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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.

 Page 16

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Tulsa's First Baby (con't)

indicate that the first child born in Tulsa was a boy.
       Comes now George Bullette, a pioneer, being of sound mind, good moral character and honest intentions, and with no selfish motive, and makes the following statement:
       That John Carr, a carpenter, had been working on the railroad building in Tulsa and later on private construction in the village, and that Mr. Carr and his wife lived in a tent not far from the Bullette domicile. While living there in January, 1883 Mrs. Carr gave birth to a baby boy, whom she promptly named Ord. Bullette visited her often. When Ord Carr was six or seven years old the family moved away.
       If Mr. Bullette should be mistaken and if Ord Carr did not come into the world until after April 18, 1883, it seems that the honor of being the first child born in Tulsa would fall to Robert Besser, who now lives on a ranch neat Keystone. For on that day Robert was born, the son of Dr. and Mrs. James T. Besser, then living in a tent under a big elm tree near the site of the present Frisco railroad station. Robert's father carried with him to the grave the impression that his son was Tulsa's first white child. Mr. and Mrs. Joe Patrick, early residents of the vicinity who now live in Keystone also have had this impression.
       Some years ago a woman in Michigan claimed her child was the first born in Tulsa, but the author has no record of her statement nor of the facts concerning another claim often heard that the first baby was a girl and named Tulsa, after the town.


       Though the first baby may remain a mystery the name of the first doctor does not. He was Dr. W. P. Booker and his first office was a tent west of where First street crosses the railroad right-of-way to day. At the time of his arrival he did not know where the town would be located. When he learned he moved his tent south of the railroad and between Main street and the present Boulder avenue This location was desired by H. C Hall, who had filed a bond of $10,000 with the secretary of the interior for a license to trade in the Creek Indian Nation, and Mr. Hall gave Doctor Booker $10 to move his tent south, to property between First and Second streets.
       Later Doctor Booker moved to Caney, Kansas, where he died many years ago.


       The Arkansas river was here when the Indians were moved into the Territory from the southland. The old timers hated the river. When the water was high the current was too swift for the ferry boat.
       But the pioneers do remember with some degree of joy the great blue channel catfish that could be caught in the stream. Nearly all of the fish were more than a foot long. With very few bones and delicious to eat.
       Many were caught that weighed more than 40 pounds but it remained for one of the early fishermen to pull the prize beauty from the river - a monster weighing more than 100 pounds. It was a giant yellow catfish.
       A fish story like this needs corroboration. Fortunately this in the same chapter with his tale.
       "We bought a 104 pound catfish one day for $1.50," writes R. E. Lynch to the author under date of January 30, 1928. "Jay Forsythe and Mr. Thompson, the livestock man, were in town and I gave it to them. They bought some rope and intended to tie the fish in the water tank of a Frisco engine but it broke loose before they got there and Uncle Jay (Mr. Forsythe) said they had to get a pitch fork before they could catch it. People are always skeptical about fish stories, but you have the goods on this one. At that time it would have fed the town for a week."
       When oil was discovered and the oil fields developed close to the river with overflows into the stream the fish disappeared.
       Many years ago when the river was low it was frozen over for several days and horses and wagons were driven across the ice.
       With the development of the great sand shipping industry along the river the views of the pioneers have changed. Now they regard the stream as one of Tulsa s greatest assets. Thousands upon thousands of cars of sand have been deposited here, shoveled up and shipped away.


       But it was to wells and not the river that early Tulsa looked for its drinking water. The first water well was dug at the back of the Hall store in 1883 by a negro named Shanks. After he had dug down about 15 feet he left town for 10

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