PO Box 2, Ardmore, Oklahoma 73402
I was looking through a 2006 newsletter and ran across an email sent to me by Kenneth Eck. Kenneth shared a lot of history in that one email to me, and I wanted to share it with everyone this evening.
Last week when I wrote about Pooleville, it occurred to me that it would be interesting to write about all of the communities that started springing up in Picken?s and later Carter County. All of this information is coming from Mary Frost?s Thesis in preparation for her Master?s Degree at OU.
?Early settlements were made in the Washita Valley, in the neighborhood of the present Berwyn. In 1870 a ferry known as Henderson?s Ferry was established on the Washita River. A store was opened and a village which was called Lou grew up. Later the name of the town was changed to Dresden. When the railroad was built through the region in 1887, the station near by was given the name Berwyn. In 1941, Berwyn was changed to Gene Autry, to honor the motion picture actor who has recently acquired a ranch in that neighborhood. The old village of Lou or Dresden has disappeared.
Another settlement which was important in the early life of the county was Newport, fifteen miles northwest of Ardmore. It was located in a good farming region; and after statehood it became a custom to start the biennial political campaigns with a rally at Newport, since it was a central point. A free barbeque was provided, and people came from all over the county. Often state candidates were present. Each candidate was given a chance to state his platform, and some pretentious oratory was heard. The meetings were good examples of ?grass roots? politics, for a majority of the audiences were country people. The population of the community has decreased with industrialization in the county.
The town of Lone Grove grew up in a farm and ranch region on the prairies west of Ardmore in the 1880?s. It had sufficient population to become an incorporated village under the Curtis Act of 1898. Its population has increased greatly, but the town still maintains a trade territory. It has one of the large consolidated schools of the county.
Hewitt was also one of the pioneer settlements in the western part of the county. A community and school existed there by 1885. When the Ringling Railroad was built to Ringling, in 1913, Hewitt was passed by and the new town of Wilson was built. The name Hewitt has been preserved in one of the largest oil fields in the county.
The town of Ardmore was founded in 1887, when the Santa Fe railroad extended its line to that point north from Gainesville, Texas, and established a station there. The location chosen for the town was on the 700 Ranch property owned by Richard McLish, A.B. Roff, and L.P. Atkins. The town sprang up around the buildings of the old ranch, which stood as a landmark for many years. The only other dwelling in the neighborhood was on the homestead of the Stephen B. Douglas family, which had been built in 2886. This house also came within the limits of the town.
The first store in Ardmore was built by Frank and B.B. Frensley. It was a general merchandise store, which drew trade from Indians and settlers in the vicinity. The building was finished on July 28, 1887, a date chosen later to be celebrated as the birthday of Ardmore. (They just had their celebration last week.) Other stores and buildings were hurriedly put up, and the town appeared almost overnight. It extended east and west from the Santa Fe Depot (which was still a boxcar). It rapidly became the market for the products from the surrounding country, replacing Gainesville and other towns of north Texas. By 1890 a town of 2,000 stood where pastures, fields and forest had been a few months before. Blacksmith shops and livery stables were among the first business establishments.
The first blacksmiths were a Mr. Conahan and Joe Moody. J.H.Staffenburg established the first tailor shop. Pioneer doctors in Ardmore were Dr. Yarbrough, Dr. J.N. McNeese, Dr. A.J. Woolverton, Dr. Frederick P. Von Keller, a native of Alsace Lorraine, and Dr. Hardy. Most of these men spent the remainder of their lives in Ardmore and gave much time and effort to its development. Dr. Hardy and Dr. McNeese founded the first hospital between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas. Early in the history of the town, Dr. Von Keller established a hospital which has continued to the present. The Von Keller and Hardy hospitals have afforded hospitalization facilities to almost the whole of Southern Oklahoma.” (Remember this was written in 1942.) -Kenneth Eck
Kenneth Eck was a regular contributor to my newsletters sharing whatever information he had packed away from nearly 100 years on this earth. Many times over the past 10 or so years Kenneth would stop by my office and share some Oklahoma history. I always looked forward to his visits. When his health failed he was no longer able to operate his computer, eventually being moved from Healdton to Lawton where he remains today. I sure miss my talks with that little guy.
I had an email this week that brought back memories. They were asking if any place in this area sold tamales like Pick’s Hot Tamales made in Davis, Oklahoma years ago. I know it originally started in Sulphur, but I only remember it on the south edge of Davis on Highway 77. First on the east side of the highway, then it moved to the west side. We always had to stop when traveling through Davis and pick up a dozen.
I took this picture of the old Pick’s sign south of Davis in 1998.
In 1967 we had a Pick’s Hot Tamales at 513 South Washington in Ardmore.
September 1954 – The Daily Ardmoreite
STONE TO MARK RESTING PLACE OF NOTED HORSE
Newman Craddock, local funeral director, has given Florence Randolph a tombstone to mark the grave of her famous horse, Boy, who died this week and was buried on the grounds of the Randolph home north of Ardmore. The tombstone will be engraved by Craddock with the following inscription, “Boy, world’s championship trick riding horse. 1921-1954”
As of today we had $325 pledged toward the purchase of a granite memorial to be placed in Healdton in honor of the City’s police officers who have gave their lives in the line of duty. I do hope some more of you will join with us so we can make the dream a reality.
I sandblasted a remembrance paver last weekend for Carter County Court Clerk Billie Williams. She passed away while serving as court clerk in 1988. Last Monday her daughter, Sherry Williams Cummings, placed the paver in the memorial section on the west side of the courthouse. And what made the occasion even more special, Monday was Billie Williams’ birth date, August 18th. 1940-1988.
Below is a photo of Sherry taken with present day Court Clerk, Karen Volino.
Speaking of pavers, thanks to a couple of friends in Waxahachie, Texas. I was able to get about 35 of the tan color pavers that I ran out of 2 months ago. I still have red pavers, but it seems the tan pavers are the most popular. I’m glad I got the tan color back in stock. If you told me you wanted a tan paver sandblasted when I was out of stock, send me another email and let’s see what we can do to get one made for you.
Q. What Oklahoma county has the most caves?
Q. Where is the sole archaeological park of Oklahoma?
A. (answer in next week’s T&T)
Oklahoma’s first state regulated oil field was at Healdton, Oklahoma.
From This and That newsletter archives of August 19, 2000:
But there is something strange at the Konawa, Oklahoma cemetery. A monument in memory of a teenage girl who died in 1917 at Konawa. On the grave stone it reads, “Murdered by human wolves”. I wonder what the message is here they are trying to tell?
Wetumka, Oklahoma is most widely known for the circus that never came to town during the early 50s. A circus promoter came into Wetumka, or at least he said he was a circus promoter, and sold tickets during the week to the townspeople for a circus that was suppose to be in town the coming Saturday. The circus never came, and the folks knew they were had by a quick talking con artist. The people of Wetumka still have their Sucker Day the last Saturday of August each year to celebrate the circus that never came.
I had some interesting visitors this week from Canada. Elmer McGinnis and his wife were in Ardmore doing some research on the infamous deputy sheriff Bud Ballew. Bud Ballew was the right hand man for Sheriff Buck Garrett, the most famous sheriff of this county for all time. The McGinnis’ are planning to do a book on Bud Ballew soon, and were seeking info. So I put them in touch with Bud Ballew’s great-granddaughter, Ann Ballew Carlton down in Natchez, Mississippi. Ann too, has been to Ardmore doing research on her famous Great Granddaddy Ballew, so I’m sure they will have lots to talk about!
Gas prices today in the Ardmore area……
Check gas prices by town or zip code anywhere in U.S.
Non-ethanol gas (pure gas) stations in the Ardmore area.
Some mail from this week’s MAILBAG…..
No emails this week to speak of. Most communications this week were posted on my Facebook (and there were a bunch). The 5,000 on my Facebook is really a low count. Many Facebook posts are posted by friends of my friends, so the real figure is much higher. I can see the day coming when Facebook or something similar may replace this newsletter.
“Die when I may, I want it said by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.” -Abraham Lincoln
See everyone next week!
Butch and Jill Bridges
PO Box 2
Lone Grove, Oklahoma 73443
Vicious Dog Attacks in Oklahoma
Bells of Oklahoma
Carter County Courthouse Paver Project
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Ardmore High School Criterions Online
Oklahoma Bells: https://oklahomahistory.net/bellpage.html
American Flyers Memorial Fund – Administration Webpage
Official American Flyers Memorial Website
Ardmore Army Air Field/Ardmore Air Force Base Website
Mirror Site of the Ardmore Army Air Field/Ardmore Air Force Website
Carter county schools, past and present
Carter County Government Website
All previous issues of This & That can be found on my Website.
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