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Graphics by Rhio

 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.

 Page 10

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Melted With The Snow (con't) 

for their reckless courage, and ordered them to clean out the Irishman. They sized up the situation and then one said to the other: "I will get the drop on him and if he makes a move I will shoot him and you go and pull him out." The other replied that he would do the shooting, and that his associate would go forward and pull the Irishman out. They couldn't agree and finally the contractor himself talked it over with the Irishman, reached a settlement, and the work went on.


       When the grading was finished about 30 miles west of Vinita the railroad store was opened at Dog creek, east of what is now Claremore, Okla. Later the store at Vinita and Dog creek were moved to the west bank of the Verdigris river and kept there for about two months, because it took some time to build the bridge across the river.
       While the store was here the northerners who were coming out with the railroad saw an example of Indian ability with firearms. An Indian outlaw was loafing in front of the store. He saw the Cherokee sheriff and his deputy ride up and got the drop on them. Quick as a flash Blue Star, the deputy, fired and killed the outlaw. That was one way of committing suicide in those days.
       Another form of suicide was illustrated a few days later. An old lady and two young men camped for several days about 50 yards from the store. One of the boys was sick. When the author returned from Choteau one night the company doctor told him that the boy had smallpox.
       Now if the men grading the railroad should have found this out they would have left at once. The woman and the other boy said that if they could get a tent they would move with the sick youth out on the prairie. A tent was issued and they moved. One morning after a heavy rain the woman came in the store and said that the sick boy, who was her nephew, had arisen during the night, slipped out during the rain and escaped into the darkness. The rain had made a nearby creek full from bank to bank and the boy being delirous, had jumped into the creek. The body was found a few days later.

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       On account of the heavy rains it was unhealthy in the Verdigris bottoms. The store was moved to higher ground, to a point where the town of Catoosa is now located.
       One of the contractors was very slow grading and blasting through what was known as the Blue Cut - about two miles west of Catoosa. The gang laying the rails arrived just as the grading was being completed. The graders would not allow them to put down the rails until they had been paid, and trouble brewed for a few hours. All night work on the payroll progressed in a tent beside the roadbed. As the sun was rising the graders were lined up and paid off, the work of laying the rails began and the company store, safe, and tent and every thing, was moved to what is now known as Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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       It was about August 1, 1882, when the railroad construction wagon rolled over the prairies from the east and into what is now Tulsa, Oklahoma.
       The surveyors had been in ahead of the paymaster and the supplies keeper, but they didn't stay except to run their lines.
       The chief engineer of the construction work, J. E. Thomes had the grading done for a side track, too, and was going to locate the town about where Lewis avenue now crosses the Frisco railroad, some two and one half miles east of what is now Main street
       Why this did not come about and how Tulsa was located by H. C. Hall is well remembered by the author. Mr. Hall warned Mr. Thomes that the site he had chosen was in the Cherokee Nation, and that the Cherokee laws prohibited a white man (other than an inter-married citizen) from engaging in business in the nation. He requested Mr. Thomes to move the town further west; into the Creek Nation - and the engineer acquiesced. The Creek laws were very liberal to white men engaging in business. So Tulsa was located without trouble, and Main street fixed permanently.
       The engineer had the grade stakes set to the Arkansas river. The grading had been done to a point about where Madison avenue now crosses the railroad. The author and his brother and the others with their party pitched their tent on the north side of the grade between Main street and Boston avenue.


       As the sun was going down that night the team was hitched to the wagon again and driven through the woods to a boarding tent that had been erected by Chauncey A. Owen on a hill near where the railroad bridge now crosses the river. Mr. Owen did not know where the town would

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