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Vol 26 Issue 1,311 March 10, 2022

A Glimpse Into The Past

From my Feb 4, 2008 newsletter:
“Dear Butch Bridges: My name is Jerome Benson 78 years old, Chula Vista, CA. Your Oklahoma History awoke me from what I thought was a touch of Alzheimer’s. Suddenly I can recall almost before I was born. I was raised a mile north of Ravia, Oklahoma on a small dried up farm on a dirt road. When I was not yet in my teens, the Kuykendall family lived just north of us before moving to downtown Ravia. The Clark Capertons lived a 1/4 mile south. Nina Ruth Kuykendall, and her brother a couple of years older than I, were walking down the dirt road and a snake bit her. They both screamed that she had just got snake bit. Dad, Homer Benson, jumped into his wagon and team which was already hooked up and raced to them as fast as the team could run. He ran them all the way to Ravia for treatment and saved her life.

As for me, as a teenager there, I was ranked as a topnotch cotton picker at a penny per pound, black eyed pea picker on the thirds, dishwasher at Park’s restaurant in Tishomingo for $5 per week and all the gizzards I could eat. What deals. Clark Caperton was a good family friend. We kids called him Mr. Yeah Yeah because as he listened to someone he would say yeah yeah. I remember he was a compliment to Ravia as few others were during those wild years.

My Benson grandfolks were old timers there even before the turn of the century. My mom’s mother was full blood Chickasaw from Pontotoc. Gene Autry went to school there from the first year to the tenth grade. His dad was in prison for cattle rustling when his mother died of malnutrition. Gene was singing on the radio at the time and called Earnest (Red) Field’s son to please get his (Gene’s) two sisters something to wear to the funeral. Red’s son J. E. paid $16 for the clothes.

Previously to that when Gene was going to school, Red bought Gene a second hand guitar for a dollar. That was the beginning of Gene’s success story. My daughter is a doctor of Public Relations. She recently returned from London where she taught at a branch of Oxford University. While there, she went to a Protestant and Catholic meeting in Belfast, Ireland. The Irish as usual almost got into a fight while arguing. On the outside in the hall was a chalk board. On the way out my daughter wrote, “I am Chickasaw Indian from Oklahoma. Instead of arguing and fighting, we Chickasaws sit on a big flat rock with a peace pipe and blow smoke to the four winds and leave as the best of friends.”

Thanks Butch for reviving my young years. -Jerome Benson


Q. What is a subscription school?
A. Subscription schools were funded by a monthly tuition fee paid by the parents to the teachers. In turn, the teachers were responsible for securing a place of study and for paying the rent from their earnings. It was not uncommon for classes to be conducted in a tent, dugout, home, or church. Because the pay was low, many teachers were women, and they typically received one dollar per pupil per month. Attendance usually lasted a few months because children were needed to help with harvesting and other farm chores.

Progress is being made on the new website. The link below is a temporary link but you can get an idea how it will look. Still have to have each individual newsletter converted to WordPress.


I want to thank the 61 people below who helped make my GoFundME campaign a success.

Broken Bolt, Larry Johnson, Anonymous, Anonymous, Anonymous, Larry Gandy, Laura Atchley, Bevin Parker-Evans, Edmond Pope, Jennifer Harvey, Emil H Levine, Cheri Clark, Roger Hughes, Pete Ihde, Shirley Barrick, L Vada Aitken, Anonymous, Carrol Evans, William Ford, Eva Taylor, Jerry Summy, Anonymous, Debra Griffin, David Willingham, Charles Walker, Monroe Cameron, Matthew Hoage, Anonymous, Edwina Wooten, Linda Lathum, Lydia Dulaney, Anonymous, Carol Hunter, Anonymous, David Bridges, Anonymous, Lee A Bullard, Robin Gray, Kristi Johnson Wedge, Ann Whitchurch, Stephanie Jordan, Elizabeth Aldridge, Marthanna Donald, Darla Herndon, Carole Geurin, Candace Gregory, Robin Ezell, Brandy Black, Patricia Downing, Bob Hargis, Amanda Lawson, Sarah Stephenson, Christopher Cox, Lenora Cunningtubby, Les Gilliam, Beth Tucker, Earlene Chandler, Richard Cravens, Max Brown, Bob Gates and the McAlister Cemetery Association.

The link below will give an up-to-date accounting of the donations received and spent so far. Just scroll to the bottom of the webpage.


Still finding people in Oklahoma with unclaimed money. We’re now over the $1,834,000 dollars. Sometimes progress is slow locating people or their kin with unclaimed insurance money at the State Treasurers office in OKC but we keep trying.

How long has it been since you checked your name or a family member’s name? Its easy to do a search at the Oklahoma State Treasurer link below. I think every state in the union has a unclaimed property website through the respective state treasures website.

If you have Facebook, I created a new Page called Southern Oklahoma Unclaimed Insurance Money. The only Post that will go on that page are names and towns of people we are looking for with unclaimed money;


Q.  What famous Oklahoma pilot originated the space suit?
A.   Wyley Post https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiley_Post

Q.  What was Oklahoma’s first highway?
A.  Answer in next week’s newsletter

Some mail from this week’s MAILBAG…..

Hi, Butch….
Your recent T&T really caught my eye with your article about placing a stone for an unknown baby at the McAlister Cemetery at Overbook. I’ve searched for years to ascertain just where a toddler is buried. He would be Leland Franklin Davenport, the 16-month-old son of my Great-Grandfather, George William Davenport. Leland was the second-born of four sons/children. This is known: The family was living in the Overbrook area of Love County when the child died. Supposedly he was buried there at that time.  I realize many family members, especially babies, were buried at whatever farm where the family was living at the time. So that’s possible as well.  Wouldn’t it be nice is that stone happened to be marking little Leland’s final resting place. I’d like to think so. Many thanks for your kind endeavors in placing memorial stones such as this. -Mae
Great read today Cuz, especially the one about the cave just south of Wild Horse Creek, I do believe this is the one you and I discussed a few years back when we were talking about Bitter Enders located around Turner Falls and I mentioned we were in a cave out near Hennepin where we could only go down a ways without a rope and when we came out we could see our breath in the air as that’s how hot the cave was. Sounds about right to where we were as that one too was on the South side of US-7 near the old Fort Arbuckle site that was located on the Grant property and there’s a marker on the North site of US-7 referring to Fort Arbuckle. We used to hunt for Indian arrowheads out in that area when I was a kid and our step-father Ford would be fixing TV’s in the area. -Poss

Below is from This and That newsletter archives of March 11, 2010

“Recently someone mentioned about the train which fell into the flooded Washita River S. of Dougherty, Oklahoma. This happened during the first week in June 1957 when there was excessive rains and floods. Often trains would wait in Ardmore, Ok for some low lying areas to be safe enough to cross during this time.

The bridge which gave away with the tank cars, refrigerator cars with bananas, etc. was the result of debris including trees, and etc. that had washed to the bridge and could NOT float on under. With the heavy freight train crossing the bridge it gave away after the engines and eight or nice cars had made it across. The better blessing is the N. bound passenger train often called the four o’clock passenger train in Ardmore, Ok had orders to stop at Gene Autry and let the freight train proceed ahead of the passenger train.

This could have easily been a carbon copy of the Rock Island train which went into the river near Dover, Ok and many lives were lost during that stormy night.

There is info about this at the Greater Historical Museum of SW Oklahoma regarding the Santa Fe train bridge falling into the river.”
“Butch: This is a picture of the Lincoln School (Third Ward) Cub Scouts in 1937. The Den Master/Teacher is John Laurence. I would very much like to hear from any survivors who might still be around. If anyone responds to this message please identify your position in the photo. I’m the kid, two rows up, third from right, but I don’t look much like that now.

You recently made mention of a tunnel under Stanley at the entrance of the school. Yes there was one which was constructed in 1937. After a very short time no one would use it because drainage had not been engineered into the design and the thing deteriorated into a murky swamp, used only by hobos as an out-house. I don’t think the thing lasted much more than 18 months. it was filled in, much to everyone’s relief, in 1939 or 1940. I hope somebody comes up with where the old football stadium was.” -Tom Meason in Tulsa
“Butch-Pictures that were taken last week of the semi-completed buildings of the Mercy Memorial Hospital complex, Ardmore. Several of the offices in the Doctors Building are occupied while interior improvements continue in other sections of the building.” -Gary Simmons



Museum Memories
Contributed by Melinda Taylor
The Wilson News – October 5, 1916

Pigs, peanuts, potatoes, ‘possums and popcorn is a popular slogan in this section of Oklahoma. All can be raised in abundance, while the first three enumerated can be developed into enterprises through which a man can soon become independent. If you are interested in such production come to the Wilson territory and make arrangements to settle down and prosper.
Sacred Ceylon Elephant At Ardmore with Yankee Robinson Circus Next Week
September 21, 1916

Ardmore will have the pleasure and honor of entertaining for the first time a real live sacred Ceylon elephant when the Yankee Robinson Circus comes here next Wednesday for the usual two exhibitions.

“Romeo” is a high class distinguished, gentle pachyderm and seems to like America. Last June he was secured from the wilds of Sumatra after experiences which imperiled the lives of his purchasers. He carries the distinction of being the first package ever expressed by Wells Fargo & Co. from this Far East wilderness. Tagged with the company’s cards, he started from Pagota, Sumatra, a larger elephant in the lead bearing the same tag.

When it snows you have two choices, shovel or make snow angels. -author unknown

See everyone next week!

Butch and Jill Bridges

“Friends Make Life Worth Living”

Ardmore, Oklahoma


Vicious Dog Attacks in Oklahoma
Oklahoma Bells: https://oklahomahistory.net/bellpage.html
Bill Hamm’s Cemetery Database
American Flyers Memorial Fund – Administration Webpage
Ardmore Army Air Field/Ardmore Air Force Website
Carter County Government Website

All previous issues of This & That can be found on my Website’s archives.
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