I have done many things, but am an accountant at the present time. I am a member of the Davis Park Christian Church at llth and Chestnut, in Enid.
My parents lived four and a half miles east of Hillsdale, where my father staked a claim. They came here to keep from starving to death. My father was a carpenter. He really was a farmer and lived on a farm more than any other place. He built several houses in the Hillsdale vicinity, and built a house for me, which the church now owns the lots where my house used to be.
The usual days chores consisted of milking cows and farming. Most of my time from ten years of age was spent in the fields as a full hand. I went to school at Pleasant Plains Country School, and had one year in Alva at Northwestern College. I didn't graduate from high school, but I did graduate from business college, in Enid. My father, being a carpenter, built a little house, we called it a house, soon after he landed in Oklahoma in March of 1894. He bought the lumber at what is now North Enid, hauled it from there, and the lumber for that house, 14 X 24, the shingled roof, drop siding, and six inch flooring for the floor, and a small barn, about 12 X 14. He got it all for $85.00, and had a little bit left.
I have a sister- in- law that lives at Ames, whose husband died just recently, and they thought about building a room for her, and it would be a large room, and the estimate for that one room was $13,000.00. Now, that just happened in the last two months. Prices change!
There was my father, my mother, and two boys, and a girl in our family. We lived on the farm east of Hillsdale until 1909, and in October, 1909, we moved to Olympia, Washington, where they both lived until they died. My brother, who was three years younger than I, became a dentist in Olympia, Washington, but he died of throat cancer about 1961. My sister, Ivy, was just two years to the day older than I was, and she died of diptheria, and at the time, they were living in Texas.
About the time my folks left here, in 1909, was about the most prosperous time for them. I was appointed administrator of my father's estate, and in 1920, 1 sold the farm for $15,000.00, which we thought was an enormous price for the farm, but today, it would bring thousands more than that.
We got our first gasoline lamp in about 1930, and our phone in about 1910, I think. The first two years after we came to Oklahoma, there were no crops, but then, in 1897 was our first big wheat crop, and it was a good one. We always had a few chickens, and a garden every year. The first year after the opening of the Strip, my father broke a small field and planted it to corn, and he had a little old planter that would jab into the ground and drop the seed into the ground, but the "dropper" went to the bad, and we children had to go along with him and drop the corn, and then he'd tromp it down. That was in the spring, and in June, my father went back up into Kansas to harvest to get a little money to live on, and as I remember, the 25th of June, a hot wind struck that corn, and in three days it was gone! It just turned white.
We went to Enid to trade. It was thirteen miles. We milked cows, made butter, and we made a trip about once a week to sell the butter and get groceries. We ordered from Montgomery Ward and Company many times.
This was frontier country, and I remember the days of Dick Yeager. I remember when he was caught, and taken to the jail, and my father took me to Enid one day, and we saw Yeager before he died. He was a notorious outlaw. I remember other outlaws, and some of things they did, but never saw any other outlaw than Yeager.
We used to have revivals in our schoolhouse at times, and in 1899, my father had been cutting wheat on the neighbor's place, and he came over onto one of his places and cut about three acres in the evening, and then, he moved south of us, and on Sunday he cut wheat all day. Cut about thirty acres, and we had terrible hailstorm that night, and the wheat that was cut before then we estimated it made about thirty bushels to the acre, and what was cut afterwards was eight to ten bushels to the acre.
We went to the circus in Enid everytime it came to town, and quite frequently, were there in time to see them unload. Thirteen miles to drive in a horse and buggy, big wagon or spring wagon.
We always liked to watch a baseball game, and I still watch them on T. V. Of course, we didn't get T. V. until about 1930.
The Klu Klux Klan was quite active in Enid, and they practiced marching, and one time, they marched right by where we lived on West Broadway. My son was just a little fellow then, and he recognized the voice of the man who was giving the calls, and he said, "Hello, Dr. McIlvoy." Dr. McIlvoy didn't let on like he ever heard him.
We saw very few medicine shows, and I think they were about out of style about the time Hillsdale started. We used to play the little "snipe hunting" game. We framed up on one fellow who thought he was a pretty big guy-- four or five of us. We framed up to get him in a watermelon patch and scare the puddin' out of him. My brother and I took the shot out of several shotgun shells, and then, took our shotguns and waited until he got past us in the watermelon patch, and then, started shooting. The fellow we framed up on started running. One of the other fellows was in on the whole deal, so he ran just a little ways and I caught hold of him and said to call "Fred" back there. So he called him back and I grabbed hold of him and said we could make it pretty hot for him, but if he'd just get out of there and go and keep going, I'd let him go. So he started running. We didn't have but one or two shells left after he started running, so after we had fired them, we opened our shotguns and blew in the barrel, and you could hear us for a half a mile. They said every time we blew in the barrel of the gun that fellow would take a fresh spurt and run a little quicker. There were quite a few parties who went out to get watermelons.
John Newman lived here in Coldwater, and built a store right down by the depot. He was quite a noted guy. Well, kind of a freak. Some of the young people were afraid of him, but I wasn't because I didn't think he was that type of a person. He lived there for awhile, but finally it got so he just came back about once a year. He finally left here about 1910. He was a bootlegger, to tell the truth, and after Oklahoma came in as a free state, a dry state, he would order his liquor and have it come in here by express. He did that for quite sometime after it was a dry state.
At charivaries, they would take tin pans and beat on them, and take a shotgun and set it up on a window sill and fire it. We had a lot of fun.
I call Garfield County my home, and have lived here ever since the spring of '94.
I remember gypsies coming around sometimes, and they were always closely watched. They usually had stuff to sell, printed goods, and such as that. It wasn't too good quality, generally.
I was just a little too old for the draft in World War I, and when they had the second registration, they didn't quite get to my name when the war was ended.
I remember when Hillsdale was first started. It started as the town of Coldwater, then they got the name changed to Hillsdale. It has been under the both names, but was changed to Hillsdale when Santa Fe brought the railroad through here. During the early days, my family found it harder to live than we did later during the Great Depression. Soon after the opening of the Strip, my folks got so hard up they didn't even have enough money to buy a postage stamp. We children had a few pennies we had saved, and it only cost two cents to mail a letter at that time, and the folks got our money to buy postage stamps.
I considered it a good idea for the U. S. to be involved in World War I because it looked like if we didn't fight them then and win the war, they would try to come over here and conquer the United States.
In this immediate neighborhood, it wasn't so bad during the "dust bowl" times as it was farther on west. As I came to the meeting the day the tapes were made for this interview, I came up the paved road past Carrier, and there was one farm over there that was a couple of miles south of Hillsdale, and it was blowing pretty badly. If the dust had been much worse, I don't know whether I would go through it or not. The people fared pretty well back then, but there was a time when everything was so cheap you could get quite a bit for a very small price. You could get a fifty pound sack of flour for fifty cents. You could get cornmeal, a good sized sack of that, for a half dollar. One winter we had what we called a "mush and milk" party at our house. We always had cows and plenty of milk. We made the butter ourselves, and we had that party, and people came from quite a little distance for that day, with no cars at all, people had to go afoot, on horseback or in a buggy, and I remember getting a big sack of cornmeal, and we had a "mush and milk" party in our home. We made mush out of the cornmeal, and ate the mush with milk. We really had kind of a feast, you might call it, and after we had eaten mush for quite awhile, there were a couple of fellows there that had some fiddles, and we had some dancing, square dancing.
There are a few old timers around here, now, but most of them are gone. Harley Hoffsommer was one, Hermie Messenger is another. Of course, they were just boys when I knew them. During the depression years, there were quite a number of them who would go back to their home state for harvest or for any work that they could get. My father went up to Kiowa, Kansas, one winter to husk corn. He never had husked enough corn to make a go of it. He'd have to work hard all day to get a fifty bushel average twice a day. He got two and a quarter cents a bushel for husking that corn. He had to pay for it.
I think F. D. Roosevelt had his good points as well as his bad points. I think socialism is a queer bunch of people. The Socialist Party was pretty active here at one time, and my father belonged to the Socialist Party. They were known as the Populist Party then. Before we left Kansas they had a political meeting in Sterling, Kansas, which was about thirteen miles from where we lived.
My father thought quite a bit about the Populist Party, and we went over there to hear Jerry Simpson speak. He was called "Sockless Jerry", and they claimed he didn't wear any socks.
The W. P. A. kept a lot of fellows out of mischief. They did quite a lot of work-- built bridges, worked on roads. It made employment for a good many people who otherwise would have a hard time getting by. If it were not for Social Security, a lot of people would be on relief today. Some people say it's not a good thing, and it will not last, but the people who are getting the payments an Social Security are sure benefiting by it. When Japan struck at Pearl Harbor, that forced the United States into World War II. I thought the Viet Nam war was started years ago, and the United States would have been better off if they never got into it. There were a lot of deaths from it. It seems like that was one war the United States was supposed to win. "We are all born free and equal" and it's drifting toward women doing more manual work more and more all the time. I read in the paper recently where some women were doing any sort of work that a man was doing. Like on the Alaska pipeline, there were quite a few women working on that. Circumstances alter cases all the time, but I'm sure I wouldn't have wanted my wife to do that sort of work. Strictly speaking, my wife was never strong enough to do anything like that-any heavy work, at all.
I think Oral Roberts is doing a lot of good, but many people don't like what he is doing. I think Oral Roberts has done a wonderful lot. When may wife was alive, we were nearly always up early enough to hear his early Sunday morning service, but I haven't heard it very often since.
My opinion of Governor Wallace is that he is just a radical. I noticed that he was going pretty strong at the primary conventions, and that he led the Democratic ticket at one of the recent primaries.
I admire Chief Justice Earl Warren as a man of great ability, and if he uses that ability in the right way, it would be a wonderful thing.
I think Nixon and Watergate was one of the worst blunders that was ever made. After all, no man can be president and see how everything is done. He's got to depend on other people to do things for him. Whether Nixon knew a lot of these things that were going on, I don't know. Some think he did, and some think he didn't. I liked him very much, and noted that China sent a plane to the U. S. to take Nixon there.
I think George Washington was a wonderful person. He did an awful lot not just when he was president, but at other times. As a general, he was unbeatable.
A short time ago, I heard that Washington knelt in the snow and prayed before some some of those battles, and that had something to do with winning the battle. They used to always open Congress with a prayer, and I always will think it was a mistake when they prohibited reading the Bible and prayer in the schools. I think that's a thing that should be done.
I think we've had good and bad Oklahoma governors. I've grown up with Oklahoma, you might say. I taught school east of Manitou, Oklahoma, and when I started that school, I didn't have a teacher's certificate, so I got a permit to teach until they had an examination. I went on to Fredrick for that examination and was getting pretty well along with it, and I knew the superintendent who was in charge of it, and he asked if my grades were good enough to justify my writing on the other two questions, which were bookkeeping and Oklahoma history. I said, "If I write on them, could you issue me a second grade certificate instead of a third?" You see, they were supposed to start out on a third grade certificate and teach at least one year on it before we were eligible for a second grade certificate. He said that my grades were good enough, and they brought me the questions on bookkeeping and Oklahoma history. So, I passed those tests in good shape and got my second grade certificate.
There were two sides to the Civil War, and again, I feel that prayer should be given credit for some of the decisive battles that the Union won.
I got my first automobile, a Brush Runabout, in 1911. It had no windshield or top, and had carbide lights, which were good when they were good, but they could go out awful quick. I was living in Manitou, Oklahoma, when I bought it, and down there we had what we called the "wide tread highways". Of course, it was just paths,you might say. I told the man I bought it from that I wanted the standard width, which was fifty-six inches between the wheels, and this wide tread was sixty inches, only four inches difference, but I knew I was coming back to this area, where we had just a standard width, and so, I got the standard width on that. Another thing they came equipped with was a twenty- eight inch wheel-- twenty- eight inches to the top of the tire. I asked if the thirty inch wheel was the highest I could get, and it was. Some of the tires were thirty by three inches, and they had some that were thirty by three and a half inches. I got the higher wheels. I had a Model T later, who hasn It had one? The Geronimo Motor Company was started in January of 1917. They were shipping the parts in and assembling them, but they built the bodies right here in the factory in Enid. I drove one of them for eight years. For those days, they were good. We had a few tractors about 1917-18, but they came in awful fast after that. The old saying, "The best is none too good for Charley", well, the farmer would use that old type machinery, but when something better came along, he'd invest in that. It's got up, now, so that it's almost prohibitive to buy that type of machinery, the best that they put out, the biggest. They've got tractors that pull a six bottom plow. I think they are up to eighteen inch plows. Well, six times eighteen would make a strip nine feet wide each time they go around the field, and the tractor will cost thirty thousand dollars, some of them, and these up to date fancy combines, thirty to forty thousand dollars. I often wonder how a farmer can afford to get that high. Machinery, you take, for instance, in the panhandle, there have been several boys to help to do that work. They all got married or went to town and got a job, leaving the father all alone. Well, if he doesn't have this big equipment, he can't farm it all alone, near as much as he can with the later equipment. When I was a kid, I followed a walking plow for many a day. I started following a breaking plow when I was eleven years old. We got a plow, there was two types, a moldboard breaking plow, and the other was called a "rods". It was just three rods to turn the sod over. Well, I used the moldboard plow, but I wasn't big enough to pull it back to make a square turn. I'd have to make the team to turn the plow. I have cut many a shock of corn by hand with a corn knife. Then, we got the sleds, and we had one row sleds, and sometimes, two row sleds. The sled would go down between two rows, and it would take two people to handle it. I've worked on them many a day. We would cut it and shock it, and then, sometimes, it would come along afterwards to cut the heads off to thresh it to get the seeds.
I lived on the farm from 1894 till 1909. Then, my parents left here and went to the state of Washington. I was married, then, and went to work in the bank at Coldwater. When I first started to work here, it was the Bank of Coldwater, and a few years later, they changed it to the Bank of Hillsdale. I worked here one year after they made the change, 1914 was my last year here in Hillsdale. I taught school and then went to work for Swift and Company and worked there a little better than three years. Then, next, I went into the Geronimo Motor Company and worked there about three years. They had a fire and the building burned, and that was the end of the Geronimo Motor Company. Next, I went to work for a construction company, Hyde Construction Company, and they put in pavement. We put in all the pavement east and then, north to Garber. We put in all that, and then, west to the county line. I worked for them about eight years.
My parents had a 160 acre farm. This was the farm my father staked in the Run, and we sold that farm for $15,000.00. 1 wouldn't begin to say what it would bring, now, but it was a good farm. The first two years after the opening of the Strip, 1894, well, three years, in '94, there was no wheat raised here, so, in the summer of '95, there was no crop, and no crop in '96. In '97, was the first wheat crop in the neighborhood. My father made the race and staked a claim four and a half miles east of town. The Cherokee Strip was a strip of land about fifty-seven miles wide and about two hundred miles long. I'm not sure about this. For a long time, it was known as the Cherokee Outlet. It was an outlet for the Cherokee Indiana who were settled east of here over in Osage County, and in there. This was the outlet to their hunting grounds to the west, and then, in March of 1893, Congress passed what they called the Enabling Act, to enable them, to settle it for farming. Then, in September 16, 1893, when they made the race, my father started into the country with a big wagon with four in the big wagon. Well, they didn't think that they could get farms for that many in one group. So, they just drove in about four miles and watched the race through a field glass. A man that had moved our schoolhouse in Kansas where we lived, he had moved a half mile south, and a mile west of its original location. and a few days after he started to move that schoolhouse, he came in one evening with a beautiful black stallion and started training that horse. He'd feed him oats and the very best of feed, and he'd ride him every evening. At first, he rode just a few miles and back, but he kept increasing the distance and the speed of the horse until not too long before the race was made here, he was going about as far as he figured he'd go to a farm that he had located years before that, and that farm was south and east of Pond Creek. Well, when they stopped to watch that race through their field glass, this man would go out of sight, and then, come back into sight. They kept watching, and finally, he disappeared, and they guessed he crossed the Salt Fork. That's the last they saw of him. About a year afterward, that man rode into our place and he wanted my father and those three men that were in the wagon with him to go as witnesses that he was not a "Sooner". A "Sooner" was one of quite a few who came into this territory before the people could get there in the race. Why, they would just stake their place, and they were called "Sooners". This man had his rights contested, as they said it would be impossible for him to get there that quick.
Well, those four knew he'd got there that quick as he had started in front of their wagon, but my father was the only one that went, and the man lost his farm. He could go at a fast run for the full distance. I think they must have had a telegraph line along by the railroad tracks then. Telegraph lines and telephones lines - it has been remarkable the way they have progressed. The first telephone we had was along about 1906-07, and it was a rural line. You'd have to crank it to ring the bell to get the central office, and they'd have to ring whoever you wanted out in the country. Whenever you'd ring for one neighbor, if everybody on the line didn't listen, he wasn't doing what he was supposed to do! That's the way we thought, anyway! There was a good many conversations had over those lines. Sometimes, we'd have trouble getting central to answer.
We lived five and a quarter miles south of Raymond, Kansas, and getting ready for the trip to Oklahoma, we had a hayrack loaded with everything we could put on it, and on the back of the hayrack, my father had built a crate, and it had two gilts in it. On top of that coop with the hogs, we had a dozen chickens in another crate. We hadn't been on the road but a couple of days, and there was a newborn calf there, so we made another crate and put on top of that, yet. And on that hayrack, we had four horses, two on the tongue, and then, we had a chain and hooked two in the lead. The next wagon was the one my father was driving with a team of mares. He had everything he could get in it, including his tool chest, and held built what we called an "overjet" wide enough there that we could put a full sized bedspring in there, and made a bed up on top of that wagon bed. Then, following that was a buggy, a top buggy, and my sister and I, my sister being two years to the day older than I, we were to drive that with an old blind mare pulling it. My sister got to do most of the driving because I would get tired and get out and go with the man that was driving the cattle. We had twenty head of cattle, and a young man driving them, and the first day, we started about the middle of the afternoon and only made four or five miles that afternoon, and it took us ten and a half days to come 150 miles, to be exact on that. Everything went along pretty smoothly. We came to a little town called Ragoo, and we had to cross a railroad track, and the coupling pin pulled out of the coupling pole, they called it, hooking the back wheels on. We were right on that railroad track and my father was afraid a passenger train was coming through there, and everybody worked as hard as they could to get that wagon off that track. We got that fixed and went on, and on Saturday night, the day before Easter Sunday, my father noticed a vacant house with a nice lot where we could put the cattle, and it was just a very good camping spot. So, he called to the man who was driving the rack, he was in the lead, and said we'd have to turn around and go in there to camp. Well, my father wanted to drive the lead team because when they'd turn the lines would get so long you couldn't keep up with them. The fellow said, "Aw, I can drive them." But the lead team went around there too fast and broke the tongue out of the wagon. So, then, we got our supper cooked over a little campfire and my father went back into Harper, Kansas. We were three miles east of Harper, and be got what he called a "rough tongue". The next morning, he got his tool chest out of the wagon and was working there shaving that wagon tongue so he could put it into his wagon. The people were going by there. There must have been as many as a hundred different groups of people go by there, and my father said that he sure did hate to be out there working this way on the Sabbath day, but he believed the Bible said if the ox is in the ditch, it's lawful to take him out on the Sabbath. So, he went ahead and finished that wagon. He'd started the cattle on. This fellow was going to try to get to Bluf f City that day. He told that fellow when he got to a certain place, to turn south to go to Bluff city. It took the better part of a half day to get that tongue so we could start. Well, we started and went on down to Bluff City, and NO CATTLE! So, he said, "Well, that guy is lost, he's taken the wrong road." So, he got on one of the horses and went back and saw where the tracks had gone on east, where he should have turned south. He found him about a half mile down the road. He was in there with the cattle. My father left him there until the next morning and told him to come on up to Bluff City, and we'd wait for him there, and he got there about noon. It was about five or six miles he had to come, you see, so we started on, and he hollered to my sister and me that we were going to cross the line and we'd be in Oklahoma. So, I asked where the line was and would we see it, but there was nothing to be seen. It was just an imaginary line, you see, so we came on into Oklahoma, and stayed all night there just a few miles into Oklahoma, and the next day, we were about ten miles from our destination, and my father had told this boy who was driving the cattle, and I was with him, riding a pony, and he was walking, and he told him that there was a fork in the road up there, but you take the right hand road, and we'll go on and make camp. So, we went on and made camp, and NO CATTLE! So one got on a horse and went one direction, and my father another direction, and this fellow and I were going along, and I was awful happy when we came up on a hill and saw some campers there. I thought it was our people, of course, but it happened to be two strangers. They each had a wagon and they were eating supper, and told us to come on, they had enough for us to eat too. So we ate supper and I was going to sleep in the wagon with one of the men, and this other fellow was going to sleep with the other one in his wagon. I was just crawling into the wagon when my father rode into the camp and said, "Come on, kid, we'll go back to our camp." So, we got up on the high place close to our camp and he had his shotgun with him, and he fired two shots notifying them that we'd been found. But before he left there, he told this fellow,"Now, you just follow this creek and don't you get out of it or you'll get lost again!" So, he didn't get in with the cattle until about 2:30 in the afternoon. So we went back to the camp, and it was cloudy and starting to snow, and the next morning, the old mare we had been driving was down and just couldn't get up. My sister and I had slept in the wagon with our father because it was snowing, and there was a soft snow on the ground, and he said, "There's no use of you kids getting up, yet. I'll call you in time so you can get dressed before we get there." So, we got about 10:30 in the morning, and my mother and brother had come on the from Raymond, Kansas, to Kremlin. My uncle lived five miles east of here and a mile south, and that's where we landed. But the fellow didn't get there until about 2:30 that afternoon with the cattle, and that was the end of our trip, and we were sure glad to see my mother and brother when we got there. I was eight and a half years old at the time, and we had quite a few experiences on the road that I look back on and think how wonderful it was that we could make that kind of a trip. I was stationed at Clinton later on for fifteen months, and during that time I wrote an account of that trip and at the end of it I put a little column, "It took us ten and one half days to make the trip to Oklahoma, and we're living in Clinton, now, which is 150 miles from Enid, and we drive it in two and a half hours." Two different times we have come from San Bernidino to Enid with my oldest daughter and her husband, and that was quite a trip. We enjoyed it, but we'd get tired and change places, and it made a wonderful trip. Most of the time, when I was small, we stayed on the farm, coming to Enid about once a week.
My father was born in Albian, Indiana. They didn't have too many horses in the early days. When my father was a boy,in those days, nearly every family had whiskey in the house, and he was sent to the distillery to get a jug of whiskey. On the road, he met a man. They road along there and visited, and come to find out, they were brothers. When they were small, one had been left with one family, and the other one had been left with a different family. The man that held been riding with, his name was Messermore, and some way or other they'd got my father's name changed to Masemore - from Messermore to Masemore. That way they found out that they were brothers.