The Century Chest Collection

Halsell Family Package - Family history

(Transcribed from the original)

The Halsell Family of Oklahoma City Oklahoma
I have written this account in one draft only, in a very hurried fashion, necessitated by the fact that it must be at Oklahoma City April 22, 2013, at the burial of the Century Box. I have had practically no materials to base the paper on, having used memory and personal judgment often times. However I believe every substantial statement made is a correct one. There are undoubtedly many blunders in this rough output; my only excuse is the extreme hast in which I have written

Harold Halsell
Nantucket Massachusetts
April 15, 1913
P.S. I am in my Easter Vacation on Nantucket Island

Oscar Daniel Halsell
Oscar Daniel Halsell [was] born February 28, 1859 [in] Red River County, Texas. [He is the]  son of Thomas and Mary Trimble Halsell [and] father Thomas Halsell born in Todd County, Kentucky where he lived his boyhood days when later moved to Red River County, Texas. [His] mother Mary Trimble Halsell [was] born [in] Hempstead County, Arkansas.

Oscar Halsell spent his early boyhood years at home. His father owned and maintained a fair sized farm which he utilized for raising farm products and cattle raising. Oscar worked hard on the farm in his early years, except when he tramped two miles or more to attend the nearest county school. On reaching his sixteenth year he decided to make his own living according to his own ideals and accordingly left home and at once became a cowboy on his Uncle Glen Halsell's cattle ranch. By working faithfully Oscar attracted attention and by his twenty first year he had so far shown his merit that he was largely controlled the operation of the ranch.

In 1879 Oscar and his brother Harry left Texas and came with their own herds, though small, to "No Man's Land" north of Texas. They grazed their cattle at the Cimarron Valley of the Cimarron River near the site of the present city of Guthrie. The business of disposing of the fattened cattle each spring necessitated that Oscar make frequent trips to the northern markets. At this time Arkansas City, Kansas, a rising town, was an important rendezvous for cattlemen and others of these frontiersmen and Oscar was often there. During these visits he met and married Katherine S. Crahan who was living at the home of Mrs. William B. Cary of that city. The marriage occurred in 1888 shortly after the formal opening of Oklahoma Territory for settlement.

As events worked out, Oscar influenced largely by his bride, gave up the hard life of an industry which was constantly becoming more exacting on his strength and established himself in Guthrie, Oklahoma shortly after the opening wholesale grocery concern with E. D. Nix who had formerly been a United States Marshall. He at this time also established a permanent residence at 1609 Cleveland Avenue in Guthrie.

With the marvelous growth in Settlements, connected with some business methods, the firm of Nix, Halsell made a steady growth. In a few years Mr. Nix withdrew from the business and Mr. W. A. Frasier, who had moved to Guthrie from Kansas, took his place and the name became Halsell, Frasier. The business continued successfully and upon the removal of the Halsell family to Oklahoma City in 1898 Mr. J. W. Williamson was taken into partnership. The name became "The Williamson Halsell Frasier Company" and an additional jotting house was established in the latter city. This is not the place for a recital of the growth and business achievements of this company since 1898. Suffice it to say that it now operates six hours and several stores and is the largest and oldest wholesale grocery house in Oklahoma at the present time. Probably the key note of its success could not be better summed than by a merely "fair to competitors and customers, striving to build by a spirit of cooperation both internally and externally." Oscar D. Halsell has been the President and one of the leading spirits in this concern almost from its very outset. In all fairness, it owes largely its success to his own individual efforts.
Up to this time, although Oscar has confined his business activities almost entirely to the above said company, he has nevertheless proved himself an energetic worker in the up building of Oklahoma. His opinions have found respect in the Chamber of Commerce, the Traffic Association, The Oklahoma Jabbers, and Oklahoma Wholesale Grocery's Association. In all of which his has been an unselfish interest striving for general betterment of commercial conditions rather than any furtherance of gratification of personal aggrandizement of ambition. This is evidenced by his refusal to accept many times positions of honor because of a feeling of disinclination caused by a praiseworthy lack of self-assertiveness and desires. His advice, however, has been freely given at all times, but not far stationed of any personal desires.

In another branch of public life Oscar has also been actively engaged. While not a keen student of the farms of government and the essence of statesmanship he has demonstrated an acute knowledge of practical, everyday politics that is what is advisable to do in the contest of the political arena. In the early days of constitution making, and later in the sessions of the first and even succeeding legislatures, his advice has not only been favorably recieved but has carried considerable and lasting influence. Politically a Democrat he has not, however, let partisan considerations blind and bias his opinions even in the face of obvious evil conditions in the local Democracy. He has then been an adherent of clean politics, whether the same is upheld by his own or political parties of other faiths. Several times the honor of carrying their battle standard in the general election. At each occasion he declined. He has held one office only that of a member of the local School Board, the Board under whose regime the present Oklahoma City High School building was constructed – at this epoch a source of pride as an architectural work and an efficient school house. However, it is not altogether improbable that Oscar Halsell may at some future time consent to run for public office in this state.

The space is limited in which I write [and] consequently I have given the external aspects of my father's life first, brief as they must be, reserving until the last a short, but accurate as I know how to make it, statement of his inner self an dinner life. Psychologically one mind knows nothing definite of another mind, only judging from what one may see and know of by observation.

Like all humankind he has been given to acts and words which are not of him when his real self but in such striking contrast has he shown his better self that indeed, to my mind at least, his faults and short comings have paled and shrunk to insignificance. He has ever endeavored to be a kind, just father and husband to Mother, Louis, my brother, and myself; and inadequate as is this pen to recognize this quality suffice it to say that he has attained it. He has sacrificed much, thought at length, planned interminably that Mother, Louis and I might know and mingle with the better things of this life. He has had ideals for himself and he has tried in the course of his life to attain them, tried hard indeed I am sure and as surely as he has just as surely has he reaped the ripe grain of his endeavors. His early life was one of the hardships, toil, [and] privation but through it all he has preserved a quality of hidden indefinable strength, sincerity of purpose and love of every living creature that can alone allow a life to be lived to the best of its possibility. At this writing he is fifty three years, of medium height and robust build. His head round and ample large is carried with an air of executive mastery; his eyes a steel-gray tinged with blue are piercing and authoritative but not unkind. His hair is fast turning gray for it has turned into a tint of steel-gray even now. To you succeeding generations of our blood I address this short, poor account (although the best of my feeble efforts) of the life of Oscar Daniel Halsell. I write with no bias, no spirit of a bragger, no childish bravado when I say to you to accept his life of this man as an object lesson. Take it to you hearts, think of his trials, privations and sufferings in this now frontier and new land, think of his life, and by his experiences improve your own lines. And remember that as an ancestor he is worthy indeed of your fondest and most sincere affection and regard and no matter what you may attain of earthly prominence you have spring from a stock and a blood worthy of success and attainment and happiness which we hope you will achieve.

Katherine S. Halsell
Katherine Susan Halsell; wife of Oscar D. Halsell; [she was] born [in] Lebanon, Missouri September 16, 1871. [She is the] daughter of Thomas Crahan born [in] Clare County, Ireland and Melicia Grigsby Crahan born in Tennessee.

Katherine spent her early years in Lebanon where he mother unfortunately died during this early period of Katherine's life leaving her at the time practically destitute of any real remembrance of her mother's disposition and characteristics. Not so little is her knowledge of her mother, however, that she fails to remember that she was a kind, patient woman who suffered much and endured much in silence. Shortly after the death of her mother Katherine removed to Arkansas City, Kansas where she made her home with Mrs. William B. Cary (who at that time was Mrs. Dritt) until her marriage with Oscar D. Halsell. Her life in Arkansas City, and prior in Lebanon, was largely  that of the average little girl who providence caused to live in that frontier section of Missouri and Kansas.

I have elsewhere in this paper spoken of the marriage of Katherine and Oscar D. Halsell and their subsequent removal to Guthrie after the opening of the territory and also their removal in 1898 to Oklahoma City. This I have spoken o, in a general way, in the account with regard to my father, Oscar D. Halsell. I shall now turn to other aspects of my mother and her life.

When it was first proposed that the Halsell family of Oklahoma City place a box in the Century Chest Kathrine Halsell was the most zealous of our family for the idea. She was ever anxious that our descendants to come should have some conception meager as it might be of who we were in Oklahoma and along what channels our lives ran.
This zealousness was not alone confined to this above mentioned instance for in her home life. Although subject to all human traits and like all human kind given to moods, acts and deeds which were not always of her better self, she was nevertheless a kind, true wife and loving, thoughtful mother. No sacrifice was too painful for her if the happiness of her husband and her sons hung in the balance.

In her home life she demonstrated that she was a home maker of high talent. Ever tactful in her entertaining of guests she was known as a hostess of the very most meritorious. Although the more trivial of amusements, recreations and forms of entertainment are at this epoch of life in Oklahoma quite popular, Kathrine has stood firm in her convictions and has allowed her thoughts and ideals of home making, activities and forms of social life to be guided by the higher and better things of life which access to has been granted her. The fine arts, music and the drama have in her a firm adherent and staunch friend. Her knowledge of these stimulates of the more subtle emotions has not been a superficial one far especially in the case of the playwrights of this time has she proved herself a profound student. The works of Anatole France, Yeats, Synge, Lady Gregory, Bernard Shaw, Arnold Bennett and Kipling and others of the more deserving of contemporary authors have had much of her time. Descended of Irish parentage Katherine has taken a deep rooted interest in the present Irish literacy and artistic renaissance which now in the process of transition from a promising bead to the ample blossom of eventual fulfillment. Indeed with the Irish writers of this time she has farmed a lasting and sincere friendship through the medium of their pens. Inadequate in truth is the ability of my mind and pen to justly describe how yearningly and devotedly she has slowly gathered about her in our home a library of real value. Books on fiction, travel, philosophy, science, art and skill are there, from Plato and Euripides to Milton, Shakespeare and Bunyan, from Marcus Aurelius to Browning and Tennyson. Classical, Middle Ages and Elizabethan, Queen Anne, and Victorian are but a few of epochs whose writes have justly claimed space on her shelves. While our means have always been adequately comfortable allowing a judicious expenditure of means at all times yet they have not been sufficient to warrant the purchasing of some of the fine works of art in the originals. Nevertheless, the best of prints and copies and even a few originals are found, and the entire has been utilized in the artistic decoration and settings of our home. This the home life of Katherine and our entire family may be justly termed as one of the good clean living devoid of ostentation and cheap, gaudy show a home life that bespeaks in no uncertain tells that its dwellers there-in have essayed to live far and know of the better things, even if the ideal in places might not have been attained. For it is even good to have asked a sound question whether one may as readily receive as not its true answer.

But her home life has not been her whole identity. In the better standing of Oklahoma City Women's Clubs organization with a purpose she has been an active and enthusiastic member. The Ladies Music Club, The Modern Classics Club, The "F. F. O" are but the more important of these. In these organizations she has gained a portion of the attributes which have rendered her distinctive and eminent in her social position in this city, a position which she undoubtedly deserves. She has largely gained these attributes by her whole souled and sympathetic nature which has drawn about her many worthy and lasting friends. This while she has not been the keenest admirer of social pageantry she has desired and attained a social life of good friends, clean thought, high ideals, and lofty purposes, one which if this be not dictum on my part one might say it is only safe to build not on the shifting sands of artificiality and hypocrisy has she [built] but on the studier foundation of character and truth.

I have but a word further to say, and this with regard to her present personal appearance and if I am able in any way to observe and define it her inner self. Limited extreme by am I, in this latter regard, but I shall do the best that I may. For one of my years to attempt even a word concerning the metaphysic of soul, of one whom I duly admit has attained heights unknown and foreign to me is not the task of a child, not the pastime of an idle dreamer with pen in hand. Whatever I shall say shall be frankly as it has appeared to me.

In appearance she is trim and rather slight in statue with a frank open expression in her face and eyes. Her hair is brown and eyes blue, but now [she is] gradually becoming gray. Her carriage is good, usually quiet in its demeanor and never over self-assertive in manner has she appeared to me. Her inner life has been always one of deep introspective thought; a constant seeing after the essence of what method is paramount in advice to those who would live to the fullest and best. In this end her thinking has not always been rough and crude but often trained along the lines approved by psychology and scientific though. This has largely supplemented other forces which have given her a quiet, calm attitude and aspect in which she has seemed to me to give forth the spirit of peace and calm of soul and mind which has quieted the turbulent emotions that may last "ad infinitum" often times within the human breast. Kind, thoughtful, loving, sympathetic and true is what she has seemed to me; this cannot be all but no power of expression within my reach allows me to write any greater length. Indeed is she an ancestor of whom you justly may well feel proud.

Louis Daniel Halsell
Louis Daniel Halsell [was] born Guthrie Oklahoma December 20, 1898. [He is the] son of Oscar D. and Kathrine S. Halsell.

Louis lived his first tender years in Oklahoma City for we removed from Guthrie to Oklahoma City in the fall of 1898 and Louis was at that time a baby.

As a young boy up to the adolescence he was short but well-proportioned in build. [He had a] round head, light brown hair, and large blue eyes. He was even a very lovable little chap, with a confidential and trusting nature. Fond of games and outdoor sport he began early to bring about a good physical development which undoubtedly made him strong and healthy all through his life. Much of his time as a very little boy was spent in building engines and toys which were in imitation of some larger mechanical device. When about twelve years of age Louis began to cast aside his toys and straightaway became intensely interested in the mechanical working of automobiles. So interested was he that he free of charge gave his services to the machine shop of a prominent local dealer in automobiles. By means of this early tutelage Louis soon became proficient in mechanics, one might almost say expert.

In his school life he has been entirely successful having passed his work with regularity as he went from one grade to another. He is a graduate of the McKinsely Grammar School and is at the present time in his fifteenth year and first year student in Oklahoma City High School. While neither a passionate lover of studying or reading in general (at least at this time) he has demonstrated, nevertheless, that he has a versatile and receptive mind of judicious inclination for he is even prone to weigh the band the results rather than to stride blindly into a project with which he is not thoroughly acquainted.

While it is impossible to say definitely at this time what the little fellow will pursue as a vocation when he becomes a man it seems very probable that he will pursue some commercial line, very possible the wholesale grocery industry. He is methodical, painstaking, and of a disposition to enjoy the routine of a business life. However, whatever he may choose to make his life work it is only fair to say that at the present time he gives every promise to attain entire and unqualified success. But whatever success his may ever be it will not be achieved by causing heartache and suffering from others for Louis by his very nature is a constructive building seeking to bolster up others as well as himself.

Space forbids me to give to you our descendants as well as my own limited ability to paint in your hearts and minds by means of mere written words a true image of Louis's inner disposition and character. But at least I may say that he has many staunch friends who both love and admire him, that he is loyal to his own father and mother and his better self, that he is revering of the better things of life that he has been taught to admire and respect, that he is kind of heart, and is at such an early age as he has so clearly shown a worthy ancestor of you the succeeding generations of our blood and worthy indeed; an ancestor of whom you may justly feel proud, no matter if through the course of your lines providence has unkindly pressed you down or whatever it has raised you to the highest pinnacle of fame and earthly glory. For even in these all he is ever deserving of your pride and esteem.

Harold Hallett Halsell [was] born [in] Guthrie, Oklahoma June 1, 1892. [He is] the son of Oscar D. and Kathrine S. Halsell.
I presume most anyone who has attempted to set down in a few pages the outstanding events of their own life up to the time of their writing can best appreciate the difficulty of the task. However, I shall do my best to give you our descendants my life up to the present time in a brief a space as possible.

Born in Guthrie in 1892 my first six years before our removal to Oklahoma City in 1898 were no more of moment than a similar period in the life of any other person. When we were once established in Oklahoma I attended successively the Emerson Grade School, Miss Grave's Private School, the Oklahoma City High School, The Academy of Epworth University, and then finally completed the last year and a half of school work at Blees Military Academy, Macon Missouri having graduated with the class of 1910.
I began my college work at the University of Oklahoma in the fall immediately succeeding my graduation at Blees. I remained at Oklahoma University for one year only. During my year there I acted as the college correspondent for "The Oklahoma City Times," ran on the varsity tack athletic team, and was early in the year elected a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. I might say also that while I was at Blees I was a charter member of the Pi Delta Kappa Intermediate Fraternity and that my brother Louis of whom I have written elsewhere in this paper has been elected a member of the Alpha Omega High School Fraternity.

I was for a long while undecided where I should enroll as a college student for my second year. I considered several prominent colleges both of the East and West but finally decided on Harvard where I am now spending my third year having been a student here also during my second year. I have largely confined myself to the work in my courses here at Harvard having given little as no attention to the outside college interests. Most of my work has been concentrated in the Department of Government, Economics and History with the intention of provisionally fitting myself for a business coupled possible with a public life. However I have not neglected my literature as well as a knowledge the fine arts and music. I have been a regular subscriber to the Boston Opera during the last season and have taken a deep interest of late in the art of singing, especially operatic singing. I might add that I am also studying voice at the New England Conservatory of Music this year.

As I am now in my twentieth year of course the future looms up vividly – the future that may be for me in this life. If I continue in the mercantile business with my father I shall try my best to fight my way to the top; if I later enter the political arena it will not be for trivial stakes. A governorship or senatorship, an even better will alone satisfy. Whether or not I am successful in this regard later history of Oklahoma will candidly state.

Having the responsibility on me of having the best education and culture advantages and having had all the equipment with which to make a winning fight in the world I can only say to you, my descendants that I shall in every way possible try to set a high example which you may accept as a precedent and improve upon that my example may only be fair dealing, conscientious work with a smile on my face and gladness in my heart and no more but be that as it may I shall have dreamed and wished that I shall have dreamed and wished that I shall [have] done all honor to a fair name which you in succeeding generations shall make immortal down through the days.

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