Founding CitizensBrindley sisters recall early daysStacy Barnes
The five Brindley sisters have a long and rich heritage, much of which is centered in Mustang.
Four of the five ladies, who range in age from 83 years old to 95, Naomi Brindley Woody, Esther Brindley, Frances M. Brindley Thompson, and Warrenetta Brindley Hodgson live in the Oklahoma City area and one sister, Rachel J. White resides in Florida.
Both sides of the Brindley's family settled in the tiny community of Mustang before the turn of the last century. Two of the sisters recently sat down to talk about their family history and memories of early day Mustang.
Their maternal grandparents, Francis and Eliza Hubbard, made the trip to Oklahoma from Hale, Missouri in 1898. They came in three covered wagons and followed the Chisholm Trail. Many of their friends had made the move from Missouri earlier, including Dr. Jonas Spitler, who had been the family doctor before he moved to Mustang.
"Dr. Spitler was all packed and ready to come to Oklahoma, but he couldn’t leave until Uncle Chester was born," said Naomi. "And as soon as he was born, the next day he took off for Oklahoma."
Several years later the Hubbards followed, settling on a farm at SW 59th and Highway 92. Frances said she had been told one of the reasons for the move was that her grandpa Hubbard was sick and Dr. Spitler had been taking care of him and wanted the doctor to continue caring for him. Naomi said her grandmother always told her they came to escape the harsher Missouri winters.
Whatever the reason, the Hubbard's had quite a few friends that had moved to the area from Hale and on Christmas Day, soon after they arrived in Mustang, a large group of their old friends showed up in a caravan unannounced, tied their horses to the hitching post outside and stayed for dinner.
Their mother had just turned nine the day before and the sister's said she always enjoyed telling that story.
Their father's family came from Seneca, Kansas in 1893 and bought a farm on Czech Hall Road between SW 59th and Highway 152. His parents were James and Emma Brindley.
The Brindley's parents Edward Warren Brindley (E.W.) and Ethel Mae Hubbard Brindley met at the little country school they attended near the corner of Czech Hall Road and Highway 152. They were married April 15, 1909. E.W. attended Draughn's Business College where he majored in accounting and then began working at Mustang's only bank, Mustang State Bank, which was run by Fred Dennis at that time.
When Dennis wanted to leave and go to a bank in Oklahoma City, E.W. and Ethel borrowed some money from an aunt in Kansas and purchased Dennis' interest in the bank. Even though Naomi was still very young, she recalls certain things about this time in her life.
"I remember going upstairs," Naomi said. "At the back of the stairs there were rooms for an appointment. And then upstairs it was built like it might have been used for a school because it had a long hall all on the north side and then there were rooms on the south side and the Dennis's lived upstairs.
"And when I was a little girl I went up there and got on her table and got her cut glass salt and pepper shakers and filled them with dirt. I was always going up to Mrs. Dennis'."
After the Brindley's purchased the bank, they moved their family into the living quarters above it until it was almost time for their third daughter to be born. Feeling the need for more space, the family moved and Frances was born in the Stiver's house, which they rented just down the street from the bank.
Naomi remembers how sparse the businesses were in the early days and what made up downtown Mustang.
"Mustang Road was just a street clear through the country. The bank was on the northeast corner of the intersection at Main Street, which was Mustang Road; it faced toward Mustang Road. Across the street from that to the south was Gene Shupe's hardware store and then there was a vacant block and then there was a drug store down further and Conn Bouleware's garage was there all on the east side of Main Street," she said.
"On the west side of Main Street there was an ice cream parlor that had tables and chairs with wire legs and had a beautiful mirror and fancy stuff around it. It was a fancy ice cream parlor.
"Next to that going south was Henry Steffenson's grocery store, then vacant space, and then a one-room telephone office and living quarters for Ella Gill, who was the telephone operator at that time. Then there was another vacant space, and later my aunt and uncle, Mary and Chester Hubbard, had a restaurant there.
Naomi went on to explain that many of the buildings were two story and it was common for the owners to live upstairs, as was the case with her aunt and uncle's restaurant.
Continuing on down the street, Naomi said there was a vacant space, then the two-story building owned by Mrs. Loomis who had a store and the post office. The Masonic Lodge and the Eastern Star met upstairs over her store.
On the end of the street was the furniture store where the Brindley's bought their furniture.
Over the year some of the stores would change hands, as happened with the ice cream parlor.
"The ice cream parlor went out of business and a fellow named McCarty moved in there and he had two daughters, Flossie and Glenn, and a son. They opened a grocery store in that building and the two girls were school teachers and Miss Flossie was my teacher," said Naomi.
"She was my teacher too," added Frances.
At the back of the hardware store facing east was a hotel had that had 10-12 rooms.
"That made up Main Street except on down farther there was an elevator and what we called the peach factory - it really wasn't a factory - on the east side toward the railroad tracks," said Naomi.
This "factory" was where they culled the peaches, the ladies said.
"People would bring peaches in by the wagonload one right after the other and, in fact, the farmers would put straw down from 152 into the depot. They'd put straw down because so many of them coming in made the sand so deep," said Naomi.
"The peaches were culled and packed and if they had any blemish at all then they discarded it and put it in a basket and they sold them for 50 cents a basket."
Naomi said once a year her mother would buy the peaches for 50 cents a bushel and then they would can five bushels of peaches in one day and with about 20 quarts of canned peaches to a bushel, that made 100 quarts a day.
"My job was to wash the fruit jars on a little bench out beside the cellar. Then they'd sterilize them in the house over a cook stove that burned coal."
The reason they needed so many jars of canned peaches was that their mother often fed extra people at the dinner table unexpectedly.
"For a long time there was no restaurant in Mustang and so anytime anybody would come to town on business they would come to the bank and if they were there at noon time papa would bring them home with him for dinner," said Naomi.
Ethel Brindley had a lot to do to keep up with her family that kept growing as more daughters were born, so her husband wanted to her have help, which Frances and Naomi said she didn't always welcome.
"Mama had four girls at that time and was pregnant a lot of the time so we always had help in the home," Naomi said. "Mama would get tired of it and she would sometimes send them home and papa would go get them again because she just couldn't do all that. And we either sent the laundry out to a lady that washed for us or we had a couple that would come to the house and wash in the smokehouse."
The ladies said their father was a wise investor and was part owner in both the peach cannery and the elevator in town. He also was pretty savvy when it came to local hyjinks.
"Every Halloween the boys would turn our toilet over, so papa got smart and he got so he would pay Frank Krivanek a dollar to sit in our toilet so the boys wouldn't turn it over," Naomi said.
The sisters have many wonderful memories of their father and their life in Mustang, but they also share a tragic memory of the day in 1921 when their father died.
"Our father was assassinated," said Frances. "Mama and papa had been to Oklahoma City on the 29th day of December and papa was in the house and someone came to the door and knocked so mother went out to the door outside and it was a young man, a family friend."
"He was a friend of my father's and the same age as papa (35) and he (papa) owed the bank," continued Naomi. "There was a note that the man had never paid and it was past due and would have been outlawed, so he had told papa that he would renew the note and that his own papa was going to sign with him. And they were to have met with the lawyer that day in Oklahoma City to make up a new note and mama came in with him.
"And he (the killer) had already been out to Mustang and asked about papa at the drug store and they said they hadn't come back yet. When they did come home it was after 9 o'clock (p.m.) and mama and papa stopped at the bank, then came home. And papa had gone out to milk the cow and they had just come in and hadn't even eaten, and in just a little while the man came up and knocked on the door."
Frances said, "When she saw who it was, mama and invited him in, but he said he would wait outside. He just needed to talk to papa a minute."
"Papa said, 'Just a minute wait until I get my hat' - he never went outside without his hat - and he went out and he wasn't out there a minute before he shot him right through the heart," said Naomi.
"Uncle Grover was going out with Ella Gill and they had been out to see where the church was drilling an oil well. They came by our house then he took Ella on home and had just started back when he shot papa, so Uncle Grover ran back into the house and called Ella and then they got out a posse to look for him.
"About that time the train went through and they thought he might have caught the freight train, so they got out a posse in Tuttle and my Uncle Charlie Hubbard was one of the men who got to search the freight train, but the man had gone the other way up toward Bridgeport and he got away. They never caught him."
There were several awards for the man's capture, one from the state banking department and one from the Modern Woodsmen of America and there were full-page ads in the Oklahoma City and St. Louis newspapers, but the man was never found. In later years, the girls heard rumors as to his whereabouts.
"My first husband was an executive with YMCA," said Frances. "And he got to talking to nephew of the man who had shot papa and he said the man had gone to Alaska and that he wound up somewhere in Texas. He had remarried and when he died in Texas, he had left a note confessing to killing papa."
Of course there was never any doubt as to the killer's identity as far as the family was concerned. Next week in part two the Brindley story, learn how their mother managed to care for her young girls and about the bank robbery in town.