If you have driven north along Interstate 235 at night and looked east after passing the Harrison Avenue exit, you might have seen a green light reaching towards the sky.
It is the Beacon of Hope, and sits in the Founders Plaza in Stiles Park. While the plaza honors the visionaries responsible for the Oklahoma Health Center, the man for whom the park , one of the city’s oldest, is named seems to be one of Oklahoma City’s forgotten pioneers.
Capt. Daniel Frazier Stiles was born in Massachussetts in 1841 and entered the Army in 1861. After a long career in the Army, in 1889 he was ordered to Oklahoma with a battalion of men to provide law and order during and after the Land Run.
A story from the April 16, 1989, Land Run Centennial special section of The Oklahoman said:
“Until Oklahoma became a U.S. territory in 1890, no civil law existed within the Unassigned Lands except that which the residents themselves established.
“The federal government, however, did dispatch army troops to keep peace during the run and through the early days of the settlement. They were not to interfere in political affairs, but merely to offer support to the settlers and to intervene in local disturbances.
“When the 10th Infantry got off the train in Oklahoma City on April 19, Capt. Daniel F. Stiles was in command.”
Capt. Stiles, described in his obituary published in The Oklahoman Sept. 12, 1900, the day after he died, gives an excellent description of the man and his importance.
”Capt. Stiles was one of the prominent figures in the early opening and settlement of Oklahoma. He was the Provost Marshal at the time of the settlement of Oklahoma City and the faithfulness with which he discharged his duties won him the praise of all law abiding citizens. He was retired from the army on half pay in ’93. Since that time until his death he has been an energetic, enterprising and public spirited citizen…”
The Honorable Sidney Clarke said in his tribute to Stiles in the Sept. 12 article: “The death of Capt. Stiles will be deeply lamented, not only by the people of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma Territory, where he is so favorably known, and with which he has been intimately identified from the first settlement, but by his many friends throughout the country, as an officer of the regular army retired after an honorable service of over thirty years, and as a citizen always ready and willing to promote the good and the true, the memory of Capt. Stiles will be highly cherished by all who had the honor of his acquaintance.
”In all his long career there was no man in the army more popular and more highly respected than Capt. Stiles. He was a strict disciplinarian but at the same time careful of the welfare of his men, kind in his intercourse with all, and just and human in all his acts. While in command at Oklahoma City at the opening of the Territory to settlement in 1889 and during th ensuing year previous to the organisation of the Territorial government, his duties were extremely delicate because of the neglect of Congress to provide civil government contemporanious with the opening of the country. But he performed those duties with such uniform good judgement, that he always received the approval of his superiors.
“No words I can write can express my regret at the sudden death of Capt. Stiles. He was my friend. Hew was the friend of Oklahoma City and of our people. He took a great pride in the growth of this young city, and by his activity, enterprise, comprehensive views and wide experience, contributed largely to its marvelous prosperity. He will be missed as few men are missed, as they step over to the other side. A brave officer, a Christian gentleman, a noble citizen, a kind-hearted neighbor, a faithful husband and father and friend, he has left behind him a record of duty done– of an honorable and useful life.”
After his retirement, Stiles, joined with James Geary, another pioneer, developed the area north of what is now Stiles Park, as the Maywood Addition, Oklahoma City’s first “Nichols Hills.”
Again, from the April 16, 1989, story: “Stiles’ contributions to his new home included organizing Oklahoma National Bank, construction of the Masonic Temple, the luring of the Choctaw Railroad and true to his military colors the formation of the Oklahoma National Guard, which he served as colonel.”
So the next time you drive near the hospital complex and you happen to see the “Beacon of Hope,” I hope you think of Stiles Park and the man it was named for: Capt. Daniel Frazier Stiles.