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Woodward's First Cemetery
Woodward Centennial 1887-1987

By Louise B. James
Reprinted with permission

Woodward's first cemetery was called Fairview, and it was located at what is today the Field Station headquarters, just northwest of the present administration building. It's not known when the plot was first used, but probably two men who shot it out at the corner of what is today fifteenth and Main in September 1893, when the land office was being built, were among those interred. Carpenters working on the land office stopped long enough to construct a couple of crude coffins.

One of the first recorded burials is the infant son of a Mr. and Mrs. Pearson who was "laid to rest in the Woodward Cemetery" according to the Advocate of Jul 27, 1894.

Fairview was located on a school section; land which was not available for homesteading, and perhaps that's why the site was first chosen.

But by 1902 the editor of the Woodward Bulletin was concerned about the cemetery being on school land and wrote on April 11, "it is up to our city council. Congress some years ago passed a bill authorizing the Secretary of Interior to sell the 80 acres of school land upon which we have been burying our dead, to the city of Woodward. We certainly want a title to the land where our dead are buried. We should take more pride than we do in caring for the last resting place for our loved ones. No one can act but the city council and they should act at once. The cemetery should be laid off into lots with proper drive ways and walks. The lots sold to people wanting them and the money used in improving and caring for the grounds.

Perhaps it was this lack of a master plan for the cemetery which led to the purchase of the land where Elmwood Cemetery is. Elmwood - it was not yet called by this name - was ready to use by Dec. 15, 1905, when Bolton's News reported: "Those desiring to purchase cemetery lots may now do so by calling on city clerk, Fyffe, as the plot is now ready for dispersal. Early comers secure choice. All one price, ten dollars each."

In 1906 Memorial Day ceremonies - then known as Decoration Day - were still at the old cemetery. The day started with a 10 a. m. assembly on Texas Street, south of the court house. A parade formed here with the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) commander and official staff leading the way on horseback. They were followed by the band; comrades, ex-soldiers, on horseback or in carriages with their families; the Woodward Militia Company; the Masonic Order; Odd Fellows; Knights of Pythias; Red Men; Woodmen; and various Sunday school classes, teachers, and superintendents; citizens on horseback and in carriages and wagons.

The parade route was east to the Methodist Church, north to Main Street, west to the Cattle King (Sooner Furniture), and south through the school section to the old cemetery. After ceremonies at the cemetery, the party marched back to town and formally dismissed at 1:30 p.m.

It was not until 1907 that the ceremonies were held at Elmwood, and there were complaints at that time about the location which was much farther from town than Fairview had been. The ex-soldiers had been in the habit of marching to the cemetery, both the Bulletin and News observed, but could no longer do so because of the distance.

It was not until 1914 that bodies were formally moved from Fairview to Elmwood. With the selection of the school section as the site for the Field Station, the old graveyard there would have to be eliminated. Thus, in February 1914 the county commissioners awarded the contract to Mooreland undertaker C. L. Lambert, who had submitted the low bid - he offered to disinter each body and rebury it for $6.75.

County surveyor Joe Innis provided Lambert with a map of the old cemetery, and the county planned to bill the relatives the $6.75, but apparently had to pick up the tap for several unknowns.

Lambert was to number these unidentified dead and bury the body with a corresponding identification number. Cemetery records at the city water department show number 80 through 85 were "Bones from Experiment Farm found when excavating for office building," and were buried "In Alley" in Lot 1, Block 44, Section 2.


Fancy for Goats Long Remembered

By Louise B. James
Reprinted with permission

James K Young's Goat Cattle has long been king in Oklahoma, but that wasn't James K. Young's personal choice of animals, and he wanted everyone to remember it.

Young's tombstone in Woodward's Elmwood Cemetery stands out distinctly from the others. It's the one with the carved likeness of a goat on top.

According to a local study of Woodward's pre-1915 residents, Young was the owner of a goat herd several thousand strong.

He bought it from Robert Benn, who had driven the herd from New Mexico in 1892. At that time the Woodward area was still part of the Cherokee Outlet and not open to settlement.

But Benn settled his 3,000 goats here anyway, joining several cattlemen illegally using the good grass. In 1893, when the land was opened for homesteading, Benn claimed land 3½ miles north of town. There the goats lived until Benn sold them after being elected county sheriff in 1896.

The goats must have been important to Young, because when he died in 1916, his widow, Marie, make a strange request of W. E. "Will" Bishop, owner of Woodward Granite and Marble Works.

She asked that Bishop carve a stone goat for the marker to be set as his last resting place. Bishop's daughter, Camille Bishop, said Mrs. Young came to her father's workshop every day to watch the animal take shape.

Jim Young, Woodward mayor and grandson of James K. Young, thinks the herd of Angora goats was sold in the 1920s to settle his grandfather's estate.

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