This flat area was restored to its original wetland condition between 1993-1999. It encompasses over 7000 acres and was one of the hunting sites of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905. In the photo you can see the large numbers of birds resting on the shrub. At any one time there are about 2000 acres flooded and it is an ideal spot for hunting, birdwatching and primitive camping.
In my opinion the Pioneer Heritage Townsite Center is pretty impressive for such a small town. It is set on land next to the county courthouse on land that was originally the only municipal park. In existence for just a little over 30 years, they have put together an impressive array of buildings and artifacts. There is a school building from 1902, an African Methodist Episcopal Church from 1924, the old train station and a 1906 corn crib temporarily used as a home during the construction of a house. The center is probably more interesting to me as a home town boy, but it gives a great deal of insight into the history of Frederick and Tillman county and has a lot of items of interest from their past. We stopped for only about 45 minutes and wished we had another hour or two.
One thing that brings one up short - while seeing the old school I realized that the desks in it were identical to the ones in my childhood school. Guess that makes me an antique as well!
Also in the museum is a photo of the newly constructed Lowell School which was my first exposure to education in about 1942.
Hours are M-F 9:00-3:00 and is available for special events.
For some unknown reason, I missed hearing about these amazing little boys when I was growing up here, but the Abernathy brothers, at ages 6 and 10 rode horseback and alone from Tillman County in SW Oklahoma to New York City to meet then ex-President Theodore Roosevelt when he returned home from an African Safari. The boys had met him earlier when he came to Oklahoma to hunt wolves with their father, Jack Abernathy. Jack met them in New York and they persuaded them to buy them a Brush automobile which they then drove home. Now they are memorialized with a statue on the courthouse lawn in Frederick and 3 or 4 books have been written about their adventures. Their first long ride had been the previous year from Frederick to Santa Fe. Talk about capturing the Pioneer Spirit!
1015 S Main Street Tillman, Frederick, OK 73542
This area's economy is largely based on agriculture with wheat and cotton being the primary crops. There is also a significant amount of livestock - pigs and cattle, both beef and dairy. As I was growing up, the county was covered with family farms which these days are under larger management and control. When I was a child it was not unusual during wheat harvest to see truckloads of wheat lined up for over a mile to get unloaded at the grain elevators. As a youth I even picked cotton - back breaking work which I do not recommend. Getting cotton from the field into your shirt is not a short or simple process. In the old days, cotton was picked (pulling the cotton from the bolls) or bolls were pulled (pulling the whole pod off) and in both cases put into a long canvas bag strapped to your shoulder and trailing 5 or 6 feet long behind you. These days machines called cotton strippers move through and take it all in in one fell swoop. The cotton then has to be ginned, a process that separates the fiber from the shell and seed. Then it goes to a compress where it is compressed into bales for shipping. I haven't followed it beyond this but assume somewhere it has to be spun into threads, died and then woven into fabric.
This custom is not still being used since the advent of electric refrigerators and the demise of the old fashioned "ice box." It was called an ice box for a reason which was that, while it was thick-walled and insulated, it was a big box the contents of which were cooled by a block of ice in it. In those days ice was delivered by small trucks to individual homes. The sign in the photo was put in your front window if you wanted ice that day and you rotated the sign to indicate the size (in pounds) of block you wanted. It was always great for us kids when the ice truck came around in the summertime. The ice was in 100 pound slotted slabs and the ice man would have to use a pick to separate it along the slots. Invariably there were chunks of ice that splintered off and most ice men would pass them on to the waiting bunch of kids. What a great "snack" in hot, hot Oklahoma in July!
The photo is from the Pioneer Heritage Townsite museum.
For years my father was the park superintendent for Frederick. Sounds good but he was basically the only one in charge of maintenance for the parks. He took pride in them and worked hard to keep them looking good. When Memorial Park was given some renovation a few years ago, people purchased bricks to pave the area surrounding the flagpole. It is not a huge area but I am proud to say that my family is well represented in the several various members purchased in memory of other family members whose home this little town had been.
The park's main entrance is on 15th Street and Grand Avenue.