TAKE ON TOPICS
By TRACI BARNES
After two action packed nights of trivia this last week, I started thinking about our area and located some interesting facts. I was originally covering the entire county and all my research kept leading me back to the county courthouse area.
So see how many of the following facts you already know about our area.
· Bud Tate owned the first general merchandise store in Poteau. It was established before the Frisco train tracks were laid through Poteau. When the Frisco came to town it had to be moved since it was located on the right of way. The store was rebuilt on what would later become the courthouse lawn.
· There were other hotels in Poteau besides the Lowery. Earlier the Fleener Hotel and the Cavanal Hotel were both located on the west side of the Frisco Tracks. The Howell Hotel was located along Dewey Avenue.
· The first newspaper published in Poteau was the Poteau Ledger. Others were established in Poteau but this one published here starting in 1895. It was owned by H.J. Duke with Ed Hooker as editor.
· At first thought you might think the first developments in Poteau began around the train tracks, but that is not correct. The first developments around Poteau began at the base of Cavanal Hill. French trappers and traders established a semi permanent camp there. Later as the first white settlers arrived in Poteau, they began building houses to the west of Tarby Lake (Poteau Lake). After the Frisco Railroad came through Poteau, businesses began building up along the west side of the tracks, along where the modern day courthouse lawn is. After KCS arrived the development would move down Dewey Avenue.
· In 1926-27 the county constructed the older portion of the renovated courthouse we use today.
· In 1927 Poteau residents elected Nora Shaw as one Oklahoma’s first woman mayors.
· After the Brown v Board of Education of Topeka (Kansas) decision in 1954, Poteau became the first state school district to announce it would integrate. Veterinarian John Montgomery, a graduate of Tuskegee Institute, spearheaded the integration policy and led the area’s civil rights movement. In 2000 Dr. John was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
· Poteau Junior College opened in 1933 and later became Carl Albert State College.
· In 1950 the LeFlore County Memorial Hospital opened, later being renamed Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center.
I learned a few more facts that might help me in a future trivia game.
I will have to say I did not know that Poteau ever had a woman mayor. I knew Dr. John Montgomery and liked him very much. I knew Dr. John was heavily involved with the NAACP but I did not know about him leading the civil rights movement to help integrate our Poteau Schools.
So once again sometimes great facts are right under your nose and you just don’t know about them.
I will keep researching.
Until next week…