Archiver > BLACKWELL > 1998-11 > 0910213429

From: Clayton Blackwell <>
Subject: A. J. Blackwell
Date: Wed, 04 Nov 1998 14:03:49 -0700

There has been alot of request for info on A. J. Blackwell lately.
While there is not much genealogical value to it, here is some info on
him and the History of Blackwell Oklahoma from the book "The Last Run -
Kay Co Ok 1893, Stories Assembled by the Ponca City Chapter of DAR"
Courier Printing Company 1939. I just made copies of a few pages and
here they are. Enjoy!

Clay Blackwell

By Mrs. C. R. Bellatti

BLACKWELL, one of the Cherokee Allotments was taken by Andrew Jackson
Blackwell, husband of Rosa Blackwell, an allottee of mixed blood. Andrew
Jackson Blackwell was the prime mover in the foundation of Blackwell and
accordingly the town was named for him.
Colonel Blackwell platted the original town site and recognized the
possibilities of the location. Previous to the opening of the strip,
September 16, 1893, the city had been divided into lots and shortly
after the opening there was a drawing for the lots. The twenty five foot
lots are explained by the fact that a company advertising Blackwell as a
"Garden Spot" sold more certificates than there were lots and the goods
had to be cut according to the cloth, was the answer.
The local post office was founded in 1893, at that time the name was
changed to Parker which only lasted two months, the town of Parker
across the river east threatened Blackwell for a year or so, but high
water and the building of the railroads made the town of Parker quickly
disappear. It was A. J. Blackwell's dearest wish to have the town named
for him.
Lean years, with hot winds and very dry weather prevailed but the
striving settlers who remained had good crops that put them on their
Board sidewalks and cutting across lots, intersections, and hitching
posts were the sights in those days.
The first church built was the Methodist and the second the
Presbyterian. A two story frame school building at first as a meeting
place for the Presbyterian church.
The dedication in 1937 of the Blackwell dam and lake at the site of
early day settlement of Captain David L. Payne to have Oklahoma made
available for the homes for white people.


At the time of the opening of the Cherokee Outlet. or "Strip," I was
living in Winfield, Kansas, and engaged in the real estate business.
Previous to that time I had run a grocery store in Floral, Kansas, and
later a newspaper in Bluff City, Kansas.
In the early part of September, 1893, along with the thousands of
I made my way to the border of Oklahoma south of Hunnewell on the state
line, where the registration was held. During the days preceeding the
opening I made and sold lemonade down the line of runners. There were
long lines of anxious home seekers in a column before the registration
booth. People remained in the line night and day, for fear of losing
their places. A few days before the opening several other booths were
set up relieving the congestion Somewhat.
At the firing of the starting gun, carts, horses and wagons of every
description Streaked across the starting line which extended from the
Colorado line to Arkansas City.
I had planned to make the run on horseback, but just before the
start my father-in-law, F. M. Freeland, who was to make the run in a
sulky, broke the shaft of the sulky. I gave him my riding horse and
joined George Corwin, and starting from Raymond's sheep ranch, made the
run with him. Our only baggage was a lunch kit and a canteen of water.
Standing not ten feet away from me on the starting line was a young
man who was eagerly awaiting the signal. Later I found this man to be
"Ola Goodson" and we became good friends.
I settled on a 160 acre tract on the Chickaskia River just east of
the present townsite of Blackwell. My homestead is part of the original
claim. About three days after the opening, I went to Ferry to register
my claim and file a contest for like most of sites, more than one person
laid claim to it. It later developed that the persons, who also laid
claim to this piece of land, had staked another claim near Kildare so my
right to the land was upheld.
The land comprising the city of Blackwell had all been surveyed
before the opening of the outlet and the town lots were sold about a
month before the opening. Lots were drawn by the purchasers the day
after Blackwell was established.
The first stores in Blackwell were established in tents until lumber
could he hauled in from Kildare and Hunnewell. Several saloons and
restaurants were set up along with the five stores. In the center of
Blackwell Avenue and Main Street the town pump was located and it
remained there for several years.
Sometime before the opening of the outlet, A. J. Blackwell, for whom
Blackwell was named, put up 300,000 tons of prairie hay. Later the
ground was burned off and when the settlers arrived there was no
available feed for their stock, which necessiatated their buying this
hay from Mr. Blackwell at $1.00 and $1.25 a bale.
Our home consisted of one good sized room with a lean-to kitchen. We
were all delighted when our quarters were enlarged by the addition of
the one room house which had been built by one of the contestants. This
became bedroom.
At first a church, built by Mr Blackwell, was used for the union
services. Later the various denominations started churches of their own.

The first school was opened in December, 1893, by Miss Lottie Jerome,
sister of J. D· Winfield. It was a subscription school and was held in
a Lovett Junior High building.
The first entertainment held in Blackwell was a Thanksgiving
entertainment held in what was afterward the Blackwell Hotel built where
the Security Bank now stands. Mr. Blackwell was erecting the building at
that time and it was without a roof but had a floor and part of the
siding on. The Hobbs Building, where the Blackwell Journal now stands,
was the first building in general use for public gatherings.
The first political meeting was held in the O'Hair blacksmith shop
and "Bob" Neff acted as chairman.
Those were exciting times and the murder of Mr. Carver on a farm east
of town and the killing of Dynamite Dick by local officers, together
with the capture of Ben Craven who was badly wounded, stand out in our
memory. Afred Lund was deputy sheriff at that time.
The Blackwell Eagle published by E. A. Henthorne, and Blackwell Rock
Record published by Homer Chambers were the first newspapers and
distributed their first issue on the day of the opening. In October Mr.
Walker published the Blackwell Times and some time later Mr. Blackwell
established the Blackwell Lion. In March, 1894, the Times and the Rock
Record were consolidated and passed into the hands of F. T. Berkey under
the name of The Times Record. One year later I purchased that paper and
continued its publication for nearly twenty years.
In my early years as publisher, I was appointed U.S. Court
Commissioner and spent much of my time proving claims in this vicinity.
(During my tenure of office the Dennis Flynn "Free Homes Bill' was
passed which relieved the settlers of any further payments on their
I received my appointment as postmaster in February, 1908, taking
charge on April 1, and served eight years. During this time I sold my
interest in the Times-Record to T. H. W. McDowell, who had been my
partner for many years.
The first gas well was drilled in the city park, and although gas
was found, the well was soon abandoned and another well sunk on the
Ferry Wheeler farm north of town. The gas from this well was piped to
the various buildings in the town and the Blackwell Mill, one of the
earliest industries to be established here.
After my term as postmaster, I was associated in the real estate
business with J. J. Hermes and continued in this enterprise until 1923
when I retired.
My wife with our four children joined me on our farm in November
after the opening, coming on the train to Newkirk, then by stage the
rest of the way and crossing the Chickaskia by ford. Five children were
born to us in Oklahoma.
A wonderful mother, a true pioneer, she had her full share in the
development of this new country. Shortly after the celebration of our
Golden Wedding Anniversary, she passed to her reward.
The mother of nine children had little time left from the care of
her family, but someway she found time to be a real neighbor to those in
need and do her share in tile women's work in the town.
Of the children. Dwight is City Clerk of Blackwell. Glatys and Laura
at home, Carl secretary and treasurer of the Blackwell Brick Company,
Paul city mail carrier in Blackwell, Beulah, wife of Reverend S. Graham
Fraser. Presbyterian minister of Cushing, Oklahoma.
Glen died on February 22, 1932. Will and Fred operate the Kandall
Brothers Filling Station on East Blackwell Avenue.
I will be eighty years old on September 22 and expect to spend the
rest of my life on the home place.

By Chares Robert Kyger

I was born September 26, 1868 in the valley of Virginia near the little
town of McGaheysville in Rockingham County. My grandfather, Peter Kyger,
was one of the first settlers in the valley.
After my father's death in 1888, I came west with my brother, Thomas
Kyger. He was foreman of the G. M. Carpenter ranch, which was located
twenty miles south of Elgin, Kansas, in what was known as the Indian
territory. If ever there was a homesick boy, I was one. Everything was
so different from the way I had been reared. I'd always heard tales of
the Indians and the wild west, so at night when the coyotes howled the
boys told me it was the Indians. My hair stood on end. There were only
two reasons I stayed. One was, I didn't know the way to town, and the
other, I didn't have the money to pay my way home. Six months passed
before I went back to Elgin, but by that time, I was used to the west
and stayed.
After I had worked on the ranch several years, Mr. Carpenter,
brother Tom and I went over on the Arkansas river, seven miles northeast
of where Ponca City is located, and started the Carpenter and Kyger
ranch. I was foreman and remained there until the strip opened.
I had no intention of making the run until brother Tom came with two
very good horses and insisted we try our luck. I'd let all my men go to
make the race so hired a boy to take care of the ranch during my
A neighbor, Ollie Harris, Tom and I fixed a mess wagon, hired a negro
cook and went through the Kaw country to the Kansas line. We were not
allowed over in the strip so spent the night camped in Arkansas City.
The next day we rented camping ground in Arkansas City where the
Keefe packing plant is located. We had met other friends so there were
nine of us in camp together. At night we had to stand guard over our
horses to keep them from being stolen.
Every day we rode to the state line where the registration booth was
located. Our attempts to register were useless for ahead of us
thousands of people were also waiting to register. They were so black
and dirty with dust, one could hardly have recognized his best friend.

(I didn't write down who this story came from.-CCB)

….A visit to my friend, Mrs. Dora Goodson, near Blackwell in 1898 was
one of the interesting times of my life. We made a trip to Stillwater,
Oklahoma, where her father and mother lived, and her sister, Mrs. E. C.
Mullendore, who had been my bridesmaid. Never shall I forget the
condition of the roads as that time and I like to compare them with the
highways of today. It took us from 5:00 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. to make
that trip of 60 miles and today one drives it in one and a half hours
easily. We had a little black horse named Joe and he was a good one,
We came home through the Osage Nation. Drove miles and miles without
seeing a human being. Nothing but cattle on the range, thousands of
them, it seemed.
One of us wore a red sunbonnet and when those long-horned cattle
came toward us with that "what are you doing here" look in their eyes we
sat on the bonnet. Neither of us was up to bull-fights.
Our horse got sick with colic at Red Rock, then a ranch, and for a
time it looked as though we might have to walk the rest of the way
home. Mrs. Goodson kept up her fine cheerful spirit through it all,
even to the downpour of rain all day.
While in Stillwater we visited Mr. and Mrs. Will Berry, father and
mother of Mrs. Goodson, and our present Lieutenant-Governor James E
Berry, better known to his friends as "Jim."
Mr. and Mrs. Berry have played a big part in the development of both
Old Oklahoma and the Cherokee Strip. They are the grandparents of Mrs.
Lawrence Cannon, who is having much to do with the compiling of this
In 1900 Mr. Dowis and I came to Blackwell to make our home and the
First National Bank came with us.
That bank building and equipment is to me now a tender memory. A
one-story frame building, tin roof, with no windows only in front, and
they would not open. No reinforced steel vaults, no fans or cooling
systems in the summer, no gas furnaces in winter, no electric adding
machines and no posting machines--just plain work, but the friendliness
and confidence of the finest people on earth made us very happy in our
new surroundings. When there was a heavy rain the water came in the
back door and out the front. Sometimes to the depth of three or four
inches. We perched on stools or counters until the flood was over.
Nine saloons, open day and night, with player pianos running full
blast. kept the main street in a very disagreeable atmosphere to most
people. We were glad when statehood was voted by people whose ideals
were above the thing that was bringing sorrow and shame to some of our
There were no brick walks, mostly board ones, and not many of them.
No electric lights, no modern homes, but people were neighborly and
A. J. Blackwell, for whom the town was named, was about the most
important personage around the place and when anything happened he did
not like, he mounted a barrel or box and told the world about it.
Blackwell has grown to a city of more than 10,000 population with

(I also did get the teller of this story.-CCB)

..... the time lived in tents. A large well was dug near the one
building which furnished water for the people and for the bucket brigade
to put out fires.
A. J. Blackwell kept the entire block where the Security bank now is
located, and he evidently was good at figures for he got thirteen lots
out of the block, while the others were divided into twelve. He built a
three story tin hotel where the bank now stands and kept on building one
story buildings until he had the block full. The first brick building
is now occupied by the Leuker Drug Company. My first store was located
where the First National Bank is, and was the next built, with two more
built at the same time directly across the street. We began business
there in December following the opening and our stock came by wagon from
Arkansas City.
Some of the exciting things which happened in those early days, we
now recall with much amusement. We had at that time a fellow here who
claimed to be a regular cowboy. He was trying to hold down a claim
about two miles southwest of town, and on several nights he would come
in to "shoot up" the town. On a certain night, Frank Berkey, who was
secretary of the Winfield Company, and a fellow from Iola, Kansas, were
sleeping on a blanket on the lot where the First National Bank now is.
This man always wore a Prince Albert coat which he rolled up at night
and used for a pillow. Mr. Cowboy came to town that night for some more
shooting, and it so happened that one of his bullets went directly over
Berkey's head and under the other man's head, but through his Prince
Albert coat. The man got up, shook out his coat, and as he looked at
the many holes in it, said, "I'm going home." He did, and, as far as I
know, never came back.
Since those days, I have traveled from coast to coast and I have
never yet seen a place that I like as well as Blackwell.
Yours, as always, for a bigger and better Blackwell.

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