The Garrard’s Comic Book

On February 10, 1980, Tom and Allece Garrard hosted a dinner at the McAlester Country Club to celebrate the 1980 Neustadt Prize. Honorees of the dinner were President Emeritus Paul Sharp and his wife, Rose, Professor and Mrs. Wayne Chess, Australian novelist Thomas Keneally and Czech novelist Arnost Lustig.

Included among the R.S.V.P.s for that event was this creative reply from supernatural fiction author Frank D. McSherry:

Happy Friday, everyone!


J.G. Puterbaugh, Part 3

(Above image depicts J.G. Puterbaugh being presented with the tribute book, “I Remember… J.G. Puterbaugh,” circa 1964-1965.)

I Remember… J.G. Puterbaugh

The following post includes personal remembrances of family, friends and business associates of J.G. Puterbaugh. These remembrances were compiled into the tribute, “I Remember… J.G. Puterbaugh,” which was presented to Puterbaugh shortly before his death, and they illustrate many of his personal traits and the fondness by which his associates regarded him.

The thrill-seeker…

From left: Mother of Florence Rudowsky, Florence Rudowsky, Leela Puterbaugh, Anita Rudowsky, J.G. Puterbaugh, Kate Garrard, Tom Garrard, circa 1910-1915.

“Mr. Puterbaugh has always been the most ‘forward’ citizen in McAlester, and I hope I’ve caught his challenge to follow this same ‘forwardness.’ He purchased one of the first cars McAlester ever saw and generously took his friends riding in it. I was a passenger many times. We rode into the country and ‘J.G.’ always wanted to know where this road or that went. One Sunday afternoon our driver stopped abruptly as the road we were on went through a creek and up a steep slope on the far side. Mr. Puterbaugh said, ‘Tom, go look at that stream and see how deep it is.’ Tom went to look while all the passengers plead with Mr. Puterbaugh not to take the chance of getting stuck in it. Tom said, ‘It’s pretty deep, Uncle Jay, and there are rocks everywhere.’ Uncle Jay said, ‘Get a stick and measure the depth and hold the stick up so I can see how far the water comes up on it… Now, measure over here… now over there…’ Tom held the stick high in the air with a wet mark at least a foot up on it. ‘It’s alright. We can make it. Come get in, Tom.’ Well, he did – and we did – through that rough creek bottom we jolted and up the other side we went, and all the passengers marveled that we could do it!”

Anita Rudowsky Shuller

“One instance which stands out in my mind was a day or so after my arrival in McAlester in 1920. Mr. J.G. Puterbaugh, Mr. W.D. Puterbaugh, Mr. Luitwieler, Mr. Faulkner and I made a trip to the mines. We had lunch (which consisted of sliced pineapple, salmon, sardines, crackers and ginger snaps) at the Kala Inla Mine Commissary. As we had a good many mines to visit, Mr. J.G. Puterbaugh asked if I could drive the car, which was then a Dodge touring car with a speed of about 35 miles, if pressed. I told him I could. He immediately started to ring the remaining pineapple on his finger, picked up the surplus ginger snaps and stuffed them in his pocket, and we were on our way toward Wilburton. I had the car doing about 35 (all it would make) when Mr. Faulkner remarked, ‘That boy really drives.’ Mr. J.G. Puterbaugh replied, ‘Yes, but he doesn’t get anywhere.’ With that, Mr. W.D. Puterbaugh whispered to me, ‘Don’t pay any attention to what they say or you’ll kill all of us.'”

– Howard Sherman

“Back in the early 1900’s a crowd from Dallas happened to be in New York at the same time as J.G. Puterbaugh. He suggested showing us Coney Island by night. After every possible attraction had been taken in and we were on our way out, we came upon the ‘Loop-the-Loop.’ We looked upon it with fear and trembling, but not J.G. Puterbaugh. He caught Flora by the arm and said, ‘Let’s go!’ With that they jumped in the seat, perched on the big wheel and soon began turning over and over in the air. Needless to say, squeals went up from the crowd. An exciting climax to an evening of fun!”

– Sallie Webster

The dancer…

J.G. Puterbaugh, circa 1910-1925.

“Nearly forty years ago, Peggy Thompson, Jodie Bigger, Frances Penniman and I were motoring and stopped in McAlester to spend the night at Uncle Jay’s. After dinner, Uncle Jay put a record on the Victrola and danced with all four of us in turn. He waltzed, foxtrotted and danced a polka until long after bedtime. The next morning, when we came in to breakfast, the rug was turned back and the music playing. Uncle Jay danced with us while breakfast waited and waited. We are all grandmothers now and don’t dance as much as we used to, due to a lack of willing partners. Not very long ago Peggy asked me if Uncle Jay still dances before breakfast. I told her that if we planned to take the same trip I thought it would be wise to do a little practicing before we left.”

– Mary Olive Puterbaugh Gardere

“One summer there was a meeting in McAlester of all the Company representatives, and we had a picnic dinner in the yard at the Puterbaugh’s and dancing that evening in the house. I was dancing with Mr. Puterbaugh, and, being small of stature, I was a little worried that I might not be able to keep step with him. I would glance down at my feet now and then, and finally he said, ‘Mary, forget about your feet, I’ll take care of them.'”

– Mary Graves

The man with the can-do attitude…

“In the summer of 1936 upon graduation from high school I visited various Texas relatives. Cousin Leela and Cousin Jay were at the Stoneleigh in Dallas where I stayed with them. Since I had no plans for college, Cousin Jay said he had heard of a good school in Denton – T.S.C.W (Texas State College for Women). In short order, we arrived in Denton. Every building on the campus, even the laundry, looked exciting to me! But the administrative offices were closed. How disappointing! But Cousin Jay was undaunted. In a very few minutes he had procured the name and address of the registrar. We arrived and there sat Mr. Emerson! He enrolled me then and there. A momentous time for me… I get a thrill just writing about it! Just one of the many ‘Forward March’ lessons I’ve learned from my wonderful Cousin Jay!”

– Charlotte Webb

J.G. Puterbaugh, circa 1910.

“A number of years ago I had reservations with Thompson Tours in Topeka, Kansas to go to California, spend six weeks in school at Berkeley, then return via the Canadian Rockies. En route to Topeka, I spent a few wonderful days in McAlester. Near the end of my stay in Berkeley a letter arrived from 345 Adams, inviting me to stop on my way home. I immediately replied that my ticket was a through one and I regretted that it would be impossible for me to have a stop-over. I found out later that things began to happen – like conversations with railroad V.I.P.s. Within a very short time I was amazed to receive a telegram from Cousin Jay, “All is arranged. We’ll meet the evening train.”

– Frances Rhea Reed

The singer…

J.G. Puterbaugh with singing group, circa 1950-1965.

“I remember… That there may not have been a McAlester General Hospital without your leadership and financial support, and without the hospital McAlester would be hurt beyond description. Thanks for this valuable contribution to our City. On the lighter side, I shall always remember the Christmas parties given by Mrs. Josephine Townsend at her ranch and the manner in which you entered into the festivities, especially the group singing.”

– Harry W. Owens, Mayor

“I remember Mr. J.G. Puterbaugh as a wonderful host. I remember the fun and enjoyment at one of his New Year’s musical parties when I was privileged to be a guest and the pleasure he got from singing, and especially some that he sang with my niece’s husband, Bill Kanady. I shall never forget that New Year’s.”

– Dorothea Cook

The wit…

“Cousin Jay had come to Malakoff on a business trip and stopped in to see us. My mother had just baked light bread and he asked her to explain how she did it. During the explanation, she rubbed her fingers together and said, ‘I like to feel the dough,’ and Cousin Jay remarked, ‘A lot of people like to do that.'”

– Mary Mitcham

“During the early days of the East Texas oil boom, I was with Uncle Jay when he was trying to get one of the co-owners of an oil lease to pay for his share of some equipment. This man was extremely pompous and reluctant to part with any of his money. Later, when we were driving back to the hotel, he said, ‘Bill, I think the trouble with Mr. Blank is that he is a self-made man and he worships his creator.”

– William A. Roever

The philanthropist…

J.G. Puterbaugh, circa 1945-1960.

“During the summer of 1947 a group of our community leaders, including physicians, brought into focus a growing surge of interest in establishing what is now the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. I was requested to enlist Mr. J.G. Puterbaugh’s interest in this movement and to get his permission for his election as the first permanent president of the Foundation. I called Mr. Puterbaugh long distance and revealed briefly our proposal for the Foundation and our desire to have him serve as the Foundation’s first president, following preliminary organization. After I reviewed the program with him, he said, without hesitation, ‘I will do it. I’m sold on such an idea as proposed to advance medical research in Oklahoma.’ Sold he was, for he served this new and vital organization with distinction. On September 19, 1947, at the first formal meeting of the group, he was officially elected. In April, 1950, while still President, Mr. Puterbaugh contributed $100,000 to the Foundation, making it the largest cash contribution to date. A few months later I remember he said, ‘We’ve been able to make a few investments that have paid off somewhat more abundantly than we had a right to expect. Such modest investments we’ve been able to make in charitable enterprises have paid even more in satisfaction. They have been bread cast upon the water.’ I remember well his great and enthusiastic deeds, nor shall I ever forget.”

– Stanley Draper

“I remember… Back in the 1930’s and 1940’s the fun we all had at the home of J.G. Puterbaugh when he would come in with a car full of ‘fire-sale bargains’ ranging from toothbrushes or handkerchiefs to a barrel full of exquisite Royal Doulton figurines! (The latter he purchased in England during the depression to help keep some of the British merchants from going into bankruptcy – Miss Mattie’s version!) Also, I remember the ‘shoe-sale’ parties as typical and most amusing! One day a car full of fire-sale shoes drove up to 345 East Adams and deposited about 50 pairs of shoes of every size and description! Just imagine the fun and excitement everybody had trying to fit themselves! The understanding being, if the shoe fits, wear it!”

– Carrie Webster

In summary…

“When I think of our Uncle Jay, I am at once reminded of Niagara Falls and the Rock of Gibralter, the irresistible force and the immovable object. When he puts his shoulder to the wheel, ‘something’s gotta give.’ He can be fierce as a lion and calm as a spring day – all at the same time; strong as an elephant and yet weak as a kitten when he hears the call of need. Every place he goes is the better for his having been there. To paraphrase a line from Kipling’s ‘IF:’ ‘He has walked with Kings and kept the common touch.'”

– Hazel Sansing Chaney

J.G. Puterbaugh, Part 2

Congressional Record, Sixty-Second Congress, Second Session, January 11, 1912

H.R. 14055: “A bill to provide for the sale of of the surface of the segregated coal and asphalt lands of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, and for other purposes.”

Disclaimer: I do not fully understand the context in which H.R. 14055 was introduced, the intricacies of the bill, or the consequences its passage held for the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations. Therefore, I will not offer any opinion or analysis on the subject. The only opinions expressed in this post are those of the Congressmen involved in the debate of the bill. All information for this post is derived from the Congressional Record, Sixty-Second Congress, Second Session, January 11, 1912.


J.G. Puterbaugh was part of a contingent from Oklahoma that traveled to Washington, D.C., to prevail upon the Congress to provide for the separation and sale of the surface rights and mineral rights to the Choctaw and Chickasaw segregated coal lands. The coal lands were segregated by the U.S. Department of the Interior and constituted roughly 445,000 acres. Previously, the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations leased the mineral rights to the coal companies for a price of 8 cents per ton. The surface of the lands were communally owned by the respective nations. The delegation, of which Puterbaugh was a part, argued that the surface lands should be opened up to private ownership, with proceeds from the sales going to the Choctaws and Chickasaws. When the bill was introduced, a heated debate ensued on the floor between the bill’s supporters, such as John H. Stephens (chair, Committee on Indian Affairs; Dem. – TX) and Charles D. Carter (Dem. – OK), and the lone detractor, Philip P. Campbell (Rep. – KS). The bill would eventually become law. What follows is a summary of the debate with selected quotes that represent the arguments on both sides.

The Debate

John H. Stephens introduced the bill by stating that he approved of selling the segregated coal lands of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations as two parts, with the surface for agriculture and the minerals for mining. He goes on to explain the need for such a bill:

“The necessity for opening this land to settlement by selling the surface, as proposed by this bill, is apparent to every one familiar with existing conditions in Oklahoma. The State of Oklahoma has been organized since this land was segregated. There are city and county organizations there to be maintained by taxation, and the development of the country and towns is held back because of the great amount of Indian lands reserved from taxation. It is mostly fine agricultural land, and if it is thrown open for settlement by selling the surface of the land, as provided in this bill, the Indians will have the benefit of the purchase money and the country will be vastly benefited by the settling of these lands to farmers. The sale of these lands as provided in this bill in 160-acre blocks will, in addition, make these lands taxable and the counties and towns will be greatly benefited thereby, because they now get no taxes at all from these segregated lands. The white men in these towns and counties now have to pay all the taxes for running the schools and for municipal and State purposes, and this taxation is a great burden on them. Therefore it is of the utmost importance to the whole State and to the counties that his land is situated in that the surface of the land shall be sold and this country developed.”

Charles D. Carter then argues that it is the federal government’s moral obligation to the Choctaw and Chickasaw to make good on the treaties agreed upon through the Dawes Commission by dispensing with the land in question:

“…the Indians themselves were not seeking these treaties nor were they seeking a change in conditions, but such treaties were made upon the initiative and urgent demand of the representatives of the Federal Government themselves. And now, after waiting 14 years, it remains for this Congress, if it will, to take the last steps necessary for a fulfillment of the plighted faith of the Federal Government, now 6 years past due.”

Next, Philip P. Campbell makes his disapproval of the bill known. He claims that selling only the surface lands will further delay the closing of the estate because the question of mineral rights will still be unresolved. He also reasons that the separation of the surface lands from the mineral lands depreciates the value of both, and that the Choctaw and Chickasaw will not realize the highest price for the land unless it is sold jointly. He then questions the motivations behind the bill:

“The Indian is not pressing this bill. This bill is not introduced in the interest of the Choctaw or Chickasaw Indians.”

Carter then questions Campbell about whether or not he has proof that the Choctaw and Chickasaw disapprove of the treaty. Campbell replied that he was in Oklahoma 15 months earlier and no member of either nation with whom he talked was in support of the bill. Carter countered by saying that there was a change of heart and a subsequent agreement between the parties within the last three months. Campbell stated that he thought it dubious that the Choctaw and Chickasaw would change their minds when the conditions of the bill had not changed.

Edward W. Saunders (Dem. – VA) entered the debate and, again, challenged Campbell about whether he had proof that the Choctaw and Chickasaw were unanimously opposed to the bill. Saunders made the statement that:

“One particular Indian who was examined at some length has come to Washington and expressed himself as favoring this bill.”

To that, Campbell, who would later go toe-to-toe with the Ku Klux Klan, replied in a manner which underscored his penchant for social justice:

“Yes; and I understand also that he has changed his mind, because the taxes are not sufficient and the country has not developed fast enough, all of which goes to show that the sale of this estate at this time is demanded by the white man’s interest rather than the Indian’s interest. I doubt if the United States has ever dealt absolutely fair and square with the Indians, and in Oklahoma if we discovered one thing that stood out more prominently than anything else, it was the idea that the white man has a right to gouge the Indian wherever he can find him and as deep as he can make the probe; that he can rob the Indian children, the Indian aged people, or anybody else; that the Indian is his natural prey.”

As the debate moved along it became clear to Campbell that he was outweighed by the general support the bill enjoyed among his colleagues. Finally, he conceded:

“I have no objection, Mr. Chairman, to the other provisions of this bill. I simply object to the general policy. I agree with the committee on amendments that were made to the bill, and if such a bill is to be passed, this is as good a bill of the kind as could be voted for by the House. I simply deplore the conditions that make it necessary to throw so much of the estate of these Indians upon the market at this time in such a way as to make the rest of their estate bring a less price than it is really worth.”

The debate then moved on to amendments to the language in the bill and to whether the terms of purchase for the land provided in the bill were fair before the bill was approved and the Congressmen moved on to other matters.

I have just offered a highly abridged synopsis of this debate. Personally, I thought the oratorical prowess displayed by several of the Congressmen was fantastic. I highly suggest that this be read from end-to-end, because the political theater is phenomenal. 


J.G. Puterbaugh, Part 1

This post is the first of several about Jay Garfield Puterbaugh (01/31/1876-07/30/1965). Puterbaugh came to McAlester, Indian Territory, on March 1, 1902, as the Vice President and General Manager of the newly formed Consolidated McAlester Coal Company. On September 1, 1907, Puterbaugh bought out the company’s other shareholders and became sole owner and President of what had by then become the McAlester Fuel Company. The company would continue to grow, opening offices in Kansas City, Omaha, Minneapolis, Dallas, Oklahoma City and Little Rock. His home in McAlester was a hub for his family and friends. He provided a home for his sister and his wife’s, Leela Oliver Puterbaugh’s, parents and several of her sisters. He even built a second home on his property to help house them all. There were so many Oliver sisters living there that the property, known as “Puterbaugh Hill,” was often referred to as “Aunt Hill.” Puterbaugh was heavily involved in civic life and gave liberally to charitable causes and local improvement projects. He died while on a business trip with his nephew, Tom Garrard, in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 30, 1965.

This first post follows the early life of J.G. Puterbaugh as a boy growing up in Huthinson, Kansas, until the time he came to McAlester, Indian Territory. Subsequent posts will cover his exploits at McAlester Fuel Company, the role he played in federal legislation to separate the surface rights from the mineral rights in the Choctaw and Chickasaw segregated coal lands, and the personal stories of family and friends who knew and admired him. 

Much of the material for these posts is derived from the book, “I Remember… J.G. Puterbaugh.” The book was compiled by then-President of McAlester Fuel Company, Tom Garrard, and includes an autobiography dictated in 1946, a biography written by Tom Garrard that covers the years from 1946 until Puterbaugh’s death in 1965 and personal remembrances written by friends and relatives. The book is an essential resource for those looking to research the man himself or for those researching the history of Eastern Oklahoma, particularly the coal industry there.  

The early life of J.G. Puterbaugh, in his own words:


To be continued…

“My Remembrances of Mr. Webster,” or… An American Family in Europe During the Outbreak of World War I



Alene Webb Puterbaugh (1890-1985) was Tom Garrard’s first cousin. In 1902, her widowed mother, Mattie Oliver Webb, married Felix Webster. Webster was a prominent cotton broker in Dallas, Texas. By 1914, Mr. Webster was dying from an enlarged heart. In June, 1914, he decided to travel to Baden Nauheim, a resort in Germany, hoping that the mineral springs there would prove beneficial to his heart. He would later die in Bremen, Germany, in the midst of World War I, while waiting for a ship to take him back home. Alene’s mother, worried at the thought of leaving her only daughter alone in the United States, decided to bring Alene along to Germany – Alene was supposed to go to a dude ranch that summer and was not pleased.

What follows are highlights from that trip to Europe, namely, the circumstances which led to the separation of Mr. Webster and his nephew from Alene and her mother and the circumstances by which they were reunited. The above images tell the entire story, if you wish to know more details. The story, “My Remembrances of  Mr. Webster,” was written by Alene Webb Puterbaugh for Felix Webster’s granddaughter, Jane Prather Potter, on March 15, 1979.

We pick up the story…

…with Felix Webster determining that the mineral waters are doing his heart no good and that he wants to go back to Dallas.

The doctors suggested that Mrs. Webster take a vacation to get some rest before returning to the United States, as she had not left her husband’s side for the entirety of his stay at the sanitarium. Arrangements were made for Mr. Webster and his nephew, who was travelling in Europe at the time with his wife on business, to wait for a ship to take them from Bremen back to the United States. Meanwhile, Alene and her mother would go to Paris and board the same ship when it arrived at the port of Cherbourg (Cherbourg-Octeville). Those plans were disrupted on June 28, 1914, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated. Alene was out riding with a young German man when the news broke.

“This means war…”

… said the young German to Alene when they heard the news. He immediately left Nauheim and received notice that he was to join his regiment while on the train.

Alene, convinced that the young man was foolish, and her mother continued on to Paris by way of Strasbourg, oblivious of what was unfolding around them. When they arrived, they met up with a former neighbor and dear friend, Miss Ona Brown, who took groups of girls from Texas on a 3-month tour of Europe every summer. France declared war the night after Alene and her mother arrived in Paris. Miss Brown, realizing the seriousness of the situation, made arrangements for the group to board the first train the next morning to The Hague, where they would seek asylum at the American Embassy. When the morning came, they pushed and shoved their way through the throngs of people attempting to flee France. The train they boarded was packed, with people hanging out of the windows and riding on the roofs of the cars. They made it to The Hague but were separated from Mr. Webster.

The American Embassy was packed with fellow American travelers who, like Alene and her mother, found themselves stuck in Europe as countries mobilized their forces to the battlefront. U.S. Minister to the Netherlands, Henry Van Dyke, swung into action, doing everything he could to secure the passage and safety of the Americans at the embassy. A first-hand account of Van Dyke’s exploits during this period can be found in his book, The Works of Henry Van Dyke: Pro Patria: The Spirit of America, Fighting for Peace. Amazingly, he referenced the work he did for Alene and her mother on page 345:


Ona Brown and her group of girls were able to leave a couple days earlier and, not knowing how long Alene and her mother would be in Europe, they gave the mother and daughter all the money they could spare. Alene recalled having $6,000 hidden in her clothes (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator, this would be like having $142,266.60 in your pocket today). After much wrangling, during which time Alene spent days going back and forth between the American and German Embassies, they were able to make contact with Mr. Webster and secure passage to meet him in warring Germany.

The adventure wasn’t over with, as Alene and her mother made their way to the North Sea and boarded the boat that would take them into Germany. Upon arrival, they were surrounded by German soldiers who did not seem pleased by the presence of the American tourists. With the documents that Minister Van Dyke gave Alene, they were able to board a train for Bremen that was carrying German soldiers.

Alene recalled:

“The thing I most remember about that ride, besides my weariness and terror, was the men in the next car singing and how beautiful their singing was. I am sure they must have been singing parts of Wagner’s operas for I never went to one of Wagner’s operas that I didn’t remember vividly that long terrifying night and the beauty of that music that came out of the darkness.”

Alene and her mother arrived at Bremen during the night and were reunited with Mr. Webster and his nephew and nephew’s wife at their hotel. Because Kaiser Wilhelm II suspended all non-troop related travel, the group had to wait until the travel ban was lifted before they could board a ship for home. About a week after they were reunited, Mr. Webster was sitting outside with one of his nurses when he suddenly slumped over, dead. After dealing with some red tape, they were able to get a casket for Mr. Webster and get his body back to the United States. Alene recalled the ship back to New York being overcrowded and uncomfortable but they eventually made it back home and buried Mr. Webster as soon as possible.


While waiting at the hotel in Bremen to return home, the Webster group befriended an English woman whose husband was a German U-boat pilot and her children. Prior to World War I, Germany was a major customer of American cotton. Before the United States entered the war, Mr. Webster’s nephew went down to one of the southern ports to negotiate the sale of cotton to a contingent of Germans who had arrived in a submarine. When the submarine captain learned of the nephew’s name he asked him if he knew Felix Webster. The nephew responded that Mr. Webster was his uncle. The submarine captain thanked the nephew for showing so much kindness to his wife during the early days of the war and asked him to put flowers on Mr. Webster’s grave.


Jesse Ed Davis

“…you may expect a return on your investment in my career.”

Jesse Ed Davis was a musician.

While you may or may not have heard of him, you are probably familiar with at least some of his work. Jesse Ed Davis started his music career playing with Conway Twitty and Taj Mahal. He soon became a sought-after studio musician, appearing on albums by Leon Russell, Eric Clapton, John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, B. B. King and John Lee Hooker. He was responsible for the guitar solo on Jackson Browne’s “Doctor My Eyes,” was part of George Harrison’s stage band for Harrison’s “Concert for Bangladesh” and reportedly was Duane Allman’s inspiration to learn to play slide guitar. He also produced three solo albums from 1970-1973. In 1985 he formed the Graffiti Man band with activist/poet John Trudell.

Born on September 21, 1944, in Norman, Oklahoma, Davis’ father was Comanche and his mother was Kiowa. He graduated from Northeast High School in Oklahoma City in 1962 and spent some time at the University of Oklahoma. He was most productive from the mid-1960’s through the late-1970’s. Like so many other of his colleagues of that era, addiction took it’s toll on Davis’ life and career. He lived in Hawaii during the early 1980’s before moving back to Long Beach, California. He was found dead in an apartment laundry room in Venice, California, on June 22, 1988.

For more detailed information about the life and work of Jesse Ed Davis, I suggest reading Jas Obrecht’s: “Jesse Ed Davis: ‘I Just Play the Notes That Sound Good.'”

“…we realize all we have to be thankful for. Especially a friend like you, who came to our rescue when our prospects looked mighty grim indeed.”

As I was processing a box of miscellaneous material yesterday, I came across a letter that caught my eye. The letter was addressed to Allece Garrard from Jesse Ed and Tantalayo Davis, dated August 19, 1981. The letter was sent from Kailua, Hawaii, which propelled me to read on. My interest was further piqued by the opening sentence: “A big orchid lei from the both of us to the both of you.” In the letter, Davis goes on to describe his living situation, he then thanks Allece for helping he and his wife in their time of need and proceeds to talk about some of the recent work he had been involved in. Finally, when he mentioned how his pet Capuchin monkey, “Clever,” loved being able to jump through the trees, I knew that I had to at least try to look this guy up! What I found surprised me.

Following the letter were two receipts: one from Western Union and one from First National Bank & Trust Company in McAlester, Oklahoma. Judging from the proximity of dates between the receipts and the letter from Jesse Ed Davis, it’s probably safe to surmise that Davis is likely referencing the financial assistance that Allece and Tom Garrard provided him and was offering his thanks.

I’m very interested to know the nature of the connection between the Garrards and Jesse Ed Davis. I’ll be sure to update this post if any additional information comes to the fore. For now, I think I’ll start looking on the backs of my LP’s to see how much I already know, but didn’t know, about the work of the musician, Jesse Ed Davis.

3/30/2016, Update:

Jesse Ed Davis was Allece Garrard’s third cousin. Jesse Ed Davis’ grandfather, William Graham “Bill” Davis, and Allece Garrard were both grandchildren of Seminole Chieftain, Alice Brown Davis.


The above image depicts Tom Garrard and Allece Garrard on their honeymoon in 1963.

This blog, like the collection from which it derives its name, tells the story of Allece Locke Garrard and Thomas Edward Garrard. The collection comprises much of the material of their lives. Additionally, the Garrard Ardeneum Collection chronicles the lives of family members, friends and associates of the Garrards.

The collection spans from the late 1800’s, when Tom’s uncle J.G. Puterbaugh was a young man getting his start in business, to the early 2000’s, after the death of Allece in 1999, when Francine Locke Bray tracked down the details of a painting found hidden on the ceiling of a shed at the Garrard Ardeneum (more on that to follow). As of now, prospective posts will likely cover topics related to:

  • the McAlester Fuel Company and other businesses
  • Tom’s uncle, J.G. Puterbaugh, founder of McAlester Fuel Company and early McAlester pioneer
  • Alene Webb Puterbaugh, second wife of J.G. Puterbaugh
  • World Literature Today, the University of Oklahoma literary publication for which Allece served on the Advisory Board
  • Allece’s time as a teacher
  • Allece’s time as a Director of the US Army Hostess Service, first in Oklahoma, then in Berlin and Munich, Germany
  • Philanthropy
  • The Garrards’ political involvement, with particular emphasis on the modern conservative movement
  • Locke/Davis family history
  • Garrard/Oliver family history
  • Texas history
  • Oklahoma history
  • a personal narrative from a friend of the family about growing up in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) during the 1890’s to early 1900’s
  • and… the mystery painting alluded to above!

This list, while not definitive, serves as a primer to the range of topics included within this collection. I plan to include additional interesting topics as they present themselves. I hope you’ll join me as I highlight the Garrard Ardeneum Collection.


Zack Whitaker