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Vol 26 Issue 1,322 May 26, 2022

The Whittington Hotel, SW corner of East Main and Caddo Street.

When the Whittington hotel, with 72 rooms was built in 1896 it eclipsed the Wisnor in elegance and size and was said to be the finest hotel between Kansas City and Fort Worth. Even closer to the railroad station, just a block away, it was still considered necessary or at least high toned, to send a stagecoach to fetch the patrons. The Whittington was the property of W. F. Whittington, a Texas dry goods salesman who came to Ardmore in 1880 and built the first three hotels, the first destroyed by fire in 1895, the second destroyed by the explosion in 1915 and the third which stood until 1972.

Wiley Francis Whittington had first set up a general merchandise store in this location. It was the habit of local cowboys, sometimes as many as a hundred, to race down Main street, ride into stores and pepper the merchandise with bullets, but they left Whittington alone. He had made his reputation before he left Bowie Texas and word had gotten around that some of the pranksters there had ended up on the receiving end of the gunfire.

Sarah Agnes Wiggins Whittington, his wife, died in 1893 at 40 years of age, leaving her husband with four children to raise. Jewel, the youngest daughter, was born in the year that her father built the three story masonry building with white columns facing main street. In 1987 Miss Whittngton was interviewed and told of the hotel’s expansion after the discovery of the Healdton oilfield. At that time her father added another story to accommodate the many men who poured into Ardmore to take advantage of exploration opportunities. This edition made it the tallest building in the city. The Whittington which accommodated 100 guests, boasted clerks, bell boys and food service and made history by installing the first metal cage Otis elevator in Ardmore.

Although the nearby railroad expansion explosion of 1915 badly damaged the building, a settlement of 65,000 from the railroad company enabled Whittington to hire an architect and, at the cost of $150,000 restored his inn. Operating on the American plan, the Whittington’s rates were $2 a day or $2.50 for the better rooms. Tile floors, oak furniture and plain white walls where the decor of the lobby, where a wood-burning stove furnished heat until it later was replaced by steam heat.

Mr. Whittington ran the hotel until 1925 when Jewel took over management. Although it was generally thought that Jewel never married, she confessed in this interview that she had had a brief marriage to an unnamed Frisco passenger conductor.

An astute business woman, Miss Jewel Whittington saw the handwriting on the wall and in the 1970s sold the Whittington hotel “lock, stock and barrel” to a Chicago business firm. The old hotel was raised and the bricks and fixtures moved off the property. The famous Otis elevator cage lived on as a gazebo in the Northwest part of town until 2005 when it was returned to East Main Street as a gift to the Main Street Authority. Some of the bricks cover an attractive dwelling in the Dornick Hills area.
-from the book Territory Town: The Ardmore Story by Sally Gray 2006

NOTE: The Whittington featured the first metal cage Otis elevator in Ardmore. After Wiley’s death, his daughter Jewel operated the hotel until it closed in 1965. The building was razed for the bricks and fixtures.

The 1108 locomotive at Ardmore’s new Depot Park. It rushed at full steam from Gainesville to Ardmore the doctors and nurses during the 1915 explosion that nearly wiped out downtown Ardmore.

Below is a couple photos of the Memorial of the 1915 Explosion Judge Tom Walker made possible.

Picture of the old Otis elevator cage from the Whittington Hotel

Another close up of the elevator cage at Depot Park.

The above is a photo of the Whittington family

A Glimpse Into the Past

Mary Niblack School building. The school was located about 7 miles SE of Ardmore in the SW corner of Dogwood and Concord roads. It was named for the first county superintendent of Carter County, Mrs. Mary V. Niblack. In 1913 Mrs Niblack lived at 117 A NW in Ardmore. -1923

In far southwestern Carter county, Oklahoma is a tiny community called Rexroat, Oklahoma. But during the Oklahoma oil boom years, 50 and 70 years ago, Rexroat was like many communities in this county, a bustling town. The town has the same name as State Senator Uriah Thomas Rexroat (1876-1932) from Carter county. In 1931 Senator Rexroat introduced a bill that would establish County Managers for county governments in Oklahoma. The bill did get out of committee, but that was about it, I think.
On Wednesday, July 6, 1921 in Rexroat, Oklahoma an oil worker died as a result of bullet wounds inflicted by a nightwatchman there. The nightwatchman was George Pollock who claimed to represent the law in Rexroat. According to Pollock, Willie Jessie “Bill” Williams, was on Main Street in Rexroat, drunk, carrying an automatic pistol, and gunning for his two brother-in-laws. Nightwatchman Pollock was notified and when he came up to Williams, Williams reached behind him, and came out with the pistol. Pollock shot Williams twice, who died later in the Healdton, Oklahoma hospital. Pollock immediately had a friend drive him to the sheriffs office in Ardmore, where he turned himself in, and held on murder charges. George Pollock claimed he had been deputized as a special officer out of the sheriff’s office.
Rexroat school was located about 1/4 mile west of Midway Road and Crest Road intersection, south side of Crest Road. GPS: 34.216225, -97.390393

“Zaneis Consolidated School – approved in 1921 – located west of the towns of Wilson & south of Healdton. The school was named in honor of Mrs. Kate Zaneis, county Superintendent. One of the youngest schools in the county yet it is strictly a rural school with all the offerings and advantages of any city school in the state. The abandoned Schools in Zaneis Consolidated District are: “Ingram Lane”, “Oak Grove” & “Joiner” ” -1923
Note: Zaneis is spelled incorrectly on the calendar.

Some mail from this week’s MAILBAG…..

RE: Newport School – Butch it was on the west end of the Newport cemetery. It was a one room school house and then a community center and the ladies done quilting. It was torn down early 60s. I remember it well. -Nathan Christian

Hi Butch! Do any of your readers remember the family own and run chili factory, Potts Red River Chili that was located on the NW corner of 5th street and Highway 76 (Main St.) in Healdton, Oklahoma?  I remember eating that back in the 1950’s that sure was good chili it’s a shame that it sold out and closed down. I found out many years later that my deceased wife’s aunt Ruby McClendon worked there and a couple of years before she passed away I ask her about the Potts family and what happened to the chili factory, she informed me that Mr. Potts sold the company to Wolf Brand Chili. Potts chili was made from small chunks of chopped chuck meat not this ground beef stuff that you get today and it had no beans in it, the flavor was so awesome. I’m old chili lover and I have been working hard over the years to try and duplicate the recipe. It was so long ago it’s hard to be exact due to the length of time that has passed. I have come up with this recipe that is pretty darn good in flavor. I thought I would share it with you and your readers in case there are some chili lovers out there. 
Best regards,
Larry Paul

From My Archives – May 27, 2010

“Hi Butch, T&T – memory lane again. Couple of entries Architect J.B. White and Mary Niblack.  J.B. White lived at 902 B St NW, couple blocks from me. Nice house still today. In back is a double garage with room upstairs where his draftsmen worked. On B St & Broadway where the Ardmoreite is now, is White’s latest and greatest in Ardmore, The Gilbert Building. We were fairly close to the family, my Mother and a White daughter graduated high school together in 1921.

Attached is photo of my aunt’s 1910 teacher’s certificate signed by Mary Niblack – County Superintendent. As a kid, 1930s, I remember the Mary Niblack school house on that road about a mile South of now Springdale Road. I recall it as a vacant building, simple square two stories sitting back from the road on the West side.” -Bob McCrory


“I went to Ardmore schools from 1931 to ’41 when I graduated. I remember J. Hamilton Green very well. The Green family lived in the 100 block of 8th Ave NW in Ardmore. He was also my Sunday school teacher at one time. All the kids liked him. I have no specific info in recall. Hope this helps.”  -Robert McCrory

Down in the meadow
Carved on a rock
Are these words
“Forget me not”.

See everyone next Thursday!

Butch and Jill Bridges
236 Timber Road
Ardmore, Oklahoma