September 13, 2002
Sometimes I wonder what compels me to spend so much time thinking about and studying and writing about the history, the origins, of this special area known as the Cherokee Outlet. Inevitably I come around to the conclusion that the need for all this was planted in my mind years ago by my family and friends who were a generation or so closer to the Great Run than most of us. I had the privilege of listening to first-person accounts of deeds of derring-do by ordinary people who did not know they would be folk-heroes. Those intrepid early settlers were part of or witnesses to one of the most dramatic stories in the settling of the Old West in this country.
Today my contemporaries and I are the beneficiaries of what those pioneers made possible, and we should know how they lived and worked in those days of daily drama and development.
Often the same question is answered in a different way. On a sultry summer afternoon the other day I ran into three others, quite by chance, who, like me, find the story of the settling of this land to be a classic romance sprinkled with high drama and the gritty determination of men, women and children who had no way of knowing in advance what they were opening themselves to when they lined up for the Cherokee Strip run on September 16, 1893. What they did and what they achieved should be told and retold forever so that every succeeding generation might know and understand. We are so close to history in this state that we sometimes fail to recognize it.
The first of those recent encounters was at the local newspaper office where I saw Carolyn Chopp, whose family credentials easily qualify her as a source of information. She has never stopped adding to her storehouse of knowledge about the early days in Perry. As a retired teacher and a graduate of Perry High School, her special interests naturally lead in that direction. She is assisting in compiling information for a project of the Perry Alumni Association related to the high school’s centennial celebration this year. At this point one of her principal objectives is a photo of the Blaine school as it appeared years ago when it was a separate school for this community. Perhaps someone can help Carolyn with this.
Next was a visit at Perry Carnegie Library with Don Brengle, the retired Airman whose family holds a special place in the early days of this area. Don’s dad, the late Quine Brengle, invariably marched around the square in the annual Homecoming parade with Dr. A.M. Crowder and other members of the PHS class of 1914. Remember Dr. Crowder’s bright maroon pullover sweater with the giant letter “P” stitched onto the front? Quine would have graduated two years earlier but he had been licensed as a pharmacist while still in high school so he worked in various oil patch drug stores around the state before returning home to finish his education. And, of course, he later became a fixture behind the counter at the post office. Quine’s father and uncle both were physicians in this area during the early years of the Cherokee Strip. They were interesting parts of our history and now Don is an excellent source of information about that period.
The third encounter, also at the library, was with David Goss, son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Cyrus Claire Goss. David is working on a book of history with hopes of securing a publisher in the near future. Visiting with him also was a joy, if only for a brief interlude. Many others share in the joy of retelling stories about the “early days” and the people who came here to claim the land.
Such conversations and the mental images they evoke reassure me in a positive way that my own interest in this subject is worthwhile and warranted. I never really doubted it, but it’s nice to have some validation.