Mrs. Della Thompson of 221 East Boston is Okemah's eldest Pioneer. She came to Okemah in 1908 and celebrated her 98th birthday on Feb. 2 of this year.
Mrs. Thompson was born in Carlyle, Ill. In 1861, about two months before the Civil War began. She came to Indian Territory via Arkansas in 1903. She and her husband, Charlie, lived for the most part in Lincoln County, moving to Weleetka in 1906.
They opened a cafe in Weleetka but lived there only a short time before moving back to their farm six miles north of Prague. They resided on the farm until Mr. Thompson died on July 27, 1907. The widow then moved to Okemah in 1908 and has lived here for the most part since that time.
For several years Mrs. Thompson resided in the old Solberger house. The house, located on Division Street next to the present Ponder Rooms, was built in 1903 by her brother-in-law, John Solberger, the Pioneer relates.
Solberger was an "old German who talked broken." He was in the restaurant business here about 1903 and later drove a dray wagon.
Mrs. Thompson waatched Okemah grow up. She recalls that there were four or five cotton gins in Okemah back in that early day, the streets were all dirt, and the old posst office was in a frame building near Tom Coale's present filling station.
The Dexter House was then located behind the building now occupied by Theo Hill's furniture store, Mrs. Thompson said. The building which housed the old Dexter House then is that now designated as the Kentucky Rooms.
The Broadway Hotel was doing a landoffice business in those days catering to the drummers who traveled the Fort Smith and Western.
Much of Mrs. Thompson's rememberances of Okemah's pioneer days are prompted now by her oldest son, Jesse, 70, with whom she resides.
Prompting his mother's memory, they recall a lynching in Henryetta in 1908 and another attempt at lynching in Weleetka in 1906.
Jesse Thompson ran a livery dray in Okemah back in 1908. He was married in 1910 to the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jess A. Parrish, well known farmer of the earlier days at Mason. The couple was married in the old courthouse located where the water office and fire department are now.
Mrs. Thompson has three children living at the present time, 14 grandchildren, 53 great-grandchildren, and 16 great-great grandchildren.
Her own grandmother lived in three centuries. She was born in 1799, lived through the 19th century, then died at the age of 105 in 1904. Mrs. Thompson says she just may duplicate her grandmother's lengthy sojourn on this earth.
This page was last updated on 10/12/11
County Coordinator Linda Simpson