Here are some fascinating mini- stories from the early days of Poteau:
September 29, 1910: What promised to be one of the worst fires in the history of Poteau broke out in one of the sand rooms at the handle factory last night at nine o’clock. But, for the prompt work of the fire boys, the factory would have been entirely consumed. The boys were at band practice when the alarm was turned in, which was the cause of them getting to the fire so quickly. That with the prompt work of nightwatchman, White, is all that saved the plant. Several of the boys were bruised on account of mistaken orders in handling the hose, demonstrating the fact that the fire brigade should be reorganized and drilled. The damage will amount to about one thousand dollars but Mr. Amos tells us that the loss is covered by insurance.
1912: R. S. Bridgman was the mayor of Poteau between 1912 and 1914. As the 16th mayor, he helped with the first law that pertained to the speed of automobiles and horses. Nothing over eight miles per hour was permitted on Dewey Avenue and not over ten miles per hour on other streets of the city.
1912: The Poteau Commercial Club, which operated in the days before statehood was the forerunner of the Chamber of Commerce. the chamber was incorporated on October 29, 1912. The original board of directors was W. R. Rogers, T.B. Wall, E.M. Rabon, Dan W. Patton, R.L. Morrison, J.S. Terry, Roy B. Funk, J.E. Parrott, J.F. Miller, M.H. Pace and W.A. Campbell.
1915: All young men between the ages of 21 and 31 were called to register for the draft on June 5, 1915. Patriotic citizens were urged to buy Liberty Bonds, subscribe to the Red Cross, fill the Oklahoma National Guard, save garden seeds, and plant extra crops.
1915: The Poteau Mil and Elevator Compay’s local plant began operations in earnest and son several of the more fortunate ones were feasting on biscuits made from flour ground in Poteau and that out of wheat grown in LeFlore County.
1915: The Poteau Musical Arts Society, affiliated with the National Federation of Music Clubs, was organized in 1915. It was formed to increase the knowledge of its members and to foster the musical knowledge of Poteau. Mrs. R. White was the first president.
February 24, 1916, was a big day in Poteau as over 2,000 visitors came to town for the Shriner’s Conclave. A parade, speeches, automobile rides, picture shows, a musical program, dance, luncheon, and dinner were all features of the day. The town was gaily decorated and the hotels filled.
1916: A second charter of the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows, IOOF, was issued October 4, 1916. E.E. Norvell was the grandmaster. Charter members included W.T. Adams, L. A. Cannon, C. E. Barnes, W. H. Pate, James B. Crane, R. O. Morrison, and Thad McClellan. The original Independent Order of Odd Fellows, IOOF, Grand Lodge of Indian Territory No 27 was instituted Oct. 16, 1894. E. D. Allen was the first grandmaster.
June 7, 1917: (From an advertisement for War bonds placed by the First National Bank of Poteau on the front page of the Poteau Weekly Sun.)
We are at war and it is a very serious thing! The disasters of war are not incurred on the battlefield alone. War and disaster go hand in hand – you cannot have one without the other. Some of the disasters can be prevented. We, one of the bands of this city, want your help in preventing one very serious disaster which threatens you – which threatens every family in this city, every family in the nation.
The first $2,000,000,000 installment of the Liberty Loan of 1917, United States War Bonds, bearing interest at three and 1/2 percent is before the nations for the subscription.
The issue will be fully subscribed before June 15. Your help is needed and needed seriously.
1917: Poteau Chapter No. 311, Order of the Eastern Star was instituted April 10, 1917. Mary Frances Burns was the worthy matron and Franklin Jay Korthwasthe first worthy patron.