PO Box 2, Ardmore, Oklahoma 73402
The Nelson Chigley Mystery – Part 2
By Michael G. “Mickey” Shackelford
My father, Fay H. Shackelford (longtime Davis pharmacist) delivered my older brother Joe Wyatt in a bedroom on the second floor of the Chigley Mansion in Davis, Oklahoma on September 21, 1939. Joe’s mother was a Chickasaw Indian named Garnet Pocahontas Chigley, daughter of Wyatt Chigley, a full blood Chickasaw and grandson of the founder of the City of Davis, Nelson Chigley. Mr. Chigley was a very prominent Chickasaw Indian serving as a Senator in their legislature for a few years and once even serving as acting Governor of the entire Chickasaw Nation for a brief period.
It was Nelson that built the white, two-story house in 1890 on the north side of town where it still stands tall today. Nelson was born in Mississippi near Memphis, Tennessee in 1834 or 1835, married Julia Push-Shuk-ka (Indian for Thomas) and moved to Indian Territory near what became Davis, Oklahoma about 1861. They had several children who grew up and lived in and around the area including Wyatt who studied law, ran a local hardware store and also served in the Chickasaw Legislature. Wyatt Chigley was my half-brother Joe’s grandfather and he later committed suicide in yet another room of that big house in the year Joe was born. Joe’s mother Garnet also died in the house in 1949 just before my brother turned ten. Joe was the last direct descendent of Nelson Chigley to live in the house. Murder, suicide, guns, war, oil, mystery and lots more tales can be told about Nelson Chigley, his family and the old mansion where they all lived at one time or another after it was built.
I remember a schoolmate of mine broke his arm when he fell out of a tree located near the house during his birthday party. We always thought the house had a curse or was haunted in some way. There were stories of hangings, shootings and suicides as far back as I can remember as a young boy. Percy Jones, a once rich land and cattle man from Texas bought the house from my father and occasionally used it for parties or weekend getaways. He even kept a longhorn steer that we called “Bevo” on the property for years that was supposed to have the longest spread from the tip of one horn to the tip of the other horn. Lots of people would stop to take pictures of the large beast as he lay somewhat casually around the enormous yard that surrounded the big house. Others took pictures of the Chigley Mansion, most not knowing anything at all about the history or even the unofficial name of the only house in town that was oriented in a true North-South direction. The remainder of the town was
laid out parallel or perpendicular to the Santa Fe Railroad tracks that disected the town running in a Northwesterly- Southeasterly direction a few degrees off true north.
I grew up in a house in Davis located across the street from Mose Chigley, Jr. and never heard him tell him tell any stories about any gravesites on the property. He did tell me lots of stories about hunting, fishing and farming with his ancestors and he also taught me a few of those things as well. Mose Jr. and his wonderful wife Wanda Lou lived about 2-3 blocks east of the Mansion in a large house bungalow style house on Main Street where the Sooner Foods store is now located. The house and property encompassed almost the entire block, except for a couple of rock houses at the Northwest corner of the block. He had lots of farm animals and critters running around everywhere including chickens, goats, peacocks and a large sheepdog that protected the grounds very effectively even with the extremely long hair that covered its eyes completely.
Our house had been built by the Hutchins Funeral Home and Furniture family. Their family lived there for many years before we did, but they left lots of treasures for my younger brother Ronald and I to explore in the attic storage area including a rather large trunk full of stuff for young boys to get into including game boards, tennis rackets and other relics of a time long gone by, but loads of fun for my brother to enjoy. That house has now also been razed and ironically Krien Funeral Home stands where once stood the home of my family for nearly 30 years. Mrs. Hutchins was the first woman Funeral Director and embalmer to be licensed by the State of Oklahoma and now another woman, Gayle Krien now operates a Funeral Home on her former homesite, on the very site where I grew up. An artist did a wonderful drawing of the house that hangs in the Krien Funeral Home as it was when I lived there. Gayle recently obtained a copy of it for me and I will place it on the website soon.
If anyone knows anything more on the location of the burial place of Nelson Chigley or the history of the Chigley Mansion or just the history of the Chigleys in general, please write to me at email@example.com or visit my temporary website dedicated to Nelson at
http://home.comcast.net/~mcshack/site/ and leave a comment. Also, if anyone knows anything of the history of the old, white, two-story house that once stood at 610 E. Main Street in Davis, OK, let me hear from you as well.
Last Saturday Jill and I made it around noon to the Murray County Tractor Show north of Sulphur. There must have been thousands of people. Everywhere you turned there was something to do and see. Jill had never really seen a field of cotton up close and that exhibit was very informative to see. Cotton was king around 1900s around Ardmore, before the discovery of oil.
After the tractor show, Jill and I stopped by Bill Uhles home at Sulphur, as he had some seeds for Jill’s garden. Bill must have had at least 15 different kinds of seeds, and Jill is so excited about it all. She has planted a few, very few, and can’t wait until next Spring to do some planting with the rest of the seeds Bill gave her.
Of course, while at Bill’s I had to take a couple pictures of his beautiful Castor Bean Tree. This is the first one I’ve seen in person, and the wood is beautiful. We can’t wait until ours is grown (takes about a year).
Bill Uhles and I would like to start a seed swapping co-op, so if you have some seeds you’d like to trade, Bill and I are ready to do some swapping. Jill don’t have a whole lot of seeds yet, but she is willing to trade any of our seeds for something of special interest others may have around the yard. Send us an email! You can email Bill Uhles in Sulphur at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week Jill and I went to the dedication of the new memorial marker at the depot in memory of those who died in the Big Explosion of 1915. The dedication was a part of the Taste of Ardmore, and if you didn’t make it that night, you missed out on a great time. A thank you goes to Tom Walker who was the MC for the memorial dedication and also a special thanks to Wilson Monuments of Lone Grove who donated the beautiful granite marker.
During the Taste of Ardmore and Black Gold Festival last Thursday, there was a trolley available to take folks on a tour of the downtown area. Tom Walker gave insights to the places of interest along the route as the trolley moved from place to place. (By the way, if you haven’t been on one of his “Walking Tours” of downtown Ardmore, you have missed out on a ton of local history.)
And to top the evening off, just as Jill and I were walking to the car, someone hollered at me, motioning me over to his pickup. It was Jerry and Ruth Holley from out at Dickson. Jerry had just come from a garage sale, and ran across a real piece of history. He found at the sale an old Stanley #45 Planer. And if that was not enough, the planer came with a wooden box that held the metal cutters. I didn’t get a picture of the actual box with the lid off, but inside were about 10 different size cutters. I don’t know what Jerry gave for this antique planer, but I can tell you on the internet they go for around $150 bucks. I doubt if there is another wood plane like this one in Ardmore.
Speaking of antiques, we stopped in at Antiques Etc on Main Street last Thursday evening before the Taste of Ardmore and Black Gold Festival, and as we browsed through the room after room after room of antiques and collectables, I spotted an item that should seem right at home in the store. You see, B. L. Owens Furniture used to be located in the building where Antiques Etc is located today. I know as a kid back in the late 50s B.L. Owens Furniture was one of the few places in Ardmore where you could buy one of those new fang dangled things called a TV. My folks bought several TVs from B.L. Owens and they were made in the USA and of the finest quality. Back in those days, all TVs in the world were made here in the good old US of A. Today not a single TV is manufactured in this country. Times change. Anyway, in one of the display rooms was a B L Owens Furniture sign.
Albert and Rita Cullum at Overbrook celebrated their 53rd Wedding anniversary this week. Al stopped by to show me a handmade quilt he had Calico Country Crafts on Main Street make for the occasion. The blanket was a surprise gift and Al said he had a hard time sneaking photos out of the house without his wife knowing it. lol It is a beautiful blanket, with family photos and relatives and even a picture of their wedding license stitched into the blanket. The pic I took below does not do justice for this hand crafted blanket.
After Harold Newman completed drilling our water well to a depth of 185 feet and placing 4 1/2 inch PVC pipe (not 4 inch) down the hole, he finished it up by dropping pea gravel down the outside of the PVC. The pea gravel is small, about 3/8 inch, and can only be found in one place in Oklahoma according to Harold, near Asher Oklahoma. Here is a picture I took of a small pile of pea gravel he left on the ground near the well………..
Does anyone know where near Asher, Oklahoma this pea gravel can be found?
I’ve joined www.OklahomaGasPrices.com and become one of the local Spotters to help keep up-to-date the gas prices in and around Ardmore on OklahomaGasPrices.com databases. I’ve had a lot of fun doing it too, and helping others find the cheapest gas in town. I remember in the 50s and 60s my folks, and probably a lot of others, would go to 2 or 3 grocery stores trying to save money by following the grocery ads that came out in the newspaper. I swear they’d have a list made out and buy several items at one store, then go to another and buy several more items, and then on to another store. All because one store had certain items cheaper than others, so they picked the best prices. Anyway, if you are looking for the cheapest gas prices, just go to the link below. I also have a link to it from my main webpage at Oklahomahistory.net
Visit the Oklahoma History Boards, start a topic if you want too!
Q. Where is the nation’s largest helium plant?
A. Keyes, Oklahoma
Q. Who was President when Oklahoma became a state?
A. (answer in next weeks T&T)
Some mail from this week’s MAILBAG…..The Ardmore High School Class of 1953 will have it’s 55th reunion October 3rd and 4th. Registration and a bar-b-que dinner will be Friday Oct 3rd at Bed and Berth Lodge at Lake Murray at 6:00 PM. Saturday morning Oct 4th the class will meet in the basement of the Presbyterian Church at 10:00 AM for coffee and donuts and Class meeting. At 2:00 PM Sat. the class will take the trolley for a tour of Ardmore with Judge Tom Walker serving as tour guide. Sat. night the group will meet at Dornick Hills Country Club for Dinner.
For additional information classmates and friends of the class can contact Max Montgomery at 580-276-3164 or online at: email@example.com
“Across from Franklin School, J.D. Lane grocery was at 6th ave & E St NW in the 1920s. The building is still there on the SE corner and the name can still be seen up on the North side. I was driving by and saw it which triggered my memory. I went to Franklin School from about ’31-’35 and recall the sign then but I don’t recall whether the store was still operating in the ’30s. Highway 77 was on E Street then and the Ardmore Police Dept had a man there to make cars stop for kids at the crossing, then in the middle of the block facing the then school’s front door. I was one of the “Junior Police”, something of an honor, who actually held out the ‘stop’ flags while the policeman stood by -kindly “Ole Man Naylor”, not in uniform but with a badge and gun. He once fired at a car that failed to stop but it kept going. I recently gave away my white canvas sam brown belt, marked “JUNIOR POLICE”, that we wore when we were doing our thing” -Bob McCrory
“Correna Wilson-Pickens and her daughter have written a wonderful, powerful Christian book entitled SHELTERED IN HIS ARMS. It’s due to be published mid-October. Correna is going to present the book Saturday Oct 25th at 10a.m. at the Wilson Public Library. I think they’re going to acknowledge the Danny Hull Growing Up in Rural Oklahoma book at that time also.” -James Clark
Video of Route 66
“I am attaching the probable last resting place of Nelson Chigley. It is in an actual Chickasaw Cemetery next to their Casino at I-35 and Davis exit. The place used to be called Lone Hill in the days Nelson Chigley was still around.” -Tuklo Nashoba
“Butch, can you or maybe a reader of the T&T can tell me what kind of tree the so called horse apples grow on? It’s the big green knobby pods that I am referring to. I was told by a teacher many yrs ago that they were Bow dark trees that our native Americans made bows from and that they called them Bow-wood trees. However this is still word of mouth. Thanks.” -Don G.
“I certainly remember the leopard. I was a reporter for The Daily Oklahoman and was assigned to the night shift covering the story. A command post was set up at the zoo and most of the information came out of the command post (don’t know if “command post” was the terminology used then.)
I had a company car with a telephone, a rarity in those days. There were only one or two company cars with phones, and I believe the one I had was rotated among the reporters covering the search, which went on 24/7 for several days.
Lot of volunteers set out across eastern and northeastern Oklahoma to participate in the search, most of them carrying firearms. I thought at the time, and most agreed with me, that there was more danger from this disorganized group of armed hunters, especially as they blundered around in the night, than from any leopard. Surprisingly no accidents or injuries were reported.” -Wes Leatherock
“Butch: My daughter son in law and 2 grandchildren live just north of Houston, Hurricane Ike knocked out their power and blew down about all their trees, knocking out some of their privacy fence. They tried to find a generator that would give them enough power to run the house and help with cleanup. There were no generators to be found! My daughter started to Healdton all the while looking for a generator, she called me and I started looking, I checked from Ft Worth all the way to OKC, no generators to be found! While looking and calling one of my daughters long time friends from Wilson called to ask how my daughter was after going through the Hurricane? I explained she need a generator and I could not find one anywhere! A few minutes later she called back and said her and her husband had one they would loan my daughter! Exactly what my daughter needed! She said she and husband Berry would deliver it to my house at 8:00 pm the exact time my daughter would arrive from Houston! The Lord works in mysterious ways!
The daughter returned home with generator and in just one day they had just about cleaned up their place, cut all trees up and patched their fence! Their electricity came on a couple of days later! I know my daughter and son in law will always be grateful to Sarah and Berry Hickman of Wilson Oklahoma.” -Hoot Gibson
A few pics of Ike:
“Hello Butch, my name is Travis Gore, and I am writing you to see if anyone around has some good stories on my grandfather. His name is Lonnie Rooney. He was an old time rancher that has alot of history in these parts. He was county commissioner of district 3 and also a deputy sheriff back in the day. I figure alot of your readers might have some things to say about him. I am his only grandson and never got to hear all of his stories back in the haydays. He died when I was 15 years old, out in the lot feedin his bramer cattle and got knocked down by an ole mama cow, and never recovered from it in the hospital. He and my grandma Thelma also wintered all the stock for Gene Autry at the flying “A” ranch up at Berwyn. Grampa was born in Davis by the name of Ronnie Looney, and one time when he was young, an announcer called his name out Lonnie Rooney, and all the ole rodeo hands back then just knew him by that name. He later changed his name to that, and the rest is history. Just wondering if some people might have some stories of grampa, I would love to here them. Keep up the good work on the T&T! My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org thanks.”
“Dear Butch, It is always interesting when I see something in T&T that touches my past in Ardmore. Last week J. James mentioned two people I haven’t thought about in a long time. (I was catching up on my reading).
Ray Ricketts attended Charles Evans and was in class at least two years that I attended school there. We were both in Mrs. Ritchie’s fifth grade class and Mrs. Smith’s sixth grade class. I remember Ray because he was one of only a hand full of students that had to wear glasses at that age. The other students who wore glasses then were Barbara Colvert and Becky Cochran (that I remember).
Mrs. Osborn taught senior English during my last two years at AHS. I had Mrs. Sparger for senior English but many of my friends had Osborn in 1964-65. A friend of mind borrowed my term paper that I had received an “A” for and turned it in to Mrs. Osborn for his assignment. He only received a “B” and I never heard the end of it.
Away from school, Mrs. Osborn liked to bowl because I saw her often at Ten Pin Lanes on Grand Avenue. I think she also bowled at Ken Cliff Lanes but I just don’t remember any longer.” -Monroe Cameron
“You had someone ask if anyone remembers Doc’s Pig Stand in Ardmore. My earliest memories probably go back to the early 1950’s. It was located about a block east of Washington on US 70 on the south side of the road. It had an awning on the east side of the building where the carhops operated. There may have been an awning on the west side of the building but I can’t remember. The door was on the northwest corner of the building. Inside you walked past a row of stools to about 3 booths in the back. The grill was on the east wall behind the counter.
I remember “Doc” as being a stout man, but I don’t think I ever knew his name. The same woman cooked in the mornings there for years. I remember her as being tall but don’t think I ever knew her name. My dad ate breakfast there almost every morning between 6 and 7 a.m. and that is when I would be there most often, with him. He ate the same thing every morning, a cheese omelet. She always called my dad “O.C.” It was always a magic time for me because it was my first exposure to men getting ready to go to work and the banter between them over their breakfast coffee.
I remember there was always a punchboard somewhere on the counter for those who wanted to try their hand at small time gambling.
Once during the summer of 1961 my dad and I were working on the service station he was building in Mannsville and we had a day laborer that my dad had used many times over the years. After we finished work, we drove back into town and went to Doc’s to eat. We got out of the pickup and my dad and I went in the front door. Our helper went to the back door for service because he was black. That is when it finally dawned on me that we really lived in a segregated society. I knew that blacks had to sit in the balcony at the Tivoli and that they had their own water fountain in various stores in town but that incident at Doc’s focused the issue for me and I had a long discussion with my dad after that incident.
Later in high school during the mid sixties my friends and I would occasionally grab a burger in the evening at Doc’s and maybe a beer but it always depended on who was working outside.” -Monroe Cameron
Beautiful Mountains, The Wichitas
by Joy Carolyn Willingham
Medicine Park, Oklahoma
Ah, beautiful indeed!
I’m glad you came to share these sights,
of buffalo roaming free,
Of prairie dogs, and giant elk,
of deer and longhorn cattle,
It makes me wish we had a horse
and a week up in the saddle.
Everywhere there’s wildflowers,
every color we’ve been told.
Indian Blankets warm the ground,
with their hues of red and gold.
Mt. Scott invites us up to his top
to gaze out endlessly.
We wind his narrow road around
Until we reach his peak.
I do! I see forever,
Oh look an eagle flies!
My soul rejoices in the sights
They’ll be in my dreams tonight.
See everyone next week!
Butch and Jill Bridges
PO Box 2
Lone Grove, Oklahoma 73443https://oklahomahistory.net
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American Flyers Memorial Fund – Administration Webpage
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Ardmore Army Air Field/Ardmore Air Force Base Website
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Carter county schools, past and present
Carter County Government Website
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