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The Beginning of Tulsa
By J. M. Hall (1927)
(c) Karolyn Kay Garland (1997)
Nothing here is free for the taking. This book is reproduced here with the permission of the copyright holder - see copyright statement.
J. M. Hall (con't)
and to make it a good place to rear a family.
He is a staunch believer in morality and the enforcement of law. Very friendly to all organizations that are trying to make this world what the Man of Galilee would have it be.
He and his wife have reared their family in Tulsa. Three girls and two boys. The children attended the mission and public schools in Tulsa. Then were sent away to finish their education.
THE RAILROAD TO TULSA
The first railroad into what is now Tulsa was the vein through which the town's life blood flowed. But ahead of the railroad went a small army of tramps, from town to town and from house to house, begging for clothing and something to eat.
About 1875 a railroad known as the Atlantic and Pacific constructed a line from Pierce City, Mo., to Vinita, Indian Territory, making a junction with the Missouri, Kansas and Texas road that had bean constructed through the territory some years earlier. Vinita remained the terminus of the A. and P. road seven years.
The Frisco railroad corporation took over the Atlantic and Pacific some time prior to January, 1882, when a contract was let to extend the line from Vinita, in the Cherokee Nation, to the Arkansas river, which was in the Creek Nation at the point decided on for the new terminus. This point is now Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The contractors given the job were 0. B. Gunn of Kansas City, Mo.; C. M. Condon and H. C. Hall of Oswego, Kan., and B. F. Hobart of Springfield, Mo.
Mr. Gunn's business was to look after the construction part of the road, since he was an engineer, let the subcontracts and check up the estimates made by the engineers. H. C. Hall looked after the pay rolls, assisted in buying supplies and spent part of his time at the railroad company's offices in St. Louis. C. M. Condon was a banker, and concerned with the financial end of fulfilling the contracts. B. F. Hobart was connected with the M. K. & T. Coal Co.
VINITA BECOMES A CITY
In January, 1882, the contractors bought their grading outfit, 65 teams of mules in St. Louis, corn, oats and hay in Kansas and Missouri and shipped every thing to Vinita. It was a busy period for that small town, which immediately took on some aspects of a city.
When the contractors had everything in readiness they found they were short of men, and placed an order for 100 workers with an employment agency in St. Louis. Within 10 days about 75 men were unloaded as the depot in Vinita - without bedding of any kind, hungry and the worst lot of dirty, rednosed bums that the Territory has ever seen, before or since.
The author was working with his brother and the other contractors. A store building had been rented in Vinita, one with two rooms on the ground floor and single large hall occupying the second floor. The lower rooms had been filled with groceries, work clothing, tents and tools.
The bums were marched from the rail road station to the hall, then marched down again and given bales of hay, so they could make down beds like farmers do for their horses. Then negroes were hired to fry bacon and cut bread and the hungry men ate with great gusto for several days, it being too cold to start work. There was snow on the ground. The men had no liquor and were not in the best of spirits because of this fact.
MELTED WITH THE SNOW
Then the snow melted and so did the army of bums. They went on the tramp route, and they had a hard time. Talk about hard times; we don't know anything about real hard times in these days.
But more men were hired and J. E. Thomes, the chief engineer, had his crew set grade stakes beginning at Vinita and the construction work on the railroad to the Arkansas river was on!
Sub-contractors soon appeared in considerable numbers. Some of them wanted one mile, some two miles and others from three to five miles.
Some white men had preceded the railroad into the Territory, of course. About five miles West of Vinita the grade stakes were set through a farm owned by an Irishman who had married a Cherokee woman. When the graders came to this farm the Irishman said "no."
Now there is a fighting combination for you - an Irishman and a Cherokee woman. The Irishman made his enemies furnish part of his defense. He built a barricade out of railroad ties that had already been dumped on his land and he got inside the barricade. His wife carried food and water to him and he kept the whole force of railroad workers at bay for several days.
The contractor on this particular section sent for two gunmen who were noted
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