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County Seat - Pauls Valley

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Article By Mike Tower  

Some history on Hennepin.

The Hennepin post office was established 2/16/1885, with Henry C. Dent as the first post master, and in 1985 celebrated it’s 100th continuous year of service.

Ardil Meeks took over as post master in 1904, serving in that capacity for the next 46 years. Mr. Meeks also ran a general store and owned several other businesses and interests in the community.

According to Mr. Meeks, when he began service, stamps were ordered once a year--from Washington, D. C. ! Letter mail cost two cents and had advanced in cost to only three cents when Mr. Meeks retired in 1950. Ironically, stamps for letters went to 22 cents on the day the Hennepin post office reached 100 years old.

Mrs. Mary Morris who grew up west of Davis, Oklahoma remembers:... "Along the way, I lived in the old Gooseneck (now Woodland) community and when I taught in the Hoover School (the old Fort Arbuckle district) I received mail via the mail hack that delivered the mail from Davis along the country route westward to Hennepin."...

According to oral tradition, Hennepin has changed location at least once. The cemetery, one mile south of present Hennepin, in Murray County, used to be near the Hennepin school. Some of the populace wanted to move the community to Garvin County, others did not, so an election was held with the majority voting for the move to Garvin County. And just to assure the move transpired, that very night, the school building burned; the arsonist never being caught.

Hennepin was named in honor of Father Hennepin, a member of the LaSalle exploratory expedition of 1675. Oral tradition states, the priest was on his way Louisana to check on the Cajuns, but winter overtook him so he set up a trading post near present Hennepin. That sounds like pure nonsense to me, but that's the story.

Back in the early days of statehood, most of the communities south of Wildhorse Creek felt like orphans. The county commissioners were tired of putting up bridges, even low water bridges, and seeing the structures washed down to Davis with the next rain, so, they quit building bridges. Well, the farmers got up in arms and raised enough cain that the county finally put up some bridges, but nothing was real permanent until the W.P.A. in the 30's put one up.

The Hennepin area has been settled since Fort Arbuckle was built in the early 1850's. It marked the western edge of the settler's community which sprang up when Arbuckle went in. A map drawn by the United States Army in 1857, shows Smith Paul had a place just east of Hennepen, and a Mrs. Brown, who was a bit south of Hennepen, hid out in her corn patch when the Comanches came calling in 1858.

After the Civil War, when the U. S. troops re-occupied Fort Arbuckle, they found a community of Negros between 6 mile and 8 mile creek. These folks had moved in from eastern Indian Territory,and all over the southern states, with most coming from Texas. Their presence was a bone of contention for a lot of years because many were not citizens of the Chickasaw Nation. Some, however, had been slaves before the war, and some even could claim Chickasaw blood, but the Chickasaw government treated it's black worse than any other of the civilized tribes. For instance, way up until the late 1890's, it was perfectly legal, under Chickasaw law, for any Chickasaw who came across a farm or house built by a black to confiscate it. There were lots of shootings over such deeds.

Some of the black families who lived along the Wildhorse were dang industrious. They had farms and ranches which would equal any in the old Chickasaw Nation. In the late 1880’s, the area ranchers contracted for a general round up of cattle. The Wildhorse folks asked the round-up boss if they could cut the herd to make sure some of their beef hadn't been picked up, or the wrong brand put on a calf. Such was the custom then, for when the round-up crews swept through they picked up all cattle found. All the ranches within a hundred miles had men at the roundups to represent their interest.

Well, this time, the foreman was a red necked peckerwood from Texas who refused to let the Wildhorse folk look for their cows and shot one of them. General war broke out and for the next day or two both parties were exchanging rifle fire. Several people got hurt over that bit of stupidity.

It's also rumored that several burro loads of gold or silver ore is hidden south of Hennepen, in an old sink hole along the edge of the mountains. Now if you know anything about lost Spanish treasure, you know that there is probably no gold, never has been, but still, those old mountains do have some gold in them, and a lot of people mined up there before there was any kind of town or anything. And, surprising as it may be, you don't need mountains to find gold and silver. Quite a lot of silver was actually mined southeast of old Byers in northeast Garvin County. And, some gold was said to have been found.

Sink holes are where the roof of a cave has collapsed and left a big old hole in the ground. Over time it fills in and smoothes over, or it gets bigger as the water pours through, depends. But, anyway, sink are real snaky, so be careful when poking around in 'em.

Sources: George Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names, 2nd Edition, University of Oklahoma Press,1977; Opal Hartsell Brown, Murray County-In the Heart of Eden, Nortex Press, Wichita Falls, Texas, 1977; Chronicles of Oklahoma; Indian and Pioneer Files, Oklahoma Historical Society; Window on the Past, by Kent Ruth, The Sunday Oklahoman, March 31, 1985,p. 24, C1.

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