This and That Newsletter
Vol 11 Issue 548 Circulation 5,000 July 26, 2007
I always love a mystery, and we've had a couple come in the past few days. One was even mentioned in the Mailbag nearly 3 years ago, but I didn't pay a lot of attention to it at that time. I know there must be a lot more questions and mystery to this story. But first I want to tell about a photograph Jerry Landrum brought by the other day. He took the pic about 20 or so years ago when he was traveling through, I believe Colorado.
Its a picture of a postcard and on it is the following: "Chauncey L. Kiser, Ardmore Oklahoma drinks kerosene. It takes the swelling out of his feet and reduces high blood pressure."
Now what in the world is all that about? I looked in Bill Hamm's cemetery records database and did not find anyone by the name of Chauncey Kiser. Did a search on google and found nothing. So I wonder who Chauncey was and why his picture was circulated on a postcard?
To the right of Chauncey's picture on the same postcard was another inscription, about a tombstone at Rosehill Cemetery: "Dr. J.J. Subers Been Here and gone, Had A Good Time". I could not find anything on a J.J. Subers either, so the mystery continues on these two guys.
Back to the email I received from a T&T Reader in January 2005 mentioning a Orville Lindsay Chambless (with a connection to Jack Ruby, and George Fuqua) and the mystery that surrounded Orvelle Chambless' death. First, here is the email I received on Chambless in 2005.......
"I did an article for the Ardmoreite on the first anniversary of the event, interviewing the funeral director who handled and buried the body. At that time the exact location of the burial was being kept secret to avoid crowds, but he did take me to it so I could photograph the grave for the article. He also told me (but not for publication at that time) that the body had been embalmed before it was burned. I just checked Google, also, and found that the connection to Jack Ruby was tenuous at best, through a third person, Jimmy Dolan a mob enforcer, who knew them both. An additional search however turned up another name, Frank St. Clair, as having been a friend of David Fred Hagler's who confirmed that the "accident" had been an insurance fraud scheme. Now that 50 years have gone by and all applicable statutes of limitations have run their course, there might be an interesting story there if anyone wants to dig deeply enough for it. Incidentally, another name from the Ardmore area popped up in the page that connected Hagler and Jack Ruby: that was George Fuqua, who was the terror of bootleggers during the mid-fifties until being shot dead by Dallas police while en route to hold up the finance office at Carswell AFB. After Fuqua's death, the FBI "got a tip" that he had been the killer of Orville Lindsay Chambless, the "flying bootlegger." and agents "discovered" the skeletal remains near Will Rogers field southwest of Oklahoma City. His bones were found on November 8, 1957. I was told, however, that the bureau's informant actually witnessed the killing, on the farm of Fuqua's parents near Healdton, and that Chambless had been buried there unbeknownst to the parents -- with the body being relocated by agents prior to going public about the discovery. The removal was to protect the parents, who had absolutely no connection whatsoever with their son's criminal activities. Fuqua was a most interesting character, and quite active in Carter, Jefferson, and Love counties during 1954/1955."
Now if the above is not enough to wet your whistle, this week I received more emails from out of the blue from one lady who's parents owned the property Chambless' body was found, and inquiring about more info, since she found the name on my website."In your article of January 2005 I read with interest your mention of Orville Lindsay Chambless, "The Flying Bootlegger," whose remains were found on a farm near Will Rogers Field in southwest Oklahoma City. This location is my family's farm where my father was born and where I grew up."
And then another email........
"It had to be 1958 or 1959, probably 1958. I was breaking in as the police reporter for the Oklahoman at that time, and another reporter (a reporter I was replacing) actually covered the story. I say 1958 because by the time of my marriage in February of 1958 I was already fully on the police beat, and the first night I went back to work Jo rode with me to the scene of a "man with a gun" incident -- and was scared out of her wits when I left her in the car and went to see what was happening. It was a false alarm.
In fact, the Chambless story could have been late 1957, even.
This other reporter told me some inside facts about the case that so far as I know have never been made public. I leave it up to you whether to publish them now: Chambless' remains were officially found near the South Canadian river, south of Wheatland and a bit west of Will Rogers Field (OKC), but he had actually been killed and first buried on a farm near Healdton. The killer was one George Fuqua, who himself was later executed by Dallas police while en route to hold up the Carswell AFB finance office. Unknown to Fuqua, the FBI had an informant who witnessed the murder but could never testify to it because she was Fuqua's wife (that's part of the story that caused it to be withheld). She said that Chambless was forced to dig his own grave, then shot. After Fuqua's death, the FBI dug up the remains and moved them to the spot where they were officially found, then waited for a rainstorm to cover their tracks and settle the ground over the new grave before "receiving a tip" and uncovering the bones.
The other part of why the story never saw light was that Fuqua's parents were decent folk who in no way shared any responsibility for their son's criminal activities, but the killing took place on their farm. That's why the FBI covered up the original burial and the transfer. Officially the murder was never solved. Chambless got his nickname in the days of prohibition because he used a war surplus C-47 transport plane to bring his booze into the state. At that time, an airstrip known as Wiley Post Field (no connection to the current Wiley Post Airport here) was located at the northwest corner of May Avenue and Britton Road in OKC. The southwest corner of the intersection, now occupied by businesses and an upscale residential area, was then just a thick grove of blackjack oak. One fine night Chambless was bringing a load into the airport with no lights, overshot the runway completely, and pancaked the transport into the trees. He apparently escaped injury because there was nothing at the scene to indicate anyone got hurt. Officially nobody ever learned who was flying it, but the grapevine quickly identified Chambless."
"I did some more digging at www.newsok.com and searched the Oklahoman's archives. The search is free, but it costs $9 for 24-hour access to read the articles so I only checked headlines. I found that Chambless
disappeared on August 8, 1956, and his car was found at Will Rogers airport
(the old one, not the current one) the next day. By November officers were
speculating that he had disappeared voluntarily. As I recall (but my memory
isn't always accurate) he left home saying he was going to meet someone but did not say who, and was never seen again.
Chambless' bones were found on November 8, 1957.
There were also headlines linking him to Fuqua as far back as 1954, in
connection with liquor hijacking.
One of the first stories I covered after moving to Ardmore in the fall of
1954 was a hijacking that happened on US 70; the victim was one Al Davis,
reputed to be the leading bootlegger of Carter County at the time. He was
unhurt but the robber put a bullet through the radiator of Davis' Lincoln.
Such hijackings were Fuqua's specialty. The Oklahoman archives have a number of headlines about such stuff from 1954 and 1955.
At that time, or not long thereafter, the Highway Patrol was using unmarked
cars to help catch speeders. Fuqua was reputed to use a red hand spotlight
to impersonate a patrol car, to stop his victims. Around Christmas of 1954,
someone impersonating a trooper attempted to stop a northbound vehicle
between Gainesville and Thackerville, but the driver did not stop and was
run off the road into a tree with fatal results. Turned out he was the
owner of a truck line, speeding north to the scene of an accident involving
one of his trucks. It was widely speculated that Fuqua was involved in this
but it was never proven. You might find more detail in the Ardmoreite
issues for late December 1954. The incident led to a legislative ban on the
highway patrol using unmarked vehicles!
I've told you twice now that Fuqua was killed by Dallas police while en
route to hold up the Carswell AFB finance office. However according to what
I found via Google about Fuqua last night, that isn't how he died (I think
I got the story from someone else in the first place when he was telling me
about Chambless' graves). Seems that Fuqua and a woman were killed by a
George McGann as part of a falling out in the Dixie Mafia -- and all of
these people were involved in one way or another with Jack Ruby!"
So, when you look at all of the above, there has to be a good story here. I won't reveal the originator of the above emails yet, but maybe in do time, after more is found out (he's still digging).
And if any T&T Readers with access to genealogy records and finds Chauncey Kiser or Orville Chambless, let me know. I still wonder where the 2 are buried.
Last week we had a couple of before and after photos of the house on D Street SW being removed. As I look at that block now, it sure looks different then I've been used to seeing it the past 35 years. Of course with the removal of 12 large trees and 2 smaller trees, its going to look different. In the pic below I am standing in front of where the house used to be, looking east toward Craddock Funeral Home on the next block.
This is looking west/southwest from C Street SW across from Craddock Funeral Home. I'm standing on the same spot where my kinfolks, the Randol family of the Randol Hotel (close up shot) on Main Street had their home place back in 1925.
Bob Hooser at Francis, Oklahoma emailed a listing for Cedar Grove Cemetery at Francis. Some of my Murphrees are buried there.
In last week's T&T I mention about cleaning the courthouse marble walls with plain old baking soda and water past, and how great the combination worked. They are almost through with the 1st floor and starting on the second floor. Below is a couple of pics of before and after, and my camera really doesn't show the difference that well, but believe me, its a big difference. These first 2 photo shows how dinghy yellow the walls look.
In this next pic you see the difference after a wall is cleaned with baking soda and water paste.
And this is a view of the paste plastered to a wall.
I created a webpage to place some items for sale and items I'm looking for......
MAILBAG"Hello again, enjoy reading the newsletter but, Wewoka in Seminole is barking water not roaring water at the jct of 56 and 270 the sign says barking water, but still you do one of the best jobs around w/info abt old towns old cemeteries. I have been looking for some family, Little, my great grandmother was a little from Pontotoc Co Miss she is buried in Drake cemetery south of Sulphur and west. I found 3 graves, 2 men and a woman at Gene Autry cemetery but have no leads to their Little descendants. I heard that someone from Gene Autry who had descendents moved to Ardmore would know. if any of your readers know of these people info would be appreciated. firstname.lastname@example.org
"Red Farrell had a grocery store before the curve going into Healdton. He had a son, John Henry Hank Farrell, class of 1963."
"Butch, You mentioned cheap gas in Maud for $3.04 a gallon. We bought gas in Madill for $2.98 when it was $3.05 here last week. I always buy gas in Madill if I'm working in Durant. It's usually cheaper by at least 5 cents. Also, there are two great restaurants to try over in Kingston. One is Rico's Mexican and the other is BG's Catch. Rico's has some of the best picante sauce around and also good fajitas. BG's catch is a catfish buffet with all the fixin's. They also have fried and boiled shrimp, chicken, and chicken fried steak. But the best part of the buffet is the HOMEMADE ice cream."
Hi Butch and Jill, Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary! Sorry I missed you when you were here in Medicine Park. Hope you'll come back again soon, 'cause everything is changing so rapidly! Several years ago I went to Wapanucka, Oklahoma to visit my Dad's nephew and neices (my cousins). They took me all around the countryside and told me of stories regarding my grandparents and my Dad. One story was told about a spring that flowed with bromide. It was said to have healing powers, so President Hoover came to the spring once to drink from it. The spring still flows, altho it's more of a trickle today than it is a spring. I also believe it is condensed bromide, because it tastes plum awful!!!! I was almost afraid that the taste indicated it was poisonous! (my knees quit hurting after I drank it though.) Then my cousin took me to the old school where my Dad went as a youngster. I walked inside (it's been closed for years) and expected to find a piece of memorabilia........... I found a spoon struck in a wall crack and an ink well....... I was in heaven! I could just imagine my dad eating jam with that spoon and dipping his pen in the ink well for some story he was told to write. I kept these with the treasures I have that remind me of my Dad. Times were certainly different back when Dad was a boy. I'll write about that some other time. Enjoying the "Summertime" in the Wichita Mountains." -Joy Willingham email@example.com
"Butch, I wonder if you could pose the question of root cellars to your older readers. Will they stay cool enough in the hot Oklahoma summers? How deep were they and how were they constructed? Thanks for your good work." -Judy Bowman, Tabletop Homestead, Foster, OK
Ardmoreite Jack Gant, W5GM, helped organize the Ardmore Radio Club in the 1940s, was active in Civil Defense, was a “storm chaser”, and met with many emergency Nets. He gave tests for amateur licenses to many in this area and taught communication for the University of Oklahoma before enlisting in the Marines for WWII.
Jack died December 6, 2000 at the age of 84. He was former American Radio Relay League (ARRL) West Gulf Director and served as West Gulf Division Vice Director from 1972 to 1976 and as Director from 1977 to 1980. Licensed for 66 years, Gant was an ARRL member and formerly held the call sign W5EGR. He belonged to the Quarter Century Wireless Association. In the 1970s he was active in ARES as Emergency Coordinator for Carter County, Oklahoma. He also served as chairman for the Texoma Hamarama Hamfest.
He was an independent oilman and held a private pilot’s license. Evelyn, his wife of 60 years, said there was always room for a “ham shack” in their home, and ham radio was his “first love” before they met.
The link below is a photo showing Jack D. Gant, W5GM, with his hand-held Ham radio as he helped with the Christmas parade in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
Jack Gant W5GM
"Dear Butch, I love to read about you and Jill and your weekend "jaunts" around Oklahoma. My husband and I used to love to go junking... that was one of our favorite weekend things to do. He died last December and I am just lost without him, but now I feel like I'm going along with you and Jill. :-) And I don't want to miss any of your trips."
"Greetings: For near 60 years, Ardmore has had the pleasure for young people who were raised in Ardmore and the general area of our county to have a good clean place to go to meet and visit with other young people who were looking for whatever was happening in town that day. It started on Lake Murray Drive in the late 1940's, then continued where Grandy's is on North Commerce in the 1950s and eventually to the Restaurant at the Guest Inn on I-35 and Veterans Blvd. The man who made all this happen, I had the opportunity to see this week. He is in the Southbrook Healthcare facility at 832 Isabel Street, Ardmore, Oklahoma, 73401 and you guessed it, he is Joe Ben Ponder. He still has the old familiar smile but he is mobile only in a wheelchair. It was a pleasure for me to get to say hello and his response, although slow and difficult was super like his dogs. ha. It is my belief that he would be helped in his recovery attempt if anyone who has similar memories from growing up here and enjoying the fun at the Super dogs restaurants in Ardmore would say hello in some fashion."-Vernon Elmore, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Butch, For those who are looking for a peaceful, quiet getaway, let me tell you about Cedar Lake. This 86 acre lake is nestled in the hills north of Talimena Drive. Head north on hwy. 271 out of Talihina, go 10 miles, turn east on Holson Valley Road, drive 17 miles and you will find yourself deep in the Ouachita Forest. This quiet refuge has just undergone some major renovations, new bathhouses, clean camping, sandy swim areas and oh so peaceful. With a lake this small no large boats or jet skis are allowed, which makes it wonderful for those of us searching for a relaxing day in the sun or a few nights under the stars. Beware of evil squirrels though if you camp out and leave any food on your picnic table. Those little devils even attacked my Bible that I had left out. 3 pages of Mark had to be gathered up and taped back into place. Maybe they wanted to feed on the word, I'm not sure. But they seem to love marshmallows, graham crackers, plums and bread. My 5 year old daughter had me write a note to leave for the next campers to warn them of mean squirrels. I hope you like the pictures!" -Karen Pierce email@example.com
The Wilson News 2-11-1915
"Talk Of Moving Oil Field Town"
There seems to be no little dissatisfaction over the prices of leased lots in the oil field town of Wirt, and a new town has been laid out nearby.
The new town will be called Dundee and it is stated that several of the merchants of Wirt have already purchased lots. However, the situation seems to be somewhat mixed. The editor of The News, during a recent visit to the field, talked with some of the merchants of Wirt about the report that the town was soon to be moved and while some were inclined to think a move would be made others said that the story was circulated that the prices of leases would be materially raised for the coming year, and this was the cause of the talk of moving the town. At the same time we were informed that there was no foundation for the story that lease prices would be raised, and that renewals were being made on the old basis. It looks, however, as though there might be a rival town spring up, especially if the new townsite company have gone as far in their operations as reported.
The Wilson News 7-14-1915
"Dundee To Have School"
The citizens of the new town of Dundee in the Healdton oil field have joined hands with the people of the school district in which it is located and voted bonds in the sum of $18,000 for the building of a brick school building in the new town. Out of a total of 134 votes cast in the town, 133 were in favor of the issue. The bonds will be sold at once and work on the new buiding commenced. The district has plenty of wealth and the building is in no way an extravagance. - The Ringling News
*** Contributor's note: Dundee and Wirt, a.k.a. Ragtown, are W of Headton. Dundee was named in honor of the Dundee Petroleum Company. The old school building is gone, but has been commemorated with a monument.
Randy Travis 2004
I'm diggin' up bones
I'm diggin' up bones
Exhuming things that's better left alone
I'm resurrecting mem'ries of a love that's dead and gone
Yeah, tonight I'm sittin' alone
Diggin' up bones
See everyone next week!
Butch and Jill Bridgeshttp://www.OklahomaHistory.net
PO Box 11
Ardmore, Oklahoma 73402
Save on long distance calls, just a couple cents a minute!
Oklahoma Bells: http://www.OklahomaHistory.net/bellpage.html
American Flyers Memorial Fund - Administration Webpage
Official American Flyers Memorial Website
Ardmore Army Air Field/Ardmore Air Force Base Website
Mirror Site of the Ardmore Army Air Field/Ardmore Air Force Website
Carter county schools, past and present
Carter County Government Website
All previous issues of This & That can be found on my Website.
Feel free to forward this free newsletter. Mailouts: over 1,500.
To be removed from my T&T mailings, just send me an email.
I do not sell, trade or give my mailing list to anyone for any reason.