Chamber Chatter for January 23 - Debbe Ridley

by Debbe Ridley

You are may or may not remember that the unique exhibits and displays in Marlow Area Museum were - and continue to be - organized and overseen by the Marlow Chamber of Commerce. A museum celebrating Marlow’s colorful history was a dream of community leaders over the years, and was finally made possible through the space donated by the Marlow Mercantile since Marlow’s centennial celebration in 1998.
One of the many missions of the Marlow Chamber of Commerce is to serve as Marlow’s historical collection, preservation and research vehicle to promote historical tourism and community pride. “You can’t tell where you are going unless you know where you have been.” – Unknown

One source of valuable knowledge about the early days of our community are the records of the Federal Government’s Indian Pioneer project, completed in 1938, as a part of the works of the Great Depression. Excerpts from one such interview of I.M. Lawson, conducted April 20 - 21, 1938 gives us a look at our roots.

“In 1879 my family moved to the Indian Territory near Aaron Springs, a few miles east of where Duncan is now located, although that town had not been thought of at that time. We drove a team of ponies to this country, locating in a log house near a small creek called Bear Creek.”
“One of my brother’s ponies happened to get away and he went back to Texas to hunt it. After finding it, he married and remained there. The other brother who was about grown at that time started freighting for Fort Sill, driving eight mules, using a jerk line. His route was from Fort Sill to Henryetta, Texas, and from Fort Sill to Caldwell, Kansas. Among the supplies he hauled for the fort, sometimes he hauled feed. This was part of his freight until they started putting up a wonderful supply of good prairie hay here in the Territory.”

“When crops were laid by in the summer, there wasn’t any work to be done for some time, so when I was nearly eighteen years old, as all boys did in those days, I usually looked other places for work. I came to Fort Sill in 1881. I found work cutting wood for the fort to use. “

“One very strange sight I saw while working at the Fort once. It was a long row of skeletons of horses that I was told belonged to Geronimo’s band. It was believed they might try to escape sometime so the horses were killed down to where there were three Indians to each horse.”

“There was a family living where the town of Marlow now stands, by the name of Marlow. They were good people and I knew them pretty well.”

“In those early days cattle was driven up the old Chisholm Trail to market; this was in 1883. Some few cattle were missing once and a sheriff blamed the two older Marlow boys of stealing them. They were away from home working in corn, shucking and shelling corn, and did not like to be accused of something they did not do, so in defending themselves they got in serious trouble which followed many years. That is the starting of the Marlow brothers as desperadoes. Later, two other brothers helped them. “

This 1938 interview really brings home the fact that the Marlow family was very real, and a very real part of the roots of this community. Again, we have this peek into the past through a Federal Works Project, the Indian-Pioneer Papers

This oral history collection touches on histories from 1861 to 1936, and includes typescripts of interviews conducted during the 1930's by government workers with thousands of Oklahomans about the settlement of Oklahoma and Indian Territories. The repository is the “Western History Collection, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma.”
“You can’t tell where you are going unless you know where you have been.”