Monday, October 27, 2014

2014 TCHS Raffle Project

Replica of Simmons Gin was perfect size for playhouse or distinctive storage shed

October 27, 2014

Historical Society Raffles Replica of Simmons Gin

     The Simmons Cotton Gin in Frederick has been a fixture on West Grand Avenue since the town’s early days.

The Tillman County Historical Society is celebrating the old building’s heritage by making it the organization’s 2014 Christmas raffle project. Some lucky person will win a smaller duplicate version of the distractive building for their own back yard! The building will make an amazing playhouse or a distinctive storage shed.

Simmons Gin building on West Grand Avenue in Frederick
Raffle tickets for the building are $5 each or five for $20. All proceeds will be used toward operational expenses of the Pioneer Townsite Museum in Frederick.

The raffle is an annual historical society project that has spanned several years with prizes being reproductions of numerous buildings at the Pioneer Townsite Museum. Past projects have included the museum’s 1902 Horse Creek School, the 1924 AME Church, the 1902 Frisco Depot, and the Frisco caboose.

This year’s reproduction building is distinguished by its large size, easy-access doors, and four operational windows. The building measures eight feet wide, 20 feet in length, and 10 feet tall. It is built on a metal frame, and features a tin roof. Vinyl brick-look siding on the building is meant to represent the real gin’s orange brick façade.

The building was constructed by Pioneer Townsite director Jimmy Espinosa and the museum’s assigned inmates from the Frederick Work-Release Center.

The real Simmons Gin is owned by the historical society, which hopes to someday incorporate the facility into the Pioneer Townsite Museum’s exhibit space. The actual gin encompasses two buildings, but Espinosa designed the reproduction as an interpretation of the gin’s main north building.

The historical society purchased lumber and materials for the project from Frederick businesses.

The drawing to determine the building’s winner will be held December 22 at Frederick’s Gourmet Gallery and will be broadcast live on KYBE’s 8:00 a.m. “Town and Country” radio program.
In this 1924 panorama shot of Frederick (taken from the city water tower, looking toward the east) the Simmons Gin is at front center.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Broomcorn Harvest, 1903

Snyder, Oklahoma Territory • Nov. 10, 1903

1903 Photo Shows Broomcorn Crop

     The area that includes Frederick, Snyder and Lawton was opened to settlement through land lottery in August 1901. Most of the wild prairie land was rich loam, wonderful for growing crops. Farmers settled the new land, living in dugouts and plowing the fertile land using horses or mules.

   One of the biggest crops in the new land was broomcorn, a type of sorghum that produced stalks that were ideal for making brooms. Harvesting of broomcorn was especially labor-intensive.

   The photo above was recently discovered among photographs belonging to the late Lois Kelly Schroeder of Frederick. People in the photo are unidentified, but print at the bottom of the photo identifies the date and location as Snyder, Oklahoma Territory, November 10, 1903.

   "25 Loads Boomcorn marketed at Snyder, O.T. $65.00 to $90.00 ton." An imprinted studio mark at top right of the picture reads "Deming Studio, Snyder, O.T."

   The city of Snyder, like Frederick, began in 1902 and sprang up based on proximity to the new railroad.

   On May 10, 1905, exactly 18 months after this photo was taken, the young town of Snyder would be almost wiped out by a massive tornado that claimed more than 100 lives.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Television - 75 Years

RCA ad from 1939 explains new TV broadcasts

_Television Marks 75th Anniversary
This year, 2014, marks the 75th anniversary of regular television broadcasting.
           See information about the history of TV toward the bottom of this post.

I can’t remember a time before television.
The TV stations in southwest Oklahoma and north Texas were established and began broadcasting in 1952 and 1953.
I was born in 1953 and by the time that I was old enough to process many memories, my family had a television. That must have happened in about 1954. We were living in those years on a farm 12 miles west of Frederick that we always referred to as “the river place.”
My family's first TV was similar to this one.
Our first TV was a big wooden “table-top” set that came with a wrought-iron stand. I remember it well. I think that it was a General Electric brand.
The picture was, of course, black-and-white, but my family had a “modern” plastic cover that could be attached over the screen to give it a “color” look. That plastic screen was used infrequently, though. Even though none of us had ever seen a color television in those days, I knew at the time that the fancy plastic cover sure didn’t produce a color picture. It did provide a sort of green tint to the normal black and white.
In addition to the volume and channel selectors, sets in those days had all sorts of twist knobs for adjusting picture quality, vertical hold, and reception. Every home in our area had a TV antenna atop a pole mounted outside the house. Picture quality on any given day was primarily dependent on how well that antenna functioned. On windy days, one sometimes could hear the wind whistling around the antenna!
Fuzzy was not an uncommon picture quality. We didn’t complain much, though, because it’s all we knew.
And… when the TV went on the fritz, a repairman would come to the house. Odds are that the haywire television had a burned out tube of one kind or another. This was before transistors or sophisticated electronics. Glass tubes in the TV’s insides would burn out and need to be replaced, just like a light bulb.
The earliest shows that I remember were “Ding Dong School” with Miss Frances, “Captain Kangaroo” with Mr. Green Jeans, Bunny Rabbit, and the Captain,  “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” with Miss Fran, “I Love Lucy”, “The Jack Benny Show”, “Gunsmoke”, “December Bride” with Spring Byington, “Burns and Allen” with George Burns and Gracie Allen, and “The Dinah Shore Show” (“See the USA, in your Chevrolet!”). Of course, there were many others, too, but these were some that I clearly remember.
In the earliest years, on the farm west of Frederick where my family lived, we received three channels – KAUZ (CBS) and KFDX (NBC), both out of Wichita Falls, and KSWO (ABC) out of Lawton.
Of course, none of those stations broadcast during the night. They signed off well before midnight, replacing their programming with a test pattern until broadcasting resumed the next day.
TV in those days was squeaky clean. There was no bad language and all shows were “family friendly”.
TV, even in those days, was sort of controversial in some circles. For many years my father’s parents refused to own one. They thought that television was the devil’s tool. Considering some of the things that are on TV these days, they may have been onto something. Even they came around to television late in their lives, though.
Today, of course, we take television for granted. We have wall-size TV screens, hundreds of channels, crystal-clear high definition pictures, DVR recording capability, and live satellite broadcasts. There’s always “something on”. And… I love it. I love and am continually amazed at the capacity for television to provide information and entertainment.
But… Looking back to simpler times, old black and white TVs, and simpler television programming, I’m glad to have had those experiences. TV in the ‘50s and ‘60s was a shared family experience, and there’s no doubt that those early television shows helped shape the person that I became. I wouldn’t take anything for those experiences.
FDR's opening address at the 1939 World's Fair marked the beginning of TV broadcasting.
The television as an invention dates back to the 1920s, but there was no regular television broadcasting until 1939.
1939 Advertisement
On April 30, 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt opened the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City in an address that was televised to the nearby RCA and Westinghouse pavilions where televisions had been set up. Technology and vision of the future was a theme of the fair.
Although there had been sporadic television broadcasts before that day, Roosevelt’s address at the World’s fair marks the beginning of the television age. On that day – August 30, 1939 – W2XBS (which later became WNBC/4) began regular programming.
Through promotion at the fair, average folks got a look at television… and they liked it! Nothing would ever be the same.

Some dates in TV History

The RCA TRK-9 premiered at the 1939 World's Fair
1939, April 30 – The RCA TRK-9 television was introduced at the World’s Fair in New York
1939, August 26 – The first televised Major League Baseball game: the Brooklyn Dodgers vs. Cincinnati Reds from Ebbets Field
1939, September 30 – The first telecast football game: Fordham University vs. Waynesburg College, broadcast from Triborough Stadium on Randall’s Island in New York
1940, June 24-28 – The Republican National Convention was broadcast from Philadelphia on the city’s W3XE (now KYW-TV) and New York’s W2XBS
1941, July 1 – The first TV commercial aired: a 10-second ad for Bulova watches
1942-45 – TV production halted for World War II
1946, June 19 – The first televised heavyweight boxing title fight: Joe Louis vs. Billy Conn from Yankee Stadium
1947, December 27 – “Howdy Doody” debuted on NBC
1948, June 8 – “Uncle Milty” Milton Berle became the first real TV star with his variety show “Texaco Star Theater”
1949, January 29 – The first Presidential inauguration to be televised was that of President Harry Truman following the 1948 election
1950, February 25 – “Your Show of Shows”, a 90-minute live comedy-variety show, featured Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca
1951, November 18 – “See It Now”, an adaptation of the popular radio “Hear it Now”, premiered on CBS hosted by news legend Edward R. Murrow: its first episode opened with the first live simultaneous coast-to-coast TV transmission from both the East Coast (the Brooklyn Bridge and New York Harbor) and the West Coast (the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and San Francisco Bay), as reporters on both sides of the continent gave live reports to Murrow who was in the control room at CBS Studio 41 in New York City
1952, January 14 – TV’s first and longest running morning show, “Today”, premiered on NBC hosted by Dave Garroway
1953, January 19 – Little Ricky was born to Lucy and Ricky Ricardo on “I Love Lucy” (the same day that Desi Arnaz, Jr., was born to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz)
1956, September 9 – Elvis Presley caused a sensation when he appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show”
1957, August 5 – After beginning in Philadelphia, Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” went national, broadcasting five afternoons a week on ABC
1960, September 26 – The first Kennedy-Nixon debate is widely determined to have influenced voters’ perceptions of the candidates… and determined the outcome of the Presidential election
1961, May 5 – 45 million viewers watched the suborbital flight of Alan B. Shepard, the first U.S. astronaut in space
1963, November 22-25 – TV news covered the assassination and funeral of President John F. Kennedy, bringing the nation together in a time of tragedy
1964, February 9 – The Beatles became a national sensation with their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”
1967, August 29 – The finale of “The Fugitive”, in which David Janssen’s character confronted his wife’s killer, ‘the one-armed man’, was the highest rated TV episode to that date
1969, July 21 – The world watched as Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong took first steps on the moon
1970, September 21 – “Monday Night Football” was launched
1970, October 5 – The non-profit Corporation for Public Broadcasting was formed, later becoming PBS (Public Broadcasting System)
1971, January 12 – “All in the Family” aired; the first hard-edged comedy sitcom that dealt with real-life controversial issues
1973, May 17 – The Nixon Administration unraveled as the nation viewed hearings of a special Senate committee that investigated the Watergate break-ins
1975, October 11 – “Saturday Night Live”, a modern “Your Show of Shows”, began its run on NBC
1979, September 7 – ESPN was launched
1980, June 1 – Cable News Network (CNN) began broadcasting
1980, November 21 – The “Who Shot J.R.?” episode of “Dallas” became the most-watched show up to that date (83 million viewers)
1981, August 1 – MTV (Music Television) was launched
1983, February 28 – The two-and-a-half hour finale of M*A*S*H became and remains the most-watched non-sports program of all time
1986, January 28 – America watched in horror as the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into its flight
1991, October 11 –Testimony of Anita Hill before the Senate Judicial Committee in hearings for confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas transfixed the American public and made the issue of sexual harassment part of the American consciousness
1994, June 17-1995, October 3 – The nation was fascinated by events leading to and during the O.J. Simpson murder trial
1995, April 19 – The nation watched and grieved in the aftermath of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City
2000, May 31 – “Survivor”, the first reality TV show, aired
2001, September 11 – TV brought the nation together to mourn following the 9/11 terrorist attacks
2002, June 11 – “American Idol” premiered, introducing a whole new genre of TV talent competition shows
2009, June 12 – Digital TV broadcast became the exclusive standard in the U.S.; analog TV broadcast ceased

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Abernathy Day 2014

Fans of the Abernathy story watch as Jaye McLaughlin, as Jessie Pearl Abernathy, tells the story of the Abernathy boys. Fred Peters as Jack Abernathy looks on.


Abernathy Day a Great Success

     More than 100 people gathered at the Pioneer Townsite Museum on Saturday evening, June 7, to remember the early-day exploits of the larger-than-life wolf hunter Jack "Catch 'em Alive" Abernathy and his remarkable sons Bud and Temple.

     Following a dinner of barbeque brisket, all Abernathy descendants in attendance were introduced. State Senator Don Barrington showed a new painting depicting the Abernathy Boys that has been commissioned to hang in the Oklahoma Capitol Building, and two celebrated storytellers performed for the group as Jack Abernathy and his wife Jessie Pearl.

     It was a wonderful meal and program, in a peaceful setting, on a beautiful southwest Oklahoma evening.

     A good time was had by all!

  Scenes from the special day and the evening event follow.

During the afternoon, descendants of Van Abernathy (Jack Abernathy's brother) visit the original Abernathy ranch northwest of Frederick. Above, they inspect what's left of the foundation of where Van Abernathy's home once stood. The family lives in the Tulsa area and June 7 was this part of the family's first attendance at one of the Tillman County Historical Society's annual Abernathy events. They had a great time and promise to return for future events!
Marilyn Abernathy Stevens, daughter of Temple Abernathy, addresses the crowd at the Abernathy Dinner.
Program MC Ray Walker (left) introduces Case Waldroop and Kolt Walker who attended as Bud and Temple Abernathy.
State Senator Don Barrington displays a new painting that depicts Tillman County's Abernathy Boys in the 1910 New York City parade that honored President Theodore Roosevelt. The painting by artist Mike Wimmer of Norman was commissioned by Barrington and State Representative Don Armes as part of the Oklahoma State Capitol's permanent art collection.
Fred Peters performed as Jack "Catch 'em Alive" Abernathy.
Jaye McLaughlin entertained the crowd as Jessie Pearl Abernathy.
Jaye McLaughlin as Jessie Pearl Abernathy and Fred Peters as Jack Abernathy (left) and State Senator Don Barrington (right) are pictured with Mike Wimmer's painting of the Abernathy Boys. The painting will hang permanently in the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Washita County Courthouse

The historic Washita County Courthouse with its imposing dome sits square in the middle of downtown Cordell, Oklahoma. Its windows and doors have currently been removed, allowing a clear view through the building. This view from the east shows that scaffolding is installed on the building's west and south sides.
Washita County Courthouse Undergoes Major Remodel

     Tillman County's neighbor two counties to the north, Washita County, is currently undertaking a total remodel/restoration of its historic courthouse. The unique courthouse is located in Cordell, approximately 65 miles north of Frederick, and sits on a distinctive courthouse square in the middle of downtown.

View from the southwest... scaffolding covers the building's south and west sides.
     The Washita County Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed in 1910 by Soloman Andrew Layton and completed in 1911, and has been called the "Grandfather of Oklahoma's Courthouses." Layton later served as architect for the State Capitol Building in Oklahoma City.

     The courthouse's unique dome underwent a restoration in 2012.

     The striking photos on this page were taken on Tuesday, May 27, and show the historic courthouse in its present state of restoration. Windows and doors have been removed and the building appears to be almost gutted inside. Exterior steps on the east and west sides have been removed and scaffolding has been erected for work on the exterior brick.

     An April 15 item in the Cordell Beacon notes that it was necessary to remove windows so that new self-leveling floors could be poured.

Windows and doors have been removed. Interior work is extensive.

An interesting note about Washita County history...

     The area that is Washita County was opened by land run on April 19, 1892, more than nine years before most of the area that is Tillman County was opened by land lottery on August 1, 1901.

     The first Oklahoma Territory county seat for Washita County was Cloud Chief.

     Today, many of us know Cloud Chief as a tiny, out-of-the-way town just off of Highway 54 in southeastern Washita County.

     On August 7, 1900, an election was held in which Washita County voters approved the move of the county seat from Cloud Chief to Cordell. The U.S. Supreme Court voided the election, though, because the U.S. Congress had designated Cloud Chief as the county seat. In 1906, Congress officially named Cordell as the county seat.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Wanda Evaige, 1933-2014

Wanda Jo Evaige

Wanda Evaige Loved Frederick 
Some people are content to live quiet lives. Others live bold lives, continually looking for new challenges, new experiences, and new ways to shape the world around them. That’s how Wanda Evaige lived her life.
There was nothing quiet about Wanda. She was a force to be reckoned with!
When Wanda died last week at age 80, her passing marked the end of an era in Frederick. That’s because, throughout her life, she was active in many parts of the community. She was never idle, she was always involved, and she was always outspoken. There was nothing shy about Wanda.
Wanda had a huge number of friends. I’m pleased that, for almost 40 years, I was one of them.
I first knew Wanda when I came home to Frederick after college in the mid-1970s to work in the local school system. Wanda was teaching in the open classroom at Prather Brown Center in those days (open classrooms were a passing educational fad in the ‘70s), but she soon moved to Central Elementary where she taught music until her retirement. I think that’s where she was happiest.
Over the years she taught thousands of young Frederick students from her music classroom – the old Central Grade School Auditorium.
She loved that old school. When the old Central Grade building was torn down just a couple of years ago, I think Wanda took the building’s demise harder than anyone.
She had a passion for Frederick, for education, for history, and for her friends. She loved young people and gave piano lessons in her home for decades after her retirement from teaching. She loved to talk about her family, her growing up years in Frederick, the old Boyd High School, and her church – St. Paul AME Church.
She was civic minded, serving for decades on the Frederick City Council, and she was proud of the fact that she was one of the first female African-American mayors in our state.
Wanda was a Democrat – first, foremost and always! She and I shared that. Countless times Wanda called me on the phone to talk about politics. She lobbied at the state and federal levels for decades, she served numerous times as a Tillman County Democratic officer, and she attended the national Democratic Convention several times.
She was a great seamstress, and she took pride in her work. After retirement from education, she opened a small fabric shop in downtown Frederick and she tried to launch a company making men’s neckties. The business never quite took off, but she continued her sewing and embroidering projects throughout her life, often selling the items as fundraising projects for her church.
When the Tillman County Historical Society was looking for an old church building to move to the Pioneer Townsite Museum property, Wanda helped secure her church – the St. Paul A.M.E. Church, built in 1924. After the church was moved to the Townsite, she took pleasure in giving tours there, telling visitors about the unique history of the building and her church’s congregation.
She was an active member of the Frederick Chamber’s Board of Directors for decades, and no project brought her greater satisfaction than planning the Chamber’s annual Christmas Parade. She and Linda Haston were a team for years as parade planners. Wanda’s Christmas enthusiasm was contagious! Last Christmas, when Wanda was in physical decline, she could no longer help with planning the parade, but she did serve as parade marshal. She had a great time that day!
I will always think of Wanda’s big smile… and her laugh.
All of us who knew and cared for Wanda will certainly miss her, but her legacy of love for Frederick will live on.
Services for Wanda Jo Evaige will be held on Friday, May 24, 1:00 p.m., at the Frederick First Baptist Church, 11th and Grand, under direction of Jackson Funeral Home.
Wanda’s obituary is as follows:

Wanda Jo Evaige was born on July 9, 1933, in Frederick, Oklahoma, to the late Sam and Lenora (Oliver) Evaige.

Wanda was the seventh child born to this union.

She was the third generation of the Evaige Family to attend Boyd School. She graduated from Boyd High school in 1951. She played basketball, was a cheerleader, and member of the choir and band.

She attended Samuel Huston College in Austin, Texas, which later became Huston-Tillotson College. In 1955, she graduated with a bachelor degree in music.

She taught first grade at O.E. Kennedy Elementary School, in the same classroom where she attended first grade. She later transferred to third grade at Prather Brown where she taught in Oklahoma’s second open-space classroom.

She applied and received the music position at Central Grade where she taught grades four, five and six. On the 75th birthday of the State of Oklahoma, her music students sang for the governor at the state capitol.

In 1981, she was named Teacher of the Year for Frederick and Tillman County and was the first black teacher to receive this award.

She served as president of Frederick and Tillman County Classroom Teachers and served on the Legislative Commission for the Oklahoma Education Association where she lobbied at the state and national capitols.

Ms. Evaige touched thousands of lives through the children she taught in the Frederick Public School system.

Wanda was elected to the Frederick City Council in 1982, as the representative for Frederick’s Ward III. She was named mayor in 1987, and continued to serve and be involved in city and state government until the time of her death.

In 1985, she and the city were successful in receiving a grant to restore the O.E. Kennedy Elementary School to preserve the rich history and heritage of black education in Frederick. Her leadership and personal credibility brought stability to a community in need.

Ms. Evaige continued her service as the first Chairperson of the Tillman County E911; her personal diligence and persistence led the transition for a county with no 911 services to county-wide E911 services of high standards in short order. In 1988, she was appointed to represent Tillman County to the Association of South Central Oklahoma Governments (ASCOG) and in 2000-2002 was elected president of the governing board. The same year she attended the National Democratic Convention in Atlanta, Georgia and represented the Democratic mayors of Oklahoma at the convention and was featured in a related photo and article in USA Today.

She was active in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Her local membership was at St. Paul AME in Frederick and served as a conference trustee of the church. She represented the church on the State Council of Churches, USA and the National Council of Churches, USA.

Wanda received two appointments from Oklahoma governors: the first from Governor Henry Bellmon to the Oklahoma Constitution and Revision Commission; the second by Governor David Walters to the Judicial Nominating Commission for the Oklahoma State Supreme Court. She was later appointed in 1997, to the National Judicial Commission by Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson.

She had served as president of the Huston-Tillotson University International Alumni Association and was the first out-of-state alumnus to serve in that position.

One of Ms. Evaige’s greatest accomplishments was when she was inducted in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame for Elected Officials. She had been the recipient of numerous awards throughout the years; Wanda once stated “I feel that I have fulfilled my mother’s dream. She lived to see me teach my first year, and I feel I am what she would had been, if she had been given the chance. When I received Oklahoma’s Human Rights Award, I knew that she would have been really proud of me. My membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority has had a major impact on my life. I supported young girls in college in various ways, from transportation to and from college, to clothing and developing motivational skills. I am a 50-year member. In 1968, I took on the leadership in getting the first Southwest Oklahoma chapter established in Lawton, Oklahoma. I was on the first national committee of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Connection, a political action committee. I have learned so much by being involved in Service.”

She spent many hours advocating for municipal and humanitarian issues; she was well known at the Oklahoma Capitol and in Washington, D.C. for her passionate advocacy of rural issues such as housing and jobs creation. Her level of commitment and positive influence has done much good for the citizens of Frederick, southwest and all of Oklahoma.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

2014 Abernathy Day

Jaye McLaughlin (left) as Jessie Pearl Abernathy and Fred Peters (right) as Jack Abernathy visit with Frederick youngster Jake Schreiner (center) who portrayed Bud Abernathy at last year’s Abernathy Day. The car is a 1910 Brush Runabout like the one that Bud and Temple Abernathy drove from New York City to Oklahoma in 1910.
Abernathy Day Dinner Set for June 7
The Tillman County Historical Society’s 2014 Abernathy Day Dinner will be held Saturday evening, June 7, 6:00 p.m. at the Pioneer Townsite Museum in Frederick.
In addition to a complete chuck wagon BBQ dinner, the event will feature two acclaimed storytellers who will perform as early Frederick area settlers Jack and Jessie Pearl Abernathy.
Fred E. Peters will portray Jack “Catch ‘em Alive” Abernathy, famous wolf hunter and friend to Theodore Roosevelt. Abernathy served as U.S Marshal in Oklahoma Territory and later, the young state of Oklahoma. Jaye McLaughlin will portray Jessie Pearl Abernathy, Jack’s wife and mother to his six children.
They will present an original program titled “The Intrepid Adventurers: Catch ‘Em Alive and the Boys”. They plan to perform this program at the National Storytelling Conference in Phoenix this July. Peters and McLaughlin live in in Fort Worth, Texas, and have told the story of the Abernathys in many performances to school and civic organizations throughout the region.
They are associated with Tipi Storytellers and are members of the Tejas Storytelling Association and the Tarrant Area Guild of Storytellers.
The dinner and performance will be held on the beautiful museum grounds east of the townsite’s red barn. Ticketholders should bring their own lawn chairs.
Tickets to the dinner are $15 for adults and $7 for children 10 and under. All proceeds will be used for operations of the Pioneer Townsite Museum.
Tickets will be sold through Friday, June 6, at the Pioneer Townsite Museum’s general store.
Tickets are also available at the following Frederick businesses: Frederick ACE Hardware, KC’s Gift Shop, BancFirst, First National Bank of Altus (Frederick branch), and Tillco Supply.
The tickets may also be purchased at the Frederick Chamber of Commerce, 580-335-2126.
The Abernathy Day event, held annually in Frederick on the first Saturday of June, celebrates the 1905 visit of President Theodore Roosevelt to Frederick for a hunting expedition with famous wolf hunter Jack “Catch ‘em Alive” Abernathy. It also celebrates the remarkable exploits just a few years later of Jack and Jessie Pearl Abernathy’s young sons Bud and Temple, including the boy’s 1910 trip from Frederick to New York City and their return trip to Oklahoma driving a Brush automobile.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Abernathy Story

Statue of the Abernathy Boys stands on Tillman County Courthouse Square in Frederick.

Story of the Abernathys 
      Those of us who are associated with the Tillman County Historical Society and the Pioneer Townsite Museum often find ourselves telling the remarkable story of the Abernathy family to folks who have never heard it.
     For folks who do not know the story, it follows. Links are to related past posts in "Tillman County Chronicles".
The Remarkable Abernathys
This brief account of the adventures of Jack Abernathy and sons Bud and Temple includes references to “Tillman County Chronicles” entries that tell sections of the story in detail with photographs.
As you read, click on the links for more detailed information.
Crossroads Ranch
The area that is now the western part of Tillman County, Oklahoma, was opened to settlement by land lottery on August 1, 1901.

One of the men who secured land in this newly settled part of Oklahoma Territory was a man named John “Jack” Abernathy. Jack Abernathy had grown up in Texas and had an adventurous upbringing. As a very young boy he had worked as a cowboy and during his growing-up years he even worked for a while as a saloon piano player.

Jack Abernathy and his wife Jessie Pearl had homesteaded their ranch west of Frederick in the Tesca and White Lake community in 1901 (the nearest early post office at the time was Tesca. The nearby school was White Lake). Their first “residence” there was a piano box, followed soon after by a dug-out, and later a house. The couple had six children: Kittie, Golda, Louie (Bud), Johnnie, Temple, and Jessie Pearl.

In the new territory, Jack Abernathy was renowned for being able to capture wolves alive… with his bare hands.

His ability was so remarkable and so unique that President Theodore Roosevelt, himself a great adventurer, heard about Jack Abernathy and wanted to see Abernathy’s feats for himself.

On April 8, 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt came to Frederick for a five-day wolf hunt with Jack Abernathy. 
The Wolf Hunt

After the hunt, President Roosevelt and the hunting party departed from Frederick on April 13, 1905.

The President had a wonderful time. On his return to Washington, D.C. he wrote an article for Scribner’s Magazine called “Wolf Hunt in Oklahoma” in which he described day-by-day the adventures of the hunt.

The wolf hunt forged a friendship between the Roosevelt and Jack Abernathy that lasted for the rest of their lives.

Less than one month after the hunt, Roosevelt appointed Abernathy as Deputy U.S. Marshall for Oklahoma Territory. He would be sworn is as full U.S. Marshal on March 8, 1906.

The Abernathy family moved to Guthrie, the territorial capital, although they kept the family ranch west of Frederick and returned there often. Abernathy relatives remained on the ranch.

The family’s happiness in Guthrie would be short lived.

Jack’s wife, Jessie Pearl Abernathy, died in Guthrie in May 1907. Her reported cause of death was Bright’s Disease.

Certainly, Mrs. Abernathy’s death coupled with Jack Abernathy’s adventurous upbringing combined to allow the remarkable adventures of sons Bud and Temple that came just a few years later.

In 1909 when Bud and Temple were just five and nine, Jack Abernathy took a trip to New Mexico Territory. When he arrived home, he told the boys about his trip and they begged to go, too. So… He let them go, alone on horseback, to New Mexico Territory. The boys survived the trip well and made it home safely.

The next year, in 1910, a huge celebration was planned in New York City to welcome then former President Roosevelt home from a year that he had spent abroad in Africa collecting specimens for the National Museum in Washington, D.C.

Jack Abernathy had planned to attend the celebration, travelling there by train.

Bud and Temple, then ages six and 10, begged their dad to let them go, too – on their horses.

In 1910 when the boys were ages six and 10, they rode their horses alone from the family ranch west of Frederick to New York City to greet the former President. Along the way the "little cowboys from Oklahoma" (as the 1910 news media called them) became celebrities of the day and met many important people of the time, including President William Howard Taft, his Cabinet officials, and one of the Wright brothers.

Their father was in New York City to meet them on their arrival, having travelled there by train. Also on hand to greet them were huge crowds of people.

In New York City they were part of a giant celebration and tickertape parade that welcomed former President Theodore Roosevelt back to the United States after his long trip abroad. The boys were treated like celebrities in the big city.

When it came time for the trip back to Oklahoma, though, they convinced their father to abandon their plan to travel home on the train. They shipped their faithful horses home by train. The boys drove home – in a brand new bright red 1910 Brush Runabout.

The Brush Runabout… and the Trip

The boys’ trip back to Oklahoma was remarkable and received extensive coverage in newspapers of the day. What’s more, the famous Abernathy Boys were used in Brush advertising.

The boys went on to have other great adventures in coming years, including a coast-to-coast horseback ride from New York City to San Francisco and a cross-country trip on an Indian motorcycle in 1913.