Mansion

The Founding of Lindsay

by Mrs. Lewis Lindsay
 
 
 
     Alzira Powell, my mother, and Frank Murray were married at Fort Arbuckle in 1870.
She was of Indian ancestry, a descendant of Alzira Folsom, a sister of Davis Folsom, who was the chief of the Choctaw Nation. After living at Paul's Valley one year they moved to Erin Springs, so named because Murray was an Irishman and the first settler. Before the post office was established, it was called Elm Springs because of a large elm tree by the springs.
     Frank Murray built a home on the same site that the present mansion now stands. This was a log home, but roomy and comfortable. There were four rooms, a hall, and a front and back porch extending the full length of the building. It had huge fireplaces with windows on each side. There we lived until the rock house was built in 1881. I remember hearing my father and Mr. Coyle plan the house and talk about the difficulties of getting proper materials and where to quarry the stone. Mr Coyle, who was a stone mason from Ireland, built the house. He had come to Erin Springs shortly after Frank Murray.  He also built Smith Paul a rock house at Smith Paul's Valley. The Murray house was built of native stone quarried about six miles south of Erin Springs. It was originally a two story house but in 1902, a third story was added and a few other changes were made, one being a coat of cement put on the stone walls.
     I remember distinctly the first lumber (frame) house built here. It was a two-room house built by Jim Dibrell, the lumber being hauled from Gainesville, Texas where lumber used in the rock house came from. The carpenters were also from Gainesville. This two-room house was a landmark and a novelty as all the other settlers lived in log cabins. I was six years old at the time and as I remember there were no other lumber houses between here and Paul's Valley.
     When I was six years old, Miss Maggie Bowen came to teach my brother John and me. We were both young to have a teacher, but in those days they were scarce and my father had a chance to get Miss Bowen, who had been teaching Dr. Shirley's children near Cherokee town. He brought her here to live with us. After she had been here a short time, he built a school house and she taught still living in our home. My father paid her $30.00 per month plus room and board. Any children living in the settlement could go to school there. Miss Maggie, as everyone called her, later married John Coyle who built the mansion house.
Sophia McCaughey, my grandmother, came to Erin Springs one year after we did and built a home on the old McCaughey place and lived there until her death, her son was the first postmaster of Erin Springs. 
     After a short time, people began to drift into Erin Springs and build cabin homes and tend a few acres of land. Mr. Murray began to farm, at first a small acreage near his home, then in the rich valley of the Washita. His first farm was known as the old hedge farm, fenced with bois d'arc posts. Gradually his farm extended until it ran almost ten miles up and down the Washita River on the north side.
     He was a big hearted Irishman and would furnish his renters with wagon and team, implements and grub for a year and let them put in so many acres of land, they pay him in rent. That is the way he managed to get in so large a tract of farming land in the Washita Valley.
     The South side of the river was adapted to cattle grazing. They were turned out on the range and looked after by the cowboys. He sometimes employed quite a number of cowboys and always kept a negro cook. Indian corn was the main crop which averaged fifty and sixty bushels per acre and sold for as much as $2.00 per bushel. Crop failures was unheard of in those days.
The government road ran between Fort Sill and Fort Caddo. Long wagon trains drawn by pairs of oxen carried food and other supplies from Caddo, the nearest shopping point to Fort Sill and Reno. These freighters were sometimes a lawless lot, Jesse James being one of them; however he was not an outlaw at this time and acted like a perfect gentleman on his visits to Erin Springs.
     The stage coach carried the mail along this route twice a week. Sometimes there were a few passengers. One man and a team made a moderate day's drive and then a new man and fresh team started another days drive. Thus, the long, lonely trips from Fort Sill to Caddo! Stage stands along the way which were regular stopping places were Rush Springs, Whitebead, and Pauls Valley. The drivers of the stage coaches were welcome visitors because they brought news from the outside world, and often warned of Indian outbreaks, so that the settlers could prepare for them. Often, the driver was killed by Indians or outlaws but always the horses made the journey alone to the nearest stage stand. In those days it was custom to go armed, but my father was fearless, peaceful and easy to get along with and never carried firearms. His friends all liked and respected him.
     I remember hearing General Cabell tell the story of a battle that took place on Cabell Creek near the present crossing. One evening near sundown, the general and a handful of soldiers were camped for the night on the creek on their way back to Fort Arbuckle. They were surprised by a small band of Indians and a battle took place. No soldiers were killed, but eight Indians lost their lives. They were buried on the hill where the Murray home was later built. In excavating for a cellar, four skeletons were found. Plenty of arrowheads have been found in the Lindsay field near the creek, also around the old school house where the Indians camped for days at a time.
I remember seeing old Chief Geronimo and his two wives together with several other Indian prisoners who were being taken to Fort Sill by U.S. soldiers. They were camped where the school house now stands. This was around 1874.
     Erin Springs, by the time the Santa Fe railroad was built through Pauls Valley and Purcell, had become a very thriving little village, with a dozen or more comfortable cottages, two stores, one of which had a post office, and a drug store, a blacksmith shop, a school house and a Masonic hall combined, which also served as a church. People thought nothing of riding thirty or forty miles in a buggy to attend picnics, barbeques, and religious gatherings. A very good life it was.