Muskogee Co, OK
Turning Back The Clock
By: C. W. "Dub" West (c) 1985
Muskogee Publishing Company, Box 1331, Muskogee, OK 74402
Snippets # 10
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(Pgs 67 & 68) Golda's Mill Was Nationally Popular.Postmaster J.C. Gawf recently passed on to me a letter from Es van Leendert of Holland seeking information concerning water-powered mills. He sent pictures of some of the many mills for which Holland is so famous.
Mrs. Maurine Ditmars Kerr, a niece of Mrs Golda's Mill, graciously gave me a clipping from the Tulsa Tribune dated July 7. 1971. It was about the historic mill built near Stilwell in 1838 by Tom Taylor, a mixed-blood Cherokee. Dr Tom Bitting, a Frenchman. bought the mill from Taylor and it was known as Bitting's Mill for many years. It was later sold to the Worley family and Mrs. Unkefer bought it in 1950.
... Golda installed extensive equipment used in cleaning, sterilizing, and the packaging of cornmeal which was ground by the mill and the product became famous nationally and the mill was operating when the article featured it as an important tourist attraction of this area.
Operation of the mill was discontinued a few years ago. Unfortunately, the historic old mill was destroyed by fire in October 1983. This was a severe loss not only to the owner by also to American heritage as it was one of the last of many such mills in operation during pioneer days of this country.
It is interesting to note Muskogee's first power was a windmill similar to the Holland version operated by Maj. James Foreman. It was later supplanted by steam power.
... Foreman also is credited with having operated the first cotton gin in Indian Territory, according to Alice Robertson. Cotton was brought to Muskogee from as far away as Pauls Valley. She devoted her column in the Muskogee Daily Phoenix July 27, 1930, to the first cotton gin, giving the above information and stating Dr. Samuel Houston Payne operated the second gin in his pioneer state. ...
[Drawing of a water powered mill]
(Pgs 69 & 70) Haskell's Promotion Aided Muskogee. Charles N. Haskell came to Muskogee early in 1901 and Muskogee received the expertise of the King of Promoters.
He was introduced to the city formally with a headline, April 18. 1901: IT'S A CINCH. It referred to the fact that a railroad from Muskogee to Fort Gibson, Tahlequah, and Fayetteville was reality. Haskell had put the package together in a remarkedly short time.
Judge John R. Thomas had met Haskell while traveling on a train to Washington. D.C. The judge painted such a perfect picture of Muskogee and the prospects of its future that the already famous promotor decided to cast his lot with this enterprising city. He already had made several outstanding promotions, including a railroad or so, one of which extended across Ohio. He had just been defeated for the governorship of Ohio.
It would be impossible to list all of the promotional deals in which Haskell was associated, but we have record that he was involved in the organization of at least four railroads in Indian Territory and an interurban.
... Haskell organized a fire insurance company, an abstract firm, and a syndicate which built several outstanding buildings. Two of his pet projects were the Turner Hotel - "the finest in the southwest" - and the Indiola Building - 'the five story skyscraper at Third Street and Broadway."
Haskell was one of the first to promote the navigation of the Arkansas River in order to obtain a reduction in freight rates. To prove his point, he shipped a barge of coal to New Orleans in 1905.
His promotion of a dam across the Arkansas River also was interrupted by his involvement in politics.
He was president of the American Beautiful Club and was chairman of the board of trustees of the Muskogee State Fair.
...But Muskogee lost its promoter deluxe when he was elected governor. There is no telling what would have happened in the growth of Muskogee had this not happened.
He returned to Muskogee briefly to build a home at Haskell Blvd. and opened up Monticello Addition, but this venture was not too successful, and he was beckoned by the excitment of New York City.
... Haskell died July 5, 1933 ... Lillie Gallup Haskell [his wife] died July 13, 1940.
(Pgs 70-73) Years Bring Many Changes to Muskogee [This article details buildings that have come and gone over the years - photos include: Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Sequoyah, Long Fellow and Irving Schools along with a photo of the current skyline of Muskogee]
(Pg 74) Lonesome Maidens Seeking, Indian Braves A headline Dec. 9, 1905, was: Lonesome maidens seeking braves. There was a rush of girls applying for jobs as maids in the local hotels, as some of them had traveled the matrimonial trail as the result of such jobs. ... The intermarriage of white persons with Indians in Indian Territory was unique, but has been overlooked.
It all started during early Fort Gibson days. Many of the officers stationed at the fort in many cases were fresh out of West Point, and the frontier atmosphere out here at the edge of civilization was in sharp contrast to life back at West Point with numerous social activities. It was not long before enterprising young men changed the situation and the drab life of boredom became one of exciting social activities.
There were many beautiful Cherokee and Creek maidens in the area of Fort Gibson, extending from Tahlequah on the east to Okmulgee on the west and from Claremore and Vinita on the north to Webbers Falls and North Fork Town (Eufaula) on the south. There were many dances and balls as well as visits of the young men to the homes of the girls. Many of them eventually married Indian girls, were given citizenship in the tribe and became prominent in Indian politics.
Most of Muscogee's early merchants were Indians or were married to an Indian. In fact, no one was supposed to live in Indian Territory unless he or she was an Indian, was married to an Indian, or worked for the government or railroad, or had a permit from the tribe. This resulted in the marriage of many would-be merchants and businessmen to Indian women.
One of the most famous cases of intermarriage between an Indian and a white person was the marriage of Anna Laura Lowe to Jackson Barnett, reputed to be the richest Indian in the United States. She took possession of all his financial affairs and his life in general. Barnett was a quiet, timid person, and she dominated him in every manner. Old-timers remember seeing them on the streets - she always walked briskly with Jackson following obediently, always letting her take the lead.
Barnett guardian, JO. Hornett, went to court to have the marriage annulled, claiming she married him for his money, and that he was an incompetent individual. The case was in the courts for many years and before the Senate Investigating Committee with the decision eventually going against Mrs. Barnett.
[Drawing of an Indian Brave and a white woman, arm in arm]
(Pgs 75 & 76) Ora Eddleman - State's First Magazine Editor A Muskogee teen-ager, Ora Eddleman, was the editor of Oklahoma's first magazine, "Twin-Territories." It contains a great deal of information about happenings in this area around the turn of the century.
Mrs. Charles L. Reed, the former Ora Eddleman, was interviewed June 2, 1957, by Eva Stacy for the Tulsa World. According to the Interveiw, her brother-in-law and sister, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Sams, decided to publish "Twin Territories" and asked her to be the editor.
The magazine would do credit to the best magazines of the time and would compare favorably with those of today. The magazine began publication in 1898 and continued until 1904, when Eddieman married an Associated Press employee and abandoned journalism to become a homemaker.
[Copy of the cover of the magazine, April 1903]
The journalistic effort was important enough to merit considerable space in Carolyn Thomas Foreman's book, "Oklahoma Imprints," which traces the history of journalism in Oklahoma.
Eddleman had a number of very prominent contributors to her magazine: Creek poet Alex Posey, Chief Pleasant Porter, Joshua Ross, Robert L. Owen, Alice Robertson, Mrs. A.E.W. Robertson, Rev. J.S. Murrow, l.B. Hitchcock, J.R. Gregory, J.S. Holden, Charles Gibson, and Mabel Washborne Anderson.
... The magazine is an important source of Indian legends, and many of Alex Posey's poems were first published in "Twin Territories." [a list of articles follows]
... "Twin Territories" magazine received nationwide acclaim when Charles L. Reed, who later married Eddleman, filed a story concerning this unique magazine.
Pgs 76 & 77) The Nation's First Woman to Receive Ph.D.The first woman to receive a doctor of philosophy degree, Mrs. A.E.W. Robertson, died in Muskogee, Nov. 21, 1905. She not only was distinguished in her own right, but her father, Sammuel A. Worcester, was the devoted missionary who brought printing to Indian Territory, and her daughter, Alice Robertson, was the second woman to serve in Congress.
Ann Eliza Worcester was born in Brainard Mission in 1824. Her father was imprisoned by the state of Georgia because of his loyalty to the Cherokees, remaining 16 months. Ann Eliza came to Indian Territory with her parents in 1835 at the age of 11. She was educated by her parents and in eastern schools, but cut her education short to return to Park Hill to teach. In 1850, after teaching three years, she married William Schenk Robertson, a young missionary to the Creek Indians, stationed at Tullahassee Mission.
... Their children received their instruction at night. After they were put to bed Mrs. Robertson worked on the translation of the Bible into the Creek language She followed in her father's footsteps, who had translated the Bible into Cherokee and was determined to do the same for the Creeks. She was able to enlist the help of several Creeks in her translation including David Winslett and the Rev. Thomas Perryman, who had assisted William in the translation of textbooks, as well as Dorsey Fife, Wak-in-ha, James C. Sefton, David Hodge and Mrs. F.B. Severs.
The Civil War interrupted the Robertsons' work. Since their sympathy was with the North, they fled to Kansas, Illinois and Wisconsin, teaching in various schools.
Upon returning to Tullahassee, the Robertsons found everything in ruins. ...They bravely set about to repair the buildings, huddling in the corner of the mission building until the entire building could be brought in a usable state.
The rigors of frontier life took their toll on Ann Eliza's health, and she became an invalid. She did much of her translation from her sick bed.
The mission building of Tullahassee Mission burned Dec. 19, 1879. William began rebuilding at once, but the task was insurmountable, and he died of fatigue and a broken heart June 26, 1881.
Mrs. Robertson and her daughters carried on the work for a short period to a limited degree until it was converted into a Freedman school. She then took turns living with her daughters.
Despite her health, Mrs. Robertson continued to translate sections of the Bible. After finishing the translation of the New Testament, she continued with Genesis and the Psalms, with the support of Chief Pleasant Porter
She was awarded an honorary doctor of philosophy degree in 1882 by her alma mater, Wooster University, and had the honor of being the first woman in the United States to be thus honored.
When daughter Alice's Minerva Home became Henry Kendall College, her mother was given a position as professor emeritus and translator
Alice became the supervisor of the Creek schools in 1900, and the necessity of her being away from home caused a problem because her mother was staying with her. One of the considerations in Alice's appointment as postmaster of the Muskogee office was that she could take care of her mother
A true pioneer missionary went to her reward Nov 20, 1905.
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© Sue Tolbert