Documenting my family's past for future generations. My family tree includes the Smith/Mansell families of Alabama and Oklahoma, the Castle/Day families of Kentucky and Oklahoma, the Wheat/Ming families of Texas and Oklahoma, and the Bell/Roberts families of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The News from Oklahoma

From the summer of 1907 until the beginning of her teaching career, my grandmother lived in a farm between Davenport and Chandler, Oklahoma. According to the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, settlement in Davenport began in 1891 with the opening of Sac and Fox lands to non-Indians. A couple named Davenport staked a claim in that opening and their daughter Nettie became postmistress when the post office was established at Davenport in 1892. In 1901 plans to construct a railroad line through the area led to a building boom in the little town of Davenport.

My understanding of the move to Oklahoma was that my grandmother's Day grandparents came to Oklahoma first, followed later by the Castle family. James Thomas (J.T.) Day and his wife Nancy Emily Reed had been married in Magoffin County, Kentucky, on 13 April 1876 and by 1894 had seven living children, all girls: Ida, Florida, Zedda, Emma, Margaret, Minta, and Retta Lee. Sometime before 1907 the Day parents and their seven daughters, including Florida Day Castle and her family, had moved to Oklahoma.

But why Davenport? For a long time I didn't know or even question why or exactly when the Days had moved to Oklahoma. Then a few years ago I met some Day cousins and learned that our ancestors came to Davenport in a group led by Methodist ministers from Kentucky. I actually had forgotten that I knew that when I started to do some research on the Days last week and Googled "J.T. Day Davenport Oklahoma."

What I found was more than I expected. The Google search led to a priceless Oklahoma resource, the Gateway to Oklahoma History, an online repository of the Oklahoma Historical Society, which now consists of "hundreds of thousands of newspaper pages dating from the 1840s to the 1920s." My search of J.T. Day helped to pinpoint a date by which my 2nd great-grandparents had moved to Davenport -- 1904.

The first issue of the Davenport Leader in which J.T. Day appeared was dated 15 December 1904. The entire front page of the paper was dedicated to the growth of the town--the construction of a bank building, the preparations for oil and gas drilling, and the purchase of townsites for homes. The townsites were owned and sold by the group of Methodist ministers, incorporated as the Kentucky, Oklahoma, Indian Territory and Adjacent States Land and Townsite Company. According to the Leader, the secretary of the townsite company, Rev. C.F. Oney, had recently come to town from Kentucky to close several pending deals.

Davenport Leader, 15 December 1904

The Oneys were ancestors of the Days, so I did a little research on C.F. Oney. Creed Fulton Oney was the son of James Oney and Rhoda Day. My 4th great-grandfather, Thomas P. Day, and Rhoda Day were brother and sister. J.T. Day's mother was an Oney. So Creed Oney and James T. Day were double cousins. It made a little more sense now how my Days had ended up in Oklahoma.

On the front page of the 15 December 1904 issue of the Davenport Leader was the name I was looking for. The paper reported, "G.A. Hugo and J.T. Day are having plans drawn and will soon commence building large and substantial residences on their lots recently purchased." The 2 March 1905 issue of the Leader reported, "Wm. Tipton and family arrived last Thursday from Lykins, Ky. and for the present are stopping with his wife's parents, Mr. and Mrs. J.T. Day and family. He will locate here." William Tipton's wife was Zedda Day. Here is a piece of evidence that might support the story that Grandpa and Grandma Day's daughters followed their parents to Oklahoma.

According to my grandmother, the Castles came to Oklahoma the summer before statehood was declared in November 1907. After seeing the headstone of Goldman Davidson Castle in Kentucky, I wondered if his death in February 1907 gave his son George permission to follow his wife's family to Oklahoma.

So I began to search for mentions of the Castles in Davenport newspapers. The next item I found was in a different paper, the New Era, dated 12 May 1910, and was especially precious to me. My grandmother was born in 1897 and died almost 25 years ago. But here she is in print, captured forever at age 13: "The Era is indebted to Miss Fannie Castle, little daughter of G.T. Castle, who recently bought the Berry farm, for a monster boquet which she brought to the office last Saturday." 

My grandmother, Fannie Castle (back, center) at
about the age she delivered the bouquet

I also found several news items and articles referring to a fact that I don't think any of the Castle descendants knew: George T. Castle, former deputy court clerk of Morgan County, Kentucky, ran for the office of Register of Deeds for his new home in Lincoln County, Oklahoma. The following article appeared on 18 April 1912:

  The Era is pleased to be able, this week, to announce the candidacy of G.T. Castle for the office of Register of Deeds. Mr. Castle is known to most of our readers as a man of ability and integrity, but to his friends as well as to those who are not acquainted with him the following facts will prove of interest.
  He was born in Morgan Co. Ky, 45 years ago and made his home there until about five years ago when he came with his family to Lincoln Co. He has a good education, is a good accountant and served for four years as deputy clerk of Morgan Co. where the office of clerk and recorder are one. He is an able man, known to be honest in all his dealings, a good fellow in the best sense of the term, has a fine family, owns a good farm and knows how to manage it and has a host of friends in Lincoln county who can vouch for his fitness for the office he wants.

Following a few weeks later was an endorsement from the county court clerk of Morgan Co., James H. Sebastian, with the headline "Says Castle Is O.K."

The New Era, 13 June 1912

What I find really interesting is that the Davenport newspapers of the early 1900s were every bit as informative and gossipy as Facebook. Here is a sample of some of the little items of news that mentioned the Castles, both young and old.

5 August 1909
  • J.T. Day is putting in a cain (cane) mill and evaporator on his place two miles north of Davenport.
Davenport, OK on August 31, 1910

10 August 1911
  • Mollie and Debbie Massey visited Fannie and Georgia Castle Sunday. [My grandmother was 14; Aunt Georgia had just turned 8.]
  • Mr. and Mrs. Jones [Cora, George's daughter by his first marriage] of near Chandler were the guests of Mrs. Jones' parents, Mr. and Mrs. Castle Sunday.
17 August 1911
  • Mrs. G.T. Castle and little daughter, Jessie, visited the school Friday afternoon.
2 November 1911
  • There was quite a crowd at prayer meeting last Wednesday night. The prayer meeting will be at J.T. Day's next Wednesday.
2 May 1912
  • G.T. Castle and little son Goldman visited J.T. Day's Tuesday.
30 May 1912
  • J.T. Day and G.T. Castle and family were visitors at W.T. Tipton's Sunday.
27 June 1912
  • J.T. Day and wife were in Chandler on business Tuesday. [Was nothing private?]
  • G.T. Castle and wife were visiting the latter's parents Sunday.
  • Maggie Day was shopping at Davenport Thursday.
  • Misses Minta and Retta Lee Day are expected home Saturday from Chandler where they have been attending normal [school] for the past month.
26 September 1912
  • There was a family reunion at the Day home Sun. Everyone of the family was present and able to partake of a goodly dinner of which mutton was the chief diet. After dinner which was served on the lawn, a photographer was called and a family picture taken.
  • Minta Day and her sister, Mrs. Day who is here on a visit from Kentucky, expect to attend the State Fair...
2 January 1913
  • G.T. Castle and family have moved in from the farm and are occupying the Hugo house for the present.
13 February 1913
  • G.T. Castle, who was appointed deputy assessor for South Fox township, has started in on his duties.
30 September 1915
  • Miss Fannie Castle was in Chandler last Saturday.  
School Dope (column)
  • Fannie Castle was absent from school Monday morning.
14 October 1915
Literary Program a Great Success (article)
  • Miss Fannie Castle, in giving the reading "Little Nell," so vividly described the scene that you could almost see the flames leaping from the little log house on the hillside and hear the blood curdling yell of the savage red men. 
28 October 1915
  • Mrs. G.T. Castle and son Forrest drove to Chandler last Thursday.
18 November 1915
  • Fannie Castle of Davenport and Ollie Landis of Luther called on Marie Bell Sunday afternoon. [Marie Bell Lay was my grandmother's best friend from Davenport.]
30 December 1915
  • Miss Fannie Castle, who is teaching school near Tulsa, is here spending the Holidays.
Miss Fannie Castle as a young teacher

6 January 1916
  • Miss Fannie Castle and brother Forrest went to Tulsa Saturday night on the 9:02.
2 March 1916
  • Miss Fannie Castle came up from Tulsa Saturday, and returned to her school Sunday.
  • Marie Bell entertained a number of young folks Saturday night at her home in honor of Miss Fannie Castle of Tulsa. The evening was spent in music and games. Those present were Messers. Eldon Hall, Steve Grigsby, Roy Rounsavell, Hobart Baugus, Oscar Allred, Ollie Landis, Oliver Lay and Misses Jurene Grigsby, Gertrude Rounsavell, Ezma Johnson, Willa Harvey, Fannie Castle and Eva and Marie Bell.
I'm so glad I found these newspaper articles, and I'm so thankful to the Oklahoma Historical Society for these glimpses into a century past and the lives of my grands and greats.

Davenport Leader (Davenport, Okla.), Vol. 1, No. 33, Ed. 1 Thursday, December 15, 1904, Newspaper, December 15, 1904; ( : accessed November 13, 2016), Oklahoma Historical Society, The Gateway to Oklahoma History,; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The New Era. (Davenport, Okla.), Vol. 4, No. 23, Ed. 1 Thursday, June 13, 1912, Newspaper, June 13, 1912; ( : accessed November 13, 2016), Oklahoma Historical Society, The Gateway to Oklahoma History,; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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