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Sand-Sage Prairie

by Louise Boyd James
The Official History of
Woodward, Oklahoma

Sponsored by the Centennial Committee of the Woodward Chamber of
Commerce. Reprinted from The Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. LXIV,
No. 3 Fall. 1986. Edited by Dr. Bob L. Blackburn.

Grants were Provided

The Bank of Woodward and The Stock Exchange Bank

     Woodward is located in what was once the Cherokee Outlet, an area opened to non-Indian settlement by land run on September 16, 1893, the date many of the larger towns in the Outlet celebrate as their birthday. By then, Woodward was six years old, had a population of from 150 to 200 people. and two babies had been born there—one in a tent during a blizzard in January, 1888, the other in a house made of railroad ties in July, 1893.1 As one observer stated, it was "to all intents and purposes a town in which was transacted trade and commerce."2 Woodward's story began in April, 1887, at what is now the intersection of First Street and the Santa Fe tracks at the east end of Main.

     Trade and commerce describe Woodward's past, present, and future. On July 4, 1884, Congress authorized building a railroad across the Outlet from Kansas to the Texas Panhandle via Fort Supply, which had been established in November,1868, as a temporary post.3 By the 1880s it had become a permanent, important outpost of federal authority located on the western edge of Indian Territory. Until railroads were built through the Cherokee Outlet, provisions were shipped to Supply by wagon from Dodge City, Kansas, and after 1885, from Kiowa, Kansas.

     The Southern Kansas Railway, a subsidiary of the Santa Fe, reached Kiowa in August of 1884, and the Kiowa Extension of the Southern Kansas began within a few weeks. Originally, the rails were supposed to connect directly with Fort Supply, but by March, 1886, it was evident the route would miss the post. A Kiowa newspaper confirmed: "The Southern Kansas survey outfit, under the charge of Mr. [W.A.] Drake [chief engineer], are now camped on the West Creek, south of the Cimarron River in Indian Territory [south of Waynoka]. They are now locating the preliminary survey and the road will go on the first survey which passes Camp Supply to the east about twenty miles."4 Thus, one of the sidings near Supply would become the depot for the government shipments to the post. Sidings had been left at five to ten mile intervals, but did not represent existing communities or population concentrations.5

     Strung along the right-of-way in the Cherokee Outlet from Kiowa to the Texas Panhandle were the sidings of Warren, Alva, Noel, Eagle Chief, Keystone, Nimrod, Sutton, Griffin, Warwich, Woodward, Orlando, Norris, Gage, Stockton, and Goodwin. Two of these, Woodward and Orlando, were nearest Fort Supply. Orlando, later renamed Tangier to distinguish it from the town of Orlando near Stillwater, was closer by about three miles, but Woodward, twelve miles southeast of the fort, was chosen as the depot location which included a sixty car siding. At Woodward, the tracks nearly intersected the Fort Supply to Fort Reno military road, which could be used to transport provisions the last few miles to the fort.

     The Southern Kansas roadbed through Woodward County was built in the fall of 1886. The Kiowa Herald reported in early November: "J. W. Garland, beef contractor of the Southern Kansas railroad graders, came up from camp about 60 miles in the territory last week and returned the first of this. He says it requires about eight large beeves each week to feed the men who he supplies with that necessary article of life."6 The sixty-mile point would have been Curtis, fourteen miles east of Woodward. By December, 1886, the roadbed had been completed. A Kiowa paper observed: "The Southern Kansas is to-day running in car after car of material for the extension from Kiowa southwest via Camp Supply to Texas. Great piles of bridge timber, ties, and iron are rapidly accumulating and doubtless by the middle of December or no later than the 1st of January, they will be laying the tracks southwardly."7

     By March the track had been completed past present Waynoka. "W. H. Barker, resident engineer of the Southern Kansas Kiowa extension, is back from a trip along the line, and states that the cars are now running over the Cimarron and that work is being pushed with great activity by all the different contractors," a Kiowa paper reported.8

      On April 14, 1886, the Kiowa Journal announced: "The Southern Kansas track layers have reached the station of Woodworth, [sic] depot for Camp Supply. It is about twelve miles from Woodworth [sicl to Supply."9 The editor soon corrected the siding name to Woodward. Since that time, it has usually been reported that Woodward was named for a "Santa Fe director," in this case, Brinton W. Woodward.10 Not everyone has agreed. The family of Richard Mills Woodward, a buffalo hunter and teamster, believed their "Uncle Dick" gave his name to the siding.11 There were other Woodwards with opinions, as the editor of the Woodward County Journal learned in 1937 when he attempted to settle the question. After collecting and publishing several stories, he stopped the search without writing the definitive answer.l2

     The Kansas men who built the tracks through Woodward doubtlessly remembered the siding, even if they forgot—or perhaps did not know—whose name it took. The story which told of the tracks reaching "Woodworth" added, "The track laying has been retarded by the drifting sand which filled up the cuts or blowed out the grade."13 A second story in the same issue added, "A large force of railroaders on the Kiowa extension struck last week and quit work, in consequence the city (Kiowa) was overrun with these people."14

     The editor failed to state the reason for the strike, but the two stories might have been related, for Woodward and sand have always been associated. Seigniora Russel "Nonie" Laune's autobiographical account of life in early Woodward, Sand in My Eyes, writes of her first visit to town in 1896, "Sand blew in ripples along the street (Main).''l5 And what reader can forget her account of pushing a baby carriage loaded with two children from her home to town. "The begger's lice—the same old weed that had worried me in Texas—still plagued me," she wrote, "along with the sandburs, another interesting item, and the dry flat leaves of yet another abominable plant; they all collaborated in sticking to my long skirts which they wadded into tight, hampering folds. I pushed and pulled and lifted the baby-buggy through the deep sand, across the tracks that had no crossing.''l6

     Blowing sand also was noted by Sophia Cammerer in March, 1894, when she and her six-year-old son, Albert, Jr., arrived at the Woodward depot. There she joined her husband, Albert, who had moved to Woodward in December, 1893. Wind whipped sand into her face as she stepped from the Denver train. Mrs. Cammerer had just one question for her husband, her son recalled years later: "When is the next train out?''l7 Over fifty years later, as Woodward's oil boom began, Bill and Jean Howe were transferred there. Jean soon had her own sand story, one about sand "covering the children's ice cream cones." 18

Whether it blows out of the grade or coats ice cream, sand is part of life in Woodward, and the railroad construction gangs soon completed their work despite the strike and the grit. By mid-May, 1887, The Barber County Index reported: "The Kiowa extension of the Southern Kansas railroad is now open to travel to Woodward a point but 12 miles from Camp Supply. The mail and express is now carried on the train and the stage and express line has been discontinued. The road will be completed to the Texas line within a few weeks.''l9 That same month Colonel Z. R. Bliss, Twenty-Fourth Infantry and commanding officer at Fort Supply, reported that the telegraph line from Kansas City to Woodward had been completed. "I would respectfully suggest," the Colonel wrote his superiors, "that the military line between this post and Cantonment be connected with the office at Woodward, in which event the line to Dodge City might be discontinued as we would then have a more direct communication with Department headquarters and over a much shorter line."20

     Colonel Bliss had second thoughts about the Woodward siding by June 9, when he requested that the depot be moved to Orlando, later renamed Tangier. He told his superiors that Orlando was three miles nearer the post, and a "good road [to Orlando] is reported with not a great deal of sand.... The new road, which requires no work on it, is much better than the one to Woodward.''2l His request was ignored, and within a short time during that summer of 1887 a freight and passenger depot, a five-stall roundhouse, a two-story restaurant and hotel, a coal chute, and a water tank joined the original lone cottonwood grove at Woodward.22

     By 1892 several additional improvements had been made at Woodward: the general store of Joe Stone; houses for railroad employees; and a "large part dugout, and part stockade barn" built by the soldiers to provide shelter for their teams when they came daily for the mail.23 Hiram Vincent, a railroad employee who had moved to Woodward in 1891, recalled an 1892 boom resulting from the opening of the Cheyenne and Arapaho lands to the south. "From then on teams were continually coming to Woodward to get freight, express, etc.," he wrote.24 As a result of this growth, Woodward received a post office in February, 1893, six months before most other towns in the Cherokee Outlet received postal designations in preparation for the run.25 Vincent related that before the post office had been established at Woodward, railroad employees hand-carried mail from Kiowa and placed it in a box nailed to the depot wall, where Woodward residents sorted through to find their letters.26

     At noon on Saturday, September 16, 1893, the Cherokee Outlet opened to settlement with a land run. Land office clerk Casper W. Herod's watch showed a few minutes past twelve when he scrambled to the roof of the sixteen-by-thirty-two foot frame land office building at Woodward.27 Among those waiting on the ground were other government officials: Wilson M. Hammock, registrar; D. H. Patton, receiver; and Ferguson S. Harris, the six-foot-two, two hundred pound Tennessean who had been appointed president of the townsite board.28 Herod's orders came from Captain Harry G. Cavenaugh, Thirteenth Infantry, charged with preserving law and order at Woodward with just fifteen men of Company B. Cavenaugh did not want to be overwhelmed by the first runners, expected from the south boundary twenty miles away, so he ordered Herod aloft to keep watch.29

     Three-quarters of a mile east at the depot a second gathering waited for runners. Hiram Vincent later wrote of those at the depot, "Among then [them] was Clarkson who run [sic] the R.R. eating house, and had employed Charlie Young—who was later elected Co., Treas. A couple of young ladies, and a woman cook. There was Charlie Cheek, hostler, in the yards for the R. R. Cotton engineer, George Hilton and wife, the two Smiths [one was B. B. Smith, first County Attorney] and wives, Marion Scates, and Col. Welch who was Commander for the Fort, and [David] Marum Q. M. at the Fort, and myself and family."30 Vincent's wife, Nellie, and Mrs. Scates probably had the best view of the race. The pair climbed the railroad coal chute about the time Herod climbed to the land office roof.31

     By nightfall there were two tent cities sprouting on the sand-sage prairie, but neither were heavily populated. East Woodward, or Denver, lay south of the depot—now First and Main—and Woodward proper clustered around the five-acre government tract with the land office—today the northwest corner of Fifteenth and Main. Because of a surveying error the government townsite had been located one-half mile west of the depot and the existing improvements, so people making the run either had to choose a lot in the government site, where they were reasonably certain of receiving a title from the townsite board, or selecting one in East Woodward, near the vital depot but where land titles soon would be heavily contested.32 Dr. G. W. Milton and a colony of settlers from Denver, Colorado, filed a townsite entry on the 160 acres adjacent to the depot. At least two homestead entries also were made on the same land.33 Each claimant had to remain on the land, improving it as if it was indeed their own, but prepared to lose everything if the claim failed when litigation was complete.

     Several businesses located near the depot. One of the most interesting was the Dew Drop Saloon of J. P. Miliken, which was built three doors south of the depot near the northwest corner of First and Main. Dew Drop ads claimed that any passenger coming or going stopped there first. In order to facilitate visits, Miliken constructed a bridge from the Sante Fe property, across a large drainage ditch, to First. Miliken's Bridge was known to all in early Woodward, and traffic at the Dew Drop made an expansion of the tavern necessary by June, 1894.34

     It was late October of that year before the depot question was settled; the depot was moved west. While still in Denver, the new location was only two blocks east of Woodward, between Fifth and Sixth, on the south side of the tracks.35 A second land rush resulted. Frame buildings were pulled into the sandy streets as businessmen tried to better their location. As many as three buildings were in the street at times. Ironically, the closing of Fort Supply that fall aided in the move. The large teamsters' wagons, much too large for normal use, with wheels removed and spokes cut down to hubs, made excellent rollers for moving buildings.36

     The land office was moved to the southeast corner of Tenth and Main, and eventually to the northwest corner of Eleventh and Main.37 A sixteen-by-thiry-foot frame court house also had been built near the land office shortly after the run, and by October, 1894, a jail and additional county building were on the government five acres.38

      By the summer of 1895, all these structures had been moved east to the northwest corner of Tenth and Texas. The original five-acre government square thus was left vacant, and it remained so for years. Long-time Woodward residents remembered the block as a rose garden and park.

     Woodward and Denver met at Boundary, now Eighth Street, which became the center of the business district. The union of the two towns is still evident at Main and Eighth, because Denver had surveyed its streets parallel to the tracks while Woodward streets ran with the compass. Main Street jogs at Eighth where the two surveys met. But with the depot moved, prosperity became more certain on either side of the jog, even though Denver did not receive townsite title until August,1897, the same year that Dr. J. M. Workman was selected the town's first mayor.39

     While Denver and Woodward did not agree on which should be the townsite, they agreed on education for the youngsters of both towns. On January 29, 1894, Nellie Vincent wrote her mother, "Dear Ma: Two big things happened to me today. I became one of the first two school teachers in Woodward, and I saved Duke's life [her two-year old son when I used Hi's gun to kill a rattlesnake on the floor of our one-room home, coiled up, just reads to strike Duke."40

     Money had been raised in the fall of 1893 to build a temporary, four-room school on the northwest corner of Fifth and Main.41 Margaret Moody Gerlach, wife of pioneer banker John J. Gerlach, wrote of seeing the building upon her arrival in Woodward. January 15, 1894. She drove west from the depot on First, ''past the little frame school house under course of construction."42

     School opened February 1. 1894. for a two month s session.43 Ivy Coombes (Bowder), a student at the little school in 1896, recalled, "Our playground was the street. but as there was little passing and none of it in a hurry, we were safe enough." There was one boundary the students had to observe just north of the school, between it and the depot—Ed Snow's saloon. "There was a place in the board sidewalk between us and the saloon that marked as far as we could go."44 One hundred ten students enrolled in the fall of 1894, and Billy Bolton, editor of the Woodward News called for more room at the school house.45 The Opera House, built in February, 1895, in the 800 block of Main, was used for the 1895-96 school term.46

     The next year school returned to the original site until December, when the students moved into a new building located in the block framed by Eighth and Ninth, Texas and Oklahoma. 47 Teacher Charles Alexander described it as "a square, white, two-story, frame building with four rooms and two halls—approached from the north by a wide stile of steps over a three-strand barbed-wire fence which surrounded the block."48 This was the only structure on the block, and in the spring, the large tract was landscaped by the school children. Albert Cammerer, whose mother had inquired about the next train out of Woodward, attended school that year. He recalled, "When they got that school house built, all we kids got trees and stuff to plant all around the outside. We planted cottonwoods, elms, and I don't know what all else."49 Ivy Coombes recalled the tree planting, calling it the first Arbor Day in Woodward. She added that each child named the tree planted. "My tree was named for Nannie V. O'Bryan (O'Brian), my eighth grade teacher and a very wonder[ful] teacher and person. That tree stood until it was blown away in the 1947 tornado."50

     The pioneer nature of this new building was recalled by Charles Alexander, who taught high school in the west room upstairs: "The spring from which water was used at the school was located on the farm [southwest of town several miles] of W. E. (Billy) Bolton, the Editor of the Woodward News.... A. P. Glendenning, called by everyone 'Sweetwater Jim.' hauled the water to the schoolhouse with horses and a wagon, and put it into a barrel bedecked with tincups dangling from the ends of the little chains fastened to the barrel, which stood in the lower hall."51

     By January, 1901, the Woodward Bulletin reported that the crowded conditions at the school had made it necessary to hire another teacher and use the lecture room of the Methodist Church for the overflow.52 Two additions had been made to the school, and a one-story high school erected to the south by 1910.53 The editor of the Woodward Dispatch had complained of these added structures in l904, writing, "Build no more shacks or fire boxes on the school grounds is the sentiment of the tax payers."54 He was correct about the fire danger. On March 9,1910, the two-story school burned at 5:30 p.m., only minutes after the superintendent and several teachers left for the evening. Firemen were unable to save the structure. Instead, they concentrated on the high school, which was scorched, but otherwise undamaged.55

     In 1911 a new high school, approved on a $65,000 bond election, was built southwest of Oklahoma Avenue near Oak. A wide sidewalk ran from Locust to the front at the building.56 "Old Central," as the new school came to be called, was a marvelous brick structure with a bell tower and decorative brick trim. It was replaced in 1929 with a new Woodward High School located just to the east that became the Woodward Junior High in 1978. From 1930 to 1947 Old Central became the Junior High School, and also housed some elementary classes, according to Mildred Jones Hepner, who taught there. She recalled its tall chimney which "would weave back and forth during the windstorms of the 1930s causing cracks in one wall."57 Old Central, one of Woodward's architectural treasures, was destroyed in the 1947 tornado.

     In 1911, when Old Central was built, Woodward businessman Ben Key, of York-Key Lumber, turned the old school grounds into a park; the old high school had been sold and removed from the square, leaving the land vacant except for the trees planted by the children. Key planted more trees and built a band shell. In 1916, when the Carnegie Library was constructed on the east side of the block, Key apparently consented to the removal of some trees. In 1917, when city leaders decided to build a Convention Hall south of the library, Key rebelled. His trees were not going to be removed. Key offered to give the City of Woodward the land where the First Christian Church is today, to locate the new Convention Hall. (In 1900 he had given a strip of land west of the existing court house to allow for the construction of a new brick one.) But his offer was refused, and more trees fell. Key soon moved to Galveston, Texas. He already divided his time between the two cities, but Galveston was home after this, and it received a considerable endowment upon his death.58 Key had arrived in Woodward on the day of the land run; perhaps he remembered the time when only a small cottonwood grove grew there.

     At the time Old Central was built, three ward, or elementary schools, were built: North Ward or Madison Park; East Ward or Horace Mann; and West Ward or Westwood. Woodward's population growth after 1900 had made the neighborhood schools necessary. One researcher found the town's 1,500 residents had almost doubled by 1903.59

     Until 1900 most of Woodward County and northwest Oklahoma remained the domain of the range cattle industry. Appropriately, rancher A. H. Tandy built the town's first mansion in 1899. Cowhands helped with some of the construction according to J. O. (Few Clothes) Selman. Selman, who was later mayor of Woodward, had begun work for Tandy as early as 1896 when he hired on for a "few clothes and some tobacco."60

     In 1893 Woodward was the most "extensive" cattle shipping point in Oklahoma Territory.6l Following the run, trails to the stockyards, located three blocks east of the original depot, were kept open by merchant Joe Stone.62 As late as 1897, the Woodward News reported that water holes recently dug on Indian Creek southwest of town had been very helpful for the market drives and trail herds that season. Albert Cammerer remembered such watering holes south on First Street, about where Crystal Beach is located today.63

     Cowboys were still much in evidence when F. P. Rose arrived in Woodward on August 29, 1901: 'We drove up the crooked old main street [east from Curtis] lined on both sides with mostlv old frame a buildings, and got our first sight of a real western frontier cow town. Woodward in those days, while on a little 'milder scale' was about like Dodge City. Quite a shipping point for the range cattle of those days, it was naturally full of cowboys. The hitchracks were lined with saddle horses. A few buggies and wagons could be seen, and occasionally a covered homeseeker's wagon.... The sidewalks were crowded and everything seemed to be in full blast. Every few buildings would be a saloon or an eating place."64 Rose added that much of the cowboy spirit had disappeared from the town by 1902 because "settlers swarmed in so thick during the year that when [September, 1902] rolled around, all the great ranches and their cattle were a thing of the past."65

     With the end of the open range, other products replaced the cattle. In November, 1903, when a congressional committee arrived in Woodward to determine Oklahoma's readiness for statehood, "It was reported that one buyer had shipped as many as eighteen carloads of broom corn during one week and that during the season he had averaged from three to seven cars weekly. Three-fourths of the country was in cultivation and at least 5,000 acres had been in broom corn the past summer."66 By 1914 wheat had replaced kaffir and broom corn as the principal crop in Woodward County.67

     Charles G. Baxter, who arrived in Woodward about 1900, later recalled that Woodward had four weekly newspapers: The Wood ward News, begun in June, 1894, by William E. (Billy) Bolton; The Woodward Bulletin; The State Republican; and the Woodward Dispatch. There were three banks: the First National Bank of L. L. Stine; the Gerlach Bank, of John J. Gerlach; and the Central Exchange of John "Uncle Jack" Garvey.68 Garvey's building—mid-block between Eighth and Ninth on the north side of Main—was the location for the fledgling Bank of Woodward begun in 1923, and later the home of Northwest Federal Savings and Loan. Gerlach's was the oldest bank in 1900, having bought out the Exchange Bank, Woodward's first, in 1896. Today, Goetzinger Abstract Company on the northeast corner of Ninth and Main is housed in the brick building constructed by Gerlach in 1904-05.69 In 1908 a fourth bank, the New State, was added. The bank building is today Fenimore's Hardware and Gift.

     The decade after statehood was one of great growth in Woodward. In 1913 the United States Department of Agriculture Great Plains Field Station opened on land southwest of town. Winona Hunter Chilcott, wife of the Station's first superintendent, E. F. Chilcott, recalled David P. Marum, once the Fort Supply quartermaster, who is credited with obtaining the research facility. "Judge Marum [he was once a law partner of Temple Houston] never cared much about how he looked, but he was devoted to the station. He came to dinner [at the Chilcott home] the last Saturday of every month. Once Congress failed to appropriate the money for the station." Town leaders spruced Marum up and sent him off to Washington, D.C.; the station received its funding.70 Bill and Elizabeth Bell, whose father, Martin A. Bell, followed Chilcott, recalled the station as "a fantastic place for children. It was like living on a gigantic estate.''7l

     In 1986 the station was no longer run as a "showplace to inspire individual owners to make their places look good." as it was when Chilcott was superintendent, even though it still was one of the state's largest aboretums.72 Renamed the Southern Plains Range Research Station in 1978, "its mission is to increase the efficiency of red meat production from rangeland consistent with perpetuation of range resources."73

    Woodward received its second rail connection in 1912 when the Wichita Falls and Northwestern—later the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas (Katy)—tracks reached there from the south. The first train arrived May 9,1912, loaded with company officials who took part in a ceremony complete with the driving of a "gilded spike" by Mayor Charles Alexander.74 It was from the Katy Depot that World War I soldiers departed, again accompanied with much ceremony.

     Carnegie Library, Convention Hall, the First Baptist Church, the First Christian Church, and a new post office were built from 1915 to 1919. A 1919 bond issue upgraded Woodward's water and electrical systems.75 And by 1915 "four oil companies maintained storage and distribution stations here from which they supplied the country with oil and gas.76 The number had grown to sixty oil-related businesses when the boom began in 1960.

     The Commercial Club, forerunner of the Chamber of Commerce, was organized in 1916, and the Elks in 1919.77 The Elks provided a tie with the range cattle industry of Woodward's origin. "Some of the most skillful contests of riding, roping, and shooting that their minds could conceive transpired as they dashed back and forth over the several blocks of Woodward's main street," an observer wrote of a cowboy celebration in 1901.78 Perhaps it was with such contests in mind that J. O. Selman, the cowboy who had worked on the Tandy house, helped organize the first Elks Rodeo in 1929.79 The rodeo became one of the top contests in the United States, and continues over a half-century later, an important part of life in Woodward. It drew people to Woodwald during the 1930s and led to the development of Trego's Westwear in 1935. The Woodward firm became one of the earliest manufacturers of western clothing.80 The rodeo would also play a part in surviving ''The Tornado."

     On the evening of April 9, 1947, a tornado funnel dropped from the clouds over the town of Whitedeer in the Texas Panhandle, then began a forty-six-mile-per-hour journey toward the northeast: two hours later it reached Woodward. Many people in Woodwald had their radios tuned to ''Mr. District Attorney," but there were no warning beeps of the approaching storm, as such a system had not yet been established. The storm cut a southwest to northeast slash across Woodward. destroying 200 blocks of the City and killing over 100 people.

     By 8:43 Woodward was dark except for lighting flashes, flashlights, and the flames which burned the Big 7 Electric Company and three other northside businesses. The flames could be seen for several miles, alerting residents of Mooreland that something was wrong in Woodward. Word of the disaster also was relayed to Enid and Seiling.

     In Woodward searches began for the dead, dying, and the living. The Fourth Street hospital quickly filled with the injured who spilled into halls, across the porch, and onto the lawn. The damaged Baker Motel at the northeast corner of Main and Eighth became a temporary hospital; its windows were blown in but patients waited two to a bed. The days immediately following the storm were remembered for the wailing ambulance sirens as patients were taken to the airport or depot for transport elsewhere.

     Then the hammers began, as Woodward started to rebuild. At first local officials believed they could do it themselves without outside help, but it was soon evident Woodward did need help. There was some talk of cancelling the Elks Rodeo that summer, somehow it seemed inappropriate to celebrate as usual while tornado victims were still dying. But the rodeo was held in August. By then the rodeo had become a symbol of life in Woodward—a seasonal passage necessary for the human spirit.81

     As usual, life continued in Woodward, and an important part of that life was entertainment, especially at the Woodward Theater, financed by J. O. Selman in 1929. The Wednesday night films of local events, shown by theater owners Ben and Vance Terry, always drew people to Woodward in the 1930s.82 Selman believed pictures would not last, and insisted the theater include dressing rooms and an orchestra pit so it could be used for vaudeville shows later. He was right. The downtown picture show lasted only fifty years, and beginning in 1981 the Woodward Arts Theatre began using the renovated vaudeville accommodations.

     Also bringing crowds to Woodward in the 1930s was the new Crystal Beach Park and the privately financed Livestock Sales Commission, which opened on February 23, 1933, on East Main near the location of the original stockyards. The Chamber of Commerce sponsored a boxing match to draw people to the opening.83 The Woodward Livestock Auction eventually provided its own draw with its weekly cattle sales and once-a-month horse auction at a new facility built in 1976.

    In late November, 1956, Woodward began a new adventure—the roller coaster world of oil and gas. McCormick # 1, drilled on the farm of Hugh and Iva McCormick. became the county's discovery well. Mrs. McCormick, now Iva Dixon, recalled she and her late husband never doubted the well would produce. "We thought they [Union Oil of California] would not go so all that trouble and expense if they didn't think we were going to hit it." Of the well's importance she said, "There was a terrible drought in the late 1950s, and people just would not have stayed without the oil play."84

     It was dry weather, not oil. which concerned most Woodward County residents in the fall of 1956. The drought brought President Dwight D. Eisenhower in January, 1957, on a tour of stricken western states. He visited the farm of Carl and Frances Peoples west of town near Tangier. The rains started after Eisenhower's visit, Mrs. Peoples said, and by June 15 they had a wheat crop ready to harvest. Ironically, wheat went down in the field because the rain did not stop.85

     By then Woodward was involved in its first real boom, one which lasted for over twenty years. Main Street, already sprawling because of the two townsites, continued west. Oklahoma Avenue, running parallel two blocks south, stretched west to the "Oil Patch." Two new FM radio stations, K101 and Q102, joined Woodward's original SKIW AM and FM, created in 1947. Once again Woodward had four banks. Two, the Bank of Woodward and the Stock Exchange Bank have long been part of Woodward's story.

     By 1986 the Bank of Woodward was located on Main at the Eighth Street jog, while the Stock Exchange rose above the skyline corner of Tenth and Texas, where the Woodward County Court House once stood and in which Temple Houston argued cases. The American National and the Bank of the Northwest came with the oil boom, and were appropriately situated on Oklahoma. The boom brought the High Plains Vocational Technical School, a new Woodward High School building, a new post office and hospital and two agriculture related industries, Oklahoma Nitrogen in 1976, and Woodward Iodine in 1977. In the early 1980s Woodward's Main Street was planted with trees, and Woodward—the town that began with only one cottonwood grove—was named a "Tree City U.S.A.," one of the few so designated in Oklahoma.

     Then the boom stopped, a result of poor agricultural markets, the collapse of the oil and gas industry, and general recession across the region. But Woodward has adapted to change many times since 1887: the dual townships; the closing of Fort Supply; the loss of the division point on both the Santa Fe and Katy; and the subdivision of the original county at the time of statehood. Woodward has weathered the blizzard of 1938, the drought of the '30s and '50s, and the tornado of 1947, all without population loss.86 The little town planted by the cottonwood grove in Miliken's ditch has grown slowly over the years. Sometimes it bends with the wind—and in the gales—but the roots are deep, firm, and secure after a century of growth on the sand-sage prairie of western Oklahoma.

*Louise B. James is a professional writer living near Woodward. Since completing her Master's Degree in History from Oklahoma State University. She had published several works on the region's history.
1 Louise B. James, Below Devil's Gap Perkins Oklahoma: Evans Publications, 1984). p. 85.
2 "Appeal Before the Commissioner of' the General Land Office, Washington. D.C.," Woodward News (Woodward. Oklahoma). September 28, 1894.
3 Keith L. Bryant. Jr . History of the Atchison. Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (New York: McMillan, 1974). p. 126.
4 Kiowa Herald (Kiowa, Kansas), March 18, 1886, p. 3.
5 Telephone conversation with Robert E. Pounds. February 19,1986. author of Santa Fe Depots: The Western Lines (Dallas: The Kachina Press, 1984).
6Kiowa Herald. November 4, 1886, p. 1.
7 Kiowa Herald. November 25, 1886, p. 4.
8 Kioua Herald, March 3, 1887, p. 1.
9 Ibid.. Aprll 14, 1887, p. 1. Woodworth was a logical error for the Kiowa paper to make since the Woodworth name appeared frequently in the publication. See for example, Kiowa Herald. December 24, 1885. p. 4: "M. Woodworth returned from Do[d]ge City last Thursday, and Saturday he went to Attica where he enters upon the duties of chief clerk for the Southern Kansas."
10 George H. Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1965), p. 225.
1l Letter from Ethel Woodward Mullikin to the author in the files of the Plains Indian and Pioneer Museum, Woodward, Oklahoma, hereafter cited as PIPM.
12 Woodward County Journal, October 28, November 4, November 11, 1937
13 Kiowa Journal, April 14, 1887 p. 1.
14 Ibid.
15 Seigniora Russell Laune, Sand in My Eves (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co 1956), p. 74.
16 Ibid., p. 117.
17 Interview with Albert Cammerer at his home in Woodward, September 10,1983.
18 Telephone interview with Jean Howe. May 13, 1986.
I9Barber County lndex (Medicine Lodge. Kansas), May 11, 1887, p. 1.
20 Fort Supply, I.T., May 21,1887, Z. R. Bliss to AAG, Department of Mo.. Microfilm B-30, Carriker Collection, Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma.
21 Fort Supply, I.T.. June 9,1887. Z. R. Bliss to AAG, Department of Mo., Microfilm B-30, Carriker Collection, Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma Norman. Oklahoma.
22"Appeal Before the Commissioner of the General Land Office." Woodward News.
23Hi Vincent, "A Short History of Early Woodward." August, 1933. clipping in author's files.
24 Ibid.
25 Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names. pp. 8, 73, 165, 225.
26 Vincent, "A Short History of Early Woodward."
27 George Rainey, The Cherokee Strip (Guthrie, Oklahoma: Co-operative Publishing Co., 1933), pp. 297-98.
28 James. Below Devil's Gap p. 81.
29Rainey, The Cherokee Strip. pp. 297-98.
30Vincent, "A Short History of Earlv Woodward."
31 Ibid.
32 "Appeal Before the Commissioner of the General Land Office.'' Woodward News.
33Ibid.; see also James, Below Devil's Gap. pp. 31, 82, 87.
34 Woodward Advocate. July 29, 1894; Woodward News June 15, June 29, 1894.
35 Woodward News, November 2, 1894: Wooduard Adcocate. November 16, 1894
36Interview with Noel Norton at PIPM. April 1 1981
37The Eleventh and Main location is where everyone remembers the land office, but the Tenth Street location is clearly shown in a photo of Woodward's Main Street in the files of the PIPM.
38 Woodward Adcocate. September 29, 1893; Jeffersonian, September 30, 1893; James, Below Devil's Gap, pp. 127-31.
39Workman was actually not the first mayor elected in Woodward. An elaborate balloting for mayor had taken place on September l9, 1893. Civil War veteran William B. Hale, a Tennessee lawyer, had been selected over Judge T. L. O'Brian, David Jones, and William C. Cunningham, a townsite board member from Michigan. Hale was called the oldest citizen of the government town, having arrived in Woodward on September 14, 1893. The first government did not survive. See James, Below Devil s Gap, p. 92.
40 H. H. Mendenhall, "Hiram J. and Nellie (Conley) Vincent," Woodward County Family Histories, 1907-1957 (Woodward: PIPM Foundation, n.d.), pp. 450-51. Duke apparently was born in Woodward on December 26, 1892, since his parents moved there in the summer or fall of 1891. If his birthplace was Woodward, Duke would make at least the third baby born in Woodward before the run.
41 Woodward News Bulletin, June 3, 1910.
42 Margaret Moody Gerlach. "Reminiscences of the Early Days of Woodward, Oklahoma," in the files of the PIPM.
43Mrs. D. B. Wyatt, "Woodward," August, 1928, in the files of the PIPM.
44 "Woodward Schools," manuscript in files of PIPM. No author given.
45 Wooduard News, November 23, 1894.
46 Woodward News, January 25, February 22, 1895; Woodward News Bulletin, June 3, 1910.
47 Woodward News Bulletin, June 3, 1910.
48 Charles Alexander, "Early Schools," in files of PIPM. The barbed wire was there not so much to keep the children in as the wandering livestock out.
49Cammerer interview.
50 "Woodward Schools," in files of PIPM.
51 Alexander, "Early Schools."
52 Woodward Bulletin. January 4, 1901.
53 Woodward News Bulletin, March 11, 1910.
54 Woodward Dispatch, June 10, 1904.
55 Woodward News Bulletin, March11,1910. Woodward's original frame high school building is still in existence, although it was divided. Today it is two private homes.
56 Jeanie L. Hayes and Elizabeth Cutler. "The Woodward School System," Woodward Countv Family histories, 1907-1957. pp. 518-19.
57 Interview with Mildred Jones Hepner, May 26, 1986.
58 Louise Boyd James. "Tree Plantings in Woodward, " prepared for Woodward Tree Board, 1981, in files of PIPM.
59 Ralph E. Randels. ''The Homesteader and the Development of Woodward Countv,"The Chronicles of Oklahoma, 17, (Fall, 1939), p. 289.
60 Interview with Bob Selman at PIPM.
61 "Appeal Before the Commissioner of the General Land Office." Woodward News.
62 Woodward News, June 1, July 20, 1894.
63 Woodward News. August 20, 1897 and Cammerer interviesv.
64 E. P. Rose, "Early History of Catesby and Vicinity" The Chronicles of Oklahorna, 29 Summer. 1951), pp. 179-80.
65 Ibid.. p. 181.
66 Randels, "The Homesteader and the Development of Woodward County,"The Chronicles of Ohlahoma, pp. 290-91
67 "Woodward County, Oklahoma: The Land of Opportunity," (Woodward: Smith and Thomas. 1915), p. 2.

68Charles G. Baxter, "History of Early Woodward and Woodward County, " 1954, in files of his son, Don Baxter, Woodward, Oklahoma. The Woodward News Baxter mentioned is not connected with the present newspaper by the same name.
69 Wooduard Dispatch, August 4, 1905.
70 Interview with Winona Hunter Chilcott in the home of her sister Grace Hunter Adams, Sharon, Oklahoma, September 21, 1984.
71Woodward Daily Press, January 13, 1985.

72 Interviews over a period of several years with Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Foresters stationed at Woodward, Donna Hull and Bob Harrell.

73 Telephone interview with Dr. Phillip Sims, May 27, 1986.

74 Woodward News Bulletin, May 10, 1912.

75 Mildred Jones Hepner, "History of Woodward," in files of PIPM.

76 James W. Young, "History of Commerce and Industry," files of PIPM.

77 David P. Marum, "Woodward and northwest Oklahoma," clipping in files of PIPM.

78 Rose, "Early History of Catesby and Vicinity," The Chronicles of Oklahoma, pp. 131-32.

79 Woodward Democrat, June 28, 1929.

80 Interviews with Thurlene Trego Fr e over a period of several years. Notes in author's files.

81 For additional information on the tornado, see, James, Below Devil's Gap, pp. 171-81.
82 Void, p. 165

83 Clipping in files of PIPM.

84 Interviews with Iva McCormick Dixon over period of several years. Notes in author's files. Mrs. Dixon was also one of the "Jack Love Girls '—the 75 young women first Corporation Commission chairman. Jack Love, took to Guthrie for Statehood Day, November 16. 1907.

85 Interview with Frances Peoples at her Tangier home. May 5. 1986.

86 Compiled from United States Census data.

Oklahoma Independent History and Genealogy
Oklahoma Independent History and Genealogy



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