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Home: Regional: U.S. States: Oklahoma: Pontotoc County

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Re: Frisco area Cemetery search help needed
Posted by: Barry Barnes (ID *****2091) Date: December 06, 2011 at 16:36:12
In Reply to: Frisco area Cemetery search help needed by Terry of 397


I at first thought the newspaper report about "Stonewall now being Frisco" may have reversed the two towns.  I spent a good part of my childhood either living in or visiting those areas and thought I knew the differences clearly... whoops, I was wrong.

Today I researched this and found much I never knew.  Stonewall (named after Confederate general Stonewall Jackson) was originally "founded" by William Cochran shortly before the end of the Civil War across the river and about 1-1/2 miles from what later beacme Frisco - it was a trading post consisting of a single building.

At the close of the War, he moved the building to the site that later became the town of Frisco.

Again things changed:  new owners later moved the store about 10 miles away again and the new location was called New Stonewall  - and later just Stonewall.

In the late 1800's, the second location, later known as Frisco, was first called Old Stonewall (since the new area was called New Stonewall)... confusing enough?

After the original trading post was moved to what is today the town of Stonewall, a general merchandise store was established in 1878 at Old Stonewall (later to become Frisco) by William L. Byrd, ex- governor of the Chicasaw Nation.  I think that is the dilapidated general store that was still standing in the Frisco ghost town near my Uncle Jack's place in the late 1940's.  

Byrd also built a huge three-floor Victorian mansion nearby. When I was three years old, during the post-WWII housing shortage, my family rented it briefly and I have very clear memories of an outdoor "weinie roast" party there, of the huge old-fashioned kitchen with 12-15' ceilings, and of my older brother and I sneaking into the forbidden third floor - considered by my parents to be very dangerous due to aging structural members.

We may have been the last tenants. I remember seeing it several times after we moved out when we were on the way to my grandparents ... then suddenly it was gone.

New Stonewall was in a quandary:  It was now slightly bigger than old Stonewall, but had no legal status.  On a dark night in 1903, Date Crawford, Nick Hurd, and friends hoisted the Old Stonewall post office - building and all and, fortunately, still legally registered as just "Stonewall" - onto wagon trucks (wheels on heavy-duty axles) and carted it about 10 miles to New Stonewall... which promptly changed its name to plain Stonewall to match its post office.

Old Stonewall faced a problem - but not for long.  In 1905, the Oklahoma Central Railway established a branch that passed through Old Stonewall. Under the mistaken idea that it was a part of the Frisco line, the town changed its name. 

See this site for more details on Frisco and Stonewall (written in July 1942):

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/Chronicles/v020/v020p152.html

However, there may be some truth regarding the cemetaries.  Stay with me.

My father grew up on a farm a couple of miles from Frisco, walking to and from grade school at Frisco in frequently bitter cold Oklahoma "blue northers" (sudden temperature drops of 30-50 degrees accompanied by fierce winds).  He then went to high school (riding on a horse or mule with a friend who would later marry my mother's sister), in Stonewall about 8-10 miles away.  Mom never talked much about her school experiences so I can't report on how she got to and from school.

Until she left home, my mother also had a Frisco address, living on a large farm between the two towns (shortly after marrying, her parents bought a different farm on the opposite side of  Stonewall).

At the period while they were growing up - 1927 when my Dad arrived from Arkansas to 1938 when he graduated and 1918-1937 for Mom - Frisco was a prosperous little town of probably 150-250 people.

Unfortunately, in 1933, due to the cumlative effects of the Great Depression, the railroad closed down their operations there, laid off all their people, sold off many of the company-owned homes (which were either hauled away intact or torn down for their lumber), sold the lots as farm land, and tore out all the rail tracks.

People tried to hang on, attempting to get jobs on nearby farms or in Stonewall or Ada (only about 15 or so miles away) but - given the economic times (Oklahoma was particularly hard hit by the Depression), the age of most people's automobiles (most local residents would have been driving cars from the teens and 1920's), and the dirt and gravel roads - jobs just weren't there and part-time work was an hours drive away.  Gradually, the town started dieing.  Many did as my father didvat age 18:  Headed for California as itinerant fruit pickers.

Frisco was a ghost town when I was 4-6 years old (1948-1950) with only a fairly large one-room schoolhouse and an old-fashioned general store with one gas pump - a "tower type" 5 gallon glass tank about 7-8' in the air with a hand-crank pump to get the gas up into the tank where it then gravity-fed back down through the hose; it was still in use at least a portion of the time when I was a very young boy. 

I remember with crystal clarity going to a community Christmas party at the one-room school house  with a huge pot-belly stove out in the middle of the room.  It was a few months before my 4th birthday - I was so excited when jolly, loud Santa Clause did his "Ho-ho-ho" laugh, gave me an orange netted bag full of apples, oranges, ribbon & rock candy, and some cheap toys, ang hugged me... only for me to suddenly say "Hey, you're not Santa; you're Uncle Jack!"  

In 1950, Frisco also had a couple of remaining residents, one of which was "Santa" - my Great Uncle Jack Barnes (my grandfather's brother). 

By the time I was 10 (1954), there was virtually nothing left - the school, general store, and my Uncle Jack's place were all gone... I can't remember anything but one small farm with a concrete silo on what had been the edge of town.

In 1985, my parents drove my wife and daughter up and down the remnants of Frisco's dirt streets - which had somehow survived as badly eroded grassy paths after almost 50 years.  Both my Mom and Dad could still identify almost every single lot, who had lived there, who their kids (if any) were, and what the house had looked like.

Stonewall was a small but prosperous little "farm and market" town when I was a young kid in the late 1940's through the early 1950's.  It had two small banks, Craddock's and another grocery store, two hardware stores, Voss Dry Goods store, Bennett's Rexall drug store with a soda fountain bar, 2-3 garages, a couple of gas stations, a "five and dime" store, the Rialto theater, and several other businesses.  It probably had a population of about 300-400 or so - but served a large regional farming community.

On Saturdays, the population would swell to 2,000-3,000 with mosly 1930's cars and a lot of horse and mule drawn buckboards lining the streets for shopping, an auction, and a drawing that was usually $100-150 (a LOT of money back then) and sometimes built up to over $1,000 (about $10,000 in 2011 dollars!).  The town had a fairly large school serving grades 1-12.  

Both my parents, Clyde L Barnes and, Ada Eugene (Jeanne or Jean) Creech graduated from Stonewall High in 1938 and 1937 respectively and my father lettered in baseball, basketball, football, and track.  My Aunt Margaret Barnes taught 2nd grade there for over 40 years, starting about 1935.

My grandparents, George Wayne and Samantha (nee Minick) Barnes, lived about 10 miles from Stonewall and about 2-3 miles from Frisco (very near where the original Stonewall was back in 1864); they lived in that area from 1913 after moving by covered wagon from White County Arkansas (in the Ozark Mountains) until around 1957, when they moved into town after my grandfather had a stroke that made farming no longer possible. My grandfather Barnes died in 1968 and my grandmother died in 1985.

My maternal grandparents, Henry Burton Creech and Virginia (nee Gray) Creech, lived first on a farm quite near Frisco until the late 1930's then bought a different farm about two miles due north of Stonewall. They lived there until my grandfather's death in 1968. At that time, my grandmother sold the farm and moved to Ada where she resided until her death in 1978.

In the late 1950's and early 1960's, Stonewall, too, nearly died. The economy changed from farming to ranching and agribusiness. The highways between the Stonewall area and Ada - a much larger town of, at that time, nearly 20,000 people - were straightened and paved.  What had been an hour drive now took barely over 15 minutes. Ada grew south and, like most towns, stores moved from downtown to the city's fringes. Shopping in Ada was the way to go and prices were a fraction of Stonewall's.

In Stonewall both banks closed as did the grocery stores, drug store, dry goods store, the dime store, the theater, and pretty much every thing else. At one time, there was only one dilapidated gas station and a laundrette.

The last time I saw the town, it had made a resurgence - mostly, it appeared, as a bedroom community to Ada, now - due to Ada's growth - about 10 miles away.  The 2000 census reports Stonewall at almost 500 residents - far more than in its heyday of the 1950's.

Regarding the cemetaries, I seem to remember my Mom and Dad saying that some or most or all of the coffins in the Frisco cemetary had been moved to the Stonewall one but I'm not at all sure about that.

Barry Barnes
(775) 853-1185 - Home
(775) 750-3255 - Cell


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