St. Joseph's Deconfused

A reader commented with some confusion as to the purpose and language of this facility. The anonymous comment read: "am confused ,was this place a asylum and orphanage. Was the park the building or farm land? Are there still people buried in the cemetery now and what happened to the building?"

Here is the information. The term asylum and orphanage were often interchangeable. 

Do not confuse  the use of the word asylum with a facility for mental issues. It was also used in terms of sanctuary, a safe place of care.  It was for children and during one period,in the 1920's, it also housed some senior adults. 

The cemetery has been moved. There is a marker in the park with names on it. Those buried there included nuns, priests, some of the elderly in care there and a few children.  Gory stories of deaths and secret tunnels were largely urban legends created by anti-Catholic groups.  If a tunnel existed, like they did in many such institutions, they were there to allow the removal of the dead in a manner so that current "inmates" (as they were called) did not see and be disturbed but it.  They also allowed for funerals to take place despite rain and snow above ground. which would have make trekking to the cemetery problem-some.

The buildings are still there but have, since the 1970's housed the headquarters of the IPHC, a global church group. The entire area that includes the present park, the IPHC headquarters and part of the area held by Southwestern Christian University were all part of the original institution. They raised animals and a truck garden that helped support the children and teach them skills.

Check the Bethany library for a copy of the city history done a few years ago. I wrote the histories of the orphanage and the school included in that volume. I also  arranged for the IPHC denominational entry as well.

Also, review previous posts on this site for more information on this subject.


A Strange Photo

Originally posted on Strangestate by Cullan Hudson...  Just what it is will be up to you to determine.  A ghost, an optical illusion, or something else? 

Oklahoma's 'Cry Baby Bridges'

Kitchen Lake Bridge.
Earlier in the Fall I was interviewed by a regional periodical and we discussed some of the local legends and urban myths.  As the chilling season of Halloween approaches, I thought it would be fun to look a little closer at some of the 'real' Cry Baby Bridges claimed in the state. The legends have the mandatory crying baby sounds, faint glowing images, and stories of everything from failed love affairs to incest rape where the products of the rapes were thrown off the bridge.

Alderson (Pittsburg County) is claimed as one such bridge. Maps, however, do not show any bodies of water in this community outside of McAlester.  

Atoka County, vague story of child tossed off a bridge into the North Boggy Creek.
Another one concerning a bridge, much older and now replaced near Checotah, again no clear bridge is identified on maps.  

Hontubby, south of Heavner in far eastern Oklahoma.  There it is claimed every night at midnight you can hear a child thrown off the bridge and the splash as it hits the water.  Later, there will be sounds of crying in the night...   Many miles to the south is the Poteau River and, one assumes, a bridge.

Kellyville (Creek County), asserts itself as the "real Cry Baby Bridge" or the 'Original'.  They say that it was repeated and appropriated by Kiefer, Schulter, Catossa, and three "fake" ones in Kelleyville!  Most agree the original bridge no longer exists.  The legend claims a woman holding a baby surrounded by blue glowing light.

Moore locates a bridge east of Sooner Road on Road 134 and claim a woman with a baby drove into the ditch and died. Others claim a car is in the ditch of the now closed wood and metal bridge and a car seat still visible! Having investigated this site the above is untrue and the sounds of crying heard were wind through a pipe dumping excess water into the ravine.  Other versions emerged in response to publication of these facts and unsurprisingly the bridge was in another location or had been torn down explaining the differences.  The area was one crying for some attention as it claims a 'Kitchen Witch', a 'Crybaby Lake' and several other urban legends born no doubt of too much of something or another and too much imagination.  In the post war years, as the Air Depot was transitioning to Tinker Air Force Base, a terrible fuel fire caused explosions and conflagration over an area including the region claiming the strange fire and the witch. It is more than possible this was the basis for the strange fires and the burned structures claimed as victims of the 'Kitchen Witch'.

The legend of the 'Crybaby Bridge" has many older examples in the Ohio River Valley and there are claims of some going back into the 1880's in New York state.  It is hard to pin these examples of living urban legends (legends that grow and change to suit the time period and add new nuances).  Evidence of older legends of crying babies is harder to locate.  I did find one in the 1880's in Georgia, but it did not involve a bridge and seemed too closely correlated to the 'Rock A Bye Baby' lullaby to be anything but a bit of imaginative literature masquerading as a horrible fright experienced by couples coming back from a dance.

As people moved they brought their stories with them.  Newspapers of the 1800s and early 1900's were often filled with the imaginative tales concocted after too much liqueur and too close a deadline by local reporters. The tales were picked up or entered in the frequent 'tall tale' contests between editors around the country.

Simply because it was in a newspaper was no guarantee it was true...local communities seldom wrote down local legends seeing them as reflecting poorly on the community and local youth frequently got bored...All a recipe for the birth of urban tales and their ready relocating into a region lacking excitement to young people needing something to spice up life.

That is why we love the urban legends and their modern form, the slasher/horror/scream movies.  Go out into the country, away from the lights, away from people and listen to nature.  Animals scream and hunt. Sounds are magnified. Strange winged beasts flit around your head. Animals snap twigs as they pass with a sound as sharp as thunder.   Gather around a campfire or a flashlight and tell a story...see how easy it is to believe the tale.

I dare you.

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