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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 13, No. 2
June, 1935

Page 223

We have received a copy of the Long Beach Reporter containing a biographical sketch of a well known former Oklahoma citizen, who is now a resident of California. Most every one who lived in the old Territory of Oklahoma remembers L. M. Keys. He practiced law in Oklahoma City for several years but at the opening of the Kiowa and Comanche reservation he located in Hobart, the County Seat of Kiowa County. He held many positions of honor and trust while a resident of Oklahoma. He was a modest, unassuming gentleman and was recognized as an able lawyer and a man of honor who respected the ethics of his profession. His many old friends will be glad to know that this pioneer is still living and enjoying the blessings of health in that land of sunshine and flowers.

The following notes are excerpts from the biographical sketch printed in the California paper:

"Many years ago a great bard wrote "Sweet are the uses of adversity. . ." Some may doubt the statement. But Luther Morten Keys, Long Beach attorney-poet has demonstrated its truth. Instead of fretting over the decline of business caused by the depression, he has used his extra leisure to develop his poetic ability. He has written hundreds of poems, many of which have been published in various newspapers of the country, and two of them, "Magic Isles of Southern Seas," and "Reveries in Lincoln Park" were included in the 1934 American States Anthology of Poetry."

"Attorney Keys, whose fifty-four years of legal practice have been chock full of adventurous experiences, is a native of Indiana. He was first admitted to the bar in the Supreme Court of Kansas in 1881 at the age of twenty-three years. Three years later he was elected municipal judge of Emporia. After occupying the bench for two terms and being re-elected for a third, he followed the pioneer urge and trekked out to seek fame and fortune in the then wild West. In 1889 he settled in what is now Oklahoma City, but then was virgin land occupied mostly by Indian tribes."

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"It was no strange sight at that time," the attorney relates, "to see twenty claimants for one piece of land." "There was no law other than the Federal, which was represented by United States Commissioners and the Land Offices."

"As County Attorney and Assistant United States District Attorney of Oklahoma, Mr. Keys claims to have tried more than 100 murderers. His most sensational case, he says, was that of "Public Enemy" Frank Nash, who in 1932 was accidentally shot down by his pals as they fired on guards escorting him to Leavenworth prison. A few years before the World War Mr. Keys prosecuted Nash on the occasion of the notorious criminal's first conviction for murder. It was a particularly cold-blooded one, and Nash was sentenced to life imprisonment. He later was paroled, and his subsequent crimes shocked the country."

"Luther M. Keys was born in Hamilton County, Indiana, November 6, 1858, of Henry L. and Susan Rich Keys. He received his legal education in the law offices of Isaac Lambert, United States Attorney in the State of Kansas. He came to Long Beach, from Oklahoma, in 1925. He is a member of the California State Bar and was admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States, in Washington, in 1913. In 1884, Mr. Keys married Elfleda Norton Clark, of Missouri. Five sons were born to them, but two only are now living: Leon, a Los Angeles attorney, and Norton, who lives with his father and mother at 237 Magnolia Avenue. Attorney Keys conducts his legal business at 320 First National Bank Building."

"To glance at Mr. Keys, you would never guess him to be seventy-seven years old. His eyes are keen and alert and he expresses a youthful enthusiasm in the things that interest him. He believes that an active mind, expressed in some creative endeavor, keeps the spirit young and provides compensations for life's disappointments."

In the issue of the Sooner State Press of June 1, 1935, appears this item:

"A valuable and probably unique bit of Oklahoma history, a copy of the first issue of the Guthrie Getup, was discovered recently

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among the effects of the late John Webster, Guthrie '89er, by the administrator of his estate. This particular issue of the Getup, the first newspaper published in Oklahoma, is so rare that not even the Oklahoma Historical Society has one, wrote Fred Wenner in the Guthrie Leader. The first number is dated April 22, 1889, which settles the controversy over the exact date of the first paper issued in the new country."

The Sooner State Press is in error when it states that not even the Oklahoma Historical Society has one of the copies of this paper.

The Historical Society has two copies of the "Guthrie Getup." Vol. 1 No. 1 was printed at Guthrie Oklahoma April 29, 1889, the salutatory reads:

"The Guthrie Getup prances into the promised land at the head of the procession, and issues before one week after the glorious 22d of April, 1889. Praise God all ye good people, and let these prairies resound to the measured stroke of our job press. Ah, there is the rub, if you do not give us job work we will have to go back to our wife's folk. This would place us in a d—— of a fix, as we are not married. Our last statement is especially directed to single ladies who hold corner lots."

"It shall be the endeavor of this sheet to give all the news, aye, even more. Should any man even so much as kick his dog, we will give the public an accurate estimate of the motive power used. Each political power will come in for a due amount of praise and other things. Funeral notices will be published at a discount of 60 per cent, and the correct weight of the newly born will be given. Pastors can, free of charge, look at our devil, and the W. C. T. U. is hereby approved."

"The Santa Fe has our press in soak and this accounts for our four column paper. The next issue expects to put on enlarged and more dignified pants, and then all honest and progressive means will be used to hasten the time when Guthrie will be a manufacturing capital of 100,000 people."

The Oklahoma Historical Society has had for many years a damaged copy of the first issue of the Guthrie Getup and last November we received another copy from Mr. C. A. Kelley of Helena, Montana.

Page 226

The letter transmitting the copy was written to our late president, Charles F. Colcord, and reads as follows: "A short time back I came into the possession of a copy of the first issue of the 'Guthrie Getup.' Thinking it might be of some historical value, I am giving it to you at this time."

"Until recently it has been in the possession of my aunt, Elizabeth Cannon, who was an early settler in your country and has kept it these years as one of the souveniers of her pioneering days. "

As will be seen from the "Salutatory" copied above, this paper was not published April 22, but April 29, 1889.

It will be only fair to state that there were some three or four papers printed in Kansas dated April 22, 1889, and distributed in Guthrie, and also papers printed in Kansas and distributed in Oklahoma City, under date of April 22, 1889, but the "Guthrie Getup" seems to be the first paper actually printed in original Oklahoma after the opening day.

While the "Getup" does not give the name of the editor, or the printer, yet, the Chronicles is justified in stating that Will T. Little was the original publisher of the "Guthrie Getup."


Since the publication of the account of Col. Jesse Henry Leavenworth in the March number of the Chronicles of Oklahoma, Mrs. Foreman informs the editors she has learned that Leavenworth was buried in Forest Home Cemetery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This information comes from the Bureau of Vital Statistics at Milwaukee.

Page 227


On the morning of April sixth, Professors M. E. Franklin and T. L. Ballenger of the Northeastern Teachers College at Tahlequah went to the Polson cemetery near Southwest City, Missouri and set a memorial marker at the grave of Major Ridge. This marker was contributed by the War Department of the Federal Government in commemoration of Major Ridge's service in the War of 1812. Mr. Ballenger and Miss Eula E. Fullerton of the History Department of Northeastern have been engaged in an extended search for Ridge's burial place for the past three or four months.

Through the initiative of Mrs. A. L. Beeson, State Historian of the Daughters of the American Revolution of Georgia, and representatives of the Georgia Historical Society, the Federal Government was recently interested in marking the graves of early Cherokees who served in the United States army and whose services had not already been recognized. Among this number was Major Ridge who served under Andrew Jackson against the Creeks in the War of 1812.

Major Ridge was killed June 22, 1839 at the same time that his son John Ridge and Elias Boudinot were killed, for the part they took in making the Treaty of 1835 with the Federal Government providing for the removal of the Cherokees to the West. While on his way to Van Buren he was shot from ambush in Washington County, Arkansas near the line of the Cherokee Nation. He was buried in the Piney cemetery, a few miles from the present site of Stilwell, in Going Snake District, Cherokee Nation, near where he was killed.

In 1861, according to the testimony of Caleb Wright, who lives at Ardmore, his remains were moved from here to some place to the northward. After questioning a large number of people both in Arkansas and Oklahoma and after piecing together the bits of evidence obtained from relatives and well-informed old people of both regions, it seems fairly certain that his remains repose in this Polson cemetery in Delaware County, Oklahoma,

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two and a half miles west of Southwest City, Missouri. Within about two hundred yards of this cemetery was the home of Major Ridge's son, John Ridge, who was killed there at the time of his father's murder. Jesse Adair of Stilwell, Mrs. Mabel Washbourne Anderson of Tulsa, Mrs. J. A. Lawrence of Tahlequah, John H. Gibson of Grove, and W. F. Stevenson of Southwest City rendered valuable assistance in locating Ridge's burial place.

The marker, consisting of a white slab of Georgia marble, was set firmly in a concrete base eighteen inches thick, alongside the monument of Stand Watie, which was erected by the Oklahoma Division of the Daughters of the Confederacy. The memorial contains a plain cross within a circle, below which is the following inscription:

Morgan's Cherokee
War of 1812
June 22, 1839


The location of the famous Chisholm Trail through Oklahoma has been the subject of some controversy and misunderstanding. The cattle trail passing out by Chickasha and Kingfisher is shown on early maps as the Abilene Trail. In later years there has been an effort to identify this as the Chisholm Trail. The evidence is not all in and it should be interesting to contribute to the discussion the following newspaper article taken from the Daily Journal of Austin, Texas, of August 2, 1871, page 4, column 2. This article was copied from the Arkansas City Traveler of a slightly earlier date.—(G. F.)

For a few days we have been camped beside the Chisholm trail—one of the grand highways of the continent.

This road was established in 1866 by William Chisholm, a half-breed Cherokee. Many cattle were driven over in 1867, but in 1868 it was almost discontinued, on account of Indian depredations. In 1869 the driving was resumed with increased energy,

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and the business has steadily grown to its present enormous amount.

The trail leaves Texas at the Red River station, east of Gainsville, passes through the Chickasaw nation about seventy miles east of Fort Sill, and thence runs in a nearly straight line to Caldwell, Summer county, and Wichita.

The trail near the Salt Fork runs over dry plains, where the sail is red clay and sandstone, the vegetation, buffalo grass, and the water runs in chains of pools, strongly tinctured with oxide of iron, and along the river with salt and alkali. The grass for a great distance on each side of the trail is eaten off and covered with dust, and the water is indescribable.

The scene is a strange and picturesque one. The great herds, numbering from 500 to 3,000 head, sweep by incessantly, mostly long-horned, bony steers, three or four years old. The drivers are miscellaneous in appearance. Broad-hatted Texans, quick with the trigger, ignorant, choleric, and much given to the grosser vices; and yet possessing a sub-stratum of kindness and sound sense. Swarthy greasers, a mixture of Spanish with Indian and negro blood, dark, sullen, and sinister looking negroes, Indians and speculating Yankees, complete the list. All look worn and sunburned from their long exposure to the elements, and all are insanely hungry for whisky. Considering that these men have lived on fried bacon, coffee, and a villainous sort of bread, baked in skillets, ever since leaving Texas, their passion for whisky is not so wonderful. But the laws of the Unied States are strict and stern, the precious beverage, a very vile variety of it, is only obtained in smuggled bottles, that are like angel's visits to the thirsty soul—few and far between. However, on arriving at the little town of Caldwell, just above the State line, the discipline relaxes. According to trustworthy reporters, this village has four business houses. One is devoted to the sale of whisky alone; two others to whisky and groceries, and one, kept by a woman, for the sale of bread and whisky.

The amount of this traffic is something wonderful and incredible. At the date of our visit, the number of cattle that had passed up the trail, by actual register, exceeded 290,000 mostly beef steers. The drive for this year will be over 400,000 head,

Page 230

valued at not less than six millions of dollars. Most of these cattle are bound for Abilene, though many go to Colorado, and shipping them at Newton, on the A. T. & S. Fe Railroad, has vigorously commenced.

Meanwhile, the L. L. & G. Railway promises to be running to the State line, at the Cana, in thirty days, and is trying to obtain its share of the great traffic.

The Chisholm trail is paved with bones. Many cattle and horses die on the journey, and are devoured by buzzards as they lie. The half dried, half devoured carcasses of buffalo, and skulls innumerable strew the track. There is no law on the trail, except the hair trigger, and many graves line the road. Nevertheless, to the orderly and well disposed observer, this road is probably safer than the streets of Chicago after midnight, and the lover of the novel and picturesque can hardly find a better post of observation than the Chisholm trail.

The Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad was conceived as an instrument for appropriating the vast country through which it ran as tributary trade territory to St. Louis. This undertaking was viewed with disapproval by commercial interests in sections that had similar designs on this undeveloped territory. This attitude is illustrated in the following sketch copied from the New Orleans Price Current in the Daily Journal of Austin, Texas, July 25, 1871, on page 4.—(G. F.)

The Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad is pushing toward Texas every day, and will soon give St. Louis direct rail connection with Austin, and all the magnificent bottoms and fertile uplands of Eastern and Central Texas. This railroad is now at Fort Gibson and will next month enter our State. New Orleans watches this enterprise with jealous interest, and the New Orleans Price Current thus remarks:

The true pioneers are those who furnish capital to build railroads and thus plant population and develop values which secure to civilization and industry a new area of freedom. The comparative agency of politics and capital in occupying a country is shown by the extraordinary progress of the Missouri,

Page 231

Kansas and Texas Railroad. This road is completed within a few miles of Fort Gibson, on the Arkansas River, and in the Indian Territory. Its equipments consist of twenty-four locomotives, twenty-three passenger cars, ten baggage cars, three hundred flat cars, two hundred and fifty cattle cars, thirty-two other cars, and a large number more of all classes. St. Louis has thus sent her practical pioneers five hundred miles through Kansas, and they are advancing at the rate of a mile of track per day. The number of ties are 2700 per mile. The ties being in place, the rails are put down and spiked for short distances at the ordinary gait of a stout man's walk. The track laying force employ 190 men. When we are told that on 95 per cent of the entire line south from Chetopa to the Canadian river there was no curve shorter than one degree, and remember that this is the character of the whole country down to Galveston, we may calculate exactly how long it will require St. Louis to extend this connection to Houston. The distance being about six degrees of latitude would require about four hundred working days, or about one year and one-third, if there were no other road company working in Texas to facilitate the connection by constructing a road to meet it. This would make St. Louis arrive at Houston, Texas, about September, 1872. Our people regard this invasion of our territory very much as they do the rise of the water in the submerged district of our city. The rapid and irresistible progress of the railroad has planted an incredible number of villages along the line, varying in population from five hundred to two thousand five hundred. It has also developed the mineral productions of the country in a remarkable degree. Our ancestors and theoretical writers have made the great mistake of supposing that mere territory could exercise rights. This depended on the people who should go to inhabit the territory, and who were never ascriptae glebae—bound to the soil, like the serfs of the middle ages. St. Louis will very probably plant along the line to Texas a population who will look to her for trade and capital. We may alone counteract this exclusive control of a territory we have always looked upon as our own by opening new avenues of access to them, and offering higher attractions than other cities to trade with and visit New Orleans.

Page 232

To one who wonders what care the soldiers at Fort Gibson took of their personal appearance, ninety years ago, a recent disclosure from early records will be illuminating. This is a long inventory of merchandise of the stores of the sutler in Fort Gibson in 1845; it was submitted to the commandant for the purpose of establishing the prices at which these articles might be sold to the soldiers. The following is about one-sixth of the total list, but illustrates the character of merchandise sold by the sutler:

Cigars, shaving boxes, round shaving soap, transparent soap, flotant soap, chrystalline wash balls, whisker pomatum, spontaneous compound, oleophane, bear's oil, philocome, fancy soap, perfume boxes, fancy cologne water, round cologne water, farina cologne water, prevost cologne water, red and white powder, sweeping brush, clamp brush, horse brush, shoe brush, counter brush, hat brush, hair brush, wall brush, cloth brush, shaving brush, teeth brush, ivory brush, nail brush, violin strings, razor strops, mirrors, shirt butts, cotton purses, silk purses, pencil cases, whalebone, suspenders, snuff boxes, necklaces, guard chains, fishing lines, flasks, thimbles, court plaisters, hooks and eyes, silk guards, pocket combs, English combs, dressing combs.

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