Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hazel Enterprise published in 1902

Sent to The Frederick Press and The Frederick Leader
March 29, 2011
Hazel Enterprise, May 1, 1902

1902 Hazel Enterprise was first area newspaper
The city that is Frederick had its beginnings in 1902 when the fledgling communities of Hazel and Gosnell struggled to determine which town would become the permanent townsite. Gosnell won with establishment of the railroad depot. The new community would later be named “Frederick” for the son of a railroad executive.
The area that would become the western part of Tillman County had been opened for settlement only since August 1901.
The first newspaper that was published in this newly settled part of Oklahoma Territory would represent both Hazel and Gosnell. The newspaper, printed in Gosnell, Comanche County, O.T., was named The Hazel Enterprise. The publication date of the paper’s premier issue (Vol. 1, No. 1) was May 1, 1902.
The Hazel Enterprise was founded by Early Hendricks of Vernon. The newspaper’s pages were 14” x 26” and printed one page at a time on a job press that was operated by foot power. Type was set by hand, one letter at a time.
What issues were important in 1902 Oklahoma Territory? As evidenced in the Hazel Enterprise, many of the area’s new residents wanted to kill off prairie dogs. Two local businesses, Rhodes and Pendleton Store in Hazel and People’s Drug Store, advertised “Dog Poison” carbon and strychnine for killing the prairie pests.
Half the newspaper’s front page was devoted to an ad listing the wares of Rhodes and Pendleton – items that included paint, wallpaper, hardware tools, kitchen goods and clothes for the entire family.
The Rhodes and Pendleton Store opened its ad with the following advertising justification: “Don’t Write on a Postal Card! -- It is said that if a fellow’s girl writes him on a postal card she doesn’t care two cents for him. On that same basis, it is obvious that this store cares a good deal for you, as this communication cost money – so much a line; but as it’s a pleasure for us to talk to you, we don’t mind the expense. We want to tell you to-day about the many bargains that can be found in our house.”
Many news briefs on the front page were one- or two-sentence reports about local citizens:
“C.B. McHugh is suffering with a lame foot caused by stepping on a nail.”
“George Kelly is still unable to attend to business owing to the lacerated condition of his thumb.”
“L.M. Jackson of Wichita, Kan. was a pleasant caller yesterday and informed us that he will begin the erection of a residence on his lot southwest of Hazel.”
The newspaper also contained numerous reports of individuals who had bought subscriptions to the newspaper. For instance, the following:
“G.C. Barnes formerly of Cadiz, Ky. but now a resident of the best county in Oklahoma, and by the way, owns a nice quarter 6 miles southwest of Hazel, was a pleasant caller Monday. He planked down the real dough for a year’s subscription. Just as he was doing the wise act W.S. Carpenter late of Texas came in and dropped part of his wad for the same purpose. Hardly had they left the sanctum in stepped Robert Carson who left 100 percent happier but 50 cent short.”
Inside pages of The Hazel Enterprise contained four ads for local saloons. According to an account in Vol. II of the Tillman County History (1978), Mr. Hendricks was a patron of the saloons, which may have led to his decision later in 1902 to sell the Hazel Enterprise to R.H. Wessel. The sale price was $400 which included the printing equipment and a small frame building, then located on the south side of the 100 block of West Grand. After some conflict about the deed and ownership of the lot underneath the building, Wessel later bought a lot on South 9th and had his building moved to the new site.
In the years that followed Wessel purchased several other fledgling newspapers and The Hazel Enterprise name changed several times. On May 31, 1925, it became The Frederick Press.

Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society Board. He can be contacted by e-mail at

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