Walter Houston Attaway
I found this story (undated) in the “vertical files” at the Bryan County Genealogy Library. The files contain obituaries collected by the staff and genealogy items of any kind- newspaper clippings, funeral records, death certificates, marriage licenses, family trees- left by researchers over the years. This was written by two of Mr. Attaway’s family members.
Walter Houston Attaway was born 12 October 1863 at Selma, Alabama, the second son of John Attaway (1838-1892) and Miriam Eiland (2 Aug. 1844-27 Nov. 1937). John is buried in Fannin County, Texas and Miriam is buried near Walter at Durant, Oklahoma. Walter had one brother, Harlem Whitfield Attaway (1861-1931, buried at Durant) and two sisters, Alice (Duncan) Bradley (1871-2 July 1966, buried in Durant) and Geneiva Attaway Asley who died in childbirth, 1883, somewhere between Blue River and Red River. Her coffin was made in Monkstown, Texas and carried by horse across the river; the river was up, so burial was in it.
Walter Attaway came to Texas when he was about nine or ten years old, he helped drive a yoke of oxen and his family settled somewhere around Telephone or Monkstown in Fannin County. In 1882 Walter traded for a Frazier saddle which he used all of his life. The price he gave to Wilson Howell was a new Winchester, value $15.00, cash $10.00, and a new saddle made in Honey Grove, Texas, value $45.00. Four years before his death he said, “I wouldn’t take $500 for it today”. The saddle is now in the possession of Garland Neal Taylor of Oklahoma City.
Walter Attaway came to Indian Territory in 1882 and settled near the mouth of Blue River in what is now Bryan County. He was married to Mary Homer, a Cherokee Indian woman for a short time and was later divorced. At this time a white man couldn’t own land or run cattle in Indian Territory unless he was married to a person of Indian blood or be claimed by an Indian. During this time Walter was raising cattle and at the peak of his career had about 400 head which was reduced after cattlemen started fencing up the rangeland.
The following is a quote from an article about Walter H. Attaway in the Denison Herald in 1954. “Attaway said when he first came to this country he was just as fresh and brash as any youngster. I wore a big .45 on my hip and carried a Winchester in my saddle.”
He picked up the language of the Choctaws early in life and said he never had any Indian trouble even during the early frontier days. “In fact, I helped champion the Indians fight against statehood,” declared the old man. “I did it because I knew what the Choctaw laws were and I was afraid the white man’s laws wouldn’t let the Indians have the things they wanted.”
After arriving in Indian Territory, Walter and his brother Harlem owned a store at Jackson, southeast of Bennington, known as the Old Red Store; this is just north of Bennington, Oklahoma. It was here that Dr. T. J. Long set up his practice of medicine. Walter stated "I furnished the Doc with his first horse and buggy." Dr. Long was in this area five years before moving to Denison, Texas where he was a leading surgeon and before his death served as mayor.
After owning the Old Red Store for about five years Walter moved to Caddo, Indian Territory where he and P. W. Arnold owned a general merchandise store (Arnold & Attaway). Three years later Walter bought Arnold’s part of the business and lost $19,000 giving credit to cotton farmers and when the cotton crops failed Walter lost his business.
While at Caddo, Walter helped found the First State Bank, and was one of its original directors, helped get the first telephone company organized, and was helpful with the famous Corn Carnival that was an annual affair in Caddo at the time. While Walter owned the general store he had discovered a spring of cold water east of Caddo near Sugar Loaf Mountain and had been buying land from Indians who lived in the area.
On the 22nd day of December 1906, Walter married Lois A. Stark, the daughter of Dr. Thomas Henry Stark, pioneer doctor in Indian Territory. After Walter and Lois were married they moved on the land near the spring where Walter had been buying land. Walter and Lois had no children of their own, but reaised a niece and nephew. They are Rose Mae (Stark) Taylor of Durant, Oklahoma and Napoleon Bonaparte McClure, Jr., now deceased.
Lois died in her sleep on the 22nd October 1929 and is buried in Durant. N. B. McClure, Jr. was thirteen years old and Rose Mae was away at school. Walter never married again, raised N. B. to adulthood and spent most of his remaining years residing on his 1,270-acre ranch.
“Uncle”, as Walter was known to us, the children of N. B. and Rose Mae, was a great story teller. Many an afternoon as night was growing near, we would sit on the front porch at his ranch and listen to stories of Indian Territory days. We were proud of Uncle and his pioneer life in Indian Territory. He rode a horse until he was 90 years old, sitting straight in the saddle and making anyone who rode with him do the same, claiming it was hard on the horses back to slump while riding.
Uncle died in a hospital in Durant when he was 94 years young on the 30th of August 1958 and is buried beside Lois in Highland Cemetery in Durant.
January 12, 1900
W. H. Attaway is closing out his stock of goods at Bennington, preparing to move to Caddo, where he formed a partnership with P.W. Arnold.
July 13, 1900
Married: Solomon Goforth and Mrs. Mary Attaway were united in the bonds of matrimony on the 11th of July by Rev. C. E. Hotchkin.
January 25, 1901
W. H. Attaway, of the firm of Arnold & Attaway, is confined to his room with measles. He was pretty sick Thursday, but not at all in a dangerous condition.
The Caddo Herald
October 25, 1929
Mrs. Attaway Dies
Mrs. W. H. Attaway died at their home near Bennington Tuesday morning at 4 o’clock. The funeral was held Wednesday afternoon in Durant, burial in Highland Cemetery.
Mrs. Attaway was 45 years of age, she had been in good health save for a slight heart attack a short time ago. Mr. Attaway awakened by her struggles in time to see her draw her last breath, her death was so sudden.
Mr. and Mrs. Attaway formerly lived in Caddo and have many friends here.