Monday, November 28, 2011

Postcards From The Past

Last month I had the pleasure of presenting one of the museum's programs to the Tulsa Postcard Club.  This wasn't my first time in meeting with these nice people.  In fact, I don't normally do evening presentations any more, unless it's for a special group such as this.  
Postcards are an extremely important link and record to our past.  I only came to realize just how important when I began piecing together my first Tulsa History presentation about our old movie theaters.  Photos of the long-lost gems are hard to come by, but street views in postcards are out there and plentiful.  I have picked out some postcards to share with you here in no particular order.  Hope you enjoy!
Case in point:  One of Tulsa's first moving picture theaters was called the Lyric and was located inside of an old former grocery store.  Across the street from the Lyric was the Idle Hour theater.  Opening in 1906-07, any photos were rare if not impossible to find. This postcard got me so excited when I chanced upon it:

A blog entry from 2009 focused on pioneer Chauncey Owen and how the pond in Owen Park came to be.  Here is an actual photo postcard of the event afterward.  

Minck's Hotel (now known as the Adams Hotel).

Built in 1927 and designed by Bruce Goff:

To read more about Carl Magee's contributions to Tulsa (including Carlton Place Addition) click HERE.

Kress Store and the Main Street Theatre on the far right.

The sign, circled in red, reads: Ike's Chili Parlor

Formerly known as Orcutt Park, it was turned into Swan Lake residential area around 1917:

Last but not least is another "A-Ha!" find.  A little history first:

Tulsa’s third Methodist Church, then known as the Methodist Episcopal Church South, purchased a lot on East Second St between Cincinnati and Detroit in 1897.  In 1901 the congregation sold that land and purchased a lot on the corner of Second and Cincinnati where they built the first brick church building in Tulsa.  

They stayed in this building from 1901 until 1907 at which time the land was sold and a new home was built for the church at 5th and Boston.  They built an impressive two-story brick church and changed their name to Boston Avenue Methodist Church.  The year was 1908. Services were held in this church for twenty years.  

The congregation began to feel cramped when the Philtower was constructed in 1926.  The Methodists sold their property to Waite Phillips and purchased land at Thirteenth and Boston.  The last service was held in the church on 5th and Boston Sunday, October 14, 1928 and the congregation then moved to their beautiful art-deco style church.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tulsa In 1954

While I was out of town, a new Tulsa history tidbit surfaced that bears sharing here.  If you already watched this over on Batesline, then I urge you to watch it again and see what (or who)  you may have missed.   
This is a 15 minute documentary produced by the U.S. Information Service in 1954 to promote Tulsa.  There are scenes from downtown, T.U. as well as other Tulsa landmarks, stores and buildings long gone.  Share in the comment section below if you recognize any places, people or things.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jimmie Wilson's Catfish String Band

The Rotary Club is known as the world's first service club.  Formed in 1905 by an attorney who wished to capture the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth, by 1921 Rotary clubs had been formed on six continents and as it grew, their mission expanded.  Members began pooling their resources and contributing their talents to serve  communities in need.  

A group of Sapulpa Rotarians formed a band, adopting their backwoods profiles for fun.  The group was led by a man named Jimmie Wilson.  Jimmie was a humorist with the same style as Will Rogers, and named his band "Jimmie Wilson's Catfish String Band."  They recorded a session for Okeh Records in 1925 which produced 4 songs, 2 records. 

  The band debuted on radio station KRFU in Bristow in 1926.


In 1928 new station owner W.G. Skelly  moved the renamed station to Tulsa and  Jimmie's band came with it.  He was a popular figure in Tulsa and for a time they had a weekly one-hour show.  Jimmie opened each broadcast with, "This is Jimmie Wilson broadcasting from Andrew Jackson Johnson's farm down on the banks of Polecat Creek."  He would then sprinkle water on a hot skillet to simulate the sound of fish frying.   

As told in a book by Don Cusic:  Band member Bob Dennis remembered that "the band practiced at the Potter brother's music store where a young fellow would come by and sit in on some of the rehearsals.  He just sat there and  watched and learned to play the guitar.  He would then go down to the Harvey House and play for the waitresses."     Jimmie and the Band began giving time on their broadcasts to this young man who was billed as "Oklahoma's Yodeling Cowboy" even though he was really a Texan.  His name was Gene Autry.

An example of the Rotary Club's mission is highlighted in this story:  In 1929 an explosion in a coal mine near McAlaster killed sixty one miners.  It also created forty-six widows and orphaned 178 children. Jimmie Wilson's Catfish String Band took to the airwaves, broadcasting for 12 hours and raising $40,000 for the widows and children. 

Gene Autry: his life and career by Don Cusic

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Reverend Loughridge

Ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1842, Robert Loughridge traveled 600 miles on horseback to ask the Creeks if he might establish a mission-school.  They wanted a school but no preaching but soon changed their minds. In 1843 he established the Koweta Mission and school,  located near present day Coweta.  

His first wife, Olivia, taught alongside Robert, bearing him two children before passing away in 1845.  The following year he married another teacher, Mary, who taught at Park Hill Mission (located south of Tahlequah) in the Cherokee Nation.  

The Creek government established Tullahassee Labor School in 1848, located about 5 miles northwest of Muskogee, and named Loughridge superintendent. He supervised the construction in 1848-1850.  Mary Loughridge passed away in 1850. 

Robert retained his post until the Civil War forced him in to Texas.  He returned in 1881 to be the superintendent at the Creek Nation's new Weleaka School located between Bixby and Leonard. 

Loughridge became an expert in the Creek language during his ministry to them.  He translated and transcribed portions of the Bible with the assistance of Legus Perryman (one of many grandsons of Benjamin Perryman) and published an English and Muskogee Dictionary with David Hodge in 1890.  
In the 1870's Creek Indian Daniel Childers built a small church so that Rev. Loughridge would have a place to preach to the Indians in the community of what is now Broken Arrow.  According to the Indian Pioneer History Project, the lumber was brought overland from Coffeyville and it was named the White Church because it was painted white and painted buildings were quite unusual in those days.  The five acres adjoining the church lot on the north became a cemetery that was named for Dr. Loughridge.  

The church was used as a school house during week days in the early 1880's.  Lilah Lindsey taught at this school between 1880-1885.  It was primarily a community church but was looked after by the Presbyterian board.

This photo was taken in the 1940's:

Recently I took a drive by the White Church.  It is located on 129th E. Ave and 131st Street.  The church still stands proudly, obviously well taken care of although missing the once-cherished bell.  It is used by another denomination at this time.   

In the cemetery the oldest grave is said to be that of Daniel Childers himself who was buried in 1885.  

The Reverend Thomas Perryman (son of Lewis) lived in that vicinity and also preached at the White Church.  One of his daughters, who died at age 3, was buried there about 1883, perhaps one of the first. Her body was later disinterred and placed with her father at Oaklawn Cemetery along with the marker brought from the Loughridge Cemetery.

Sources:,  Indian Pioneer Project 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tulsa's First Schools

Ed. Note:  I recently completed a community program for the Tulsa Historical Society about Tulsa's first schools and churches.  I thought I would share some of the history here.

First Presbyterian Mission School
Tulsa was incorporated as a “town” under the pattern laid down in Arkansas law, on January 18, 1898.  The first School Board was elected in 1899, their prospect challenging.  Over 100 students were attending the 3 church/mission schools and even more would attend if it were free.  The schools were running out of space. Most of the pupils lived north of the railroad tracks so a school was needed there. 

The first problem was solved when the Presbyterian Board decided to sell its Tulsa property (located at what is now 4th and Boston). The school board had no money and by law, an incorporated town could not incur debt.  Private buyers were clamoring to buy the land.   Four Tulsa men stepped forward- Jay Forsythe, R.N. Bynum, J.M. Hall and Joe Price- to save the day…… and the school.  Banker B.F. Colley loaned $1050 to these men who bought the property and held the note until the city was able to repay the principle from tax funds.

Immediate improvements were made to the little school building.  Two rooms were added above the old ones.  Stairways led from the outside to the front and rear doors upstairs.  Painted, plastered and newly roofed, the first public school building was a matter of considerable pride.  Soon a room on the north side was added for primary grades.  The School Board hoped this additional space would last for several years.

The picture changed abruptly when oil was discovered at Red Fork June 25, 1901.  Two months later a town site survey was begun and within the year all residents were able to buy land from the Creek Nation.  This increased the tax base but city income failed to keep up with the school population.  Make-shift classrooms were opened in any sort of room available.

Following the 1905 school term, with joy and sadness, the little white schoolhouse that had served Tulsa for 22 years, was torn down to make way for the new Tulsa High School. 

The new buff-colored brick building, which combined both grade and high school classes, boasted 21 classrooms, plenty of good slate boards, ample cloakroom space, a small auditorium and gold-leafed dome. The new school might have been built earlier than 1905 had there not been the rivalry between north and south residents about where to build it.  A compromise was finally reached.  The south side residents would get their school as would the north side residents.
To many children the use of running water in the toilets was the greatest luxury they had never seen.  The new school was jokingly called Our Lady of Mud due to the fact that there were no sidewalks or paved streets leading to the school and many got stuck in the mud.

Work also began at the same time for the Northside School located at 519 North Boston.  The building had eleven rooms and boasted "splendid light, good ventilation, automatic heat regulation and the best sanitary conditions possible".  Three years later the school name was changed to Sequoyah and it was expanded to include four ward buildings of eight rooms each plus a bell tower was added.

Eleven hundred children entered Tulsa’s two new schools in September 1906- 300 at Northside and 800 in the “south side” school.  In 1907 the school buildings again became badly overcrowded with an increase of almost 700 students during that school year alone. New schools couldn’t be built fast enough to keep up.

Lindsay Elementary was built in 1907 on the outskirts of town, named after one of Tulsa’s first teachers, Lilah Lindsay.  The school was later renamed Riverview in 1917. 

Lynch Forsythe School (later known as Washington in 1914) came along in 1908.

Orcutt School was built in 1909 again, on the outskirts of town, at 15th and Peoria.  The name changed soon to Bellview and again to Lincoln.  

Owen School was also built in 1909, bringing the total that year to eight public schools.  Owen changed it's name to Irving in 1918.  The building still stands today.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Men of Tulsa ca 1916

Recently I thumbed through an old book titled "Men of Affairs and Representative Institutions of Oklahoma 1916".  It is self-described as "A Newspaper Reference Work" compiled by the World Publishing Company here in Tulsa.  This book is a virtual "Who's Who" of Oklahoma at that time.  I thought I would share some of the photos and findings that I found to be interesting and/or amusing, several are linked to previous blog posts.  Click on photos to enlarge.

First up is a true Tulsan.  He was born near here and returned to help our city grow and prosper.

I blogged about this next man's business HERE:

Here's an interesting young fella:

He was 34 in 1916.  Hurley invested in real estate and built Oklahoma's first apartment-hotel, the Ambassador.  He became secretary of war under President Hoover, becoming the first Oklahoman to serve in a presidential cabinet.  In WWII he became a brigadier general and later an ambassador to China.  

This next gentleman is someone I blogged about before:

The White City neighborhood was built on his land and Braden Park is named after him.

And this man needs no introduction:

At the time of the printing, this next gentleman had only begun his important contributions to our city:

He designed Central High School in 1910 and went on to design the Hunt Department Store (Brown-Dunkin) in 1918 and Trinity Episcopal's Church in 1922 as well as several prominent residences.

The city south of Tulsa bears this man's name:

This is a very modest biography of his work and contribution to our state.  You can read more about him  HERE.

Is this man to blame for our street woes?

I wonder exactly where this "country home" was located....?

This is another place of interest:

Located on Third Street, between Boston and Main was the Daniel Building

Down the street at 123 S. Main was Boswell's Jewelry

A few more businesses

And last, though not a Tulsan, is a man who would become the next Governor of our State:

This was my fraternal grandfather's uncle, making him my Great Great Uncle.