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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 96

Dividing Line


 January 19th, 1933.

        With a companion driving a mule team I arrived in Tulsa late in the day April 28, 1895. We stopped in the afternoon at the old Spring near what is now the town of Sand Springs to rest and water our mules. Some Indians had just cut a bee tree nearby and we had the rare delicacy of honey for lunch.
        Tulsa at that time had a population of approximately eight hundred people. The only railroad was the Frisco. Almost all lines of business was represented, being a number of general stores carrying on an extensive business. I was hunting a location for the practice of law. A United States Commissioner's court had just been established at Tulsa. The commissioners had the jurisdiction of all civil cases in his district involving amounts up to three hundred dollars. He also had jurisdiction to try all misdemeanor cases and to hold preliminary examinations of all felony cases arising in his district.
        The feature of those times that have left the deepest impression on my mind was the peaceful and law-abiding spirit of the early settlers. New countries are not settled and civilization established by murderers, bandits and crooks. But new countries are settled by the more intelligent and energetic young men and women of the older communities, who are seeking to establish homes; and to take advantage of the opportunities of a new country, and to build churches and schools. United States commissioners district comprised all of what is now embraced in the counties of Washington, Tulsa, Creek and large portions of Wagoner and Okmulgee.
        The only peace officer in this region was the constable, and an occasional deputy marshal from Muskogee or Fort Smith. There are probably more crimes committed in the city of Tulsa in one week at this time (1932-33) than in the whole of the above region in one year at that time. The people at that time took pride in their community and were zealous in promoting its welfare. Their character and enterprise is evidenced by the foundation they laid for the wonderful city we have here now. I will always love the memory of the good people among whom I lived.


January 6, 1933.

        You asked me to write you a letter answering the question. "Why I came to Tulsa."
        The first time I ever heard of Tulsa was in the spring of 1898 when I was a senior in McCormick Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Chicago. Rev. F. W. Hawley, who was the synodical missionary of the two territories at that time had sent a letter to Dr. Herrick Johnson of McCormick seminary to select two seniors, one to go to Enid, Oklahoma Territory, and the other to Tulsa, Indian Territory. Rev. L. C. Walter, now our synodical executive, was selected to go to Enid and I was selected to go to Tulsa. My plans were made to arrive in Tulsa, May 10th.
        A few days before graduation a letter came from Dr. Hawley telling me that without his knowledge arrangements had been made for Leonard P. Davidson, a senior in Auburn seminary, to come to Tulsa and that he was sending me to Edmond, Oklahoma Territory. I arrived there May 10th.
        The Tulsa church became vacant in the fall of 1899. Dr. Hawley asked me to come here. I preached in Tulsa the last Sunday of 1899. The two sermons were preached in the old Mission school building at the corner of Fourth and Boston where the Cosden building now stands. It was a very cold day; not many people braved the storm to hear the young preacher. That night Tulsa had a terrible fire; one man was burned to death. In those days the fire alarm was given by shooting into the air. One man running to the fire was shot in the foot by a man who had imbibed too much "fire water" and was shooting into the street instead of the air. I returned to Edmond to consult Mrs. Kerr. We decided we had better stay over in Oklahoma Territory as it seemed more civilized.
        In a few days a letter came from you, Mr. Hall, urging me to come to Tulsa. You painted a glowing picture of the future of Tulsa and the Presbyterian church. The next day I received a letter from another man and for nine days letters kept coming. I decided if Tulsa was made up of men who had such visions for the town, were so enthusiastic over the prospects of its growth, and so persistent in their efforts, I would like to cast my lot in with them. I arrived here on the 10th of February, 1900, and have never been sorry I made this decision

Sincerely yours,

Dividing Line

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