The wheat is growing and the mares are foaling (if that is the correct term) here in NW Oklahoma. AND.... April has vanished somewhere along with March, February and January. Have you noticed the quilt pastures of wheat, alfalfa scattered about the countryside lately. Things have a beautiful green to them this time of year. I hope it is a great year for the farmers.
As to new little filly colts, this writer has a new sorrell Grandfilly. Nope! I haven't gotten to touch it yet. But I am working on it. The new addition came on the 29 April 2003. We were out in the pasture in the early evening hours checking the mares for newborn colts and spotted Cindy's new little filly colt. Cindy brought her new little colt up to about 3 or 4 feet in front of me while I was standing out in the pasture trying to get a good photo opportunity of Cindy and her new little filly. Notice the diamond star on the forehead and the white nose area and the curled ears. No! I don't have a name picked out yet. You have any suggestions? I now have a pug puppy named Duchess, a yearling gelding named Li'l Doc, and a two-year-old mare named Kassie. I am taking suggestions on names.
I was in Avard for lunch the other day and ate at this little cafe that is located in the Old Avard gym. In the hallway is a painted back-drop of sorts that was used way back when. What caught my eye was my Uncle Alvin's name on the top, center. Alvin Paris' Insurance AD read, "Alvin Paris - All Kinds of Insurance
- Alvin Paris & Howard Roepke - Bell Hotel Bldg. - Pho. 1 Alva."
I did not realize that Uncle Alvin and Howard Roepke were in the Insurance business together in the Old Bell Hotel Bldg. Notice the phone number. Now that is a short simple phone number to remember, huh?
Besides taking care of my horses, I have been keeping an eye on the westside of the Perry Irons building, on Oklahoma Blvd & 9th Street. The Alva Mural Society has hired Artist Roger Cooke to paint another Northwest Oklahoma scene on another business. This time it is of
the old McKeever Schoolhouse that once stood a few miles west of
Alva. Now the old wood framed, one-room schoolhouse stands at it's
new location on the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Campus,
east of the President's residence. The artist, Roger Cooke, uses
his paint brush to bring to life the scene reminiscent of olden
days when one-room schools dotted the countryside. Cooke has been
working all this week on the McKeever Schoolhouse Mural on
the westside of the Perry Iron's Building on the south side of Oklahoma
Boulevard, in Alva, Oklahoma.
I am still working on the Old Avard Unsolved Mystery of 1956. If you know of someone - run across any information - old news articles and photos, I would love to hear from you. Lots of people that I have talked to have said that this fiery death was no accident. The investigative skills
of 1956 were not what they are today. Will this unsolved mystery
ever be solved? Maybe with your help and sleuthing!
Some of you NW Oklahomans that have been to the Alva Cemetery might
remember a tombstone that looks like a tree stump. Would anyone
out there happen to know more about the story behind this tombstone?
I have a reader that is looking for more information on what this
"Modern Woodsmen" was all about. Thanks for your help
One of my readers intrigued me with yet another mystery that happened
in or around Alva about 1922. Has anyone out there have any clues
concerning this mystery? They said, "No need to bother you
with it 'til you get this one solved." The suspense is intriguing
this puzzle loving writer.
Hope your May Days are terrific and colorful with the wildflowers
blooming with the April rains. See you all next weekend!
Vol 8, Iss 20 [l & r: Woods County map of Twp. 28N-Rge 14WIM] - Where was Oakes land North of Alva? Who owns the Oakes' land now? We looked through our handy "1906 Woods County Atlas" and found where George Oakes owned 160 acres in the northeast quarter of Section 11, Twp 28N, Rge 14WIM. His neighbors to the north were J. C. Martin, Chas. E. Watkins, and L. H. Walton. To the west was Irena Jarred; South, E. A. Higgins, W. F. Reid; and East was L. Kranz.
Miller, Mabel & Spring 1910 Buggy Ride... [r: 1906 Woods County Map - Twp. 27N-Rge 15WIM] -- In the "Old Opera House Mystery" we spoke of a Spring 1910 buggy ride that Nelson Miller and Mabel Oakes took out west of Alva where Miss Oakes allegedly lost her innocense. While we were thumbing through the 1906 atlas we did a search for the parcel of land that Nelson Miller was supposedly inspecting on a Spring, Sunday in 1910 with Mabel Oakes. Miller described the land as 6 miles west of Alva to the southeast corner of the section line. We estimate that would put it about the southeast corner of Sec. 23-Twp. 27N-Range 15WIM, West of the old McKeever School and near the N. B. Litton land. Other owners showing around there were W. T. Abbott and J. M Benton, and T. R. Shirley.
As to Moman Pruiett... Why Did the famous criminal lawyer, Moman Pruiett, take the side of the prosecution in the "Old Opera House Murder?" We are not quite sure of that yet, but Moman's second wife was Leda Sniggs, daughter of the Hon. August T. Sniggs who was residing in Alva, Oklahoma, Woods County during that time, and the sister of Pruiett's junior law partner Victor Sniggs. We suspect that the "Law Enforcement League (Law and Order League)" made Pruiett an offer he couldn't refuse. The League was one of Pruiett's chief hecklers. It was during the another case and defense of Jim Stevenson, Judge Maben, and Agnes Gilbert, Moman had broken the morale of the League. The League was persuaded that they could NOT beat Moman Pruiett and decided to enlist him for $3,000 in cash to go to Woods County to act as special prosecutor in the N. L. Miller vs. State of Oklahoma murder trial. Leda Sniggs and Moman Pruiett were married on July 7, 1903 in Leda's hometown of Alva, Oklahoma, and their marriage lasted forty-one years until her death in 1944. This information came from a book written about Moman Pruiett (He Made It Safe To Murder) by Howard K. Berry, pages 346-352.
Claud McCrory, county attorney (1910)... resigns & vanishes... The county attorney, Claud McCrory, was under pressure by the Oakes family, citizens and Law Enforcement League to quit stalling the case. When Moman Pruiett moved in as a special prosecutor hired by the League, the gang around the courthouse acknowledge that a lawsuit was going to be tried. Claud McCrory resigned as prosecuting attorney, 9 January 1911 when public sentiment had risen that he had to do one or the other -- resign or prosecute Miller. McCrory quit when it appeared that the case was coming to trial. After McCrory quit, he seemed to vanish into thin air. The League hired runners and detectives to find Mc Crory and supoena him as a witness, but to no avail. Who was hiding this ex-county attorney? AND... Why? Stay-tuned for the "Prairie Connection" July/August edition.
George Oakes' Filings of November 9 & 10, 1910... Last week we had a couple of filings that George Oakes had filed back in November 9 & 10, 1910 during the Old Opera House Murder case. We thought that rather strange that the victims family had to file a complaint & warrant to get the authority to investigate and prosecute, but with some other information we found concerning the gang at the courthouse and county attorney Claud McCrory... we think we are beginning to see the "REAL" picture here. BUT... we are not going to divulge too much here until it comes out in the "Prairie Connection's" July/August edition. Stay Tuned!
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Descendant of George Cummins
Vol 5, Iss 14Oklahoma - "I very much enjoyed this
web page. I am a direct descendant of George Cummins. Orange Scott
Cummins was George's brother. My grandma called him Uncle Scott.
am also a direct descendant of Valentine and Parmelia Arndt. It was
told to me that Valentine made the brick and built parts of the "Castle
on the Hill" where my grandma attended Normal School. I will
be bookmarking this page and returning. Thanks for compiling all those
My pioneer families were there in Alva. I
grew up in Alva myself, but married a college student who moved me
to 'Indian Territory.' I live in Fairfax, OK now, in Osage County.
I have read Scott Cummins' book 'Musings' at the Tulsa City-County
Library. Since I requested the book to read, it has since disappeared
from the library. I would dearly love to own a copy. Grandma's mother
(that would have been Mrs. Robert Perry Arndt, who was George Cummins'
dau.) had a copy, but Grandma said that it disappeared when her mother
The Cummins owned property around Winchester,
which is also northwest of Alva, as you probably already know. I have
information on all of these people some of it is on CD-ROM, compliments
of one of my Arndt descendant cousins. The Arndt's were from Lancaster
County, PA. They were brickmakers. They owned several kilns. Jacob
Arndt was also a photographer and a preacher. Jacob was Valentine's
father. They worked to pave highway from Pennsylvania westward. They
moved to Nebraska. Their women didn't like the harsh climate there
and wanted to go back to Pennsylvania, so they sold their kilns in
Nebraska and bought 50 head of horses.
On their way back to Pennsylvania they met
a man at a watering hole who told them they'd never get that herd
back to PA alive, and that what they ought to do was to head South
to the new land being opened in the Oklahoma Territory. That is exactly
what they did. I believe that they didn't get land in the run, but
that they purchased land afterward. Their horses, I believe, were
stolen from them at some point. It seem as if I recall that they either
purchased land or sold land at Tegarden. I cannot recall so much.
This may not be entirely accurate to what I have written down, but
I can get my resources out and check it all, if you want me to.
I do know that my grandmother, Beulah Estella
Arndt, was born in a dugout house, in Oklahoma Territory. Her parents
were divorced while she was a child and she helped her mother to raise
the rest of her brothers and sisters. They lived with her grandfather
George Cummins at that time. She attended McKeever School and then
Normal School. She married Raymond Shafer, whose parents farmed near
her home. He always teased her about being 'a foreigner' since she
was born in the Oklahoma Territory. He was born in Kansas.
Grandma lived through many trials in her
life, and she took them all as well as she could. She was the sweetest
Grandma a girl could ever ask to have though. I loved her very much.
I an currently attempting to write a novel based on the life of my
pioneer Oklahoman ancestors (not entirely factual, but true to their
natures) and I was searching for background information for the setting
and what life was like back in their day. That is how I found your
web page. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I plan to visit the old homesites
sometime this spring, when my Shafer Family has it's reunion the first
of May. I want to take some pictures, so that I may do some paintings
of the places too. I took lessons in painting from John Hayword, when
I was young. He was another of Alva's old timers. Thanks for your
reply and interest in putting the history of my family in your paper.
Vol 13, Iss 37Oklahoma - Info from the book, The First 100 Years of Alva, Oklahoma 1886-1986, by Seekers of Oklahoma Heritage Association -- McKeever School District 23 was located on the SW corner of Section 24, 6 miles west of Alva, Oklahoma.
The first school term was held during the winter of 1894-1895 in the Hulet home, 6 miles west and 1/3 mile south of hwy 64 in Section 25 of the Alva Township.
The Hulet home as a dugout, 12 feet by 18 feet with dirt floors. It had a 4 foot depth with sod laid up 2 feet above that. The roof was made of poles and branches of trees covered with dirt. The McKeever School was earlier known as "North Eagle, District 191.
29th January 1895... The pupils that attended the North Eagle, Dist. 191 school were: Harry Benton, Johnnie Benton, Myrtle Cocohm, Clevie Kinney, Mary Kinney, Tommie Kinney, Amon McKeever, Phebe McKeever, Cora Messmore, Evert Litton, Jim Litton, Thomas Litton, Orwell Shirley, Bertha Smith, Cora Turner, Lola Turner, Bessie Vincent, Cora Wiggins, Della Wiggins, Gracie Wiggins.
Sometime during the 1894-95 school year, Dick McKeever purchased the Hulet claims and donated the SW corner of his SW quarter of Section 24 for a frame-boxed school building that was moved from 4 to 5 miles NW of Alva and placed on the donated land.
The second school term was held in this frame box house that measured 14 feet by 28 feet, with wooden floors with 1 inch by 12 inch planks, and desks that were from the same type of plank. It cost $300 to construct the original part of the school.
The School District changed in 1908 from District 191 to District 23 and was known as the McKeever School. The American Elm trees which encircle the school grounds were set out about 1915 and still line the south boundary of the school yard along hwy 64.
Vol 12, Iss 21McKeever School, Oklahoma - The History of McKeever School, written and researched by Milt Lehr, Professor Emeritus, NWOSU. The Cherokee Outlet of the territory of Oklahoma was opened to settlement by the Land Run of 1893. After securing a homestead, the pioneers' immediate concern was the education of their children. The first schools were often a soddie or log building and later schools were built using clapboard, stucco, of wood and plaster construction.
The one-room school played an important role in educating the children of this state. In 1900 there were 200,000 one-room schools in the United States. In 1897 the Oklahoma Territory had 1,909 organized school districts of which 224 of these school districts with schools meeting an average of 70 days a year. It was not unusual for 40 pupils to attend these schools since farm families were large and each quarter section of land had a family living on it.
Records located in the Woods County Courthouse show that the McKeever school was organized in August 30, 1894, and that its district numbers were both 191 and 23.
School was first held in the dugout home of Mr. and Mrs. Hulet, which was located about one-third of a mile south of the present McKeever school, which is located on the southwest corner of section 24 six miles west of Alva. The dugout home was 12 feet by 18 feet with a dirt floor and was four feet deep into the ground. Sod was laid above the ground two feet deep. The roof was composed of dirt laid over branches and poles.
Click the John McKeever family as written by Dorothy McKeever in 1986 for the Pioneer Footprints Across Woods County history book, pg. 454.
During the 1894-1895 school year, Dick McKeever purchased the Hulet claims and donated the southwest corner of section 24 for a school building.
Maggie Shiel was the first teacher of this school and 23 students were enrolled. Teacher salaries at this time were $20 to $25 per month. By 1902, the salary paid to Nettie Courtner had increased to $35 per month and school was being held for 100 days. The total budget for that year was #311.67, according to Woods County Courthouse records. The value of the school was $600 and other property was valued at $100.
According to a newspaper clipping dated January 29, 1895, and preserved by Harvard and Sue Litton, lifetime residents of a farm home located a short distance north of McKeever school, the first 23 students included Harry Benton, Johnie Benton, Myrtle Cocohm, Glevie Kinney, Mary Kinney, Tomie Kinney, Amon McKeever, Phoebe McKeever, Cora Messmore, Evert Litton, Jim Litton, Thomas Litton, Orwell Shirley, Bertha Smith, Clair Smith, Earl Smith, Melvin Smith, Cora Turner, Bessie Vincent, Dora Wiggins, Della Wiggins, and Gracie Wiggins.
The members of the first school board were Frank Spurgeon, Dale Smith, and Jim Benton. The second term of school was held in a frame box house that was moved to its present site from four or five miles northwest of Alva. This building was a wooden structure 14 feet wide and 28 feet long with a wooden floor made of 1x12 planks. Desks were fashioned from this same kind of wooden boards.
The original building that is standing today was constructed at a cost of $300, which was financed by bonds. All labor was donated by residents of the district except the plastering, which was done by Nick Edwards who was hired to do this work. A. B. Messmore was overseer of the carpentry work. The school bonds were paid off in five years. The American elm trees that encircle the school ground were planted about 1915. The members of the school board at that time were Nate Litton, John Parsons and Clayton Hyde.
The teacher salaries were sometimes paid in cash obtained from donations and some salaries were paid in warrants, which could be cashed at banks for 60 cents on the dollar. Sometimes teachers were paid in sod breaking since most of them owned nearby land or had a claim.
The original building underwent extensive remodeling in 1938 when WPA funds were provided by the federal government to modernize school buildings. A basement was constructed a few feet west of the building and it was then moved overonto the completed basement after the anterooms at the front and a coal bin at the back were removed. A few years later, a highline was constructed nearby along Highway 64 and electric lights were added to complete the modernization.
The teachers of McKeever School were as follows:
Maggie Shiel 1894-1895; May Park 1895-1896; A. C. Parsons 1896-1897; Grace McKitrick 1897-1898; Cora Murray 1898-1900; Birdie Vorhies 1900-1901; Nettie Courtner 1901-1902; W. P. Bosserman 1902-1903; W. J. McGill 1903-1904; Phoebe McKeever 1904-1906; Pete Exell 1906-1908; Agnes Murray 1908-1910; Dena Salesman 1910-1911; Hattie Jarred 1911-1912; Frankie Callison 1912-1914; Lester Maddox 1914-1916; Jess Sears 1916-1917; Homer Bloyd 1917-1918; Margie Callison 1918-1920; Myrtle Martin 1920-1921; Lillie Callison 1921-1922; Pearl Martin 1922-1925; Fay Faulkner 1925-1927; Dolores Fuller 1927-1930; Clara Brown 1930-1931; Helen Tallman 1931-1932; Ada Taylor 1932-1933; Josephine Fisher 1933-1937; Hulda Groesbeck 1937-1939; Hazel Smith 1939-1941; Ruth Frazier 1941-1943; Fay McAlpin 1943-1948.
After the opening of the Cherokee Strip, the rapidly expanding rural school system created a demand for trained teachers. By 1897 there were 1,792 organized school districts in the Oklahoma Territory of which 726 districts with 25,858 pupils were interested in seeing the establishment of a normal school in Alva to meet the demand for qualified teachers.
When Oklahoma became a state in 1907, the school was renamed Northwestern State Normal School (NSN). In 1919 its name was changed to Northwestern State Teachers College (NSTC) and in 1939 it was given the name of Northwestern State College (NSC). Finally, in 1974 it was renamed Northwester Oklahoma State University (NWOSU).
It should be remembered that for most of its history the primary purpose of Northwestern has been the preparation of teachers for schools in this section of Oklahoma.
McKeever school remained in use until 1948 and then served as a community building for several years. In 2000 the school was given to NWOSU by Dean and Patty Nusser, farmer-ranchers, who own the land on which the school stands. Restoration efforts were soon started and the school was moved to its site on the NWOSU campus in the summer of 2001 where it will assume an important role in the preparation of teachers at Northwestern and the education of the public in general to the importance the one-room school played in the education of farm children in early Oklahoma.
[Note by webmaster: There was restoration efforts and repainting going on this summer of 2001, As of this writing, the building is no longer standing on the NE corner of Hwy 64, 6 miles west of Alva. It has been moved to the campus of Northwestern Oklahoma State University, in Alva, OKlahoma. The only reminder that the building existed 6 miles west of Alva on hwy. 64 is the basement left behind. -- LK Wagner]
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NWOSU's Oklahoma Hall Demolition...
Vol 8, Iss 6 As of 5:15 PM today (February 10, 2006, Friday), when I left Alva, the portion of Oklahoma Hall that parallels Oklahoma Blvd., NWOSU NW campus, (I call it the 'north wing') is no longer standing - these photos were taken about 9:15 a.m. this morning. The only part still standing is the 'west wing' that parallels 8th Street... and the crew was still working.
I have also attached a photo of the old McKeever School building that sits adjacent to the old dorm site and just north of the northern entrance to Education Center (or Old Horace Mann School & Jr. High).
The school (McKeever) is the one that Dr. Milt Lehr and Mrs. Lehr worked on for so long and organized the effort to have it moved to the NWOSU campus. It was originally located about 6 miles or so west of Alva.
If you can use any of these, feel free to do so - if not, that's OK, too. I suspect that after this weekend, Oklahoma Hall will be just a memory!