White Oak

 

VanAusdal Drug Store, Welch, OK

"The Story of Craig County, Its People and Places"
C174 by Barbara (Holcomb) Wiles

White Oak came into existence about 1895 as a small settlement north of the present site but moved later to its present location after Theo. Jones an early merchant, and Charley Brown built a stockyards, started businesses in the new location, and invited the people at the earlier site to join them.

The first post office was established October 31, 1898, and B.B. Burnett was officially listed as postmaster, although early residents tell that Andy Hampton was postmaster.  He was followed by W.D. Stout, Theo Jones, and Oliver Haynes, who served in that capacity for 38 years.  The post office closed in 1957.

The Frisco railroad built a spur at the site, and for more than 50 years White Oak was a major shipping center for cattle.  There were stock pens, and a large pasture nearby (both owned by the Frisco) where cattle could be held for a time after they were unloaded and waiting to be driven to the ranches or until the cattle cars could be brought in for shipping them.  Cattle were usually shipped to Kansas City or St. Joseph, Missouri.

Early day cattlemen shipping into and out of White Oak were the Montgomery's from as far north as Centralia, the Franklins, Leforce brothers, Milburn Condray, the Oskisons, Grayson Wills, the Christian brothers, and the Sneddens.  After World War 11 roads were improved and the trucking industry took business from the railroad.  The passenger service was discontinued and freight service was lost to trucks.  The chutes and loading pens have since been removed and the original depot no longer stands.

Miss Rhoda Carruthers was the station agent for the Frisco, beginning in Tulsa during World War 1, and retiring in the 1960s.  Through her efforts the railroad leased a nearby pasture of 160 acres for the cattlemen to use as a "holdover or trap" for their cattle.  This pasture was used to hold over the cattle after being driven overland from the home ranch for shipping on the railroad and as a hold over after receiving cattle by train before the trip to the home ranch.

Through the efforts of Rhoda, as she was affectionately known by community residents, a July 4th picnic was held in the pasture (now the property of Dwight Hunt) in 1934.  Political candidates provided a free barbeque.  Beef for the barbeque was prepared by Sam Woodard, a pioneer Craig Countian.  The popular Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys of radio station KVOO in Tulsa were present to provide the music for square dancing on a specially built platform.  There was a local rodeo and fireworks at night.

The shipping of prairie hay was a thriving business for a number of years with two or three huge hay barns alongside the railroad.  Early day shippers were Fred and George Kelly, Monroe Butler, Theo Jones, A.W. Kennedy and Lester and Dewey Rafferty.

Among the many people who have owned and operated general stores in White Oak were a Mr. Kilgore, Jess Butler, S.C. Clawson, Theo Jones, Enoch Jenkins, Will Rafferty, Oliver (Barney) Vogel, Orvel Alumbaugh, A.W. Kennedy and O.M. Haynes.  Mr. Haynes operated a general store for over 50 years before retiring in the 1960s.

A two-room house served as White Oak's first hotel, used principally by visiting cattlemen.  Later, Bud Miles built a hotel and rooming house which he operated for several years before selling to Joe Beck.

Early doctors in the White Oak area were Dr. M.P. Haynes and a Dr. Maioller.

The town is near a rich coal vein which was mined for several years in the 1950s by the McNabb Coal Company.  The vein runs south and west of the town.

The town's water supply came from private wells until the Rural Water District was created to bring water in from Grand Lake in the late 1960s.

White Oak no longer has a general store, post office or depot but approximately 100 people still live there.

The first school located northwest of the present day town site burned and a new school was built closer to the community.  This facility burned at the close of the school year in 1943 and was rebuilt as the existing and enlarged school of the present time.  Grades of kindergarten through high school are served.

At a 1974 school reunion former school board members in attendance with their spouses included Mike Roberts, Charley Prather, C.A. Casity and Johnny Bowie.  Former teachers present were Hugh Sapp, Gladys (Franklin) Martin, Mary Jane Douglas, O.G. Shubert, Rosa Belle Curtis, Willard Johnson and Otis Harlan.

Former teachers at a 1975 school reunion included Gladys (Franklin) Martin, Mary Jane Douglas, Mr. and Mrs. O.B. Schubert, John Keeter, Willard Johnson, Katherine Hemphill Adams, and Thelma Jones.  Also attending were former school board members, Mike Roberts, W. T. Williams, Vernon Bussey, Norman Miles, Dorothy Hennigan Beisley, and Barbara Herod Parmley.

In 1979, the annual school reunion celebrated "50 Years of Community Service".  The school superintendent, George Wickliffe, gave an in-depth speech of the "White Oak School of Today".  Honored students attending were graduates of the first graduating class of 1929:  Velma Smith Martin, Pearl White Most, and Sarah Fry Looney.  Other former graduates at the reunion included Malcolm Workman, Otis Jones and R. W. Underwood, class of 1930.

That year, Mrs. Leno Piguet, White Oak third grade teacher of 23 years, resigned.  She began her teaching career in country schools in Rogers County, then cam to Craig County area.  During her years as a teacher, she was sponsor of 4-H clubs, and a member of a home demonstration club for several years.  She is a member of the White Oak First Baptist Church.  She is married to Howard Piguet and they are the parents of two children.

In May 1975 Mrs. Lela Lay of White Oak was honored on her 74th birthday.  Her children included daughters, Marie Summers of Jet, Louise Bowie, Wanda Walker, Wilma Hugg and Laverne Walker all of the Vinita area, Fay Wayman of Walsh, Colorado, and a son, Jim Lay of Canadian, Texas.

Steven Lynn Seidenberger, son of Herbert R. Seidenberger, Vinita, is a Doctor of Veterinary medicine.  He graduated from White Oak High School in 1971, attended Northeast Oklahoma A&M College in Miami, and Oklahoma State University, Stillwater.
Mary Korthase of Tulsa was giving sign language to the deaf during services for First Baptist Church members in Tulsa.  She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Korthase and attended White Oak school.

In January 1975 Mr. and Mrs. Leslie William Seaton of White Oak celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  They were married January 10, 1925 in Miami, Oklahoma and spent most of their lives in the Vinita and Afton area.  They are the parents of eight children, Leona Messimore, Afton, Lawrence Robert Seaton, White Oak, Idalice Sturgeon and Ray Seaton of Ft.  Smith, Arkansas, James Seaton, Lancaster, Texas, Rosaletta Sasser, Spavinaw.

In 1974 Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Robert Seaton of White Oak celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.  They were married in Bentonville, Arkansas, and have spent most of their lives in the Sapulpa and Vinita area.  They are the parents of four children, Larry Seaton, Ricky Seaton, Brenda Parrish, and Sharon McGee, all of White Oak.

At the 1974 Old Settlers reunion in Vinita, the winner of the Old Fiddler's Contest was David Hayes, accompanied by his guitarist brother, Mark Hayes, and cousin, Brad Hayes.

Area Indian Dances

White Oak . . . Indian stomp dances have been a part of this area's heritage for "many generations," according to Mrs. Emeline Carpenter, leader of the White Oak dances.

Asked in a February, 1984 interview how long the dances had been in existence in the area, she replied, "Way back, before my time, and I am 85 years old," going on to say that the leadership is handed down within a family, going back generations ago to a grandmother who was an Indian queen.

There are three main dances held a year at the grounds located three and one-half miles southwest of White Oak, not far from Mrs. Carpenter's home, and she especially stressed the sacredness of the ceremonial stomp dances to the Indians.

"The three dances which consist of the May Bread Dance, the August Green Corn Feast and the November Bread Dance are a Thanksgiving to God for what the Indians have received for the seasons," Mrs. Carpenter explained, adding that preparations begin in April.

Indians in the area are mainly Shawnee, Delaware and Cherokee, but Indians from other tribes and from all over the United States are represented at the dances which are from four days to a week in length.  Many camp at the stomp grounds site.

Again stressing the sacredness of the dances, Mrs. Carpenter pointed out that Indian-dress such as shawls and moccasins are worn, not the feathers of a pow-wow.

"Although it is Indian grounds," she said, "everyone is welcome to join the activities."

The area surrounding the stomp grounds is a heavily wooded area.  As you turn off the main road onto a lane leading down through the trees, you come to a clearing where the ceremonial dances are held.  In the center of the camping area there are logs laid to form a circle, the ground is well packed by the many moccasins that have danced around the large bonfire in the very center of the log boundary.

Mrs. Carpenter explained the ceremonies carefully.  Without divulging her trusted knowledge as leader, she described a part of the tradition:
"The grounds have two doors; the west side is for women and the east side door is for men.  They cannot cross over the logs -the logs being divided for seating on each side with a separation of the men and women.

"We have twelve main men dancers and twelve main women dancers who lead.  The women dancers also are in charge of the bread baking which is presented to the men following the 'main-day' dance.

"After the main dancers, other Indians and other persons of all ages will join in.

"We have four ushers (butchers), two men and two women, who help with the dancers and bread baking.  There are three drummers.

"There is an altar where we present our offering in the sacred ceremony of thanking God."
Mrs. Carpenter has served as head of the dances about twenty-five years, learning the traditions from her grandmother.
 
created 10-30-99 mgc


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