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Vol 22  Issue 1,103  March 15, 2018

PO Box 2, Ardmore, Oklahoma 73402

Email: butchbridges@oklahomahistory.net, Phone: 580-490-6823

The Daily Ardmoreite, Ardmore, Oklahoma
Monday November 8, 1943

Curious Coincidence Marks Tragic Deaths of
Two Men Killed in Sunday Accidents

Air Base Sergeant Dies in Car-Truck Crash;
Transient Texan Plunges to Death From Third Floor of Carter County County Courthouse

Two deaths by violence, each independent of the other and yet both connected by a curious circumstance of coincidence, occurred Sunday morning and officers were kept busy with investigations most of the day.

The dead: T/Sgt. John P. Clark, 36, Ardmore army air base, killed when his car and a huge meat truck collided near the Avalon club south of town at 1:30am Sunday.

Otis Berry, 1224 North Akard, Dallas, about 40, who was killed when he either jumped or fell from the narrow corner window of the witness room on the third floor of the county courthouse. Berry was killed sometime early Sunday morning.

Connecting Link

The connecting coincidence hinged on the fact that a jacket found on the body of Berry was identified as one having been stolen early Saturday evening from Clark. Clark had reported theft of a quantity of clothing from his car.

Clark, in company with two other soldiers, T/Sgt. Leonard Gill and Sgt. Hugh G. Gwaltney, also of the air base, and Beatrice Scearce, Ardmore, was driving out of the parkway at the Avalon in Clark’s car. Clark was driving.

A large truck, owned by the Strickling truck lines, driven by Melvin Born, 516 Southwest 9th, Oklahoma City, was traveling south on U.S. highway 77. With Born was a sailor, T.W. Roberts, Norman, who was riding with the truck as a passenger.

The two vehicles crashed, demolishing the Packard, and seriously damaging the truck which ground on for a distance and turned over.

Clark was caught in the wreckage and mangled. None of the others was seriously injured. Gill was bruised and slightly cut but was not sufficiently injured to require more then temporary first aid.

Clark had been acting as assistant to the billeting officer at the chamber of commerce for some weeks. His home address is given as 504 South Bonnie Brae, Los Angeles. His wife, Mrs. Janette Gray Clark, is postmistress at Wilton, N.D. They have two daughters, 11 and 9 years of age. His mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Clark, live in Jacksonville, Texas. He had been at the Ardmore base for some months.

The body was taken in charge by Bettes funeral home and was dispatched by the army to his parents’ home for burial.

Fall Is Fatal

The case of Berry is concealed in uncertainty. Berry, who was identified only by a social security card found in his pocket, is not known locally. John Smithers, deputy sheriff, said he saw the man late Saturday and apparently intoxicated on Main street. The officer was trapped in traffic and by the time he had extricated himself, the man had disappeared.

Clark reported theft of clothing from his car to police and said a man roughly fitting Berry’s description had been seen about the vehicle.

Sunday morning at 8am a passerby on the south side of the courthouse saw the crumpled body at the edge of the southwest corner of the building and notified police.

Officers investigated and Berry, his head crushed by impact with a concrete curbing around the shrubbery was found. He had been dead at least five hours, doctors said.

He was in his stocking feet, had a small sum of money on his person, wore Clark’s blouse and the social security card was only papers.

Through Narrow Window

A narrow window, less than a foot in width and the sash only two and a half feet tall, on the third floor of the courtroom was broken.

The window opens into a small room used as a witness chamber off the district court. In the room, officers found a pair of shoes, two hats, cigarette butts and a few capsules of some drug. A large coat rack had been turned over but a number of chairs were still erect and there was no other sign than the overturned rack of any disturbance. Fragments of the shattered glass were largely inside the building and on the floor of the room.

Tom Kyle, police chief, Gerald Tebbe, assistant county attorney, and sheriff’s officers sent a call to Oklahoma City and three state investigators were called in.

After considering all the apparent facts, the officers came to the conclusion that Berry had entered the courthouse through the first floor lobby, which is never locked, had made his way into the district courthouse and into the witness room.

For some reason, not known, they believe he then raised the narrow window sash and either leaped out or fell out. As he cleared the sill, the sash fell with sufficient force to shatter the glass. Berry plunged about 40 feet, his head striking full on the low concrete curbstone.

There are three other sizable windows in the small room, which for a number of years was used as a private office for visiting district judges. How it happened the man picked the narrow window is not known.

His body was also taken in charge by Bettes and was being held pending decision on what to do with it.


A piece of Ardmore’s history was razed last week. The spot at South Commerce and Myall in the SW corner where the old Randolph Saddle Shop stood for many years.


I am always sadden when a long time reader passes away. Robert “Bob” McCrory has contributed from his vast knowledge of local history over the years for insertion into the Mailbag. When I hosted computer classes for several months at the Southern Oklahoma Library System (formally the Chickasaw Regional Library) back in the 90s, Bob attended every one each month. He always had something interesting to contribute. RIP Bob McCrory


A couple sandblasting projects I did last week.



Q.  What were the first 2 towns in Oklahoma to incorporate?
A.   Fort Gibson and Downingville (Vinita) were the first incorporated towns in 1873.

Q.  Where in Oklahoma is the place to gaze at the stars, millions of them, maybe even the best place in the U.S. to star gaze?
A.  Answer in next week’s newsletter

Below is from This and That newsletter archives of March 23, 2006

“I remember “Goathead Stickers” as four pronged, a tetrahedron where there were always one point sticking up They were much smaller than pictured, around a quarter inch point to point. Yes, the stickers ruined a lot of tires and tubes. Most of the time there was a “slow leak” or several on your bike tires. You would attempt to patch the tube and when looking for a leak there would be more than one. Soon your tube had so many cold patches or hot patches if your were able to afford them, it would have to be replaced. Going barefooted in the summer “Goat heads” were the plague. Seems the point would break off and remain in your foot as well as tire causing problems till they could be removed. Ouch!” -R. L. Shive, Nebo, OK when in Oklahoma and Kingwood, TX

“Butch, Talking about mule skinners I will relate a story that my oldest sister’s husband told During WW1 he was drafted and they made him a mule skinner it helped him being from Oklahoma. and in France he hauled ammo up to the front with a wagon and mules. He got up to the front and the big gun that he was hauling for the gunner had just been shot and the captain grabbed him and put him under the gun as the new gunner 18 hours later when the fighting stopped they told him that there had been eight gunner’s in the last hour that had been shot off that gun before him and he told the Capt that no bullet made could go through his mothers prayers. My Dad said that a mule was smarter than a horse. A horse getting his foot caught in a barbed wire fence would keep pulling it back and forth until his hoof was cut off while a mule would just stand there and wait for help to come.” -Paskell
I thought your readers may appreciate the attached photo:

Mule Skinner. Bill McDowell sitting on the horse at the left. Notice “Perry Hardware Tin Shop” on sign. “Bill was employed c1911 to bring his mules and fresnos for the construction of the 1st National Bank Bldg. in Duncan OK, and to haul stones.” per Flossie McDowell Wright (1894-1984) of Velma OK. “Uncle Bill always had the most beautiful horses and mules.” per Rachel McDowell (1913-1994) of Pampa TX. Joseph William “Bill” McDowell (1880-1955) is buried in the Jericho Cemetery, Donley County, TX.

From my 742-page BENJAMIN BOURLAND AND FOURTEEN OF HIS CHILDREN. Patricia Adkins-Rochette, prochette@Juno.com, 

Patricia Adkins-Rochette, 918-250-5040 7312 South Garnett Road, #318, Broken Arrow, OK 74012 www.bourlandcivilwar.com, Bourland in North Texas & Indian Territory During the Civil War: Fort Cobb, Fort Arbuckle & the Wichita Mountains.
A Tale of Goathead Stickers and Blister Bugs The state of Oklahoma is known for its goathead stickers and blister bugs. Both make their debut in mid-summer. A goathead is a green sticker that grows in large patches. Its nickname is probably derived from its shape. I guess someone thought the sticker looked like a goat’s head. Though the sticker did not look like a goat’s head to me, I accepted the title. Why fight a tradition?

The blister bug is also the color green. Its green color allows it to blend in with the green goat head sticker. For this reason, perhaps, this bug decided to make its habitat with the goathead sticker. The blister bug emits a liquid that will raise a blister on contact with bare skin. We avoided them like the plague. I don’t remember ever coming in physical contact with one of the bugs. Fortunately, they tended to be more afraid of me than I of them. This tale occurred in Ringling, Oklahoma in the year of 1944. We four boys, ages age 11 to 16, Willie Joe, James P., Richard, and I played the macho game of running or walking over Goat Heads. At first, we swiftly ran over the stickers. Later, as our feet toughened, instead of running over them, we walked fast. The summer heat toughened our bare feet more than ever. Thus, by the end of the summer we were able to leisurely walk over the hardened goathead patches. When the goathead stickers died, the blister bugs disappeared. Now why do boys run barefooted over goatheads and blister bugs barefooted? Grown-ups don’t understand, and girls shake their heads and tell each other boys are crazy. Only boys understand why boys play that macho game because it’s a boy’s thing to do. And a boy’s gotta do what a boy’s gotta do.” -Grant West
RE: “Butch: When I was in high School at Davis, And concrete foundations— The concrete foundations up the hill and a mile or so west of the river bridge in Dougherty are the remains of a boy scout camp– I believe it was built by the wpa or the ccc not sure about that- I went up there several times with Kathy and her cousin Don, — I suspect Kathy Ann reads your news letter- maybe she will respond and elaborate.” -George Peveto, Irving TX.
“Well friend, we survived the tornadoes in Northwest Arkansas over the last weekend. We did have some storm damage. we had some wind damage and we did have a little hail damage. As you can see by the picture we had some pretty good size hail. Sounded like some was was on the roof with a six pound hammer. We were lucky though, my neighbors down the road lost everything. We had several tornadoes in the area, the one that hit Bentonville according to the weather experts from Tulsa it ws a F-3, there was not anyone hurt. In Missouri toward Branson there were about 10 people killed. It was a wild night last Sunday night.” -Dennis and Wanda Adams, Arkansas
From The Carter County Record.
November 21, 1913

“Wilson News Notes”
Last Sunday the Record reporter visited the new townsite of Wilson and saw what was to be seen. The big well which was dug to a depth of about 30 feet and was beginning to cave in some, has a covering of heavy timbers laid over it and a drilling machine is now engaged in drilling in the center of it to a greater depth in the hope of striking a sufficient supply of water. When this is accomplished the big part of the well will be walled up. Four lumber yards have been established there. They are the Hudson-Houston, Leeper, Chickasaw and the Adams yards. Two of them have office buildings erected, and all are busy getting their yards and lumber in shape to do a rushing business. But as yet, or at that time, not a residence house is built nor in course of construction there. There is an eating joint in the old house near the track, while several tents are to be seen scattered about, mostly near the outskirts of the townsite. Near the western limits of the town plat many car loads of steel rails are uniformly piled up in readiness to be used when the ties are laid from that point further on west. Gradually more people are making Wilson their stopping place, most of whom at present, are employees of the road and carpenters employed to build lumber sheds and offices. Business houses, stores, hotels and offices, there are none to speak of. These together with residences occupied by families is all that hinders Wilson from being a good town, and perhaps all these things will be added to it as time wears on. A large amount of oil well machinery, heavy lumber, well casing, and piping is being daily shipped to this point where it is unloaded and freighted thence by wagon to the oil fields. Business in other freight as well as passenger traffic is good. The best and handsomest thing in the new town is the railway depot, spic and span, and up to now in every detail. This station would do credit to any larger town, and to Wilson it is pre-eminently IT.” -Submitted by Mindy Taylor
Below is a photo of a 1914 baptism in Oxford Lake for the Antioch Baptist Church, two miles east. Ola (Tyner) Spain is the 5th person from the right in the water. Oxford Lake was near the juncture of Indian Creek and Pilot Grove Creek, three miles northwest of Farmersville in Collin County. The Confederate Brush Battalion, a collection of brush men from the creek bottoms, camped at Oxford Lake, even though one muster listing read: “December 12, 1863, Bonham.” Sent by Rita Bickley Roose of the Farmersville Historical Society. Many of the Confederate Brush Battalion who camped at Oxford Lake were involved in the Lee-Peacock Feud. -Patricia Adkins-Rochette, prochette@juno.com, www.bourlandcivilwar.com


Some mail from this week’s MAILBAG…..

Butch, I remember when I was a kid around 1963-64. My friends parents took us hiking in the Arbuckle Mountains, and we were back in what seemed like pretty deep off the beaten path. We found a crashed airplane that appeared to have been there for a while.

Also, nice to see a Colvert relative found your newsletter. My elementary school class used to take a tour of the plant every year. I remember the people that worked there were so pleasant and kind to all us enthusiastic little squirts. And, they always would give us an ice cream bar at the end of the tour. Their employee that delivered Colvert products to our house was also the nicest guy, and seemed more like family than a delivery man. Wish I could remember his name, but my dwindling brain cells just don’t get the job done anymore!
Skip Joers
Here are some images that I took last week in Hennessey, Oklahoma. -Cecil



In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. The young they keep out of mischief; to the old they are a comfort and aid in their weakness, and those in the prime of life they incite to noble deeds. -Aristotle

Butch and Jill Bridges

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


Vicious Dog Attacks in Oklahoma
Oklahoma Bells: https://oklahomahistory.net/bellpage.html
Bill Hamm’s Cemetery Database
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 Government Website