I’m going to take us all back on a journey through Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine, to a time before ghost towns actually became ghost towns in Oklahoma, both before and after statehood.

When real people walked the dusty streets and trails and paths we now take for granted.

I’ve had a fascination with what came before us when I was just a young lad in grade school, when my dad told me a story about early-day Waukomis.

My grandpa and my dad — R. Jack Christy Sr. and Jr. — purchased the old weekly Oklahoma Hornet newspaper in 1950, and our family ran the print shop until 2002, upon the death of my dad.

I was digging around behind our old North Main Street building one day when my dad came out and said to be careful, that I might dig up a skeleton.

It seems that in the dusty pages of post-Land-Run-of-1893 Waukomis, our old building had been the site of a saloon, and someone had been shot in front of it out in the street, and buried in an unmarked grave out back.

That story sure got my attention, and it took off in my young mind to the point that wherever I lived — in the yards of my several homes over the years — that digging in the dirt for whatever reason might unearth some type of history, some remnant the people who lived long before me had left behind.

Now, this historical intrigue for me reached a peak in later years when I was a Civil War living history re-enactor, and our Oklahoma unit —the Trans-Mississippi Rifles — was camped at old Fort Washita in far Southern Oklahoma.

Several of us had gone on a hike west of the old fort, down a steep hill into a thicket of brush and scrub trees, and discovered a weather-beaten wood sign that read Hatsboro, with as I remember several old stone foundations of a long ago abandoned settlement near the fort.

Hatsboro — also known as Rugglesville — was a small town, if you can call it that, west of the important Oklahoma fort across a creek near the Chickasaw Indian Agency, whose inhabitants were the families of soldiers and fort employees.

Of course, the old fort was built in 1842 by the federal government as the farthest southwest outpost in the still fledgling, still expanding United States, strategically overlooking the Red River and Texas.

I also remember, after a heavy rainstorm, finding dozens of square nails, window weights and other items that had been uncovered by the storm, just laying there on the ground in front of what had been the foundations of buildings from the fort — washed up as if to try and tell a long-forgotten story. History had given up a few clues.

Certainly Hatsboro is one of just many ghost towns in Oklahoma, and many more were to come and go as history unfolded here on the red earth plains.

Another time, history jumped up and bit me while I was finishing up helping fight a fire with Waukomis Fire Department, on what was then the old Rock Island railroad line, a little north of Bison.

Several of us were walking the railroad line, looking for hot spots and kicking still-smoldering old railroad ties away from the tracks when we came upon a marker — a grave next to the tracks — of an unidentified railroad worker who had died and been buried there.

It was a stunning piece of history for us, something you don’t ever expect to find, but that gives you pause and makes you think back into history past.

I know that there are any number of ghost towns in Oklahoma — many right in Garfield County — including Barr and Del Norte, south of Drummond; Cropper, north of Breckinridge; Jonah, northwest of Enid; Luella, east of Fairmont; Maxwell northeast of Covington, and Potter, southeast of the same present-day town.

And, there is Wildwood, in the far southwest corner of the county, halfway between Ames and Oklahoma 132.

All were once towns or at least communities. All had a history of people who lived there, died there, and who at one time farmed or thrived in some long-forgotten avocation in early-day Oklahoma, both pre- and post-statehood.

These communities at one time drew people to them for whatever reason, but a lack of railroads, a lack of good water or roads — a lack of something — made them abandon these communities.

I can tell you that there has been more history lost to us than we have written down.

We, as Oklahomans and Americans, lose unwritten history every single day.

It sometimes lives on in memories, but as people pass, history is lost to us and only lives on in the weathering gravestones of our cemeteries — passing on into forgotten history.

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Christy is news editor at the Enid News & Eagle. Visit his column blog at www.tinyurl.com/Column-Blog.

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Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for David? Send an email to davidc@enidnews.com.

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3rd-generation journalist, Univ. of Oklahoma School of Journalism 1968-1972, OU Sports Information Office, sports editor Sherman (Texas) Democrat, editor weekly Waukomis Hornet, news editor Enid News & Eagle. Retired 27-year volunteer firefighter and EMT.

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