Chronicles of Oklahoma

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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 14, No. 2
June, 1936

Page 222


E. D. Hicks, in Vol. 12, Chronicles of Oklahoma, September 1934, wrote the "Story of the Telephone in Oklahoma." Mr. Hicks is without question the pioneer telephone man of Oklahoma. In 1886 he organized a company and constructed a telephone line from Tahlequah to Muskogee via Ft. Gibson. This was Oklahoma's first commercial telephone. In the September 1933 number of the Chronicles, page 887, there is published an item from the Cheyenne Transporter, August 30, 1884, concerning a telephone line from Ft. Reno on the south side of the North Canadian to the Darlington Indian agency on the north side of the river and more than two miles from Ft. Reno. This was three years before Elijah Hicks built his line out of Tahlequah. But from evidence the United States Army made use of the telephone from Ft. Sill to Ft. Reno three years before it was used in talking from Ft. Reno to the Darlington Agency.

On Sunday, May 17, Mr. Claude E. Hensley and the writer paid a visit to the home of James McGranahan who lives on his farm near Piedmont, Canadian County. Mr. McGranahan is one of the very few men now living who was in the government service on the frontier in that period just after the close of the Civil war. His mind is clear and his recollection of the many stirring events is very distinct. He said that in 1879 and 1880 he was assistant wagon master stationed at Ft. Sill. Only a short time before, the war department had put in a telegraph line, stringing the wires on iron posts, between Ft. Sill and Ft. Reno. The telephone was invented in 1876, and the government soon afterwards made some practical experiments with it by using the telegraph wires. Mr. McGranahan says he remembers hearing the regimental band playing at Ft. Reno over this telephone hook-up while he was at Ft. Sill nearly 100 miles distant. This was in the fall of 1879 or early spring of 1880. It caused much excitement among the listeners at Ft. Sill.

Page 223


Mr. James McGranahan was at one time postmaster at Oklahoma, but it was before Oklahoma was opened to settlement. Most all Oklahoma histories state that G. A. Beidler was the first postmaster, but there had been two postmasters at the Oklahoma station before the proclamation of the president opening Oklahoma, April 22, 1889. Mr. McGranahan had been commissioned postmaster in the fall of 1888—relieving N. S. Rodabuagh who had been the first commissioned postmaster at the Oklahoma station on the A.T. and S.F. Railroad. Mr. McGranahan said that the mail to Ft. Reno, Darlington Cantonment and Silver City on the South Canadian was all distributed from the Oklahoma office. He turned the post office over to G. A. Beidler at 10 a. m., Sunday, April 21, 1889.

Mr. James McGanahan has presented to the Oklahoma Historical Society the letter stamp used by him here at the Oklahoma Post Office before the opening.


This cancellation stamp used by postmaster James McGranahan until 10 a. m. Sunday, April 21, 1889, at which time he turned the office over to G. A. Beidler.


In the records of the Indian tribes now in the Oklahoma Historical Society, being indexed and classified by WPA workers under supervision of Mrs. Rella Watts, the following poetical effusion written by a full-blood Indian was found:

"Honorable Commissioner, Indian Affairs, Cato Sells, he say this way: 'The farming season is at hand. Every farmer should at once become actively engaged in advising and teaching the

Page 224

Indians how to prepare the soil, the kind of seed to select, when and how to plant, grow and harvest, and the best use to be made of his crop when produced.'

"War Bow hear what chief, Mr. Sells, say and heap catch it idea.

By War Bow, Blanket Indian,
Colony, Oklahoma.

War Bow think he goin' to farm;
Like country life, got heap of charm;
He goin' to raise it, plenty corn;
Will heap much plow in early morn.

Go in pasture an' catch up poney,
Use curry comb till horse look toney;
Throw on harness, give strap quick jerk,
Heap strong push and get to work.

Heap plant kafir corn and milo,
Raise plenty feed to fill big silo;
Have nice sleek horse an' big fat cow,
Goin' watch white man an' heap learn how.

An', may-be-so, at Indian fair;
War Bow say, "me sure be there,
You bet me take'm lots of prize,
Goin' show it punkin, biggest size."

An' white man, no more goin' to say
"Indian can't make farmin' pay"
'Cause War Bow show how Indian can
Just same like neighbor, smart white man.

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