The Fairvalley Story

6 November 1997, Thursday, compiled 1997 by - Wilma (Benson)Terrill, Alva, OK

The beginning of Fairvalley dates back to 1893, when the country was wide open prairie. Only cow camps were located here and there, and the longhorns roamed the range. The first settlers were Mr. Gerloff and Henry & Frank Clifton and Marion Clothier.

In their first attempt to come, they came to the state line and left their wagons and proceeded on horseback, but the first night they decided to go back and later in the fall they came again and stayed a month, hunted deer, quail and prairie chicken. They hunted south to the sand hills and west to Fort Supply, where they saw many Indians.

They went back to Reno and Stafford Counties in Kansas, but came again in the Winter and filed on their claims. Mr. Gerloff filed on the land where Lynton Gerloff lives. Mr. Clifton filed on the land to the east and south, (the Clifton land is now owned by Lynton Gerloff). Mr. Clothier filed on Anderson Creek. They moved their families to Oklahoma in 1894.

Mr. Clothier's first home was a big tent, followed by a log cabin and dugout, and later a frame house. The lumber for their home was hauled from a mill near Waynoka. Mr. Clothier started the Fairvalley Post Office in the log house in 1896. He had to promise to carry the mail one year free from the Whitehorse Post Office. Whitehorse was northeast of the present Whitehorse (or Teagarden). He carried the mail on horseback.

Bunk Snapp told of his mail box which was a big rock by the side of the road. Mr. Clothier would put his mail under the rock. Bunk came to his homestead in 1895. His daughter (Helen) and grandson (Jim London) still own the land. Jim London, his wife (Deb) and two children (Levi and Randus) live on the home place. It was on the Snapp land that the White Cloud School stood.

Mr. Dave Arndt who lived north of Whitehorse, said he remembered seeing Mr. Clothier going by his place with the mail. Mr. Livingston was the last carrier before the post office was moved to the railroad. He was the father of Arda Earnest.

The country was beginning to settle quite thickly and the post office was moved to George All's in 1898. Mr. All lived at the Big Spring and had a grocery store in a dugout, but later built a two story rock and lumber house and had quite a store. Mr. Clothier had named the post office Fairvalley and while the post office had been discontinued, Fairvalley was known far and near.

Mr. All sold to Mr. Eden, who lived south of Fairvalley. The All family have gone from the area. Mr. and Mrs. Eden raised a fine family of four -- the girls (school teachers) and the boys (Rudy and Ott) were farmers and ranchmen. The girls, Anna Wardell, Clara Knox, Emma Crouse and Lena Rockhold all lived in Alva.

Mr. Hoyle lived north of Mr. All and also had a grocery store and a well of good water. Many hauled water for miles from this well or the Big Spring. What a contrast from the water barrels to now, turn a faucet and have plenty of water.

Mr. and Mrs. Hoyle came from Illinois, most of their children were married. Their oldest daughter (May) and her husband, Herman Devine, had a fine family. Lewis Devine married Lillian Gerloff and they resided on the homestead of Mr. Stockwell. The girls, Ethel Schafer and Loretta Tregalis and a son John lived in Alva. Glen lived in Waynoka and Henry on the homestead.

A son of Sam Hoyle also had a claim. his son (Will) lived near Dacoma. Louisa and John Icke lived just west of the Hoyles and a picture of their dugout and family was in the Woods County News at one time. Louisa often had men for dinner that helped pull broom corn. On the stove would be a big pan of pie mellon butter.

Hattie married Joe Love and sold to Mr. Clothier. Hattie lived near Dacoma. Mr. and Mrs. Icke came with the Hoyles and settled on Anderson Creek. Mrs. Icke and Mrs. Hoyle were sisters. One of the Icke family, Rosa Jones, lived in Missouri.

Then there was Mr. and Mrs. Joe Bickford. Joe was a carpenter and was kept very busy. Sometimes he would be gone two weeks at a time. Auntie Bick (nickname for Mrs. Bickford) helped the little boys with the farming and kept the home fires burning. The boys were fine men. Carl lived on the homestead. Cecil and Otis lived in Freedom and Lester (a minister) in Arkansas.

To the north you would find the Morelands. Another good family. One daughter (Laura who married Will Murray) resided on the homestead and also owned her father's homestead. Three boys (Archie, Sam and Floyd) resided in Freedom, Fern resided in Alva and Ina was in Colorado.

Mr. and Mrs. Melton lived on their claim until the children were grown and began to scatter and go on their own. May, Hattie, and Julia in Colorado. All the boys lived in Colorado except Henry who lived in Alva. They all come back to visit. Mr. and Mrs. Melton lived to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.

Wiley Shorter, with his good wife, both proved up claims; also Millie Newell, a sister of Mr. Shorter.

On up the creek was the Culvers. They too scattered, Jim to Alva, Clarence and Jennie operated Jennie's Grill at Camp Houston.

The Graves family lived east of Fairvalley. Boyd lived in Alva and Myrtle, who married Carl Bickford lived on the Bickford homestead. A sister lived in California and Floyd in Colorado. The homestead is still owned by some of the children.

Jimmie Morris' homestead is still owned by the girls who live in Arkansas.

Mr. Wheat and sons had claims north and east. The grandchildren are all that are left. Lois Davidson lived in Alva. Their place is owned by Coy Phillips.

Mart Benson was an old timer who worked for Wiley Cowan and followed the trail a long time. At one time he wintered on Anderson Creek, then he homesteaded where Iva and Virgil Murrow lived. Mary (the widow of Ralph Benson) lived in Alva. Young Mart lives in Alva, also.

South to the sand hills lived Mr. and Mrs. Badger. Mrs. Badger passed away in 1903. The family did not stay long. Mr. Badger was a musician and lived in Alva. The son (Harry) lived in Denver and Ethel lived in California.

Down on Red Horse Creek you would find Mr. Pine (a brother of Mrs. Miles). He too had a grocery store. The trail to the Red Horse crossing on the river led by his place. They moved to idaho.

Mr. Cooper had a claim and when he passed on Mrs. Cooper proved up the 40 acres and sold to Mr. Miles. The boy (Claude) lived in California. Mr. and Mrs. Knox filed on Wild Cat and later bought the Muchler and the Dora Elder place. The land now belongs to Coy Phillips. The family consisted of Charlie of Orange, Texas; John of Kansas; and Clarence of Freedom. The Earnest lived on the place now owned by a grandson (Gene Earnest) whose son (Gary Earnest) lives there now. The daughter (Lena Selman) lived in Woodward and Elbert in Missouri.

Ed Buckland was an early day settler. The homestead is still owned by Mrs. Buckland. Josie as everyone called her, lived in Waynoka. Two sons are still close to Waynoka and Vera lived in Alva.

The Schoonmaker place belonged to Lloyd Rockhold. The Cornish family have all passed on. The grandchildren are left to represent a good family -- Percy in Houston, Texas; Gene in Enid, Oklahoma and Albert in Texas. Mart Fulton worked on the range and homesteaded where his son Mart lived. Mart followed his father's footsteps and was one of the leading cowhands in this area.

Lige Gaskill lived on upper Red Horse. Lige at one time was a saddle maker but decided the range was better. Mrs. Gaskill lived in Oklahoma City, a son (Ed) had the ranch and another son (Lytle) lived in Illinois.

Down the creek lived Alpha Updegraff and family. They lived on a piece of Margaret Armstrong's place. Mr. Updegraff represented Woods County in the State Senate two terms. Alpha was a great man. He lived in western Kansas where the buffalo roamed then he worked for Major Drummas as foreman. He had a homestead near Carmen. He liked the longhorns better than farming. Aunt Mate Updegraff had a claim and at one time they had a good General Store at Fairvalley. Alpha also had a brother-in-law, Nick Roberts. Nick was quite a sport. He didn't like work but loved race horses. He went back to Illinois.

Mr. and Mrs. McCammon came in 1904. He was a shoemaker and also a good carpenter. Willard and Wilford were the first boy twins to represent Fairvalley. The Vincents had a fine family. Ray married Goldie Clothier and lived in Alva . John in Lakin, Kansas. Mrs. Clothier lived with Goldie.

Virgil Russell and his wife Helen live south of Fairvalley. They represent his father (Rev. Russell) who lived at Cement, Oklahoma. To the East Mr. and Mrs. Elbert Piper had quite an acreage and a lovely home which is now owned by their son and his wife, English and Marceline Piper. Price Fulton was a barber and at the end of five years he moved to Alva. His daughter, Mrs. Margaret Julian lived in Alva.

When you think back to how these families came to these wide open spaces with their belongings, how they left their footprints in the sands of time, you should think of the three first families, the Clothiers, the Cliftons and the Gerloffs. Their first thought was a home, then a school and the church.

The first school was in a dugout on the banks of Red Horse Creek in 1898. Leta Sniggs of Alva was the first teacher. Her term was finished by Malcom Keith and then Iva Temple the next year.

By this time the country was well settled and a new school house built. F. A. Hayes was the teacher with an enrollment of forty pupils. In 1947 this school was destroyed by a tornado and was not rebuilt. There were five students. Four of the students (John Devine, Naoma Devine, Walter Lee Hill and Hugh Leon Martin) were bussed to Freedom. One of the students, Lena Faye Bickford, who had been attending Farry for quite some time was transferred to Farry.

Jesse Clifton who lived in Enid wrote of the early days. "Sometimes strangers would stop for a meal, who they were they never knew. The Cliftons asked no questions and the strangers told nothing. Mrs. Clifton always fixed a good meal." Jesse's only comment was that he always had o run a chicken down. When the strangers left there was always a $20.00 gold piece for Mrs. Clifton.

On a bright sunny morning on Sunday as you neared the school house, which was used as a church, you would see Mr. Clothier with his family in a wagon going to Sunday School and Church. Approaching the school house you would see people coming from all directions, some horse back and some a foot. Mr. Clothier was agood speaker and preached many sermons in different localities.

Many early settlers just stayed the alloted time which is true of all new settlements. Mr. and Mrs. Harrison sold to Joe Bickford. There were the Selby, Cains, Ryans in the Miles domain. The Mapes, Mocks, Muchlers, Bairds, Fairies, Downs, Thomas, Rupes, Guys, Brysons, McCorkles, Stevens and Wardells. Mr. Cooley at the mouth of Anderson creek and before Mr. Cooley there was Mr. Gray that raised sheep. The Longs were where Freedom now stands. They were followed by the Downs. Mr. Carson also had a claim. Mr. Haines sold and went to Kansas. Mr. Farris also lived in this vicinity and farmed. Lee Fairies was there in the year 1912. Lee last lived in eastern Kansas.

There was also a Mr. and Mrs. Ritchey, a couple called Aunt Pete and Uncle Pete. Of the Gays, Lizzie lived in Arkansas. Joe Wadkins helped at the Fairvalley store a long time. Jim Morris came in 1901. Charley Morris' people came in 1910.

In 1919 a new era was ushered in. The ribbons of steel of the Buffalo Northwestern Railway were laid up the broad valley of the Cimarron. After the rails had passed New Fairvalley the town began to prosper. New buildings were erected. There was a store, post office, school, garage, elevator, depot and section house. The railroad employed many men. There was also live stock loading pens for shipping cattle.

The last family to live at Fairvalley were Donald J. Terrill, his wife (Wilma) and daughter (Carol Ann). In 1955 the AT&SF Railroad decided to tear down the bunk house and the Terrill family was forced to move. Donald J. was an employee of the AT&SF Railroad and the family lived in the bunkhouse.