One of the First Motorcycle Fatalities

Public Domain, ca. 1910 
In 1898 a young man became intrigued by the newest gizmo - a bicyle with a motor!  This motorcycle was the hot new item.  Many young men tinkered in sheds and outbuildings to rig up their own contraptions.  The freedom, the speed, the fun!     

Invented in the late 1880's and early 1890's in France and Germany, especially the 1895 Damiler featured in many newspapers and magazines; it is believed many people attempted to create their own shadetree motorcycles inspired by the stories of these early attempts. The first American commercially produced motorcycle is said to have been  from the Orient-Aster, built by the Metz Company in Waltham, Massachusetts in 1898.  
Public domain - 1895  Daimler

On a hot August day in 1898, a brother and sister set off on a motorcycle and explored the curving roads and byways of Barry County, Missouri.  The thrills, the shrieks and the laughter echoed as the motocycle roared through the thick brush of the Ozark hills.  Granville Handford "Bud" Terry (21) and his younger sister Minerva Ardella Terry (17) apparently had an enjoyed time that  day  but  August 15, 1898 would end in tragedy for this brother and sister.

(Note: Minerva and Granville were my great aunt and uncle).


Hollywood actor Dale Robertson was an alum of Eugene Field elementary school in Oklahoma City, according to numerous alums who gathered there in May of 1983 to say farewell to the old building.

This son of Oklahoma is dead at 89 but will live on for those who remember him on screen and off.



In January of 1907, a young woman took a dose of morphine and a painful day later she was dead.  Rose Milton, 25, was an "inmate" (indicating she was probably working as a prostitute) of Maud Stewart's Place, 2 1/2 West California Avenue, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The man with her,  unnamed, said she took the morphine at midnight on a Thursday and did not know the nature of the mixture until her suffering called attention to the situation.  Although doctors came to attend the woman, just before noon the next day she died. 

Related to opium and herion, morphine use has been suggested as early as ancient Rome.  Morphine is a highly addictive substance  made originally from the same poppy flower as opium  and was scientifically identified in the early 1800's.   It was a boon to individuals suffering from physical pain but its addictive elements produced an unforeseen side affect if dependence in some people. In 1849 a 'soothing syrup' for infants was marketed containing morphone called "Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup."

A look at the self-help health care products may be a silent indicator that the "soldier's disease" of the Civil War era, a morphone addiction problem of U.S. soldiers wounded, while unverified may have been a reality.  One of the side affects of morphone addiction was constipation and the great number of ads for pills, elixers, and treatments of that condition do indicate this was a recognized problem of the era.  Kellogg of cereal fame was attempting to address this problem, among others, when he developed his healthy breakfast foods.  Although the condition is often linked to the nature of processed foods at the time, there may be another explanation since morphine was commonly available through drugstores and catalogs.  

The symptoms of withdrawl can also help interpret the actions of some individuals, such as Miss Milton. Many women of the day were stereotyped as having the vapors. Most assume this was caused by too tight corset lacing, and some can be attributed to that, but also a probable cause would be addiction to a morphine or a similar opium based drug.

The symptoms often mimiced the flu or similar illness: Sweating, Chills, Tearing eyes, Runny nose, Restlessness, Muscle aches, Backache, Dilated pupils, Irritability, Trouble sleeping, High blood pressure, Rapid heart rate, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Stomach cramps.

Miss Milton was said to be having an attack of "the blues" before she took that last fatal dose of morphine.  After a dose a person often became short of breath, their breathing slowed, and they began vomiting.  Once taken death could easily come from any one of the symptoms that included rapid heart beat, low blood pressure, confusion, dizziness hampering normal body and cognitive functions.  Fatal errors of judgement could mean death in many occupations and long term  use was detrimental to the strength of the heart.  

The pure food act of 1905 helped remove many toxic additives to milk and canned goods, but the purity or quality of medicines took a little longer to correct.  Too late for many, many people, like Miss Rose Milton who died in a sporting house in Oklahoma City in 1907 at age 25.


Undiscovered Country

Woodward Museum

"Archaeological surveys for highway construction near Mooreland in the 1950s exposed the Hedding Site and the Richards Site, both with evidence of habitation and house construction that may date from time of the Late Prehistoric Plains Village farmers in western Oklahoma, A.D. 800 to 1400. "

At the delightful Woodward Museum is a topographical map marking prehistoric history of the area. Along Doe Creek could be found the Hedding Site mentionde above and dated to about A.D. (C.E.) 1450 and further east the Loomis cemetery site dated to about A.D. (C.E.) 1200.

It is a fascinating reminder that other cultures lived in this land for thousands of  years before other people traveled inland from the eastern coasts.  The land in this part of Oklahoma may be plain, flat, and a little dull for some people, it has a fascinating history filled with wonder and mystery.  What were the stories of those sites? The adventures and the hardships?

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