PO Box 2, Ardmore, Oklahoma 73402
Over the past 15 years I’ve been blessed to have many Readers helping contribute to my Oklahoma History website. When a long time T&T Reader and contributor passes away it leaves a void, and I miss being able to contact that old timer and ask their years of knowledge on southern Oklahoma history. I was thinking this week how I wish Ernest Martin was still here, I’d ask him about the most unusual home in Ardmore, Oklahoma. A very unusual house and unknown to 99 percent of Ardmoreites. The house I speak of was built in 1925 across the street west from Franklin school at 6th and Wolverton where Ernest went to grade school. Dorn Moore Grocery was across the street to the north. I just know Ernest could tell us more info about the house and its original owner if he were still alive today.
The unusual house is located at 519 Wolverton NW, built in 1925 by William C. DeWitt. Another Reader, who recently passed away, told me she remembers as a kid seeing 4 or 5 workers in Mr. DeWitt’s cigar factory hand rolling those cigars. I would love to go inside the old DeWitt homeplace and look it over, take some pictures, but since it is privately owned, I’ll probably never get to do that. Today the home is in some disrepair, time taking its toll on the house and property. One thing that makes this home so noticeable from the street is the two huge rock ‘turrets” at the entrance. I know there must be a story behind the rock ‘turrets’ and why Mr. DeWitt constructed them back in 1925. Back in 2005 I had a write-up, that best describes Mr. DeWitt and his unusual home. From my December 18, 2005 newsletter:
ARDMORE MAN OWNS HOUSE OF WONDERS.
Relics From All Over Face Of Globe Displayed.
July 5, 1925 – Ardmore – This city has a house (519 Wolverton NW) of a thousand wonders. It is the home of William DeWitt. DeWitt has been a globetrotter and explorer of out of the way places. Business has taken him to many lands, and while in distant countries, he has always collected articles of interest. He is placing them in his home here, which is a very unique building from the standpoint of architecture and from the fact that it is built of fourteen-inch-rock from a Carter County quarry. The fireplace in the DeWitt home is one of the unusual features. It has petrified animal bones imbedded in the concrete. Then there are the mounted heads of many animals, fossils and odd relics of various races of people, and from this country there are such articles of historic value as old newspapers and relics of various periods in American history. -The Daily Ardmoreite
This is the cigar factory located behind the old DeWitt homeplace on 6th Street.
This is a better view of the rock ‘turrets’ at the entrance of the house.
Close-up of rock column or ‘turret’ as someone called it.
Boy would I love to do a close up examination of the DeWitt fireplace!
The following is from Ardmoreite Sally Gray’s (1923-1910) book Territory Town- The Ardmore Story: The DeWitt Cigar and Tobacco Company in 1915 was located just two doors east of the railroad on East Main. On impulse the day before the Great Explosion he decided to move his desk away from the plate glass window facing Main Street to the back of the room, thereby escaping injury although most of the employees of the company were hurt in the disaster and the cigar factory destroyed.
The cigar company, which had come into being about 1910, moved to 538 6th Avenue NW after the catastrophe, and shortly thereafter, owner William C. DeWitt built his family home directly in front of the factory on Wolverton Street. The home, though not the most elaborate in Ardmore, had to be the most unusual. He hauled limestone from Tishomingo area and sandstone from Lake Ardmore for the seven room dwelling. For strength he used railroad iron for the porch pillars and for the footing. For luck, DeWitt placed stone from each state in the union for the footing, and the roofs of both house and garage were copper covered with metal tile. A touch of whimsy was the insertion of small stones on the north and south sides of the house as well as the garage, arranged in the shape of a cigar, complete with ash tip.
Inside the home reposed two claw foot bathtubs. French doors were paned with beveled glass and lightning was achieved with overhead brass fixtures. These fixtures held bulbs by the Jewel Incandescent Light Company of NJ, and when a later resident sold the house and moved, he took the bulbs with him. In 1984 they were still burning. Neighbors were astounded. They predicted the cost of the house my run as high as $5,000!
The cigar factory was a happy group. Edith DeWitt frequently spent the entire day making tamales for them. Her husband had his own idea of diet and kept a large bowl of crackers soaked in milk in the middle of the dining room and generously shared this treat with the entire family.
Natives of Indiana, the DeWitts came to Ardmore about 1907 and first opened a billiard parlor at 17 North Washington. Before he was tall enough to reach the table, little Garrett, who was always known as Happy, stood on a box and perfected his game of pool. His talent was exceptional, and he took on all comers and gave exhibitions until he got tuckered out. Then, he climbed up on the table and took a nap. He loved moving pictures and went to the theater every day. When be became old enough to drive a car, he promoted the family business by touring the country in a Ford car enclosed in a wooden frame shaped like a cigar.
DeWitt bought tobacco from Cuba, Virginia, and North Carolina producing three grades of cigars, Cuban being the top of the line. In 1920 he made a trip to Cuba to visit the tobacco districts and when his ship sailed from New Orleans, he found himself in the company of three men with Ardmore connections, Judge James Humphrey on his way to Panama, A Mr. Lively and E.S. Bagley, former teachers in Ardmore High School. DeWitt’s business prospered and provided employment for several men and women but with the coming depression in the thirties, cigars became a luxury that not many could afford and the company was forced to close its doors.
Tonya Rangel gave me an interesting book last week. Its a copy of the 1909 Sears Roebuck catalog. Sure got a lot of stuff in it. Shame the type is so small, one can hardly read the text under the pictures. I have my great grandmother’s magnifying glass from I know in the 50s, guess I’ll use it.
We still have 1 nurse to identify in the group photo taken in 1981 of some Ardmore Memorial Hospital nurses. I hope someone can come up with the name. Here is the list:
01 Marquita Johnson McGee
02 Carolyn Smith
03 Judy Knox
04 Sue Wiley
05 Brenda something ?
06 Virginia Camp
07 Sandy Farney
08 Dave Moser
09 Shirley Anderson
10 Betty Thomas
11 Marla Weldon
12 Sheri (Broughton) Hamblin
13 Dee Clark
14 Ann Willis
15 Linda Darling
16 Villine Brown
17 Peggy Parker
SOAPBOX: I talked to the police department in Madill, Oklahoma today and was told the town of Madill and Kingston, Oklahoma already had ordinances in place pertaining to keeping pit bull dogs within those city limits. I wonder when Ardmore and Lone Grove are going to do something about the problem? Or better yet, when is Oklahoma going to do something about this growing problem ?
From This and That newsletter archives May 9, 1998:
“The epicenter of that quake was north of Lawton near Richard’s Spur… I was in my pickup at the time and just thought I had developed a shimmy in the steering. Most people thought Ft Sill was firing some new weapon.”
From This and That newsletter archives May 9, 1998:
This week I met a man who is an exception. My aunt and uncle (Gary Pruitt) are both 87 years old. They were mailed a $275 check from their kin in Jefferson, Texas. It was addressed wrong and went to another part of town. The man who did receive the handwritten letter has a very similar last name, so not paying attention, opened the letter with the check in it. He could have very easily forged the name and cashed the check. But he was an exception to the norm, and called, and I went over to his house in the southeast and picked up the check. Gary Pettit is made from the right stock… honest, we need more in this world. -Butch
Q. What was the first town in Oklahoma to enjoy electricity?
A. Vinita, Oklahoma
Q. OKC is the only state capital in the US with a oil well under it. What is the name of the well?
A. (answer in next week’s newsletter)
Gas prices today in the Ardmore area……
https://oklahomahistory.net/gasprices.htmlSome mail from this week’s MAILBAG…..
“Don’t know if you’ve heard but Mom and Pop’s at Lake Murray re-opened this week, got me a pretty good cheeseburger there this morning, it sits just a few feet south from where the old building sat.”
“I purchased on eBay a copper print plate that was probably used to print on the paper milk cartons produced by Tom Cooper Farms. I have been unable to find a print shop here in Benton County Arkansas who can print from the plate. Is there possibly a reader of your newsletter who knows where Tom Cooper Farms had their paper milk cartons printed. Below is a copy of the copper print plate.”
Bella Vista, Arkansas
“A short story on Betty Thomas, nurse at the hospital (#10 in photo). She was from Healdton and so were we! When I had my first son Charlie in 1966, no one could come see me except during visitors hours, Phil worked for Sutherland Well Service and he didn’t make it in in time to see us, so she said tell him to come to the back door stairway and I’ll let him in…she did…made us so happy! We were only 17 & 20…She was such a wonderful person and a great nurse!! You never forget the kindness someone shows you at that age!! Thank you Miss Betty!” -Linda
“Last week, I made my bi-weekly trip to Wal-Mart. I try to get there fairly early so I can get a scooter. And also to beat the Veteran Center and Senior Citizen buses, who get there 9:00 am sharp. And take up all the scooters. I got a good scooter, full charge and got my grocery list out and glasses on to read my hen scratchin note. I had made a few aisles and noticed, that most of the things, I have on my list are on the top or next to top shelves. I know, I know, something has to be up there. Anyway I am looking for a certain brand of tomatoes, and see them sitting on the next to top shelf. As I am attempting to pick myself up out of the scooter, here comes a nice looking woman, about 40ish and says “Can I help you get one of those?” Sure, I said. So she picks up a can and starts to hand it to me and notices the can is bent. She said “Oh, you don’t want that one, the can is bent.” And put it back and got me another one. I chuckled and said, “Thanks Mother.” She laughed and said, “Your Mother taught you well too.” We both left in different directions laughing. She made my day. Thank you Lord for people like her. There are still a lot of them out there in this old crooked world.” -Ken in Wilson
“Butch, in response to your Soap Box entry of April 28 in the T&T – I do not access Facebook therefore cannot post an entry. However, I would like to express my total agreement with your position regarding Pit Bulls. My most recent experience occurred at the Prescott Farmer’s and Flea market on a lovely summer day. An arrogant seeming man with a Pit Bull arrived and shortly after his arrival the dog broke the leash and attacked a small dog, also on a leash at one of the vendor booths. When the owner/vendor rushed to pick up her dog from the jaws of the Pit Bull, it tore a huge piece of flesh from her arm. Her dog was killed and she was taken by ambulance to the hospital. I witnessed this, and there was no provocation whatever by the vendor’s little dog. This breed of dog was bred to fight and kill. Even dogs of mixed breed with Pit Bull can be very unreliable as to temperament. A person I know has a service dog which is mixed breed with Pit Bull. I have witnessed the dog’s unprovoked behavior several times when in public. While I am a dog lover, and especially love big dogs, certain breeds should be registered and limited to public appearances as well as provided a fenced in habitat…not just a leash on a tree. . One other breed that I have witnessed as really unreliable in temperament and dangerous is the Australian dingo…again I have not only witnessed this but saved from being torn into shreds by quickly jumping into my car. I did not know Tony Cantrell, your long time friend, but was saddened to see the report of his death by a Pit Bull attack. How sad…a good man it appears unnecessarily lost his life from lack of legal restrictions on this breed of animal. My deepest sympathy goes to all of his family and friends.” -Fredrica Van Zant
“Hey Butch, it was good seeing you today. It’s been a long time. I wish we had other things to talk about, but since we lost Tony, it’s nice to see a friend that knows my family. I would ask everyone whether you know me or my family to keep us in your prayers to get us through this difficult time. Till we meet again,” -Tanda Cantrell Duncan (sister of Tony Cantrell)
The Daily Ardmoreite
November 19, 1944
ED ALLEN, ARDMORE PIONEER, TO OBSERVE 87th BIRTHDAY
One of the real pioneers of Southern Oklahoma, David Edward Allen (known among his friends as Ed Allen), will quietly celebrate his 87th birthday Monday, Nov. 27.
Allen, widely known as a carriage manufacturer, civic worker and sportsman, came to Ardmore in October, 1894, and the day after his arrival, he began painting the Santa Fe depot. He had $630 in his pocket he had earned at work in Illinois. Allen was born in Griggsville, Illinois, Nov. 27, 1857. He lived there and at Baylis in the same state until he moved to Indian Territory. At Baylis he worked as a painter and carriage trimmer for 15 years for L. F. Burch. Six months ago he heard from Baylis and Mrs. Burch was still living.
In the year 1883, Allen married Fama Jane Mason, a sister of Judge I. R. Mason. They reared two sons, Earl and Neal. Earl died after reaching manhood, Neal is married, has a wife and charming little daughter who live in the Allen home and take care of Mr. Allen. He lost Mrs. Allen in March, 1941.
BUILT CARRIAGE SHOP
When Allen first settled in Ardmore he built a home in the 200 block on North Washington Street and he has resided there all through the years. His first business venture in Ardmore was to buy a lot in the business district on East Broadway where Harry Moyer is located now at Mill and Broadway. He built a carriage shop and put in a blacksmith shop. John F. Havens started in as a partner and had charge of the blacksmithing end of the business and Allen reparied carriages and repainted them and put the fringe around the top and upholstered the cushions. He soon bought out Havens and hired him to operate the blacksmith end of the business.
Ed Allen made carriages to order, he made delivery wagons for merchants. In the early days an owner was proud to get to drive a carriage made by Allen. Allen has always been a busy man who worked long hours and was always known for his skill and patience in turning out good work.
When the Rock Island railroad knocked on Ardmore’s door and offered to build a line in here and asked a bonus it was Ed Allen who collected the first money to pay off the bonus. The late ?. C. Potterf (There is an f on the end of Potter) was treasurer of the fund and it was to him that Allen reported his collections.
SERVED ON HAMON JURY
As a member of Carter County’s first grand jury he served with such men as Senator U. T. Rexroat, who was chairman. Allen served also on the notorious Hamon jury. He recalls that ? Wilkes, Gabe Newman and ? Davis also served on that jury.
Ed Allen took time from his business to help raise the funds to build Chickasaw Lake club and he helped to build the city lake. The city lake was built by funds gathered from the citiizens then afterward paid back when the people voted bonds for the program. There was no law for many items for cities to operate under Indian Territory and business men had to find their way to get things of a public nature done. Merchants Ed Alllen and Mike Gorman who are still here helped with the huge puzzling tasks that called for unselfishness and enterprise of judgment.
WINS HONORS AT SHOOTING
The one sport at which Ed triumphed was at shooting. Once taking all the honors at ? shoots he went to Kansas and was the winner there. He shot at clay pigeons and also live birds. he knocked down live birds without a miss. he went to Indianapolis to a big shoot and he did not do so well. His rate there was 88 clay birds out of 100. He was suffering from stage fright and he was overawed by the large groups of shooters and their fancy equipment. Here at home he shot with experts and won.
Mike Gorman tells of Ed having met one of the expert shooters on the home ground and when the expert broke 99 rocks out of possible 100 and Ed Allen broke 100, making a perfect score which is a most unusual achievement among men who follow the shooting.
MIKE GORMAN TELLS STORY
Allen likes to go hunting with Gorman, Bib Spragins, Ed Roberts and Bud Conlee. They went to the Kiamichis and also the Wichitas. On one occasion a man told of missing Allen at the camp in the Kiamichis and went out to hunt him. Allen was bad to get lost. When he found Allen he was carrying two turkeys into camp and he hung his coat on a limb to mark the spot where he had a big buck. Allen was still the best when the men were in the hunt camps.
The Daily Ardmoreite
Sunday, January 6, 1946
David Edward Allen
Funeral services for Ed Allen, pioneer resident of Ardmore, are to be at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Bettes funeral home chapel with the Rev. Homer Haislip of First Christian church officiating. Interment is to be in Rose Hill cemetery. Pallbearers are to be: Ernest Jameson, Farley Richmond, Edgar Sandlin, O. H. Holland, J. C. Harris and J. F. Buchanan. Honorary pallbearers are: I. R. Mason, John F. Easley, E. B. Pugh, A. C. Sies, Bill Hill, Hugh Cathey, Fred C. Carr, George Corhn, Stanley Forbes, Ira Vickers, Dr. R. E. Kieth, Dr. Walter Hardy, Dr. T. J. Jackson, Buck Parker, Mike Gorman, E. L. Evans, C. E. Sykes, Ran Webb, Sam McDaniel, Warren Martin, Marvin Franklin, Charles Foster, Holly Montgomery, Frank Helvey and T. G. Price. Mr. Allen, who had lived in Ardmore since 1894, died at his home on North Washington street on Thursday night. He had been in ill health for some time.
Compiled by Melinda Taylor
The Wilson News
October 27, 1916
BUILDING ACTIVITIES IN NEW WILSON FLOURISHING
And still the ring of the saw and hammer fills the morning air with the song of progress with a constancy which is an assurance of confidence in the future of our city.
Allie Means is rushing to completion a four-room bungalow on East Main Street.
Mr. Lindsay has made an addition to his home on the South side.
W. B. Gill is having completed a five-room residence on College Street which will be occupied by Mr. Collier, who is moving here from Ringling.
The Bennett four-room residence on College Street is about completed. It is to be occupied by young Mr. Holmes and wife.
Dr. Dowdy’s neat little residence in Northeast Wilson, is about completed and the doctor will soon be at home.
Claude Carlisle, of Pike, 25 miles south of Wilson, bought property here Monday of Mr. Ingram and will move to town.
Several Orr citizens were here this week buying property preparatory to becoming citizens of New Wilson.
We have thousands of obituaries. Visit us online at http://www.WilsonHistoricalMuseum.org Hours: Tues., Thurs., Fri., Sat. 10:00a.m. – 4:00p.m.
Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
See everyone next week!
Butch and Jill Bridges
PO Box 2
Lone Grove, Oklahoma 73443
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