It’s the stories of ordinary people that fascinate me. Few of us are famous. We’re just ordinary citizens. We go about our business from day to day and never give much thought to how our lives impact others. We never think of ourselves as being a “part of history”. Then one day someone asks if we remember “such and such” and we realize we’ve lived a life that is unfamiliar to those born after us. We’ve become a part of history. (That's my great-grandmother, Clara Simmons on the left.)
I’ve spent the week reading about some of the people who lived their ordinary lives in Caddo, Oklahoma, and ended up making an impact on generations of citizens.
I began my reading with a brief biography of Alma Brown that I found in Kadohadacho- History of Caddo, by Janet Jenkins and Erma L. Taylor. It was published in 1976. Ms. Brown was my geometry teacher and I have not-so-fond memories of the times she kept me after school to make sure I understood all those alien math concepts. But she was a dedicated teacher and I was happily surprised to find her listed in the chapter on “Lingering Influences”. Alma Brown was born in 1906 in Conway Arkansas. “She taught school 49 years at the following schools: Blue, Bokchito, Caddo, and Yuba. 35 of these were in the Caddo schools. She taught primary grades and then math. She worked with the Honor Society for five years in the Caddo system. She was an active member of the Church of Christ and was often referred to as the ‘Good Samaritan of Caddo’.” The photo at the right is one I took of her front porch several years after her death. I was fascinated by the sight of the chair just sitting there. Ms. Brown died years ago, but her memory lives on.
Dr. LeRoy Long was born in 1869 in Lincoln county, North Carolina and graduated from the Louisville Medical College in Kentucky in 1893. He moved to Caddo in 1895. In 1896 he married a local Choctaw woman named Martha Downing. He was active in the Territorial Medical Association, President of the Choctaw Board of Medical Examiners, a member of the State Board of Medical Examiners and Dean of the Medical School of Oklahoma State University (1915). He moved to McAlester in 1904. One of his biographers, Basil A. Hayes, called him the “greatest figure in Oklahoma medical history”, but if you read the biography he sounds like a good doctor doing his job with enthusiasm and dedication. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about Dr. Long and his influence on Caddo in the future.
This obituary is from the Weimar Mercury, January 19, 1901: “Mr. Sam Hancock, for a number of years tax assessor and collector of Colorado county (TX), died at his home in Caddo, I.T. Monday last. Mr. Hancock, who is a brother of Mrs. W.W. Walker of Schulenburg, was extensively known in this section of Texas where he passed the earlier years of his life. At the time of his death, the cause of which we did not learn, he was engaged in the newspaper business, being the editor of the Caddo Herald. Mr. Hancock is also a near relative of the Hancock family of this city, and is well and favorably remember by the older inhabitants of the county, who regret to learn of his death.” I’ve been reading old issues of the Caddo Herald. Fascinating stuff. I think I said before that you can learn as much from the advertisements as from the articles.
If you want to read some more “little histories” go to the link on the left for the Indian Pioneer Papers project. This is a collection of “Interviews that deal with people of all nationalities with first-hand experience of Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory, not just the Indian population.” The interviews were conducted in 1937. If you want to limit yourself to stories that mention Caddo, just click on “search” and enter Caddo. Or you can search for a specific name, as I did when I wanted more information about Dr. Long and his wife.