November 9, 1999
Perry's first physician, Dr. Thomas McIntyre Cullimore, was battered by angry men when he first staked a contested homestead claim near Perry in the Cherokee Outlet land rush on September 16, 1893. Later that same day he was accosted and pistol-whipped by two other men who disputed his claim at a second site. His two young sons, Clarence, 3, and Reginald, 5, witnessed both assaults as they sat in their father's buggy. The boys finally were able to get their father to the town of Perry, which was settled that same day in the run. Dr. Cullimore and his wife, Mary Joy, who came here later from their original home in Jacksonville, Ill., eventually built Perry's first two-story frame house at Thirteenth and Ivanhoe. He opened his practice of medicine in Perry but his health failed rapidly because of the beatings. After three years he was forced to give up his practice here and tried to recuperate in Colorado and Beatrice, Neb., but eventually he returned to Jacksonville and died there on March 3, 1899, while still a relatively young man.
Unfortunately, we don't know how many babies Dr. Cullimore delivered or how many gunshot wounds he tended during his time here. However, many more details about Perry's first physician are contained in an article that originally appeared in a 1960 issue of the Oklahoma Chronicles from the Oklahoma Historical Society. Carol Steichen of Antiques on the Square recently came across a copy of that publication and shared it with me. It has many fascinating facts about those early days in Perry. The Chronicles is a quarterly publication and it is delivered without charge to members of the Historical Society. You also can find current copies on some newsstands but the surest way to receive it is by joining the Historical Society.
Dr. Cullimore and his two young sons started the run from Orlando, heading north toward Perry. Carol's grandfather, Benjamin Studebaker, also made the run from Orlando and Carol is intrigued by the possibility of a coincidence arising therefrom. "I think it is fascinating that Dr. Cullimore began the run at Orlando," she says. "Maybe his buggy was sitting next to my grandfather." Mr. Studebaker made the run mounted on a slow-moving mule, but he succeeded in staking a claim south of Perry. Its principal topographical feature is still called "Studebaker Hill."
In accounts of Dr. Cullimore's experience, his son, Clarence tells us that his father was a member of the Congregationalist church. He relates that a preacher, whose name and denomination have been forgotten, joined the Doctor and others in his party to make the run. According to the article in that 1960 edition of Oklahoma Chronicles, the preacher was anxious to build the first church here. He told his companions that he planned to conduct a Union Service for several denominations on the day after the run, which would have been September 17, 1893. Since the minister's name and church relationship have now been lost, it's hard to guess who he might have been. However, Rev. Simon Peter Meyers, a Presbyterian preacher, is credited with holding the first worship service in Perry on the first Sunday after the run. Rev. Meyers may have been the Doctor's temporary traveling companion. More on this subject follows shortly.