July 25, 1996
An item in this column the other day about Mrs. Fannie L. Eisele's booklet, A History of Noble County, reminded Clarence and Jean Koch that they also have a copy of another book, Covington and Community, by the same author. It deals with a large portion of the southeast corner of Garfield county where it borders Noble county. The Covington area history was published in 1952, six years before the other. Mrs. Eisele (her name rhymes with nicely), a resident of Covington, was familiar with the early-day history of both areas. Her family was among the settlers in the Cherokee Strip.
The Kochs, like many of us, are students of this area's history and their roots go deep. Clarence's great aunt, Mrs. Bertha Cawood Koch, is quoted in the Covington book as a source for information about the Potter Christian church. A portion of that reads as follows:
"Potter Christian church was organized at the Potter school house by Rev. Judd in 1900, and services were held there until 1904, when a church was built on the adjacent S.W. corner of the North West quarter of Sec. 26, Marshall Twp., at which time there was an average attendance of about 120. Among many others, a few of the old-time contributors to the church were Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Cawood, Mr. and Mrs. Geo. F. Majors, Mr. and Mrs. O. A. Edwards, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Cox, Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Hebbe, Mr. and Mrs. C. J. Ward, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Shields, Wm. Cawood, Miss Anna Boren, Miss Martha Lloyd, Miss Lida Potter, Mr. and Mrs. A. Koch, Mr. and Mrs. T. Capper, and Mr. and Mrs. A. Pinnix. The present pastor (in 1952) is Rev. Guy George."
In a footnote to the above, Mrs. Eisele wrote: "From (an) account written by Mrs. Bertha (Cawood) Koch, who was a girl of the Potter Community, and who further says there was not room inside for all who attended the first Christmas program at the church."
The Covington book index shows a reference to a Garfield county community known as Billville and I quickly flipped the book open to that page because I remember stopping there one day in the late 1930s while traveling on a Perry school bus with the high school band to the annual Tri-State music festival in Enid. That event always is held in the spring, when the woes of winter weather are usually long gone.
On that particular day, however, the weather turned bad after our bus left the PHS band building for Enid. Snow began falling, heavily, and by the time we reached a certain point on the old two-lane highway U.S. 64 east of Enid our driver could no longer see the road. He stopped at a filling station and called the band director, Bill Sharp, for instructions. Mr. Sharp told him to wait it out and to return home if conditions did not improve. We wound up returning to Perry because of that late winter snowstorm. The filling station where we stopped was Billville, but I believe all traces of it have long since vanished.
I, for one, was extremely happy to return home that day instead of continuing on to Tri-State. Our band was scheduled to march in the annual parade, and my instrument was a Sousaphone, one of those large and heavy circular tubas with a flared adjustable bell, the opening of which was often the recipient of small missiles hurled by parade watchers as we marched by. I could see the possibility of freshly formed snowballs being aimed at that bell, which is shaped rather like a target, with the likelihood of at least a few missing their intended mark and landing in my face just as I was oompahing an important note in one of the standard Sousa compositions in our repertoire. That thought, along with the unexpectedly cold weather, caused me to shudder until the bus driver said we were turning around to go home. I'll always remember Billville.
Mrs. Eisele wrote this about Billville: "Over the hill (Gas, Groceries and Gumption?) began, commenced, started, Etc. by Bill Oldham, in or about 1931: On Hg'y 64, 4 miles (32 Furlongs, 1280 Rods, 7,040 Yards, 21,120 Feet, 253,440 Inches or 760,320 Barleycorns) West of the Garber-Covington Y: and if anything was ever actually and really on the corner of anything, the emporium is strictly on the S.W. corner of S.W. 1-4, Sec. 8, Lincoln Twp." She added this explanatory foot-note: "3 Barleycorns (average length of 3 grains) - 1 Inch; 12 Inches -1 Foot; 3 Feet -1 Yard; 5 1/2 Yards -1 Rod (sometimes Rood, Perch or Pole); 40 Rods -1 Furlong (From Furrowlong - length of a Furrow); 8 Furlongs (320 Rods - 5,280 Feet) -1 Mile." The definition of terms was supplied by Ellis Land & Titles company.
Clarence obtained his copies of Mrs. Eisele's two history booklets from her nephew, Earl Gopfert Jr., a retired employee of the Charles Machine Works, Inc., where Clarence also is employed. The books contain a wealth of information about the Covington and Perry areas and you would enjoy reading them. However, Mr. Gopfert told Clarence these were the last copies available so it may be difficult to track them down. The Perry Carnegie Library has a copy of the Covington history, but it is in delicate condition and available only for reference. The Perry history book is not available at the library at this time. Ernie Hotson, a grandson of Mrs. Eisele, also is a CMW employee.
My thanks to Clarence and Jean Koch for letting me look at these little treasure troves of history.