This and That Newsletter
Vol 24  Issue 1,217     Circulation 5,000      May 21, 2020
Ardmore, Oklahoma
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A Glimpse Into The Past

Ardmore Fire of 1895

Ardmore progressed rapidly from 1887 to 1895 but it was at this point that the citizens were to suffer their first town-wide setback- the big fire of 1895. The blaze started on Caddo Street just west of the railroad tracks and ran uncontrolled through the business district. The flimsy nature of the buildings fed the rushing flames.

More than 80 buildings were consumed by the blaze. Mrs. B. E. Davis (the former Clara Mansfield), who now lives in Magnum, recalls the fire vividly. Mrs. Davis, who come to Ardmore with her family in 1894 says that at the height of the fire her mother pushed her sister, Connie (now Mrs. Jim Young of Gene Autry), in a baby carriage up Main Street ahead of the flames. Mrs. Davis says she was hanging onto the carriage and her mother during the speedy trip as the trio outdistanced the flames.

No lives were lost in the blaze but certainly the destruction was heartbreaking to the residents who had been able to accumulate holdings under difficult circumstances. Soon after the fire was out a new and better, Ardmore began to rise in the form of more substantial buildings.

The fire also had another beneficial result, it furnished the impetus for formation of a fire deportment for the town. The first steamer was purchased of a cost of $1,800 and was named in honor of L. L. Stoew (may be Stowe). The first officers were John S. O'Mealy, chief, and Bud Conlee, assistant chief. Twenty-five volunteers completed the department. -from Carter County History book 1957

1935 Weston Building 300 1/2 West Main

1935 Ardmore Union Bus Station 300 West Main

1939 Eddleman Building 107 1/2 West Main

1926 Norman Building 5 1/2 West Main

1926 Gorman Building 4 1/2 West Main

1946 Jones Building #1 128 1/2 West Main

1910 Noble Brothers Hardware at 128 West Main (now Marquis Furniture)

March 1984
The body of Everett Hall, Maysville, 63, was found in an abandoned house south of the Blue Ribbon Missionary Baptist Church. Hall had four gunshot wounds in the body when found. His pickup was found in the parking lot of the Lone Grove bowling alley by a Lone Grove Police Officer around midnight of the night of Hall's disappearance February 11th.

March 1959
A rocket expert, Willie Ley, a German-born scientist, predict someone will orbit the earth in two years. It will probably be a Russian citizen.

March 1935
Charges of burglary were filed in court here against Frank Anderson, who was arrested by Scott Ballew, sheriff's deputy. Anderson is alleged to have stolen four silk dresses from Curly Johnston's home. According to ballew the dresses have been recovered.

March 1935
Jess Mason, who is associated with Ken Croskell in the selling of farm machinery, says that more and more farmers are buying tractors. The trend is definitely toward the use have tractors instead of animals. Sales of machinery are brisk. Mason and Croskell is also the agency through which the government makes loans.

Q.  Name the son of Daniel Boone who traveled through Oklahoma.
A.  Nathan Boone

Q.  What town in Oklahoma was established in 1893 for women only, no men allowed?
A.  Answer in next week's newsletter

Below is from This and That newsletter archives of May 22, 2008

After many emails this week I now know the good people of Healdton, Oklahoma can have peace of mind..... there was no Gypsy curse placed on the town back in the mid 50s. 78 year old Gregory John Alvarez, king of the Gypsies for 20 years, died of a heart attack while visiting his son in Healdton around October 15, 1953 (not killed as recently rumored). A T&T Reader sent in the following clipping from the Healdton Herald newspaper:

Death of a Gypsy King
The Healdton Herald
Healdton, Carter County, Oklahoma
Thursday, October 15, 1953

Gypsy King Dies in Healdton

GREGORY JOHN ALVAREZ, King of the Gypsies for 20 years, died of a heart  attack in Healdton, Sunday, age 78 years. Alvarez was born in Lima, Peru in 1875, was married and came to the United States in 1904, settling at Walnut Cove, North Carolina, where all his children were born. He was a coppersmith working in the textile mills.

“The Old Man,” as he is lovingly called, came to Healdton to see a son and visit with friends along the way. He was a member of the Independent Lodge No. 23, A.F. & A.M. at Due West,  South Carolina, also a member of the Methodist Church. All the different tribes, including the EVANS, MITCHELLS, JOHNS, MILLERS,  URICKS and many other tribal names, are represented in the gypsy bands coming here to pay their respect to their deceased king. It is estimated that some 300 men, women and children are housed in trailers or occupying the packed cars in which they came. A majority of the tribes will meet in Washington, D. C. where the body is being sent for burial.

The original nomadic group came from Romania, but this tribe comes from Peru and are largely Portuguese speaking people. “The Old Man” spoke seven languages and when he and his wife wanted to talk so their children couldn’t understand them, they used a language not known to the children. The tribes, as a whole, follow the trades of silver, gold, and coppersmiths. They have been educated in public schools. For years they were a wandering people, but now most of them are settled in the principal cities. Son FRED ALVAREZ of Fort Lauderdale, Florida assured me when I asked a question about discrimination that he had not experienced it. As a bad, they still celebrate their feast days, particularly those near the Christmas time such as St. Ann’s, St. Joseph’s, St. Mary’s and Guadaruple(?). For their king, they will observed three Remembrance feasts, one at six weeks, one at six months, and the general feast at one year when all tribes meet from all parts of the country for the occasion and at this time, they decide on their next king. For the year of mourning, there is no dancing or singing. NOAH GRAVES says, “I have an entirely different conception of a gypsy tribe, during these days of close association.” This picturesque band of people coming together to show their love and esteem for their leader has found expression in the elaborate floral tributes to his memory. On the flower bordered pillow rests the majestic white head of the beloved king of the gypsies.

Blues and greens, reds and yellows are the colors of the skirts and blouses of the women; the black hair and eyes of the children gleam in the sunlight and the standard clothing of the men mingle together as Healdton people observe strange faces, manners and customs. As with all peoples, there are those of high and low degree and all will follow the body of “The Old Man” to Washington, D. C. where services will be held and burial will take place in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. The body will leave at 3:15 Thursday.

The family is grateful for the kindness and courtesy extended by Collier’s and they appreciate all the gestures of good will coming from the townspeople. The register carries the names of many Healdton people who have had an opportunity to show they believe in Liberty and Justice and the Rights of all men.

Survivors are his wife, JOSEPHINE of North Carolina; four sons, M. J., BOB, and BIMBIE of North Carolina, F. J. of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; two daughters GLORIA of North Carolina and RUBY ALVAREZ MILLER of Wilmington, Delaware, many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, brothers and sisters.
"This was a very common arrangement, especially in department stores ("dry goods stores"). It was used in many, perhaps all, C.R. Anthony stores when tbat was a powerhouse chain. The Famous Store, in my home town of Perry, Oklahoma, used the same thing. The last one I saw in use was at the Dixie Store, a department store in Chickasha, until the owners retired a few years ago and the store went out of business." -Wes Leatherock
Excerpt from "The Wilson News" Submitted by Mindy Taylor
Clippings from February 1916
~The family of Dr. E Payne who lives East of Ardmore and were shot from ambush some days ago are improving so much that they have been able to leave the sanitarium for their homes.
~The foundation has been laid at the northwest corner of Fourth and Main for a new picture show. The proprietors, Messrs. Ed Deberry, L. H. Webb, and B. M Cole are well known men of our city and the News wishes them the best of success in their new enterprise.
~Wednesday night officers Braziel and Leach, after a careful search near Lone Grove, found a big whiskey plant where 28 cases of whiskey and 21 gallons of white mule were captured and taken to the United States Marshal's office. It seems that the whiskey runners would bring their stuff in from Texas, store it, and when a favorable opportunity arose, dispose of it to their customers.
~Dr. John W. Duke, State Health Officer of Oklahoma, has sent me a supply of Diphtheria antitoxin to be used in this part of the county. The state furnishes this medicine free to those that are unable to pay for it. If you are suffering from diphtheria, take this opportunity at once. Dr. Thos. W. Dowdy


Some mail from this week's MAILBAG.....

What the lady told you is true. There were Gypsies camped all around Colliers funeral home and anywhere there was an open spot. I believe the King died a natural death because there were many Gypsies around before he died - waiting, I guess because he was sick. The final part of the story is that the Healdton High School Band accompanied the King being taken down Main street in Ardmore so he could be sent out by rail. All the Gypsies were in the parade with their wagons and colorful clothing, etc. I don't know if they paid the HHS band or if we were just volunteered. I played in that band and marched in that parade. There were also big headlines and stories in the Ardmoreite about all of these events. As for them putting a "curse" on Healdton - I have heard that, but have no idea if it is true. There appeared to be pretty good relations between the Gypsies and Healdton citizens. I guess this is "the rest of the story". -Roger Hughes
I lived in Healdton all my early years and after graduating in May 1953, I worked as a telephone operator for SW Bell. Late summer or fall, the King of the Gypsies died in Healdton. They came into Healdton with a Carnival and he passed away. The telephone switchboard suddenly lit up with long distance calls all over the country and overseas as members called other parts of the family with the bad news. It was quite exciting placing all those long distance calls for the family. I’m sure the Healdton Herald Archives have write-ups about the unusual activities surrounding the funeral preparations. I don’t know where the man was buried after the service or even his name, but am sure his name and family information were in the local paper. I married and left town in December, so I haven’t heard anything about a curse. People were really wary of them because they were so strange to the locals…. but they did spend a lot of money for the funeral/flowers/long distance service etc,. I’m sure there were conspiracy stories way back then too. Anything exciting like that would be bound to have stories galore. -Hyla Hart, Wichita, Kansas
Hello Butch, Vince here. I remember the King of the Gypsies death in Healdton very well. It was 56 and I was 12 or 13. I actually went into Collier Bro's Funeral Home and saw him in the casket. I was 10 years old. My sister in law and nieces lived in the house next to the Funeral Home. My brother was in the Air Force stationed in Korea. His wife and daughters stayed in Healdton around family while he was gone. Gypsies came in from everywhere. Some in fancy cars like Cadillacs and Chryslers all the way to covered wagons. Many dressed in the traditional Gypsy apparel. Things were disappearing and fast. The King was traveling through Healdton when he died, was not living here. The body was eventually taken to Ardmore and shipped by train to Washington DC for burial. Healdton was a very active vibrant town in those days. The Gypsies were everywhere and not acting all that well. The new King did put a curse on The City of Healdton upon leaving. I've got more info if needed.
Butch, reading the story this week about the gypsies in Healdton. I don’t know anything about that particular story, but I remember a story my mom told about the gypsies coming thru town. She said her mother would let them stay on the property and would even feed them. Then by morning they would be gone and have stole chickens. Not sure of the year or even the town, Healdton or maybe Fox. My mom was born in 1926. -David Murphey
We are having our Memorial day service on the 25th. Service begins at 9:30 AM at the Confederate section of Rosehill in Ardmore. Asking everyone to bring a law chair if they have one, we will have some spares if not. -Terry Pierce
Here is a rare postcard of The Chickasaw Nation Harley Institute, Native American male boarding academy school, Tishomingo, Oklahoma in 1909. -Robert Hensley

“Real estate cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full, and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

See everyone next week!

Butch and Jill Bridges

"Friends Make Life Worth Living"
PO Box 2
Lone Grove, Oklahoma 73443



Vicious Dog Attacks in Oklahoma
Oklahoma Bells:
Bill Hamm's Cemetery Database
American Flyers Memorial Fund - Administration Webpage
Ardmore Army Air Field/Ardmore Air Force Website
Carter County Government Website

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