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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Liars All

There was a tide of sightings by people across the country in the 1890's of mysterious "airships" that predated dirigibles and similar flying machines. These have long been used to support the pre-Roswell existence of "UFO's". Other researchers, however, citing the known tendency of some newspaper reporters to be less than truthful, or more kindly put, more inclined to not let an opportunity to pull a prank escape, question the validity of these stories. In 1897 there came a report of a visit of one of these mysterious craft to LeRoy, Kansas.

"An account by Alexander Hamilton of Leroy, Kansas supposedly occurred about April 19, 1897, and was published in the Yates Center Farmer’s Advocate of April 23. Hamilton, his son, and a tenant witnessed an airship hovering over his cattle pen. Upon closer examination, the witnesses realized that a red “cable” from the airship had lassoed a heifer, but had also become entangled in the pen’s fence. After trying unsuccessfully to free the heifer, Hamilton cut loose a portion of the fence, then "stood in amazement to see the ship, cow and all rise slowly and sail off." (Jacobs, 15)."

"In 1982, ....UFO researcher Jerome Clark debunked this story, and confirmed via interviews and Hamilton's own affidavit that the story was a successful attempt to win a Liar's Club competition to create the most outlandish tall tale). "

Once again, we see the "Liar's" angle from Kansas - which must have had a very strong storytelling heritage to support such tall tales and outright lies! One prank or hoax does not necessarily eliminate all such reports, but it does underscore the necessity of doing full background research when looking into any mystery of history.

Read the full and excellent report on the entire mystery airship phenom at
Also, Publications International, Ltd., the Editors of. "The 1897 Cow Abduction Hoax." 07 February 2008. 27 July 2008.

Early judge and newspaperman, David Leahy, spoke in Wichita in Feb. 1903 calling it the "hot air Emporium" and stating that "Wichita sends out more newspaper fairy tales than any place of like size on Earth." He referenced a story where a fake story was supported by forged telegrams and as a result a NY paper was defending itself in court. In another, he told of a tale that a 2 year old had fallen into a bored well and numerous requests for updates flooded the newspaper office. Another tale involved a farmer in the Cherokee Strip and a tornado funnel. According to the Kansas Historical Society, Leahy was an Irish born newsman who was in the first government in Kingfisher, Oklahoma and was in Wichita on the newspapers in 1890's. So, he presents alikely candidate as the "Kansas reporter" for the story of the "all woman town" in Oklahoma . "Wichita's Liars". Oklahoma (Feb. 14, 1903)David Leahy at ewspapers/Leahybio.htm

What Happened to the Vampire?

In 1910 American born sculptor, Kuhne Beveridge shocked the art world with a sculpture of a prostrate male and female nude she dubbed "The Vampire". The work was revealed in Germany, not known for its reserve in modern artistic style. The work was described in almost psychological terms - not strange in the land of Freud - that vampires were not bats or mythic creatures at all. "Are not Carnegie and Rockefeller financial vampires?"......of all the vampires, love, she claimed was the worst....
Beveridge was the daughter of a one-time Illinois Governor and had gained attention with her work in the early 1890's. She had been a pupil of Rodin in Paris. In 1893 she had married Charles E. Coglan in Marion Co., Ind. Later she was to learn he was already married with a family and divorced him. She married again to a Mr. Branson and resided in South Africa. Her step-father was a British aristocrat. Mention is made of her works "Veiled Venus" and the "Rough Riders", but the "Vampire" seems to have disappeared from mention. No image of the once scandalous work seem to be easily available.
Avant-garde her opinions were in 1910, but they are an eerie- and early- echo of more recent works by psychologists concerning the "psychic vampires".
What happened to the statue- an apparent masterpiece by an unique and insightful artist - that caused such a fuhrer in 1910 Berlin? Lost? Destroyed? In a private collection? In an art museum?
("Vampire Stature Shocks Artists". The Oklahoman ( March 13, 1910; pg. 53)
("Women in the Fine Arts" at

There was a tide of sightings by people across the country in the 1890's of mysterious "airships" that predated dirigibles and similar flying machines. These have long been used to support the pre-Roswell existence of "UFO's". Other researchers, however, citing the known tendency of some newspaper reporters to be less than truthful, or more kindly put, more inclined to not let an opportunity to pull a prank escape, question the validity of these stories. In 1897 there came a report of a visit of one of these mysterious craft to LeRoy, Kansas.
"An account by Alexander Hamilton of Leroy, Kansas supposedly occurred about April 19, 1897, and was published in the Yates Center Farmer’s Advocate of April 23. Hamilton, his son, and a tenant witnessed an airship hovering over his cattle pen. Upon closer examination, the witnesses realized that a red “cable” from the airship had lassoed a heifer, but had also become entangled in the pen’s fence. After trying unsuccessfully to free the heifer, Hamilton cut loose a portion of the fence, then "stood in amazement to see the ship, cow and all rise slowly and sail off." (Jacobs, 15)."
"In 1982, ....UFO researcher Jerome Clark debunked this story, and confirmed via interviews and Hamilton's own affidavit that the story was a successful attempt to win a Liar's Club competition to create the most outlandish tall tale). "
Once again, we see the "Liar's" angle from Kansas - which must have had a very strong storytelling heritage to support such tall tales and outright lies! One prank or hoax does not necessarily eliminate all such reports, but it does underscore the necessity of doing full background research when looking into any mystery of history.
Read the full and excellent report on the entire mystery airship phenom at
Also, Publications International, Ltd., the Editors of. "The 1897 Cow Abduction Hoax." 07 February 2008. 27 July 2008.
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Early judge and newspaperman, David Leahy, spoke in Wichita in Feb. 1903 calling it the "hot air Emporium" and stating that "Wichita sends out more newspaper fairy tales than any place of like size on Earth." He referenced a story where a fake story was supported by forged telegrams and as a result a NY paper was defending itself in court. In another, he told of a tale that a 2 year old had fallen into a bored well and numerous requests for updates flooded the newspaper office. Another tale involved a farmer in the Cherokee Strip and a tornado funnel. According to the Kansas Historical Society, Leahy was an Irish born newsman who was in the first government in Kingfisher, Oklahoma and was in Wichita on the newspapers in 1890's. So, he presents alikely candidate as the "Kansas reporter" for the story of the "all woman town" in Oklahoma (see previous entry "Can Any True Thing Come From Kansas.")."Wichita's Liars". Oklahoma (Feb. 14, 1903)David Leahy at
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In 1906, a headline cried "Girl in Red Takes Plunge of 42 Feet on Horse's Back" in Oklahoma City's Colcord Park before an audience of some 2,000. The 2:30 event was part of the grand entertainment of fancy shooting, diving horses, and daring riders, like the girl in red "the bravest girl in the west", riding the diving horses.(Okahoman, Dec. 4. 1906, pg. 5)
"Doc Carver" or "Dr. Carver" had begun the wild west show phenomena in the 1870's, one of his first performers was Bill Cody. His show, in an appreviated format, continued well into the 1930's.
He was well known in Texas as well as nearly everwhere else in the country, ( The girl changed from time to time - which may be why she was whisked away before reporters could interview her in OKC - but all that was needed was the red outfit and a girl with enough bravado, or desperation, to make the jump.
The girl jumping into the tank of water continued with the Dr. Carver show for many years. One young woman in the 1920's missed the water and hit her head, blinding her for life. Yet, she went on to make more jumps and her story is immortalized in the Disney film, "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken."
Thorp, Raymond W. "Wild West" Doc Carver : spirit gun of the West; plainsman, trapper, buffalo hunter, medicine chief of the Santee Sioux, world's championmarksman, and originator of the American Wild West Show".
Buffalo Bill Historical Center at
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SAVE AN AMERICAN CLASSIC: The Arts-N-Crafts Bungalow

In a 1915 edition of the Oklahoman an article stated "100 Homes Built Here During Year: Bungalows Predominate as Type of Construction in Buildings". The hugely popular style was slated to reach 400 in the coming year due to its style, attentions to detail, and its price range of $12,000 to $40,000. There was, quite literally, a style for almost every pocket book. It was the emergence of the American middle class and the "home ownership" movement that merged individualism, modernity (freedom from the stuffy Victorian styles) and a decidedly American equalization of status in society that made these homes real estate winners. Add to that in the coming years the "kit" houses, from Aladdin and Sears, that were easy to deliver, easy to build, and easy to buy and the stage was set for wide spread home building. "On Capital Hill, throughout the precincts of University and Putnam and other additions...their tile, slate, or shingle roofs cover comfort and inviting elegance." The ubiquitous bungalow, so carelessly cast aside and denuded of its many charming and unique features is worthy of salvation through restoration. The bungalow and the larger arts and crafts movement styles were all designed and carried out with charming attention to creating an "atmosphere" of harmony, of integration of nature and art, and a space to feed the inner soul as well as protect the outer being. Bungalows, and the arts and crafts style, can often be identified by signature features: cross gables, exposed rafters, butt outs (dining or breaskfast nook), half columns on the front porch (although some - shudder - have been enclosed or replaced with New Orleans metal work); half columns and book cases dividing parlor and dining/living space. groups of three large windows (bringing light into the house in contrast to the Victorian shadows), large front porches with arbors or open spaces and two small windows on each side of the fireplace (center of the home). So - is your old house a mystery waiting to be discovered? A classic unique to the American experience?
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The death of a child is always a tragedy. They are all gifts from God. When that death is the result of possibly human intervention - it is something so much worse.
In the summer of 1985, July 10, an eight year old boy from a very poor family in Oklahoma City went missing. His young life, and that of his brother, had been haunted by extreme poverty, the social stigma and cruelty that can bring, and related health problems. Often dirty and unkempt and wearing clothes long overdue for a wash, he was laughed at by classmates, ignored by adults, and left to his own devices far too much. Little Robert was starved for affection, yet as cautious as a wily cat who'd had his tale stepped on once too often.
On July 29, his remains, partially buried, were found under a neighbor's garage. The neighbor - who may or may not have been the mysterious adult "friend" that Robert said he was going to see on the day he disappeared - was later picked up in Texas. There he had been in legal trouble over child molestation charges. Brought back to Oklahoma he was charged, and soon confessed, to the murder and burial of young Robert. Later, in 1991, a judge would acquit citing the prosecution had not shown a clear link from the body back to the suspect. At worst, he was guilty of illegally burying a body but no proof had been shown he had committed the murder (or even if there had been a murder and not a natural death).
Did the man initially charged actually commit the murder of an eight year old boy? If this man did not commit the crime - that means someone else did. Someone who, since 1985, as been living somewhere with the knowledge of little Robert's last moments..... For others, like the people who saw him at school (Eugene Field Elementary), or whose hearts were touched by such tragedy in one so young, they can only remember, and mourn, and hope that someday justice will prevail. They had to see an empty desk where a little boy should have been seated for another day of learning. Someday....
[For all children who have been taken by violence - and the people they have left to mourn them - we remember and honor them all.]
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Who was the young woman who dropped dead in 1912 Oklahoma City? She claimed she had once ridden bareback for the famous Miller Brother’s 101 Ranch Wild West Show, yet the manager could recall no one by either name.
She had arrived in Oklahoma City from Chickasha and used two names, Myrtle Rue and Theresa Daffin, while in the City. She told acquaintances at the hotel where she boarded, the Metropole Hotel (315 ½ N. Broadway) that her parents were dead and her only relative was an aunt in England. She had entered the hospital for an operation on an ulcer and dropped dead as she was leaving.The Miller Brother’s 101 Ranch Wild West Show was the first of its kind, it invented the popular notion of the Rodeo enjoyed today. It began as entertainment by ranch hands and quickly developed a life of its own and spawning one-of-a-kind stars. Lucille Mulhall, “America’s First Cowgirl”, who in 1905 won the Vanderbilt Club Medal for being the Greatest Horsewoman in America and African-American cowboy, Bill Pickens. (Sources: Oklahoman; Carlile, Glenda. Buckskin, Calico and Lace.)
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Lost in the Woods

Over the centuries the story has been repeated: a child is lost in the deep, shadowy forests or sweeping wilderness. The parents grief, fear, and guilt. The heroic efforts of searchers and animals tracking the sparse or nonexistent clues. In 1882 the New York Times reported about a little 10 year boy - without hearing or speech - who wandered off into the Pennsylvania forests near Pottsville ("Child Lost 6 Days in the Woods". NYT. July 16, 1882). He ate bark to survive. In 1901, a three year old was lost and report in the Stroudsburg (PA) papers. In 1910, Long Island reported a lost child and in 1929 CT was the scene of searches. In 1939, however, was a spunky little boy in Arizona who at 7 years of age became lost in the Mogollon rim area. He traversed some 30 miles, crossing three "rugged canyons" and was within miles of reaching Heber when hunters encountered the nonchalant child. The boy, said newspaper accounts, asked for a drink of water and, when asked if he was lost, replied he " ...wouldn't want to be lost any worse...I was far enough in the woods this time."("7 year old boy found alive After six days in Wilderness..." Oklahoman, Nov. 5,1939)p.17).
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One of the problems of modern society is that children are often disenfranchised from any roots. They have no sense of place, of their role in the continuing saga of a community, the sense of civic co-ownership is never inculcated into them as it was in previous generations. The result is a rootless, migratory, dislocation that feeds dissatisfaction and leads to a sense of alienation. In researching some locations recently the web page for the OKCPS Eugene Field Elementary was found. It states there the school was "established 1984". This is a clear case of revisionist history. The "school" was established, and originally scheduled to be opened September 13, 1909. It would open with $60.00 worth of textbooks, mission style (Arts and Crafts Movement) furniture, single student desks, and dictionaries for each of the grades through 8th grade.* ("New Buildings Await Opening", The Oklahoman , August 31, 1909, pg. 4). Delays in several school projects (HS, Williard, Putnam ) delayed the opening for about a year ("Accomodation is Schoool Problem", The Oklahoman 9/6/1910 :pg.16). The first principal was scheduled to be M.F. Butler of Aurora, Missouri ("School Notes", The Oklahoma, 6/18/1909, pg. 2).
In the early 1980's it was an overcrowded school in an area bursting at the seams with Asian and Hispanic immigrants. A new school (able to house all these students) was fought for, and won, by parents, community and faculty uniting under the direction of Principal Mrs. Audrey Baker. There was a parade of staff, student Cub Scouts, students painted murals on the soon-to-be-torn down walls, and shovels of dirt were turned by every student on the final days of that last semester (- I know I was there). During the year of construction students and staff were relocated into the old Mayfair Elementary off NW 50th. The present building opened for business in 1984, true, but was merely a new suit of clothes for a historic school that opened a mere 3 years after statehood. The original columns were saved and incorporated into the new design. Colors of earthen greens and browns were chosen for decor that would not become dated and would fit the historic links of the school . A school establish not in 1984 but a school that will celebrate 100 years in 2010!Eugene Field School was named for the American poet, Eugene Field (1856-1895) who was known as the "children's poet" for his delightful writings. There are also Eugene Field schools in Tulsa, Altus, and McAlester. Along, with "Washington" and "McKinley" it is one of the most popular names for schools in the country.
*- This would have consituted about the highest level expected for youth in this time period.
Posted by Word Woman at 8:37 AM 2 comments
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FERINDANDINA : Early European Trading Center

An explorer with the French Colony located in Louisiana is said to have come to an Indian village to trade. The description if Lt. Charles duTisne seems to fit a location on the bank of the Arkansas River six miles east of Newkirk, Oklahoma and along Deer Creek. Archaelogists have unearthed various implements, pieces of French guns, and even a brass piece with the distinctive fluer-de-lis insignia. If this is true it would be possibly the oldest White Settlement in the area of modern Oklahoma. (For further reading consult - and; image courtesy of Cullan Hudson).
Posted by Word Woman at 10:41 AM 0 comments

"Can Any True Thing Come from Kansas?"

Probably...and I can say this because I am a child of the Sunflower State...but apprarently in the early years of the 20th century newspaper men from Kansas were less than truthful. Now, they may have been exercising the fine art of "tall tale tellin'" or they may have been facing a deadline and an editor who did not understand the difficulties of unearthing a story in a small prairie town. This may be the case in a story that is said to be true from the early years of what is known as Oklahoma. They story said to have been written by a Kansas newspaper man in September 1893 when all eyes turned to the opening of the Cherokee Strip in northwestern Oklahoma. The reporter regaled his readers with a tale of a town founded, occupied, and run by women only. "Bethsheba" (some sources say "Bersheba" ) was said to be somewhere between Perry and Enid. The Kansas writer headed south via the rail lines and observed things from a distance. He claimed he had recognized on the women as a fellow Kansan who had married a man only to learn he already had a fine and healthy wife and children elsewhere. The Kansas editor sent the reporter back to do a census and get interviews of the inhabitants of this "gynecaeum"....but the town (or by some reports the inhabitants) were all gone when he returned. They had left word they were going back to the world of men..... (reported feb. 19, 1961 by Robert E. Cunningham in Oklahoma's Orbit). Now, when one balances the claims of editors in Kansas ca. 1910 that more lies had come from Kansas than true just makes you think.
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Fabled Treasure Guarded By Vengeful Spirits . Cullan Hudson of Strange State Blog.A torrential spring rain fell heavily on the men of the Mexican Treasure Exploration Company who, in March 1909, were scouring the banks of the Blue River northeast of Durant, OK. The team hoped to uncover, at last, a strong box laden with gold coins stolen by Mexican outlaws.
At least two cave-ins had occurred, costing the lives of those poor souls trapped in the exploratory shafts. Rumors shuddered through the nervous workers like a chilling game of "telephone". Tales that the treasure was haunted by angry spirits who lost their lives on its behalf.
Legend says the iron-bound chest, filled with gold that would value in today's market at over 1.3 million, has lain deeply buried along this river since 1819. During that time, a gang of Mexican outlaws cut a swath of terror from south of the Rio Grande to southern Missouri. Loaded down with their pricey burden, the outlaws camped along Blue River in present day Bryan County, ten miles north of Durant.
It was here where they were ambushed by angry citizenry. The gang's leader ordered the treasure to be buried in order to hasten their own escape, free from the weighty gold. However, many of the men did not survive the ambush. Those that did, it seems, died later from wounds or were unable to return to retrieve the gold.
The curious legend came alive again nearly 100 years later when the search resumed. Unfortunately, after exhausting all funds and losing several men, the company had to shut down without ever finding the treasure so fervently believed to lie deep within the banks of the Blue River.
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Oklahoma has a notable history of women who early achieved by taking part in the democratic process. KATE BARNARD (1874-1930), who became the first Commissioner of Charities. In 1906, before Oklahoma became a state, she was working at feeding, clothing, and keeping safe juveniles and homeless families in Oklahoma City. As COC she vastly improved the prisons and other agencies dealing with people. An outspoken but very traditional (it has been stated she was not in favor of women getting the vote, and remarked "but since they gave it to her....") ALICE ROBERTSON (1857-1931) became the second woman elected to the US House in 1920. She served only one term but her role was significant. In 1924, IDA M. HALE ran for re-election as Oklahoma County Superintendent (on the Democratic ticket) and her campaign ad cited her "successful record of achievement."(The Oklahoman, Aug. 3, 1914, pg. 15.)
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YALE, OK: Civil War battles, Jim Thorpe & Great Salsa

Sometimes tooling around the back roads can lead to wonderful treasures, history you never knew existed, and sometimes even a mystery of two. Yale, Oklahoma (founded in 1895) is largely known as the birthplace of Olympic great, Jim Thorpe The name is supposedly from the "Yale" lock on the Post Office door (Shirk, George, Oklahoma Place Names. 1965). On a recent trip, with a new and very detailed map, I noticed that just NW was something called "Twin Mounds" and my curiosity peaked. Being an enthusiast of the Archaic period, I immediately wondered if these were "Indian Mounds" - so far west of the noted Spiro Mounds would be fascinating. So I went to the local public library and the helpful staff informed me that the site was the place of a Civil War battle in 1861 and that often local residents would hold re-enactments there. Driving out toward the "mounds" I was immediately struck by how much they resembled "Indian Mounds" in Illinois. I vowed to try and learn more but was unable to locate anything but some mention in the Chronicles of Oklahoma about the battle and the dispute if it was the Yale location or a location at Keystone (the War of the Rebellion report states "Round Mountain" and early maps of the war and post-war show the twin mounds as one feature adding to the confusion). I found very little about any "digs" or other articles to bring it up to date (but I will continue to look). I did find that as early as 1903 railroad reports about trips from Sapulpa to Denison, Texas indicated "Indian Mounds" on the landscape. Noted Oklahoma historian, Angie Debo reported that she had unearthed an 1849 map of the boundaries of the Creek lands that clearly identified in the Yale region "twin mounds" but that later maps had morphed the two into a single "Round Mound." I did, however, learn that "Indian Mounds" may have been initially identified as far west as Scott in Caddo, County. Some may have turned out to be "natural" or geologic mounds...but it is interesting to note that early state historican J.B. Thoburn thought they were so numerous in eastern regions of the state borders as to not even cause comment. In fact near Muskogee one person even refused in the 1920's to allow anyone from the state to exam the mound on their property but demanded it remain intact. It is known from sites in Illinois, Missouri, and Mississippi that such site were often considered "sacred" by early peoples. However, the gaps in the history of the state might be filled with better understanding gained from examining more of these "possible mounds.". Just to the SW of Yale is the famous Ingalls townsite - home of a desperate early day gun battle with famed Doolin Gang members. Further SW is Ripley, home of a mysterious haunted pool (according to early cowboy lore).(Photo of similar mound site in Illinois.)
BATTLE OF ROUND MOUNTAIN , YALE OK and, Angie. The Site of Battle of Round Mound. Chronicles of Oklahoma.
If you happen to travel that way, stop at the Chavas Mexican Resturant, 301 N. Main Street, Yale (918)-387-2203. They make wonderful homemade salsa and a green chili burrito!!! They also have a location in Muskogee.
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The United States is home to many unique buildings - cafes shaped like whales and milk bottles and even UFO's! In Tulsa is an example of one of these out-of-the-ordinary buildings. The Cave House. Visitors can take a tour as well with the inside revealing just as many unusual features. So make plans to drop in and see this strange house and a slice of history as well!
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Emerging from the racism of the early 20th century, came a poet, a teacher, and worker for human rights. He lead a debate team from a "black" college in the era of desperate political, cultural, and racial tensions. Along the path to the historic debate against the national - all-white-champions of Southern California was a stop in Oklahoma. He brought his team to debate against then all-white Oklahoma City University. Later in 1947, he returned to the state to teach on the historic campus of Langston University, the once all black institution of higher learning in Oklahoma. This was the same year that Liberia named him their national poet. He was buried in Guthrie, Oklahoma in 1966. His son would later become the first black instructor on the campus of the University of Oklahoma. In 2008 a film by Denzel Washington, "The Great Debaters", would have to remind most of Oklahoma about this most notable citizen.....Melvin B. Tolson.
The film also featured "Nate Parker, an All-American wrestler at OU" playing debate team member Henry Lowe - Norman Transcript (Feb.2008).
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HATCHET HOUSE: Anatomy of an Urban Legend?
In the early 1990's accounts of a "Hatchet House" with accompanying awful murder and porch painted red to hide "all the blood", began to appear in local OKC newspapers. Soon tales of swings moving in the moonlight.....and ghostly voices of children playing..... began to flesh out the vague and lurid premise. Now, every Halloween local haunters flock to the historic district of the Gatewood Neighborhood to find the notorious house with hatchet cutouts...or the red painted porch....or the driveway where 'they found the body.' This seemed like an easy find....track down the dastardly crime....solve the mystery...provide some background for this legend. So far...however, no such crime has come to light. The area only dates back to the 1920's when it boomed along with various other areas of the city. Its classic hometown feel and its historic homes kept it a special place for many decades. There was tragedy as children, go to and coming from the local elementary school (Gatewood Elementary) were struck by automobiles...a few random crimes....and some natural deaths. Findng a grim and ghastly crime worthy of such a horrific legend....has so far drawn a blank. It is similar to the tale in the Don Knotts comedy, "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" with its tale of murder, blood stained organ keys ("and they used Bon-Ami!"), and generally bad reputation. Unless, and until, something definite is discovered this is no doubt another OKC Urban Legend. So, drive through the area and enjoy the neighborhood that is on the national history registry.....but give the folks there a rest because there is really nothing else to see there.
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In 1922 the community of Caldonia Mills, NS (Antigonish) was stirred by reports of strange manifestations, rappings, spontaneous fires, and other "ghostly" events. The stories led to a Doctor Prince arriving on the island to investigate. UPDATE: Dr. Whittier F. Prince was a member of the American Society of Psychic Research in New York City. Very shortly, however, he was claiming that the girl was the exact same person whom he had investigated some nine years prior in Missoula, Montana when she was nine years old. Raps, bangs, and other manifestations had occurred when Mary Ellen was in a sleep walking type state and Dr. Prince termed it "self-hypnosis". An examination of the 1910 US Census revealed that there was only one "Alex MacDonald" in Montana, aged 20 born in Scotland - so Dr. Prince's claim may be false. To invalidate Prince's claim proof of her whereabouts in 1912 would be needed (census, etc.). Remember too, that Mary Ellen was reported to be 16 at the time of the NS events. A 1922 photo reveals a stocky, mature looking Mary Ellen, as tall as her foster father.
The family in NS said they had never been off the island. The story was picked up by the New York Times, and dozens of other papers across North America. Many others investigated the stories and finally "Mary Ellen Spook" as the woman came to be labeled, moved to central Canada. There were reportedly no further occurances after the island.
To learn more: and
Another NY Times article from 1922 recounts the puzzlement of the Dr. Prince about the whole situation and how it was confounding his ability to solve the problem:
Unanswered questions do remain: Who was Dr. Prince and why was he called in? What is the truth behind the tales of demonic black dogs, mysterious fires, and the like? Who was the family Prince mentions from Missoula, Montana? What do they have to say about the visit of the good Dr. Prince? Did the episodes really stop once she moved away? Who were her birth parents and did those children exhibit any similar manifestations? Was this all the pranks of a bored farmer, or bored young woman seeking excitement? Or, was this a rare experience of some form of special kenetic ability as of yet unexplored?
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Hexes, spells, weird pagan incantations....these were very real things in 1902. Fortune-tellers, seers, mediums, made the circuits of communities just like the patent medicine wagon and the traveling sales man. A clairvoyant going by the name of "Professor William Clements", who sported a black suit and a Prince Albert hat, was in Clay Center, Kansas were he bilked people out of their hard-earned cash through fortune-telling, hypnotism, and acting as medium to the spirit world. He apparently did a booming business among the female population while in town. The fifteen year old daughter of a local farmer went to see the "Professor" several times, then withdrew $500 from the bank, and disappeared. A couple resembling the girl and the man bought train tickets......but were they the same couple? The father was certain the girl had eloped and went to Wichita to investigate, sure that his daughter would only have done such a thing because she had been cruelly mesmerized by the travelin' man...."a voo-doo man."
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THE MYSTERY OF 666: Unusual Utah Grave
It is a mystery that remains elusive.... the mystery in a Utah cemetery. There the grave of a woman buried in 1958 raises more questions than it can answer. The strange inscription "killed by the beast 666" marks the 77 year old woman's resting place.
What does it mean? She left no children and only distant family. No records indicate any details.People have suggested a variety of possibilities: ritual abuse (in 1958 Utah?), Satanic masses, murder by the Anti-Christ, an illusion to man's sinful nature.....No record of who requested the wording has been found to date or a record that she requested that wording. WHO placed it on the stone is a key feature to understanding WHY.
What are some possibilities? She was run down by a car with tags bearing the digits "666". She was run down by a train with an engine number "666". Someone with a badge bearing "666" pushed her into traffic. She was driven insane by illness and was fixed on the apocalyptic prophecies of St. John. Whoever buried her was fixated on apocalyptic literature.
See the stone and decide for yoursefl:
Posted by Word Woman at 5:59 AM 0 comments

In 1926 reports surfaced near Claremore, OK of seeing a strange ruby hued ghost moving through a local graveyard and no one could identify it. Apparently, it had been earlier seen near Nowata and Rogers county. No other accounts seem to mention the ghost and no explanations seem to clearly describe what was seen. It would be easy to dismiss as "tail lights" of vehicles on a nearby road, etc. There is insuffiant data as to the geography of the area to make more than a guess.
Posted by Word Woman at 7:12 PM 0 comments
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Mabel Bassett (1876-1953) is well known for her role as the 3rd Commissioner of Charities and Corrections of the State of Oklahoma - a role she held for 6 consecutive terms (1923-1947). What is not as well known is that from 1910-1914 she served as the Police Matron, and Humane Officer, for the community of Sapulpa, and probation officer for Creek County. She had a deep desire to help those in need, and her life reflects how she tired to help all those around her. Her name is memorialized in the "Mabel Bassett Correctional Facility".
Posted by Word Woman at 7:09 AM 0 comments

Young lovers. Men and women, flirting, stepping into dark shadows entwined and stealing long, sweet kisses. Scandalized citizens, outraged public, and dutiful police officers keeping the streets safe from public displays of affection. Hip-hop couple? Juvenile delinquents from the be-bop generation? Flaming youth of the 1920's? In 1909, Oklahoma City police were called out to complain of the 10-12 couples who almost nightly were taking up residence on the church porch, lawn, and other corners, of the Seventh Day Adventist Church at 217 West 7th. "They bill and coo for hours" was the disgruntled -and envious? - charge of one citizen. Since the front rooms of the church were being occupied by people trying to sleep, such "spooning" was a problem.
Posted by Word Woman at 4:45 AM 0 comments

Move Over Marlow!
What is a mystery without a detective? Philip Marlow move over. A mere four years after state hood the pages of the local Oklahoma city newspapers were filling with commerical ads for "DETECTIVES". Move over Big Apple...or even St. Louis....Oklahoma was in the big time crime fighting market. R.S. Moore and G.W. Morgan managed the "Commerical Detective Agency" on West Grand and they handled all legitimate detective work. They needed to because the hotel on Grand was one of the busiest suicide centers in the city around then (carbolic acid was strangely the method of choice). More in the market for something a little more sophisticated? Try the "Merrill-Staton Detective Bureau" in the Oklahoman Blg. It declared it was the "oldest established and best in the southwest" or the "Western Detective Agency" in the old Campbell Blg. Need more ? Then try the "John Hayes Detective Agency" of Kansas City who opened local offices in the National Bank Blg. and said they handled all types and were open all the time. Of course the most well known - due to its involvement in the high profile Kate James murder - was probably the "Oklahoma Detective Agency" run for a time by one time Federal Marshall, city policeman, and city jailor, Sam Bartell. (Sources: The Oklahoman, July 6, 1910: pg. 13 and other). The state might have achieved statehood when these ads appeared, but it would be a few more years before the region lost the label as the "no man's land" and the "robber's hideout" of its pre-territory "hell raiser" days.
Posted by Word Woman at 7:18 PM 0 comments

Sam Bartell - Pioneer Lawman
Samuel E. Bartell served as Deputy U.S. Marshall from the late 1800's, worked for the early Oklahoma City Police Department, served as Justice of the Peace, and ran for Sheriff a time or two. He hunted down desperadoes , kept the peace, put his life on the line to "protect and serve." In a time when politics and political party affiliations ruled law enforcement, these brave individuals often went in and out of favor, were brought up on charges, discharged, only to be rehired with a change in the political climate. OKC might have been tamed but it was not altogether "civil."
As a U.S. Deputy Marshall, his name appears in several federal court records as witness, arresting officer, etc.
According to U.S. Federal Census records, in 1900 Sam E. Bartell was a 39 year old (born 1861) born in Kentucky who was living at 11 Noble Avenue, OKC. With him was his wife of 6 years, Alto, 21, and three children: Carl (1895), Burnice (1896) and Fae (1899) . In 1910, Deputy Sheriff Samuel E. Bartell, 47, but now listed as being born in Kansas (such mistakes were common on the census), was living with wife of one year, Mary E. 34. With them were Carl 14, Bernice,12 and Fay, 11. According to a news article Sam's father was Inglehart Bartell of California. He may have had a brother who was also living in Oklahoma.
It is known that as early as 1902 Sam Bartell was living in Oklahoma City and in 1904 he was a city police officer with a son named Carl. Around 1905 he purchased the "Oklahoma Detective Agency" and became involved in one of the most notable cases of early day Oklahoma, the kidnapping and murder of young Mrs. Kate James of Weatherford. In about 1910, his wife Mary E. Bartell becomes the Oklahoma City Police Matron and he was serving as a Justice of the Peace at about the same time.
He may be the "Samuel E. Bartell", 85, who died while living at 1428 SW 25 on November 14, 1944 and was buried in Fairlawn Cemetery.---Ongoing Research, Marilyn A. Hudson
Posted by Word Woman at 10:00 AM 0 comments

The following are some of the most common spots listed as haunted in Oklahoma:Ft. GibsonFt. WashitaFt. El RenoBlack Jail - GuthrieKulli Tukilo Methodist Church - IdabelCarey Place - Oklahoma CityKitchen Lake - SE OKC/MWC areaOld women's dorms/ AGR Frat House- OSU, Stillwater"Dead Woman's Crossing" - WeatherfordCounty Line Resturant - OKCOKC Zoo - OKCWalls Bargain Center- ShawneeMusic Store - ShawneeCate's Center - OUTulsa Area:Cain's BallroomBrady TheaterTulsa Little TheaterTulsa Garden CenterSparky's CemetaryRiverside ParkThe Cave HouseThe Gilcrease houseLabadie MansionThe Brady MansionThe Camelot HotelThe Mayo HotelPeace of Mind BookstoreOld Bellview School (Jason's Deli 15th & Peoria)Empire BarBrady MansionHex House LotClub MajesticLola's & Fox HotelPhilbrook MansionThe White House - Jenks, OKDue to significant debunking the following are not listed:Choctaw Library, Choctaw Middle School, Stone Lion Inn
Posted by Word Woman at 7:12 AM 0 comments

Children Saved Train from Doom

In 1907 "Indian Territory",just months before Oklahoma became a state, two children near Henryetta became heroes. A fire burned down the trestle and any train following would crash into the deep ravine. The children, a son and a daughter of Jim Whetstone, raced to a phone to call the station and get word to the engineer. There was no answer so they grabbed two lanterns and hurried to the tracks signaling the oncoming train. The train was stopped, lives and property saved, and the children were awarded $1000.00 each. ("Rewards Children Who Saved a Train." Oklahoman, Mar. 12, 1907,pg. 8).
Posted by Word Woman at 7:05 AM 0 comments

BEFORE SKIRVIN: Early Day Oklahoma City Hotels
Long before the magnificent Skirvin Hotel rose high above the city in 1910, there were hotels that throbbed with adventure, festivity, mystery, death, and scandal in the new community.
According to a 1922 article in the Daily Oklahoma ("Owner of City's Original Hotel, the Pickwick, was Mrs. Wright, Still Here", April 22, 1922, pg. 2), the first hotel in Oklahoma City was the two story PICKWICK HOTEL and it stood, "on the south side of Grand avenue, the third door west of Broadway." It was named for the Fort Worth hotel of the same name. Other early day hotels included: The Grand Avenue, The Arbuckle Hotel, The Compton, The Alamo Hotel, The Weaver, The International Hotel, and in 1902 the Illinois Hotel opened. Later on, but before the Skirvin, the Lee Hotel, would be the talk of the town. Early day newspaper reports would over who was in town, and why, and keep everyone posted of the comings and goings around the town. The hotels were often the scenes of affairs, people also chose to kill themselves (usually by carbolic acid or morphine overdose, less often by pistol). Lovers tracked down errant mates, gentlemen thieves and con artists plied their trades and "Doctors" were frequent guests selling their "patent" formulas.
This website has some excellent images of these early hotels - and many others - before 'Urban Renewal" gutted the heart of the city of its history:
Posted by Word Woman at 5:19 PM 0 comments
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A short history of Police Matrons in Oklahoma City....
Early day law enforcement in Oklahoma City was the rough and ready style of frontier justice: quick, no nonsense, and often unforgiving. Although some claimed the city was "born grown" there is ample evidence that it had more than one struggle to acquire big city ways. Crime was ever present: toughs in town to test the limits of the law, local con artists, town drunks, and small rubes come to taste the delighful sins of the metropolis. There were seldom areas beyond the clear cut "good" and "bad". Yet, with the founding of Oklahoma City, and the subsequent migration into the area by people from all over, this had to change.
Police found themselves frequently dealing with young girls left alone and in danger of "going bad" by falling into the clutches of local madams or procurers. Young innocents were left stranded in city hotels when they realized their Prince Charming was more of toad. The aged and homeless needed care and not punishment. Children were left, abandoned on city streets, to survive as best they could by careless and heartless parents. These were not people that could be slapped into jail. Into this void stepped the "Police Matron" following trends begun in the 1890's in other urban centers. These women first dealt with "feminine" prisoners, but, they soon were branching out to serve as social worker, counselor, and welfare officer as needed.
In 1903 Oklahoma City
Mrs. N.E. (Sarah F.) Bond was hired as a (possibly the first) "female policeman". The next year she attended the "Western Police Matrons Association" convention in St. Louis and saw the development of a 'half-way house" called "Waif's Anchorage". This operated in partnership with the police matron and a local group called "Amie Rescue Home." Youths were given shelter, a job and some skill training. Later that same year, Bond helped uncover an "underground railroad system" for transporting girls from the Depot to a local brothel. In April, when an "Adam God" cult of two men, one woman and a 10-year-old boy (a return to Edenic innocence group) marched nude into a local hotel, it was the police matron who took custody of the youth. In 1905 there was a shake up and temporarily Ensign Nora Hill, of the Salvation Army and an ex-teacher, was named the new Police Matron. Two other women briefly held the position after Hill: Mary A. Parker and Mary C. Clark.
With statehood in 1907 the city formerly adopted the office of Police Matron as an adjunct of the Police Department. Mrs. N.E. Bond was back in place as the Matron and working with state prisons by the next year when she advised Tulsa of adopting a Police Matron as well. She was no doubt a contemporary of the noted Kate Barnard, first woman to hold a state office in Oklahoma and may have been inspired by her in how she shaped the nebulous roel of the Police Matron. In 1909, Mrs. Lilah D. Lindsay, a W.C.T.U. leader, after a suggestion by the OKC Polic Matron Bond, met with the Tulsa City Council about appointing a matron for Tulsa. The name of the woman is not mentioned in sources consulted.
In early 1911 a "white slavery" business was identified by Clark in the city. In 1911, Mrs. Sam Bartell, wife of ex-U.S. Marshall, Deputy, and Policeman, donned a neat navy jacket and skirt with official police buttons and announced herself proud of being an uniformed police officer! In 1912 and 1913, local papers revealed that Muskogee and Sapulpa had their own Police Matrons in place.
Also, in 1912, a woman, former Police Matron Anna Laskey, surprised everyone by announcing she was running for county clerk. In 1914, Police Matron Lena B. Pelley left the position and the office was vacant for a time as fiscal cuts were contemplated. Evidently, it was seen as a crucial part of the work of the police and the city and remained in place.
In 1920, a young girl downed poison in the office of the then acting Police Matron, Mrs. A.A. Rogers. Miss Grace Campbell was the Police Matron by 1923 and her interest in "social welfare" was reflective of both the times and the traditional role of the office.
Sources (in brief):
Daily Oklahoman (1903-1920)
Misch, J.O. "Lilah D. Lindsey". The Chronciles of Oklahoma (v.33).
New York Times (1908)Owens, Ron. Oklahoma Justice: The Oklahoma City Police (1995) [Note: mentions one Police Matron in the 1930's but does have excellent details on women in the OKC police force from 1955 to 1995]
Posted by Word Woman at 5:10 PM 0 comments
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In 1905, Mrs. Katy James and her baby went missing while out in a buggy. Frantic family members searched the area around Weatherford but found no sign of her, the baby, or the buggy. Eventually it came to light she had been murdered by Mrs. Fannie Norton of Clinton, Oklahoma. Her baby had been left with a family. Investigating the disappearance and the murder was the noted Sam Bartell, Deputy Sheriff in Oklahoma Territory and one time U.S. Marshall. Finally, Norton was identified and trackd to Shawnee where she attempted suicide. It was a crime that captured the attention and imagination of the entrie region. Some investigators in years to come would muse that Mr. James, seemed a little distant in the affair and perhaps did not grieve as much as a man in his position might be expected. Rumors of possible divorce and perhaps loss of property and land have been discussed and caused many to wonder if Norton had been hired to do the dirty work, as their appeared so little motive otherwise. Later, pranksters from the local university in Weatehrford would confuse the story and terminally cloud exact locations, the truth of "Dead Woman's Crossings", and generally everything else about the story.
Posted by Word Woman at 4:54 PM 0 comments

In 1907, Oklahoma, local news reported a passenger asked too many questions of a train conductor and was arrested with "insanity suspected." "Don't Question the Conductor." (The Oklahoman, April 20, 1907)pg.5.
Posted by Word Woman at 5:45 AM 0 comments

In 1944, Washington D.C. maritime authorities released the news that "several American merchant ships" had disappeared during the war "without any trace." They could apparently release that they had lost ships, but sstrangely could not release the name of the ships for "security reasons." It was supposed that most had been attacked by submarines and they noted that several U.S. Warships had likewise disappeaed - mostly submarines - but that such was "not unusual." It can only be hoped, for the sake of family and friends waiting at home, that by the wars end, they had a full accounting of all such ships. The truth is that some ships do seem to sail off into the mists and never be seen again. A haunting reminder that life has never been safe or easy for those "who go down to the sea in ships."
Posted by Word Woman at 5:33 AM 0 comments


One of the myths of every Hollywood movie and more than one story is that a haunted house must look the part. Author Ann Rivers Siddon challenged that years ago with a novel, The House Next Door. The story is about a brand new house that from its inception is somehow...not right. It's glossy, modern lines hide a perversion usually only seen in musty, cankered castle walls. Somehow, this genesis in the normalcy of modern life is worse and Siddons work balances the modern complexities and neuroses with ancient fears. Check out a public library, book store, or the book club page for more information.
Posted by Word Woman at 7:25 PM 0 comments


In the years preceding World War II, communities all across the country saw ads in the local newspapers for "mediums", "psychics", "fortunetellers", and "seers". They would sweep into town, rent rooms, publish their ad, and wait for people to show up on their doorsteps. Some were romantic and mysterious figures, draped in veils or sporting fake ethnic origins. While others inferred they had incredible new scientific methods to learn the secrets of the past or the future using 'palmistry' or even 'psychology'! Some were quickly shown the community door as local citizens reported strange thefts or assaults after such a visit. Some, apparently lived quietly and successfully in the community without anyone batting a eyelash. In 1908 New York, several notable society people, mostly women, reported missing money or stolen knowledge (insider trading secrets) after visiting some such establishments. Allegations of hypnotism and worse were lodged against several individuals. All told it was thought they had scammed over $100,000. Such events led to most communities curtailing or outlawing such activities within their city limits and another era passed into the pages of history.....
Posted by Word Woman at 11:31 AM 0 comments

Long recognized as one of the historic gems of the state, the location also has a long history of paranormal stories. As early as March of 1907 a local newspaper recounted people traveling there to view the semi-annual appearance of ghost said to appear the last day of March and the last day of October of each year. On these ocassasions witnesses have claimed seeing a young woman who, when she sees she is watched, will beckon the observer to follow and then disappears as she floats over a spring stream running near the fort. At the same time will be reports of the sounds of horses hoofs as cavalry troops are taking a ghostly ride. The romantic underpinning of the tale involves a young lieutenant from an eastern post sent to the garrison at Fort Washita. Although, to be married in a week, his orders sent him to the frontier and the wedding was postponed. The young man soon became ill and died and the bride-to-be died of grief soon after. The appearances are thought to have been linked to the death of first the young man and then the bride to be. ["Party Will Await Beck of "Ghost"" Romantic Story's Foundation To Be Investigated by the Curious". The Oklahoman (March 17, 1907): 15.]. For more informatio and events go to Ft Washita
Posted by Word Woman at 10:59 AM 0 comments

Not just a story....but a real event in 1954 at the Oklahoma City Zoo. A Pittsburgh County 6th grader from Harper Valley school near Kiowa was left behind when students piled into their cars to head home. With each car thinking the boy was in another vehicle they all wrapped the day up and set off. The 10 year old was taken under the wing of a local police officer until family could come pick the boy up and he enjoyed staying a bit longer in order to have a closer look at the animals. Source: The Oklahoman, April 25, 1954.
Posted by Word Woman at 10:32 AM 0 comments
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In 1947 San Diego a little seven year old girl, Margaret Parker, was crossing the street with a friend when a passing automobile sounded its horn. The child died about 2 hours later due to, said the local medical authorities, being frightened by the blaring the car horn. In 1952, Time magazine would share the findings of a doctor that seemed to support being "frightened to death".
Posted by Word Woman at 3:34 PM 0 comments


The Skirvin Hotel - gem of Oklahoma City for decades and recently reopened in rennovated glory - was inspired by the Southland Hotel in Dallas. Galveston native and capitalist, W.H. Skirvin bought land in 1909 at the corner of Broadway and First in Oklahoma City and announced his plans in 1910 to build a "modern hotel" ("Work Starts Soon on the New "Skirvin House". The Oklahoman. (Feb.27, 1910; pg. 5).
The architect for the hotel, Solomon A. Layton, oved the classical styles and incorporated them into many of his buildings. That location was also where a delapidated landmark was falling down, the old Richardson Real Eatate Office, known from very early days ("Landmark Demolished..." The Oklahoman (May 1, 1910;pg. 39). The Skirvin House was being called the SKIRVIN HOTEL by April of 1911 when a story advertized the "ten-story hotel". It opened September 26, 1911. Within about months additional floors were being added and expansion continued at a good pace. ("Add Five Stories to Skirvin Hotel", The Oklahoman (July 10, 1912:pg. 1). The hotel soon became one of the stellar facility hosting events attended by politicians, the wealthy, and large conventions. As early as 1913, it could honestly claim in its ads that it was "one of the great hotels of America" (The Oklahoman, Dec. 21, 1913:pg. 14).
In 1913, manager Fred Scherubel died, "Health Troubles Cause of Suicide of Skirvin Manager (Oklahoman, April 18, 1913:pg. 1) followed a day later by an article indicating bullet trajectories and other issues had the police looking more closely at the death ("Officers Probing Scherubel Death", ibid, April 19, 1913, pg. 5) and two days later he was "tenderly laid to rest" in full Masonic rite splendor ("Fred Scherubel Funeral" ibid., April 21, 1913, pg. 1).
Is it haunted? Over the years nebulous stories of phantom and frisky ghosts had emerged but lack any real substantive historical basis. Until someone can supply some dates, names, and facts - or can do a quantative study of the facility - they should probably remain in the arena of urban legend.
The hotel is a survivor, a lovely old building that somehow dodged the bullet of the mis-guided movement called "urban renewal" that stole the past from the future.
Some excellent old images of this historic site:
Posted by Word Woman at 2:01 PM 0 comments
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Marketing and publicity are the lifeblood of many projects. In 1918 in Oklahoma City, the Chamber of Commerce was struggling to think of a way to highlight their new waterworks and dam. The City had suffered, in its early years, with massive floods that had devastated wide areas of the community and were justly proud. When they approached the pastor of the First Methodist Church, the Rev. I. Frank Roach, with an idea he turned them down. The idea? Find a couple who wanted to be married and perform the ceremony on the new dam. The reverend said such a frivolous action did not agree with his beliefs about the sanctity of marriage or sacredness of the rite of marriage.
Posted by Word Woman at 1:57 PM 0 comments


Mark was looking forward to playing football in his senior year. The team was in great shape and everything, even the state championship, looked like it was possible. It seemed as if all of his life he had been waiting for this year. He knew he would have the best time of his life. He was dating a beautiful girl named Pam. His grades looked good enough to not worry too much about getting into college. In honor of his soon-to-be-graduating status, his parents had even given him a car. He’d spent hours fixing it up, painting it, and now it was something special.He could hardly wait to take Pam out for lonely romantic drive. He knew just the place too. He’d passed it a few weeks ago on a drive. The road curved and there was a sudden view of a valley filled with black jack oak and cedars. There was even an old concrete road leading down along the hillside to an old bridge. Come fall it would blaze with color – just right for a drive.Soon the days had mellowed into early fall and the year was going just as Mark had thought it would. One crisp, late October afternoon he asked Pam out for a drive and told her about the view he’d found. They packed a picnic lunch and set off on a gorgeous day with a soft, warm sun and leaves blazing with new autumn wear.Carefully he turned off the highway onto the old road, following it for a mile or so until it stopped by the edge of the creek. Old, rusted pilings showed there had once been a bridge arching across to the other side of the water. It seemed they were the only ones in the whole world. For hours they explored the old road, the ragged remains of the old bridge and off one of the trails nearby, still rimmed with wildflowers, they found a perfect place to eat their meal. The view was incredible and as the twilight began to creep closer, they decided to head back to town.The twilight was growing deep and purple as they slammed the trunk down and turned to get in the car. A deep rumbling sound caught their attention and they turned to see headlights speeding down the road. Then they saw a car driving crazily, back and forth, across the dark concrete. Muted sounds, like laughter and cries of fright, sent them scurrying to the side of the road. Roaring past went a dark car, its windows dark, but filling the evening with sound. Sure, that it would run into them Mark grabbed Pam and swung them both off the side of the road.Swerving past them it kept going….right out across the bridge that was no longer there. Yet, for a brief, crazy moment, it seemed to Mark that those car lights illuminated a bridge and a road leading away from the creek. Yet, he knew that could not be the case.A dreadful sound of squealing tires and metal screaming against metal filled the air. The car seemed to do a graceful dive into the ravine, hanging silent in space and then it was gone. A large splash followed its disappearance and then a roar as the car exploded….and finally silence.Mark and Pam climbed back out onto the road.Mark rushed to the tattered edge of the old bridge and searched and searched but saw nothing: no smashed vehicle, no blazing wreck, no injured people. The only things in the ravine were the same things they had seen earlier that afternoon: darkly rusted, half-submerged bridge parts and water bubbling southward through tangled weeds.“How can that be?” a voiced asked nearby. He turned and Pam’s pale face mirrored his own uncertainty and fear. “I don’t know. I just don’t know.”They rushed back to town to find the police. As the story poured out, the officers in the station all paused. Mark could sense them looking silently at each other. Great! Mark though, they think we’re drunk or around the bend crazy. He knew they were not though. He’d felt the wind as the car rushed past them on the bend and the sound of that car exploding still rang in his ears.The officer at the desk, as if reading Mark’s thoughts finally spoke. “Don’t worry about it son. There is no accident…” He held a hand up as he saw Mark start to argue. “At least there is isn’t one now.”One of the other officers took pity on the boy. “There was an accident like the one you describe. It was back in 1957. A carload of teens, drunk, and going way too fast took a one-way dive off the old highway bridge. Every one of them died. It pretty much devastated the town back then. Town missed the state championship that year and never did make it back. Anyway, a few years later the new road swung to the north and the bridge road just wasn’t used much anymore. Except every once and while – in fact seems every year about this time - like they have to relive it or something – somebody sees them going off that bridge. Every year…about this time.”
Posted by Word Woman at 12:49 PM 0 comments

Ghost cars have been around since the vehicle was invented, replacing the ghost carriages and trains of earlier tales. The rational might query how a machine could be a ghost. Several theories, however, offer explanations. One is that extreme emotions can leave an “imprint” on an area or cause certain scenes to replay long after they have happened. This replay is the “ghost” of folklore. Others suggest that tiny rips in fabric of space-time may be responsible, but this does not explain the focused limitation and the repetitive nature of the scenes displayed. Researching “Cry Baby Bridge,” I found a couple of lovely, rusted old bridges that had long been closed and all around them, nature had reached out to reclaim what humanity had carved out. After hearing several “half-tales” about terrible accidents, ghostly bridges and haunted places, the germ of this story evolved.
Posted by Word Woman at 12:47 PM 0 comments


The vanishing hitchhiker may be a tale of truly ancient origins. A Chinese story tells of a ghost of woman killed in a well haunting the travelers along a stretch of road until her body is found. A few stories and poems from the middle ages may also hint at the concept.
A version dated to the civil war was collected in the Ozarks in the late 1800’s. Chicago in the 1920’s with its bootleg, fast autos, and “flapper” lifestyle, saw the rise of the definitive Vanishing Hitchhiker in the form of Resurrection Mary. Through all of these is the thread that the normal (therefore virtuous) present is going to “hell in a hand basket” because of the “loose” and “antisocial” behaviors of the young. They must, the stories all agree, be cautioned and brought back to the “straight and narrow” path of acceptable social behavior.
The Vanishing Hitchhiker motif again achieved great notoriety during the late 1960’s and 1970’s across America, no doubt in response to the cataclysmic social changes occurring in society. The Vanishing Hitchhiker seems to have always had an element of cautionary notice about the shortness of life. In the hippie culture of the 1960’s this aspect was very visible with a few new wrinkles. These disappearing riders were often labeled as runaways, angels, demons, Jesus, and victims of drug overdoses, or serial killers. They reflected the fears in society about the dangers to be found on the road by those who ran away, they reflected the values of the “Jesus People”, and other evangelical movements, and early New Age spirituality in a personification of the rider as a spiritual or mystical figure. No matter when it is found, the story keeps its strong message as a cautionary tale about the safety of the family and of the risks of departures from the social norm.
Oklahoma has reported sightings of a “lady in white” or sometimes the “Lady in yellow” in the Ardmore area and the roads around the lakes. Explanations have ranged from drunken visions to clouds of bioluminescent insects. No images proving the truth of either the claim of the apparition or the insects has been seen by the author. There is also, to my knowledge, no song such as the one described in this story. Every good legend deserves a theme song though.
She is sometimes glimpsed strolling along the old blacktop roadways around the lakes. A few people have described her dress as being slightly in the style of the 1930’s with a longer skirt that flapped about the knees and a cloche hat. Others however have merely cited the faint blurred form or the slightly luminescent image by the roadside in the dusk or evening hours. Who she is and why she walks is apparently unknown. Or, if anyone does know…they aren’t talking
Posted by Word Woman at 12:45 PM 0 comments

THE RIDER. M.Hudson (2005)

“You’ll see me in the twilight, you’ll seem in the gloom;take pity on me as you pass, for you’ ll be here soon.”
It was a soft autumn evening in southern Oklahoma when Brian found himself driving out by the old lake road. The fragment of a song his grandmother used to sing when he’d drive her around the lake kept teasing his memory. Every time he thought he’d caught the end, it dodged away to scamper around his memory. He had remembered sometimes as a boy she’d drive him around the lake taking him to her favorite spots. She’d find a big rock and sit looking out over the shimmering water. Later they’d leave and he’d hear her humming a little tune to herself as they drove along.
Now, trying to remember the song he knew he was just filling time to avoid going home.He was in no hurry to go anywhere. His girlfriend had just dumped him in a grand and public way. He had no urge to face the family and act as if nothing had happened.
The last of the sunshine faded soon, leaving the stand of trees along the roadside in deep inky shadows. He glanced at the gas gauge and knew he couldn’t stay out her much longer. When he saw the flash of white just ahead, though, he slammed down hard on the brakes. Shivering slightly, a young woman, her dress looking damp and far too thin for such a cool night, stood at the side of the road hugging her frail body.
Brian jumped from the truck, hurrying over to where she stood. He looked around but couldn’t see any other cars. “Did you have an accident?”Closer to her, Brian could see beads of water clinging icily to her long hair and what appeared to be bruises in the pale parchment of her skin. What had happened? “Miss, did your car break down? Did it go in the water? Was there anybody else with you?” Brian was distressed by her forlorn appearance and wanted to try and help her.
She looked like she should see a doctor right away. Her silence was as intense as screams and struggles might have been with someone else. He wasn’t sure what to do and felt strangely unable to form a coherent sentence. Finally, he blurted out “Well, can I give at least give you a lift somewhere?” Her pale face lifted for the first time then and her voice was husky and faint, “May I ride with you down the road a bit? This is not a good place to be. I shouldn’t have come. But I want to go now. I want to …I want to leave here.”
“Sure. Sure. Come on and get in. I’ll get the heater going and you’ll be fine in just a couple of minutes.” He felt sympathy for the girl and a strange kinship. Maybe she’d been dumped too. She sure looked the way he felt. He glanced around though because he didn’t want to be in the middle of something if her boyfriend decided to come back. “Come on let’s get you inside. You are freezing.”
He helped her into the cab and then hurried around to the driver’s side to climb in beside his cold and silent guest.“If there was an accident,” he glanced at the bruises and wondered again what might have happened to her,” or something else happened, maybe we should call the police? I mean is there someone still out there on the road? Maybe hurt or something?”
“No one. No one now. I am all alone.”
The words held a tone that sent shivers up his back and he turned the heater up in the sudden chill he felt. Turning back onto the road, he stole glimpses of her as the miles sped past. Despite the heat, she still looked as wet and bedraggled as before. Silent and still she sat for what began to seem like hours to Brian. Starting straight ahead in to the dark road or staring at her pale hands, silence hung around her like a fragile fragrance.
So lovely, Brian couldn’t help but think as he stole glances at her profile. He found himself even wondering if he should ask her for a date. Then mentally kicked himself as he remembered he’d just been dumped. No wonder he’d lost his girlfriend, Brian thought in disgust. Maybe his girlfriend was right and shallow was his middle name. He should not be trying to pick up strange women. Especially bedraggled women who looked like they had swam in an icy pond. Yet, something about her kept drawing his attention and causing strange feelings of protection and concern to bubble to the surface. Maybe she had been dumped too and was hurting as much as he had been. Brian chided his thoughts; not a good time to go hitting on a girl he’d never seen before in his life.
Brian realized he had just had an astounding moment of insight and was puzzled as to where it had come from. Maybe there was hope for him, despite his shallowness. So Brian kept his eyes on the road as the heavy, awkward silence dragged on.
Finally, though, the silence was too much and he bumped common sense out the window to blurt out the first thing that came into his mind. “Did you get lost? Boy, is that easy to do of you are not familiar with the way things are laid out. The signs keep disappearing. Souvenirs I guess. I know them and even I got a confused a time or two and nearly ran out of gas once.”
“I’m trying to get home…I need to get home. It was going to be such a lovely and I had planned so long for it to be special. I had a dress just for it. My mother had saved the longest time to buy it and now….” The voice broke and she turned away to look out into the night. “I just need to see home again.”
The impact of her words was a wave of sadness so thick and strong he felt he might never surface. It threatened to pull him into its heart and hold him under. Strong, manly Brian felt as if he wanted to cry. He thought he had been hurting because a girl he liked didn’t want to see him anymore and had said so loudly in front of their friends. In this girl’s voice was a universe of pain so vast that he knew it had no end. He wanted suddenly to do something out of character, to be the hero, to make it all right for this strange, hurting girl.
Yet, he could say nothing, only gripped the wheel cursing his weakness. He was breathing as if he actually were battling a wave that threatened to shove him face down in the sand and out to the depths of a deep and unforgiving ocean. In the long silence that followed, he struggled at least to give her some small courtesy. His mother had tried to teach him some manners.Clearing his throat, he finally asked inanely, “Would you like some music?”
The seat beside him was empty.
The pickup truck skidded, fishtailing wildly, as Brian braked hard. Heat pounding, he jumped out, stumbling away from the truck, the door hanging open behind him, a mechanical voice repeating “the door is a jar” and filling the night air with its surreal litany. An empty cab was all the overhead light illuminated.Desperately his eyes jerked around, as he ran a hand through his hair, spinning drunkenly around he could see no one. No one. He drew a deep breath and focused, trying hard to figure out just what had happened. Where was she? The truck cab was empty.
How had she gotten out? Where was she!!
The old lake road was dark in both directions. Nearby, frogs were singing in low boggy places. Stars dusted the dark sky. No one else was anywhere close. Dragging a ragged breath, Brian took one last look around, muttered a tiny disjointed prayer, and then climbed back into his pickup. The seat beside him was still empty. Hesitating, he reached out slowly toward where the girl had sat beside him. He placed a hand in the seat and jerked it back as he felt the frigid dampness there.Heading down the road he silently watched the speedometer climb, eager to be anywhere but here along this dark stretch of lake road. As he finally put distance between him and the lake, he suddenly remembered the song his grandmother had song as they drove. Suddenly it made sense.
“You’ll see me in the twilight”, it began, “You’ll see me in the gloom.“Take pity on me as you pass; -for I’m just a poor and lonely lass.”
With a last look in the rearview mirror at the black stillness of the lake road, he shot the truck forward, toward town…and far away from that lonely dark lake road.
Posted by Word Woman at 12:42 PM 0 comments
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There Are Places People Dare Not Go. M.Hudson 2005.
There are places people dare not go. We sense it with shivers and wariness, as we pass that door, orr walk that street, to find our self in that one most particular place.There are places people dare not go.They rest beneath a blanket of sorrow,Yet their restive andRumpled form shows,That it is not a peaceful or a lasting sleep.There are places people dare not go.The gathering places of now and then,The dark nexus ofThere and here,Where light walks and shadow speaks.
There are places people dare not go.Hillsides suffused in pagan light,Feral eyes shimmering bright,Watching and waiting,Ringing the silvered realm, the ancient guardians.There are places,There are paces,There are places people dare not go.There are places we avoid, lonely places that seem to wrap melancholy arms around us. Lonely, often desolate, places’ echoing with whispers of a long ago that lingers on despite time and distance. Shadowed places that reveal themselves only by the light of the dark, we avoid these places. We hitch collars around our ears, duck our heads and quicken our steps as we pass.Without conscience thought, we hold our breath until that place is far behind us. We instinctively cross ourselves, or grip tighter the rabbit’s foot, until the face of the focus of our fear has passed from our view.These are the places we try to avoid…
In a small town with curving streets that speak of another time, a more gracious time, there is just such a place. Some people tell you that houses are born bad…Some people will tell you they are like people…they learn to be bad. They absorb the habits and hungers of their inhabitants like parched ground drinks in a summer rain.
No one could ever say what it was about the house on the corner but through the years, its somber Victorian tones had taken on funereal hues. While other houses sit adorned with leafy trees and flowered shrubs, the growth around this house seemed to sicken and lift fragile bony fingers to the skies no matter what the season. Pale and hazy, as if afflicted with cataracts, its mullioned windows seemed to be hiding dark secrets. Through the years its huge double doors saw a flood of families who moved in with high hopes and quickly left.
People whispered over morning cups of coffee about shrill cries heard in the night. Half-remembered tales from decades before shared over campfires far away from the ears of the children. Most of those who knew the stories seemed eager to forget.
Tales of greed, of malevolent rituals,Of murder…People missing never to be found…Tales of a woman who opened her home with lies on her smiling face and by the light of a feeble lantern buried her guests in the basement. Whispered memories about the two teenage girls who disappeared one fall and how people knew where they were. Of how people had had to force themselves to go there in the night…whispers that recounted creeping into the house, slipping through shadowed halls, and hurrying the girls away.
Dream-like tales - said in voices low and fearful - of shadows fluid as falling water that seemed to dog their steps as they hunted, and were hunted, through those dark rooms. Stories of how when the police finally came calling…well, she was nowhere to be found…she’d fled into the night, they decided, guided only by the dark light of her soul.Now the house stands stark and withered, unable to be a home.
These chill places reek of dark actions and unseemly forces. Or maybe just the twisted desires of the human soul, things dark enough that they poison the atmosphere and sadden the soul.There are places we avoid, lonely places that seem to wrap melancholy arms around us. Shadowed places that reveal themselves only… by the light of the dark.Note: There is a story of a house that once stood in the Tulsa area where dark, satanic rites were performed, and girls went missing. A parking lot is said to now cover the place where the evil house once stood. Local l legend says the place was burned down one night by persons unknown and the land that it had sat upon was salted, the ancient safeguard against horrendous evil.
Posted by Word Woman at 12:39 PM 0 comments

Jacob Mingle, was just a dusty, well-worn old man who barely scraped by and avoided people as much as he could. He lived a life hermited away in the sand hills near Kinsley, Kansas in 1911. He claimed the gift of prophecy. Most just ignored the old man. When Edwards County farmer Paul Reich disappeared, though, he gained attention of a different kind. "You search the house and you will find blood on the telephone and empty shells in the stove." A dog, he told them would lead them to where a body was buried. A large posse of men set out and found the blood stains as predicted and the shells in the stove.....but no dog came to show the way to a grave. Refusing to join the posse, Mingle had, however, drawn a chart marking the approximate location of the grave
Posted by Word Woman at 12:33 PM 0 comments

Many strange stories recount the simplicity and innocence of an earlier day. Some underscore the things accomplished since and some seem to remind of the things lost in the swelling tidal wave called progress. South Central Oklahoma was a hive of change as the oil industry boomed and Healdton would become known as the birthplace of noted television personality, Rue McClanahan. There was a female of note there much earlier however. Meet Miss Annie Browne Dollar, ten-year-old daughter of a carpenter in Healdton, Oklahoma. For twelve days in 1918, she had suffered from some malady that had her in a rigid state, talking only in a whisper. Then one day she was perfectly fine and restored to normal physical activity. There was, however, a new light in her eyes as she shared she had “talked with Jesus” and the “Angles.” Soon she requested a Bible and was soon preaching on the streets, going were the “Spirit” directed. Reading aloud from the scriptures, far above her known reading ability, she would bolding preach the Word of God, and then lapse into the mystery of “unknown tongues”. She seemed very concerned for the soldiers on the battlefield in those days of WWI and felt certain the war would be the last followed quickly by the end of the world. The era was also one that saw a plague sweep across the globe and thousands became ill with Influenza. Searching for more on this amazing story it was learned that Annie Dollar, in 1920 along with a Willie and Vernon Dollar, was an inmate of the Oklahoma Methodist Orphanage in Oklahoma City. It can be assumed that she, like so many other children in this period, lost her father to this illness.
Posted by Word Woman at 12:32 PM 0 comments
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In the summer of 1932 in Joliet, Illinois a strange thing occurred. Soon people passing by the potter's field adjacent to the local prison began reporting hearing singing from the graveyard. Day by day the crowds grew larger as people sought to hear the sounds of the afterlife. Day and night they would await the spectral noise that would reassure them of the soul's eventual abode. Old hymns, latin chants, and odd fragments of music thrlled more than one visitor over the weeks. Then in late July the mystery was solved when it was discovered a trustee from the prison, afraid near the cemetery, was singing to buck up his courage in the spooky place.
Posted by Word Woman at 12:30 PM 0 comments
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A wicked finger of nature spiraled out of a stormy sky and scratched a path of devastation for nearly 200 miles April 9, 1947. Coming out of Texas, crossing into Oklahoma and then finally sputtering angrily out in Kansas this tornado would destroy most of Woodward, Oklahoma and leave several heartbreaking mysteries behind. Several children were unidentified and one kidnapped in the wake of the storm. The unidentified were finally thought to be children of destitute parents unable to afford a funeral - although one girl was a blond 12 year old that none in several surrounding counties and states could identify. Little 4-year old Joan Gay Croft lost her mother in the storm, her father was badly injured and she and a slightly older sister were relegated to the basement of the hospital were the "slightly injured" were kept. In the middle of the night two men in work clothes common to the time period came in and took the girl. She was never seen again. Over the years various children were suspected of being her - especially one case of man who had beaten a little girl in California just a year or so later, but they all turned out to be dead ends. In recent years, several women have come forward as the little girl stolen away that night but so far none appears to have been positively identified using DNA or other tests. In retrospect, given the mysterious dead 12 year old, whom no one could identify, it may be that some sick individuals seeking a " younger replacement" may have taken the little Croft girl. Hopefully ,that was not the case, and she was simply misidentified and taken to a loving and nurturing home all those years ago. Look closely at her face - maybe you can see her in a loving grandmother or neighbor and thus solve a decades old mystery.
The other unidentified children rest in the local cemetary under the same death date as many others, "April 9, 1947". Read more at and
Posted by Word Woman at 12:28 PM 0 comments
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One of the obstacles for anyone doing "serious" research is trying to untangle the truth from layers of obfuscation, confabulations, mixed up memories, and plain and simple tall tale. So how do you identify an urban legend?
Here are some tips:1. Consider its structure. Does it have all the normal "story" components of a beginning, a middle, or an end? Does it have a "punch line"....or a tag line....."no matter how much they tried they could never get the stain out...." Chances are it is an urban legend.2. Watch out for lines just as : 'This is a true story...' or 'This really happened to a friend of a friend' .3. "Only names and places have been changed" have heard the same story before with different little (or updated) details?4. Is there a peculiar lack of details as to names, places, dates, or exact details of the event?5. Can the "facts" be verified in newspapers, books, interviews, etc.
Things to remember:Often hauntings do not have any context; there is no romantic tale of why a ghost is there or what caused the ghost to stay.Satanism, witchcraft, and cults - are not as prevalent as some would have you believe (check with studies by national police organizations and the FBI). There have been more lynchings in this country than the burning of witches at the stake and more accidents than murders.Hauntings or episodes quite often have a "I walked into the middle of something" feel to them when they are real. They do not have a "beginning" or an "end" - they dangle out there in mid event with no why or how and leave the observer scratching their head.
What to Do if You Find It Is An Urban Legend?
Record it - it is a legend in the making and should be preserved. Note its sources, their background, where they heard it, etc. Contact local libraries, history centers, and universities to see if they have any oral history projects collections. If not, offer to start one!
Enjoy it - urban stories are fun, they connect people with some common sense lessons and values, and reaffirm we are all human (thus the wry quality often found in urban legends).
Sometimes - it is okay to just enjoy a good story!
Posted by Word Woman at 12:28 PM 0 comments
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