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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 35

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Attempts At Better Farming (con't) 

       One year he and the writer bought several thousand bushels of corn paying 12 1/2 to 15 cents per bushel. A long crib was built, running from Main street to Boulder avenue on First street, But there was no market for the corn and, after it had been held for a year, it was shelled, sacked and shipped to Fort Smith where it brought but 17 1/2 cents a bushel, making this transaction a costly one.

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       Mr Hall also entered into an agreement with some Indians to enclose a large pasture, beginning on what is now Lewis avenue for about 12 miles south, then east 18 miles, then north to the Creek-Cherokee line and then west to the place of beginning. This enclosure took in all of the eastern part of the present day Tulsa as well as what is now Broken Arrow and the country between the two towns. At that time only three Indian families lived inside this pasture.
       Ranch houses were built, as were water tanks and corrals for the care of the cow horses. And here, too, Mr. Hall put into cultivation a 100-acre farm, The first wheat raised west of the Verdigris river was grown on this farm and three cars shipped to the elevator at Seneca, Mo.
       The agreement with the Indians when the pasture was fenced was that they should share equally in the profits. Cattlemen from Texas would ship in cattle in the spring, fill the pastures and, when the cattle were fattened, ship them on to the markets in St. Louis and Chicago. The cattlemen paid so much per head. This proved a paying investment for the Tulsans for several years. Later the cattle men usually had a number of head that were not fat in the fall. They would sell these to the Indians, charging high prices, deducting the amount due for pasturage and taking notes for the balance, The Indians often lost not only the pasture money but also were unable to pay the additional obligations and had to turn back the cattle,

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       But more than one Indian became a good farmer during this time and families are living today on farms created then. One little Cherokee who clerked in the J. M. Hall & Co. store is an example. The store owners offered to put a farm in cultivation for him and to turn it over to him entirely when enough products had been sold to pay back the original investment in clearing the farm, He selected a place beginning at the Frisco's right-of-way running south to the Creek line on Lewis avenue, then east across Coal creek (west of Rosehill cemetery), thence to the railroad and along it to the place of beginning. About 300 acres were enclosed for him and the contract for "breaking out" 250 acres was let to Jack Wimberly, who had several teams of oxen. A farm house and other improvements were built.
       It was only a few years until enough from the farm had been sold to pay in full all the money expended. The wheat raised on the farm in one year brought $900. During this time the Indian married. His widow is living on part of this rich allotment at the present time.
       There were other experiences near early Tulsa that were not so happily ended. About 1886 the little village was excited by a farm tragedy. The writer left Tulsa by horseback and leading an extra horse to meet a herd of steers being driven up from the Katy station at Wybark, north of Muskogee. The first night he stopped at a farm house near Coweta, finding an old farmer alone. The farmer and his wife had quarreled during the day and she had gone to spend the night with the neighbors.
       The writer was not impressed with the farm house nor with the prospect of sleeping with the old man in the single bed the shack possessed. But the country was wild, and sitting in the doorstep, he could see the Indians in their red blankets riding single file eastward along the Arkansas river. He chose the farm house instead of open country but was soon sorry. His supper consisted of wild green dock with no seasoning and corn bread that tasted just like dry meal. There was tea made out of spice wood, and no sugar.
       Rats ran all over the room during the night and the next morning both of the writer's socks were gone He wrapped handkerchiefs around his feet and returned to Tulsa.
       Ten days later two men came to town and purchased two coffins. The old farmer had killed his wife with a hoe and hanged himself. The crime had been committed at the lonely farmhouse in a fit of despondency and anger and had not been discovered for days. Poor farmers had hard times in the early days.

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