The First Eight Months of Oklahoma City.
GROWTH AND PROGRESS OF THE
When it was declared that W.
L. Couch had been duly elected mayor, matters gravitated to their
natural centers and men pursued their various avocations with a decorum
worthy of the highest commendation. The work of building was carried on
day and night and in two weeks more than one thousand buildings were
There would have been double
this number had it not been from the fact that it was impossible to
obtain lumber. It was for the first two or three weeks a city of tents.
On Saturday, May 4th, a wind storm commenced and raged
for fully a week. It came from the north-west and is one of the
disagreeable remembrances of the city’s early days. But few people
were living in houses and
their goods and persons were
at the mercy of the wind and weather.
Tents were blown down and the air was clouded with dust and dirt
almost to the point of suffocation.
Sunday was a stormy
one and upon the night
of that day the hardest
rain storm prevailed ever known in the south-west.
It was the end of the dirt and dust reign however, the precession
of progress was again formed, and the onward march resumed.
Thousands of strangers from
all parts of the world visited the new city in its earliest days and
real estate men who were as numerous as lemonade stands, did a thriving
business. Within one week
after the opening lots on Main street were in feverish demand at from
$100 to $1,000, ac-cording to location.
This, as a matter of course, will be understood to refer only to
the sale of the settler’s relinquish or possessory rights.
Real estate men complained
that everybody wanted to buy property and that but few could be found
wanting to sell.
The act of congress limiting
a town site to three hundred and twenty acres caused SOUTH OKLAHOMA to
be surveyed on the 23d of April. An election was held on the 27th
at which over five hundred votes were cast and the
officers elected: G.
W. Patrick, mayor;
W. T. Bodine, city recorder; Col. L. P. Ross, city attorney; N. C.
Helburn, city marshal; John Cochran, city treasurer; councilmen, J. P.
McKinnis, S. E. Steele, E.
W. Sweeney, E. S. Hughes and W. L. Kille brew.
South Oklahoma is in realty
a continuous part of Oklahoma City, being laid off in conformity with
it. The line dividing the
two cities is an imaginary one running along the center
of Reno avenue. The town
site segregates three hundred and twenty acres and the two town sites
six hundred and forty acres, lying wholly west of the Santa Fe railroad.
The drainage for both cities
is excellent and never failing water is found at from twenty to
thirty-five feet, the shallowest depth being on the highest ground.
After the surveys of the town
sites were established the following streets were found laid off in
regular order and named, East to West: Seventh, Sixth, Fifth, Fourth,
Third, Second, First, Main, Grand avenue, California avenue, Reno
avenue, Washington avenue, Noble street,
Frisco and Choctaw. North
to South: Santa Fe, Broadway, Robinson, Harvey, Hudson and Division,
twenty-three in all. On
Saturday, May 18, just twenty-five days after the opening, seventy-five
buildings were counted on First street, one hundred and forty-two on
Main, one hundred and two on Clarke street
now Grand avenue, ninety-two on California avenue, eighty seven
on Reno and one hundred and ten on Broadway.
No buildings were counted unless fronting the street.
The above makes a total of
six hundred and six buildings on the six principle streets at that time.
On the other streets and in the business part of the town were
one hundred and sixty-three buildings, and in the resident part of the
city there were four hundred houses, making a grand total of one
thousand one hundred and sixty-nine buildings erected in twenty-five
What a record!
How active and industrious those people
were unknown to
they came to
Oklahoma! In their founding
of a city individual great
men were dwarfed by the rising up of the multitude, even as mountain
peaks lose their prominence by the surrounding heights only a little
lower; and it can be truly said that the founders and builders of
Oklahoma City will be put down in the records of the future as a people,
who In their wish and craze for gold, did not forget their duty to home,
to country and to God.
It has been repeatedly
stated in the public press that the people were lawless, avaricious, and
that in their eagerness to acquire riches, forgot sacred things and lost
that respect for law and order which their fathers had.
Such reports were false and a great injustice to the first
settlers of Oklahoma. In
the future their names will be linked with the glorified names of men
who made up other generations. They
will leave their impression.
Many of them can not achieve
eternal individual fame, for, with the mass of mankind life is little
more, after all, than a struggle for bread, and generations follow each
other even as one wave follows another on the breast of the sea and like
them disappear in the deep when the puff of air which is called life has
blown itself out. Each particular generation leaves its own impression
and that impression will be recalled long after, even as savants in
working out geological problems, note the shore lines as they were made
through the ages by waters that long ago flowed out and were lost in the
sea. The men of 1776 left
their impression so marked
that now, as we call over the illustrious
behind them, a
calm-fronted and resolute, who were equal to the pain and labor
of giving birth to a new nation.
The generation of 1812 is
just as fairly impressed.
Their rambling fights at Lundy’s Lane and New Orleans, on Lake
Erie and out upon the ocean revealed all the energy and pluck necessary
to begin in earnest the conquest of a continent. In that age, too, the
calm which followed the great revolutionary upheaval had its
reward. There was a galaxy
of writers, speakers and thinkers produced which were a glory to
the earth. So, too, with
the mighty work on hand to do and with so few workers, invention bent
itself to create out of wood and iron helps to man, so that with their
aid his own labors might be
In that generation
the steam engine began to sound its notice that an evangel of
iron had come to the earth to take from the arms of flesh the heaviest
physical burdens upon its arms of iron, and to multiply the speed of
labor even as it would its power. Then
the impression which the next generation gave was still more strongly
began with a
handful of men, with an audacity never equaled since the son of
Phillip started for
Persia, invaded an enemy’s
country, and against an overwhelming foe pressed its way up the rocky
fastnesses of the Cordilleras, captured the capital of the country and
dictated a peace.
Then followed the exodus of
the Argonauts, by sea and across the deserts to the Golden Coast.
These two acts were but preliminary to the mighty one which was
to succeed; wherein in the dead-lock of a civil war the valor that drove
each side on-ward, as reckoned by the lists of dead and wounded in the
wake of the bloody wave, shows a record which is without a parallel in
modern wars. But even that
was not such an exhibition of native greatness as what followed when out
of chaos order was born, and all the broken threads of industry were
picked up, one by one, and woven anew into a perfect garment to wrap the
fair land in. Like the
others, this generation will leave its impression.
The names of the men and women who laid the corner stones of
civilization in Oklahoma will be revered in the years to come.
They will live on painted canvas and in sculptured marble;
nothing can assail or obscure them; and as the revolving world measures
off the cycles of time their names “will brighter glow and gleam
immortal unconsumed by moth or rust.”
Grand Avenue in the early
days of the city’s history was called Clarke street — in honor, it
is presumed, of the Hon. Sidney Clarke.
It was the “bone of
contention” for a long time and had half a dozen names. A petition was
put in circulation on the 18th of May, 1889 to change its
name and the Gazette of May 21st, suggested that as its
creation had led to many citizens being deprived and plundered of their
lots with-out recompense, that a very appropriate name for it would be
Stolen avenue. In the
interest of harmony however, the same
perpetuate the name
and services of a man whose best years were spent in striving for
Oklahoma, that as a memorial to the honor of David Payne, it should be
called Payne avenue. This
recommendation was not acted upon and it is said that W. H. Carter —
of the firm of Carter & Rugg — named it Grand avenue and to the
present it has retained that name. Carter was one of the “leading
citizens” in those days, but since then blundered in business,
swindled his partner and went where the woodbine twineth.
THE MASONIC FRATERNITY.
The first public move toward
organization of the members of the Masonic order in the city, was made
Fri-day night, May 10th, 1889.
An informal meeting was held in an unfinished room adjoining the
post office on Main street upon that night and forty-one knights of the
square and compass were present S.
Linn Biedler, of Illinois, was elected chairman, and A. C. Scott, of
Kansas, secretary. On motion of Dr. A. J. Beale, a committee of five was
appointed to confer with the Grand Lodge with the purpose of obtaining a
dispensation for a charter. This
committee consisted of S. Linn Biedler, J.M. Steade, J. A. Keys, D. W.
Gibbs ; and H. B. Calef. The Oklahoma Journal, of May 17th,
1889 says this of the
“For those present It was
a memorable occasion, certainly they will not forget the interesting and
picturesque scene, the unfinished room, the temporary floor, furnishing
pit-falls for the unwary, the gusts of wind coming through the open
spaces, again and again leaving them in darkness, the earnest and hearty
men inspired by the most fraternal spirit.
All this will linger long in the memory of those present.”