named for 1934 City Manager
Fred M. Stephenson
Stephenson Park was named in 1934 by the City Council for then
City Manager Fred M. Stephenson for his service to the City. Formerly known as “South
Park,” the newly refurbished Stephenson Park of the thirties boasted of tennis and croquet courts, an
elaborate rock garden in the ravine and the planting of trees and shrubs in 1934. The
rock northwest wall entrance to the park was also a W.P.A. project built in
A date stamped into the stonework by W.P.A. workers at the northeast entrance of Stephenson Park. The VFW Building and the Edmond Armory also located in the park, were additional projects taken on by the Works Progress Administration.
Stephenson Park History:
The land that later would be Stephenson Park, (formerly South Park), has a
history of significance leading back to the years it was being mapped by the
railroad. In January, 1886, a party of fifteen surveyors under civil engineer
J.D. Wirt left Arkansas City to survey a new route from there to Gainesville,
Texas. It was between mile markers 102 and 103 out of Arkansas City that the
surveyors noted the area had a “good spring.” This spring was located at 4th and Littler, now the northwest corner of Stephenson Park.
Colonel Eddy B. Townsend, Hardy C. Anglea and J. Wheeler
Turner made the run into Edmond April 21, 1889 on foam-lathered horses. These
town founders had been living and working in Indian Territory prior to the run.
They all made the run from the west line of Kickapoo Indian Reservation,15 miles
east of Edmond on horseback. It was Eddy Baldwin Townsend that claimed the
northeast quarter of Section 35, building the first home in Edmond just west of the Santa Fe
Station. The day
of the Land Run the claim was immediately at the center of a legal
because Alexander Smith, a section hand for the Santa Fe Railroad in
Edmond had driven stakes into that very same claim. In December of 1889,
the General Land
Office in Washington reversed the local land office decision in the case
Townsend prevailed. Smith, the railroad section hand had ignored the
notice that railroad employees wishing to claim land would have to leave
the Oklahoma District. Townsend eventually gave this tract of land to
the City of Edmond in
1892, calling it at the time “South Park,” which eventually became Stephenson Park.