Sunday, July 24, 2011

Statehood approved in U.S. House, 1906


Survey Map of Oklahoma and Indian Territory showing distances, municipal towns, and post offices, 
published by George Cram, 1902 (from National Archives). Indian Territory was located in the east part of what would later become the state of Oklahoma. Oklahoma Territory was located in the west. Most of the area of Oklahoma Territory that would become Tillman County at statehood was Comanche County in 1902. Part of present-day northern Tillman County was Kiowa County. Townsites identified on the 1902 map were Texowa (later Davidson); Pearson (on rail line 4.5 miles north of Texowa); Goodman (located in the far southwest part of the county); Gosnell P.O. or Frederick; Manitou; and Schofield (east of Manitou).

Oklahoma Statehood was long process


    The following article appeared on page one of the Frederick Enterprise (forerunner of the Frederick Press), Frederick, Oklahoma Territory, on February 1, 1906:  


PASSES HOUSE

 – – –

The Statehood Bill Passed House
Last Thursday by Vote of 194
to 150. McGuire Confident

 
   According to program the debate on the statehood bill began at 11 o'clock Thursday. When the vote was announced it was found that it had passed despite the fact that every democrat and thirty three of the republicans voted nay.

   The bill as passed provides that Oklahoma and Indian Territory shall constitute one state known as Oklahoma and that Arizona and New Mexico form another to be known as Arizona. Should the terms of admission be ratified by the citizens of the territories, their respective state constitutions must contain clauses prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors and plural marriages.

   The most impressive of the ten minute speeches which preceded the vote was that of Delegate McGuire. After the vote was announced he immediately rushed it to the senate territorial committee.

   It is now up to the Senate for consideration. Opponents to the measure will try dilatory tactics but it is believed that it will pass with practically no amendments.




  Although the Oklahoma and Indian Territories had sufficient population to be admitted as separate states, Congress insisted that the territories would only be granted statehood as a single, combined state. As a result, delegates representing the citizens of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories met in Oklahoma City in July 1905 for a joint statehood convention. They outlined their reasons for statehood—they had sufficient land area, population, resources and character—and drafted a petition to Congress.
H.R. 12707 (from National Archives)
   
   As reported in the Frederick Enterprise, the U.S. House of Representatives approved HR 12707 on Thursday, January 25, 1906, paving the way for Oklahoma statehood under certain conditions. The Enterprise report's assessment that no amendments were expected proved very wrong.

   Since the House bundled New Mexico and Arizona statehood with Oklahoma statehood, HR 12707 proved very controversial. Speaker "Uncle Joe" Cannon (R-IL) pushed the contentious bill through the House.

   When the bill went to the Senate, though, the bill was amended to omit New Mexico and Arizona statehood. Cannon, despite many telegrams from the residents of the Oklahoma and Indian Territories remained determined to resist the Senate's amendments.

   On June 16, 1906, after months of political wrangling, Congress finally passed an act enabling the people of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories to form a state constitution and state government and to be admitted into the Union on equal footing with the existing states. Congress included a compromise measure that allowed the voters of the Arizona Territory and New Mexico Territory to decide if the territories should be admitted into the union as one state.

   On September 17, 1907 the people of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories voted favorably on statehood. The vote was certified and delivered to the President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt and on November 16, 1907, Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation 780 admitting Oklahoma as the 46th state. In his annual message on December 3, 1907 — just a few weeks later — President Roosevelt announced to Congress, "Oklahoma has become a state, standing on full equity with her elder sisters, and her future is assured by her great natural resources."
 
Bird Segle McGuire
   New Mexico became the 47th state when it was admitted to the union on January 6, 1912. Arizona, the 48th state, was admitted on February 14, 1912.

   NOTE: Delegate McGuire to whom the article refers was Bird Segle McGuire. McGuire, a Pawnee attorney, was elected as a Republican delegate to the 58th and 59th Congresses, serving from 1903 to 1907. When Oklahoma became a state in 1907, McGuire was elected as a Representative to the 60th and to the three succeeding Congresses, serving from November 16, 1907, until March 3, 1915.


Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society's board of directors. He may be contacted by e-mail at jawynn@cableone.net.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Building bridge across river was challenge

The first Red River Bridge south of Davidson was built in 1924 The road was part of the Lee National Highway.
Click Photos to Enlarge


Wooden bridge spanned Red River in 1924
Today’s travelers routinely zip at high speeds across the modern Red River Bridge south of Davidson, with no thought about the engineering feat that the bridge represents. In this area’s early history, though, crossing of the river and construction of the earliest Red River bridges presented great obstacles.
In 1976 Frederick photographer and writer Madge Cohea Dombrowski wrote an article for the Wichita Falls newspaper, giving a history of the original 1924 wooden bridge south of Davidson and construction of the concrete bridge, completed in 1939, that is currently unused but still spans the river.
Most of us remember Madge for her many decades of wonderful photography work, along with sister Norene Armour, at Cohea Studio. Madge also served as longtime Tillman County correspondent for numerous area and state newspapers.
Madge Dombrowski’s bridge article from 1976 follows in its entirety:  
       SINCE 1924 BRIDGE HAS BEEN VITAL LINK

“FREDERICK, Okla. – The Red River, the broad sandy river bed whose usual trickle of water separates the states of Texas and Oklahoma, was a problem to early residents travelling between Frederick and Vernon, Tex., for lumber, supplies and to catch the train.
“When the river was low, it could be forded but the mucky sand impeded passage of heavily loaded wagons. When the water was high, barges were used. To aid local commerce and transportation, it was clear to Texas and Oklahoma residents that a bridge had to be built.
“In 1924, plans were made to build the bridge near Davidson, Okla. It was to be the longest wooden bridge in existence – more than a mile in length and was to be called Frederick-Vernon Bridge.
“Construction of the bridge was by George D. Key’s company and Ernest Guyer, Tillman County engineer. Completion of the bridge opened relatively accessible travel between the two states.
“But the wooden bridge had its weaknesses. It was so long that high spring waters usually washed it out in the center, which took weeks to repair. When fire nearly destroyed it in 1936, plans were made to construct a fireproof steel and concrete bridge. The expensive construction of a concrete bridge was particularly supported by the late lawyer, Cecil Chamberlain.
“A crew of about 75 men from the Force Jones Construction Company used teams and scrapers to divert the river about one-half mile upstream in order to excavate for piers, which were sunk into the earth and then reinforced with concrete. This bridge, completed in 1939, is still in use today. Half of the cost of the $600,000 bridge was borne by the federal government. Texas and Oklahoma each paid $150,000.
“The river has not conquered the bridge as it yearly did the wooden one. Only once since the bridge’s construction has the river risen over bridge level.”
Roads were unpaved in the 1920s. Pictured is the Oklahoma approach to the 1924 bridge.

The Red River is pictured at flood stage. Spring flooding routinely damaged the wooden bridge.

The concrete Red River Bridge was built in the late 1930s.
Today, Oklahoma approach, the 1939 bridge (right) is blocked from use. The modern bridge (left) runs alongside.


The 1939 Red River Bridge stands, closed to traffic, immediately west of the "new" Red River Bridge.
The Red River's flow, at right, is pictured below Hwy 183 during drought conditions, July 23, 2011.

 _ _ _

Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society’s Board of Directors. He can be contacted by email at jawynn@cableone.net.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Local farmer killed in Frederick, 1905


Sent to The Frederick Leader and The Frederick Press, July 11, 2011

Frederick's Grand Avenue

Downtown Frederick was scene of tragic 1905 killing
The part of Oklahoma Territory that would become the western part of Tillman County was opened to settlement in August 1901.
Violent actions were not uncommon in the newly settled Oklahoma Territory. A dispute about funding of a country school led to a tragic killing in downtown Frederick in November 1905.
Sylvester B. Stoneback, a prominent farmer and blacksmith who lived seven miles southwest of Frederick, was shot and killed by Al Douglas, a deputy city marshal. According to a November 9, 1905 article in the Frederick Enterprise (forerunner to The Frederick Press) Stoneback was killed under tragic circumstances:
     “One of the most deplorable tragedies that ever occurred in Oklahoma, took place on the streets of Frederick about 4 o’clock last Saturday afternoon, when Al Douglas, deputy city marshal, shot Sylvester B. Stoneback with a derringer pistol above the left eye, causing his death a little over an hour later.
     “The shooting originated over a difficulty between Jim Brown and other property owners of school district No. 160, about seven miles southwest of town.”
     [NOTE: District 160 was Valley Home School which was located five miles west and two miles south of Frederick. In 1930, the school would become part of Weaver Consolidated #13]
     “Some time ago the patrons of that district decided that they would get fixtures for the school house, but as there was not sufficient money in the treasury it was decided to assess every quarter of land $5.30. Each of the property owners paid this share, except Jim Brown, who owns a fine farm in that community, and two others, who said they would pay if everyone else did.
     “Stoneback, treasurer of the district, W.F. Byrnes, director and Thos. Simmons, clerk, went to Brown, but he refused to pay.
     “Last Saturday [November 4, 1905] Stoneback came to town to act as witness for Andrew J. Lancaster, who proved up on his claim in that locality, before the writer. Mr. Stoneback was in good spirits and joked as he signed the affidavit, which was destined to be his last signature.
     “Later he met Brown and again attempted to get this money. This occurred in front of the Bell store and hot words ensued, but they separated without personal encounter. Some time after this he [Stoneback] went to Kelly’s hardware and borrowed a revolver, stating that he might need it in bluffing some cotton pickers whom he intended rounding up.
     “Later Jim Brown together with Al Douglas, Walter Pulliam, Rogers and Harper walked up the street. In front of Price’s restaurant they passed several men from Dist. 160, and some one began jeering Brown. The latter turned abruptly about, walked into the crowd, exclaiming an oath that if anyone wanted anything out of him he could get it.
     “At this Thos. Simmons struck Brown and forced the latter into the street. At this Brown whipped out his revolver and fired, either accidentally or otherwise. He then struck Simmons on the head with his weapon, knocking him to the ground, where he lay dazed a moment.”
     The Enterprise reported numerous accounts of what happened next, but established that Sylvester Stoneback pulled his revolver and pointed it at Brown. Most witnesses stated that Stoneback was not trying to fire at Brown, but to cover Brown so that he would not shoot again. The written account continued:
     “There seemed to be a preponderance of evidence that Douglas walked up behind Stoneback without saying a word; that the latter was so intent watching Brown, who was southeast of him, that he did not know any one was near, until Douglas knocked down his left arm and thrusting forward his revolver fired the moment Stoneback turned his head.
     “The bullet struck Stoneback above the left eye, and lodged in his head. The latter staggered to the right and fell, with the hand holding the revolver under him.”
     Stoneback’s body fell in the mud of the street. He was taken to a store building and then to the office of Dr. Priestly where he died two hours later without regaining consciousness.
Both Brown and Douglas were placed under arrest.
     On Wednesday, November 8, a preliminary hearing was conducted in a building on South Main Street before Justice of the Peace F.R. Wynn. The building was crowded with spectators to hear testimony from twelve witnesses.
     The case against Brown was dismissed, but Douglas was kept in custody pending consideration of the case during the next term of district court.
     Funeral for Sylvester Stoneback was held at the Stoneback farm home on Tuesday morning, November 7, conducted according to rites of the Modern Woodsmen of America, of which the deceased was a member. Following the funeral, a mile-long funeral procession accompanied the body to Highland Cemetery [the original name of today’s Frederick Memorial Cemetery] for burial.
     The Enterprise reported, “At the grave each neighbor deposited a sprig of evergreen on the lowered casket. With the words, ‘goodbye and farewell, peace, peace to thee, and to thine,’ the ceremony ended, with tears trickling down the cheeks of many of the onlookers.”
     Stoneback had been born in Pennsylvania in 1858, but as a child had moved with his family to Clay County, Kansas. Stoneback’s father had drawn a claim in the August 6, 1901 land lottery, and allowed his son to settle the claim near Frederick.
     A wife and four daughters survived Stoneback.

NOTE: Full text of the November 9, 1905, Frederick Enterprise article follows.

Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society’s Board of Directors. He can be contacted by email at jawynn@cableone.net.
 _ _ _

The Frederick Enterprise, Thursday, November 9, 1905

STONEBACK SLAIN

Shot down on streets of Frederick last Saturday by Al Douglass – Jim Brown precipitated the trouble – Engaged in a fight with Thos. Simmons and made a gun play – Stoneback came to his friend Simmons aid and is shot without warning.
_ _ _
One of the most deplorable tragedies that ever occurred in Oklahoma, took place on the streets of Frederick about 4 o’clock last Saturday afternoon, when Al Douglas, deputy city marshal, shot Sylvester B. Stoneback with a derringer pistol above the left eye, causing his death a little over an hour later.
ORIGIN OF DIFFICULTY
The shooting originated over a difficulty between Jim Brown and other property owners of school district No. 160, about seven miles southwest of town. Some time ago the patrons of that district decided that they would get fixtures for the school house, but as there was not sufficient money in the treasury it was decided to assess every quarter of land $5.30. Each of the property owners paid this share, except Jim Brown, who owns a fine farm in that community, and who others, who said they would pay if everyone else did.
Stoneback, treasurer of the district, W.F. Byrnes, director and Thos. Simmons, clerk, went to Brown, but he refused to pay.
Last Saturday Stoneback came to town to act as witness for Andrew J. Lancaster, who proved up on his claim in that locality, before the writer. Mr. Stoneback was in good spirits and joked as he signed the affidavit, which was destined to be his last signature.
Later he met Brown and again attempted to get this money. This occurred in front of the Bell store and hot words ensued, but they separated without personal encounter. Some time after this he went to Kelly’s hardware and borrowed a revolver, stating that he might need it in bluffing some cotton pickers whom he intended rounding up.
Later Jim Brown together with Al Douglas, Walter Pulliam, Rogers and Harper walked up the street. In front of Price’s restaurant they passed several men from Dist. 160, and some one began jeering Brown. The latter turned abruptly about, walked into the crowd, exclaiming an oath that if anyone wanted anything out of him he cold get it.
FIGHT BEGINS
At this Simmons struck Brown and forced the latter into the street. At this Brown whipped out his revolver and fired, either accidentally or otherwise. He then struck Simmons on the head with his weapon, knocking him to the ground, where he lay dazed a moment. Upon regaining consciousness he saw that Douglas had shot Stoneback, and fearing that Douglas might shoot him, he says he retreated into Price’s.
The evidence seemed to be practically conclusive at the preliminary yesterday, that Stoneback walked out or was about fifteen feet south of the sidewalk, pointing his revolver at Brown, when the former was first observed. One or two witnesses for the defense stated that at this moment some one said, “Shoot him for he shot me’ and also that Stoneback appeared to be trying to pull the trigger.
DOUGLAS FIRES
The witnesses for the territory practically testified alike to the statement that Stoneback did not appear to try to fire, but that he had Brown covered so the latter could not again shoot. There seemed to be a preponderance of evidence that Douglas walked up behind Stoneback without saying a word; that the latter was so intent watching Brown, who was southeast of him, that he did not know any one was near, until Douglas knocked down his left arm and thrusting forward his revolver fired the moment Stoneback turned his head.
The bullet struck Stoneback above the left eye, and lodged in his head. The latter staggered to the right and fell, with the hand holding the revolver under him.
Douglas walked back to the side walk still holding his pistol. Brown also stood on the sidewalk, looking very pale, pistol in hand, about the time the writer appeared on the scene.
By this time a large crowd had assembled, which Marshal Shive seemed to believe might do some violence. He allowed no one to touch Stoneback’s body until Justice of the Peace F.R. Wynn arrived, who at once asked some of the bystanders to assist him in carrying the body out of the mud.
STONEBACK DIES
The limp form was taken into Wm. Cook’s store and a little later to the old Nicholson store building. A pool of blood marked the spot where he had laid in the street. As he was stretched out on a mattress in this building, his brains could be seen oozing from his wound. His pulse, however, remained strong and it seemed he might live at least for a few hours so that he might again speak, but he never gained consciousness after being shot.
Later he was taken to Dr. Priestley’s where he expired shortly before 6.
DOUGLAS AND BROWN ARRESTED
Douglas and Brown were placed under arrest, the former not being allowed bail. They employed Ahern & Hetzel of this place. Attorneys McElhoes, Blanding, Hudson & Keys, and Stevens, of Lawton, all of whom were present at the preliminary yesterday except Mr. Stevens.
THE TRIAL
Yesterday Al Douglas was given a preliminary before Justice Wynn on the charge of murder in the first degree. The trial was held in a building on South Main which was crowded with spectators who listened to the twelve witnesses for the territory and the six for the defense. At the conclusion, about 5:30 p.m., Judge Wynn bound the defendant over to await the action of the grand jury without bail. The witnesses for the state were: D.J. Weathers, Newt Gillaspy, F.G. Baldwin, E.M. Hedrick, A.D. Winsor, B.R. Prater, E.K, Griffith, F.G. Priestley, Gus Gilson, Sam McDowell, Lee Rhodes, J.C. Whitenburg; for the defense: R. Iimberlin, Walter Putnam, Mat Harper, W.H. Graham, C.C. Shive, and Polk Fry. The testimony was about as outlined above.
The attorneys for the prosecution and defense submitted Brown’s case upon the testimony already introduced in the Douglas case. Argument was waived and the court discharged Brown. The county attorney then discharged the case against Brown for carrying concealed weapons.
All the attorneys from Lawton left for their home today, in company with Marshal Shive who has Al Douglas in custody. Douglas will be placed in county jail until his day comes up at the next term of the district court. His attorneys will attempt to have Judge Gillette let him out on bail.
THE FUNERAL
The deceased has been a member in good standing of the Modern Woodsmen of American since 1891, and at his request during life, he was buried by the local camp. The impressive ceremony of this order occurred at the residence, seven miles southwest of town, shortly after 10 o’clock Tuesday morning, with Venerable Council A.D. Winsor in charge. John Carr was master of ceremonies. The members of the local camp, in carriages, led the procession, from the residence to Highland cemetery The hearse with the remains followed, after which were the relatives and friends, making a procession about a mile in length showing the high regard in which the dead neighbor was held.
At the grave each neighbor deposited a sprig of evergreen on the lowered casket. With the words, “goodbye and farewell, peace, peace to thee, and to thine,” the ceremony ended, with tears trickling down the cheeks of many of the onlookers.
BIOGRAPHY
Sylvester B. Stoneback was born at North Coventry, Pennsylvania, Oct. 4, 1858. Early in life his parents moved to Clay county, Kansas, where he helped his father farm, and later learned the trade of blacksmith. At the time of the opening his father drew a claim here but allowed his son to file on it. The latter moved here with his family about four years ago. His family consists of his wife who is in feeble health, and four daughters: Lula, aged 20, now Mrs. Henry Nicholas; Elva, aged 19; Georgia, aged 16 and Hazel, aged 12. Georgia has been an invalid for the past four years and was not able to accompany the remains of her dear father to their last resting place.
In addition to being a successful farmer, Mr. Stoneback ran a blacksmith shop on his farm. He was an exemplary husband and father, and was highly respected by his neighbors. His tragic death has cemented his many friends in this entire community together, and they are determined that justice shall be meted out. In this they are backed by all law-abiding citizens. The local Woodmen camp will assist in seeing that the case is vigorously prosecuted.
John Stoneback, father of the deceased, luckily was visiting here at the time, and did much to lighten the burdens of the sorrowing family. John Grant, a brother, from Topeka, and Mrs. Laura Petermyer, of Morgansvile, and Mrs. Mary Young, of Clifton, Kansas also arrived and were present at the funeral, as were also Mrs. Mary Tebbe and Albert Eversoll, mother and brother-in-law, respectively, of Mrs. Stoneback. Both are from Morganville, Kansas.