Monday, September 27, 2010

Mystery Solved

Awhile back I presented another History Mystery regarding the World War II Memorial that used to stand in (then) Boulder Park.  The original blog about it is here and an update here.  As almost always happens when doing research of this kind, I accidentally stumbled upon the answer this morning, thumbing through a book.   I frequently forget to turn to this set of books for research, instead using them mostly for blog ideas.  The book I am referring to is Tulsa Times, A Pictorial History: Coming of Age, 1942 to 1988, Volume III (1988)  
As I was reading all about the war and Tulsa's involvement here at home, it took a minute for it to soak in that there in front of me was this photo:

Underneath the photo was the answer to "Whatever happened to this?" that so many of us had tried to find.

"The war still raged abroad, but Tulsans already had a temporary memorial in Boulder Park to honor the city's perished sons.  Ultimately, more than 700 Tulsans would die in World War II.  The homey monument was razed to make way for a permanent memorial in 1954."

So there you have it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tulsa Pioneer: Dr. Sam Kennedy

Dr. Sam Kennedy came to Tulsa with his brother Jim in 1891 to establish medical practices in the little village of Tulsey.  The town at that time had a population of about 350 with two general stores, a modest hardware store, a drug store, livery stable, blacksmith, saddle shop and one hotel- the Owens Hotel.  

They made their homestead on 4th and Boston and some two years after their arrival they erected a five room house on it.
The photo below is looking south on Boston towards 2nd Street ca 1894.  Dr. Kennedy's house was on the left side.

Around 1895 they built the first brick building for their office on Main Street between 1st and 2nd.  The brick used was sun dried and made by primitive methods.

The doctors practice extended for many miles over the thinly populated country which meant traveling many miles by horseback or buggy to attend the sick.  Patients were visited as far away as Cleveland,  west to Kellyville, south to Mounds and Bixby and to Catoosa, Skiatook, Keystone and Mannford.  Both brothers served as Osage County Justice's of the Peace so that local residents across the county line would not have to travel to Pawhuska to do basic legal business.

Both doctors married sisters who were part Osage Indian.  Sam and his wife had seven children. In 1906 when the Osage lands were distributed Sam used his wife and children's tribal allotments to acquire hundreds of acres in Osage county, land that is northwest of downtown Tulsa.  Part of that land was used as an active ranch where he raised a large herd of shorthorn cattle.  The rest of the land was rented out. The Tulsa Country Club acquired it's land from Dr. Kennedy.  

The founders of Tulsa all had great faith in the future of this city.  Aside from being a country doctor, Sam Kennedy was a charter member and the first director of the Commercial Club, predecessor to the Chamber of Commerce.  He served on the city council and was on the committee that helped to secure the Katy and other railroads as well as a member of the first water board which directed the Spavinaw project.  His signature was one of those on the original charter for the city of Tulsa.  

Dr. Kennedy retired from medicine in 1907 and focused his interest on other interests.  He had the foresight to purchase even more of the Osage land as it was put up for sale by the Indian Agency and soon he owned approximately 10 square miles.  He partnered with W.A. Springer and together they acquired an Osage lease on which 140 wells were drilled between 1913 and 1917.  They sold their half of the interest in the lease for $6 million dollars.

Dr. Kennedy sold his 4th and Boston property to a developer named S. Gallais who immediately began construction of his namesake building.  

In 1919 Kennedy bought the Gallais building and proceeded to triple its size, proclaiming it to be the largest building in the southwest at the time.  

In 1921 he invited all of the "old timers" out to his ranch for a huge barbecue.  More than 300 were present and it was during this barbecue that the Pioneers Association was formed and he was elected it's first president.  

This monument was originally erected on Dr. Kennedy's property and now stands in Owen Park today.  Scores of Tulsa's first families names are inscribed as well as past presidents.

The house known today as the Kennedy Mansion was built in the early 1920's.

This was Dr. Springer's mansion.  It is still there too, however not the entrance to the Tulsa Country Club:

There was one thing that Dr. Kennedy did that had very long-range consequences, whether intentional or not.  In the late 1920's, Dr. Kennedy proposed a new development called The Osage for the growing city.  However, in 1930 the city voted not to connect streets or extend utility lines to this development.  In lieu of the city's choice, Dr. Kennedy also made a choice which was to insert a clause into his will that none of his land, some 10 square miles directly northwest of the city, could be sold for 20 years after his death.  He lived a long life, passing at age 77 in 1941.  Therefore, Tulsa could not grow in that direction until 1961.  As author Danney Gobel says in his book:  "Many of Dr. Kennedy's good deeds were buried with him, but his spite was not interred with his bones."  

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Beno Hall- Another Dirty Little Secret

Sometimes when researching a particular subject, a completely different story emerges. Such is the case with what began as the George Mowbray blog entries.  As I peeled away the layers of our local Methodist church history, I became acquainted with the different churches that sprang from the Little White Church that began near what we know today as Cameron and Main Street.  

When the congregation outgrew that little church, the members voted to move south and build a brick church on 5th and Boulder in 1905.  However not all of the congregation wanted to move south, and those who did not decided  to build another church just a city block north, near Main and Easton.  This church was named the Tigert-Memorial Methodist Church and opened it's doors in 1906.

I have not found out what exactly happened within the Tigert Church but it appears that, over time, they ran into financial difficulty and eventually they joined with (or became?) the Centenary Methodist Church.  The church's website states that "The congregation dates from 1906 when it began as the Tigert Memorial Methodist Church".  The Centenary United Methodist Church, located at 631 N Denver, was built in 1920.

As I continued my research on these churches I discovered an odd connection to, of all things- the KKK.  In Danney Goble's book he recounts the growth of the Klan in Tulsa after the riot, and how Beno Hall came about.   

In January of 1922, less than a year after the riot, 1,500 Tulsan's formed the city's first "Klavern" (the basic local unit of the Klans expanding empire) and incorporated it under the name Tulsa Benevolent Association. Under this name, they paid $60,000 for the vacant Tigert-Memorial Church and property. The church was razed and a new, $200,000, 3-story stucco structure was built that they called Beno Hall.  It was the largest assembly hall in the state at that time, seating close to 3,000 and towering close  to Greenwood, who did not mistake the name's double meaning: that there "Be No" blacks, Catholics, Jews or foreigners welcomed there.  

I can find no photo's of this building nor do I know when it was torn down.  Very little information exists about it, although I am not yet through digging.

UPDATE:  Thanks to blog reader Lazzaro, a photo of Beno Hall has been found.  It was in a section of the Tulsa Reparation's Report.

Two years later, in 1924, Tulsa entrepreneur Tate Brady built a large garage for all of his cars down the street from Beno Hall.  You know it today as Cain's Ballroom.

If you have any other information you would care to share about Tigert Church or Beno Hall, please leave a comment or email me at   

Friday, September 17, 2010

Alsuma Part 2

I couldn't stand not going over and seeing exactly what was left of or IN Alsuma (or the former town of).  It is on the map, after all:

I decided to take the 101st E. Ave entrance and go north to E. 47th Place.  That would be here:

So, this once-upon-a-time was a house, right?  Maybe?  That's kind of what I was looking for.  A house or former house of some sort.  If I looked to the right, according to the map, I was looking at what used to be Alsuma.  But there wasn't anything to even remotely tell me or show me that.  So I drove on, looking for any other former-houses.  I found a couple...

Looks new, could be a business I guess.  Very nice house, building or whatever.   This former house (below) is definitely a business.  But that was about it as far as house-like structures went.

Having fun tooling around these roads made me unaware of what I was about to drive up on.  It startled me in a most wonderful way......

Would ya look at that!  is what I said aloud to nobody in the car.  I had just stumbled upon the Stokely event company's property!  And they have some pretty cool signs back there!

I love it when I get pleasantly surprised like that.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lebanese Steakhouses

I was raised on steak and tabouli.  OK maybe not raised on it but I have known and loved tabouli as well as appreciated a great steak all of my life.  I know this is due to my dad who was a master barbecue enthusiast and who was from a part of Oklahoma where Lebanese immigrants settled before the turn of the century.  Those immigrants brought with them their recipes from their homeland and introduced them to their new friends and neighbors.  By the 1920's Lebanese families resided in 42 of Oklahoma's 77 counties.  Take Bristow in Creek County, for example.  Lots of descendants in this community where there are not one but two tabouli manufacturers AND they have a Tabbouleh festival every spring.  Another county with a large Lebanese population is Payne County.  My dad was from Cushing which is just down HWY 33 from Drumright, OK.  At most of our family gatherings there was almost always someone who brought tabouleh.  By the way, there are probably as many ways to make this salad as there are to spell it and  I included several versions of it in my cookbook.  I haven't met a bowl of it yet that I didn't like.  

Other popular dishes that caught on and seem to go hand-in-hand with a perfectly grilled steak are cabbage rolls and hummus dip.    And speaking of steak.  Oh. My. Goodness.  The reason for many of these steakhouses generational success is due to the steaks.  The quality, the cut, the flavor and the way they are cooked- usually hickory grilled- make them a piece of heaven.  If you have not ever tried any of these restaurants that are in or near Tulsa, allow me to introduce them to you.  If you have already eaten at one or all of them, read on for some history as I sort through all of those that are named "Freddies" and clear up any confusion as to who is related and who is not.

Jim Elias opened his first restaurant in Bristow.  His first Tulsa restaurant was located on 11th Street, his second at  27th and Harvard, named Jimmy's.  

In 1957 he relocated again to a house on 51st Street for the next 50 years, changing the name to the Lebanese version of Jim- Jamil's.  I ate many meals at that spot and recently tried the new place down the road on a Saturday night.  It was all (still) great. These days Jamil's sons Tyrone and Bernard own and manage Jamil's. 
Jim Elias opened a Jamil's in Oklahoma City in 1964, again in an old house built in the 1930's.  Son Tyrone ran it for awhile, then nephew Greg Gawey took over in 1976.  Jamil Elias passed away in 1978 with restaurants in Houston and three in Dallas operating.   
When Jim moved out of the Harvard location, his brother Eddy moved in and began his restaurant career calling it Eddy's.  He stayed there for 2 years and then opened the Eddy's we all know today on 31st and Jamestown.  This was also a house that at one time had cattle out behind it.  Architect Ted Murray remodeled it into the restaurant it is today.  
This portrait of Eddy hangs in the restaurant:

My husband and I celebrated an anniversary there one time and were so full we could hardly waddle out of there.  Best ribeye I've ever had. Eddy II and his brother Steve run their father's restaurant. Brother Gary helped his dad open Eddy's and came up with the cabbage roll and tabouli recipes used today.  And another brother of Eddy and Steve's -Chris Elias- ran the Eddy's in Oklahoma City which opened in 1967 and closed recently.

Freddies Bar-B-Que
Freddies in Sapulpa actually started 2 miles south of Drumright, OK (Hwy 16) when Fred Joseph opened a little cafe to serve oilfield workers.  In 1972 he sold it to his nephew Ed Slyman who operated it until a tragic fire burned it to the ground and Ed relocated Freddie's to Sapulpa (1425 New Sapulpa Road). Recently some of us (volunteers) from the Historical Society met at Freddies for lunch.  Awesome food.


After the fire, Fred and another nephew Joe rebuilt the restaurant renaming it Joseph's.   Joe and his wife Kathy operated it for many years before passing the torch to current owners Jamey and Elizabeth Martin.  
My husband and I go several times a year to Cushing to watch their Community Theater productions.  They offer an almost extinct feature there- a dinner theater, where you can eat a delicious steak dinner then watch the play.  Joseph's is the caterer for these and it's always very good. 


Freddie's Steak House in Mannford and Freddies Supper Club in Drumright are owned by a different Lebanese family- the Salibas.
Fred and his wife Amelia Saliba began their restaurant business back in 1946 on Main Street in Drumright.  In 1956 they bought a dinner club west of town and moved into it, calling it Freddie's Supper Club.  
Interesting side note: Amelia's sister and brother-in-law once owned the Cedars and the Chalet restaurants as well as the Harvard Club and the Cup Club here in Tulsa.

Freddie left the restaurant to his son Paul in 1969 and built another Freddie's Steakhouse on the shores of Keystone Lake, located 1/2 mile east of Mannford on Oklahoma 51.  His son Rickey took over operation of it in 1976.  In addition to great food, this location also offers lakeside cabin rentals as well. This is one I have not yet tried but plan on doing so very soon and will update here when I do.


Freddie Paul's

Freddie Salibas' grandson Brian opened another steakhouse in Stillwater, called Freddie Pauls.  When my daughter was attending OSU we always made it a point to stop and eat at Freddie Paul's.  We still do if we are anywhere near. Wonderful, wonderful food.
I hope that I have cleared up some of the confusion about all of the Freddie's restaurants that are around here.  One thing for certain: they are all good!  

Got steak?

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I am one of the many who seem to time it perfectly to be detained at the railroad crossing under 169 on 51st.  I have sat there anxiously waiting for a glimpse of the red caboose (i.e. The End of the train) and zoom on my way to wherever it is I'm headed.  

If you look down the train tracks to the south you will see a large industrial area.  You may also notice the sign that says "Tulsa" on it.  And to the north the tracks continue... where there once was a little community there known as Welcome.  The name was changed in 1906 to Alsuma, I.T. after John Alsuma, a merchant (although other sources site the name was taken from 3 girls' names- Alice, Susan and Mabel). Then, in 1926, it was changed again to Trovillion (or Troxillion) by the railroad company.  According to some past residents, the sign kept getting torn down until the railroad put the Alsuma sign back up.
Near the southeast corner  of 51st and Mingo - behind the convenience store a ways- there was a large, stocked catfish pond that I can remember being there back in the late 60's and early 70's, owned by a Mr. Goodwin.  Across the street, on the northeast corner was a greenhouse and garden store.  Here is the intersection at 51st & Memorial back in the early 1960's showing a billboard ad for the greenhouse a mile east:

This maps show that an airfield was located in Alsuma as far back as 1911.  This map is from the 1940's:

This map shows the proximity to the Memorial Park Cemetery where Alsuma was located:

This was once a bustling little town with a post office (from 1905-1926), stores, neighborhoods and a rail depot.  You can see Alsuma on this 1907 map:

And on this map from 1916:

The community was a mixture of both black and white citizens and there were 2 schools, one of them Union and the other Alsuma Separate School.  This picture was taken after the children had received smallpox vaccinations.

Union School was located south from the town and was formed in 1919 when Alsuma, Mayo, Boles and McCollough were consolidated.  Beryl Ford identifies this photo (below) as being that of the Union school board and teachers.  No date is given but the sign over the door looks like it says 1912.

This photo is identified as the Union School in 1924; note the Model T buses in the background:

By 1968 the town had been absorbed into the city of Tulsa and the area was rezoned for industrial use. Some of the churches moved to north Tulsa.  There is still a listing in the phone book for Alsuma Missionary Baptist Church at 2443 N Peoria.
These days, when I am stuck waiting for the train to pass by, I try to visualize the little town that was once down the tracks.  The farms and the community that was swallowed up by the Big City.  I find I'm not in as much of a hurry as I thought I was….