THE SOUTH SIDE
After the first segregation, or land acquisition by the government, residents of Sulphur Springs scattered like a covey of quail in all directions. Some of the residents of the old town moved west across Rock Creek to what we will call the West Side, others moved north, we'll call that the North Side, across the reservation line called Baseline Road, (later called Davis Ave.) which would now be Broadway and others moved south to the hill near the current buffalo pasture and where the Superintendent's house is now located to what became known as South Side.
Those who moved north and west did well in their choices but those who moved south had the misfortune to get caught in the next round of land purchases.
The Chickasaws would only allow the sale of 640 acres for the new reservation. This small amount of land was quickly shown as not nearly enough to protect the springs and streams from contamination by visitors, campers, cattle herds and the town's people of Sulphur.
This is the reason for the necessity of the second land purchase. If the government had been allowed to purchase more than 640 acres of land that was necessary to protect the springs and creeks in the beginning, there would have never been a second removal of the town or its people.
It was decided in 1903 that a few hundred acres more was needed. Churchill, Rucker and Wilson Springs which had been left out of the first segregation was now included in the second acquisition.
There was a small portion of land along Rock Creek north of the government bridge segregated but most of the land came from the southeast portion of the park. This is where many people moved the first time. Now the park was going to take their homes and businesses again. And this time the Bland Hotel, the behemoth on the hill, would be included.
There were now considerable hard feelings about the second purchase of land by the government. Many of the original town's people who moved south had put every penny into a new home that was again condemned. Rumors abounded.
The residents now had the dilemma of not knowing if the government was indeed going to buy their land or not. Land values began to plummet. People refused to repair their homes or build new ones.
Dr. A. V. Ponder, who lived on the South Side, became the unofficial spokesman for the citizens. He wrote a letter to the Secretary of Interior asking the decision be made quickly as it was killing the business spirit of the South Side.
Schools and churches had to be built as well as stores for the locals to shop. As it was now, the South Side residents had to travel a mile to go to the grocery store, the bank or the post office. They could not get municipal water, electricity, police or fire protection.
Finally in 1904, the second purchase was announced and the deal was done. People in that part of Sulphur again picked up their kit and caboodle and moved for a second time to the current location of the area known as South Town.
A mass meeting was held by the 300 citizens of the South Side in September of 1907 to discuss segregation for the South Side as well as other disenfranchised parts of Sulphur.
There were actually three separate parts of South Sulphur now. There was one section that was platted on the east side of the park adjoining South Side called Highland Park. There was the South Side itself and the other was on the southwest corner of the park near today's Veterans Lake. Sulphur was now basically cut into five pieces by the park.
The South Side consisted of 234.83 acres. There was a "box school house" called South Side School on Block 273 where the Veterans Center now stands. James K. Blank owned the store where the old entrance to the park existed. The entire parcel of land was estimated in value at $99,729.
Greene suggested that it would be most reasonable to include lots 237 to 301, inclusively, in the South Side area. He also wanted all of sections 9, 10, and 11 included in the proposed land purchase. These three sections were south along the park boundary.
These sections were included because Greene felt that there was actually very little to do in the park except camp and drink water. He felt that there needed to be some amusements of some kind.
He proposed that the government build a lake on these sections and build clubhouses, boat houses, bathing beaches, artesian wells, a dam, sewer system, zoological garden, auto speedway, fish hatchery, and a nursery to grow trees and shrubs as well as an agricultural experiment station. The lake would contain a 1½ mile long rowing course, a three buoy sailing course four miles long and a shoreline of six to eight miles.
Greene recommended that the amusements be built with private money and the investors pay the government rent. He estimated that the cost of this project would be $86,000.
This included the area around the Lowrance Springs, Lowrance Lake and the head waters of Buckhorn Creek. The cost of the land was estimated to be about $90,000. Supt. Greene endorses the project and writes the Secretary of Interior that this is a real bargain since the government paid nearly a half million dollars for the 640 acres of the first segregation.
The Secretary of Interior rejected all ideas and that was the last of the plans of further purchases for park land.
Greene was a man of vision to say the least. The sections of land he wanted to purchase for the construction of a lake was the very land that Veterans Lake was built upon thirty years later.
© 2006 Dennis Muncrief