Another great “memory” article from Mr. Crossett! And by the way- there are several issues of the paper missing during this period, so I can’t copy much more of the series. This goes along with a piece I published earlier about the court house, and then there is one about the Durant fire.
The Caddo Herald
September 10, 1926
Passing Years Bring Experience-Wisdom
By G. A. Crossett
What can you remember for twenty-four years?
Some of my good friends have been kidding me since I began this series of reminiscent articles for publication, about being old. Why, I’m not old, I just began young. Besides a fine memory which I have cultivated, I have access to files of my paper for many years back and in reading them many things are recalled that seem to have happened but yesterday.
And I have known people who could remember unpleasant things forever, an seemed ever to delight in reminding one of them.
I have a purpose in these articles: to remind us of other yeas and to let the younger generation know that things were not always as they are now. It is difficult to get the younger folks to profit by the experience of their elders though they all profit by the labor and accomplishments of those gone before.
First Federal Court
Prior to the passage of the Curtis bill in 1898 all court matters relating to white people were settled either at Fort Smith or Paris. Judge I. C. Parker was Judge many years at Fort Smith. He was the father of Judge C. C. Parker of Durant who died about a year ago and who was chairman of the Bryan County Draft Board during the late unpleasantness with Germany. It was a long journey then to Fort Smith and witnesses and jurors were often gone away a month at a time. The first near court was established at Atoka . In 1901 the white population had grown so large and court matters so pressing that other courts were necessary. So the Recording Districts were established. This month, twenty-four years ago, Judge Clayton, Major Hackett, E. J. Fannin and D. M. Brown were in Durant and made the first steps toward organizing the court which had been authorized for Durant. A jury list was drawn and the first term set for October 27th. At this term of court there was one murder trial and a number of civil suits.
Abbott Taught School
Chas. P. Abbott, now prominent attorney of Durant, and one time county attorney was chosen principal of the Caddo schools. There schools were just beginning and Prof. Abbott had come out from Tennessee to help build the new country. When you remember that we had no state or county governments and that we had simply to rely on town government for school moneys, you will realize how difficult was the financing of the early schools. Yet our people were progressive and wanted schools for their children.
Land Office at Atoka
The land office building at Atoka had just begun. Allotments of Indian lands were just beginning. Atoka was a thriving town at that time because the land office was to attract for several years thousands of people who must go to get their lands allotted. Many suits at law were had as to rights to allot certain lands.
The townsite commission was at work in Caddo that October and adjournment came suddenly one day when the chairman, Mr. Sterrett solemnly announced after looking out the window that the round bale gin was afire. It was completely destroyed and never rebuilt.
Rev. F. F. Threadgill was appointed by the Indian Mission Conference as pastor of the Methodist church here, vice Rev. J. A. Trickey who was sent to Wapanucka. Rev. Threadgill later began the practice of law. Rev. J. J. Lovett was sent to Durant station and Rev. A. B. L. Hunkapillar ws appointed presiding elder. Like every other church in that early day the Methodist church did not have as many members as now, and the pastors had a hard time getting a living salary for their work but hey labored not in vain for the many nice churches and larger congregations that we have now have are a result of the good work they did then.
Here is the personnel of the first Federal Grand Jury in Durant, October 1902: J. A. Nolen, A. N. Leecraft, E. Ferguson, John Long, W. T. Elrod, C. A. Hancock, W. Prewitt, W. M. Metcalf, D. B. Baker, W. F. Williams, W. T. R. Easor, John Hampton, Ed Franklin, J. H. Mashburn, W. L. William. The petit jury was composed of : Duke Grimes, John Elrod, Harry Roberts, John Black, Wm. Duckworth, S. H. Baker, F. c. Melton, Il. L. Strange, Matt Newell, W. T. Booker, J. A. Pickens, ira L. Smith, W. W. Halbrook, D. D. bond, Will McHenry, Geo. Yarbrough, John O’Riley, W. H. Lawrence, Frank Ross, Jim Ballew, H. Veach, W. R. Sullivan, J. H. Bugg, and William Bates. Several bills were found by the grand jury, but none at this time for introducing.
The town published a list of men who had failed to pay their street tax. Some prominent men on this list but no good could be gained by republishing it. We had no other way of making our streets passable.
Things didn’t just come by accident to towns in those days. An editorial in The Herald says: “Caddo didn’t get the land office; it didn’t get the citizenship court; it didn’t’ get a new railroad and it didn’t get a commissioner’s court, but it did get electric lights and free schools.” Durant, McAlester and Atoka got the other items.
History Repeats Itself
The farmers were complaining twenty-four years ago, the same as today, about too much rain for cotton. Yet a month later they were hauling a big crop to town. Showing that history repeats itself and that maybe our cotton crop this year will come out all right.
Sam L. Morley, recently candidate for governor for a day, was at that time superintendent of Armstrong Academy. He was married that fall to a Wisconsin young lady.
It was in October, 1902 that Woodrow Wilson was chosen president of Princeton University.
The first wireless message was sent across the ocean that year.
Roosevelt stood firm in dealing with England and Germany on the Venezuelan question, and won.
The Cherokees were reported as not taking the least interest in allotting their lands. The tribesmen, it seems , were rather satisfied with the old way and thought then that by not taking an allotment they could prevent such distribution of lands . They finally were prevailed upon to take their lands.
Durant townsite then was given 1300 acres. Some has been added by the several additions to the town.
Bond Issue Failed
A bond issue that year for waterworks was voted down, but one for $15,000 for school was carried. The waterworks bond called for $150,000. The people thought the town would never need that much water. Some time later a bond issue of $100,000 was voted. There has been some change in the minds of the people since then for not more than a year ago $100,000 bonds was voted in Durant for a municipal auditorium.
Yes, the years bring changes and experience and wisdom.