Small Town Oklahoma

Thanks once more to all of you who have come out to my book signings-its been great to meet everyone!

Welcome back.  Historical things have always been a big interest of mine and from your correspondence it appears that many of you enjoy them as well so this week I’ll start with a story that has Bartlesville connections. The first post office in the town of present day Cleveland, OK was established in 1894 and by 1900 the town had a population of 211 according to Wikipedia. Back in those days Cleveland was a trading center for farmers and the Osage tribe but when oil was discovered there in 1904 a rail line was extended from Oklahoma City. By the time of statehood in 1907 the population had grown to 1,441 recorded residents.

In 1939, four years after Will Rogers’ tragic death, Cleveland became the home of the premier Boy Scout Summer Camp in the Cimarron council and it was named for Rogers. You Scout people know what I’m talking about and for the rest of you I’ll just say that this is quite the place for kids. Of course anything with Will’s name on it is special to me.

Cleveland was named for President Grover Cleveland and several notable people including 1952 Heisman Trophy winner from O.U.Billy Vessels grew up in this oil rich community. Now that I’ve given you some background on the town, I have one more piece of interesting history from this area to share.

Pawnee County where Cleveland sits was a new territory in 1892 and in an effort to get development going a land run was held involving a fertile part of the county known as the “strips.” It was a dream come true for two brothers from Indiana. Together they secured a large piece of property during the run and turned it into the most famous ranch in the area. The brothers were Dave and Erd Mullendore and over time Erd got involved in many other business ventures which made him one of Cleveland’s most prominent and wealthiest citizens. However this piece of history isn’t just about Erd or his wife, Sarah Jane Berry from Stillwater whom he married in 1897. Nor is it about Erd’s farm which became one of the most successful in the state which caused the town to name a street “Mullendore Street” after him.

In 1910 when Erd had also gotten involved in banking, he and Sarah built a mansion on the original property which is still a landmark in the community. Designed in the Greek revival style, the multi-story residence was constructed primarily of red brick. Erd and Sarah raised their family in the home including their son Eugene Claremont Mullendore who would grow up to found the famous Cross Bell Ranch north of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Erd died in 1938 and Sarah continued to live in their house until her death in 1951. Their oldest daughter Bessie lived in the home for a number of years afterwards before the mansion was sold outside of the family.

While I was in Cleveland I had the opportunity to visit with the current owners and I was sad to learn that the mansion has been shaken to its very foundation by recent earthquakes.  Cracks are everywhere and from the road I could see that hundreds of bricks had fallen off the exterior. 4 x4 wooden planks are keeping the porch from collapsing and large pieces of the wall of an outbuilding have fallen off as well. It is still unknown if the two retired postal service workers who own the mansion will be able to save this grand piece of Oklahoma history so my scoop of the week is to take a trip to Cleveland. Check out the Will Rogers Scout Ranch, drive down Mullendore Street and while you have the chance see the place where a dynasty was founded, the Mullendore Mansion.

This past week I also enjoyed a visit to Fairfax, Oklahoma or as the Osage people called it in the 1800s “Grey Horse”. When the railroad came through in 1903 it transformed a little village into a bustling town. The Osage tribe owned the community until 1905 when Congress sold the land at public auction. By 1907 there were 470 residents and I definitely need a return visit to learn more about this interesting town.

On Saturday I was fortunate to have a book signing at Tulsa Historical Society and Museum. I hadn’t been there in years and I found the space completely transformed with a beautiful addition and a complete renovation of the original 1900s era mansion. There are several state of the art exhibition spaces, an auditorium for speakers and a special event spaces for meetings and receptions. It is right next door to the Tulsa Garden Center which is also a great place to visit.

For information about their exhibits and upcoming events visit

Before I go I want to let everyone know that I will be signing books at the Bartlesville Examiner Enterprise from 2-4PM on Tuesday December 22nd.  I’m excited to have the opportunity to be at the paper which is such an important part of our community.

In the past 12 weeks I’ve signed hundreds of books and people are telling me they make great Christmas presents. For those of you who have already purchased Footprints in the Dew, thank you for making it the third best-selling nonfiction book in Oklahoma. The book has also been nominated for a Western Heritage Award at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center.

Again I want to thank you all for your support and wish you a Merry Christmas.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road…….