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Chapter 4
Statehood

There were many arguments and discussions, mostly for political purposes, as to whether Oklahoma should be an Indian state, two states, or one state which combined both territories. 

Finally, in 1907, Oklahoma became the forty-sixth state. We were still living at 302 North Frisco and I was seven years old. I am sorry to say that I remember very little of this event but, at seven, I probably had the more important things that little girls think about on my mind.

The plugging of the gas well on our property left Dad somewhat discouraged and, after selling some of the lots on North Frisco, he traded the remaining lots for a one-hundred sixty acre farm about six miles from Bristow. This was in the spring of 1908. Dad went ahead, moving furniture and planting a large field of cotton. 

The family then moved, my father to the farm and Mother, my sister and I to a room in Bristow so that we could finish the school term in Bristow. When the term was over, we also went to the farm. In those days, the Fourth of July was a big event. We used to pack our lunches and travel the six miles into Bristow for the celebration along with the other families.

Later that month my brother Harry, then twenty-three years old, came home to the farm. He had been working in Kiefer building wooden oil derricks and had fallen, injuring his heart, and had come home to recuperate. My dad had bought six head of cattle and of course we had Old Bill and Shorty, a bay horse that was a pacer. 

Harry would use Shorty when he was driving the buggy. One day, when Mother, Princess, and I were in the house and Harry and Dad were in the barn, we had one of those heavy rain and hail storms that come up so quickly. The men had to stay in the barn and we had to stay in the house until the storm was over. After the storm had passed, they discovered that the cattle had all been standing near the fence and that lightning had killed all six of them.

The Negroes lived in a small house on our farm not far from the main house during the cotton planting and picking seasons. They were to come the next day to pick the cotton, but the hail had beaten it into the ground and it was a total loss. Shortly after this Harry came down with typhoid fever. I woke up one night and noticed that there was no one upstairs. 

I went down stairs to find my father working with my brother in the kitchen. I could hear Harry saying, " I don't want to die". To this day I can hear him saying that in my mind. He was only bedfast for a few days before dying, less than a month after his twenty-third birthday. Harry was taken to Tulsa for burial. 

He had been in the Elks Lodge and they had asked to take part in the funeral. Dad did not know that the Elks were going to place Harry in their own lot at Oaklawn and, when he found out, he wouldn't do anything to upset their plans. Later, however, he had Harry and other family members that had been buried at the old cemetery at Frisco and Second, moved to the family plot in Oaklawn.

Harry had been engaged to one of the daughters of the Stevenson family who owned the ice plant. She came to our house many times after Harry's death-- Mother always laid a place for her at the table just in case. She came to see us even after she later married. Then to make matters worse, when we went back to the farm, I came down with typhoid fever and was sick for six weeks. 

I was delirious for two of the six weeks. I can remember waking up in the night and seeing Dad sitting there by my bed reading. There was a kerosene lamp on the desk part of the secretary and the other side had a rounded glass front covering the book shelves. I lay there for what seemed like a very long time and finally asked him why he was there and why I was in the downstairs bed. 

He was so pleased when I talked. The fever had broken and he could tell that I was myself once more. In comparing my illness to Harry's, he must have been in a much weaker condition due to his injury just before he developed the fever, whereas I was young and could throw it off better.

Dad traded the 160 acre farm near Bristow to George Bullette for property at 602 North Detroit and at 213 East Fairview. Dad paid fifteen hundred dollars for another farm near Stroud and later he traded it for a house in the 200 block on South Lansing. Mother, my sister Princess, and I moved into this house and Princess and I started to school in the latter part of September. 

As it turned out, the wrong Negro had signed the deed for the Stroud farm and Dad was out the fifteen hundred dollars. Dad deeded the home on South Lansing back to the young man and his family saying that we had another home and that he was not going to take that boy's home away from him.

In the summer of 1909, we moved to our new home at 602 North Detroit. At that time our only water supply was a cistern well about three feet in diameter and twenty-six feet deep. I guess that we had a water well and burned wood when we lived on North Frisco, but the first gas lights and gas stoves that I can remember were when we moved into this house. 

Dad guttered the house and built a charcoal filter so that the rain water was collected and delivered to the cistern through the filter. We had plenty of water but sometimes we had to strain it to remove the tadpoles. We had gas lamps, but the mantles were very fragile and would break in the slightest wind. I used to get on my bike and ride down to the store to buy some more mantles. 

We also had a kerosene Aladdin lamp with a beautiful globe. This was a very good lamp which gave a very bright light. We kept this lamp in the living room and used it together with the gas lamps.

A short time after we moved into this house, water was piped into our neighborhood. Water was already piped into other parts of town. The house was not built for a bathroom so Dad added a room on the north side of the house at the back. He built a covered porch between the new room and the kitchen door and enclosed it on the north and west. 

We had to go out the kitchen door to the porch and then through the door into the new bathroom which had a gas heater. The water was clear, but it was not drinkable. I am not sure where the water came from, but years later and aqueduct could be seen going west toward Sand Springs. This may have been the source, but I remember Dad talking about artesian wells also. 

In any event, the town soon outgrew the supply and the Arkansas River was tapped. It had so much sand and clay in it that it ate out the plumbing and salesmen coming to Tulsa were advised by salesmen who had been here to bring along a whisk broom to brush the clay off their bodies after a bath.

My cousins, who were the children of my mother's sister Leone Chambers and her husband John, always seemed to pick our house for various celebrations. They lived in a small town named Mounds and Tulsa by comparison must have seemed like a large city to them. When I was nine or ten years old, my cousin El and his fiancée Nellie decided to get married at our house. Tulsa's population must have been around ten thousand at that time. My mother fixed dinner after my cousin and his bride were married.

It was summer time, peach time to be exact. As my sister was already married, I was the only child left at home. Things were not done the same way as they are now. Children are generally fed first now. In those days, when there were several people there, the children generally waited until the adults had finished eating before they were fed. 

This I didn't mind as Mother always saved back plenty of the things that I liked. Fried chicken was on the menu that day and I knew that mother would save me some breasts and, since it was a special occasion, I waited. I went outside to wait while the grownups ate and, since there were no other children, I became restless.

We had a large peach tree close to the house and it had a beautiful pink peach near the top just ready for eating. I got the step ladder to pick it but I had to stand on the very top of the ladder in order to reach the peach. As I grabbed the peach, the ladder started to fall and I rode it down to the ground, still holding the peach. I wasn't hurt at all but the noise brought all of the dinner folks outside to see what had happened and they found me sitting on the ground with a large pink peach in my hand.

Whenever there were several grownups and several children, the children always waited for the second table. When the adults seemed to linger around the table, one of us would mosey in to see how they were progressing and then come back to tell the rest how things were going. 

We kept pretty close tabs on how far along the adults were in their meal. I believe that my generation, because of these early experiences of being hungry and wishing that the adults would hurry up and finish their meal, fed our children first, or at least at the same time as the adults were fed. However, unless there were too many to seat at one time, my parents included us children at the same time the adults ate.

Since my grandfather was a Methodist minister in Ridgefarm, Illinois, my parents were also Methodist. Dad sang bass in the choir and mother was an active member. However, something happened in the days before I can remember that caused the church to split, but my sister told me that Grandmother Mowbray (no relation, just known to all by this name), who was very active in the church, told the minister that he was littler than a mouse and then added, "No, you are littler than a louse!"

This split resulted in the organization of the First Christian Church. There were eighteen people - Mother was one of them - in the original charter. I have forgotten most of the names but among the ones that I do remember were the Clements, the Marshall's, the Winters, I think the Winterringer's, and my mother. 

The first time that I remember the First Christian Church building was when, in 1908, my brother's funeral was held there. It was a red brick building on the northwest corner of Second and Boulder. Later the church was located at Fourth and Boulder. At this church I participated in both Sunday School and Church by playing my squeaky violin.

When I was a baby, I was sprinkled into the Methodist Church and given a birth certificate. When I was twelve, I joined the Christian Church at Fourth and Boulder and was immersed at that time. I am getting a little ahead of myself in time, but, in order to continue with this thought, the present church at Ninth and Boulder was built in about 1918 and I attended this church. 

Later I would also take my small sons to this church. I have found that fundamentally all religions have a great deal in common. However, I am still associated with the Christian Church but I believe each person should find the religion which best suits his or her needs. I was sprinkled in the Methodist church, immersed in the Christian church, and later married in the Lutheran church. I feel all are striving for the same end.

All was not religion in those days. In the early 1900's, Tulsa was considered the racing center of the state, running mostly trotters and pacers. The race track was located at the fairgrounds which was north of Admiral and east of Lewis. Some of my older cousins, who lived south of Tulsa, had horses in these races and they would stay overnight at our house. In 1913, the state legislature passed an anti-racetrack/gambling law. 

Oklahoma City closed down its tracks, but Tulsa went ahead with its racing and gambling schedule that year. A restraining order was issued but not enforced and the races continued. Governor Cruse declared that normal processes of law and order had broken down in Tulsa and declared martial law at the fairgrounds. The state militia moved in and pitched their tents in the middle of the field. Tickets were sold and the stands were full, but the soldiers moved into the stands and emptied them.

Patrons were refunded their money on their way out. The promoters, however, stated that the races would be run as advertised and as the horses rounded the first turn the militia fired a volley over their heads. When the race was over, the militia warned that the next time they would shoot to kill. This ended the horse racing in Tulsa and the next day martial law was ended. I know that this chapter was supposed to be about statehood, but all of the political events are well documented in other places. So, I took the liberty of recounting what was happening to my family during that period while including some of the events of the time.



Reproduced by 
Kathie Harrison
Ancestral Whispers
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