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  < Back to Table Of Contents  < Back to Topic: Local Histories, Pictures & Event Archives

article number 493
article date 10-13-2015
copyright 2015 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
We Still Seek New Beginnings in the 1890’s, Creation and Growth of Fairview Oklahoma
by Various Local Authors
   

From the 1977 book, Gloss Mountain Country, A History of Major County.

* * *

Fairview’s beginning was almost the ending for on Monday, September 17, 1893, 5 men set up claims (perhaps Sandy Creek) but were quickly discouraged and drifted away soon afterwards.

However, one man, Henry Bower had the stamina and foresight to see a future for the area. Along with A. J. Bower, they moved onto Henry’s claim, which was officially still his, on December 21, 1893. They erected a sod house, the first house in Fairview and for many miles around.

During the winter they hauled cedar trees, dug a well and made other permanent improvements — Fairview was beginning to grow.

One frosty morning in January 1894, A. J. Bower walked forth from his sod house. He looked in all directions, then turned back east to view a beautiful Oklahoma sunrise. He named the vicinity Fairview. The name comes from an Indian word meaning “Fair Valley”. Thus, Mr. A. J. Bower became known as the father of Fairview.

He and his sons had a large part to play in the building up of the new settlement in its early days. The Bowers were a busy lot with all their preparations and an eye for the community. They set forth to obtain a Post Office and constructed a 12 feet x14 feet frame house and on October 1, 1894, the commission was received for Clifford D. Bower to become a full-fledged government agent, as the building set on his claim.

In less than a year after the first settlers arrived a sod school house, 55 feet x 28 feet was built and Perry Cunningham was hired as the first teacher.

A store was established by A. J. Bower and his son, Henry in the same building that housed the Post Office.

   
Street scene, Fairview Oklahoma, looking from south. Bower Bros & Company, "The One Price Cash Store."

During these early years, Dr. M. M. Smith arrived in Fairview and a short time later, opened the first drug store called, The Smith Drug Store. Today, 1977, this drug store is owned and operated by his son, Malcolm M. Smith. It is the only store in Fairview still under the same name and family control.

Various other businesses were established during these early days by various families, some of whose descendents still reside in Fairview today. Other families established farms in and around the settlement of Fairview.

Abundant crops in 1897, 1898, 1899, created a tide of home-seekers from every part of the nation to head for Oklahoma territory. During this period, and as a result of the railroad people advertising, ten thousand new families came and settled in Oklahoma and today, they still come to settle.

On September 28, 1900, the first copy of “The Fairview Republican” was published. The editor and proprietor was J. L. Hughey. Later the paper was owned and operated for many years by Perry Cuningham. Today, the paper is still called the Fairview Republican.

In 1901, a move was made to change the name from Fairview to Carroll, after the daughter of A. E. Stillwell, who was responsible for bringing the first railroad into Fairview. The Post Office was named and retained the name of Fairview, consequently, the citizens defeated the move and the name Fairview was retained.

During this year, the First Methodist Church had been constructed along with other churches.

Also, during this year, a place of extreme high quality was built by Mr. J. A. Floyd, it was named the Floyd Hotel and boasted of two dining rooms with large floral wallpaper on the walls. Few places of such high quality were then to be found in the territory. This hotel stood on the corner of Broadway and Main and was demolished on December 6, 1976.

   
Floyd Hotel in its early days, Fairview Oklahoma.

The preliminary steps were taken for incorporation of the town of Fairview in 1903. On June 2, 1903, an election was held and the following officers were duly elected: Town Clerk: H. P. Cunningham; Assessor; W. G. Stranathan; Treasurer; Dr. B. F. Johnson; Police Judge: J. A. Floyd; Trustees: L. R. Henkle, J. R. Haley, L. O. Swalen, T. E. Ludwick, and J. J. Newfeld.

The first meeting of elected officers was held on June 6, 1903 at the Bank of Fairview, later renamed the Fairview State Bank. The oath of office was given by H. C. Willis, Notary Public.

Their first order of business conducted by the new officers was appointment of committee to “look into the matter of City Ordinances.” On June 10th, a set of Ordinances for the town of Fairview was adopted.

The legal boundaries of the “City of Fairview” were described as follows:
“Beginning at the northeast (NE) corner of the northwest (NW 1/4) Quarter of Section 27, township 21, Range 12 WIM, thence west one mile to the NW corner of the NE 1/4 of Section 28, township 21, Range 12, thence south one mile to the SW corner of SE 1/4, Section 28, township 21, Range 12, thence east one mile to the corner of the SW 1/4 of Section 27, Range 12, thence north one mile to place of beginning.”

At a meeting of August 17, 1903 the oath of office was administered to J. W. Vickers as Town Marshall. He would be considered as the first employee of the town of Fairview. His salary was set at $10.00 per month.

A telephone franchise was granted to Central Telephone Company for 15 years.

On August 20, 1 903, 6 men were appointed as extra police men to serve, as on this date, the first Orient train arrived in Fairview.

On September 21, 1903, plans were made for construction of a Calaboose, 12 feet x 12 feet x 8 feet of 2x4 lumber and a shingle roof. The building was constructed and completed before November 2nd at a total cost of $163.83.

During this period, a fire engine was purchased, a chemical fire engine costing $500.00, with the total to be paid within 2 years.

During 1906 trees were purchased and planted in front of residences and in the parks. In 1908, the town purchased 188 White Ash, 156 White Elm and 98 Sycamore trees to place on Broadway, the Court House Square, Central and 5th Avenue. Some of these trees are still standing today.

In 1907, plans were made for a water system in Fairview, an election was held on a Water Bonds issued of $50.00. The issue was carried by a vote of 178 for — 7 against. An engineering firm from Kansas City, Burns & McDonald was hired to engineer the Water Works Project.

In March of 1908 a search was begun for the best source of water. The site selected was the present City Farm which still furnishes a portion of water to the city. Evidently a water works system was completed because in April 1908, records show that the town windmill was sold for $25.00.

After the Waterworks Project was under way, the town council called an election to decide on an Electric System. A $15,000 bond issue to install an electric light plant was approved in June 1908.

There are many other people whose names would appear on a roster of names making up Fairview’s history could they all be added. They each had their part to play in forming the colorful threads in the fabric of the early days in Fairview.

But here in the fertile valley, fringed by blackjack and dense thickets, the vision of the four men who had made the run into Cherokee Strip and camped on Sandy Creek that cool September evening in 1893, had come to pass.

Many events have taken place since the early days but the city now stands as a thriving, perpetual memorial to those stalwart heroes of yesteryear, and could they but know, their descendents are carrying on today toward an even better and more glorious day.

   
Street Scene with horse and carriage, after electric system, Fairview Oklahoma.

BUILDING THE STREETS OF FAIRVIEW

Told by D. A. Martens, Written by Mike Martens, October 1975

* * *

When the Cherokee Strip was settled in 1893 the area where Fairview now stands was open prairie covered with tall grass. Only after the Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient Railroad had pushed through the area did the town of Faiview begin to take shape.

The railroad built a roundhouse and repair shop at Fairview. They also put up several small frame houses for the workers to live in.

A few people interested in seeing a town develop hired a surveyor by the name of George Manahan to mark out some streets across the prairie. Once this was done, town lots could be sold and building started on them.

Next, someone with the right kind of equipment to do the job needed to be hired.

In the meantime two local men, Will Ollenburger and Dan Martens, had purchased a return-flu Huber steam engine and threshing machine from Dan’s older brother Peter Martens.

These two men were contacted by the individuals interested in building the streets and were eventually hired to do the job for $25 a day. Coal to fuel the engine was $6 a ton.

Thus work on the first streets of Fairview was begun. The city furnished on old grader that was hitched behind the Huber steam engine. Neil Bergthold was the engineer and Bill McEwen operated the grader. Work on the project lasted about 4 weeks.

   
Building the streets of Fairview with a "Return Flu" Huber Steam Engine. D. A. Martens, Neil Bergthold, William Ollenburger. Rest in picture unidentified. One of the team is thought to be a Mr. McEwen.

At that time the main part of the town was surveyed on land owned by John Floyd. Floyd eventually built a hotel in the town. Clifford Bower ran the post office and Guy BeShaw ran a cafe. There was a water well on main street about where Smith Drug is located.

Dan Martens, 18 years old at the time, and Will Ollenburger stayed nights at Dan’s mother’s home (Mrs. P. P. Martens) and ate their breakfasts there. They bought the rest of their meals at the cafe owned by Guy BeShaw.

Board for one week (two meals a day) was $4.50. Meals were eaten at a large table family style.

After the work on the streets was completed, Dan Martens and Will Ollenburger were persuaded to purchase town lots. Each bought several lots but a short time later dispersed with them thinking that a town would never take shape.

FAIRVIEW ON THE ORIENT - 1903

(The following is an account of Fairview in her infancy which was printed in a magazine called “The New Empire” published in June, 1903.)

Oklahoma has won fame by her own way of doing things. The growth of years in the older commonwealths is wrought here in a season. This is conspicuous in the building of her towns.

Many of them brought into life by the building of the railroads, have risen like the mirage from the naked prairie, or from the fields into busy trade centers, soon taking pride in waterworks, sewers, gas, electric lights, telephones, trolley cars, high schools, fine churches, clubs, boards of trade and the like.

It is the Oklahoma way of doing things, and is made possible by her wonderfully fertile soil and favoring climate, which have quickly brought agricultural prosperity, the basis of growth of the towns.

Fairview, which is to be the only division point in Oklahoma on the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railroad, is a lusty yearling.

Where wheat grew two seasons ago there is now a thriving town, which counts a bank, three general stores, a flour mill, three lumber yards, hardware, furniture, implement and drug stores, a newspaper, two hotels, machine shop, livery stable and a dozen other lines of business or occupations that are represented here.

This building has been done on the prospect of the railroad, and before its arrival, because Fairview is to be a divisional terminal, and because it is a natural location for a good town, perhaps a city.

It stands in a river valley ten miles wide, a level expanse of rich wheat land, and well adapted to various crops and products.

It is the natural point of supply for a region stretching forty or fifty miles west, in which there are no railroads. The 50 barrel flour mill at Fairview supplies country stores at fifteen to twenty places in this region, A mill of 250 to 300 barrels could do a good business here.

The bank paid $100,000 last year to the farmers hereabouts for broomcorn, a side crop. Improved farms are worth all the way up to $40 an acre, and many could not be bought for $50. They are equal to the best lands in Illinois.

There are no large towns near Fairview, although it is in the midst of a well developed region. This is due to the lack of railroads hitherto. This is no probability that a north-south railroad will be built to parallel the Orient on the west, or, at any rate, not for years to come.

This town has a rich field there upon which it can permanently rely. It will be the point of shipment for much freight in grain, livestock and other products and its merchants will furnish the staples to a wide territory including many small towns and villages.

Ample room has been reserved by the railroad company for round houses, switch yards, division repair shops and other uses common to a division point on a great transcontinental line such as the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient will be. These alone will bring many families here to buy or rent houses, and to spend their earnings here.

Already there is talk of a railroad northwest from Oklahoma City through Kingfisher to this point.

   
Fairview Boosters, July 22, 1913, promoting a Chautauqua:
- Bower Car: Dourban, Sumner Bishop, Bert McKisson, H. Weed.
- McLean Car: Fullerton and Fullerton.
- McKee Car: Nile Godfrey, John Roberts, Jim McKee, F. M. Prentiss, J. Lowder.
- Stewart Car: McClung, Will Graves, W. L. Stewart.
- Wahl Car: Gus Wahl, John Vorhees, H. P. Wimpey.
- Cease Car: Frank Staley, Les Early.

HISTORY TOLD OF FLOYD HOTEL

Submitted by Vida Lee Bowles

* * *

The grand old lady has a terminal illness and one day she’s bound to go. When she does much of the history of Fairview will be forgotten.

In the beginning she was proud and beautiful; a social and business leader, but through the years her prestige and grace declined. Now she is dying. Already some of her possessions are being disposed of.

Most people now know her as the Boehs Hotel, but she didn’t start out that way. She was born the Floyd Hotel — conceived in 1901 and completed in 1903 a three story, frame building containing 36 rooms.

Like many women, with time and prosperity she grew in girth but not in height. With the business brought by the railroad the size of the hotel was doubled.

J. A. Floyd, the father of the hotel, a colorful figure, came to Oklahoma Territory from Tennessee and made the race at the opening of the Cherokee Strip, September 16, 1893. He staked his claim on the east side of what is Fairview’s Main Street and in the beginning erected a sod house and dugout for his family. Shortly afterwards he built a two room frame house.

Because of the difficulties of obtaining merchandise and tools to farm, Floyd opened a general store which carried groceries, patent medicine, dry goods and coffins. Floyd was the Justice of Peace and the mortician of the community.

As the town grew, more and more vendors came to the area and usually stayed in the Floyd home. This is what first gave Floyd the idea of a hotel.

Before the railroad came, Floyd moved his general store to the ground floor of the hotel and his business sign read, “J. A. Floyd, the Robber—Cheap Goods at High Prices.” This was a gimmick which indicated the personality of the Floyds; as was the name of "Cherokee Strip," chosen for their son born Dec. 15, 1893.

The other Floyd children had more ordinary names like daughters, Charly, Joe and Edna, and another son, Ralph. Cherokee Strip became known as Cherry Floyd, an outstanding athlete and leader in the community.

The Floyd Hotel was a grand place, the people who remember it in the early days say. Paul Colby said that he and Ralph were friends and occasionally they went inside the hotel.

The entrance was at the north corner of the building. Behind the lobby was the dining room and behind that the kitchen.

The upstairs rooms were nearly always full, with railroad people, salesmen, and visitors traveling through town. Some local residents rented rooms and called them home.

Malcolm Smith recalls that his father, a doctor, and Henry Bower, a banker, shared rooms in the Floyd Hotel prior to their marriage.

Smith also recalled seeing Mrs. Floyd and a friend sitting on the second story porch in their rocking chairs watching the town go by. He said it was like a wild west movie, that you could almost imagine the cowboys darting out a window and jumping off the porch onto a horse and riding away.

   
Floyd Hotel, Fairview Oklahoma.

These were the glorious years for the beautiful hotel. As time passed and the town acquired a younger, more modern place for visitors to stay, the original queen took a back seat.

J. L. Boehs purchased the hotel and some remodeling was done, but it’s hard to make an old woman beautiful enough to compete with young girls, even if she does have more character.

The ground floor was divided into individual business space and the upstairs became a rooming house. Quite clean and respectable, but with wrinkles showing.

More time passed and it became more and more difficult to keep up appearances. The building was sold again and these last years must have been a nightmare for this once beautiful place.

Not that she looked so bad, considering her age, and degeneration came gradually, but some of the activities that took place within the privacy of the upstairs rooms would shock town residents. There are stories of fights and depraved living that the young hotel could never have believed.

Marvin Martens and Max Jordan said that when they purchased the building last summer and first went through the rooms, they were frightened by the eeriness of the place. They kept it open, renting the rooms for a month and then, seeing that this old building was quite ill, they closed the upstairs. They still rent the ground floor locations and will until they make definite plans for the use of the space.

As a step toward the end, they are selling at auction much of the furniture which they found upstairs. Some pieces are antiques, they say, and most all of it collectable.

There will probably be many curious people at the auction. I hope that they will think of the past and pay their respects to history.

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