Category Archives: Gateway to Oklahoma History

The Gateway to Oklahoma History: Sturgell Stories Found in Oklahoma Newspapers

I’ve had some fun times exploring a new source for digitized Oklahoma newspapers, although not all the stories found are happy ones. The Gateway to Oklahoma History, one of the projects of the Oklahoma Historical Society and the University of North Texas in a partnership, has been a little gold mine of tidbits of family news. I need to add here that these tidbits were found in newspapers NOT in the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America collection.

Today, I’d like to share a few Sturgell items that I came across. Sturgell is my mother-in-law’s maiden name. It is more commonly spelled Sturgill, but her branch of the family seems to have quite consistently spelled the name with the E.

Some of the Sturgells, mostly children or grandchildren of Abijah Houston Sturgell, who died in Barry County in 1905, decided to leave Missouri and head to the wide open land of Oklahoma Territory for a life that offered new opportunities.

One of those family members was Abijah’s son, John Houston Sturgell, who was born on 15 April 1882 and died in Chickasha, Grady County, Oklahoma in 1941. However, his life might have ended much early, in sad circumstances, had medical intervention not worked.

In 1910, John was living in Caddo County, Oklahoma with wife, Della (Brooks), who was 23 years old, and sons Louis and Luther, ages 6 and 4.

The family settled in Oklahoma sometime between September 1906 (when Luther was born) and 8 October 1908, when the “will call” mail notice included a letter for Della waiting at the post office.

The Daily Democrat, 8 October 1908

Life wasn’t easy starting out in Oklahoma Territory and it was no different for the young Sturgell family.  The 23 March 1911 issue of The Chickasha Daily Express has two want ads placed by John Sturgell:

1911 Want Ads

John was looking for both a farm job and/or a fully furnished farm to rent. At the time, he and his family (I don’t know why it says “wife and child” instead of “children.”) were living at 803 Chickasha Avenue.

His quest for a job or farm must not have been successful, as on 4 June 1912, this article appeared in The Enid Daily Eagle:

The Enid Daily Eagle, June 1912

What a horrible time that must have been for John and his family, but he did survive. John didn’t pass away until 1941 and wife Della survived him by about 5 years.

On a much happier note, Mr. and Mrs. L. G. Sturgell were mentioned in The El Reno Daily Tribune on 12 October 1949. L. G. was Luther Sturgell, the elder son of John and Della. Luther and his wife were visiting her family in Calumet to celebrate her birthday and that of her nephew’s wife.

Mr. and Mrs. L. G. Sturgell and Birthday Celebration
The El Reno Daily Tribune, 12 October 1949

I learned something new about another member of this family. John had a brother, Lee Rue Sturgell, who was two years younger, born in 1884. I met Lee Rue’s daughter some years ago. She is now gone, too. However, she never mentioned that the family had lived in Oklahoma. Yet, the Anadarko Daily Democrat, dated 14 September 1910 included more mail news. There were not one, but two, letters waiting for Lee Rue’s wife, Trudie, at the post office.

Letters for Mrs. Trudie Sturgell
Anadarko Daily Democrat, 14 September 1910

Lee Rue’s son, Marlett, had been born in Missouri in September 1907. I wonder if both Lee Rue’s and John’s family made the trip to Oklahoma together c1907-1908? Lee Rue apparently decided that Oklahoma wasn’t for him and his family moved back to Barry County, Missouri about 1915.

I learned a few new things about the Sturgells today. I will have to repeat my search tactics for the other family names associated with Oklahoma.


The Gateway to Oklahoma History: Stufflebeans in the News

The Gateway to Oklahoma History has been keeping me busy as I’ve looked for news about various branches of my husband’s family in the Oklahoma Historical Society’s digitized newspaper collection. I’ve mentioned this in past posts, but if you haven’t yet checked out this website, there are newspapers here that are NOT on Chronicling America, so it is worthwhile to search both websites.

Today, I’ll share some Earl Stufflebean news items in the Noble news columns. Earl was my husband’s grandfather, born 1894 and died in 1946, so Dave never knew him.

First, as reported on 23 August 1912 in the Norman Democrat-Topic, he went on a fishing trip with some friends from Noble to Maysville, Oklahoma, which is about 25 miles directly south of Noble.

Elijah Bradshaw and wife Prof. Ramsey and wife, Earl Stufflebean, Miss Susie McCrady, Chas. McCrady, Miss Claty Hopper, Oscar Hopper, will leave Thursday morning for Maysville for a weeks fishing trip.

Hmm – Susie McCrady and Claty Hopper were unmarried. Earl was 19 at the time. I wonder if he was courting either young lady?

On 21 August and 23 October 1914, The Norman Democrat-Topic had two items in the Noble news column:

Earl Stufflebean left Monday for Oklahoma City where he entered a business college.

Earl Stufflebean of Oklahoma City spent Sunday in Noble visiting home folks.

We learned something new today about my husband’s grandfather, as we weren’t aware that he had ever attended a business college in Oklahoma City!

If Earl had been courting during his 1912 fishing trip (above), the romance must not have blossomed because the 17 August 1916 issue of The Norman Transcript had this front page news:


Earl Stufflebean and Miss Pearl Broshears drove up from Noble yesterday (Thursday, August 10, 1916), and were united in marriage by Rev. V.C. Griffith, Rector of St. John’s Episcopal church. The groom is a son of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Stufflebean, and one of Noble’s best young men, of excellent habits and fine business ability. The bride has been assistant postmaster at Noble for some years, her father being postmaster, and is a charming young lady as well as efficient business woman. Many friends wish them unbounded happiness.

If anyone in the family had clipped and saved this wedding announcement, it wasn’t passed on to this branch of the family, as I have never seen it before. Except for misspelling the bride’s surname, which was Brasher, this is great!  (Genealogy happy dance time!)

Next, the Cleveland County Enterprise, published in Norman, Oklahoma, had this tidbit in the 6 September 1917 issue:

Earl Stufflebean, while cranking a car Monday, was “kicked” on the arm, breaking it. He is getting along nicely at present.

Earl Stufflebean

In September 1917, Earl and Pearl had been married for 13 months and they had a three month old baby, Edward Earl, my father-in-law. I imagine Earl wasn’t much help either around the house or at his job in the family general store.

I wonder if this is the car that did the deed?

Earl and his Automobile

A few years later, on 27 March 1921, again in The Norman Transcript, there is a somewhat lengthy account of the wedding of Laura Payne and S. M. Zinn, both of Fort Worth, Texas, but who married in Noble at the home of Laura’s sister and brother-in-law, Dr. and Mrs. Nathan Howell. Many of the Stufflebeans must have been good friends with the doctor, based on the guest list.

Miss Laura Paine of Fort Worth, Texas, was married to Mr. S. M. Winn of Fort Worth, Sunday, March 20th at 1:45 p.m. at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Nathan Howell, sister to the bride.

The bridegroom met the bride at the foot of the stairs and Mr. Jim Stufflebean and Mrs. Nathan Howell accompanied them to the arch of the living room, where the marriage ceremony was solemnly performed by Rev. Giles, pastor of the M. E. church, South, Noble.

The guests were Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Sprowls, Mr. and Mrs. Jim Stufflebean, Mr. and Mrs. C.E. Garee, Rev. and Mrs. Giles, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Stufflebean, the Misses Mae Mosier and Claud Kennedy, Mr. and Mrs. Earl Stufflebean, Mr. Floyd Howell, Mr. and Mrs. John Stufflebean, Mr. and Mrs. Kay Stufflebean.

Two o’clock luncheon was served to the bridal party and guests after which the guests assembled in the living room and managed to keep the bride and groom separated for some time. Toward the latter part of the afternoon Mr. Winn and his bride enjoyed a delightful drive with some of the guests, to Norman where the bride, having recently been in college in Fort Worth, enjoyed the sight of other college walls.

All spent a delightful evening at the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Stufflebean, where music and refreshments were enjoyed.

The guests accompanied the bridal party to the ten thirty train going south where they gave an old-fashioned rice shower.

If you have Oklahoma family ties, don’t walk – run, to The Gateway to Oklahoma History.

The Gateway to Oklahoma History: Dulworths in the Newspapers

I had such a good time recently using The Gateway to Oklahoma History that this BSO (bright, shiny object) drew me back down the rabbit hole once again. Because the Dulworth name isn’t terribly common, I decided to try my luck with them.

Dulworth is NOT a variation of Dilworth, which is mostly a British surname. The Dulworths are of German descent, from John Dulworth aka Dulwit, in Knox County, Tennessee by 1795.

Like some of my husband’s other ancestors, a few of the Dulworths appear to have been free spirits when it came to the social customs of the day. Others seem to have been rough characters. While most of John Dulworth’s descendants lived in the Cumberland County, Kentucky area for generations, they might have had the same wanderlust that brought John from Germany to America. They saw Oklahoma as a new start from the dirt-poor lives they led in Cumberland County, which is part of the poorest area of Appalachia.

Like my Sturgell discoveries, not all of the Dulworth finds were happy ones. The Oklahoma branch of the family were mostly children of Abraham Dulworth and his wife, Mary Jane Adams. They are a good example of the “free spiritedness” in the family. As far as anyone knows, they were the parents of ten children, the first born in 1869, but they didn’t get married until 1883. It also looks like they separated for about a ten year period between 1873 and 1883, but no evidence has been found of marriages to anyone else in those gaps years.

Back to the Oklahoma newspapers – the first article I came across concerned their son, Crittenden (or Crit, as he was generally known), born around 1887. It wasn’t a complementary piece, by any means.

The Greer County Democrat, published in Mangum, on 8 April 1915, painted a grim picture of Crit Dulworth and his newlywed wife, Della Short. They had married just 11 months earlier on 9 May 1914. Crit was about 27, but Della was a very young fifteen years old. I am not sure the Dulworths knew how old they were. Their ages varied all over the place in official records.

By the next spring, she had returned to her family because of Crit’s behavior towards her.

Crittenden Dulworth, aged 24, a tenant on the John A. Trotter ranch, just over the river in Greer county, was placed in the county jail, Wednesday afternoon, in default of bond in the sum of $1,000.00, after waiving his preliminary hearing before Justice Elizey, of Lone Wolf, on a charge of assault with intent to kill his step father-in-law, W.B. Hooper.

Dulworth and his step father-in-law, W.B. Hooper, a farmer living on the North Fork of the Red River southwest of Lone Wolf, figured in a shot gun and revolver duel, late Tuesday evening, in which Dulworth was worsted after receiving a charge of bird shot in the legs, which failed to stop his advance, when Hooper, at a distance of 30 yards, fired directly at his head, filling his face and breast with bird shot.

From an account of the trouble, as related by Prosecuting Attorney Griffith, it seems that Dulworth and his wife did not get along very well and on one or two former occasions had separated. Their domestic felicity was ruffled again last Sunday and Mrs. Dulworth came home to her mother and step father. That evening Dulworth came to Hooper’s and appears to be seeking a reconciliation with his wife, begging her to return home with him. This she refused to do and Dulworth remained at the Hooper’s and retires with his wife. In the night Mrs. Hooper heard her daughter crying and asked her what was the trouble. Receiving no reply she asked a second time, when Dulworth is alleged to have replied, “G—D—it, why don’t you tell her I am beating and pinching you.” Mrs. Hooper then awakened her husband who requested Dulworth to either behave himself or leave the premises. Dulworth, it is claimed, refused to go, replying he would settle with the “old man” in the morning. After a few words nothing more was said that night.

The next morning Dulworth refused to eat breakfast with the other members of the family. Hooper finished his meal, and went to the barn to do his chores. A short time later he was horrified to see Dulworth coming from the house, dragging his wife by the hair, and holding a razor to her throat, threatening her life, if she did not return home. He forced her to go with him. Mrs. Hooper, on this occasion followed with a shot gun, but did not use it, possibly for fear of shooting her daughter.

On Tuesday, Mrs. Dulworth, it appears, escaped from her husband, and again returned to the Hooper home. Late the same evening Dulworth came driving up in a buggy. The Hooper family was preparing to go on a visit to a neighbor’s, but on Dulworth’s appearance, the team was unhitched and Hooper went into the house. Dulworth is said to have driven up and called to Hooper to come out, muttering an oath at the same time. He was requested to leave and not cause a disturbance. To this, Dulworth pulled a 45-caliber six-shooter and fired in the ground.

At this juncture, Hooper appears in the door way with a shot gun to emphasize his demands; Dulworth then informed them that he had come over to “clean up” on them and any of them would do, and flourished a six-shooter, as he advanced on Hooper, who opened fire, shooting at the approaching man’s legs with his shot gun. The shot hit the mark, but owing to the distance, did not stop Dulworth, who fired at Hooper and came within 30 yards of him. Hooper then levelled the gun and filled Dulworth’s face and breast full of shot. Dulworth then walked about 300 yards and fell. He was taken away by neighbors. Dulworth was said to be pretty drunk at the time.

Wednesday morning, both Hooper and Dulworth appeared in Lone Wolf, before Justice Elizey. County Attorney Griffith went over and filed a complaint against Dulworth, the charge reading assault with attempt to kill. He waived his preliminary hearing and was placed under a $1,000 bond, which he states he can make.

No complaint was lodged against Hooper.

While Dulworth is said to have some painful wounds, his injuries are not of a serious nature. He was brought to Hobart by Constable Fender and placed in the county jail.

The Colt’s revolver used by Dulworth is said to belong to John A. Trotter, a former official of the Mangum land office, and on whose place Dulworth resided. Hobart Democrat-Cheif.

The following five years were likely stormy, based on the first year of their married life. Yet, in 1920, the couple was still together with son Odell (Russell), age 3, and daughter Wilma, age 1, but living in Dill, Kiowa County, Oklahoma.

By 8 August 1921, Crit was back in the news, having been arrested when a moonshine still was discovered in his corn field. He was also back in Greer County.

Big Still Found
in Corn Field

Sheriff W. M. Tuton located a nice still of the wild cat variety, Monday four miles north of Granite. It was located in a corn filed belonging to Crit Dulworth, who has been domiciled in the new brick just east of the Court House since Saturday night.

Saturday night an urgent message came from Granite that a man had been killed by mounted desperadoes and officers Tuton, Pitts, Hines, and Cox rushed to the scene. Upon arrival they found Crit Dulworth dead in a manner, but only dead drunk. He had been assaulted by two mounted men and according to the evidence uncovered by the officers, had been robbed of a gallon of first class knock out drops and an almost new worm that could be used for purposes not sacred. According to two witnesses who heard the furore about the assault on the traveler and went to investigate, Dulworth had a real gallon of the well known hootch. When the two investigators went to telephone for the law the two horsemen came back and took possession of all wet goods and appurtenances for the making thereof. Dulworth was then brought to the Greer County Capitol Saturday night and given a nice berth in which to sober up. Sunday morning the officers went back to Granite and took charge of two men who were accused of being the horsemen who swooped down upon the buggy of booze. They were brought to Mangum and one of them entered a plea of guilty and was fined about $10 and costs.

Monday morning it was thought that Dulworth was sufficiently sober to make a statement as to his activities on the fateful Saturday night. After being questioned by Sheriff Tuton and acting County Attorney Milton Thacker Dulworth admitted his guilt of operating a still and manufacturing corn whiskey. Sheriff Tuton went to Dulworth’s place and located the still in the middle of the corn field. It was a crudely constructed concern of sheet metal, with a capacity of about ten gallons, with a fairly good copper worm. Dulworth refused to tell where he got the worm but stated that it cost him $10.40. When asked by the sheriff “How many gallons his corn would make to the acre?” he said “not more than four or five if it doesn’t rain pretty quick.” The Sheriff also secured sampls of “Crit’s Choice Compound for Critters” and it is now in the vault at the Court House.

Dulworth has expressed his intention of pleading guilty at his earliest opportunity and taking his just medicine.

We are told that the Sheriff is considering placing his exhibit of choice stills and their products on exhibition at the county fair. It is said that the elading product of the present sheriff is evidence in whiskey making cases and it seems that his exhibit should be of quite a bit of interest if shown at the fair.

Directly below this article was a second shorter article about Crit’s court appearance:


Crit Dulworth, an account of whose arrest is given in another article in this issue, entered a pleas of guilty to manufacturing corn whiskey, before Judge Jarrett Todd in Court Court, Tuesday afternoon, and was sentenced to pay a fine of $250 and serve 90 days at hard labor in the county jail. The Court stated that he was making the sentence light, it being just half the maximum for the offense, for the reason that he felt sorry for the defendant’s family and wished to be as lenient with him as possible, for his family’s sake. Judge Todd told Dulworth he was not giving him this sentence for a punishment for his crime alone but as an example to others.

Dulworth stated in open court that he did not blame the sheriff or his deputies, in the least, for his arrest and he felt that they had only done their duty in arresting and prosecuting him.

A charge of assault and battery on Hiram Hughes has been filed in Jutice Court against Dulworth and has not been disposed of at this time. Dulworth became ill Tuesday and it is feared by the attending physician that he may have appendicitis.

At some point after the 1920 census and before May 1927, Della had had enough and the two finally divorced. Della took their two children with her to Texas and remarried to Vernon Sebastian.

Crit is last found on 2 May 1927 marrying 21 year old “Mattie Carrie” in Granite, Greer County, Oklahoma. Neither has been found in the 1930 census and no more newspaper escapades have yet been found about Crit. He may have died before 1930.