These are a few of the prominent personalities that made the run into the Edmond area in the Land Run of 1889. Visit our Exhibit “I was Lonesome, Awful Lonesome,” to read more biographies.
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” located at 203 E. Main. H.C. Anglea died in 1907 from a failed appendicitis operation.
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 in Edmond. He served as Edmond’s Postmaster and was instrumental in bringing the Interurban Rail to Edmond.
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 photograph to the left shows “Edmond from Coal Shed.” 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 although he 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 donated 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
Gottlob & Bennettie Fink arrived in Edmond for the 1889 Land Run and settled five miles west of town. The family moved to Edmond proper in 1902, building a Folk Victorian house at 318 E. 1st Street. 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. Fink died in 1930 while serving as Mayor of Edmond.
- City Councilman, 1926
- Elected 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
George C. and Jennie Forster Arrived in Edmond April 22, 1889 and established a Pioneer Grocery in a tent day after the run their grocery store went on to be the first library of Edmond, Oklahoma.
- 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 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
A Civil War veteran born in Pennsylvania, Aaron Fretz made the Run to Edmond in 1889 by train. He was a civic leader, mechanic, and organizer of the local G.A.R. Post. 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 hand written 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 cabinet card photograph to the right was taken by Charles Dake.
- 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
- 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 his George Farrar, Rodkey purchased the Gallihue-Martin Mill, renaming it “Eagle Flouring Mill” in 1897. The company, renamed “Rodkey’s Best Flour” in 1911, would eventually grow large enough to serve 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.
William Maurice Sulcer
A community leader in religious and educational circles, William Sulcer was hired as the Edmond Separate School teacher in 1895 at a salary of $50 per month. Sulcer was the second principal and teacher of the 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 Teaching Association and the State Oklahoma Association of Negro Teachers.
He also played a key role in the establishment of the University at Langston 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. When he died 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 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
- 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
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. He worked through the ranks from private to second lieutenant in the 8th New York, was made a major for his distinguished service, 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.