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Town marks 100 years

CATESBY -- few traces of the old Catesby town site exist. Eben and Ella Rose's mercantile is long gone, as is the post office and bank.

All but one town house has been replaced to make way for more farmland.

And yet Catesby remains a boom-town in spirit and memory. Never mind that Catesby only has a population of two, thus giving it the unique distinction as apparently Oklahoma's smallest town.

Catesby is alive and well as Oklahomans will find out Saturday. Families in the nearby countryside and descendants of early Catesby settlers are expected to flock to the old prairie hamlet that day to celebrate its centennial.

With nostalgia as their shadow, they will eat watermelons by the dozens, play baseball and engage in a skillet-throwing competition. They will also reminisce about days of old.

"I think this is amazing." said Edmond's Carolyn Lynd, a great-granddaughter of Catesby founders, Eben and Ella Rose. "Even though only two people still live in Catesby, people are expected to come in from all across the country. We have people coming in from California, Georgia, Washington state, Colorado.... "I can't wait."

Lynd's bloodline once spread throughout the dusty streets of Catesby. Her family's Oklahoma story began in 1901 when her great-grandfather - an art teacher at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York - became strapped with poor health.

Eben Rose sought a home with a drier climate, and as cattle kings grudgingly gave way to land openings in northwest Oklahoma, he decided to change his family's lifestyle with one bold move.

The family took a United States map and a yard stick, and drew a straight line to Woodward -- a major railroad stop in those days.

By 1902, Ella Rose had secured an official town designation through the Oklahoma Congress and a commission as the town's first postmistress. The Roses also opened a store and built a 24 by 44 sod house.

Flavius Rose, one of the couple's two surviving sons, opened another store across the road.

"Catesby was a thriving little community," Lynd said. "It was primarily the only town for miles around for the next 30 years."

Catesby post office closed in 1970, but Saturday the town's ghosts will be stirred thanks to an order by the U.S. Postal Service. The Catesby Post Office will be re-opened for one day to issue a commemorative postmark and letter.

Fittingly, the image of the postmark will be that of Ella Rose.

"This is really more than a 100-year celebration of a community," said Quinlan's Cecelia Vanderslice, another great-granddaughter of the Roses. "This is a celebration for a family."

A display of Eben Rose's watercolor paintings will be among the many treats that will await spectators.

Rose loved the arts and painted extensively, so much so that none of his descendants has a clue as to how many paintings he created.

The paintings were originally divided between two sons, and later nine grandchildren.

"We have some cousins coming out on uncle Flavius' line," Vanderslice explained. "There are bringing paintings we have never seen before, and we can't wait to see them."

Reprinted from June 30, 2002 issue of "The Sunday Oklahoman"
Story written Ron Jackson, Staff Writer

Independent Oklahoma History and Genealogy
Independent Oklahoma History and Genealogy

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