Lost and Found

I was in Mooreland, Oklahoma for several weekends in September and October. I was able to find a couple of newspaper articles, some citizenship documents, the grave site, and the probate file of my great-great grandfather, Nicholas REITER. The most exciting thing I found though, was the location of the piece of land he homesteaded and the general area where my great-grandfather homesteaded land in the Cherokee Strip. Regarding the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893, Willie T. COOLEY had this to say, “Boy, it was the darndest race I ever saw! Some men rode their horses to death. We passed several dead horses. I rode a spirited Spanish horse.” (http://wt-cooley.net/WT.htm) You can read more about Mr. COOLEY below.

My original goal was to tell you the information I found in the probate packet and then give you a brief background on each person other than Nicholas who was mentioned in the paperwork. I had no idea so many people participated in probating an estate!! Nor did I expect so many of them to have such interesting histories. The post has become quite long so I’m going to break it into two parts. Each part will begin with information about family members who are mentioned in the probate file and then end with short biographies of other people mentioned in the file. Before we start though, here are a few photos of Nicholas’ homestead claim land:

Standing at the southeast corner of Nicholas REITER’s homestead, looking out over his land.

Me standing at the southwest corner of Nicholas REITER’s land. I’m not sure why this picture came out sideways and I can’t seem to rotate it. Sorry!

Looking out over the section of land where William RITER made his homestead claim.

FINAL SETTLEMENT OF A LIFE

The probate file for the estate of Nicholas REITER starts with a listing of Nicholas’ heirs, their ages, and their addresses at the time of the court case:

* John W. RITER, 50 years the 28 of January 1905, post office Florilla, MO (Florilla, Missouri is in Douglas County near Cabool, East of Springfield.)

* Mrs. Rachel AKIN, 48 years the 14 of January 1905, post office Perry, ILL (Perry, Illinois is where the REITER family originated and is where Nicholas’ wife was most likely buried.)

* Mrs. Jennie H. FULLER, 46 years Feb 20th 1905, post office Mooreland, O.T. (Oklahoma Territory)

* William S. RITER, 40 years November 16 1904, post office Mooreland, O.T.

The Petition for Letters of Administration dated 17 November 1904 does not give an exact death date for Nicholas- only that he died in 1904. His obituary published in The Mooreland Leader states he died on the night of Wednesday, 26 October 1904. His gravestone says he died on October 27th. The funeral was held on October 27th according to The Mooreland Leader and he was buried at Mooreland Cemetery. He shares a stone with Chester FULLER. Nicholas’ daughter, Jennie, was married to Chester’s son, James, and both men (Nicholas and Chester) died within 5 months of each other. One of my questions- which may never be answered- is why did they bury him so soon? Any family that lived far away had no opportunity to pay their last respects- especially his son John who had just moved to Missouri a few months prior and his daughter Rachel who had remained in Illinois when the rest of the family moved away. Jennie and her husband had just lost her husband’s father- Chester FULLER. I suppose you could argue that grief causes you to to make decisions you wouldn’t otherwise make. Whatever the reason, Nicholas was buried right away and he shares a headstone with Chester FULLER.

Nicholas REITER’s side of the headstone.

Chester FULLER’s side of the headstone.

The initial paperwork in the probate file did not list a final residence more specific than just Woodward County, Oklahoma Territory. There was a handwritten note in the receipt envelope dated 11 January 1905 showing that John J. HOOVER (who was appointed administrator of the estate and was also a next-door neighbor to Nicholas in 1900) wrote a note to Judge WHITE indicating that he believed Nicholas REITER’s estate “[would] not amount to very much in case the Government does not accept the final proof on his claim.” Mr. HOOVER goes on to say, “[Nicholas Reiter] signed the claim over to Peter Martinson who also holds mortgage on other property. I thought perhaps you would not appoint appraisers until we get the Governments decision about the claim.” In trying to figure out where he might have lived in Woodward County, I looked at his 1900 census entry which said part of “Webster [Township] west of Rangeline between Ranges 18 & 19”. It showed that he and his son, William (my great-grandfather), were living with Nicholas’ daughter and son-in-law, Jennie and James FULLER. Initially, I didn’t have any information to indicate he was not living with James and Jennie when he passed away. There was another document in the probate file that said the auction of Nicholas’ personal property would happen at James FULLER’s residence two and one half miles west of Mooreland. After reviewing the file more thoroughly I found a legal description of property Nicholas owned, specifically: s e 1-4 sec 32 & 23 n r 19 w. My husband and I consulted several maps and we found the location of the property. Although the property is leased and we couldn’t go onto it, we were able to drive on the section line road around two sides of the property and we were able to look out over the section where William RITER owned his homestead property even though we didn’t know exactly where his property was within the section. (Nicholas REITER’s Homestead Claim in the Cherokee Strip; my great-grandfather William RITER’s claim in the adjoining section to the south of Nicholas; James F. FULLER (Nicholas’ son-in-law) owned property in the same section as Nicholas.

The probate paperwork lists his property at the time of death as “a small amount of Kaffir corn and hay” that “probably” does not exceed $150 in value. By the time the estate was through being probated his inventory read:

In the end, Nicholas’ estate brought in well over the $150 originally estimated by Mr. HOOVER. (Again, I apologize for the sideways picture. It wasn’t saved that way and I’m not sure why it won’t rotate.)

The probate file did not show that there were any problems in the process of probating the estate. It took just over a year to probate and make final settlement. Below I will give a little detail about the people whose names appear in the probate file.

OTHER PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THE PROBATE PAPERS

JOHN J. HOOVER
John Jacob HOOVER was appointed administrator of the estate. In 1900 he was living next door to Nicholas RITER. At that time Mr. HOOVER was living with his brother, Howard. Both of the HOOVER brothers were single in 1900 and both were born in Virginia. Mr. HOOVER’s homestead claim was in the same section as Nicholas RITER’s. (Henry GARNER also had a homestead claim in that section but he was not mentioned in the probate file.) Although Mr. HOOVER did not seem to show up in the newspaper a lot nor did I find any stories on the internet about his life on the internet, he did seem to be on very good terms with his neighbors. He shows up often on legal papers including homestead claim proofs, probate cases, etc. He was a witness for Mr. BORCHARDT (see below) when Mr. BORCHARDT filed his final proof for his homestead claim. He seems to have been a very good and trusted neighbor. If you’ve ever lived in the country, you know the value of a good and trusted neighbor. They’re worth gold! I have found nothing to indicate why Mr. HOOVER was chosen to administer the estate.

PETER MARTINSON
In regard to Peter MARTINSON who wrote the note in the probate file, he immigrated to the United States from Sweden. He lived with his wife and children in Judkins, Woodward County, Oklahoma Territory in 1900 and was a merchant/grocer. His homestead claim was about 13 miles to the south of Nicholas’ claim. Other than this property transfer mentioned in the probate file, I don’t know of any other connection between Nicholas and Peter. The museum in Woodward has the sign from outside the MARTINSON grocery displayed. You can see it here:

I think this is the Martinson sign while it was still on the store. Photo from the book Woodward County, by Ian D. Swart.

Peter came to America with 25 cents to his name. You can read a short summary of his achievements in America here and also see the building he built that housed his grocery store. Incidentally, Peter’s daughter Hanna married a man named Walter Arthur “Art” FULLER. I don’t know if Walter was related to Chester (meaning he would be related to Jennie (RITER) FULLER by marriage). You can read a couple of paragraphs about Walter and Hanna here (Scroll to the bottom of the page. The article is continued on the next page as well.). Walter, who was called Art, played baseball for a local team. Here he is with his team in uniform:

From the book Woodward County, by Ian D. Swart.

In 1921, Peter MARTINSON and his daughter, Esther, applied for passports to go see Mr. MARTINSON’s 90-year-old mother in Sweden (Esther’s grandmother). Their plan was to depart fom the port in New York, USA, pass through England and end up in Sweden. Apparently his father, Hans, came to America and died here. I’m not sure why his mother did not also come. In 1921, Mr. MARTINSON was 60 years old. On his passport application he was described as 5’9, with a regular forehead, straight nose, blue eyes, gray hair, small/regular mouth, round/regular chin, round/full face, ruddy/light complexion, and he had a crippled and crooked index finger on his left hand. Here is Mr. MARTINSON’s passport photo:

Peter MARTINSON held a deed to some of Nicholas’ land when Nicholas died. Peter paid the estate the remainder of what he owed before the estate was settled.

PROBATE JUDGE JOSEPH ANDREW PATTON
Probate Judge Joseph Andrew PATTON acted as the probate judge at the initial filing of the case. Although he was the judge when Nicholas’ probate case started, he was quickly replaced by a different judge due to an election. He was a lawyer in Woodward, Oklahoma. He was born in Kentucky. He was a Captain during the Civil War. He was a post-battle hospital worker after the Battle of Perryville and he fought in the battle of Chickamauga where he was wounded.

PROBATE JUDGE CHARLES W. WHITE
Probate Judge Charles W. WHITE presided over the case after Judge PATTON. He was born in Wisconsin. He was a lawyer in Woodward, Oklahoma. In the fall of 1904 he ran on the Republican ticket along with W. T. COOLEY running for Sheriff (R), and C. C. HOAG running for County Clerk (R). Apparently the Republicans won big or this was a largely Republican area since all three of these men were voted into office. Mr. PATTON did not run for office in the fall of 1904 (or if he did he was not advertised as a contender in the August or September 1904 editions of the paper).

WILLIAM THOMAS “WILLIE” COOLEY
As mentioned above, Willie T. COOLEY ran for sheriff of Woodward County in the fall of 1904. He ran on the Republican ticket and won. He is listed on some of Nicholas’ estate documents as the Woodward County Sheriff. Mr. COOLEY was born in Kansas. He tells his own story at http://wt-cooley.net/WT.htm. He has connections to a couple of different FULLER lines as well as a PAGE line (my husband’s family). I have not been able to make any direct connections to mine or my husband’s family yet but his story is worth reading. It seems he was in his mid-90’s when he told the story and it was written down. An article in The Curtis Courier (Curtis, Oklahoma) described him as “honorable and upright in every respect” and claimed he would “make a vigorous and level headed guardian of the law.” In 1900 Mr. COOLEY still lived in Garfield, Oklahoma. He lived with his wife and children. In 1900 his little boy Earl was one year old. According to the website where Mr. COOLEY’s life story is, Earl died just before his second birthday. The year 1900 was heading into a period of Mr. COOLEY’s life that he said was his favorite. In 1903, he was appointed Postmaster of Quinlan, Woodward County, Oklahoma. I loved his description of the Cherokee Strip run of 1893. If Nicholas and William RITER did indeed participate in the run, Mr. COOLEY’s description is helpful in understanding what it was like.

Mr. COOLEY as Sheriff. Mr. COOLEY is the adult male without a hat.

Mr. COOLEY with his wife, Clara (TOMLINSON) COOLEY.

CHARLES C. HOAG
As mentioned above, Charles C. HOAG ran for County Clerk of Woodward County in 1904. He already held the position from the 1903 election. I am assuming he won since his signature appears as the probate court clerk and notary on a document in the estate file. In 1900, Mr. HOAG was still single and living with his parents. One of his siblings was also living there. They were living in Kremlin, Garfield County, Oklahoma. In 1909 President TAFT sent a nomination to the Senate for Mr. HOAG to be the new receiver at the Woodward Land Office. Mr. HOAG was described as “an able man, loyal to his party, and will undoubtedly give universal satisfaction as receiver.” Mr. HOAG was born in Kansas.

From Newspapers.com

WILLIAM H. KINGTON
William H. KINGTON (sometimes written as ‘KINGSTON’ in the probate file) was an appraiser of Nicholas’ estate. His homestead claim was in the same section as William RITER’s- the section south of Nicholas’. Mr. KINGTON was born in Illinois. In 1900 he lived two residences away from Nicholas and William RITER. In 1900 Mr. KINGTON was 52 years old, single, and living with his elderly parents and siblings. I could not find any evidence that he ever married or had children. I was unable to find much information about him at all.

ADOLPH F. BORCHARDT
Adolph F. (“A. F.”) BORCHARDT was one of the people giving surety (presumably for John HOOVER so he could administrate the estate?). Mr. BORCHARDT’s homestead claim was in the section between William RITER’s and Chester FULLER’s claims and was to the east of William RITER’s claim. (Chester’s relationship to Nicholas is described above; Chester FULLER’s Homestead Claim. Chester’s land was separated from William RITER’s by one section. Chester’s land was to the east of William’s.) Mr. BORCHARDT was born in Wisconsin. Although I couldn’t find Mr. BORCHARDT in the 1900 census, his future wife (Daisy COVINGTON, whom he would marry in November of 1900) lived four residences down from Nicholas that year.

Above is Mr. BORCHARDT.

JOHN FRANKLIN “FRANK” CALDWELL
John Franklin (“Frank”) CALDWELL was the second person giving surety. Mr. CALDWELL owned property in the section between William RITER’s and Chester FULLER’s properties. In 1900 he lived 8 residences away from Nicholas. He was born in Iowa and had a large family. Mr. CALDWELL “cut and hauled cedars to Kansas. In his later years he was a night watchman for Mooreland. Being a father of twelve children he did not believe in sparing the rod.” You can find photos of his family and his homestead along with a little more information here.

JOHN TILFORD DAVIS, SR.
John T. DAVIS Sr. was the Justice of the Peace in Woodward County. He ran on the Democratic ticket in the fall of 1904 for Justice of the Peace for the Mooreland Precinct. He signed and notarized some of the probate documents. John T. DAVIS Sr. (as well as Charles H. DAVIS- possibly a son of John T.) owned property kitty-corner to the northeast of Nicholas. A Charles DAVIS owed Nicholas $2 when Nicholas died and Charles DAVIS paid the estate prior to the closing of the case. Mr. DAVIS (possibly the father of Mack DAVIS who was also a close neighbor of Nicholas in 1900) certified that the witnesses were who they said they were. Mack DAVIS signed as a witness on estate paperwork. John T. DAVIS Sr. was born in Illinois. In 1900 there were two residences in between the Davis residence and Nicholas’ residence. He was a trustee of the First Methodist Church in Mooreland when it received it’s charter in 1905. If the Charles DAVIS and Mack DAVIS on the estate papers are really John DAVIS’ sons, Charles (“Charlie”) was born in Missouri and Mack was born in Kansas.

Article about a fight Mr. DAVIS was in in 1903.

John T. DAVIS Sr. as a young man.

John T. DAVIS Sr. and his wife. (The photo’s original caption says this is “Emma” – Sarah “Emma” GUESS- but the photo is him as an old man which would indicate the wife in the photo is his second wife, Eliza M. JENKINS.)

HARRY SCOTT COCKERILL
Harry Scott (“H. S.”) COCKERILL was Nicholas’ physician prior to Nicholas’ death. Mr. COCKERILL was born in Iowa. Like John T. DAVIS Sr., Dr. COCKERILL owned property kitty-corner to the northeast of Nicholas. Dr. COCKERILL took some hay in lieu of money to cover some of Nicholas’ final doctor bill and then requested the remaining $12.40 in cash (the original bill was $25.85). Highway 412 now separates the original COCKERILL and RITER homesteads.) In 1900 he was living in and practicing medicine in Iowa but within several years he had a practice and a homestead claim in Mooreland, Woodward County, Oklahoma.

An ad that ran in the paper for Dr. Cockerill’s services:

JAMES EVERETT SMITH
James Everett SMITH was born in Indiana. He graduated from Purdue University and was a teacher of mathematics at Northwestern Normal School. He was a member of the Masonic lodge and an active member of the Commercial Club. He moved to Alva in 1898. In 1903 he left the school, moved to Woodward and became the editor/publisher/part-owner of the Woodward Bulletin Weekly. He was a member of the Methodist church. He published notices for the estate of Nicholas RITER. Mr. SMITH was involved in politics in Woodward County and was a Republican. In 1904 he ran for Republican National Delegate. In 1900 he was single, a boarder with the EMBERSON family and living in Alva, Oklahoma. You can read a little more about him at this blog. Mr. SMITH was once excused from jury duty on a murder trial. You can read about the jurors here and some history about the murder here (several different blog posts on this page). The murder happened in the “Old Opera House”. The Old Opera House was the upper story of Peter MARTINSON’s grocery store. You can read about Peter MARTINSON above. You can read alumni-type articles about Mr. SMITH here. He graduated in the Class of 1893.

OMER FURMAN SCHNOEBELEN
Omer Furman SCHNOEBELEN was publisher of The Mooreland Leader newspaper. He printed sale bills and notices for the estate of Nicholas REITER. Mr. SCHNOEBELEN was born in Iowa. In 1900 he was living in Iowa with his parents. In 1903 at age 19, Mr. SCHNOEBELEN left Iowa and moved to Mooreland, Oklahoma, where he founded The Mooreland Leader newspaper. In 1914 he was appointed to the position of Postmaster in Mooreland. Mr. SCHNOEBELEN was a Democrat. He was active in politics and in his community. He was one of the first members of the Board of Trustees for the town of Mooreland and also served on the town council. He worked as an assistant cashier at Security State Bank in Mooreland, Oklahoma. You can read more about him here (Scroll down almost all the way to the bottom.). A short biography also appears in the book, A Standard History of Oklahoma, Volume 5 found here. I suspect that Mr. SCHNOEBELEN was Catholic. Several of his siblings professed Catholicism and he had a sister who was a nun of the Order of dePaul. I don’t know for certain what religion Mr. SCHNOEBELEN was – or if he professed any religious allegiance at all- but I do know he went to bat for the Catholic community in Mooreland in 1967 when a proposal was made to close down the Sacred Heart Catholic mission in Mooreland. The Catholic mission was established in Mooreland in 1904. Mr. SCHNOEBELEN stated, “When I see every trend being toward large centers or big cities, I also see every evil consequence of such congestion of population. I think it just as reasonable to require that the Woodward people come to Oklahoma City or to Tulsa as to require our people of the Mooreland Mission to go to Woodward or Alva or Enid- and some of them will not, because they deem it an imposition to take from us the thing that we have worked for and sustained all these years.” (The Road to Renewal: Victor Joseph Reed and Oklahoma Catholicism, 1905-1971by Jeremy Bonner) In all descriptions of Mr. SCHNOEBELEN that I could find he was described as being an impartial reporter and a man who cared deeply for his community. Mr. SCHNOEBELEN’s newspaper that he founded is still in operation today and is owned by 3rd and 4th generation family members. (The Mooreland Leader Case Study, July 2015) If you go to this link, you will find a nice article on page 13 about the linotype machinery Mr. SCHNOEBELEN used as well as photos of his descendants with the equipment. Here is a 1903 newspaper.com clipping about Mr. SCHNOEBELEN:

EDA (KNITTEL) SCHNOEBELEN
Mr. SCHNOEBELEN’s wife, Eda (KNITTEL) SCHNOEBELEN, notarized the estate documents he signed. Like Mr. SCHNOEBELEN, Ms. KNITTEL was born in Iowa. They both came from Riverside, Iowa. In 1900 she lived in Illinois with her widowed mother, Barbara, and her siblings. In 1900 she was 15 years old and attending school. She did not marry Mr. SCHNOEBELEN until early in 1904. Mrs. (KNITTEL) SCHNOEBELEN was a Notary Public and worked with her husband at the newspaper. She worked briefly as the assistant to the Postmaster and also worked for a time at Wyckoff Brothers’ general merchandise/grocery store.

GEORGE WHITE
George E./H. WHITE posted notices of the sale of Nicholas REITER’s property as required by law. On 13 February 1905 he posted notice of the Order for Sale of Personal Property in three public places including the front door of the Woodward County courthouse, the Mooreland Post Office, and the John Redman School House. His fee for posting was $1.00. Mr. WHITE was a next-door neighbor to Nicholas. Mr. WHITE was born in New York. In 1900 he was Nicholas’ next door neighbor. There is a detailed article about the historical schools in Woodward County. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.

I’m going to end part 1 of this blog post here. Part 2 will be coming up shortly. I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know the neighbors and friends of Nicholas REITER, William RITER, and Jennie RITER FULLER- many of them pioneers of Woodward County and some who participated in the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893.

Until next time,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog