November 5, 1999
In these last few columns I've been relaying information about Perry's first physician, Dr. Thomas McIntyre Cullimore, M.D., and his travail in the great Cherokee Outlet land run of September 16, 1893. More than 100,000 men and women took part in that epic event and each one had a story worth hearing. It is important that as many as possible of those dramatic tales be recorded for posterity so that future generations can appreciate the groundwork laid for them by the noble pioneers who made it possible for the rest of us to enjoy life in this blessed part of the universe.
Part of Dr. Cullimore's story was contained in correspondence I received earlier this year from his great-grandson after Lynn Scott, minister of the First Christian church here, made his acquaintance at an Oklahoma City sandwich shop. Many more details are contained in a 1960 copy of the Oklahoma Chronicles, a quarterly published by the Oklahoma Historical Society. The author of that piece was Clarence Cullimore, the doctor's oldest son. Because of copyright restrictions, only portions of the Chronicles article can be published here. A copy of the 1960 issue is at Carol Steichen's Antiques on the Square shop on the south side of the square.
By coincidence, that same 1960 issue contains another article of interest to Perry residents. The intriguing title of the piece is "Oklahoma's Missing Link," and the author was the later Robert E. Cunningham of Stillwater. Mr. Cunningham was well known here. Some 30 years ago he wrote a short history of this city, "Perry, Pride of the Prairie," and published it in book form. The book is now out of print and no more copies will be published. If you have a copy, hang on to it. The text and photo illustrations are extremely interesting.
Mr. Cunningham was a friend and colleague of mine before his death some ten years ago. His family was in the photo business in Stillwater for several years. Their shop was one of the few in Oklahoma equipped to produce zinc photo engravings for newspaper reproduction. The big city papers had their own engraving departments but papers in towns the size of Perry, Stillwater, Guthrie, and elsewhere, had to use facilities like the Cunningham family's.
Bob Cunningham's article in the 1960 Chronicles is partly the story of W.S. Prettyman, a pioneer in the photographic profession who recorded a great deal of Oklahoma's early history. Bob Cunningham had an excellent collection of them. Mr. Prettyman made many excellent, detailed shots of the actual start of the Cherokee Outlet land rush on September 16, 1893, and you have no doubt seen many of them in galleries, newspapers and magazines. They show buggies, riders mounted on swift ponies, some trying it on foot and others using ingenious ways to reach the promised land of 160-acre homesteads set aside for the run. My thanks to Carol Steichen, Lynn Scott, Bob Cunningham, Dr. Cullimore's great-grandson and others who brought these articles to my attention and helped fill in the blanks. In another Northwest Corner coming soon, we'll tell about the current issue of Oklahoma Chronicles which contains a story about Mamie Hammonds, the "ewe lamb" of Gov. Henry S. Johnston's administration.