January 28, 2021, 12:00
A history of Calera, Oklahoma
Written by Joe A. Goza
I have been asked to write a short history of Calera before 1925. While quite willing to undertake the job, I greatly fear I should start my story "Once upon a time", like most fairy tales begin, as most of the early history of Calera when it was Cale, Indian Territory or Sterrett, Indian Territory will be heresay.
In the beginning when the Indian Territory really belong to the Indians, Bryan County was one huge well watered buffalo pasture, with some the finest meadow lands found anywhere in the world. Calera's one claim to fame for being the biggest, the best, the most or what have you to brag about, relies on the fact that Calera once, for some twenty odd years, shipped more baled prairie hay than any other town in the world.
When the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians were moved, by the U.S. Government, from their farm lands in Mississippi, Alabama and other Eastern states they were quick to see that the meadow lands would be fine farm lands. Since most of the Indians had been farmers in their eastern homes and some even slave holders, they quickly set about making new homes in their new location. Cotton, corn and oats were their principal crops.
It is reasonable to believe a cotton gin, a country store and a blacksmith shop would be the first requirements of such a pioneer community. I am not sure just when the first gin or country store was started in Calera. When my grandfather, Lemuel C. Moore, arrived in what is now Bryan County in 1871 and settled seven miles due west of present day Calera on Rock Creek the nearest gin or grist mill was Sherman, Texas or Caddo, Indian Territory. It was a three day trip to drive to Sherman with a bale of cotton or a load of grain get the cotton ginned or the grain ground and return home.
In the late 1870's or early 1880's Cale, I.T. came into being. William McLeod Raine, the famous western story writer, in the opening chapter of his novel "Hell and High Water", a story about the Indian Territory of 1870-1880, had his hero ride into Cale, I.T. leave his horse at Merritt's livery stable and eat a scanty supper at the country store before bedding down for the night.
In 1892 when my other grandfather, J.B. Goza, moved to Cale > from White Mount, Texas there was a gin, smithy, store, livery stable and school. All of the above buildings were east of where the M.K.&T. "Katy" railroad tracks now run. The gin being in the northeast corner of what is present day Calera. The blacksmith shop, store and livery stable were north of what is now Main Street and the school between the store and the gin. I have heard both Dad and Mother tell about stopping at Cooper's store to buy apples or sweets for their school lunches. After 1887, when the Katy railroad began to build through Bryan County many more businesses were attracted to Cale.
On 30 November 1889 the first authorized U.S. post office for Cale, I.T. was opened with John C. Womach as postmaster. In 1899 townsite commissioners John A. Sterrett and Butler S. Smiser hired surveyor Mark Kirkpatrick with two helpers to lay out a town site. The original survey started at the corners of section 23-24 and 25- 26 thence 1320 feet north (a city block is 330 feet), thence east 1320 feet, thence north 3300 feet, thence east 660 feet, thence north 660 feet, thence west 4260 feet, thence south 1320 feet, thence west 660 feet, thence south 2640 feet, thence east 660 feet, thence south 660 feet, thence east 660 feet, thence south 660 feet, thence east 1980 feet to the beginning, containing 480 acres, more or less. Tho I have put in hours of work trying to make Calera fit into that survey I have met with very little success. The townsite was not laid out on a true north and south, east and west course, as the county section lines were. The townsite was laid out so the railroad would bisect a continuous line or tier of city blocks through-out the townsite. This is clearly shown even today when one travels north 3rd street on a northeast line and then must turn north on the section line road to reach the cemetery.
20 June 1899 a new post office was opened as Sterrett, I.T. with John W. Blevins as postmaster. The Katy Railway Company would not agree to this change of names and continued to call the depot station Cale or Cale Switch. It was so called until 1911 when the railway V.I.P. and the city fathers met and compromised on the name Calera for both the post office and the depot. I don't know who was Calera's first postmaster. Mr. Henry Burrow was the first I can remember (about 1918).
By 1918 all the business buildings were located on the west side of the railroad tracks. On the south side of main street was W.L. Scearce hay, grain and coal, office and scales, a small wood and tin building. Next was a large double brick building of two stories. East side was the Sterrett Drug and the office Dr. A.J. Wells. The west side was the Taze Wells Cafe. My father, Will Goza, owned this care in 1916-1917. The upper story of this building was reached by an outside stairway the rear of the building and was the home the Mason, Oddfellows and Woodmen Lodges. Next was the largest business building in town. A large wood building housing Calera Mercantile Store. Managed by J.K. Johnson, Charlie Clark and Dr. Joe Keller. I attended school in this building when a new school building was being erected 1922-23. Next was a wood building housing George McVeigh-Wm. E. Black Grocery. Until about 1910-12 Mr. Black also ran a delivery service for the city grocery stores. This delivery service was taken over by Mr. Harry Guiou who ran it until automobiles so numerous it was no longer needed. Guiou also had the Gov't. contract to haul the mail from the depot to the post office and vice versa. Next was Campbell Drug and Pharmacy which was owned by the Baldwin family from about 1908 to 1920. Dr. Keller had his office in this building after death of Dr. Baldwin. Next was a narrow wood building where Johnny Weeks had his shoe shop. A dark and gloomy place that smelled wonderful. Next was A.L. Turley Grocery and Meat Market. This building later housed the Revenue Cafe. Next was the F.C. Moody Store. This building was taken over by Arthur and George Moody as a barber shop. Several other members of the Moody family received their early training as barbers this shop.
A vacant area of about 50 feet wide came next followed by a wood and tin building were Frank Goza had a store, meat market and cafe. Next was a large double brick building with Charlie Sharp's Hardware store taking up the east side and the England Brothers Grocery the west. The West wide was later The First National Bank. Owned by Cotner and Wm. Mitchell. This brings us across the first block to 1st street which was at that time the main highway through town. Durant to Denison.
Across 1st. street was a large brick building where R.A. Toms had his store. After Mr. Toms death this store was owned by George and Estel Harris. Later they moved this business up on the paved highway on 2nd St. where they were in business for many years. The first business I can remember in the next building was J.B. Simpson's Calera Enterprise Newspaper. This is the first Calera Newspaper I can personally remember, but have seen a copy of the Sterrett Sun of 1906 owned and printed by J.R. Moore. Next was Calera post office with Henry Burrow postmaster. Next was a vacant lot of some 150 feet which was used for medicine shows, carnivals and the circus. Then the First State Bank. A brick building on the corner of the block, owned by Thomas and J.C. Kenton. Later by Charlie Elliott. A concrete side walk some 8 or 10 feet wide ran along the store fronts from the railway tracks to the bank building. It was even paved across the streets and highway. From Wells Drug to the post office the side walk was covered. Had built in seats in front of most stores and many hitching rings were inset along the entire length of the walk.
In the middle of main street between Wells Drug and L.C. Moore's Store was a large public water well with watering troughs on the east and west sides of the well.
On the north side of main street-east to west-William Bondies Hay and Grain Office with scales to weigh large loads of hay or grain. Mr. Bondies was for many years one of the largest buyers and shippers of baled prairie hay in the state. Next was Lem Moore's General Merchandise Store, grist mill and ice house. A vacant lot used by Mr. Moore for a truck garden came next. Then the Campbell and Moore Livery Stable, with Mr. Lee Grey as manager. When I was 5-1/2 years old, Dad sold our farm east of Calera and moved to town that I might be nearer to school. Dad, Will Goza, bought the livery stable from his father-in-law L.C. Moore and ran it 1914-1915 with the help of Mr. Grey. Just west of the livery stable was Henry Speaks Hotel. North of the hotel across the alley was Walter Diehl's black smith shop.
Across 1st street was the Rockwell Brothers Lumber Yard. R.L. Trout was manager of this business until the lumber yard was moved to Durant in the late 1920's. West of the lumber yard was a vacant lot. Then on the southeast corner of the block facing the bank building still standing of the entire two blocks of 1918-1925. Part of this building housed the first Telephone Exchange in Calera. The lower story is now the Senior Citizen Hall and the upper story is the home of the Mason and Eastern Star Lodges. Just north of this building in the City water well.
The railroad tracks ran through the 2nd tier of city blocks east of 1st street. There were two sets of tracks on the main line east of the depot, which was located about 150 feet south of main street. West of depot was another set of tracks that started near the south edge of the city and ran north some 1/4 mile beyond the city limits. It was mainly used to switch freight trains off the main lines so fast passenger trains would have the right-a-way. This switch was responsible for the Katy's Cale Switch name for early day Calera. West of this switch was yet another set of rails that ran up to the City loading dock, a big tin granary and the stockyards and the live stock loading chute.
I do not know the name or names of the early station masters. Mr. Tom Fleming was station master as far back as I can remember and held the job until the depot was finally shut down.
Will now list the home sites and the family name of the residents, with the name or names of children nearest my age group who attended Calera schools some time during the years I was in school-1915-1927, enclosed in ()'s. In 1918 that part of town laying east of the railroad was very sparsely settled, except the part laying in the south eastern corner and commonly known as "Over on the Hill". There was only one through street or road running north and south and the residents reached their homes by roads or foot paths they made as needed, East of the railroad and north of main street were the William family (Jack, Stella and Floyd), the Charlie Clark family (Joe Billy), the Claude Baileys, the Wrens, the John Ausley family (Richard and Walter), the Coffee family (Tommy), the Toba Goza family (Gus and Louie), the White family (Emmett) and the Tom Fleming family (Webb and Pernia). The Perry family homesite was partly within and partly out side the city limits in the extreme northeast corner of the townsite.
East of the railroad and south of main street lived the Rice family, Patty Cox and the Paulk family (Wilma and Buck). All other lots were vacant except a big hay barn on the 3rd block south of main and the Driver-Crabtree family homesite on the 4th tier of blocks. Five blocks south of main street was the only railroad crossing in the south part of town. This road was known as the Bushnell road. North of this road lived the Mantooth family, the Roy Bailey family, the Evans (Chris, Vera and Pete), the Lawrences, the Rodericks (Weldon and Grady), the Browns, the Martins (Zerl) and the Coopers (Maggie). South of this road lived the John Ferguson family (Guy and Vivan), John Weeks, the John Buchanan family (Clark and Bert), the Bush family (Tack and Bill), the Rozelle family, the Will Goza family (Me), the Foxx family (Irene), Preacher Lee family (Roy and Grady) and John King (Sidney).
West of the railroad and north of main street between railroad and 1st. street the 2nd block was taken up by the Wallace Turley Gin and cotton yard. (A long dash-will here after show a new block)-2 big hay barns-baseball park-Mitchell hay barn-big red hay barn-the next block and on beyond the city limits was owned by the Black family who were among the very earliest settlers in this part of Bryan County. Members of the Black family still own this old homesite.
North of the lumber yard across the alley lived the Tackett family (Buch and Tommy Nell) and north of the city water well lived the Stockwells-the Moreheads, the James, and Estel Harriss-Wade Henderson (Ethel and Mutt)-the Camphells (Myrtle)-the Johnsons-big hay barn in Black's pasture.
Between north 2nd. and 3rd. streets lived the Mead family and Dr. A.J. Wells (Chock and Edith)-the Knights, R.L. Trout and Doug Glover (Check and Pete)-Jack Linton (Doris) and Mrs. Williams (Inez)-William Mitchell family (Gaines and Frank)-vacant blockWilliam Bondies-Jim Woods.
Between north 3rd. and 4th streets lived Frank Goza (Sandy and Jimmy- and the Rickett family (Opal)-Calera Public Schoolsthe Berry family (Don) and the Lewis Hurst family (Virgil and Hayden)-vacant-vacant-Baldwin family (Joe). Between north 4th. and 5th. vacant lot-Gus Goza block-ball park-and a weed patch to city limits. Between north 5th. and 6th. streets. Jim Jordan (Robert), King family (Montie and Edna) and Diffey family.-Bushards (Ned), Taze Wells (H.C.)-Gus lyon (Glenn) and Molones - C.E. "Red" Moore (Pender) a big tin hay barn. Between north 6th. and 7th. vacant-Roy Carter (Weldon) Will Goza 1914-17-Bob LaRue (Clarence)- West of 7th. on an odd size lot lived Holmes Colbert, his motherin -law Granny Hobson, his daughter Marion and his nephew Rufus Garland.
Between railway and south of 1st. street was an old homestead. First residents I can remember living there was the Jewell Guest family -the city jail- a big hay barn - Odie Scott and Big George Mantooth (Ambrose) - R. A. Toms and east of this block on railway property was a large two story house for the use of the railroad foreman. The Parrish family lived there in 1918 (Ralph and Raymond)-Bloodworths and Dave Thrasher (Oscar)-vacant-Claude Justice (Dane)-vacant-vacant-Battles family (Josephine). Between 1st. and 2nd. behind the Toms store lived the Flemings family (Archie and Leeman), behind the bank building was the Methodist Church and between Church and Felmings was the George Harris family-Hurst family (Audrey and Robert), Abe Barnett family (Mildred) and the England family-Riddling-Nick Badgett family (Mandora and R.T.), Honts Baptist Church and Ed and Ann GozaChristian Church and Walter Diehl (Kathleen and Ray)- J.K. Johnson (Charles) and the Turners-Will Johnson(Eugene)-Jess Bullockvacant to city limits.
Between south 2nd, and 3rd streets. A building or hall used for shows and other activities and the Lee White Family (Elsie)- J.A. Mapp (Elmo), Charlie Elliott, Nick Needham, Bill Tyus, and Mrs. Anna Huskey (Robert) - Miles Rolater (Sam and Henry), Mrs. Josie Burton (Edna and Clifford), First Baptist Church and John Gossett (Herchel and Mae) - George Frazier Hudson-Cotner, George McVeigh (Lilburn) and Henry Burrow - Wallace Turley (Wilton and John L.) and Dunc Penn (Howard) - Dr. M.S. Keller - Honts family (Frank and Alkahoma) - Honts family pasture past city limits.
Between south 3rd. and 4th. streets. Fate and Ida Goza, Dr. Joe Keller and the Wright family (Dub and Poss)-Clark Buchanan, Wessinger (Marion), Unknown-Charlie Sharp (C.B.), Dobbins (Olga) and Mrs. Willie Moody (Bert and Clyde)-W.L. Scearce (Joe and Jean) R.L. Bean-The Kenton family and Lonzo Reeves-Lem Moore (Vena, Velma and Kathleen)-Massey family and Harry Guiou (Dave and Celeste)- Hollis Shelton Jewell and Willard). Between south 4th. and 5th streets. F.C. Moody (F.C. and Woodrow)-Higginsbottom (Opal and Otis)-vacant -Clinton(Mabel)-J.B. Goza (Paschal and Audrey) and a big hay barn-Moore's pasture past city limits.
Between south 5th and 6th Jim Woods -Vacant-Vacant-Worley. Between south 6th. and city limits. Carter family (Pete and Chub) this is the least changed home (outward appearance) of any other place in town. It is still owned by members of the Carter family. - Tho Lee Sharp family arrived in Oklahoma long after statehood this place has been known as the Sharp place as long as I can remember and Horace Sharp and wife still live there.
Calera today is suffering from growing pains and bursting at the seams. The business buildings are scattered all over the town. So many new homes are being built and new additions springing up the water and sewer systems, tho well managed, are fast being out dated. The water dept. is kept very very busy correcting old mistakes and laying new lines to still the clamor for service. We do have good schools, nice churches, modern fire dept., good telephone and T.V. cable service and police protection. Calera is fast becoming a retirement and bedroom town for southern Oklahoma and northern Texas.