Street names intrigue me.
Fretz Avenue is a street in Edmond. It runs just south of 15th and just north of Danforth through Edmond. It is west of the railroad tracks.
Aaron Fretz was born in 1840 in Pennsylvania and survived the Civil War fighting as a Union soldier. In 1889, he made the run on a special Santa Fe train and staked his claim to 160 acres in Edmond.
From archives of The Oklahoman, I learned that Aaron Fretz may have filed the first taxpayer’s lawsuit in the state of Oklahoma, when he brought suit in 1914 against the city of Edmond and its officials after they passed a resolution in 1913 giving Central State Normal School (now University of Central Oklahoma), 2.4 million gallons of free water a year, while charging taxpayers for their water use. He felt that was illegal and took it all the way to the state Supreme Court, which ruled against him.
On Nov. 11, 1917, a story in The Oklahoman told of Fretz taking a 10-month-long trip, with a 24-year-old horse as his only companion, and a wagon outfitted for camping, to visit the battlefields of the Civil War where he had fought. He visited 10 states on his journey. He was 77 years old. It also told of his providing sewing machines — he had a sewing machine repair shop on Broadway — to the local Red Cross chapter to help in the World War I effort.
The Oklahoman, on April 21, 1918, reported that Aaron Fretz still possessed the claim stake flag he used at the run of 1889 to stake his claim. It was yellowed and with the hand inked letters faded “Taken — Center of 160 acres — A. Fretz.” The story said he used a weed as pen and later added the legal description of his land. It was located west of Fretz Avenue and the railroad tracks and east of Kelley Avenue and between Edmond Road and 15th.
In 1919, when Fretz was 80, the newspaper announced a patent for “an automatic shifting device for speed change gearing has recently been granted to Aaron Fretz which promises to revolutionize present methods of speed change, especially in use on the automobile.” The story said that its initial use would be for hoisting machines.
The final story about Aaron Fretz from The Oklahoman was published Jan. 12, 1931, and announced his wedding:
“Aaron Fretz, 91 years old, and Bertha Eckert, 19 years old, were married Sunday noon by Paul Powers, peace justice, in the Powers home, 1508 N Blackwelder Ave.”
“The couple left immediately after the ceremony to visit friends west of Oklahoma City, where Fretz said he would ‘seek the blessings of the old folks.’ ”
“Fretz operates a sewing machine repair shop in Edmond. Mrs. Fretz was his housekeeper several months prior to their marriage. She became the stepmother of three children, all more than 50 years old.”
I was unable to find an obituary for Aaron Fretz in The Oklahoman archives and was curious as to whether the marriage lasted and how long Aaron Fretz lived, so I went to the Internet. The University of Central Oklahoma’s Max Chambers Library Special Collections Obituary Index listed Aaron Fretz and the date his obituary appeared in the Edmond newspaper.
His obituary from the Edmond Booster dated January 31, 1935, stated: “His career here during the early days was one of civic work, and among the accomplishments to his credit are: Bringing the first minister to Edmond, helping to build the first church here; helping to establish the first free public school in this community; helping to organize the first business men’s organization; among the organizers of the local G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) post.”
Aaron Fretz died in the Union Soldiers Home of Dayton, Ohio, on Jan. 29, 1935. He is buried in the Union Soldiers cemetery there.
Alas, the marriage does not appear to have lasted as in the list of survivors, his young bride is not listed, only two daughters and a son.
An active, creative and civic-minded individual. What better person to name a street after!