If you picked up a copy of a newspaper from a small town in the rural United States from roughly a century ago, how would it read? Have you ever wondered?
Located just a few miles from my hometown is a little town named Comanche. Recently, while doing some genealogical research, I came across a copy of The Comanche Reflex, the local newspaper for Comanche … dated July 7, 1905. Understand, that’s not only 107 years ago, that’s two years before Oklahoma even became a state.
Following are some extracts from that issue. These extracts make up close to one-third of the entire issue and these excerpts are typical, not extraordinary, of the time and that paper. They appear here in the order they appeared in that issue. None of the individual entries have been abbreviated or condensed. Advertisements and news do not appear separate in the original issue and so, they do not appear separate as they’re reproduced here.
Read this and your mind will immediately fill with questions. What was truly important to the people who read this news? How big was the world to them? What must it have been like to live in a community where there was real “community?” When did “privacy” actually come into being and when did it die? Etc.
The Comanche Reflex
Comanche, Indian Territory
Friday, July 7, 1905
J. P. CLEMENTS read our item about the onions brought to this office by JOHN GUEST and immediately went out to his patch and gathered us a bunch that beat the Guest onions. The largest one measured 14 1.4 inches in circumference. He also says he can beat the peaches MR. LESTER brought.
* MISS ALTA TANKERSLEY who went to Wichita Falls, Texas for a visit with her grandmother has been quite sick since her arrival there. MRS. TANKERSLEY and son ARTHUR went there to be with her.
* Little “DIGGER’ ALEXANDER happened to quite a painful accident while handling a loaded shot gun shell. He found an old shell and removed the shot, then applied a match, causing an explosion which burned his hand severely.
* FRED LEACH and GABE YATES, who are attending school at Fort Worth, came home Sunday for a week with their parents.
* Street Commissioner DEATON with a grader and a force of hands did some excellent work on our streets last week.
* CLAUD OWENS bought a fine team. Price $800.
* I see great flocks of chickens in the neighborhood old enough to kill. They don’t have to be as old here as the old woman in Arkansaw said they had to be there before they old enough to kill.
* OLD MAN HOWE is truly entitled to the sobriquet of ‘the man with the hoe.’ As soon as he gets over the corn and cotton, he goes back and commences at the beginning again. He says if the cotton and corn grew as fast as the weeds, we would have to get step ladders to pick the cotton and balloons to gather the corn.
* A neighbor going by MR. SHAW’s cotton field the other day and ran across BERT lying in the shade of a cottonwood tree. He said, ‘Hello, Bert, what are you doing here?’ ‘Laying by my cotton, said Bert.
* J. N. LITTLE made a business trip to Hastings.
* Some of the Red School house boys want to know if NEW LITTLE’s lover ever found him when he was lost in the cotton patch, sure boys, and are ready to help JOE, JOE, the dog faced boy.
* MR. MORGAN, who has been confined to his bed for several weeks, is reported no better.
* Well, farmers, bring your wagon tires to W. A. ISAAC and he will do you right.
* MRS. KATIE SIMPSON was visiting at MR. LESTER’s Sunday.
* Mr. and Mrs. MENDENHALL, Mr. and Mrs. MAUDLIN, FRED DOVER, and JESS RELMS were visiting at Mr. Lester’s Sunday. They were treated to some excellent plums and peaches.
* DR. J. W. DUNCAN, physician and surgeon, office at Weakley’s Drug Store, Phone 5, residence phone 37.
* BOB HAYES, who is engaged in carpenter work at Hastings, spent Sunday here with his mother.
* Good ear corn for sale, raised in the Beaver bottom, 50 cents per bushel by W. E. SCHWABA at the mouth of Walker Creek.
* J. F. BROWN is among the number who have deposited $1.00 with us for Comanche’s popular paper for another year.
* The Border Queen Dining Parlor, meals 25 cents. Opposite post office.
* A baby girl arrived at the home of Mr. and Mrs. BLAKEY on Wednesday of last week.
* GREENUP PEVELER and sister, MRS. THRESHER, moved into the residence vacated by R. P. PAYNE and family.
* MRS. H. W. SITTON, who has been visiting at her home in Arkansas, expects to leave there in a few days, en route home, she will visit a sister in Okmulgee before arriving here.
* ‘White Man,’ the delivery horse of WEBB Brothers, got ‘foxy’ Thursday morning and ran off with GRANT FARLEY. Grant got scared and jumped and hurt one of his legs severely.