Muskogee Co, OK

Turning Back The Clock

By: C. W. "Dub" West (c) 1985

Muskogee Publishing Company, Box 1331, Muskogee, OK 74402

Snippets # 4

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(Pg 24 & 25) Spaulding Promoted Muscogee H.B. Spaulding came to Muskogee in 1884 from Sulphur Springs, Texas. He first found work as a carpenter, but began working in the J.A. Patterson store in 1885. Before long, he was manager of the dry goods department.

His next venture was the cattle business. At one time he had a spread of 200 square miles.

He operated a mercantile business in partnership with W.S. Harsha in Muskogee and another partnership in Checotah with R.B. Huchinson. "Spauldin' money" was an important medium of exchange for many years.

Spaulding ... [wanted] his friends and relatives in Texas come to what he considered the "promised land." He made several trips back to Sulphur Springs and enticed a number of families to come to Muskogee, including the Dabbs, the Duncans, and the Mortons.

... He built the famous Spaulding Bridge ... This was the only bridge in the area until 1922. ... When Harrell International Institute burned late in 1899, it was Spaulding who furnished the material to rebuild, and it was located on land he donated west of Spaulding Park.... Because of his generosity, the name of the school was changed to Spaulding Institute. ... Spaulding was elected mayor of Muskogee in 1902 ...Spaulding Mercantile was sold to D.H. Middleton Sept. 17, 1903 ... [he] left the business scene. ... Chairman of the Muskogee County commissioners when he died in 1917.

Mrs. H.B. Spaulding was a daughter of Capt. S.B. Callahan, one of Muskogee's prominent Creek citizens. Callahan served as secretary and interpreter to three Creek chiefs, Roly McIntosh, Samuel Checote, and Isparcher. He served as a member of the House of Kings from 1868 to 1872, followed by being elected to the clerkship of the Supreme Court and was elected a justice of the Supreme Court in 1901. He was a delegate to Washington for the Creek Nation on many occasions and was a personal friend of President Grover Cleveland. He was on the boards of trustees of a number of schools in the Creek Nation, and from 1904 until his death in 1911, he was the only surviving member of the Confederate Congress.

Mrs. Spaulding was a very gracious woman, and because of her husband's business interests as well as his political importance, it fell her lot to do a great deal of entertaining. They had one of the most impressive homes in Muskogee, and from newspaper accounts, it was the scene of many social, business, and political gatherings.

The Spauldings were leaders in Methodism, supporting the Rock Church, as well as what became the First Methodist Church. They May 1, 1901 issue of the Muskogee Evening News reported that the Spauldings had returned from New Orleans, where they attended the Methodist Episcopal South Conference. [Photo of H B Spaulding]

(Pg 25 & 26) House and Store in Middle of Street. Sam Gaines found himself in a predicament. His home was in the middle of the street at Third and Broadway. When he built the house during the 1870's, the streets had not been laid out and there was no indication of the problems what would arise. Sam gallantly volunteered to have his house moved and became quite a hero. This appealed to the citizens to the extent that they took up a collection to have his house moved and to buy a lot.

It also was necessary for Charles Wheeler to move his house, but the generousity of the townspeople was not extended to him. Sam Yates' tin shop on North Third also had to be moved. [Drawing of the street with the house in the middle].

The townbuilders of Guthrie profited from Muskogee's problems and those of other communities. When that town was settled in the Run of '89, one of the officials hitched a team to a log and drove down the street, mowing down tents in the way after warning everyone of his intentions.

In the early days, there really were three thoroughfares. The north-south "street" was the Texas Road which became Cherokee Street. The east-west link came in from the east by way of Fort Gibson Ferry and continued west toward Okmulgee, being called Okmulgee Road, and later Okmulgee Avenue. A third road meandered northwest toward Tullahassee and Koweta Mission.

When the townsite commission laid out streets, the so-called north-south streets were made to parallel the Katy Railroad, which was far from true north and south. As additional surveys were made, many of them were laid out along true north-south lines. ....

Not only did Third Street present a problem in early days by having houses in its middle, but its name was changed at least twice. So far as we know, it first was called Arkansas Avenue, but was changed to Fairwater because the citizens of Fairwater, Wis., furnished some money to build the parsonage for First Baptist Church. It eventually became Third Street.

The abstracts of property owned by Clyde Best at Callahan Street and East Side Bouvelard indicates that Callahan Street originally was known as Charleston before it was renamed to honor Dr. J.O. Callahan. Another abstract shows East Broadway originally to be known as Brooklyn.

Seventh Street originally was named Division Street, and 12th Street was named Kendall Boulevard during the days when Henry Kendall College was located in that vicinity.

A number of streets were named for pioneers. In the Honor Heights area, Robertson Boulevard was named for Alice Robertson, the second woman to be elected to Congress. Robb Avenue was named for A.W. Robb, Muskogee's first merchant and Rector Avenue was named for Elias Rector, Indian agent to the Semenoles. Garland Avenue was named for Frank Garland, a brother of noted author, Hamlin Garland, who made several visits to Muscogee and bought property south of Muskogee. The Country Club area honors Captain F.B. Severs, Chief Pleasant Porter, the Boudinot family and Sequoyah.

(Pg 27 & 28) Outlaws Roamed Territory. The Sept. 7, 1883 issue of the Muskogee Phoenix had the following statement in an editorial: "You may kill off the Dalton and Starr gangs, but we will still have bank robbers."

The May 10, 1894 issue of the Phoenix reported the money for the Cherokee payment had been moved quietly from St. Louis and Katy officials said that they were "ready for the Daltons with shotguns loaded with buckshot."

... Though the Muscogee banks were not the targets of the outlaws, many badmen passed defiantly through this area without molestation. There are several accounts of Belle Star and her gang having been in Muscogee, and the Daltons, Cooks, Cherokee Kid, Buck Gang, and the James boys operated throughout this area. Muscogee banks escaped the exploits of outlaws because they were too far from the edge of town. Banks in smaller towns were victims because the robbers could holdup the bank and get out of town easily and disappear into the hills.

The railroads often were targets of the lawless element. As a result, railroad detectives were hired to protect shipments of gold and silver. One of these persons who came to Indian Territory as a railroad detective and pursued a lifetime of law enforcement was James Franklin "Uncle Bud" Ledbetter. After serving as a detective for Wells Fargo to protect their payroll shipments between Oswego, Kans. and Checotah, Indian Territory, for a period, he was sworn in as deputy U.S. marshal in Muscogee on June 5, 1895.

Uncle Bud captured the infamous Al Jennings on Nov. 27, 1897, wounding him in the leg. As a boy, Pat Fite went with his father, Dr. F.B. Fite to the jail, where the doctor removed the bullet and dressed the wound.

Al was convicted and sent to prison in May of 1898. He was pardoned in 1902 and toured the state, appearing in theaters with his movie, "Beating Back."

Al ran for governor and was defeated by Robert L. Williams ... He later moved to California where he operated a chicken ranch.

Uncle Bud Ledbetter became a legend, serving as deputy U.S. marshal, city marshal of several communities, and as police chief of Muskogee and sheriff of Muskogee County. He was feared but respected by the lawless and loved by the citizens of Muscogee ...Though he captured many of the outlaws of the period and was shot at scores of times, he never was wounded. He was one of many who brought law and order to Indian Territory - and Muskogee.

... [boys playing cops & robbers] ...Coleman Jackson used the outlaw's Winchester, which was given Coleman's father, Wayman Crow Jackson, who defended Al. John Fink used his Colt .45 which his father, D.N. Fink, had taken in on loan.

[ Pg 27 - Drawings of Al Jennins and Bud Ledbetter. Captions read: "Al Jennins. Woodward attorney who turned train robber was eventually caught and given a life sentence for armed robbery of the U.S. Mails. Pardoned by President Theodore Roosevelt, he then ran for office of Governor of the State." "US Deputy Marshal Bud Ledbetter who single-handedly captured Al Jennins and three of his gang of Oklahoma Train robbers. Jennins later wrote of his straight shooting captor as "The great Marshal from Muskogee."] <complete>

(Pg 28 & 29) Early Streets Called Hogwallows. The June 8, 1883 issue of the Phoenix pictured Main Street as a "hogwallow." It indicated Muscogee streets were "sore in need of repairs; mudholes and hogwallows on Main Street were unsightly things and produce stench that may cause sickness, and the scrap paper, old cans, and garbage make it a deplorable sight."

An article in the Times Democrat dated June 18, 1921, pictured Muscogee in 1883 "with mudpuddles, straying animals, no sidewalks, no paved streets, Indians peacefully dozing in the sun, wrapped in blankets, lying in the dust when the weather was dry and spattered with mud when it was wet."

A bit later another picture appeared in the Phoenix with Campbell Russell "fishing" at Main and Okmulgee as a prank to point out the condition of the streets. Russell, the founder of Warner, was a very picturesque individual and did many unusual things. He introduced registered cattle to Oklahoma, and on one occasion when one of his prize bulls was killed by a train, he demanded payment for the bull. When the railroad did not respond promptly, he chained the wheel of the locomotive to the track so that it could not move. They sent him a check, which he refused, demanding cash.

He was the first state senator from this area after statehood and was dubbed the "Wasp from Warner, as his sting often caused much discomfort. He introduced a variety of legislation, including the state income tax and obtained Connors Agricultural College for Warner. He served as chairman of the Corporation Commission for many years and was a thorn in the side of many corporations.

One of his political victories was spearheading the impeachment of Governor Jack Walton. Russell was the first person to receive Oklahoma City's Outstanding Citizen Award.

Mrs. Martin Miller recalled that streets were so dusty in dry weather and muddy in wet weather that her father regularly used a buggy to get from their home at Fourth and Okmulgee to his newspaper office at Second and Court Streets In the middle 1890's the mud was so deep that it was necessary to place large stepping stones across the street at Second and Broadway, placed far enough apart so as not to interfere with the wheels of the buggies and wagons. This resulted in a rather long step for pedestrians. The first Street to be paved in Muskogee was Wall Street when a group of business men - and a woman - co-operated under the leadership of Mrs. Frank Swift to pave Wall Street between Second and Third on May 16, 1909. Mrs Swift was the widow of one of Muskogee's first fire chiefs.

[Photo of a paving crew working on Wall Street between 2nd and 3rd streets on May 16, 1905]

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