This reminiscence of Mrs. M.C. Milner, an early day settler of Oklahoma City was published in The Oklahoman Feb.7, 1937.
On a night early in the 1890′s, Oklahoma City had a very harrowing experience indeed.
People from the north part of town started dashing Paul Revere-like through the streets, gathering the women and children up before them.
“The Cheyennes and Arapahos are off the reservation!” the cry went up. “To the hills men–the dam has broken” would not have been a more fearsome warning. Sure enough, bearing down from the northwest could be heard an unholy din and shrieking and commotion.
“But sure enough it wasn’t the Indians after all–it was just a ‘shivaree’ party, coming in from somewhere out in the country,” explained Mrs. Milner.
“Charivaris–or just plain shivarees– of a somewhat violent nature, were just part of the general atmosphere of anything-can-happen in which early-timers here moved,” Mrs. Milner said.
Another version was reported in the newspaper on April 18, 1937.
It said that the Charles Pigler family, homesteaders living about 10 miles west of the city near Bethany “saw glaring lights to the northwest and heard what they believed to be the war cries of Indians. Riding by different routes to warn the city residents, these boomer Paul Reveres came in on Twenty-third street, road the Tenth street road and Reno avenue, crying: “To arms!”
The hardware store was opened and all the guns sold. Women and children took refuge in the brick house at 205 Northwest Fifth street (where the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial now stands) and the men stood ready to fend off the attack.
“But the glaring lights turned out to be a prairie fire and the cries the Piglers heard had been a charivari. Everybody felt pretty sheepish when they found it out”
Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary’s definition for shivaree is “a mock serenade with kettles, pans, horns and other noisemakers given for a newly married couple; charivari.”
A shivaree was part of the play “Oklahoma!” celebrating the marriage of Laurie and Curly.