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Vol 24  Issue 1,203 February 13, 2020

PO Box 2, Ardmore, Oklahoma 73402

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

A true crime story that haunts me still since it was the only case I never solved when I was District Attorney:

Early in my first term as Chief Prosecutor of a 5-County district, I received a phone call from the Davis Police Department. “D.A. We have a possible crime here & need your assistance. Please hurry; you’ll see several units just south of town.”

I drove 90 miles an hour to get there and found a crowd of people in the yard of a small, very neat white frame house. I engaged the first officer: “What do you have here?” He hesitated, then said, “An elderly lady lives here. I think something bad has happened to her.”

“Surround the front porch with crime tape and don’t let anyone in. I’m going inside.”

Inside, I found a very neat, well kept house with nothing out of place. As I walked forward, I looked to my left toward the master bedroom and was shocked at what I saw: The top mattress had been turned over and a large, bloody hand print told the tale, someone, likely the killer, had flipped the mattress, looking for valuables, I’d guess.

I continued on & thought I saw some blood coming under the bathroom door. Gently opening it, I gasped in horror. An elderly white lady, dressed in her nightclothes, was lying on the floor, a heavy, bloody 3-leg stool with matted hair and brain tissue all over it by her side. She was obviously dead.

Blood was everywhere, on the walls, the stool, the floor, the window & even the ceiling. I thought: Overkill! The woman’s face was even obliterated.

Suddenly I heard from outside, “Sir, you can’t go in there! Sir!”
I walked toward the living room & a 50-year old man strode right by me. “I’ll have some coffee ready in 10 minutes,” he said as he walked to the kitchen where he filled a pot with coffee and water, and lighted the gas stove.

“Who in hell are you?” I demanded. He ignored me. I repeated my demand: “Answer me! Who in hell are you? If you don’t answer, I’m arresting you now!”

He looked at me with contempt: “Easy, counselor. Have some respect! That’s my mother in there; I’m a medical doctor and I’m used to blood.”

I looked at his hands & noted they were quite small, much smaller than the bloody hand print on the mattress.

I took him outside & asked an officer to take him to my Ardmore office. Kay Evers of the Daily Ardmoreite drove up, got out of her car, said: “What do you have?” I said without thinking, “a murder right out of the Manson murders, Kay. Blood everywhere and an elderly victim, bludgeoned to death. She has no face!” I saw her smile as she wrote & I thought: “I’m gonna pay for that stupid statement.”

Sure enough, next day’s Ardmoreite had a huge headline: MANSON LIKE MURDER IN DAVIS, PER D.A. JAMES CLARK.

We took the doctor to Ardmore and put him on a polygraph machine, operated by a retired FBI Agent. He passed with no evasion whatsoever. “Wrong suspect, D.A.,” he said. “He didn’t kill anybody.” Plus, there were those small hands, which was more than reasonable doubt.

So, we released him and he returned to wherever he lived, Norman as I recall.

This was before DNA existed and the brutal crime was never solved. The Oklahoman offered a $5,000 reward that brought a lot of goofy comments and clues, including from 2 psychics in Florida.

We never solved the brutal murder of an elderly lady in the late autumn of her life.
It haunts me to this very day.
-From James Clark, my 3rd book, The Scales of Justice

Another unsolved true crime – this one when I was a DA in Ardmore:

In the late 60’s, almost 1970, there was a large 2-story white frame house on the west side of South Commerce across from where Cunningham Carpets is now located. The house in question was unoccupied and the nearest neighbors were 2-3 city blocks to the west.

It was the middle of August and Ardmore hadn’t had any rain in 2-3 months. Daytime temperatures routinely exceeded 100 degrees.

The Ardmore Police Department’s dispatcher began getting phone calls from area citizens complaining of foul odors coming from the direction of the old house, so 2 uniformed officers and a detective picked me up at the D.A. office to go check on the source of the noxious odors. (Looking back, we needed gas masks and hazmat suits). I recall the temperature was over 105 degrees, it was 3 in the afternoon.

The house was locked, front and rear, with every window all around sealed with duct tape. I noticed someone had recently mowed the front lawn.

We forcibly entered the house and not 2’ inside, were met with an indescribable foul odor. The 2 uniformed officers immediately fled outside, one vomiting forcefully, the other fell, lying on his back on the front yard.

The detective and I ventured inside, both breathing through our noses. The odor was so revolting words fail me to describe it.

In the bedroom, we found the source of the odor: The remains of a man, lying under several layers of blankets. I noticed the red light on an electric blanket covering him, turned to maximum heat. The man’s legs & arms were pointed vertically with the blanket and several quilts and blankets covering him, likewise pointed upward. I could see that his body fluids had leaked through 2 mattresses and was puddling on the floor beneath the bed. It was sickening.

I’d had enough – I rushed outside and joined the 2 officers in a vomit contest on the lawn which I think I won handily.

Two days later, we had a properly dressed sanitation crew wearing gas masks and hazmat suits remove the body. A pathologist who did an autopsy on the deceased called me and said:

“D.A. this guy was murdered. He had no wounds or trauma evidence, no bullet holes or stabbing wounds whatsoever. No evidence of a natural death – the guy was young, well developed; whoever did this knew what they were doing.”

“Then, what killed him?”

“He was boosted with copious amounts of Phenobarbital until he died; then heat was applied to dispose of the body and quicken a homemade cremation.”

“Could he have done it to himself?”

“Absolutely not! If he had, he’d have passed out after a time; someone just kept pumping more and more phenobarbital in him, then set up the heat.”

The homicide was never solved. I asked the City of Ardmore to demolish the house and the out of state owners didn’t object. It was demolished and the lot cleared.

I think about that case every time I drive down on S. Commerce.
-submitted by James Clark

A Glimpse into the Past

In the year 1838, trade with the wild Indians was a profitable enterprise. From Doaksville, wilderness traders loaded with such things as clothes, beds, trinkets, tobacco, powder, lead and many other items the Indians could not acquire elsewhere, would leave daily to the west along dim trails. They would be gone for as long as two or three months. They would take in trade such things as hides, peltries, beeswax, tallow and bear grease.

One of these traders was Robert M. Jones, a Choctaw. Jones became a very wealth man. He owned and worked six plantations. They consisted of 5000 acres which he planted in cotton. To work that cotton he owned 500 slaves. One of his plantations was located at Walnut Bayou just east of Burneyville.Sometime after 1840 Jones also owned a steamboat and was one who helped start shipping by boat all the way up the Red River to such places at Towson, Pecan Point, Frog Creek, Dexter, Horseshoe Bend, Hurricane Bluff and Coates Bluff . These places were used as shipping points and were said to have been piled high with cotton, hides, and peltries to be shipped down river during season.

Sometime about 1872 an advertisement appeared in the Northern Standard that stated: “Cash paid for hides and peltries. The subscriber will pay six cents a pound for dry hides, and nine cents for good peltries. One dollar each for heavy coated bear skins delivered at any shipping point below Fort Towson landing.”One of the first trading posts established was Coffee Trading Post in 1834. It was owned and renamed after Abel Warren, born September, 1814. Sometime around 1840, a man, William J. Weaver of Fort Smith, visited Warren Trading Post just east of Burneyville on the Walnut Bayou. Here is his description of that mesa in the wilderness and the people working there.

“The stockade was built of logs that were stood upright and sharpened on the top end. The walls were about 15 feet high. On two corners there was a block house at the top. They were 12 to 15 feet square. There was a guard stationed there at all times. The stockade was about 100 feet square. There was a door on two sides big enough for a wagon to pass through. There were stock pens on the outside for the horses, oxen, and cattle. But at night, all the stock were locked up inside tor tear that the Indians might steal them. On the inside was a room for storing of goods for trading. It was also used for living quarters.””The two block houses had beds to accommodate an extra guard and also about ten or fifteen rifles loaded and ready for action at all times, in case of an attack. One man was to load the rifles while the other man was to fire them to defend the fort.”

“It might have been possible for a large band of Indians to take the fort, but it would be at a terrible price. Indians of many tribes came there to trade. Some of them were the Comanches, Kiowas, Wichitas, Tonkawaws, Caddoes and Delawares.”
-Indian Territory and Carter County Pioneers book 1982

Here is a good documentary on the 10,000 acre Turner Ranch in Murray, Pontotoc and Johnston Counties.

Q.  In 1964 Oklahoma City was subjected to what 8 times a day for 6 months to test the population in an experiment?
A.  During 1964, the FAA bombarded Oklahoma City with 8 sonic booms per day, 7 days per week for SIX MONTHS!

Q.  Where in Oklahoma are bodies including two U.S. Marshals buried under a multi purpose arena and indoor events center?
A.  Answer in next week’s newsletter

Below is from This and That newsletter archives of February 14, 2008

Ardmoreite Bert Powers (1908 – 1987) was in the first group of Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers to take to the highways back on July 18, 1937.  Eighty-four men commenced patrol on Oklahoma highways that day.
The Daily Ardmoreite 6-22-44


He Is Credited With Building Ardmore as City’s First Mayor

R. W. Dick, an early day lawyer of Ardmore, was here Thursday from his home in Oklahoma City. He was Ardmore’s first active mayor. He built the city lake and put in the water works, built sewer lines, paved streets, took up the board walks and put down concrete. The wide sidewalks on West Main were of his building. He made an entirely new city of Ardmore. When statehood came Governor Haskell appointed him superintendent of the Oklahoma penitentiary. He built the penitentiary at McAlester and moved the state’s prisoners from Fort Leavenworth where they were in a federal prison. When that work was finished he moved to Oklahoma City. He made successful ventures in oil in the state of Louisiana and owns valuable real estate in Oklahoma City. He lost Mrs. Dick only a few years ago. Mrs. Dick was active in the Christian church, in the Ladies of the Leaf and in the Orio club. The people are reminded that human nature does not change. While Bob Dick, without money to start with, bought the city water reservoir and made a city out of a mudhole, he was fought bitterly at every step he took and was assailed viciously in the press. However this paper was always his friend.

The Wilson News submitted by Mindy Taylor

Electric Lights for Wirt
W. E. Gupton has about completed arrangements for installing an electric lighting plant in the booming hustling oil city of Wirt. Mr. Gupton has already secured contracts, we understand for over 500 lights, and will probably have his light plant in operation within the next thirty days. In addition to operating the light plant, Mr. Gupton will conduct a general machine and blacksmith repair shop at Wirt. Mr. Gupton comes to Wirt from Oil City, but is originally from Central Kentucky.

Makes Raid on Wirt
Last Sunday Charley Jones made a raid on the gamblers and bootleggers of Ragtown, brought in eight men and $180 in cash which he secured from the tables. Mr. Jones stated that he only visited a few places as the rest of them were wise before he could get to them. This is the first time Mr. Jones has done any extensive reading by himself, but he says that the boot-leggers and gamblers had better look out. It looks like he means business. A Challenge Judge Wiseman has made a state wide challenge that he is the champion soup eater of this state, and wishes to challenge any man, woman, or child except Jim White or J. E. Oxley to a soup eating contest, it is said that every time the Judge goes to Ragtown that he eats a bowl of soup for every 30 minutes spent in that city. Old maids are barred from this contest.

Correction: In the Jan. 12, 2006 Museum Memories column I noted that the Post Office had moved from the Dr. Darling building to the Ballew Drug Store location in 1925. This was taken from a history of the post office as I had no newspaper articles to show when the move was made. I have been corrected by several Readers, but have been waiting to make the correction until a date for the move can be found. If someone knows when the P. O. was moved to the Ballew Drug Store location, please send me a note.Melinda Taylor at Wilson, OK Museum or call the museum at 580-669-2505


Some mail from this week’s MAILBAG…..

You are amazing!!! Every week I learn something new about our wonderful city and county. I just think…..when I was in school, I hated Oklahoma history!

This week’s newsletter was truly a journey down my family’s memory lane. The excerpt from your 2008 newsletter mentioned my mother’s and grandmother’s families (Kuykendall and Caperton), Ravia, AND the Frisco Railroad. All very dear to my heart.

My great grandfather, Dr. Thomas A Caperton (1863-1931), was a dentist in Ravia, OK and his dental equipment is now in the museum in Tishomingo. More about the Caperton Family can be found from an article published in the Johnston County Family History 1855-1979. (Book can be found in the Greater SW Museum – Genealogy Dept in Ardmore, OK & at the Ardmore Public Library.).

Dr. & Mrs. Thomas A Caperton moved from Texas to Mannsville, Indian Territory in 1896. He was one of the early-day Indian Territory dentists. About 1898 or 1899, the Capertons moved to Russett, I.T. where he established an office with Dr. D.L. Mitchell, MD.

Dr. Caperton was born at Stevenson, Alabama, March 1, 1863 and at the age of nine migrated with his family to Texas and a few years later, as a young man, attended Georgetown College, Georgetown, Texas.

Around 1898, Dr. Caperton and his family moved from Texas to Mannsville, they already had three children, Clarke. born October 20, 1890; Fleeta J. (my grandmother) born September 19, 1892, and Ruth B. born March 10, 1895.

After moving to Russett, two more children were born: George W. born July 23, 1900 and Joseph C. born July 18, 1903.

In June, 1904 soon after the Frisco Railway was built through Ravia, Dr. Caperton moved with his family to that place where two more children were born: Mildred L. born on December 7, 1906 and Edith P. born April 14, 1910, making seven children in all.

Modes of travel in early Indian Territory were by horseback, buggy or wagon and roads were mere trails cut through the woods. Because of this problem with transportation, it was Dr. Caperton’s custom to go to his patients rather than having them come to him, except for those who lived in the immediate neighborhood.

Upon hearing of someone needing the services of a dentist, Dr. Caperton would load his dentist’s folding chair, his “engine”, as the drilling machine was called (it was operated by foot pedal), his vulcanizing and plate (dentures) making equipment, forceps and other instruments into his buggy and make rounds of from two to four or five days, meeting the needs of the rural populace, who had little access to either a medical doctor or a dentist.

Many of his patients paid their bills with live animals – a shoat, calf, a kid (young goat), or with chickens, geese, ducks or turkeys; any many were the times he came home with one or more of the above “hogtied” in the back of his buggy. Some bills were paid with farm produce, such as potatoes, and some with fruits of various kins in season.

Dr. Caperton’s set price for extracting a patient’s teeth, whether the patient had only two or three or several remaining, and making a complete set of dentures, was the sum of twenty dollars ($20.00); for only an upper or lower, or partial plate, ten dollars ($10.00). If the patient had a degree of vanity, and wanted a gold filling in one of the front teeth, to make the dentures appear more natural, the cost was two dollars for the filling.

The charge for filling or extracting an adult’s tooth was one dollar, and either of the services for a child was fifty cents; and many were the occasions when, upon pulling the tooth of a small child, and when asked by the parent accompanying the child, “Doc, how much do I owe you?”, Dr. Caperton would reply “Fifty cents,” and because the child had cried, or was still crying, would turn and hand the fifty cents to him or her. That usually put an end to the tear-shedding.

The oldest child of Dr. and Mrs. Caperton, Clarke, spent the major portion of his life in Ravia, first as a young child and teenager, then after working away from home and spending several years in the army, during which time he served in China, on the Mexican Border during the Pancho Villa uprising and in France during World War I, where he was seriously wounded, returned to Ravia. Clarke and his wife are buried in the family plot in Ravia Cemetery.

The second child of the Capertons was Fleeta J., who married to Clem Bee Kuykendall in Ravia on May 26, 1912. To this union were born Edith Irene, Ruth Clementine, Aletha Jean (Jadean’s mother), Thomas Denton, Nina (bitten by snake in Mr. Benson’s post), Joyce Carmen, and Judith Lee.

Butch, a little more about my grandparents, Clem & Fleeta (Caperton) Kuykendall. Fleeta taught school in Russett until her children were born. Clem worked for the Rock Island Line and Frisco railroads. During his 40+ years, Clem was the section line foreman in Sulphur, Ravia, Kingston and Denison (TX). The railroad was near and dear to our family’s heart. Unfortunately, Clem (1887-1952) was killed in a motor car accident in Platter, Bryan County, Oklahoma.

Dr. TA Caperton & Dr. Mitchell Mannsville, IT – 1900
Clem Kuykendall (2nd from left) & motor car crew Frisco Railroad – 1912
Clem Bee Kuykendall & Fleeta J Caperton – Wedding day Ravia, OK – 1912
Clem & Fleeta Kuykendall & Jadean Paschall – Denison, TX (Frisco tracks in background) -1951






Butch, I am a Professional Land Surveyor licensed in Oklahoma and several other states as well as a former employee of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation back when I first graduated college with a degree in Civil Engineering and Land Surveying. The marker in the picture is a Triangulation Station Mark or Survey Control Point with known horizontal coordinates set by the Oklahoma Department of Highways (now ODOT) in 1977 as a random point from which it would have been convenient to survey other points of interest that were also surveyed such as the centerline or right-of-line of a highway. It is unlikely that it falls on a boundary line, property line, right-of-way line, or other such line, and definitely not a corner marker of any type.

USGS markers were set by the United States Geological Survey for both benchmarks and control points from which to survey other points of interest. They usually have a name or number on them which can be searched on their internet database to learn of it’s exact location, elevation, date set, by whom, last reported condition, etc. I was not able to find it the national database by the information on the marker itself. If I had more information such as it’s approximate location either by landmarks, road intersections, or approximate coordinates I could possibly find this marker and it’s related datasheet.

Best regards,

Mickey Shackelford, PLS


Be sure brain is engaged before putting mouth into gear

See everyone next week!

Butch and Jill Bridges“Friends Make Life Worth Living”PO Box 2
Lone Grove, Oklahoma 73443


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