Sarah Ann Harlan
(by Erma L. Taylor)
Sarah Ann Harlan was born January 1828 and died December 14, 1926. The Mother of Caddo is the inscription on her tombstone. She is buried in the Caddo Gethsemane Cemetery. Beside her lies her husband Aaron Harlan (Born Dec. 18, 1811. Died April 3, 1876).
Sarah left some of the early history of Caddo in her memoirs dictated to her granddaughter, Mrs. Julia V. Underwood in 1913. They are published in the Chronicles of Oklahoma, Summer, 1961, pp158-159 and Autumn, 1961, pp 312-333. She married Aaron in 1866 after the death of her first husband, E. B. Hawkins. He was a widower with six children, she a widow with two.
They are important to Caddo for many reasons. Major Harlan built the first store in Caddo which occupied the site where C.A. Hancock’s store stood later. Mrs. Harlan, along with Mrs. Susan Burke, organized the First Methodist Church, South, Blue County, I.T. October11, 1873. She was a good friend of Robert J. Hogue, who constituted the Caddo Baptist Church. He mentions visiting her when he came to Caddo to preach.
When the M.K.T. began laying rails from the Kansas border to Texas, after the Civil War, Mr. Harlan followed the construction, hunting a place for his Tishomingo business. When the railroad came to a place about thirty miles from the Texas line, the civil engineer told him that would be an established depot and would be a good place for him to locate. He staked out a place of business and erected his building at Caddo Station as the depot was called.
According to Mrs. Harlan, a Mr. Jewell, who worked for the railroad, named the soon-to-be-town. It become the terminus for the railroad until it was extended into Texas. Harlan left his business in the charge of Jewell, who proved to be dishonest. As Harlan was away much of the time the business went bankrupt.
Mrs. Harlan persuaded her husband to let her keep boarders. She charged $5.00 a week, board only, the same as the hotel charged. Harlan set up a business of his own again, about 85 miles west of Caddo, where he took sick and died. His wife brought his body back to Caddo for burial. She kept her home in Caddo for several years afterwards, mothering many orphans as well as educating her own two daughters. She lived 40 years as a widow, spending her last days among friends in the Confederate Home at Ardmore where she died.
One of her best remembered remarks was that she saw “Caddo grow from two or three houses and a railroad camp on the prairie beside the M.K.T. to a thriving busy town of 2,500 by 1902”.