April 8, 1997
Jack Cross, one of the city's animal control officers, has been assisting with the demolition of a rather historic house at 703 Grove street, just west of St. Mark's Episcopal church where he is a member. According to local real estate records researched by abstractor Jack Dolezal, the single story frame home apparently was built around 1898 and its attic is yielding some treasures that relate directly to that early period in Perry's history.
Mr. Cross has come across a number of interesting pieces, some printed, some handwritten, as the old house is demolished. "They were buried by an inch or more of dust," he relates. "I didn't know anything was up there at all until a part of the ceiling fell, and these things began appearing." Because they were completely covered, light has not severely faded the covers or the contents and most of the printed matter is very legible. Sadly, though, the paper bags are so dry and brittle that handling them is an extremely delicate job.
With the help of June Ream at City Hall, photocopies have been made of many of the items found in the attic and these can be handled without fear of causing damage. Mr. Cross has encased all the pieces in plastic bags to minimize any loss from perusing them. He's not sure if they have any value beyond sentimentality and he doesn't yet know what the final disposition will be. He'd like to see them preserved somehow and made available for display or for use as resource material by those researching the city's early history.
Jack Dolezal determined that the property belonged to William C. Glenn in 1898, five years after the Cherokee Strip was opened; O. N. Dailey in 1899; H. B. Bullen in 1901; E. C. Coppage in 1919; G. E. Hemsworth in 1923; T. B. Wilson in 1938; the Marchbanks family in 1941; and most recently it has been acquired by the Episcopal church. As removal work progressed, it became apparent that the original house was enlarged by the addition of a room on the east side. Different types of siding and numerous roof coverings were in evidence, also.
An envelope bearing a two-cent postage stamp and the return address of the fourth judicial district United States court is one of the pieces. It was mailed from Newkirk in November 1895 as part of an exchange between W. C. Glenn and a friend in Newkirk. The letterhead shows A. G. C. Bierer was federal district judge and John H. Havighorst was clerk of the court. The brief handwritten message was addressed simply to "Fred," and it reads as follows: "What are Kay Co. warrants worth. There will be $75 to $100 face value worth of Jurors certificates in the Hand case and if they are worth anything I will try and buy them for you (if you want them). Yours truly, W. C. Glenn." The response to that inquiry was also terse and handwritten at the bottom of the sheet: "Dear Will. These are not worth over 50 cents as they will not be paid for some time. Yours, Fred."
Another article is an engraved "programme" (to use the style of that time) for an ambitious reception sponsored by the city of Perry for the executive, judicial and legislative branches of the Oklahoma Territorial government and the Oklahoma Press Association on February 13, 1898. An inside page gives this information about the executive staff for the affair, and several are names connected with early-day Perry. Master of ceremonies was G. W. Pursell; the arrangements committee was composed of James Lobsitz, C. A. Moore, MD, E. D. Nims, C. A. Morris and Richard Nevins Jr. On the finance committee were M. Hurtz, C. A. Volmer, C. H. Wynn, M. C. Ford and Bert R. Greer. The banquet committee included James Lobsitz, M. Hurtz, E. D. Nims, F. S. Wilson and G. W. Pursell. "Citizens and their wives" formed the reception line, and the floor committee was composed of G. W. Pursell, M. Hurtz, C. A. Volmer and F. S. Wilson.
Another equally fancy piece is the cover for the second annual ball of the Governor's Guards and the First Regiment Band of the O.N.G. (Oklahoma national guard?), which apparently was held on Thanksgiving night, November 28, 1895, at McKennon's Opera House in Guthrie. W C. Glenn's name is written across the top of the page.
Perhaps one of the most interesting pieces is the 1897-98 yearbook of the Ladies Tuesday Afternoon Club, Perry's pioneer women's club. It lists the names of members and the program chairmen for each meeting from October 18, 1897, through May 17, 1898. Club members named were Nell H. Glenn, president; Ida R. Museller, vice president; Elizabeth P. Houston; Doll W. Clark, treasurer; Alma Bullen, librarian; Sarah Hudson, Minnie Harris, Annie J. Wade, Emma R. Cummings, Ethelind B. Treeman, Mary Clemmens Drace, Laura M. Welch, Anna McCandless Moore, Mary Paessler, Elizabeth F. Morris, Amy Hayford Osborn, Catherine Murray, Jennie E. Kinnick, Hattie Benight, Emma C. Ford, Minnie Cress, Minnie Tate, Mrs. Coyle and Mrs. Smith (first names not given for the last two ladies).
Thanks to Jack Cross and June Ream for letting me see these interesting articles. They show us a bit more about the life and times of Perry residents in the early years after the great 1893 land opening.