Friday, July 27, 2012

Frederick 1948

Downtown Frederick, Oklahoma, 1948

Downtown Frederick in the '40s

     The photo above was taken in downtown Frederick in the late 1940s.

     Although the photo is undated, the car models and date of that year's Tillman County Fair (September 8, 9, 10, and 11) indicate that the year was probably 1948.

     The photographer's vantage point was the intersection of Ninth Street and Grand Avenue, looking eastward to a view of businesses in the 100 block of West Grand.

     Downtown Frederick was a busy place in those days.

The 100 Block of West Grand Avenue today (photo taken Friday morning, July 27, 2012)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mrs. R.F. Stewart

Sent to The Frederick Leader and The Frederick Press, February 9, 2009
Mrs. Stewart is pictured sitting in her car at the mule barn.

Early Frederick resident is remembered at Pioneer Townsite
In the early days of Frederick, a large mule barn was located on the northwest corner of the current courthouse square. The mule barn was operated by a gentleman named R.F. Stewart.
On many afternoons Mr. Stewart’s wife, a woman of German descent, would drive to the mule barn in the couple’s automobile and play the accordion from the open, canvas-top car. The Pioneer Townsite Museum has a picture of Mrs. Stewart in the car, with the barn, three mules, Mr. Stewart and another man in the background.
Mrs. Stewart’s accordion is on display at the local museum.
Today Mrs. Stewart's accordion is displayed at the Pioneer Townsite.

In 1980, the late Alice Faye McLellan Womack of Duncan wrote her memories of Mrs. Stewart for the Tillman County Historical Society:
“Some years before World War I, R.F. Stewart came to Frederick with his wife, a delightful young woman of German descent whom he had married in one of the north central states where so many people from Scotland, Scandinavia, and Germany had immigrated.
Mr. Stewart operated a mule-trading business at the northwest corner of the present courthouse block. The building was known as the ‘Big Red Barn'. Indeed it was large, had a curving roof, and was quite red (a copy of the many barns still found on the farms of Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, etc.).
Mrs. Stewart was a typical German housewife of that era. She was a skilled cook, kept a spotless house, and was a devoted wife and homemaker. Even though the ladies of the town were hesitant to accept her, accept her they did, foreign accent and all, because she was such a cheerful, outgoing individual. She came to church whenever Mr. Stewart attended, although she probably had not been reared in that faith. She sat quietly with hands folded and a smile on her face as her eyes gazed at the stained-glass windows. She always wore long, full-cut white dresses in a shirtwaist style, handmade, with lace and embroidery trimming. Even though she was short and overweight (‘dumpy’ in those days), with her black hair and creamy complexion, she was quite lovely.
The Stewarts seemed to like all of us children, although they had none of their own. He would let us sit on the fence and admire his mules, and she would invite a few of us to have homemade cookies, milk, and punch in her usually restricted parlor.
Then came World War I and all Germans became suspected enemies, even one’s friends and neighbors. Many Frederick women began to look the other way when they walked by the Stewart home (at 401 North 11th Street) or when they met Mrs. Stewart in the stores or on the street. She quit going out and pulled the shades down. Even though the children did not really understand, they quit going by for their ‘tea parties.’
Even today I cannot believe that all this happened, but I look back with pride to several mothers who eventually called Mrs. Stewart and told her that their children missed her and her little parties and that they would like to come by for a visit.
From then on, some of us went by, on the way home from school, twice a week. We were allowed to spend an hour on each visit, homework or not. I can still see those beautiful china cups and smell those little cakes and cookies! However, the most lasting impression was the pernicious cruelty caused by the prejudice of neighbors and friends.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

1902 Newspaper

The Hazel Enterprise, May 7, 1902
The first newspaper to be published in the area that would become Tillman County was most likely The Hazel Enterprise. Issue 1 of the newspaper was printed on May 7, 1902, just nine months after the area was opened to settlement.
Hazel was located in the area that is now the south side of Frederick. It was one-half mile south of Gosnell, the town that became Frederick.
The Pioneer Townsite Museum in Frederick has a copy of Issue 1, Vol. 1 of The Hazel Enterprise, preserved between pieces of glass.
Photos of the four-page newspaper are presented below.
The Hazel Enterprise was the ancestral newspaper of The Frederick Press -- Now The Frederick Press-Leader.

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Scroll to end of post to see images in large size.

Large images of the newspaper pages follow.

Page One

Page Two

Page Three

Page Four

Monday, July 16, 2012

Early History Recalled, 1915

1915 account tells Frederick history
The early history of Frederick was a tale of two towns – Hazel and Gosnell.
The towns sprang up after the land opening of August 1901 and were located only a half-mile apart. Homes and businesses were established in both communities, and each hoped to secure the railroad depot, thus ensuring its future.
Gosnell, located in the area that is now the central part of Frederick, was the eventual winner but that victory came at a price. The depot was awarded to Gosnell, but half of Gosnell’s city lots were given to the railroad company (which they sold for a tidy profit) and the town was renamed “Frederick” in honor of Frederick Van Blarcom, son of a railroad official.
Hazel, located a half-mile south of Gosnell, ceased to exist. Hazel buildings were jacked up and moved to Frederick.
In May 1915, when the city of Frederick was less than 14 years old, a history of the two towns was written for The Frederick Press by Mrs. J.M. Smith, Sr. She had been a resident of Hazel, so recalls life in that town. Her account also boasts about the progressive town of Frederick in 1915.
NOTE: Mrs. Smith’s 1915 article was printed in the Tillman County History Vol. II (1978), pages 90-92. The Fifth District Federation of Oklahoma, to which she refers, is an event that was scheduled for Frederick on May 6, 1915.

Frederick, 1901-1915
In order for you to appreciate Frederick and its rapid growth, I will first tell you some of the trials the first settlers experienced.
On August 6, 1901, when this country was opened for settlement, there were two towns started: Hazel and Gosnell. In September, 1901, the first house was built in Hazel, and in a short time, the following businesses were established: one lumber yard, one dry goods store, one hardware store, one racket store, one newspaper, one drug store, one livery barn, two hotels, one saloon, and a meat market. (There was an old man living in Vernon who thought perhaps we were growing tired of dry salt bacon and hardtack, so he would bring fresh meat to town once a week).
About 50 people and 1000 prairie dogs settled in Hazel. In order to reach the town, it was necessary to take the train from Vernon to Davidson, and on arriving in Davidson, take the old stagecoach the rest of the way.
We had four houses, four tents, and one dug-out in Hazel. During that first spring, it stormed almost every night. In the wee hours of morning, we could see lanterns and hear voices calling, “Storm is coming! Everybody to the dug-out!” I used to wonder which would be the easiest death: staying at home with the house rocking back and forth, expecting to blown to the four ends of the earth at any minute, or making the trip to the dug-out amidst hail, rain, snakes, centipedes, and tarantulas.
Another thing we Hazelites had in common was the town well. In order to get a bucket of gyp water, it was necessary to arise at 4 a.m., take a bucket, walk a quarter-mile, stand in line, and hope to get water before the well was pumped dry.
The first school house was located in Hazel in 1901, but the town had no depot or post office. One had to have his mail sent to Gosnell, buy a railroad ticket there, and then walk the half-mile back home to Hazel.
We will now take up the village of Gosnell, the present site of Frederick. On August 25, 1901, the people who filed on this land built the first house and soon after had the post office located there and named Gosnell. All different kinds of businesses were represented in Gosnell, and I suppose there were about 40 people and 800 prairie dogs residing in the village.
The railroad was given about one-half the town lots, making it to its advantage to pull for Gosnell over Hazel. The BES built a depot and named the town Frederick.
The people of the two villages thought of what Lincoln said, “United we stand; divided, we fall,” and decided to go together and build one great town that would be known from ocean to ocean and from the Great Lakes to the Gulf.
So, after six months division, in 1902, the people of Hazel moved to Gosnell. The first settlers ran all the risk in building as this land was not proved upon and deeds could not be issued. One was told to select a lot, build upon it, and when deeds could be issued, he “would be treated right.” He had no idea what the lot would cost.
Frederick was platted September 30, 1902, and after the lots were listed and the price was put on each one, a person was given the privilege of purchasing the lot at the named price – or moving off his building, fences, trees, children, and household goods.
The city of Frederick, situated almost in the center of the county, has a population of 4000, with everyone pulling together to make it the best city in Southwest Oklahoma.
All the country around Frederick is occupied with a family located on every quarter section of land; there is almost no waste land. (I am anxious for you to take a drive out in the country and view our waving wheat fields, blooming alfalfa, fine corn and cotton, and you will agree with me that this is the “garden spot” of Oklahoma.)
Frederick was the first city in the territory to vote out saloons and pool halls, and since statehood, it has been the leading prohibition town in the state. I remember in 1903 seeing the town officers make a bonfire in the middle of Main Street out of the pool tables and other gambling paraphernalia.
The first brick building was built in 1903, but we had many substantial frame buildings.
On March 17, 1904, the entire business portion of the town was consumed by fire, and about a year later, we had another disastrous fire. Since then we have purchased everything necessary for a good fire department. Our firemen are so efficient that unless the walls and roof are falling in, they can save the building.
Our police department is small in number but large in size. Frederick is very peaceful; there is very little crime committed. We have a $20,000 town hall, a jail, and a town calaboose.
Our school houses are as fine as can be found in any city twice this size. We have a high school and central building and three ward schools. These buildings cost $65,000 and are all modern with steam heat, water, electric lights, and sewage. The light afforded pupils is good. Every room has a sufficient number of windows to give light on cloudy days. We employ 30 teachers and have had such a successful term the present year that patrons have urged us to continue a few months longer, with them agreeing to pay extra tuition.
The handmaidens of good schools are good churches, and in this particular, Frederick is among the “top notch” cities of the state. Almost every branch of the Protestant church is represented. The church valuation (with parsonages) is $75,000.
The government of the city is in the hands of good businessmen who carefully guard the interests of the town and taxpayers.
In 1901 the first telephone exchange was established with 15 phones. In 1906 there were 195 phones, and in the fall and spring of 1913-14, a drop flash-light battery board was installed, and the exchange was rebuilt at an expense of $11,000. It now takes care of 925 phones, 500 in the city and 425 in the country, and employs seven girls, each working seven hours a day.
The first electric lights were installed in 1905 with a small dynamo and engine in the rear of the gin. There were about 40-50 customers. At the present time, we have a light plant (equipped at a cost of $50,000) with two units, seven miles of line, both night and day currents, and 375 consumers. Our water and sewage system cannot be equaled. Our bonded indebtedness for water is $90,000 and sewer, $20,000. Water is piped form two miles west of town where we have an abundant supply. The water tower holds 80,000 gallons. The city owns eight miles of water main and five miles of sewage pipe, three wells, two pump stations, and 525 water meters.
Frederick was made a first class city on April 2, 1907, and on June 1, 1912, free mail delivery was started. Mail is delivered twice a day in the residential section and three times a day in the business district. We have eight rural routes running out of Frederick. Most all of the carriers use autos in covering their routes.
Frederick has 15 miles of concrete sidewalks and crossings and 75 miles of wide, graded, rolled streets.
Frederick’s ice plant was first opened in 1908 with a 10-ton capacity. In 1910 it was rebuilt and now makes 30 tons a day and ships to all surrounding towns. They make a good quality of ice – it will melt in your mouth!
Frederick’s laundry does such high class work that it is often necessary to look closely to detect the right from the wrong side of the fabric because of the laundry’s fine finish.
Secret orders thrive in Frederick. All the Masonic bodies are represented, also the Odd Fellows, M.W.A. – W.O.W., Elks, Royal Neighbors, Rebekahs, Knights and Ladies of Security, Eastern Star, and perhaps more. Many of the well-known lodge men and women of the state are from Frederick.
Frederick has several clubs, four of which are federated. The first club, the Domestic Science, was organized in 1905. Out of it grew the Merry Wives Club. This club is composed of the “old settlers” and continues to meet regularly. It was first organized with fifteen members. We do not fill vacancies but continue the club with what members remain. The Mothers Club was organized in June 1907, and during that year it purchased a piano and furnished a kindergarten room and paid a teacher. In the fall of 1908, the club turned the piano and furnishings over to the school board. Out of this grew the Twentieth Century Club, which was organized in 1910 and federated at its second meeting. This is a study and refreshment club which always has splendid lessons in history, followed by a four-course luncheon. The Tuesday Club was organized on October 14, 1910, and federated in 1914. It is a study and civic improvement club which has a miscellaneous program. The Alaho Club was organized in 1914 and federated the same year. It is devoted to civic improvement, too. The Oklahoma Farm Women’s Club was organized in 1914 and federated the same year. It is a study club with a miscellaneous program.
Frederick has two newspapers. The first one came here in 1902 and the second in 1906.
We have four gins showing an investment of $50,000. They ginned 12,000 bales of cotton the past year. We have a $100,000 cotton seed oil mill which operates six months during the year.
The first bank was organized May 7, 1902, with about $30,000 deposits. Now Frederick has two national banks and one state bank, with the deposits averaging over one-half million dollars.
We have four elevators that handled 500,000 bushels of grain last year.
Congress appropriated money for a site upon which we will erect a $100,000 federal building soon. There is a Carnegie Library under construction now.
Frederick has a flourmill, an alfalfa mill, a hosier mill, an ice cream factory, and a bottling works.
We have a good business college with a large enrollment, a fine opera house, and three picture shows.
In 1905 Teddy Roosevelt selected one of our springs as a place to hunt and rest. Another place of interest is Watts’ well, two miles south of town. Its waters are very beneficial, and they furnish a fine bath house. Another place of recreation is Williams Lake, one and one-half miles west of town. There you will find a beautiful lake, surrounded by a thick grove of trees. There is a large bath house, and bathing suits are furnished to those who wish them. Another place of recreation is Harris’ “paradise”, located just east of the light and water plant. There a lovely lake is lighted with electric lights, and one can rest on the settees amid banks of flowers and think of the days gone by in the old states.
All the political parties are represented in Frederick. Also, the Suffragettes take an active part in civic life.
In 1909 an auto factory was established in Frederick. We keep three garages to take care of our cars.
There are two railroads running in here, the Frisco and the Katy. They each have waiting rooms furnished with rocking chairs, couches, and tables where people may rest and read all the latest journals.
There are fourteen lawyers in Frederick, and any of them would be glad to look after your legal affairs. We have nine doctors, all of them well-qualified. (They do such a good practice that it is only necessary to keep two undertakers). We have four dentists who guarantee to extract without pain any tooth form a “dog” to a “wisdom”.
Frederick has three hotels, numerous boarding-houses, ten dry goods stores, four hardware stores, one gents’ furnishing store, one shoe store, ten grocery stores, three drug stores, three meat markets, two bakeries, three millinery shops, and other businesses too numerous to mention. In fact, we have over one hundred brick business houses.
We have had many great gatherings in Frederick, including Roosevelt’s visit, the Western Methodist Oklahoma Conference, Masonic cornerstone laying, the townsite banquet, Fourth of July celebrations, May Day picnics, and now the Fifth District Federation of Oklahoma, which I am sure will cause us to begin a greater era. Hereafter, our calendar will date from May 6, 1915, when Frederick was home of the Federation.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Jett Washbench Featured at Museum

The following "Tillman County Chronicles" column about a Jett family artifact from Tillman County's history, was printed in The Frederick Press and The Frederick Leader in March 2009.

TCHS board member Virginia Walker examines the Jett family washbench at the Pioneer Townsite.

Sent to The Frederick Leader and The Frederick Press, March 2, 2009 
Early wash bench displayed at Pioneer Townsite
Every item in Frederick’s Pioneer Townsite Museum has a history and story. Most items were donated or loaned to the Tillman County Historical Society for exhibit.
In the Townsite’s small Nill House, there is a worn bench with many scars from years of use. It’s an item that is easy for visitors to miss, but it has a definite story.
The late Millie Jett Harmon, born in 1907, was raised on a farm in the North Deep Red community in northeast Tillman County. As a young wife and mother, she lived in Manitou, but spent most of her life in the Snyder community where her husband Ray Harmon was a grocer.
She died in January 2000 at age 92.
In the late 1980s and early ‘90s, Mrs. Harmon wrote a column for the Kiowa County Democrat, reflecting on many memories of her early life in southwest Oklahoma.
In an August 1989, she wrote about the bench that would later come for exhibit at the Frederick museum. The following are her words:
“I sit on my porch in the cool of the morning looking at Mama’s wash bench remembering many happy times since its existence. It was built for Mama in the mid-teens by her first son-in-law who accumulated scrap lumber for the purpose.
“The bench measured about three feet in length and 18 inches high. It was made to support two washtubs – one to hold the rub board and soap, and the other contained the rinse water. It was never painted and never will be for it was splattered with many colors of paint during its use. It even showed scars from the teeth of a saw when it was used to support a board being cut.
“The bench served the family in many ways, such as sitting on while churning, pealing peaches, stringing beans, scraping potatoes, etc. It was perfect to hold the cream cans while separating the milk and to support the pressure cooker while it cooled during canning season.
“It made a good table for the little ones to place their plates on while they stood on their knees and ate dinner at Grandma’s house.
“When neighbors dropped in on Saturday night or Sunday afternoon to sing, seating space was scarce, so Mama’s wash bench was carried into the front room, covered with a white sheet and placed near the old pedal organ for three people to sit on while they blended their voices with others and made music that would cause ‘the Angels’ to envy.
“When Mama’s little chickens died they were due proper respect so the bench served as the mortuary as the little creatures lay in state in their tiny little caskets made from match boxes padded with cotton. A eulogy was delivered and the choir provided proper music. One cousin usually elected himself to be preacher and later grew up to become one and told me he was often called upon for funerals. The deceased were gently carried to the burial ground and laid to rest. Pretty rocks and wild flowers marked their graves.
“At other times some ambitious young circus performer did her hand stand to entertain the crowd. There was always an audience for Mama had a big family and kin and friends came over daily to play. Luckily there were no broken bones from falling off the stage.
“Mama and Papa left the farm in 1943 and moved to Manitou so the wash bench had a new home.
“After Papa’s death in 1946 Mama broke up housekeeping and went to live with her youngest daughter whose husband was section foreman for the Frisco Railroad. At that time, they lived in Manitou. The custom of the Frisco was seniority was gained for years of service and the senior employee could bump when a vacancy arose. Therefore, the next move was to Vernon, Texas.
“It was then that Mama decided to divide her time with her other eight daughters. The wash bench stayed with that family and found a home in a number of towns along the Frisco line from Vernon, Texas to Blackwell, Oklahoma. It was used mostly as a workbench, for automatic washers had replaced the washboard.
“That daughter passed away in 1988. After the heirs had divided her personal property and discarded the junk, they remembered there was an old bench in the cellar they had failed to haul off. After a little thought I asked, ‘Could that be Mama’s wash bench?’ It was! It had served as a seat in the cellar for neighbors who came seeking shelter from a storm.
“It is now in my possession.
“When the family gathers here it is a solid bench to hold the coffee and tea urns. Otherwise it displays my houseplants.
“So, I sit on my porch in the cool of the morning and see visions of Mama’s wash bench.”