Column sent to Frederick Leader and Frederick Press
September 22, 2009
Early Newspapers Chronicled Life
When this part of Oklahoma Territory was opened for settlement in August 1901 people came to establish new lives. From the earliest days, Frederick newspapers have chronicled marriages, births, deaths, and social events in communities throughout the area.
A new book called “Tillman County Personals: Abstracts from Frederick, OK Newspapers, May 1902-June 1911” compiles brief notices from the area’s first decade after settlement as printed in The Hazel Enterprise and The Frederick Enterprise (forerunners of The Frederick Press) and The Frederick Free Press (an early newspaper that ceased publication on December 26, 1903).
The newspaper abstracts were assembled for book form by Linda Norman Garrison and printed by the Southwest Oklahoma Genealogical Society. The 194-page paperback book can be ordered from the SWOKGS at P.O. Box 148, Lawton, OK 73502, for $25 plus $3 postage.
The book is fascinating reading. It notes happy events such as parties and church gatherings, along with references to births and marriages, mixed in with details about sicknesses and deaths. The book’s entries are random – not every issue of every newspaper is referenced, nor is every newspaper item included.
The book does contain an index of names for easy searching.
The following abstracts from the book tell interesting information about development of the area. Unless otherwise noted, the following items are from the Frederick Enterprise.
June 4, 1902: “D.B. Pearson is just about as proud a man as walks the streets of Frederick. The first baby born in the town put in an appearance Tuesday morning at 9:45, is a girl and weighed just 10 pounds. The town will present the little Miss with a nice house and lot.”
June 11, 1902: “The new Bank of Commerce in Frederick threw open its doors to the public Monday and announced ready for business, with Judge R.S. Kelly, of Vernon, Texas, as cashier. W.T. Waggoner is president of the bank and L. G. Hawkins, the cashier of the Waggoner National Bank of Vernon, is vice president.”
June 20, 1902: “The town of Frederick is located thirty miles northeast of Vernon, Tex., on the Bes Line railroad and fifty miles southwest of Lawton, in one of the richest farming sections in the Territory of Oklahoma. The town is not quite six months old and has a population of about 500, and is rapidly increasing, while the business interests are represented by large stocks of merchandise of every kind.”
December 12, 1902: “Tuesday afternoon the stationery for the First State Bank of Frederick finally arrived and the next morning at 9 o’clock the doors of that bank were swung open to the public. The first business transacted at the bank was Monday morning when R.H. Wessel transferred his deposit from a Lawton bank to this institution.”
Jan. 2, 1903: “Yesterday the post office department dropped the name Gosnell and began calling this town Frederick. The city now stands upon two quarter sections which were filed on by Robert Gosnell and Miss Ollie Gosnell. The strange thing is that they are not relatives. The east quarter belonged to Robert and the west to Ollie, now Mrs. Stevens. The father of Miss Gosnell, Rev. S.M. Gosnell, started the present town. The house he erected on his daughter’s claim was the first house built west of Lawton. It was put up a year ago last August. Mr. Gosnell got up a petition for a post office, became the postmaster, and the town was named Gosnell in his honor.”
Jan. 9, 1903: “Probably the greatest deal transacted in the new country occurred in this city Wednesday morning when Chas. E. Hunter sold one half of the Bes line’s townsite interest in Frederick to J.L. Lair for $15,000.”
Mar. 20, 1903: “After the services Sunday evening of Rev. Ralph J. Lamb, that evangelist organized a Presbyterian church at this place with sixteen charter members.”
May 2, 1903, The Frederick Free Press: “On this page we print the first authentic picture of the first child born in Frederick. Fredoline Pearson, the daughter of D.B. and Sallie Pearson. She was born June 3rd, 1902, within a hundred feet of the first store building in the city and at that time there was not to exceed fifty people here. Dr. Lawthorne was the only physician, and the following persons had pitched their tents here at that time and began business. Harris & James, W.S. McCurdy and D.B. Pearson and Seth Gettys, in the grocery line; Ligon & McHugh and C.T. Herring, in the lumber business; Wood Bros. and R.C. Neal, hardware; J.A. Wiley and Prophit & Good had restaurants; Prince & Co. drug store; Spidle and Killough, Finley & Hampton and R.J. Cato, in the saloon business; Ira Holloman had a livery stable, and the Gosnell hotel had just been erected; While Waters & Hancock were the only real estate men on the present town site.”
May 30, 1903, The Frederick Free Press: “The name of Texawa station has been changed to Davidson, and a petition has been filed to make the post office name correspond.”
July 15, 1904: “The first automobile that was ever rode into Frederick was on the streets last Sunday night when Station Agent Livisy, of Mountain Park visited this place in company with L.A. Scholer.”
August 19, 1904: “At 11:20 last night fire broke out in the Red Store on South Main street and in a few minutes three of Frederick’s most substantial firms were wiped out of existence with a total loss of about $20,000. Losers in the fire are: Red Store, dry goods, W.W. Rogers and E.E. Rogers, props., building belonged to J.L. Lair; the Bell Store, W.A. Stinson and Edison Carter, props., building belonged to J.L. Lair; small building belonging to Dr. Lawhorn containing a quantity of salt belonging to L.J. Massie & Co.”
May 5, 1905: “J.R. Abernathy has been appointed Deputy U.S. Marshal. This appointment came to Mr. Abernathy unsolicited. His headquarters will be at this place. He is the only U.S. Marshal in Comanche county.”