Friday, October 28, 2005
Nestled amongst the foothills of the Arbuckles Mountains, north of the Delaware and east of the Blue, in southern Oklahoma, lies the little town of Bromide. Amid the storybook landscape surpassed by none others, there is an interesting and captivating history. In the eastern quadrant of the Chickasaw Nation, this little burg is quite a remarkable place.
It was once famous for its mineral springs, of which there are many. Called Oka-Alichi (Medicine Water) or Hopi Kuli(Salt Springs) by the Chickasaws, thousands once came to these healing waters in the search of cures or improvements to the illnesses such as rheumatism, diseases of the stomach, kidney and bladder aliments, nerve troubles, and skin problems, and often found just that.
The springs carried the Indian names until Judge W.H. Jackson, the founder of Bromide, realized that this was a perfect place for a health resort. He established a town site, and the first post office as Juanita, named after one of Jackson's daughters, on October 20, 1905. A few months later, in 1906, the name was changed to another on of the judge's daughters; this time it was Zenobia. On June 8th, a year later its name was changed, once a for all to Bromide ( the name was taken from the minerals of the springs).
The Jackson Land Co. was formed and city lots were sold. Soon the soo-to-be town was a tent city of people who had yet to build their house.
Robert Galbreath, a wealthy Tulsa business man, was attracted to Bromide because of the possible fortune that could be made in the oolitic stone of the surrounding hills. Most of the buildings on Main Street were built with this stone, as well as the Chickasaw and Robinson Academies.
Soon Bromide would be a prospering health resort. It had two dry good stores, a livery stable, a hardware store, two theaters, a rock quarry, a lime kiln, and a newspaper office.
Only two problems stood in the way of this expected prosperity-- first, a lack of accommodations for quests; second, a lack of railway facilities.
Both of these difficulties were removed when a spur of the M.O. and G. Railroad was built to Bromide, and when Mr. Galbreath built a modern hotel in 1911.
The hotel was a huge, towering three-story building of native limestone. The Bromide State Bank occupied one corner of this elaborately furnished hotel, which contained a barber shop, beauty parlor, restaurant, and a gift shop.
The nearest rival was the Mosely Hotel, while the two remaining hotels were the Main Street Hotel, and the Bromide Hotel.
In 1912, B. F. Kinsey with local help, built a magnificent stone business building. The top floor was occupied by a fraternal organization and three doctors offices. The Kinsey family owned and operated a General Mercantile, on the bottom floor, until the 1950's. The local gathering place, the Chanell(sic) Drug, was owned and operated by Henry T. and Gladys (Lady) Channel. Together they had built a beautiful oolitic building. Loved by all in the community, Mr. Channell was the local pharmacist, filled out prescriptions for Bromide and Wapanucka doctors, while Mrs. Channell took care of the area's notary needs. They always kept the drugstore open until all the customers left, no matter how late.
Some of the other early merchants were the Waltons Dry Goods, Austin Grocery, The People store, owned and operated by Frank McCartney and Will Scenyer. Through the years, other grocery stores were, as follows: Mays, Butlers, Whites, Pardue, Phelps, Parker, Muncrief and Chester, and Collins and Dewberrys.
F. C. Woodworth owned a hardware store, and W.O. built a flour mill, and owned two cotton gins with Fred Barnett.
The Galbreath Quarries were located a mile and a half east of town, on the Bromide branch of the railroad, just north of the old Chickasaw Academy, on the location known as the "Narrows on Delaware".
Located a half mile northwest of the town, the rock crusher, later Dolese Brothers, stayed in operation up to about a decade ago.
The M. O. and G. Railroad had a passenger service, an excursion train which came into town two times a week bringing tourists to drink and bathe in the healing "Oka-Alichi".
In its earlier days, Bromide was fortunate to have had a total of six doctors, Dr. Germany, Dr, Funk, Dr. Hicks, Dr. Ashley, Dr. McRae, and Dr. Martin.
Surrounding the town are several cemeteries, four of which are family cemeteries, one public cemetery, and another unmarked cemetery. Judge Jackson's family cemetery lies to the north, south of town is the Wells Valley Cemetery, still in use today; southwest of Bromide is the Spring Blood Cemetery; and one mile west are the unmarked Indian graves.
On the road west from Bromide to Connerville is the Cravatt cemetery; just east of Bromide lies two family cemeteries and one unmarked one; high on a ridge to the east is the old Mosely Cemetery, and somewhere near is the other unmarked group of graves.
The town was once home to three churches, the First Presbyterian, the First Missionary Baptist Church, and South Side Missionary Baptist Church.
Bromide, at one time had a wide variety of family entertainment. The traveling Chautauqua offered a blend of culture and entertainment, and held the only opportunity, for outside entertainment.
Other forms of entertainment were traveling Medicine and Magic Shows, local goat roping contests, and, in the summertime, three-day picnics.
Bromide, now without all the former fame and glory, is a close-knit, peaceful little community. Neighbors help neighbors, and children have the freedom to play anywhere in town without worry. Every one in Bromide is proud of their small town, and appreciate its remarkable history.
Contributed by Irene Anglin
Jimmie Dale Martin was born April 10, 1937 near Bromide to William LaVerne Martin and Pauline Savana Costner Martin. Grandfather John Martin and family had crossed the Red River settling near Pontotoc, Oklahoma in 1900 when William was just a babe.
William Martin died on New Year's Eve December 31, 1955. Jim was a Senior at Bromide High School. Pauline moved the family to Madill to be closer to her work. The class of 56 honored Jim by showing him as a graduating Senior in the Yearbook. Pauline remarried and passed away in 2003. Billie Martin Williams is a Realtor in OKC. Sammy Joel Martin designs and sells emergency vehicles ou of Harrah, Ok. Jim works part time at Wal Mart and builds web sites for local shops. William and Pauline have a total of 47 decendant and in laws who all live in central Oklahoma. This New Years Eve is the 50th anniversary of William Laverne "Freck" Martin's passing thru eternity's opening door.