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Vol 24  Issue 1,227 July 30, 2020

PO Box 2, Ardmore, Oklahoma 73402

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

A Glimpse Into The Past

A Country Doctor

Nowadays when a man becomes a doctor it may be reasonably assumed that he will spend most of his available time and energy in the actual practice of medicine. But the old country doctor’s time spent in actually treating the ailing was cut down by many things.

Perhaps the greatest hindrance was the weather, coupled with slow vehicles and no roads or bad roads.

Dr. H. A. Higgins, who practiced medicine in the Ardmore area for over half a century, once wrote down some of his early experiences. They are amusing, in retrospect, and are typical of the conditions under which other doctors of that time worked.

The doctor described his first ten years of practice as a nightmare. “There were no roads except cow trails through the brush, brush that would scratch one’s eyes out at night if he did not keep his head down while riding his horse. There were no bridges over the rivers and creeks and no telephones.”

Dr. Higgins, who could not swim himself, would often hang on while his horse swam rivers and creeks, even when they were bank-full.

Once a man drowned while trying to swim his horse across a creek to pick up Dr. Higgins. There was no more swimming his horse across a creek for the doctor after that. He would ride to the bank and crawl to the other side on a tree that had been cut down to span the stream. On the other side there would be a horse waiting for him.

The doctor would often find that his patient was in bad shape due to lack of previous treatment. There would be no sanitation, no help, no physical facilities except those contained in the little medical bag. The usual charge for a maternity call was $10, even if the doctor had to crawl out of bed and ride or drive five or ten miles in rain, snow or sleet. Sometimes he did not receive his pay, usually because the patient did not have it. Perhaps the bill would be paid in produce, or years later, in money. Nobody had much money, but cash went a long way.

Many doctors had a hard time preparing themselves for the arduous but spiritually rewarding practice of medicine. Dr. Higgins came all the way from Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, England, where he was born in 1874. England was too “tame” for him. He was about 18 at the time he made the voyage, which was longer than anticipated because the ship had to detour by Martinique to pick up some shipwreck survivors.

He landed in New Orleans with 50 cents in his pocket and a deep regret that he had told his mother, who had opposed his American venture, that he most certainly would not be asking for money to come home on, that he “would die before he so humbled himself.” To top it off, he had his first experience with mosquitoes.

He found some sort of work on a farm and eventually met a man near San Antonio who was going to the Indian Territory by wagon and offered to let the young man come along if he would help herd a few cows en route.

He soon found himself following a plow on the prairie with on anatomy book propped between the handles. He studied every spare moment he could find once taught in the Brown and Beaver subscription schools for o time to accumulate capitol for medical school tuition.

He wrote home regularly, but never a word about having a hard time and never a plea for money until his second year in medical school when he asked for and received $500.

Dr. Higgins’ formal medical training had to be sandwiched in between intervals of working, and was taken during a period of transition in the requirements for obtaining a license. He found himself thinking he was near graduation several times only to learn that another year’s training would be required.
-from Carter County History book 1957


May 1930
Lloyd Lewis, 25, teacher at Glenn schools is recovering from serious burns about the hands and arms. He was injured several days ago when a gasoline lamp exploded. He was adjusting the lamps for entertainment at the school. The school was burnt to the ground November 14th and a new school was just recently put into use. In addition to Lewis being burned, the stage scenery caught fire when the lamp exploded.

May 1930
The school districts of Bowles, Eastman, New Hope and Marsden have been consolidated in order to create and maintain a four-year high school course. A new school building will be erected at New Hope since it is the center of the new district.

A marker I made this week.


Q.  What famous Apache leader was imprisoned at Ft Sill?
A.  Geronimo

Q.  The Wild Mary Sudik oil well blowout flowed for eleven days before it was capped on the third try. Where in Oklahoma was this world famous gusher located?
A.  Answer in next week’s newsletter

Below is from This and That newsletter archives of July 31, 2008

The Daily Ardmoreite 12-03-1912
The rather unusual sight of an old union veteran and old confederate veteran being buried at the same time and in the same cemetery was witnessed at Rose Hill cemetery yesterday afternoon. Capt. T. B. Johnson, who fought with the federal side and Mike Gray who followed the cause of Lee were both laid to rest at almost the same hour.
The Daily Ardmoreite 12-17-1912
New Christian Church Structure Now Under Construction.
The contractor, B. H. Corlew, has begun the work of actual construction on the $15,000 Christian church building. The forms were all put in Monday and now the work of running the concrete into the foundation is well under way. The building, which is a new departure for this section, in architecture, will be of stone and brick. The stone, about seven carloads in all, will come from the famous Bromide quarries. Architect White who drew the plans for the building and who will act as supervising architect during its erection, stated today to an Ardmoreite reporter that the building would be pushed to an early completion as expeditiously as the weather conditions would permit.
From time to time Mark Coe sends in some history of Ardmore’s bygone days, and this week he did just that.  I always look forward to Mark’s emails because I never know what new piece of history he will tell.  Here is this weeks email:

During the Great Depression, the WPA conducted a series of oral history interviews in Oklahoma.  The WPA began as the Works Progress Administration and later was called the Works Projects Administration.  The interviews were compiled as the “Indian-Pioneer History Project of Oklahoma”.  The following is from the interview with Alfred Owens in Sulphur on April 29, 1937.

“I was born July 28, 1863 in Georgia.  I thought this was a better country than Georgia, so I moved to Sulphur in July 1889.  I came with an uncle and a cousin in a covered wagon from Texas.  It took four days to make the trip.  We came by Durant, crossing the Red River at the mouth of Island Bayou.  We forded the river at this place.  After passing Durant, we came to Caddo.  We crossed Blue River at Nail Crossing.  We went through Twelve Mile Prairie and crossed the Washita River at Fort Washita.  We then went to Mannsville, to Durwood, Provine, and thence to Ardmore.

“Ardmore had only one store at this time, run by Zuckerman.  I well remember my first night in Ardmore.  They were having a celebration in honor of the Santa Fe Railroad, which had not been built so long before this.  [ Note: The first train arrived in Ardmore on July 28, 1887. ]    We decided we liked this location.  My uncle was looking for grass for his cattle, and this seemed to be the right spot, so we settled near here.  I lived here for ten years. 

“I began teaching a subscription school here.  Each child paid three and a half cents per day to attend.  We ran out of water and had to dismiss at the end of three months.  The building was a log house about twenty feet long by sixteen feet wide.  It had a board floor, and benches made of  boards.  We had a stove and used wood for fuel.  We had a blackboard which I made out of one by twelve boards painted black.  I made my own paint out of linseed oil and lamp black.”

July 28, 1887 The first train (Santa Fe Railroad) arrives in Ardmore. The town consists of a few tents, but the train brings lumber and other building supplies. Among the tents were two containing stores. One run by Sam Zuckerman and another by Frank & Bob Frensley. Not a single tree exists within the townsite west of the railroad tracks. Caddo Street becomes the first named street in town. So named because it was originally an old wagon road from the 700 Ranch house north to Caddo Creek.
“I remember the old Oakley Airport, had my first flight there with Art Oakley in his OX-5 TravelAire. Wiley Post lost his eye when a steel fragment struck him while working as a roustabout in the Healdton oil field. Art taught him to fly shortly after in a Jenny (a JN-4 surplus aircraft from WWI, lots of barnstormer pilots had them, and Art was a pioneer ) Another of Art?s students, Jack Cameron (family owned Cameron Refinery) acquired a plane, and would pick me up on Sunday afternoons and take me fly nag in his Cavalier. A lot of aviation notables came thru Ardmore in those years. When the wooden hangar burned it ended the airport. Several planes were lost, including Lloyd Noble cabin TravelAire, a large monoplane, Jack lost his Cavalier, among others. Art?s mechanic was heating the oil for the TravelAire in preparation for a trip, when it caught fire. Art had at that time been hired by Noble as his pilot, and flew for the company until he retired. They acquired the acreage at Springer for a municipal airport and built the large metal hangar with Art doing a lot of the work. John Heasty came to town with a beat up Piper Cub and took over as the operator, and as the war came on, obtained government contracts and operated a flight school, as well as being an aircraft dealer. Bob Goddard and I both obtained out private licenses in 1938 from Heasty, and after the war, Bob took over the operation and operated a flight school under the G.I. Bill, a charter operation and Cessna dealer. Later on an aerial spraying service. Ardmore had a lot of aviation history in the early days, sorry to get wound up, but you triggered old memories!” -Bill Johns
“This creature was constructed at Lexington Oklahoma, at a Body Shop.” -Rus Martin
I read where someone wanted to know the name of the town where the movie on Bass Reeves was filmed. The town is over at Reagan, Oklahoma. It is a movie set built by a guy named Johnny Shackleford. Johnny is one of the nicest fellows you will ever meet and his cousin cooks one of the best hamburgers you will ever put in your mouth at that movie set. The movie was named, The Black Marshall, the movie set is named, Sipokni West.”
The Wilson News by Mindy Taylor

W. M. Wormington has decided that Wilson is a splendid place for a plumbing business and put in a complete line of plumbing supplies last week next door to News office. He will also handle sheet metal. Has been at the game for 25 years and suffice it to say assures satisfaction to all.
Sam Allard and W. T. McPherson will open up a line of 1917 styles in wall paper in the News building immediately. These boys have been in the business in some of the leading cities of Texas and Oklahoma and know it from the first principles up to the latest ideas in classy interior decorating.
L. H. Webb, contractor and carpenter, has located here. He is also prepared to do small jobs of wood work, painting, etc…
J. A. Conner has moved into a building near the News office and is now prepared to write you up a life insurance policy or real estate lease.
A Brand New Store: B. P. David & Son – General Merchandise – Look for the new brick store on Main Street, near W. B. Gill’s office.
City Barber Shop: E. J. Woods, Prop. – Located on North side near Mobley Corner. We appreciate your barber trade. Give us a trial.
Hudson Houston – Don’t forget we have plenty of Colorado and McAlester coal – Phone 32
Clowdus & Bridge – watchmakers, jewelers, expert watch repairing – All Work Guaranteed – Location: Crescent Drug Store
Please remember that 82 is the phone number of the assistant editor and that any and all news items you will report in to her will be gladly received and promptly handled. Phone 82. – Wilson Museum hours: Tues., Thurs., Fri., Sat., 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Some mail from this week’s MAILBAG…..

Butch: I’m a long time reader and occasional contributor to This and That. Much of my early life was on a family farm southwest of Moore when it was a small rural town between Oklahoma City and Norman, and on my maternal grandparents’ farm on Panther Creek in western Garvin County in the area of Elmore City, Antioch, and Foster. I also spent a little over a year with my fraternal grandparents on a farm near Evening Shade, Arkansas. (Yes, there really is an Evening Shade town in Sharp County.) After I returned from service in WW II I married Patricia Paschall. Her parents, Bert and Mable Paschall, owned and operated Two Lakes Skyway Courts later changed to Paschall Village at the southeast corner of Lake Murray State Park. The next four years I spent much of my time in, around, and about Love County and Lake Murray.

I say this because I wrote a book, Pug, Tug and Me, that debuted last November. It is a fictionalized account of some of my ancestors and my life experiences with family and friends growing up in the mid-1920’s, The Great Depression, military service during WW II, and our lives afterwards. I have drawn on my life experiences and actual events in all the areas mentioned above only I’ve fictionalized them to maintain a degree of anonymity. Though I purposefully do not reveal the actual locale, many of your This and That readers will recognize some passages as being somewhat descriptive of South Central Oklahoma. If any of your audience is interested visit my website at: http://pugtugandme.com for more information, or contact me directly at don@pugtugandme.com

Don Davidson, Brenham, Texas

Check out my blog: www.grandranch.blogspot.com
Butch, I have attached a cropped photo of Howard Johnson, former Sheriff of Carter County. The missing photo of your collection of Sheriffs. From Steven Harris’ find of his artifacts from Howard Johnson’s term as sheriff. Regards, -Steve Douglas
48 Vintage Photos Of Life In The Wild West 1890-1900s

“Nature is the greatest teacher and I learn from her best when others are asleep. In the still dark hours before sunrise God tells me of the plans I am to fulfill.” –George Washington Carver

See everyone next week!

Butch and Jill Bridges

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


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