Early Alva, Oklahoma

Information from the 1904 Souvenir Edition - of the Alva Pioneer, Friday, Jan. 1, 1904, Vol. 11, No. 16, by W. F. Hatfield, Alva, Woods Co., Oklahoma. W. F. Hatfield, Publisher Daily and Weekly Pioneer editor, sold the "Souvenir Edition" in 1904 for 50-Cents. It was printed to celebrate Alva's tenth anniversary since the opening of 1893.

Early Recollections

Something About the Old Cattlemen Who were Here 12 to 25 years Ago - (1869-1882).

Many chapters of interesting facts could be written concerning the wild and woolly history of the country now embraced in Woods County, Oklahoma, in the days when the cattle kings were monarchs of all they surveyed, and we sincerely hope these facts will be gathered together and woven into the history of Oklahoma before they are entirely lost track of. The old time cowmen that ranged their herds over this country in the days when it was designated as the Cherokee Outlet, and the men in their employ, were, as a general rule a good class of men who have since adapted themselves to the new customs that the great changes have brought about and are making a success of their civilized vocations. Some are farmers, some butchers, some liverymen, some have gone to other countries where they can still hold cattle by the old customs and a few have "gone to the dogs."

The country lying directly east of where the city of Alva now stands was known as the Schlupp and Balinger range and their headquarter camp was located at what is now called Shorts Springs: north of this pasture was the UNI range, owned by Finis Y. Ewing of Nevada, Missouri, and the headquarter camp was at Hackberry Springs, northeast of Ash Grove. The last named range extended from the Salt Fork river north of the state line and the west line went north from about where A. C. Grimes now lives to the state line ran north and south about two miles west of Kiowa, Kansas. They usually held from five to fifteen thousand cattle in this pasture during the summer months. But the greates range of all was the old T-5, embracing over a third of the south half of the present Woods County. This range was first owned by what was known as the Laurel Leaf cattle company, but was sold some time in the early 80s to Drumm & Snyder of Kansas City; the ranch house was on the south side of the Eagle Chief creek near where the city of Augusta now is.

A great tragedy was enacted at this camp at one time, wherein Johnnie Potts was killed by Benj. Franklin -- each of them were noble whole souled fellows, expert cow hands, and liked by all their associates, but a jag of whiskey that was brought to the camp from Caldwell one day furnished a general spree, a quarrel between two life time chums, and at 5 o'clock the following morning, the death of Jonnie Potts and a life of wretched remorse for Franklin.

It was here at this old ranch house that the great Medicine Lodge bank robbery was planned by the four principal actors, Brown, Smith, Wheeler and Hunter, but in trying to carry out the plan each of them lost their lives at the hands of the outraged citizens after an unsucessful attempt to rob the bank of the money in sight, and the killing of the president and cashier. This happened at the opening of the spring of (1884 )'84.

Northwest of Alva and covering about all of Fritzlein township was known as the Curry Comb range, owned by Col. Chas. H. Eldred, now living near Alva, and known all over Oklahoma as a man of prominence and a man of superb character.

The killing of Watts' father and son happened on this range in '83. The killing took place near where the Salt Fork crosses the state line, but on the Kansas side of the line, hence the survivors of the tragedy were tried and acquitted in the district court at Medicine Lodge. It was alleged that the elder Watts was in the habit of cutting fences, holding that the cattle men were trespassers and had no right to fence the land, and whenever he came to a gate instead of opening it he would cut the wire on each side of the gate posts. This, of course was very annoying to the cowboys, as it resulted in the cattle escaping and mixing from one pasture to another, which meant a great deal of extra work for them. So they lay in wait and caught the Elder Watts and one of his sons cutting the fence. A sharp exchange of words led to shooting and resulted in the deaths as above stated. It was a sad affair and was the occasion of considerable ill feeling at the time toward the cow people.

The wonderful and daring escape of the old Cheyenne chief, Dull-Knife, from Cantonment in 1878, was one of the best generated and most sagacious retreats that ever took place on American soil.

Shortly after the removal of the northern Cheyennes from Dakota, by the U. S. Government to the reservation prepared for them in the Indian Territory, the wily old Chieftain began to show signs of restlessness. He never wanted to come but when the balance of the tribe consented, and the new home to be given him by the Great Father was described as a land of eternal verdure, and one vast Zoological garden, he finally gave in. But when they arrived at their destination and found that the descriptions were over drawn, Dull-Knife at once began to persuade a few to follow him in an escape, and return to their northern birth place. He finally succeeded in forming a band of 282, about eighty of whom were warriors and the balance consisted of old men, squaws and papooses -- with no equipments except what they could hurriedly steal: they started on their long pilgrimage, to the only shrines their untutored minds knew. They crossed the Cimarron river a few miles above the mouth of Eagle chief, and following a line leading northwest to about where Noel station now is, on the Santa Fe R. R. West of Alva, crossing Turkey Creek two miles above where Rev. D. H. Cline now lives, and followed the high divide north to the head waters of Greenleaf creek and here for the first time they rested, and the dusky old Napolean rode up on the high eminence northeast of S. D. Ferbrache's present farm, and looking back saw the soldiers coming on his trail, going quickly back to his camp he sent the old men, women and children ahead, and taking his warriors he went back to meet the soldiers and after detaining them by strategic maneuvers for near a day without water, and besting them on every point, the indians went on to overtake the band of feebles, who by this time had got well up into Kansas, the soldiers sent to Camp Supply for reinforcements, but this dusky old Aborigine with all his incumbrances, and lack of everything necessary in the management of a military expedition outgeneraled the entire U. S. Army that could be brought out against him, evaded all the traps and snares that were laid to catch him, and finally landed his little band on their old hunting ground in North Dakota.

Through admiration of the sublime energy of this wonderful indian the government officials concluded to allow him and his squaws and papooses to stay in Dakota, but the following year the balance of the band were returned to the reservation.

The old time cowboys who helped to make the early history of Oklahoma are now widely scattered over the earth. The Wilson brothers, Abner T., Thomas P. and William are engaged in the cattle business in Canada, Alph Updegraph is still a resident of Oklahoma, and has crystalized into quite a politician, having been a member of the last two sessions for the Territorial Council. Old Uncle Jack Crewdson who was among the first white men that ever turned a cow in Oklahoma is now living in Wichita, Kansas.

Tip and Bud McCracken are neighbors of Fayette Thomas, on Little Mule Creek in Barber Co., Kansas engaged in farming and stock raising. All three of them worked for many years on the old "Spade" range.

Eugene Pardee, for over ten years foreman of the UIN range and famous for making a ride of one hundred and fifty miles on one horse without a single stop, is now a prosperous farmer in Northern Woods Co., near Hardtner, Kansas.

Tom Dyer an old OE "Woolly" is engaged in raising wheat and cattle by the car load, near Capron. His brother Hiram, Dave, Shipman and Charly Marshall, and I think Dick Stevens, are farmes in Chatauqua Co., Kansas. Old "1" (1Bar) Johnson was in Wyoming a few years ago, and there are others equally deservant of mention here but the writer has lost track of them.

Still down in my heart there'll always raise
A Burning sigh and a sad regret,
For the passing away of the other days.
Though all these boys are scattered now
Over the earth and over the sea,
A cherished memory for each of them
Eternity only can wrench from me.
~~~ Denver Boggs ~~~

Alva Pioneer 1904 Links
Agitator & Oklahoma Run
U. S. Land Office
Alva Tidbits of 1903
1904 - Early Recollections
1st Bridge & Frame Building
Oklahoma Broom Corn
Oklahoma Beats the World
Scott Cummins, Pilgrim Bard
Tenderfoot Girl in the West
In Oklahoma - Early 1900 poem
Woods Co. Schools - 1904
Alva Pioneer Staff
1st Newspaper
The Scramble for Land
Eagle Furniture Store & Undertaking
1904 Letter to Editor - John Culver
Summary - Annual Report 1903