5/28/14

SKIRVIN HOTEL, THE "EFFIE,' GHOST, AND A THEORY

From Oklahoma Paranormal (2008):

"Local historian Marilyn A. Hudson presents an intriguing theory concerning the alleged "Effie" ghost of the
old Skirvin Hotel. Having researched stories and interviewed several people who had worked in the old hotel, Hudson suggests that several "ghosts" of the Skirvin were based on incidences occurring much earlier in OKC history. Failing to find many deaths reported in the famous hotel, she was able to find numerous deaths in hotels that once graced the downtown area: The Grand, The Lee, and others. In 1904, there was a "keeper of a bowdy house" on West 2nd Street who was killed by her husband by the name of "Effie Fisher".

Knowing from other research how easy it is for memory to get tangled and distanced from the facts, Hudson suggests that many of the exciting deaths, suicides, strange visitors, and shootings from the other hotels and "houses" (which may not always have survived) may have been assigned later to the more Gothic and imposing Skirvin. After all, she notes, when a place "looks haunted" people expect to be haunted. An article in the Oklahoman (May 1, 1910) pointed out the construction of the new hotel (then called the "Skirvin House") at First and Broadway was a landmark from the earliest days of the city. On that location had stood the Richardson Real Estate office.

Just in case, if you have first hand experience from someone who worked in the pre-renovation Skirvin use the comments to add your tales.

Some facts:
The original name of the hotel, according to newspaper accounts ,was "The Skirvin House" (1910).
In 1911 - the manager committed suicide and it was investigated as suspicious
Later, (1920's?) a workman fell to his death.
Several people committed suicide - as they did in all the local hotels- most by poison and a few by pistol.
The legend that "Effie" was a mistress kept imprisoned in the hotel is also similar to a tale told about the "Gold Hotel" in Nevada - making it more the urban legend than real tale. In that time period, it was more likely he would have sent away - with a payoff - a pregnant mistress or simply paid for an illegal abortion. If an "Effie" did die - perhaps it was a botched abortion rather than some convoluted prisoner in the hotel scenerio.

The Ghost of the Skirvin Strikes Again?

Recent news coverage has brought new noterity to the story of female spirit inhabiting the now renovated Skirvin Hotel.  

The legend:  A maid, aka "Effie", worked at the hotel and became pregant by someone in management.  She was confined in the hotel and was so depressed after the birth she is said to have both her child and herself out a a tenth floor window.   Stories of her appear to always involve men (I do not think I have ever heard a story involving a woman but may be wrong...), fondling in bed or in the shower and the cries of a child.

Cons: (a) No evidence of such a death has been found despite numerous researchers (myself included) combing through at least one major newspaper of the city. (b) Police I spoke with said they had no records of such a suicide related to the hotel. (c) The rather earthy conduct of the spirit seems in conflict with the innocent maid taken advantage of by a black hearted lover. (d) The story is eerily similar to a tale told in Gold, Nevada at an old hotel there.

Pros: (a) A researcher, many years ago, was approached by a woman who said that the maid was her aunt (or other relative) and that researcher is once more trying to track that line of evidence. (b) Records are often tossed out despite the requirements to keep them. Ask any records management officer.   Absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence.  If the maid was African-American there is ample historical evidence that news about or involving African-Americans was often swept under the rug unless it served some purpose of stirring up racism or criminal activity (during the 1920's-1930's in OK the KKK was VERY dominant in communities and government).  In unrelated research, I have encountered crimes that were conducted against African-Americans that were under reported or ignored.  Given the combination of power and money it is entirely possible a crime or a suicide might have been unreported or reported in a different manner. An example might be a woman who killed herself by jumping from her lover's office.  She might find her body moved to a railroad crossing or a bridge thus removing her from the neighborhood of her lover and his public image. Searches into newspapers and diaries of local African Americans might be a better means of identifying the woman. (c) The consistency of the reportings may hint at several spirits rather than a single entity. We like to combine things for our convenience.  Given the hotel's long history and the many known suicides that DID occur there, it would be a wonder something did not negatively imprinted on the hotel. (d) The similarity of the tale with others may indicate a common folklore motif or a urban legend used to teach a warning to women "in the business."

Previously on this blog I suggested that Effie might be a confusion with an earlier unsolved murder of a prosititute/madam named Effie Fisher.  She was killed no more than two blocks away from the area of the hotel in 1904.  To my thinking the teasing and provovacative actions of the Skirvin ghost seem better to reflect an Edwardian prostitute than a chamber maid in a hotel.  If there is a ghost at all....


3/1/14

WELLINGTON IS A LITTLE STRANGE - KANSAS TOWN HAS STORIES

As Rod Serling said, there is a signpost up ahead...or in this case, along Highway 81 in southern Kansas in a small town begun in the cattle wealth of the late 1800's.   Here, for your enjoyment and thrills are several tales from this community.  Others exist but they remain tucked away in corners, memories, and local legend.


In 1960 or 61 (date is approximate at present based on directory information as to when the family resided at the home near east 7th and Douglas). "I was coming home and found myself being followed by small gray "things" - I cannot explain more. They were very nebulous and indistinct. I could see through them and I know I was afraid. I had been playing in an old rail yard behind our block (lots of sand hills). I was headed home ...the memory of the heavy sense of anxiety, the turning to look over my shoulder at the 'men' and the sense they were following are accompanied by a sense of moving in very slow motion...of a strange caste to the air and the sky...a strange amber bubble that encased the episode... Soon after this, I discovered a small healed scar on the back of my thigh - yet I had not been hurt there (it was about 1-1.2 inches long). It showed a strange "weaving" pattern of skin growth between the two smooth edges with tiny pinpoints around the edges. It remained faintly white for many years but is faded now. This was nearly 50 years ago and the memory has remained clear and insistent - like a tooth ache that has refused to go away. I am sharing this now - in the hope that it may help someone else who may have also encountered "something" strange during that time in this location." 

Wellington Lake Story
About this same time, around the area of Wellington Lake, came a report of a strange experience along a sandy road among a thick cover of foliage.

 "I was a small girl and we  had gone out to the Lake for a drive. I remember the sun as we drove through the trees, seeing the sparkle of the lake...my next memory is walking, alone, down that same stretch of road with everything absolutely silent.

I remember how tall the trees seemed walking alone down that road. It felt as if a clear bowl had been upended over the area and no sounds or winds were heard. It also gave a gray caste to everything, as  if it had suddenly clouded over.  I remember walking down the middle of the road in that thick sand wondering where did everybody go? .. I remember seeing our car, but at least one other car also, stopped at the side of the road. I remember seeing everybody just staring, blank looking, and then we get back in the car and drive away...everybody is silent until we move away from the gray area....and then it was as if nothing happened."

In about 1963 (thought to be no later than 1964) a resident in a house on North Jefferson street in Wellington, Kansas, reported "my brothers and mother and myself observed a red light bathe the backyard, there was no sound, no wind, nothing but the light." Later interviews with this witness indicated the red light covered the entire sky above the area just out the back door. She remembers seeing the mother and a brother go out and look up wondering what the thing was. The witnessed reported "Its appearance was similar to the "safelight" used in darkroom photography. Then it was gone, like a light being switched off. Details of the source were not visible; you could only see the red-orange round source of the light itself. I remember looking out the screen door, walking outside, looking up and then the next thing I remember is looking back into the house with the light gone. "
[

Rewriting History and Leaving Out the Negative Bits

Generations of people in Oklahoma City were born, educated and lived in the area descriptively called by author Lawrence Thompson in his "Gray Belt."  This place that was neither here nor there. A no-man's land created by poverty and want in a great economic depression. This series of articles and essays (location unsure) described the reality too many wanted to ignore and sweep under the community rug by even burying their names: "Community Camp", "Mulligan Gardens", and the "May Avenue Camp."
 
One local pastor Joe Gist of St. Mark's Methodist Church worked among the people in these camps with sympathy but realism.  Others were Don Christy of Boys Neighborhood and Miss Elizabeth Gilligan  of the Girls Neighborhood Clubs and Miss Mary Nichols Riverside School District who had been working there with depressed men, women and children for many years.
 
Local social columnist and advocate, Edith Johnson, asked bluntly "What Will You Do With the Gray Belt?" and her question echoes down the years.  Vague tales of things seen in the night have been reported in these broad regions that once where these camps; do the ghosts of those who suffered in those camps linger on or revisit in nightmares?
 
Maybe, just maybe, they are merely waiting for their full story to be uncovered and shared.  Maybe.

2/13/14

In 100 Years Why Is This Crime Still Around?

In Oklahoma City in 1913 two men came to speak in several churches - three Methodist, one Congregational and one Presbyterian - on the problem of 'White Slavery." ("White Slavery Will Be Discussed Here", Oklahoman Feb.23,1913;6).   Dr. E.R. Fulkerson and Dr. F.H. Essert were passionate about the need to halt the loss of young lives into dissolution, prostitution and even death through what we would call human sex trafficking today.

 
Fulkerson was a medical doctor and had been a consulate to Japan and was considered an expert in social science.  Essert was an evangelical Methodist minister who crossed all denominational lines to communicate the message that they preying on young women and young boys had to cease. He was also a member of the World Purity Federation.
 
In 1915 Roe, also of the W.P.F. co-authored  with Walt Louderback, The Girl Who Disappeared.  It chronicles some of the methods, stories and challenges faced in fighting human trafficking in the first dozen years of the 20th century.
 
Strangely, today, as we see a renewed emphasis on putting a halt to victimizations of women, girls, and boys for sex and other trade, it is clear that in a century little inroads were made in the halting of this terrible practice.
 
Essert in a mass meeting of men in Lawrence, Kansas " told of the danger of girls from good homes being decoyed to serve the purposes of these vultures, he deplored the existence of a double standard for men and women. As a cure for the evil Dr. Essert stated that the people of the nation must be educated to realize the dangers that beset them and to develop more self-control. It was a strong address, to the point and yet not in the least suggestive." (Lawrence Daily Journal-World, June 13, 1913). 
 
Nearly 160 years after the outlaw of slavery based on race. the F.B.I. lists human sex trafficking as the most active form of modern slavery and states: "Although comprehensive research to document the number of children engaged in prostitution in the United States is lacking, an estimated 293,000 American youths currently are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation."
 
The basic methods outlined in The Girl Who Disappeared are little changed according to the FBI webpage: "Today, the business of human sex trafficking is much more organized and violent. These women and young girls are sold to traffickers, locked up in rooms or brothels for weeks or months, drugged, terrorized, and raped repeatedly."  Noting that "These continual abuses make it easier for the traffickers to control their victims. The captives are so afraid and intimidated that they rarely speak out against their traffickers, even when faced with an opportunity to escape.."
 
Methods seen in Oklahoma City, like so many other places, from its earliest days.
 
The staggering, earth-shaking question is "why is it still going on?"  The forced abduction, abuse, and exploitation of children and youth for sex is a mystery that lingers...haunting....demanding attention and resolution.  Too often these are the people targeted as worthless and disposable by serial killers.  Now, a growing global economy is being fed by criminal elements to create a market and supply the need for children (male and female) and for young girls and women. Who will solve this mystery and place it where it belongs - in the dusty realm of history.
------
http://www.arkofhopeforchildren.org/issues/child-trafficking-statistics#.Uv1yTCLnaM8
http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/overview
http://www.equalitynow.org/node/1010
https://www.dhs.gov/end-human-trafficking


 

2/2/14

START WITH A CRIME

A recent news piece about a demon possessed house and family in Illinois reminded me of stories mentioned in passing conversations with people about certain areas and the ghosts who resided there.  I have long had a theory that paranormal investigators would do better to dig into history than just go with a 'it-sure-looks-haunted' investigation approach.

In my research I have found numerous places were haunt-worthy activity occurred but because of where it is located no one  has thought to conduct any research.  Instead, the focus is always on a location safely described as 'spooky' or creepy or eerie.

One location that might bear a fruitful investigation is within spitting distance of a freeway.  Another, just off a busy main street and still by a lake. Murder most foul occurred in all of these places, but decades later, no one has ever been charged.  Dozens of such places exist just waiting for some one to go to the historical record and then look for the mystery.

1/25/14

'Lasses White: From Minstrel to Movies

Born in Texas about 1888. Lee Roy White aka, 'Lasses or Lee, had been in some of the better minstrel companies touring America in the early decades of the 20th century.  He was often in the same company with pals Al and Don Palmer.
 
His career was launched in 1912 with the questionably titled, "Negro Blues" (latter retitled with a less acceptable word reflective of the time).  This is thought to be the FIRST blues song published and by a performer familiar with the structure of blues music.  It set the standard for blues as it developed within the 1920's and 1930's vaudeville entertainment venues.
 
He was part of Neil O'Brien's "American Minstrel Organization" appearing at the Academy of Music in 1916 (Reading Eagle, March 26, 1916, pg. 12) and was listed as one of the popular vocalists with Don and Al Palmer in "O'Brien and His Minstrels (Plattsburg Daily Press (Aug. 14, 1916, pg. 6). Later, he was with the famous Al G. Fields Minstrel show ("Minstrel Show at the Overholser," Oklahoman (march 24, 1918)42). 
 
In the 1930's he did a stint with the Grand Ole Opry and performed on other circuits but finally, he  moved to Hollywood and remained there playing western side-kicks in a long series of minor western movies with leading men such as Tim Holt and Jimmy Wakely for RKO.    He died there in 1949.
 
Here is a song he wrote that was recorded by a six year old.  Here is a film clip from "Come on Danger" (1942)
 with Lasses (Lee) playing the jug.

1/24/14

Al J. Palmer

In March of 1918 a troupe pulled into Oklahoma City for a run in the local theater, The Overholser, for three days.  Top rated minstrel show, "Al G. Fields" included in their performers was listed an "A.R.Palmer".  There was also another Palmer with first name Don and a Lasses White.
 
The name listed is no doubt a typo and should read "Al J. Palmer."  He was a songwriter and had several popular tunes out on sheet music in the 1916 to 1918 time period.  They often carried the label indicating they had been made popular by an artisan such as Sophi Tucker or one of the performers from the Al G. Fields Minstrel Show.
 
Some of his sheet music can be found in archive collections, such as  at this link. He published some under his own label, "Al J. Palmer Music Publishing" out of Columbus, Ohio. Much of it reflects the demands of supplying music to a "minstrelsy" entertainment company.  Several were popular into the early 20th century, such as Fields. Palmer also worked for the 'Neil O'Brien Shows' and a number of "Eastern stock companies."

 Back to Alabama in the Spring
It Took the Sunshine from Old Dixieland
I'll Come Back Some Day
Dancing at the Old Plantation
You Only You, Broke My Heart
That Chocolate Colored Gal of Mine
Wake Up Sleepy Hollow

The Only Sweetheart I Ever Had
Let's Go
Will You Sometimes think of Me
March Eternal

 
In about 1919-1922 the pastor of Oklahoma City's Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church discovered he was in town and approached him about working with the youth program (Epworth League) to organize some boys bands.  He accepted the offer and organized a junior and senior boys band and later an orchestra.
 
He published under "Al J. Palmer Music Publishing" out of Columbus, Ohio but did publish some through other firms. He was mentioned in a 1920 issue of Billboard. The article noted his brother Don Palmer and friend Lasses White had been very helpful in the success Al J. Palmer's songs were receiving. (Billboard, January 17,1920, pg. 35)
 
A marriage record is found 18 May 1920 for "Al J. Palmer" and a "Bunny Dale." (Oklahoma County Marriage Records 1889-1951 Book 36, Pg. 137 (Microfilm)
 
In 1926  he had an ad in the local paper as "Prof. Al J. Palmer - Instructor of Band Instruments." He was , however, still composing because he also offered "words written to music" and "music written to words"; "special songs written to order" ; "expression in dramatic art"; and "entertaining material furnished for amateurs." (Oklahoman, 3 Oct 1926).
Wesley Boys Band, ca 1924, Palmer shown lower right.
In about 1933, he had a operation to treat a brain tumor and in the process he was blinded and his speak impacted.  He had to re-learn to speak as well as cope with his blindness.
 
 In 1935, a local Oklahoma City fire chief, George Goff, had heard of what had befallen this once "top-flight minstrel show performer" and writer of some 14 published songs.  He also learned the man had that while recovering Palmer had written a new song which he had never heard played.  With a copy arranged by one of Palmer's old music students, Walter Harris, the fire department band held a party.  At Palmer's home at 2237 NW 26th (NW of the OCU Campus) they performed the march for him. ("Surprise Party Is Given by Band fro Blind Composer, Onetime Minstrel Star", Oklahoman (16 Dec. 1935):4.)
 
--M.A.H., 2014

1/23/14

What Do Al Jolsen, A Local Boys Band and a Church Have in Common?

Professor Al J. Palmer.

According to a story uncovered, while Dr. Dean C. Dutton was pastor of Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church (1919-1924) he learned that Al J. Palmer was living in Oklahoma City and called on him to see if he could come into Wesley Methodist Church and help with the "Epworth League" (youth organization of the M.E. Church).
 
Mr. Palmer was a composer and, according to the story of this source, had written several of the songs that Al Jolsen sang during his career.  Records do indicate Jolsen worked for a time with two Palmer brothers (Al and Joe) but they parted company around 1905. 
 
The first available program of a Band concert found by researchers in 1975 (for the history book written then), was dated June 19, 1923 under the direction of Al J. Palmer.
 
The boys band created had 38 pieces  and costumes in deep red with black trim and Mr. Palmer wore an all white suit.  They had stunts and band rehearsals and gathered on Sunday evenings for concerts.  People who belonged to other churches came to hear the band on Sunday nights.  The band was composed of youth of the church and at that time it was one of the few bands ever organized by a church group.  Palmer also directed an orchestra at Wesley.
 
Some identified with the band includes: Ed Fuller, Bob Sherman, Ruhl Potts, Harold Klein, Harold Hamlin, Warren McCreight, Everett Bradshaw, ....
 
In 1927, as Wesley turned ground to build their new sanctuary, the band was there under the direction of Palmer.   An ad from the time period is for "Prof. Al J. Palmer, Instructor of Band Instruments".  He listed he was Director of Wesley Senior and Junior Bands and was available for "special songs written to order...expression in dramatic art...words written to music and music written to words...entertaining material furnished for amateurs."
 
Interestingly enough, several of the band members could be heard over a local radio station WKY every Sunday evening in 1931 as members of the Oklahoma City Concert Orchestra under the direction of Arthur Weitz ("On WKY Every Sunday Night", Oklahoman (Aug.30,1930):40.
Boys Band, Wesley M.E., OKC, cal 1923.
Is the man shown here one of the Palmer's who once worked with Jolsen in Vaudville?

1/5/14

A White Ribbon Around the World


"WCTU Window at Wesley UMC, Oklahoma City"

"The white  ribbon bow was selected to symbolize purity, and the WCTU's watchwords were "Agitate - Educate - Legislate." (WCTU History, WCTU webpage)
 
In Oklahoma City there is a window in a church that has been called "The Tie Around The World" and was donated in 1928 by the WCTU "for God, Home and Every land."   Several women of the Wesley Methodist Church were active members of this citywide organization.
 
In a book on the windows  it was noted the ribbon signified a pledge members made around the globe to pray at noon each day.  (These Stones Will Shout, pg. 41)
 
 

The white ribbon bow of the WCTU was seen early in this form:
 

WCTU
 
 

It is clear stylistically that the globe or world and the white ribbon tied around its girth symbolizes the white bow and its reach around the globe for the purpose of bettering the lives of communities and women through missionary outreach and social reforms in the area of drink.

 
The history of the WCTU in Oklahoma dates back into the 1880's and the Indian Territory.  As Oklahoma City grew - and with it the notorious area known as  "Hell's Half Acre" - the WCTU established itself in the community. 
 

12/29/13

Oklahoma Architect Leonard H. Bailey




Masonic Lodge/Journal Record Building
designed by Leonard H. Bailey
What do the Masonic Lodge Building (now the Journal Record building), the old multistory Kinkade Hotel and Lawrence Hotel, a small town jail, an Army Chapel at Fort Sill (1933) and Wesley United Methodist Church (1928) share in common?
 
The architectural skill of Lawrence H. Bailey and the firm Bailey and Alden.  After completing training in London, Bailey traveled to the United States, finally arriving in Oklahoma in 1903.  William Matthews, busy then designing the Overholser Mansion, took him on as a very junior partner.
 
As Oklahoma entered the Union in 1907, he was launching out with his own firm.  He went into partnership with another local man, Virgil D. Alden in 1920.  Both men were members of the American Institute of Architecture.
 
 
Postcard of the Hotel Kingkade
designed by Leonard H. Bailey
Other buildings designed by Leonard H. Bailey exist around the state and some have achieved a place on the National and/or Oklahoma Register of Historic Places: The Prague Courthouse and Jail (1936), New Chapel at Fort Sill (near twin in style to Wesley Methodist; 1933).  Other jobs included the 1909 St. Paul's Parish House in Oklahoma City and the Woodward Arts Theater.



Wesley Methodist Church (UMC), designed by Leonard H. Bailey and his partner Virgil D. Allen, 1927-1928. 



Wesley Methodist Church Interior - Bailey and Allen architects, 1928

New Post Chapel, Fort Sill, Ok (1933) designed by Leonard H. Bailey

12/27/13

NEW TIES OF LOCAL DEVELOPER TO LOCAL CHURCH UNCOVERED


New Wesley Ties to Anton Classen Unearthed

Anton H. Classen Jr.
This early business leader of Oklahoma City was also a Methodist and he supported several early Methodist colleges, churches, and outreaches. He donated land to Wesley Methodist Church  in the early days; an area now known as the "Triangle".  For many years it was thought this was merely another example of his long standing support of Methodism and Oklahoma City groups.

The Triangle at NW 25 and Classen Blvd and the later landscaping all were evidence of the same generous spirit that supported the early Epworth University effort.  To see an excellent historical overview of Classen Blvd. fronting Wesley on the east, see this page.

Now, through research of this blog, it has been discovered  that there was more than mere civic support behind his gifts.  While searching through early membership rolls it was found that the brother and a sister of Anton H. Classen were members of Wesley Methodist Church.

John Randolph Classen, his wife Nysa and daughter Ruth J., while living at 1512 W 30th Street, united with the church on June 8, 1919.  The pastor at that time was Dr. Dean C. Dutton.
 
Anna Classen Wahl




 
Also, it has been discovered that other relatives were also members of Wesley.  Anton's father had been a member of the German Methodist Church of Oklahoma City. There was a daughter there as well named Anna Helena Sophia Classen Wahl.  The Wahls and several of their children's families were active members of Wesley (The McBride family and McAlister family). [See entries on the Wahl's elsewhere on this blog]
 
In the dedication program of May 1928 it reads: "Between the church building and Classen Boulevard in the foreground to the east is a triangular plot of ground which was given to the church by Mrs. Anton Classen and her late husband.  Mrs. Classen has provided a plan prepared by Hare and Hare, landscape architects of Kansas City, Mo., and will park the triangle according to the plan, thus providing an ideal setting for this beautiful Temple of God."(pg.16)
 

New Chronology of OKC Church Discovered: Wesley Methodist 1910



In convention in October of 1910 the Oklahoma Methodist Episcopal Church, North set aside $300 to build a new work in what was then the northwest outskirts of Oklahoma City. In 1900 a lot of the land in the area had been cornfields but developer I.M. Putnam, Anton Classen, Shartel and others saw opportunities and began selling.


1. First location: NW 25th and Military Park, 1910-1911



First service here was Sunday, Dec. 25, 1910 with Bishop William Quayle preaching. He gave the first $100 to a building fund begun that day. The above building was built using a $300 mission grant from the M.E. North Oklahoma Conference in October 1910. The church formally organized on Nov. 10, 1910.

2. Second church, NW 25th and Douglas Blvd, Epworth View Addition,(separated from
Classen Blvd. by a triangle of land given to the church by Anton H. Classen)





The "Sheep Shed" at NW 25 and Douglas, just off Classen Blvd.
An addition buts out on the right side. ca. 1911/15. They moved in the spring of 1911 to this location due to an influx of members with the closing of Epworth University.


3. Third Church structure, NW 25th and Douglas Blvd, Epworth View Addition,(separated from Classen Blvd. by a triangle of land given to the church by Anton H. Classen). Classes and events were conducted across NW 25 on land later sold to Kamp and on which he built his historic courtyard apartment complex in the late 1920's.






"The Dutton Tabernacle" 1920; You can see the 'bones' of the other structures if you look closely. Aggressive growth, diverse program and strong membership participation saw the church grow to nearly 1,000.



4. Fourth incarnation of the church's physical sanctuary, NW 25th and Douglas Blvd, Epworth View Addition,(separated from Classen Blvd. by a triangle of land given to the church by Anton H. Classen). Dedicated in May of 1928.



In 1924, F.A. Colwell, first pastor and now a contractor was responsible for tearing down the Dutton Tabernacle to make room for the new English Gothic sanctuary; a building across NW 25 was used for classes and events. In 1928 the above sanctuary was completed and dedicated. Later, the house was used as a youth and education building, Hadduck Hall. It was torn down in the 1970's.


Appreciation to the library and archives of Wesley UMC for use of these valuable images relating its history and its links to Oklahoma City history. For more incredible history of this church and its people (many deeply imbedded in the building of the city) visit here.






 

12/23/13

The House

For me, there is no greater mystery than an old house.  I want to know its history, the people who
lived there and the times they experienced.  A house says so much about its setting, its slice of history and the values people had.  It reveals the advances and trends in technology, motion, social relations and family values.
 
It is like a sponge in the way it can absorb the energies - both good and bad - of the people who resided there.  Its poor construction can cause headaches like the sprawling Winchester House of California.  Bungalows, designed to fulfill a life philosophy of comfort, welcome, and artistry can retain a sense of home even while setting trash strewn and vacant.
 
This photo I found in a tiny old shop ages ago...the photo called to me as these houses so often do. I see this photo and I see mystery...was it torn down or lovingly restored?  Do cars park where that house once stood so lovely and proud?  Have other families been sheltered and welcomed through that front door?
 
Unknown, and unanswerable, the house represents all the history lost, forgotten or discarded.  We are all poorer for the absence.

12/18/13

A Link to Some African-American History in Oklahoma

One of the interesting and noteworthy aspects about the work of the modern antiquarian is that in this connected and tech rich world so many are involved.  This means that so much more data can be uncovered, fresh views taken free of the biases of traditional disciplines and the linking of information to present a fuller and more comprehensive history of a subject.  A recent blog came to my attention, Black and White Journal, and it has some impressive research related to little known, and often ignored, aspects of Oklahoma history.  Hopefully, it will be a model for others to dig deep and share their findings...one person's tiny puzzle piece may be the answer to a long standing query.

Kudos to Black and White Journal.

12/7/13

Halliburton Department Store - Oklahoma City

During its life the Halliburton also existed in partner forms.  Scott-Halliburton (later Gloyd-Halliburton, McEwen-Halliburton, finally simply Halliburton's) (Oklahoma City). 

The popular department store was 118 feet high with 8 floors and 4 elevators and was constructed in 1920 at 327 West Main, it was a leading Oklahoma City department store until 1960 when urban renewal spelled its demise.

This sticker was on the back of a framed photograph.  
 

12/6/13

"To Best Meet The Needs of Justice" : : William Tyson Horton (1946-2011)

The following is a case that reminds us as a society to be consistent and equal as we interpret and apply laws. The information comes from public records, newspaper accounts and some interviews. The image of a blind justice emerged as a promise of fairness and impartial treatment. Sometimes the system has been beaten and justice compromised.  It is a story of how social position, connections, and misguided attitudes about how to help serial sex offenders were mixed with social biases about social class, women, ethnic groups and those outside the ranks of respectable society. 

During the 1980's and 1990's approximately 50 women - almost all prostitutes- were killed by Gary Ridgeway in the Pacific Northwest.  He went free for over twenty years primarily because his victims were 'disposable people'. In Oklahoma City in 1980 the "Whispering Rapist", Vallee Kent Flemming,  was caught and given 75 years which he began to serve right away ( 'Whispering Rapist Handed 707 (Really 75) Years.' Oklahoman (March 1, 1980)1.)  Also the case of  the "Man Has 2,790-Year Term" where a man convicted of six rapes and one armed robbery in Oklahoma City  was quickly sentenced(Oklahoman (March 7,1986)10).  The case with Horton, by comparison, was a different story....

In the 1960's in Oklahoma City was an upstanding and well connected member of the community, William "Bud" Horton, long time owner of a Ford dealership in the city.  His only son, William Tyson Horton, was considered by most to be the apple of the old man's eye and it was apparent through subsequent evidence that it was a case of a man refusing to see the failings in his son.
 
As a teenager, William Tyson Horton, was a definite risk-taker, and racked up citations for serious traffic violations in the multiples by each year and from 1963-1970 there was at least one yearly accident.  Excessive speeding,  ignoring traffic lights, failure to yield and reckless driving were the cited causes for the stops. according to police records.  Since his father during most of these years was also serving on the city's Safety Board promoting safe driving practices, there may be a Freudian message hidden in driving so recklessly and receiving those tickets.("Safety Parade Planned Friday". Oklahoman (Aug.24, 1964,37).
 
He had a lackluster interest in education, according to evidence admitted into court records, since he enrolled in several and received probations and suspensions in all of them, often for failure to attend. Finally, in 1966, he entered the U.S.A.F. but a month later he is being discharged for health reasons.
 
In 1966, he is arrested for shoplifting from Records, Inc. at NW 23rd and Classen. Although he escaped, and had to be re-captured, there is little evidence of any true consequences for this misdemeanor.  The judge began what would become a pattern of legal 'catch and release.'
 
His history of traffic flaunting continues until about 1969 when he marries for the first time. Yet by October of that year, he is once again ignoring the street laws and, perhaps not unconnected, his wife sues for divorce.  The next year sees more of the same but finally in the fall his license is suspended for 90 days.  Obviously, he grew bored without his 'wheels" because in that time he commits a first known episode of Breaking and Entering  in a neighbors apartment.  There, he steals master keys to other apartments and an expensive watch.  He next commits his first known felony by making an indecent and obscene phone call to a local woman and then enters another apartment where he chloroforms the occupant and rapes her. 
 
Arrested for the obscene phone call he is quickly charged with 1st Degree rape due to the evidence found in his apartment.  He is ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation for 90 days and in 1971 the attending doctor makes recommendation of two years of treatment.
 
In May of 1971, Horton pleads guilty to the crimes outlined. He receives probation and then after his court appearance before Judge Clarence Mills he receives 10 years in McAlester's State Prison for the rape with the last five years suspended and 5 years on the obscene call charge to be served concurrently.  Before the end of the month, however, defense attorney's have gone to California to the rape victim (who was recently married and now living there with her  husband).  An alleged avadavat is signed by the woman indicating she is no longer certain of whether she had been raped by Horton in her chloroformed state. 
 
As a result, in September of 1971, Judge Mills, reversed ("vacated") the previous charges and sentences and proclaims Horton now 'innocent'.    The 'Motion to Dismiss' was filed Nov. 16, 1970 and the Indecent Telephone Conversation charge dismissed Dec. 29, 1971 (Doc. 1469:219; CRF-70-3362 ) signed by Curtis P. Harris, D.A. and judge C. Mills.  The reason given was "To Best Meet the Needs of Justice."
 
In February of 1973, Horton marries again in Texas but sues for divorce in March. He is working as informal (unpaid) statistician for the baseball team his father owns, the 89ers. Then, back in OKC, in April he picks up two underage girls (13 and 17) north of 50th and May Avenue. He threatens both girls, forcing the youngest to commit 'oral sodomy'.  Then he released them at Pennsylvania and Britton Road. The girls hurried to the Village Police Department and reported him and shortly after midnight he was captured. The next day he was charged with "Indecent Proposal to a Child Under 14 Years of Age" per 21 O.S.A. 1123 (CRF73-1052. 
 
 Apparently, this did not impede his ability to travel as he is arrested for gambling in Des Moines, Iowa on May 11 and then released on a $50 bond.  That summer he is found guilty of "Lewd Molestation" in Judge Harold Theus' court. In August, he is sentenced to five years, the first 90 days to be served but the remainder suspended.  Before Christmas that year he is again divorced.
 
A  year later, he is one of several local men rounded up in a sting operation and is charged with the misdemeanor, "Soliciting for Immoral Purposes" (21 OSA 1029 (CRM-74-3079). Over the next few years his parents die and he marries and divorces another wife.  He begins living with another woman, marries her and then in late 1978 he apparently attempts to drive a more permanent wedge between himself and his wife.  He is charged with Assault & Battery with a Deadly Weapon - A Car. The other car was being driven by his soon to be ex-wife. 
 
Two years later he is involved in - during November to December - three instances of Assault and Battery,  Battery with a Deadly weapon, two of Kidnapping and one of forcible oral sodomy.  He had picked up at least three prostitutes near SW 7 and Broadway and using a knife threatens them. He admits in one statement he always kept a hunting knife in his car. In  this case, he  cut one woman's throat (she survived). He is arrested Jan. 3, 1983 and charged on Jan. 6th. 
 
He bolts before the May 20, 1983 court date, and  Judge Cannon sentences him in absentia to a 60 year sentence.  Despite his non-appearance, various friends testified on his behalf that he just did not have any of the "traits" of the man who had assaulted the women (Kim Stott. "Friends Say Alleged Traits Don't Match Assault Suspect." Oklahoman May 20, 1983). Soon he is located in the region of Kansas City, Missouri. Police found a pair of boy's underwear in the motel room Horton had occupied and hotel employees said the man had requested the room not to be cleaned until after he left.   He also, according to local police, resembled a man wanted for a series of local rapes. (Ray Robinson, Kay Stott, "Horton Still Jailed as Detectives Attempt to Trace Fugitive's Movements." Oklahoman (May 29, 1983).  If there were follow-ups to these two threads of  investigations they have not yet been located and no record of any charges out of state found.
 
Finally, Horton does serious time ( still with lawyers working on his behalf) in prison but in 2010 he is out.  He is living in what is recognized by local authorities as a safe haven residence center for sexual offenders. The location becomes notorious when an occupant kills a local woman.

Local prostitutes are soon reporting a 'violent John' cruising South Robinson in OKC.  He was "wearing a ball cap and was kidnapping, Duct Taping and raping women at knife point near the river." ("Man suspected of Attacking and Raping Several OKC Prostitutes Arrested." John-TV at http://johntv.com).  Due to the man behind John-TV police are alerted. He is soon arrested and  he died in June of 2011 while in custody awaiting court room time for his latest actions.  No obituary has been found to date to verify this information but court records declare him deceased.

The lingering and long-term case of Horton highlights the need for constant guarding of the principle of equal treatment under the law. That should include equitable application of sentences, opportunities for appeal, and presumptions of innocence.  Lady Justice must be blind to those who might subvert her and who might seek to influence her through force, bribe, coercion, neglect, or any other means.  The case, like many others, also pinpoints the need to view victims equally as well.  Life style or occupation should not prejudice protection, investigation or justice. In the end, there are no disposable people.  Equal application of the law is always, in the final judgment, the way to "best meet the needs of justice."

 

Newspaper Sources For William Tyson Horton

“Police Capture Fleeing Suspect”, Oklahoman (Nov. 28, 1966):9.  20 year old, William Tyson Horton, residing 7307 Waverly, booked on complaint of larceny of merchandise and escaping custody. Patrolman A.G. Smith arrested him originally at Records, Inc. 2410 N. Classen Blvd. and he was recaptured by Officer Glen Henry in the 400 Block of N. Shartel.

“Obscene Call Charges Filed.” Oklahoma Journal (Nov. 11, 1970)20. Cleo Estel Durham complained to SW Bell Telephone she had been receiving obscene calls. A trace alleged the calls came from an apartment at 6225 N. May occupied by Horton.

“City Man is Charged.” Oklahoma City Times (Nov. 18, 1970)2.  William Tyson Horton, 24, accused of raping a 37 year old woman  at a northwest area apartment about 1 am , Sat.   Police said the woman was chloroformed by an intruder in her bedroom and awoke during the attack and was threatened with an overdose unless she kept assault secret.

“Rape Charges Filed in Case”. Oklahoma Journal (Nov. 19, 1970)12. Victim was an employee of the OU Medical Center; Horton lived at 6017 N. May. Judge Barnett ordered him held without bond pending preliminary hearing.

“City Man Held on Rape Count.” Daily Oklahoman (Nov. 19, 1970)27. Preliminary hearing set for Dec. 15.

“Rape Suspect Pleads Guilt”, Oklahoma City Times (May 4, 1971)1.

“Suspect Pleads Guilty”. Oklahoma City Times (May 4, 1971)1.

“City Rape Charges Admitted”. Oklahoma Journal (May 5, 1971)5.

“Cityan Draws Prison Term”. Oklahoma Journal (July 2, 1971)2.  District Judge Clarence M. Mills sentenced Horton post his confession to making obscene phone calls and rape in the first. The Judge sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment on the rape charges, but suspended five years. He was also sentenced to 5 years on the obscene phone call and order it run concurrently with the rape charges.

“City Man Draws Rape Sentence”. Daily Oklahoman (July 2, 1971)18.

“City Rape Sentence Dropped”. Oklahoma Journal (Sept. 29, 1971)9.  Sentence was set aside after 38 yr old victim swore she had not been raped; Horton said he had pleaded guilty he feared  he might receive a life sentence; victim identified as Dr. Joan Wikman-Coffeld (elsewhere spelled Wickman). She had recently married in California.  Shaw provided a statement, allegedly, “repudiating the rape charge.” (See note on Oklahoma story of 9/28/71)   As a result “the case was reversed and Horton found innocent.”

“State Drops Term in Rape”. Oklahoman (Sept. 29, 1971)2.  Not difference in terms of victims alleged statement “she could not positively state she was raped.”

“Girl, 13, Claims Molestation; City Man Arrested.” Oklahoma Journal (April 16, 1973)6.  A 26 year old Village resident booked, 2306-F Cavanagh Blvd.

“Teenager Molested; Man Jailed”. Oklahoman (April 16, 1973)20.

“Indecent Proposals Charged.” Oklahoma City Times (April 16, 1973)6.

“Molesting Suspect Due Trial”. Oklahoma Journal (May 26, 1973)5.

“City Man Facing June Trial Date.” Oklahoman (May 26, 1973)29.

“Indecent Liberties Trial Faced. Oklahoma City Times (May 31, 1973)10.

“Molestation Trial Delayed.” Oklahoma City Times (June 27, 1973)17.

“Molestation Suspect Foregoes Jury Trial.” Oklahoma Journal (June 28, 1975)25.

“Witness Identifies Sodomy Suspect.” Oklahoman (June 28, 1972)57.

“Suspect Guilty in Molestation.” Oklahoma Journal (June 29, 1973)21.

“Molester Lectured by Judge.” Oklahoma City Times (August 31, 1973) Friday.  Judge Harold Theus.

“Cityan Gets 5 Year Term.” Oklahoman (Sept. 1, 1973) 21.

“Father Files Damage Suit.” Oklahoman (Oct. 6. 1973)11. $400,000 damage suit filed by the lawyer of the father of the 13 year old victim; attorney Carroll E. Gregg.

“Police Decoy Tactics Bring Charges for 7.” Oklahoman (Oct. 24, 1974)22.

“Molestation Case Jury is Sought”. Oklahoma City Times (Dec.9, 1974)26.

 “Non Jury Suit Asked” Oklahoma City Times (Dec. 10, 1974)10.

“City Jury Discharged.” Oklahoma City Times (Dec. 10, 1974)10.  Anita Gay Roach, 16, was allegedly kidnapped on April 14, 1973 and forced to commit oral sodomy.

“Parties Ask to End Suit.” Oklahoman (Dec. 11, 1974)56.  Roach lawsuit, previous year Horton convicted of molesting the girl and given a five-year suspended sentence.

“Mrs. W.G.’Bus’ Horton Dies”. Oklahoman (Dec. 20, 1974)11.

No first name given. Guardian Memorial Funeral Home.

“Morals Cases Sentences Set.” Oklahoman (Jan.15, 1975)11.  W.T. Horton, 28 of 6405 NW 63rd “pled guilty and was given a one-year deferred sentence.” Of the seven men arrested all but two paid fines and/or court costs.

“Sex Crime Sentence Deferred.” Oklahoma City Times (Feb.11, 1975)17.  Noted Horton had been previously convicted on three other sex-related offenses in the last two years. The more recent was a fourth and it was also deferred.  Explains a deferred sentence is one in which the defendant does not go to jail if he keeps out of trouble for a specific period of time and then the conviction would be erased from the records.

“Bus ‘Horton, Civic Leader Dies at 69.” Oklahoman (March 25, 1977)23.

“Service Monday for Bus Horton”. Oklahoma and Times (March 22, 1977)10.

“Horton Ford Changes hands”. Oklahoman (August 2, 1977)5.

“Cityan Held in Attacks” Oklahoman (January 7, 1983)20.   Horton, 4718 Sunnyview, charged with three sexual attacks on women occurring on Nov.3 (victim sodomized at knifepoint near SW 7th and Broadway), Dec.6 (victim’s breasts cut with a 12-inch hunting knife in the 500 Blk of W. California), Dec.29 (slashed the throat of victim near SW 7th and Broadway) previous year.

“Cityan Free While Awaiting Latest Sex Attack Trials” Kim Stott.  Sunday Oklahoman (April 17, 1983)1. Notes DOC had no record he had ever served a day in prison.  This ‘despite a 1973 molestation conviction, two other guilty pleas to a rape and obscene calls’ and a judge who lectured him saying he would be shown no leniency. Notes victim whose breasts were cut subsequently could not find the victim. Hays Foster, Assist. D.A. quoted as saying: “Just because she’s a prostitute doesn’t mean she’s available for anyone to abuse.”

“leniency Often No Solution”. Oklahoma City Times. Editorials” (April 19, 1983)34.  “Horton’s record should point up for officials in the criminal justice system that leniency is not the answer to the crime problem.”

“Cases Filed”. Oklahoma City Times. (Jan. 18, 1978)24.     ; Oklahoma City Times (April 11, 1983)9N. Shows the tendency to defer many cases or suspend sentences.

“Women Identifies Alleged Assailant.” Oklahoma City Times (May 15, 1983)38.

“Defense Attacks Cuffs as Sodomy Trial exhibit.” Oklahoman. Kim Stott. (May 19, 1983)37.  Noted officers found handcuffs in bathroom after Horton asked to go and they then heard a ‘clink’. Horton was charged in handcuffing a woman and forcing her to commit oral sodomy. The room mate of the victim, Reneee Clemonts identified them as the hand cuffs as did Officer Nick Pittman. Police officers discovered a key they had found opened the handcuffs. Additionally, officers indicated Horton admitted to carrying a 12 inch hunting knife. He alleged he had begun using it after he had been reportedly stabbed by the “pimp” of one of his dates. [Query: Any police or hospital reports?]

“Friends Say Alleged Traits Don’t Match Assault Suspect.” Oklahoman (May 20, 1983)14.  Three friends – Suzee Bruton, Santa Rosa, Calif; Beth Westergard,OKC; Brad Cooper, OKC – testified on behalf of Horton and were surprised when they learned he regularly had ‘dates with prostitutes.’

“Convicted Felon Disappears Before Sentencing.” Oklahoma & Times (May 21, 1983)1.

“Police Continue Search for Convict.” Oklahoman (May 22, 1983)34.

“Fugitive Reportedly Backs Out on Plan to Surrender, Bondswoman Arrested.” Oklahoman (May 23, 1983)1.

“Escapee’s Girlfriend Still Held.” Oklahoma City Times (May 23, 1983).

“City Fugitive’s Pal Questioned.” Oklahoma City Times. Ray Robinson and Andy Morgan. (May 24, 1983)29.

“Horton’s Pursuers Seek Help.” Oklahoma City Times (May 24, 1983)11.

“A Case of Excessive Leniency.” Oklahoman (May 25, 1983)28.

“Prosecutors’ Request Interstate Flight Warrant to Involve FBI in Search for Sex Offender.” Oklahoman (May 25, 1983)27.

“Bulletin”. Oklahoma City Times (May 26, 1983)26.

“Fugitive Sex Offender Arrested in Kansas City Suburb.” Oklahoman (May 27, 1983)1.

“High Bail Confronts Sex Felon.” Oklahoma City Times (May 27, 1983)24.

“Horton Still Jailed as Detectives Attempt to Trace Fugitive’s Movements.” Oklahoma & Times (May 28, 1983)23.

“Cases Filed.” Oklahoma City Times (May 30, 1983)13s.

Charge of perjury.

“Horton’s Release Feared.” Oklahoma City Times (May 31, 1983)21.

“Jailed Fugitive’s Total Bond Raised to Nearly $4 Million.” Oklahoman (June 1, 1983)1.

“Judge Sentences Horton, Orders Immediate Return.” Oklahoma City Times (June 1, 1983)1.

“William Tyson Horton Sentenced to 60 Years.”  Oklahoman (June 2 1983)1, 5.

“City Fugitive Held in Kansas City Gets 60-Year Assault Sentence.” Oklahoman (June 2, 1983)18.

“Nigh Signs Extradition Papers to Return Fugitive Sex Offender From Kansas City Jail.” Oklahoman &Times (June 4, 1983)29.

“Horton’s Return to City Ordered.” Oklahoma City Times (June 6, 1983)1.

“Horton’s Attorneys Challenge Missouri Extradition Order.” Oklahoma City Times (June 7, 1983)1.

Attorney’s Bob Beaird and Philip Cardarella.

“Escapee Challenging Return to Oklahoma.” Oklahoma City Times (June 7, 1983)1.

‘Sex Felon’s Extradition Case Stalled.” Oklahoma City Times (June 9, 1983)1.

“Extradition Case Stalled.” Oklahoman (June 10, 1983).

“Bondswoman Horton to Wed?’ Oklahoma City Times (June 10, 1983)1.

“Sex Offender, Bondswoman Marry in Jail.” Oklahoman & Times (June 11 1983)1.

“Sons of Prominent Men Find Trouble with Law.” Oklahoman (June 12, 1983)9.

Profiled three: Kirksey Nix Jr. (son of a judge, murder, LA Prison); Bryce Baggett Jr. (son of senator and representative, drug charges, B&E); William Tyson Horton.

“Sex Offender’s Bond Forfeited.” Oklahoma City Times. Ray Robinson. (June 13, 1983)1.

“Horton Abandons Extradition Battle.” Oklahoman (Jun 14, 1983)1.

“Horton Bail Bid Fails: Trial Due.” Oklahoma City Times (June 14, 1983)1.

“Judge Orders Bond Denial for Horton.” Oklahoman (June 15, 1983)6.

“Guilty Plea Nets Sex Offender 12 More Years.” Oklahoman. (June 28, 1983)9.

“Felonies”. Oklahoma City Times. (July 7, 1983)3.

“Felonies.” Oklahoma City Times (July 18, 1983)2.

Charge of bail jumping dismissed.

“Felonies.” Oklahoma City Times”. (August 4, 1983),

 

Court Case Sources for William Tyson Horton

Index of Felony Charges Against William Tyson Horton in Oklahoma County:

CRF-70-3362 INDECENT TELEPHONE CONVERSATION (211 OSA 1021p4). Filed: Nov. 16, 1970.

CRF-70-3385 RAPE IN THE FIRST DEGREE (21 OSA 1111). Filed:

CRF-73-1052 INDECENT PROPOSAL TO A CHILD UNDER 14 YEARS OF AGE (21 OSA 1123)

CRF-73-3461 ASSUALT AND BATTERY WITH A DANGEROUS WEAPON (21 OSA 645)

CRF-83-90   Filed: January 6, 1983

CRF-83-92   Filed: January 6, 1983

CRF-83-94   Filed: January 6, 1983

CRF-83-2701  Filed: May 20, 1983

CRF-83-3093 Filed: June 16, 1983

Index of Misdemeanors Against William Tyson Horton in Oklahoma County:

CRM-74-3074 SOLICITING FOR IMMORAL PURPOSES (21 OSA 1029). Filed: October 23, 1974.

Index of Civil Cases Against Wiliam Tyson Horton Oklahoma County District Court:

CJ-73-3121  Anita Gay Roach v William Tyson Horton. Filed: October 55, 1973.

CJ-74-3587  Wyonette Quillin v. William Tyson Horton. Filed: October 8, 1974.

CJ-80-765    Quail Creek Bank, NA v William Tyson Horton. Filed: February 14, 1980.

CJ-80-2440  City Corp Person-to-Person Financial Center, Inc. v William Tyson Horton. Filed: May 21, 1980.

Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals:

Appeal Petition: 

F-83-696   724 P.2nd 773 (Okl.Cr. 1986) Aug. 28, 1986.  William Tyson Horton , Appellant v. STATE of Oklahoma, Appellee.

Petitions for Post-Conviction Relief:

PC-91-122

PC-91-274

PC-93-1279

 

 Anyone with information about a cold case is encouraged to contact the numbers listed on this page.