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Phantom Hill Cemetery
Submitted by Mike Grissom
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There are several spots which evidently hold graves but have no stone.
The names on the stones which are there are:
See more pictures of Phantom Hill Cemetery
Picture Page 1 Picture Page 2 Picture Page 3
Born Dec 28, 1827
William Shirley & Dr. John Shirley
Infant son of
J.R. & K. Fryrear
Died July 1879
Aged 1 year
Died Aug. 12, 1889
son of A.F. & G.A. Cochel
April 9, 1879 - May 29, 1880
wife of Wm. Walner
July 26, 1861
Dec 11, 1890
Next to this stone is a small tombstone made out of metal,
reading: Our Willie
Here are some notes on this cemetery.
John Shirley was appointed postmaster of Cherokee Town on August 17,
He had built a home just north of the cemetery in 1869. I suppose the home might have been called
Phantom Hill before the cemetery was there. I am guessing that his
grave was the first one there, and it is probable that he owned the land where they buried him. The cemetery is about a mile
(or two?) due east (as a crow flies) from Cherokee Town. I will have to get better directions. It is best located by going north
from Pierce's Corner on Highway 29, but how far I don't know. I just know it when I see it.
"Chronicles of Oklahoma" has this to say about John Shirley:
Dr. John Shirley, a native of Ireland, went to Texas after his marriage
to Jane Patillo of Dardanelle, Arkansas,
and was employed as U.S. Government physician at Fort Concho, Texas, and thence came to Fort Arbuckle, Indian Territory, where he also served the Wichita Agency Indians near Fort Cobb, established 1859.
He later engaged in the trading business with government contracts both at Fort Cobb and Fort Sill after that post was established in 1869, subsequently making his home at Cherokee Town on the Washita River. At this site, about 2 1/2 miles southeast of present Pauls Valley, Garvin County, Dr. Shirley erected the first bridge on the Washita.
When the first post office was established at Cherokee Town on August 17, 1874, he was appointed the postmaster.
He died suddenly of ptomaine poisoning at Anadarko, Indian Territory, and was buried at Phantom Hill, near Pauls Valley.
His daughter Kate, who married R. Fryrear, a cattleman in this vicinity, died in Oklahoma City in 1956 where she had lived with her daughter, Mrs. Nora Agnes Eggleston, for the past several years.
Lena M. was the daughter of Mrs. Hotchkin, who built the schoolhouse which later became the old Presbyterian Church in Wynnewood. Built in 1887, it is still standing. She married William Walner, brother of John Walner, founder of Wynnewood.
She is Grant Walner's grandmother, and he said that his grandfather,
William, is buried there, too, though
William doesn't seem to have a stone. The little boy named Lucian is the son of one of our Confederate Veterans,
Absalom F. Cochel.
The cemetery is owned by Fitz Whitaker, Kay Dobbins' brother. After my
last visit, I saw Fitz down at Patty Jo's one day at noon, and I told him I had found a
name for the cemetery. He was glad and said he would like to have a gate or entrance made
with that name on it. (I think Fitz lives in California, but his daughter lives out there on some of the land owned by Fitz.) In 1974, or approximately that year, the Wynnewood Historical Society went out and fenced the cemetery as a Bicentennial Project. We neglected to put a gate up, and some cows must have gotten in there again, so I think there are some stones turned over. But, I went out and put up a makeshift gate, so I think nothing goes in now. The cemetery is not large, but being in the woods like it is, it has the feel of an old Mississippi cemetery lost in the ancient woods. It could be a very pretty place.
I think there are dogwoods growing in amongst the stones.
I think I have discovered the origin of the name of Phantom Hill Cemetery. In 1991, a very nice elderly lady was dying of cancer. She was a friend of mine and lived across town there in Nashville. She called me a week before she died and gave me all of her Southern books -- about 50 in all. I brought them all home with me in 1993 when I moved back here after the death of my daddy. Never paid too much attention to them, other than taking one out and reading it every so often. Last night, I opened this marvelous book called SOUTHERN LITERARY READINGS, published in 1913, and began going through the poetry, when Lo and Behold! my eyes fell upon a poem entitled "Old Fort Phantom Hill." Naturally, my curiosity was aroused. It was an old abandoned fort which was thought to be haunted. It was in Jones County, Texas, and I found that that is the Abilene area. I remembered that John Shirley had gone down into Texas at some point, so I found the little sketch which we have about him, and it said he went into Texas and was at Fort Concho. (I don't know where Fort Concho was.) This was in the 1850s, I believe. Then, he was transferred up into the Fort Sill-Fort Arbuckle area. He did business for the government, and after the War, he did his own private contracts with the forts in the southwest Texas and southwestern Oklahoma area. In 1869, or shortly thereafter, he built his home out there on the hill just north of the cemetery where he is buried. In CHRONICLES OF OKLAHOMA, as you remember, it says he was buried east of Pauls Valley at Phantom Hill. I am supposing that he was very familiar with the tales of old Fort Phantom Hill in Jones County and probably decided to name his home that. And, he seems to be the first burial out there, so I suppose that the news report just said he was "buried at Phantom Hill." Either the cemetery never had a name, or it was called "Phantom Hill Cemetery" by those who came and went and buried there after Mr. Shirley's death.
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