Forgotten Landmark-Site of Silver City, Tuttle, Oklahoma

Silver City Cemetery (2 miles north on Cimmaron Road, 0.3 mile west on Sliver City Ridge Road, 0.6 mile north on local road)

Lying on the South Canadian River, Silver City was one of the important halts and trading points on the Chisholm Trail. Early ranchmen in the neighborhood found it necessary to herd their cattle and horses, and pen them at night, to prevent them from being drifted away by grazing buffalo herds. It is said that they also employed African-American or Native-American herders rather than white cowboys because white scalps were preferred by the raiding Comanche and Kiowa Indians.

Notes on Silver City by J.C. Malcom:

At the age of fourteen years I moved with my father and mother and three brothers and three sisters in 1889 to the Indian Territory (from Ozark, Arkansas), crossing the Arkansas River at Webbers Falls. There in the Cherokee Nation we were joined by some old friends of ours named Polk. We hit the trail there going west. The next place was Hartshorne. From there we came to Wewoka and from there to Sacred Heart Mission; and from there to Purcell on the South Canadian River. The next morning we hit the trail going on west. The next place we came to was Leeper, a little store and postoffice by the side of the trail; and from there on west to dear old Silver City, Indian Territory. There we landed on the Jimmie Bond ranch. That was about the 20th of March, 1889. Silver City at that time was a great trading place for the Indians.

The town of Silver City was located about two miles north of where Tuttle now stands. J. D. Lindsay was the merchant and his helper was Will Sawyer. Silver City consisted of a store, few houses and a hotel which was run by a party by the name of Cornett. This was 1889. Will Erwin’s folks were the last ones to run the hotel. That was 1890. Billie Nelson ran a blacksmith shop. He was a half-brother to Bart and Jake Horn. Mrs. Dr. John Shirley lived just east of the store on the east side of the old Chisholm Trail. She was a widow having a family of five girls and two boys. Their names were Lawrence and Oscar; the girls’ names were Alice, Cora and Blanche and the other two were Frank Clayton’s wife and Dick Fryriar’s wife. The Smith and Tuttle ranch house was about a half mile north of the store.

In the spring of 1890, Silver City was moved to Minco which was the end of the Rock Island for about two years. I, J. C. Malcom, and my father hauled the goods and the building to Minco, having no road. We started across the prairie picking our way but by the time we got through hauling we had a very good road. We crossed Store Creek as it was called straight west of Silver City, running west to a lone cotton wood tree and Beaver Creek; and from there southweat going about one-fourth mile south of where Allen Hill lives now, and crossing Boggy Creek about fifty yards south of where the road is where Ray Thomas lives now. The creek did not have any banks there, and one could cross anywhere you came to it. After Silver City was moved the old schoolhouse was left standing alone out on the prairie. The neighbors organized a Sunday School there. That was 1891. My mother died March 5th, 1891, and was buried at the old Silver City cemetery; and my father died February 14th, 1899, and was also buried there where many pioneers and heroes were laid to rest.

The schoolhouse built by the leading cattlemen of Silver City was where Miss Meta Chestnut opened the first school in September of 1889.  She later married, and is well known in the history of Minco as Mrs. J. Alba Sager.  The school opened at Minco in 1890 where it was established later as El Meta Bond College, with Mrs. Sager as principal until 1920.  J.P. Bond and Montford T. Johnson were well known cattlemen in the Silver City region.  They were citizens of the Chickasaw Nation as their families were of Chickasaw Indian descent.  Mrs. J.P. Bond was active in securing the establishment of the El Meta Bond College at Minco.[i]

Marker in Tuttle

Marker in Tuttle

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P1010625 P1010626

[i] Chronicles of Oklahoma Volume 36; Oklahoma Historical Society; 1958, pg. 211-212.

 

Forgotten Landmark-St. Louis & San Francisco Railway, OK Highway 2 and US 271

Forgotten Landmark-St. Louis & San Francisco Railway, Oklahoma Highway 2 and U.S. Highway 271 between Poteau and Antlers

The “Frisco” had its origin as the South West Branch of the Pacific Railroad, building southwest from St. Louis in the 1850s. War and financial difficulties plagued the road in its several early incarnations, including John C. Frémont’s South West Pacific (1866-1868), the South Pacific (1868-1870), and as part of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (1870-1876). The modern history of the “Frisco” can be dated from the organization of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway Company in 1876. This road fell into receivership in 1893, emerging in 1896 as the new St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad Company. This firm likewise failed, in 1913, being reorganized in 1916 as the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Company. This corporate identification was retained, despite further financial difficulties, until it was absorbed by the Burlington Northern in 1980. Headquartered in St. Louis, the “Frisco” served a wide area, with terminals in St. Louis, Kansas City (Mo.), Dallas, Memphis, Birmingham, Mobile, and Pensacola (Fla.). The “X-shaped” system maintained a primary junction at Springfield (Mo.). At its peak, in the 1930s, the road operated on over 5,000 miles of track.

The Great Depression of the 1930s made revenues disastrously fall. However, no large-scale abandonments took place before 1940, although the company was again in receivership since 1932. On its feet again by 1947, the Frisco struggled on with growing competition of road and air, and most passenger services were cut back or ended. Several branches were closed, but of the old main lines only this line, from Poteau to Hugo, was closed by the end of the twentieth century.

Railroad Piers over Rock Creek off OK 82 at D4478 Road, south of Bengal

Track path parallels U.S. 271 along south side of highway from Albion to Tuskahoma

Pier remains over tributary to Kiamichi River 1.5 miles west of U.S. 271 in Clayton on OK Highway 2

 

Hidden Landmark-World War II British Flying School Crash Site, Big Mountain, OK

Between 1997 and 2001, students at Rattan Elementary School in Rattan, Oklahoma, researched the crash site of a flight of Texan AT6 training aircraft.  These aircraft were piloted by Royal Air Force pilots which were stationed at British Flying Training School No. 1 in Terrell, Texas, and were enroute to Miami, OK.  Below is the text from the signage next to the memorial:

The morning of Saturday, February 20, 1943, Course 12 of the #1 British Flying Training School left Terrell, Texas, in a low level, cross-country training flight.  Their destination was the #3 BFTS in Miami, Oklahoma.  These AT6s encountered bad weather near Red River, the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma.  Some planes returned to Terrell, some continued to Miami, but three were reported missing.  According to the information gathered by Rattan Elementary students, one AT6 “belly landed” and slid into a tree.  Pilot, Vincent Henry Cockman, and navigator, Frank R. Frostick, were found still in the cockpit.  The Anderson-Clayton Funeral Home in Antlers, Oklahoma, picked up their bodies.  The bodies were then transported to Terrell, Texas, for burial on Monday, February 22, 1943, at Oakland Cemetery.  The AT6 flown by Michael John Minty Hosier with navigator Maurice Leslie Jensen nose-dived into the ground turning up a boulder, which created what community members refer to as a “natural tombstone.”  The bodies of the two cadets were recovered on that (same) Monday and taken to the funeral home in Antlers.  They were (also) returned to Terrell for burial.  The third AT6 was able to land safely in a field and was flown back to Terrell the following day.  The navigator of this plane, Gordon “Wilbur” Wright returned to Terrell in the AT6 while its pilot, John Wall, stayed to search for the two crashed AT6s.  Wall wrote a letter describing this incident.  The letter is included in the research report available at the Pushmataha County Historical Society in Antlers, Oklahoma, and at the Oklahoma Historical Society in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  This monument was placed at the “natural tombstone” crash site for two principal reasons.  The research brought about student awareness of the importance of maintaining good relations between the United States and the United Kingdom.  The research also served as a reminder of the great sacrifices both countries have made to preserve and protect our freedom.  This monument was placed in honor of these four cadets as well as all others who have given their lives for the cause of freedom.  The monument was designed by the student researchers in consultation with the Canadian Commonwealth War Graves Commission and prepared by a local artisan, Mr. Allen Parsons of Allen’s Monuments.  The monument was dedicated on Sunday, February 20, 2000, at 2:00 pm on the 57th anniversary of the crashes. 

IMG_20160319_182318

The six BFTSs were, with opening dates:
1 BFTS Terrell, Texas 9 June 1941 *
2 BFTS Lancaster, California 9 June 1941 *
3 BFTS Miami. Oklahoma 16 June 1941 *
4 BFTS Mesa, Arizona 16 June 1941 *
5 BFTS Clewiston, Florida 17 July 1941 *
6 BFTS Ponca City, Oklahoma 23 August 1941
7 BFTS Sweetwater, Texas May 1942 but closed August 1942

Other training would take place with the USAAC in their own schools, under the Arnold Scheme, named after General Hap Arnold.  Altogether, some 18,000 RAF cadets passed through the BFTS and Arnold Schemes. Another 1,000 USAAF cadets were also trained at the BFTSs (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/17/a7189617.shtml)

Old U.S. Highway 70 at Camp Creek, Mannsville, OK

This section of old U.S. Highway 70 crosses Camp Creek south of the present U.S. Highway 177, just to the west of Mannsville.  The U.S. 177 designation replaced the U.S. 70 markings in 1984, when the current U.S. 70 was rerouted further south from Madill to Ardmore.  Predating the U.S. Highway 70 designation, this route was known as Oklahoma Highway 5, and before that the Bankhead Highway.

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Oklahoma1928

1928 Oklahoma Highway Map

As the Automobile Age progressed, the number of cars and trucks in the state grew from 15,000 in 1914 to 127,000 in 1918 to 500,000 in 1926. The activity of good-roads promoters, chambers of commerce, and legions of automobile owners and tourists ensured the development of intrastate and interstate thoroughfares. While state officials discussed methods of facilitating highway construction and worried about funding, private citizens agitated and organized to promote both state and federal action.

On a national scale, growing automobile tourism and the trucking industry needed well-marked, paved roads leading from state to state. Thirteen transcontinental highways were proposed, exemplary of which was the Lincoln Highway from New York to San Francisco via Philadelphia, Omaha, Denver, and Salt Lake City. Leadership in the movement was taken by Logan W. Page, head of the U.S. Office of Public Roads, and Sen. John H. Bankhead of Alabama, chair of the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads.

In Oklahoma as well, citizens banded together, mapped out likely routes, and publicized their efforts in order to create a groundswell of public support. They also tried to secure federal and state designation for the routes. The Oklahoma Good Roads Association, under Suggs and later under Cyrus Avery of Tulsa, provided leadership, and from 1914 through 1918 it and other organizations promoted “named” highways crossing Oklahoma and connecting it to adjacent states. Cities and towns often vied for inclusion on the routes. Proposed north-south highways included the Ozark Trail, the Jefferson, the Kansas-Oklahoma-Texas (K-O-T), the Dallas-Canadian-Denver (D-C-D), the Meridian, and the Star. East-west highways included the Albert Pike, the Postal, and the Lee-Bankhead. After securing support from local chambers of commerce and county officials, if not always from state officials, advocates would place signs or concrete markers to guide travelers along the way, which often proceeded along the rough, occasionally impassable section-line roads.

A state highway system remained an unrealized dream until the U.S. Congress passed the Federal Aid Road Act in 1916. It provided one-to-one matching grants to states for roadways, bridges, and other structures on state highways that were considered eligible for inclusion in a nascent Oklahoma Federal Aid System. The law also required that each state have a legitimate, well-funded, professionally managed highway department. By 1919 Oklahoma’s legislature had appropriated funds to secure the federal match, and in September 1923 the U.S. secretary of agriculture approved Federal Aid Highways in Oklahoma. In 1923 the legislature passed a one-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline, becoming the thirty-eighth state to do so. The Highway Department and the counties shared in the revenue fund for construction and maintenance, but it proved not nearly enough. The tax was raised to 2.5 cents in 1924. In August 1924 the Ninth Legislature passed Senate Bill 44, creating the State Highway System, under the management of a three-member Highway Commission, and defined three kinds of roads: state highways, county highways, and township roads. The state system was to comprise intercounty and interstate highways and was to total at least five percent of each county’s roadways. The state and county roads were eligible for federal and state funds.

The commission designated state highways and numbered them 1 through 26. State Highway 2, the Meridian Highway, extended from Caldwell, Kansas, through Medford, Pond Creek, Enid, Kingfisher, El Reno, Chickasha, Marlow, Duncan, and Waurika to the Red River. The Jefferson Highway, designated as State Highway 6, extended from Chetopa, Kansas, through Vinita, Pryor, Wagoner, Muskogee, Checotah, Eufaula, McAlester, Atoka, and Durant to the Red River. State Highway 7, earlier promoted as the Ozark Trail, linked Baxter Springs, Kansas, Miami, Afton, Vinita, Claremore, Tulsa, Sapulpa, Bristow, Stroud, Chandler, Davenport, Oklahoma City, Newcastle, Chickasha, Lawton, and Altus. State Highway 4, the K-O-T, stretched from Newkirk through Ponca City, Perry, Guthrie, Oklahoma City, Norman, Ardmore, and Marietta to the Red River. East-west arteries included State Highway 11, the Albert Pike Highway, linking Siloam Springs, Kansas, Locust Grove, Chouteau, Tulsa, Skiatook, Pawhuska, Ponca City, Pond Creek, Cherokee, Alva, Buffalo, Hooker, and Boise City. State Highway 3, the Postal Highway, extended from Fort Smith through Poteau, Wilburton, McAlester, Holdenville, Wewoka, Shawnee, Oklahoma City, El Reno, Weatherford, Elk City, and Sayre, into Texas. State Highway 5, the Lee-Bankhead Highway, a transcontinental road, stretched from Ultima Thule, Arkansas, through Idabel, Hugo, Durant, Ardmore, and Waurika to Frederick and crossed the Red River at Davidson. All were completed by 1925, and in that year the state system comprised approximately five thousand miles, of which approximately three hundred were paved.[i]

[i] Highways; Oklahoma Historical Society; http://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=HI004c

1924 US 70

Forgotten Landmarks-Red River Free Bridge and Red River Toll Bridge, Colbert, Oklahoma

Site of Red River Bridge War (2.4 miles south of Colbert on Franklin Street/Road at U.S. 69/U.S. 75 Bridge over the Red River)

The free bridge which previously crossed over the Red River at this point (demolished in 1995) was the cause of the so-called Red River Bridge War in 1931. For many years previously, the Texas Toll Bridge Company had operated a toll bridge at this crossing, but in 1929 Texas and Oklahoma, with the consent of Congress, began the construction of a free bridge.

The toll bridge company claimed that the commission had agreed in July of 1930 to purchase the toll bridge for $60,000 and to pay the company for its unexpired contract an additional $10,000 for each month of a specified fourteen-month period in which the free bridge might be opened, and that the commission had not fulfilled this obligation. A temporary injunction was issued on July 10th, 1931, and Texas governor Ross S. Sterling ordered barricades erected across the Texas approaches to the new bridge. However, on July 16th Governor William (Alfalfa Bill) Murray of Oklahoma opened the bridge by executive order, claiming that Oklahoma’s “half” of the bridge ran lengthwise north and south across the Red River, that Oklahoma held title to both sides of the river from the Louisiana Purchase treaty of 1803, and that the state of Oklahoma was not named in the injunction. Oklahoma highway crews crossed the bridge and demolished the barricades. Governor Sterling responded by ordering a detachment of three Texas Rangers, accompanied by Adjutant General William Warren Sterling, to rebuild the barricades and protect Texas Highway Department employees charged with enforcing the injunction. The rangers arrived on the night of July 16th. On July 17th, Murray ordered Oklahoma highway crews to tear up the northern approaches to the still-operating toll bridge, and traffic over the river came to a halt. On July 20th and 21st, mass meetings demanding the opening of the free bridge were held in Sherman and Denison, and resolutions to this effect were forwarded to Austin. On July 23rd, the Texas legislature, which was meeting in a special session, passed a bill granting the Texas Toll Bridge Company permission to sue the state in order to recover the sum claimed in the injunction. The bridge company then joined the state in requesting the court to dissolve the injunction, which it did on July 25th. On that day, the free bridge was opened to traffic and the rangers were withdrawn.

Meanwhile, a federal district court in Muskogee, Oklahoma, acting on a petition from the toll-bridge company, had on July 24th enjoined Governor Murray from blocking the northern approaches to the toll bridge. Murray, acting several hours before the injunction was actually issued, declared martial law in a narrow strip of territory along the northern approaches to both bridges and then argued that this act placed him, as commander of the Oklahoma National Guard, above the federal court’s jurisdiction. An Oklahoma guard unit was ordered to the bridge, and Murray, armed with an antique revolver, made a personal appearance in the “war zone,” as the newspapers labeled it. No attempt was made to enforce the Oklahoma injunction, but on July 24th, with the free bridge open, Murray directed the guardsmen to permit anyone who so desired to cross the toll bridge. On July 27th, Murray announced that he had learned of an attempt to close the free bridge permanently, and he extended the martial-law zone to the Oklahoma boundary marker on the south bank of the Red River. Oklahoma guardsmen were stationed at both ends of the free bridge, and Texas papers spoke of an “invasion.” Finally, on August 6th, 1931, the Texas injunction was permanently dissolved, the Oklahoma guardsmen were withdrawn to enforce martial law in the Oklahoma oilfields, and the bridge controversy was laid to rest.[i]

Oklahoma1928

1928 Oklahoma Highway Map

BryanCo1941

1941 Bryan County Transportation Map

Remains of Red River Toll Bridge ( 1.4 miles south of Colbert on Franklin Street/Road, 1.5 miles south on River Road at Toll Bridge Road)

Two of the bridge piers of the Red River Toll Bridge remain in the Red River southwest of this junction, approximately 1100 yards southeast of the current highway bridge.

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[i] Taylor, Lonn W.; Red River Bridge Controversy; Texas State Historical Association; https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/mgr02

Forgotten Landmark-Musick Trading House, Hervey, Arkansas

Site of Musick’s Trading House (13.5 miles east  of U.S. 67 (Mandeville) on AR 296 to Hervey, 1.2 miles east on CR 379, 0.8 miles west, across First Old River Lake, on Local Road to end)

Approximately 500 yards northwest of this spot was the site of Musick’s Trading House.  South of the Great Bend of the Red River “were such worthies as Robert B. Musick—”Old Bob,” he was afterward called—who, having gone quite native, was content to bury a fine intellect in an Indian camp, solacing himself with whiskey and the embraces of a Delaware squaw; William Berry, of whom nothing good or bad has survived; and Morris May, who was represented by as reputable a person as Stephen F. Austin as being too closely connected with the traffic in stolen horses for his subsequent good name.”[i]

Robert B. Musick served as magistrate of the township of Ozan in 1828.  Musick was appointed Overseer of the Camden and Washington Road from Martin Parmer’s to the town of Washington.  From this court action in 1828 it appears that a pre-existing road, perhaps John Johnson’s road, and a newer road to the Musick place were being connected together as the Ecore Fabre to Washington Road and were being placed under the care of the persons who lived near them in the sparsely populated country.  Robert B. Musick had no land patents in this early period. On November 7th, 1828, Musick and his wife sold the West half of the Southwest Quarter of Section 33 of Township 11 South Range 24 West to Hardin Wilson. The deed was recorded on August 8th, 1829, in Deed Book B, page 311. This 80-acre tract sold for $400, suggesting by its price that a house and other substantial improvements were on the property. This tract which probably contained Musick’s house north of Hope, just to the east of present-day Hempstead County Road 217, now a paved road that has been in use for many years. Hempstead County Road 46, a gravel and dirt road, veers off of 217 and continues on into Washington on the northeast corner of Washington Corporation. It is marked in places by deep embankments and could well be part of the old Camden to Washington Road.[ii]

In 1829, Musick purchased the north half of the Peter Ellis Bean League of land six miles west of Alto in Cherokee County, Texas.  Robert died in 1830 and his wife Martha and their five children moved to the Texas land in 1835.[iii]

The Arkansas Territory Superior Court Records of 1835 mention Robert B. Musick as a defendant in a lawsuit in 1829 in Hempstead County:

“On the 24th day of January, 1829, Wilson, the plaintiff in error, recovered a judgment against Robert B. Musick, for the sum of eighty-three dollars debt, and five dollars and sixty cents damages, and the costs of the suit, and on the same day, Eads, the defendant in error, appeared before the justice and acknowledged himself jointly bound with Musick for the stay of execution.  On the 24th of July, the stay of execution having expired, Wilson caused execution to be issued against Musick and delivered it to the proper officer, who made return thereon, on the 19th day of August, 1829, in the following words: “No goods or chattels are found in my township to levy on, nor is the body of the defendant Robert B. Musick.”

Musick Trading House Site Musick Trading House Map

[i] Strickland, Rex W.; Miller County, Arkansas Territory, The Frontier that Men Forgot—Chronicles of Oklahoma; Oklahoma Historical Society; Vol. 18, No. 1, Pg. 16; http://digital.library.okstate.edu/Chronicles/v018/v018p012.html

[ii] Arkansas Properties on the National Register of Historic Places: Camden to Washington Road — Rosston Segment, Nevada County; Arkansas Historic Preservation Program; http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/blog/arkansas-properties-on-the-national-register-of-historic-places-camden-to-washington-road-rosston-se; January 28th, 2015.

[iii] Cherokee County Historical Commission (Tex.). Cherokee County History, Book, 2001; (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth354360/ : accessed December 06, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Cherokee County Historical Commission, Rusk, Texas.

 

Forgotten Landmark-Blue River Highway Bridge, Old U.S. 70, Blue, OK

Blue River Highway Bridge, Old U.S. Highway 70, southwest of Blue, Oklahoma

U.S. Highway 70 parallels the route of the St. Louis & San Francisco (Frisco Railroad).  Prior to the creation of the Federal Highway System in 1926, this route was referred to as the Bankhead Highway, a segment of the Rand McNally Auto Trails system.  The Bankhead Highway traversed the southern United States, beginning in Washington D.C. and traveling through Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas, and Phoenix to San Diego. West of Little Rock, Arkansas, the Bankhead Highway ran in two parallel routes.  The northerly route followed U.S. 70 from Little Rock to Roswell, New Mexico.

 

 

The highway bridge in the photos below is located along a portion of the old U.S. Highway 70, whose route travels south of the current route between Bokchito and Hugo.  This bridge was constructed in 1921 by the General Construction Company of St. Louis under the direction of the Federal Aid Project.  During 1921, 162 miles of highway were constructed by the state under the Federal Aid and 32 miles were built by counties.  The total estimated cost was $4,847,000.

 

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2090) at Blue River

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2090) at Blue River

 

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2090) at Blue River

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2090) at Blue River

A similar bridge was constructed over Caddo Creek, east of the town of Blue (photos below).

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2080) at Caddo Creek

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2080) at Caddo Creek

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2080) at Caddo Creek

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2080) at Caddo Creek

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