in collecting from subscribers to the service, for notices to the delinquents appeared in the winter of 1842-1843.19 In the issue for January 7, 1843, Editor De Morse urged subscribers:
....to come forward and pay up. The names of those who do not comply within two weeks, will be stricken from the list.
In February, 1843, the government of Texas discontinued the mail service from Clarksville to Pine Creek, whereupon De Morse announced that the mail to Pine Creek would be continued as a private affair in order that "the channel of communication with the United States....[would] still be open."20 Complete arrangements for the private mail were announced two weeks later, De Morse undertaking to act as representative for the Clarksville end of the service.21 The mail rider left Clarksville each Monday morning and returned each Tuesday evening; the postage on letters over the route was thirty-seven and one-half cents each, on newspapers, three cents each.22
The first issue of the Standard in March carried this notice in the editorial column:
Persons in the United States who wish to write to others resident in this District, will do well to recollect that the route by the way of Fulton [Arkansas] has been discontinued by our government, but that by directing their letters to Fort Towson, they will reach this place, without detention.23
One more quotation will emphasize the dependence of the Clarksville area on the Fort Towson mail service during this period:
No United States mail by way of Fort Towson for two weeks, so that we are without any news isolated from the world. The Cypresses cutting off our communication with the interior, and some swollen stream on the other side of Red river, obstructing the passage of the mail.24
Even after the Texas government established a public mail route in the spring of 1844 to connect Fort Towson and Clarksville, mak-
23March 2, 1843. The issue for March 9, 1843, stated that the editor was in error when he announced the abandonment of the route from Fulton; this made no difference, however, for the route through Fort Towson was more reliable and continued to be the one chiefly used. De Morse made this request, April 13, 1843: "We received by the last mail from the interior [of Texas], the November number of Hunt's Merchant's Magazine, and a Copy of the Albany Agriculturist, which were sent to us by way of Fulton. Exchange papers will please direct to us by way of Fort Towson, Choctaw Nation."
24May 11, 1843. Other statements concerning the Fort Towson mail during the period may be found in the issues for November 4, 18, 1843; February 10, 24, March 20, 27, April 17, 24, and May 22, 29, 1844.
ing the private mail unnecessary, the Texas town continued to receive its most reliable service through the Fort Towson channel.25 As previously mentioned, the situation continued for a year or two after Texas statehood.
The man on the other end of these arrangements for the mail was George C. Gooding, Fort Towson postmaster, although his name was rarely mentioned by Editor De Morse. Evidence of Gooding's part in the north Texas mail service are to be found in frequent lists of "Letters In the Post Office at Fort Towson, for citizens of Texas," many of them carrying the name of "Geo. C. Gooding, P. M. Fort Towson, C. N." as proof of his interest.26 The earlier lists included some rather indefinite addresses: for example, "Isaac J. Baily—Texas," or "Clerk County Court, Jonesborough."27 An editorial notice in the summer of 1845 would suggest that Gooding also encountered trouble in making postal collections:
The Post Master at Fort Towson wishes sundry persons on this side, who are indebted to him for postage, to attend to the payment, instanter. Those who do not take this hint, will be likely to find their papers stopping in future at that place, instead of coming over to them.28
Lists of letters published in 1846 and 1847 were complete, being no longer designed simply to inform "citizens of Texas" but also citizens of the Indian country. One published in the summer of 1846 contained the names of two Colberts, two Folsoms, a "Pytchlyn, Miss M.," and Robert Jones, the famous Choctaw planter and business man.29 Mute evidence that in time of war a soldier's mail often fails to keep pace with his changes of address is found in a list of Fort Towson letters published in the fall of 1846; among one hundred and fifty-one names there appeared that of "Z. Taylor."30 The end of the dependence of the Clarksville area on Fort Towson for postal service may be surmised from the fact that the last of the Fort Towson lists appeared in the summer of 1847.31
There is some evidence that a personal friendship developed between De Morse and Gooding during these years; in fact, De Morse appears to have been on friendly terms with several citizens of the
31July 31, 1847, et seq. Ordinarily each list of names was run in three successive issues. In the fall of 1847, November 11, the name of the post office was changed to Doaksville, Joseph R. Berthelet becoming postmaster; no lists of names from the Doaksville postoffice appeared in the Standard. George C. Gooding served as postmaster at Fort Towson from September 7, 1832, until Berthelet took over. Foreman, op. cit., footnote 15, p. 85.
Doaksville-Fort Towson, area. One of several similar items published in 1846 will illustrate this fact:
We are indebted to Mr. Jos. Compton of Doaksville, and to Geo. C. Gooding Esq, P. M. Fort Towson, for copies of late papers from various quarters.32
Because of the state of the mail service first news of the annexation of Texas and of events in the Mexican War reached Clarksville by way of Fort Towson. In the editorial columns of the Standard for January 21, 1846, the following paragraph appeared:
We are indebted to a friend at Fort Towson, for a copy of the Washington Union, of Dec. 22nd, by which it appears, that, on that day; the Joint resolution for the admission of Texas into the Union, passed the Senate . . . .33
News of the advance of General Scott's army on Mexico City came to the Standard direct from George C. Gooding, as the following item would indicate:
For several days, we have been in possession of the Mexican accounts of the late battles before their Capital; but giving little credence to them, we have waited for further intelligence. By last night's mail, we received from our friend Geo. C. Gooding, the Postmaster at Fort Towson, a paper [the New Orleans Picayune] containing later news than any other brought by mail.....34
The two Doaksville friends of De Morse whose names appeared most frequently in his columns were J. G. Read and D. G. Ball. The former in particular sent frequent communications to the Standard from 1845 through 1847, many of which were signed with the single initial "R."35 The first letter from "R." to De Morse, dated at Fort Towson on November 28, 1845, warned Texans that a party of Cherokees were on their way from Fort Gibson "for the purpose of
33January 21, 1846. In the preceding week's issue, an item appeared which emphasizes the close relationship between the Choctaw community and the north Texas community, as well as the dependence of the latter upon the former for news:
"ANNEXATION.—We perceive that during our absence, a meeting upon the supposed consummation of the annexation, has been held; in the proceedings of which, our name appears. Had we been here, we should have participated zealously, provided we had had evidence of the passage of the act through the two houses. That evidence, however, we have not yet seen, and there is nothing of it at Towson where we have been." January 14, 1846.
35The assumption that J. G. Read and "R." were the same person is one that seems likely to the writer but for which no definite proof can be advanced.
attacking the exploring party" of the same tribe which was south of Red River at the time.36 An item in the summer of 1846 gave Read's initials for the first time:
Our thanks are due to Gen. Rusk, Hon. D. S. Kaufman, and Mr. J. G. Read of Fort Towson, for public documents, and late papers.37
The same number contained a letter signed "R." which gave an account of the Choctaw election of July 8, 1846:
Fort Towson, July 10th, 1846.
The elections of Chiefs for the three Choctaw Districts, came off on the 8th inst., and resulted in the election of Col. Thos. L'Flore, as Chief of this the Puck-she-nubbie District, by a majority of 58 votes, over Geo. Hudson; and 171 over Col. Joel Nail, the two opposing candidates. The whole number of votes cast was 671, of which L'Flore received 300. Hudson 242. And Nail 129. L'Flore, the successful candidate, and present Chief of this district, is a half breed of French extraction, (as the name implies,) popular with his people, who look up to him as a Father. He is favorable to the efforts that are being made for their civilization, and is in every respect well qualified for the office. In the adjoining, the Push-met-ta-ha District, Silas Fisher, was elected over his competitor Jeremiah Folsom, by a majority of 210. The whole number of votes cast being 456. Mr. Fisher is also a half-breed, and possesses much of the go-ahead spirit of the Anglo Saxon. He was educated at Col. Johnson's school in Kentucky, and will do much for the amelioration of the condition of his red bretheren [sic].
The returns from the remaining Choctaw and Chickasaw Districts have not yet come in. But the presumption is, that the parties favorable to education and reform, have been victorious throughout.
The examination of the four Missionary schools in this District will take place next week.
The last communication from or mention of Read was featured in an issue for the summer of 1847, the letter being published under a headline on page one. It reminds the reader that Oklahoma weather is just like it was one hundred years ago, for hail stones of similar size to those reported by Read occurred in the state during the spring of 1940. The Oklahoma weather report of 1847 read thus:
Major De Morse:
36December 3, 1845. The first mention of Read by name occurred in the issue for March 6, 1845: "We are indebted to the politeness of Mr. Reed [sic], of Fort Towson, for a copy of the Madisonian of the 7th ult. . . . ."
inches in length, and about four inches in diameter. Some sixty panes of glass were broken in the building, and the roof considerably injured. That the residents were considerably alarmed, may be readily inferred; and that no injury was sustained, by any members of the large school and family stationed there; was perhaps owing to their having been warned to the houses, by a smart shower of rain, immediately preceding the storm.—The weather at the time was quite warm; thermometer probably at about 85 deg.
Unfortunately, for his letters are the most interesting to the current reader of Oklahoma history, this was the last piece of Mr. Reads correspondence printed by the editor of the Standard.
D. G. Ball, publisher of the first Choctaw newspaper, received first mention in the columns of this frontier periodical during the summer of 1846, when De Morse remarked:
By Mr. Ball of Doakaville, who left New Orleans on the 30th ult., and arrived in Town on Monday last, we learn that Troops were pouring into the City, from the upper Country.40
A typical mention of Ball in 1847 would leave the impression that he had become quite a crony of the Texas editor; at least he had joined the ranks of those Doaksville citizens to whom the Texan was constantly acknowledging his indebtedness for "late papers." This De Morse sentence was:
We are indebted to Mr. Ball of Doaksville for a late Washington Union.41
The plans for establishment and publication of a newspaper at Doaksville were briefly mentioned by De Morse in a news item that appeared in the spring of 1848:
We understand that a newspaper, press is about to be established at Doaksville; Mr. Ball, heretofore a Merchant in that place, having passed through here, yesterday morning, on his way to New Orleans for materials.42
Presumably Mr. Ball was very busy with his new project and encountered the editor of the Standard little during the next year, for his name did not appear again in the issues of the Texas paper which were examined.43
It is likely that Charles De Morse must have visited Fort Towson in person during this period; but if he did, he failed to give an
40June 10, 1846. Reference is here made, of course, to troop movements soon after the outbreak of the Mexican War. Since Ball's route to Doaksville was through Clarksville, he had doubtless come by water to Shreveport, Louisiana, or Jefferson, Texas, and thence overland, the usual route of travel from New Orleans when water in the upper Red River was too low to allow steamboat travel.
43The first issue of The Choctaw Telegraph, of which D. G. Ball was publisher, did not appear until May 3, 1849. Personal Letter, Librarian of Congress, June 12, 1940.
account of any visit in his publication. In January of 1846 he remarked casually while discussing another subject that he had been at Fort Towson, evidently not considering it, worth the time of his readers to enter into any discussion of events of the post.44 Another item will illustrate the tone of many which would justify the conviction that De Morse was often a visitor to the army post across the Red River; in his editorial column in the summer of 1844 this paragraph appeared:
Ball Play among the Choctaws.—We have received a communication from Doaksville, signed Noshoba Lakna, informing us, that on the 17th of this month, there is to be a 'Big Ball play, to be played over Kiamisha, 8 miles West of Doaksville, Kosha district against half of Red River district. They will gather on the ground, on Sunday the 16th, at night; and the next day about 9 o'clock, the Ball will go up in the air. Dancing will commence the night of the 16th.' Such of our citizens as have not seen this exciting sport, will have an opportunity now.45
The inference to be drawn here—although it may be too far-fetched—is that De Morse had already witnessed games of Indian ball in the Choctaw Nation and was advising Texas readers who had not that here was their chance.
The editor did mention a visit to Fort Washita in 1845, his most likely route to that post being by way of Fort Towson. The Washita visit was to attend a meeting, in an unofficial capacity, of a council of the Chickasaws, De Morse promising before his departure from Clarksville to "endeavor while there to glean some matter which [might] interest his readers."46 He dutifully reported on his return 'that he had been "at the Chickasaw Council at the Boiling Springs, near Fort Washita on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week," promising to give an account of the proceedings in the next issue.47 The promise was never carried out. One result of the journey, however, was an increase in news from Fort Washita, especially concerning the movement of troops to and from that post.48 An item quoted from an Eastern paper in 1846 announced the death by execution at Hopkinsville, Kentucky, of a notorious outlaw, Alonzo Pennington, who had been "arrested about three months since, in the Choctaw Nation near Fort Washita."49
The violent death of a noted Red River pioneer trader, Holland Coffee, at the hands of a resident near Fort Washita was mentioned in two issues for the fall of 1846. The first item was:
We learn that on the first inst., a rencounter took place in Grayson county, between Col. Holland Coffee, well known as one of the earliest
traders with the Indians, on the waters of Red River, and Mr. Chas. A. Gallaway [sic], a merchant, resident of Washita Post. Col. Coffee, is said to have received some stabs which proved mortal.50
The second, which appeared more than a month later, furnishes a nice commentary on the workings of frontier justice along Red River in the 1840's:
Grayson District Court.—
We are told that Mr. Galloway is universally considered blameless for his conduct throughout the difficulty, and in the final act which terminated so fatally and unfortunately. We are gratified to find that the case bears this character.51
The modern reader cannot help but wonder whether this last paragraph were not dictated to the editor by Mr. Galloway or some of the latter's friends, for country editors were even more subject to threats of violence then than now.
The Coffee incident is one example of another point which can be illustrated by quotations from the Standard: that is, the part played by the Red River boundary in relationships between citizens of Texas and dwellers in the Indian nations. The River was a goal toward which culprits headed in order to escape justice on either side. Mr. Galloway, "resident of Washita Post," was probably relieved when the Grayson jury refused to prefer charges against him; but had he been indicted, it would have been difficult for Texas authorities to get him to that state for trial had the defendant cared to evade such action. The situation was reflected constantly in the columns of the Clarksville paper by legal notices advertising civil suits by residents of Texas against persons not resident in the state for the collection of debts.52 These civil actions, although more numerous, did not receive the publicity of editorial discussion nor were they headlined as news items, so that the state of affairs must be emphasized by the occasional reports of criminal actions.
The columns of the Standard portrayed this situation through their advertisements and news articles, which tell of murderers, horse thieves, escaped slaves, and other culprits crossing Red River, their direction determined by the locality from which they were
50October 10, 1846. For an account of Coffee's connection with Oklahoma history, see Grant Foreman's Pioneer Days in the Early Southwest (Cleveland, 1926), 157 ff.
52Many such notices appeared in The Northern Standard all during the period. An example was a legal notice that one Henry Stoneham was suing Pitman Colbert, "not a resident of this state," for ninety dollars. March 10, 1849, et seq.
fleeing. One example of murderers escaping to Texas in 1844 was that of the killers of Seaborn Hill, a trader in the Creek Nation.53 A half-column advertisement during the summer and fall of that year offered a large reward for James L. Dawson, "late Creek agent," and John R. Baylor, his accomplice.54 These two gentlemen were accused of the murder of Hill on July 8 and were thought to have escaped to Texas; John Hill, evidently a relative of the murdered man, offered a thousand dollars for Dawson and five hundred for Baylor, with James Logan, Creek Agent, adding an additional five hundred and two hundred respectively.
COOPERATION BETWEEN THE OKLAHOMA HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND THE TULSA HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL
Appraisal of the various activities undertaken by the Oklahoma Historical Society reveals many striking and successful projects. Outstanding, of course, is the state museum in its well planned new building and the Society's quarterly publication, The Chronicles of Oklahoma. These issues have been made possible largely by the gratuitous efforts of many who have progressed from being merely interested members of the Society to having become capable research writers. The Oklahoma Historical Society may now claim sponsorship of, or cooperation with, a project in another area,—stimulation of interest in local historical research by High School pupils, who, it is to be hoped, will also develop in ability.
The purpose of this paper is to review some of the experiences of a student-group in Central High School, Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is benefiting from its association with the Oklahoma Historical Society. The intent of the writer is not so much to recount the story of the project as to discuss some of the pedagogical problems and advantages of the research-approach in the study of local or regional history. As such it may have most interest for the teacher-readers of The Chronicles but, by indicating an expanding field of service for the state Historical Society, it may be of interest to others as well.
The story of the Tulsa Historical Society of Tulsa Central High School is brief. It is in its fourth year of formal organization. Unity and standing and permanence come through organization, while the mechanics of working under an oganization develops student personality. Class enrollment automatically means membership in the Historical Society for most of the work is done in the classroom. A charter has been adopted and the essentials of parliamentary procedure are followed when needed. Working under the name of the Tulsa Historical Society has been useful both in getting public recognition, and in securing aid for the projects undertaken.
The Daughters of the American Colonists and the Sons of the American Revolution have been especially helpful.
The movement started in Tulsa Central about five years ago in senior classes studying social and economic problems. So far as practicable local situations were checked against the more general ones of state and nation. Without guidance young people do not think objectively about their home town, so the investigations of
these students helped them see their community in a new way. Soon they began asking "Why is this so"; "How long have we had such conditions?"; "Who were the people who started these movements?"
These questions could only be solved by knowing something about local history. Although for twenty years a teacher in Tulsa, the instructor knew much more about the ancient Greeks and Romans than about modern Tulsa history. J. M. Hall's book, The Beginning of Tulsa, told the story to 1900, and Col. C. B. Douglas's three volumns carried it down to 1922. Couldn't these be rewritten in simple classroom style? And couldn't the rest of the story be told by their parents? It might be a real civic service to put out a brief survey. Such were the arguments back of the now four year old local research project with which the Tulsa classes are still working.
Appeals to the State Historical Society for aid has extended the scope of the original project by revealing the considerable amount of authentic research publications available, particularly in the prestate-hood period. A fine sense of comradeship between the two societies developed. Thanks are due Judge John B. Meserve of Tulsa, a member of the editorial staff of The Chronicles, for his sympathetic kindness and advice, and to Mr. James W. Moffitt, Secretary of the Oklahoma Historical Society. He early recognized the larger possibilities of the project,—its bearing on the understanding and future interest of these young people in Oklahoma History. He aided them by visiting their class-room, by inviting a group of students to visit the Historical building and by allowing their use of the reference library there. He introduced the delegation to Dr. J. B. Thoburn who talked delightfully about the problems involved in writing Oklahoma history.
The bond of fellowship was deepened when representatives from the High School Society were invited to attend the programs and to go on the field trip of the 1940 annual meeting. Judge Robert L. Williams and Judge Harry Campbell approved the publication of the group effort titled, "Educational History in and about Tulsa, Oklahoma, (1839-1939)," which appeared in The Chronicles of Oklahoma, March, 1940.
Naturally, this contribution betrayed the immaturity of its authors, yet its effect on the members of the High School Society was out of all proportion to that of the more scholarly researches of that issue. This recognition of a High School assembly program and research effort was both generous and intelligent. Certainly The Chronicles is not a Junior publication, and no precedent has been established, but in letting down its bars that once it furthered one of the state society's major purposes. In fact the collection of data, and the preservation of articles are but means to this end,—that succeeding generations shall know how to evaluate and to use the information made available by their predecessors.
The project begun by Tulsa senior classes of 1937 was at first designed to be a brief summary of local events from the coming of the first railroad, 1882. What went before that seemed lost in the mists of ignorance. For instance the following statements were found in accounts about Tulsa:
"From an Indian-cow-town—"
"No one lived where Tulsa now stands"—
"There is no history earlier than 1882"—
"If anything happened before the railroad came there was no one to make note of it."
At last one boy said, "My people have lived in Oklahoma since 1828. Surely there is history in that. How can one get at Indian records and documents? This lost history must be there."
And another—"The state of Oklahoma has about ninety thousand citizens of Indian blood. Is it fair to them to tell only the white story?"
A survey of several classes indicated that about one-fourth of the students had some degree of Indian blood or family connection. Moreover the town-site of Tulsa is spread over old Creek Nation lands onto the corners of Osage and Cherokee lands. Considering all of this, the scope of class research was widened to include the histories of those three very different Indian stocks—"Our Neighboring Nations."
Facts relating to these tribes or to this area were noted by student researchers, each of whom read one or more books dealing with the pre-statehood period. From these notes, an introductory summary, called the "Historical Background" was written. Although a few rare or expensive books were borrowed, many were purchased for class reference use. From them students now give oral reports on points of interest which could not be developed in the summary. This plan provides for continuous research by each new group, familiarizes them with foot-note and reference-technique and makes comparison and criticism possible.
That part of the text book dealing with the modern period attempts to understand the development of the city from an industrial and economic viewpoint. The welfare and cultural situations are considered as challenges to community intelligence and cooperation.
The task of a High School group setting out to organize the leading events in its neighborhood history may involve primary research, but will more probably become a synthesis of accounts found in the patient research work of others. It was Dr. Grant Foreman's studies in detailed Indian History which made the first half of our task possible, and gave authenticity to the brief accounts which were finally prepared as historical backgrounds for the exercises. Simple stories of the Osage, the Creeks, the Cherokees, and their western
establishment were worked out. Wherever possible the account was localized. Judge Meserve has published the story of the Perrymans in The Chronicles of June, 1937. This family once owned most of present Tulsa and they have furnished much intelligent and capable leadership. The part played by members of that family gave reality to the story of settlement, the Civil War, and the period following the war.
Some of the thrill of the primary researchers was felt by the class-member who, interviewing Mrs. Perryman, was allowed to copy the yellowed letter of a home-sick lad in the Civil War, Legus Perryman, who later became a Principal Chief. This family also founded the society's historical collection when members gave the old post-boxes used when Tulsa post office was first established in 1879. Perhaps some day our town may have proper housing for this growing collection.
The hand-book is still incomplete but is now being used in mimeographed units or chapters as guide-sheets for student-reading and activities. Directed and free research is made from such authors as: Foreman, Thoburn, Abel, Dale, Gittinger, Wardell, and Trickett. Probably no other High School in the state has made more complete use of The Chronicles.
Professors of Oklahoma history may object because High School students are reading works designed for the college level, but the oral reports of these students show that they have both understood what they found and enjoyed reading it. Very few of these students can go to the state institutions of higher learning so the danger of repetition probably does not out-weigh the increased interest in accurate Oklahoma history. At least in the case of Vernon Luckenbill the information and skills acquired in the research class laid a foundation for further study in the State College at Stillwater. He has marked literary ability and is now working on an Oklahoma story set in the conflict-period of the early Osages and Cherokees.
Besides the regular work sheets, the Society is accumulating firsthand accounts of experiences by pioneers and prominent people of Tulsa. It sponsors programs and presents important people in the school assembly. On the observance of this year's Oklahoma Historical Day it was able to present Mrs. Ida Stephens Haworth who opened the first missionary school here in 1883.
Then there is what is known as "The Appendix." This is a collection of individual studies or particular phases,—material too detailed to be included in the work-sheets. Some of the subjects are: "Tulsa's Railroads," "The Race Riot of 1921," "The Evolution of the Place-name, Tulsa," "Law and Order in Tulsa," etc. These might be called term-themes for they are documented. Some are very creditably presented; others not so well. Of course their highest value was to the person who did them. In fact that is probably the
great point of recommendation for this method of getting history. The student must make an effort to get it. The conventional history text book has a definite place, probably in the grades even more than in the High School, but memory work is less educative than knowledge gained through individual effort based on interest.
One of the difficulties in this project has been through having to carry it from one year to another with new students each year. It takes about half a year for the students to accumulate enough information and grasp of subject and method to make them effective helpers. At least, the spring semester has always produced the most satisfactory results. Research for class recitation, and research for writing are such different problems that a special group during the school year 1939-40 volunteered for assistance in preparing the text book or work units. Students of the present group are checking and correcting the errors which naturally have crept into a project on which so many people have worked. An editorial board with the instructor as editor-in-chief is absolutely necessary to secure continuity and uniformity of style in writing the general account. Yet whatever significance this work has derives entirely from its being a group effort, and being done to satisfy a desire to know.
Definitely this type of teaching requires more effort than under the conventional text book method, yet it has its compensations. There are the delights of exploring a new fact-area, the teacher's satisfaction as student interest and ability develops, the surprise of public appreciation and now and then the emotional reaction of a coincidence like the following.
Talking to a group in another High School the story of Robert Loughridge was told. As a young man in 1843, he came by horseback 600 miles to ask the Creeks if he might establish a mission-school. They wanted the school but no preaching. Ultimately he founded both the Coweta and the Tullahasse schools and several Presbyterian congregations. There was much hardship, sorrow, bravery and success in that story. As an old man in 1883 he preached the very first sermon heard in the infant town of Tulsa. At the close of the class session a girl said, "You were talking about my grandfather; I had never thought of him as a historical personage."
Any class attempting in some such way to study local history will find it a real challenge of ability. Probably they will enjoy it and be better citizens because of it. When they need help they can find it, as the Tulsa classes often have, in the kindly interest of their townspeople and from the members of the Oklahoma Historical Society.