Notable Niners

Hardy Cryer Anglea

Hardy Cryer Anglea was one of the first to arrive in Edmond on April 22, 1889. His claim house was one of the first homes built in Edmond, along with Colonel Townsend and John Wheeler Turner. Anglea married Miss Daisy Collier of Tennessee in 1890 –she died in 1896. Anglea married his second wife Eva Link on Halloween in 1899. Anglea was an authority in real estate and considered one of the best informed men in Oklahoma on the resources of the new state and land and property values.  He brought thoroughbred horse stock to Oklahoma Territory from Tennessee. His brother, John M. Anglea owned the historic home that later became the “Angel House.”

Born: October 31, 1859 in Castalian Springs, Tennessee
Died: October 28, 1907 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Anglea died a few hours after an appendicitis operation

Anton H. Classen

Oklahoma City civic leader and land developer Anton H. Classen was born October 8, 1861, at Pekin, Illinois. Classen received a common school education in Illinois and studied law at the University of Michigan. Two years after he graduated from college, he made the 1889 land run into the Unassigned Lands of Oklahoma Territory, living for a brief period in Guthrie. The town had too many lawyers, so he sought opportunity in nearby Edmond. While practicing law, Classen edited of the Edmond Sun newspaper and promoted the location of Oklahoma Territory’s first normal school at Edmond. He served as Edmond’s Postmaster and was instrumental in bringing the Interurban Rail to Edmond.

Charles A. Dake

Charles A. Dake came to Edmond shortly after the Land Run of April 1889 from Lowell, Michigan. Dake promptly opened a photographic business. He took a series of photographs on June 29th, 1889 that recorded the rapid growth of the town. The photographs shown at left show “Edmond Looking West” and “Edmond from Coal Shed,” were both taken as a part of this important series. Thanks to his pioneering photography, today we are able to see the progress the town of Edmond had made in just 37 days after the Land Run that opened the “Unassigned Lands.”

Charles A. Dake was elected Mayor of Edmond from 1893 to 1894 and took many early photographs of the landscape and its pioneers. Ironically, there are no known photographs of  Edmond’s pictorial historian. Dake died in April 1899, ten years nearly to the day after the founding of the town.

John & Ophelia Gower

John & Ophelia Gower relinquished a portion of their 160 acre homestead to establish the Gower Cemetery in November 1889. The Cemetery was historically significant for its association with the African American settlers who lived in the area of their original homestead. John Gower was a stonecutter and Ophelia served as a mid-wife.

Burials in Gower Cemetery included an advanced group of “Americans of Color,” as an outgrowth of segregation. The first burial at Gower Cemetery occurred on November 20, 1896.

Succeeding generations maintained and cared for the cemetery. Willie T. Gower, their eldest son developed a burial plan for paupers, homeless and indigents of the streets in the 1930s.

On November 18, 1991, the Gower Memorial Cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The cemetery is located on Covell Road between Douglas Boulevard and Post Road.

Gottlob Heinrich Fink & Bennettie Nave Fink

Homestead Certificate No. 3123, Application 344, Oklahoma City Land Office
SW 1/4, Section 3, Township 13, N of Range 4, West of Indian Meridian
Original Claim: Spring Township, Oklahoma County
Born: December 7, 1867, Mundelsheim, Wurtemberg, Germany
Died: January 16, 1930, Edmond Oklahoma

Gottlob Fink was an early Edmond businessman greatly interested in the betterment of Edmond and the community. He engaged in real estate and was an organizing officer of the Citizens State Bank in 1901 and the Farmers State Bank in 1907. The two banks were consolidated under a national charter in 1912, and continued as the Citizens Bank with G.H. Fink serving as a cashier. He eventually became president of Citizens Bank in the 1920s.

  • City Councilman, 1926
  • Mayor of Edmond, 1929
  • Helped acquire the site for Old North and Evans Hall at Central State College
  • All four of his daughters graduated from the Normal School in Edmond.
  • 32nd Mason and Shriner
  • Active in I.O.O.F. and Kiwanis organizations.
  • Fink Park in Edmond was named for Gottlob Fink

The Fink family immigrated to America in 1880, and settled near Oregon, Missouri. At age 23, young G.H. came to Oklahoma Territory where he took up a claim ten miles west of Edmond.

Lanza, Ruth Willett, “Happy Years of an ’89er,” True West Magazine, Dec 1989.

George and Jennie Forster

George C. and Jennie Forster Arrived in Edmond April 22, 1889 and established a Pioneer Grocery in a tent day after the run (1889-1893) their grocery store went on to be the first library of Edmond, Oklahoma.

George Forster

  • Operated Forster & Thompson Dry Goods & Groceries 1894-1904
  • Owned Forster and Jayne Dry Goods 1905-1925
  • Member of first duly elected provisional Edmond City Council
  • Organizer of First Presbyterian Church
  • Served on Board of Directors of Bank of Edmond -1890s
  • 1892-1893 served as Edmond City Treasurer

Jennie Forster

  • Jennie Forster served as first president of Ladies Aid Society and School Aid Society
  • Operated millinery and ladies furnishing goods department in their store
  • Jennie Forster was Edmond’s first librarian, opening the first library in their pioneer grocery store with books she brought on their journey into Edmond, I.T.

Aaron & Ella Fretz

Aaron Fretz was born in 1840 in Pennsylvania and was a Civil War veteran. Aaron Fretz filed one of the first taxpayer’s lawsuits, complaining of what he felt was an illegal resolution in 1913 giving the Normal School 2.4 million gallons of water a year. The Supreme Court ruled against him.

When he was 77 years old he took a 10-month long trip, by horse and wagon, revisiting the Civil War battlefields where he fought. He visited 10 states on his journey. Aaron Fretz made the Run to Edmond in 1889 by train, was a civic leader, mechanic and organizer of the local G.A.R. Post. Fretz survived the Civil War and lived to the age of 95, helping the Red Cross in the First World War effort before his death in 1935. In 1918, the Oklahoman reported that Fretz still possessed the claim stake flag he used in 1889 to stake his claim. It was yellowed and with the handwritten letters “Taken – Center 160 acres – A. Fretz.” Fretz brought the first Minister to Edmond, helping to build the first church and establishing the first free public school in Edmond. Fretz died in the Union Soldiers Home of Dayton, Ohio on January 29, 1935, buried in the Union Soldier’s cemetery there. Fretz Street in Edmond is named for him. The above photograph was taken by Charles Dake.

James and Kathryn Kunc

  • Helped build the first Catholic Church
  • Helped build country roads and kept them repaired
  • James Served as a school officer at Fairview School
  • Directed and coordinated construction of telephone lines.
  • Kathryn served as midwife to neighbors

John Mitch

  • Civil War Veteran
  • Mayor of Edmond 1890-1891
  • Promoted parks and beautification
  • Established first park in Edmond at Broadway and Campbell
  • Mitch Park is named after John Mitch
  • Encouraged city beautification
  • Planted 1,000 shade trees on the Territorial Normal School Campus
  • Nicknamed: “Father of the Normal School”

Colonel Henry H. Moose

  • Civil War Veteran
  • Arrived in Guthrie on opening day of April 22, 1889
  • Active in organizing the city and organized the first Masonic Lodge in Guthrie.
  • Came to Edmond in September 1889 and organized the Edmond Masonic Lodge
  • Grand-Master Masonic Lodge, 1890-1891
  • O.T.’s second pioneer public school teacher, fall 1890
  • Served as Edmond City Clerk for 10 years
  • Served as Justice of the Peace 1893-1894

Milton W. Reynolds

  • Published first issue of “the Edmond Sun” – July 18, 1889
  • Made land run April 22, 1889 by train
  • Attended the 1867 Medicine Lodge Council where he met Kicking Bird, the Kiowa Chief, and adopted the pen name Kickingbird.
  • Well known journalist and scholar, coined term “Oklahoma – Land of the Fair God”
  • Promoted civic improvement community spirit and in making Edmond a center of learning
  • Elected to the First Territorial Legislature as the Member-at-large of the House of Representatives, August 5, 1890
  • Considered founding father of the Oklahoma Press Association
  • Original claim was Signal Mound Stock Farm, which today serves as Edmond’s Kickingbird Golf Course

Issac & Catherine Rodkey

Pioneer Issac Wesley Rodkey was born in Maryland, the son of a farmer, in 1864. With partner George Farrar, purchased the Gallihue-Martin Mill, renaming it “Eagle Flouring Mill” in 1897. The company, renamed “Rodkey’s Best Flour” in 1911 and eventually served the entire southwest United States. The Rodkey Mill was owned and operated by members of Rodkey Family until 1972. Issac Rodkey married Alice Kate (Catherine) Rank in 1888.

Catherine Rodkey, founder of the Edmond Gardening Club, spearheaded the beautification of many Edmond parks.

William Maurice Sulcer

A community leader in religious and educational circles, was hired as the Separate School teacher in 1895 as a salary of $50 per month.  William was the second principal and teacher of the early Edmond Separate School that he nicknamed “Tuftime.”  As a true Oklahoma pioneer, educator, and religious leader, Sulcer participated in the shaping of conditions for the establishment of the influential Oklahoma County Ida B. Wells Teach Association and the State Oklahoma Association of Negro Teachers.

He also played a key role in the establishment of the University at Langston.  Langston University was established in 1897.  At that time, a university for the preparation of black teachers was needed because the Normal School in Edmond refused to enroll them.  At the time of
his death at age 102, W.M. Sulcer was Oklahoma’s oldest African American teacher and the last member of the Tennessee group that had organized Oklahoma City’s most significant historic African American-related resources of its time: Calvary Baptist Church.

Richard  & Melissa Thatcher

  • Civil War Veteran, enlisted at age 15
  • Escaped Andersonville Prison in the Civil War
  • Served as first president of the Territorial Normal School- October 1, 1891
  • Held that position until 1893 then became chairman of the mathematics department
  • Purchased Central Hotel on First Street in 1890, his wife Melissa managed the hotel
  • Melissa served as the first president of Edmond’s Methodist Ladies Aid Society

Colonel Eddy B. Townsend

Born: May 21, 1844 Sacketts Harbor, New York
Died: July 1909 Washington, D.C

Townsend is pictured the 4th counting left to right, standing to the left side of the doorway of the first house built in Edmond, I.T.

Colonel Eddy Baldwin Townsend, who built the first house in Edmond, enlisted at the age of 17 in his father’s regiment: 149th New York State Volunteer Infantry. Before his leadership built the town, he had worked through the ranks from private to second lieutenant in the 8th New York, was made a major for his distinguished service while in Richmond, and finally came to his rank as colonel as a member of General Ordway’s staff. Colonel Townsend was also a special agent of the Interior and an official of Washington D.C.’s government under Alexander R. Shepherd. Townsend died in 1909 in Washington D.C., and was touted as “one of the best known citizens” in the capital city. He is buried in Arlington Cemetery.

Do you have ancestors who were Niners & Pioneers in the Edmond area? Visit our Exhibit “I was Lonesome, Awful Lonesome,” to read more biographies.