McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

August 19, 2006

People and structures come and go

By Clyde Wooldridge

McAlester and the surrounding area have one of the most unique histories in the world. A complete list of facts would be endless. Here are a few interesting dates and facts about instrumental people in the founding of the area and some of the landmarks and businesses of the past.



1872 - Pioneer Edmond Henry Doyle arrives in McAlester and camps under a pine tree.

1873 - Lena Sittle, first white woman to South McAlester on train.

1874 - First cemetery established in North Town.

1875 - Nathaniel Holcomb McAlester, younger brother of J.J., dies Feb. 12.

1876 - Tobucksy County Courthouse opens.

1882 - Tornado hits Krebs, killing 21, injuring 42 on May 9.

1889 - Kali Inla Building on Choctaw constructed.

1896 - Ice Plant on Choctaw built, torn down July 7, 1985.

1900 - McAlester’s first public school superintendent, William Gay, hired in September.

1903 - First black woman, Dora Wright, hung before statehood.

1905 - Pioneer coal operator and first mayor of South McAlester, L. W. Bryan ,dies March 30.

1905 - Union Depot constructed and opens.

1905 - Busby Hotel opens in December.

1908- Frank S. Genung, pioneer banker and deputy U.S. Marshal, dies Jan.20.

1915 - The first lawyer in South McAlester, Rutus Sarlls, dies May 29.

1915 - Chadick Park officially opens July 15.

1915 - First electric chair execution was a man named Bookout on Dec. 15.

1919 - First High School burns down on Jan. 19.

1919 - Allison’s News Stand on the corner of South Main and Railroad track opens, closes in 1967.

1920 - Founding father J. J. McAlester dies Sept. 21.

1921 - Founder of the Mercy Hospital, Dr. E. H. Troy, dies May 23.

1922 - A tornado hits Gowen March 14. Ten lives lost, 23 hurt and many homes destroyed.

1924 - Busby Hotel destroyed by fire September 15.

1927 - Pioneer Dr. E. N. Allen dies Jan. 5.

1928 - Pioneer Dr. Crowder dies Jan. 15.

1928 - City’s first photographer, J. H. Turner, dies March 8.

1929 - Montgomery Ward on Second and Grand opens its doors Feb. 9.

1929 - Baseball Hall of Famer “Ironman” Joe McGiunty dies Nov. 14.

1929 - North town Bolen mine explosion kills 62 men Dec. 17.

1930 - Pioneer lawyer J. W. McMurray dies April 3.

1930 - Aldridge Hotel on Grand Avenue opens June 2.

1930 - Palace Theater destroyed by fire Dec. 28.

1931 - Okla Theater formally opens July 10.

1932 - The first dentist in McAlester, Dr. E. N. Wright, dies Jan. 14.

1932 - Katy Badeen named first Miss McAlester.

1933 - McAlester Police Chief Ott Reed killed in Kansas City June 17.

1933 - Legalized beer sold in Oklahoma July 12.

1933 - Pioneer Dr. Thomas S. Chapman dies Dec. 11.

1934 - First McAlester school teacher, Clara E. Holmes, who taught school for 32 years, dies April 10.

1934 - Landmark Vendome Hotel, built 1894, torn down Aug. 1.

1934 - Fire destroys McAndrews Drug Store in North Town Dec. 5.

1935 - Pioneer Gus Gill, who operated first Bank South McAlester, died Feb. 7, 1935.

1935 - McAlester was hit by a huge dust storm March 16.

1935 - W S Ambrose, owner of Choctaw Ice Plant, dies March 28.

1936 - McAlester Clinic building opens March 1.

1936 - Pioneer owner of the Macaroni Factory, Joe Fassino dies Aug. 6.

1936 - Sobrina Mize, owner of first hotel in South McAlester, the Mize Hotel, dies Oct. 8.

1937 - J. B. “Bunn” McAlester dies Jan. 21. {J. J.McAlester’s youngest son}

1937 - Old Town postmaster and mine operator, pioneer John Hopkins dies Jan. 25.

1937 - Dr. J. W. Echols, first prison doctor, dies March 22.

1937 - W. B. McAlester, oldest son of J. J., dies April 22.

1938 - Eastern Oklahoma Charity Hospital opens 1938, closes 1949.

1939 - Hartshorne Pioneer store owner Mike Goldberg died May 4.

1940 - Pioneer furniture store owner R L Lands Died today July 11, 1940.

1941 - OSP Warden Jess Dunn killed in prison break Aug. 10.

1941 - Pioneer coal operator and former mayor W. E. Beaty dies Sept. 11.

1941 - Pioneer railroad agent for Rock Island, W H Fuller, dies Oct. 9.

1942 - Hunt’s Department Store on Choctaw opens in1942, closes August 1, 1987.

1942 - Pioneer Judge J. P. Connors dies Dec. 10.

1943 - Record flood hits McAlester May 10. Ralph Deely, 27, drowns.

1944 - Construction on Victory Park apartments start Oct. 14.

1946 - KTMC Radio Station broadcasts for the first time March 21.

1946 - Pioneer hardware merchant Smith Crowl dies June 10.

1947 - City pioneer Frank Sittle dies February 8.

1947 - The old Phoenix Hotel at Stonewall and Railroad, built 1884, torn down July 2.

1949 - Tornado hits Crowder killing 2 people March 26.

1949 - Dean of the Pioneers, Fritz Sittle dies May 28.

1950 - P .S. Lester, founder of the Choctaw Herald dies Nov. 30.

1951 - The 270 Drive-In opens March 6.

1951 - Airport red and white beacon arrives in city May 5.

1951 - Pioneer Frank Redpath dies Aug. 31. Started the OSP Tag Plant.

1951 - Rainbow for Girls building on Grand Avenue constructed.

1951 -OSP Museum opens.

1959 - Pioneer lawyer James S. Arnote dies March 19.

1960 - A dozen people die in Wilburton tornado May 5.

1960s - City Cafe on Carl Albert closes.

1960s - McAlester had five movie theaters, Okla, Chief, New ,V, Star, all closed down but the Okla 1960s

1962 - Pioneer founder of the McAlester Democrat, Hiram Impson, dies Dec. 20.

1963 - The new MK&T; freight depot in North Town opens April 4.

1964 - Pioneer and former mayor H. I. Aston dies Jan. 30.

1965 - Passenger trains running north and south came to a stop July 1.

1966 - Last electric chair execution was James French on Aug. 9.

1967 - Col. Sanders’ Kentucky Fried Chicken opens Aug. 11.

1967 - McAlester and Amarillo make last mail run Sept.3.

1967 - McAlester News Capital moves into the new home on Second Street Oct. 1.

1967 - The Jack Walls Plumbing Store torn down in October at 217 East Choctaw.

1967 - The last west-bound train came to a stop Nov.10.

1968 - The Majestic Barber Shop, Culp Corner, The Old Hub and the Model Stores, on the northwest

corner of First and Choctaw, were torn down.

1968 - The Old American National Bank building at Second and Choctaw torn down June 10.

1969 - Civil Director Harland Horton assures the public that there are plenty of fallout shelters March 12.

1969 - Russell Apartments, formerly the Macaroni Factory, comes down Aug. 3.

1969 - Union Depot destroyed by Urban Renewal.

1970 - Tandy Town Shopping Center opens Nov. 12.

1971 -The old Griffin Grocery three-story building on South Main comes down October 25.

1973 - Landmark Co-Mar Hotel comes down April 22.

1975 - Three million dollars damage from tornado at Wilburton Sept. 7.

1976 - The old county jail, built in 1905, torn down Feb.29.

1981 - Krebs Opera House, built in 1903, torn down April 2.

1983 - Busby Theatre demolished on Aug. 1.

Clyde Wooldridge is the women’s basketball coach at Eastern Oklahoma State College. He may be reached at 918-465-1733, or by e-mail at cwooldridge@eosc.edu.