Several men were recently inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame. One of the inductees was Army Maj. Gen. Roy V. Hoffman.
Hoffman was posthumously honored and his service was summarized in an article in The Oklahoman published Sept. 7, 2010:
“Maj. Gen. Roy V. Hoffman was born in Kansas and came to Oklahoma Territory on the eve of the 1889 Land Run. During the Spanish-American War, he entered the Army as a private. Soon he was commissioned as a captain of infantry in the U.S. Volunteers. In 1899, he was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel in the Oklahoma National Guard. Hoffman served in France during World War I and in the Officers Reserve Corps until 1931, when he was appointed major general and commanded the 45th Infantry Division of the Oklahoma National Guard. He retired from military service in June 1933. Hoffman died June 18, 1953.”
While that statement summarizes his military life, reading his obituary, published in The Oklahoman on June 19, 1953, tells the story of a multi-faceted man.
“The full and exciting career of Roy Hoffman, 84, one of Oklahoma’s best known citizens, ended Thursday with his death”.
“Newspaperman, lawyer, judge, statesman and soldier, Hoffman probably was best known for his military exploits. He served every rank from private to major general.”
Roy Hoffman was born June 13, 1869, in Kansas and at 19 years old, he participated in the Land Run of 1889, settling at Guthrie.
It was in Guthrie that he became a newspaper man.
“My brief and transitory newspaper experience began in Guthrie in the early days when it was a tent city and shortly after the opening,” Gen. Hoffman wrote years later.
Guthrie residents of the Democratic persuasion did not have a newspaper to support their point of view, so Hoffman started the Guthrie Daily Leader, the first daily newspaper in the territory.
“Having tried farming, cowpunching, school teaching, short-hand reporting, I thought I was eminently qualified for the service,” The Oklahoman quoted Hoffman as saying.
Hoffman was accepted to the state bar in 1891 and would practice law for 46 years. He was appointed an assistant U.S. district attorney, but resigned to begin his military career, when he enlisted for the Spanish-American War.
Returning from the war, Hoffman settled in Chandler and practiced law, until moving to Oklahoma City in 1914. He served as county attorney for several counties. He had experience as both a prosecution and defense lawyer, having participated in more than 100 cases.
He was a very successful attorney, representing Phillips Petroleum, Standard of Indiana and the Prairie Oil Co., the precursor of Sinclair Oil Co.
Hoffman served as a director of First National Bank and had other businesses. For a newspaper questionnaire he wrote about his business experiences: “Have been into nearly everything except train robbing.”
Hoffman helped organize the American Legion, served as a committeeman for the Democratic Party and belonged to many civic and social organizations.
Gen. Roy Hoffman arrived in Oklahoma at 19, started a newspaper, served in the military, practiced as an attorney, served in state government, helped lead the Democratic Party, and he was a husband, and the father of two sons and a daughter.
Roy Hoffman was an Oklahoma renaissance man.
One hundred years ago today, Feb. 28 fell on a Tuesday. Reading a newspaper from yesteryear can show what life was like and give a sense of what was important to the pioneer citizen.
A check of The Oklahoman for Wednesday, March 1, 1911, gives indication that Tuesday was a busy news day.
On the front page we find that U.S. Sen. Thomas P. Gore’s accusations that he and others had been offered bribes to influence the vote on the sale of Indian lands were substantiated and that a Senate resolution passed in the state House of Representatives to submit an amendment to change a section of the state Constitution barring railroad building in the state.
Inside the newspaper, then as now, the weather was important to Oklahoma’s residents, and 100 years ago, the state was having its first blizzard of the year with an ice storm in Oklahoma City and 8 to 10 inches of snow in some areas of the state.
Other items of note on the inside pages:
Chicken stealing was made a felony, if the bird was worth more than $5.
An arsonist was burning buildings in Stilwell and Snyder.
A bridegroom dropped his gun and shot himself in the leg on his way home after the wedding.
February was considered a slow month because only 74 marriage licenses had been issued.
The post office was booming, announcing a 32 percent increase in the sales of stamps and stamped envelopes, compared to 1910.
The conduct of the Legislature has not improved much judging by the story appearing on Page 14 in 1911, a part of which follows: “There was a lapse in the dignity of the House of Representatives Tuesday night, and toward adjournment at 11 o’clock the session reminded one slightly more of a farcical burlesque on the stage than the solemn deliberations of the dignified lawmakers of Oklahoma. This was so especially during a heated controversy between Speaker Durant and Representative Ed Clark, right in the midst of a roll call, when Mr. Clark arose and started to make a talk when his name was called. The speaker banged his gavel so viciously that the head flew off, and the two men together indulged in some language not exactly parliamentary.”
The business page told of real estate sales totaling more than $2 million, double that of January. Building permits were down, the complaint being the weather caused construction to cease.
Boxing and baseball dominated the sports page, while the society column announced that with Ash Wednesday and the coming of Lent, there would be less formal entertaining.
These items indicate a busy news day, and The Oklahoman was there to keep residents informed, then as it is now.
Mary Phillips writes “The Archivist,” which appears regularly on Tuesdays in the Oklahoman. If you have any Oklahoma natural wonders that you might like to share, e-mail Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Oklahoman has had many columnists over the years, and they have covered a variety of subjects.
One of the most popular columns, “The Smoking Room,” was written by one of The Oklahoman’s great editors and writers, who was known to most newspaper readers as R.G.M., the initials that accompanied his column.
R.G.M. was Richard “Dick” G. Miller, who came to The Oklahoman in 1920 and retired in 1968. For the 30-plus years lof his column, R.G.M. wrote mostly about the state he loved and its people and places. He was, according to his obituary published Sept. 16, 1970, “the state’s undisputed champion booster and ambassador.”
Here’s an excerpt from a “Smoking Room” column published March 29, 1936, that captured my attention:
“We should like to have the help of Smoking Room readers in naming the Seven Wonders of Oklahoma. Jot down your ideas and send them in. Of course, the whole state is a wonder, having been settled only 47 years ago and ranking among the best of them now. Our oil fields constitute another wonder. It is also a wonder, sometimes, how some men get elected to high office in Oklahoma. But the kind of wonder we are talking about is the kind that was built by nature but cared for and possibly aided by men.
To give you an idea and start you thinking, here is a list of what we call the wonders of Oklahoma, and there are more:
1. The Great Salt Plains in Alfalfa County, near Cherokee and Jet.
2. The artesian sulphur wells at Sulphur.
3. The bat caves at Freedom, near the Woods-Woodward county line.
4. The Glass Mountains in Major County. The queerest hill formations in the state.
5. The basket weavers’ caves in the western part of Cimarron County. Definite proof is visible there of prehistoric man’s existence in this state.
6. Devil’s Den, a few miles north of Tishomingo. Giant piles of solid granite boulders; one wonders how they ever got that way.
7. The mammoth caves and canyons in Blaine County north of Watonga and west of Hitchcock — large earth rooms that are explorable.
8. The sand dunes on the North Canadian River just south of Waynoka; more sand hills are visible from this point than anywhere else in the state.
9. The giant cliff that towers above the Illinois River just across from the village of Cookson in Cherokee county — probably the state’s largest and most scenic cliff.
10. The Kiamichi Mountain scenery, made easily accessible by CCC roads which lead around and to the peaks of the highest mountains.
11. Dripping Springs in southern Delaware County near the Arkansas line. Nature left a queer-shaped but beautiful piece of handiwork here, with sparkling 80-foot falls.
12. The Turner Falls area, in the Arbuckle Mountains between Davis and Ardmore.
13. Robbers Cave near Wilburton; giant rocks, deep hideouts, one of nature’s beauty spots.
Take that list for a starter, make any additions you like, and vote for seven — the seven which you believe to be the Seven Wonders of Oklahoma.”
I haven’t been to all the places on Miller’s list, but I can agree on all of those above that I have seen.
My list would include (1) Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur with its natural springs and range of nature; (2) Devil’s Den, with its rock formations and Pennington Creek, a natural water slide, before it became privately owned; (3) the sand dunes at Little Sahara State Park; (4) Beaver’s Bend and the Mountain Fork River; (5) Turner Falls and (6) Black Mesa, the highest spot in Oklahoma, complete with dinosaur tracks.
I have been to the salt plains, the canyons at Roman Nose State Park near Watonga, the Glass or Gloss Mountains and once spent an entire day driving on some of those CCC roads in the Kiamichi Mountains.
But for me, my seventh wonder would have to be any Oklahoma sunset that lights up the sky in colors no artist or photographer can truly do justice.
Mary Phillips writes “The Archivist,” which appears regularly on Tuesdays in The Oklahoman. If you have any Oklahoma natural wonders that you might like to share, e-mail Phillips at email@example.com.
Brock Park sits in southwest Oklahoma City along Pennsylvania Avenue between SW 29 and SW 36.
Brock Creek runs through it, and it has a playground and a walking trail. Brock Drive runs along the west side of the park.
It has been a park since 1909. It was named for, and the land donated by, Sidney L. (Lorenzo) Brock, a pioneer civic leader who left a personal legacy to Oklahoma City that endures today.
Sidney L. Brock was born in 1869 to a family of comfortable means in Missouri. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University and began a career of general merchandising with a partner. He bought his partner out and later sold a successful business to begin raising cattle.
He was a success at that, too, but in 1905 he moved to Oklahoma City and opened Sidney L. Brock Dry Goods Store on Main Street and became a civic leader.
In 1909 he was elected president of the Chamber of Commerce and recognized that Oklahoma City’s manpower, resources and location would be an ideal place for a packing plant. Within months, the chamber, with Brock as a driving force, had convinced Morris & Co., one of the major meatpackers in the country to build a plant in Oklahoma City.
In October 1910 the plant opened with Sidney Brock pressing a button in New York City that started power to the plant in Oklahoma City. The packing plants — another was built soon after — were major Oklahoma City employers for several decades, and housing additions were built on the south side of Oklahoma City, and the streetcar line was extended to transport workers and their families.
It could be said without the vision of the Chamber of Commerce and the leadership of Sidney Brock, the Oklahoma National Stockyards might never have existed, and certainly not on the scale it has achieved.
Sidney Brock only stayed in Oklahoma City until 1915, when he retired, sold his store to the predecessor of John A. Brown’s and moved to Colorado and then to California. He visited often, though, because his daughter and son-in-law and two grandsons lived in Nichols Hills, and the newspaper society writers kept tabs on their activities.
He became an artist, he was a charter member of the Oklahoma Art League, and an Internet search on his name turned up some of his paintings.
When Sidney L. Brock died in 1943 in California, his obituary published in The Oklahoman, March 20, 1943, summed up his life with this statement: “He retired in 1915, and has since lived in Denver, Florida and California, but has always considered Oklahoma City his home.”