History

10 Years Ago

The Velma-Alma Comets won 36-0 over long-time rival, the Rush Springs Redskins, to secure a spot in the playoffs for week 11 of high school football. A win over Empire on Friday night will assure the Comets the #2 position and a home field advantage.

An old but new again special type of weaving is being taught at the Rush Springs Senior Citizens Center. Joan Levings and Kay McElroy, both of Rush Springs, are instructing the seniors on how to do “Swedish weaving”. 

Melburn Slawson story featured in book of southwest Oklahoma tales

Kyle Foster is this week’s middle school student of the week.  He wants to be a coach just like his dad, Coach Barry Foster.

The Rush Springs Middle School Drama Club kicked off this school year’s drama season by performing one of the four productions planned. On Monday, October 15 the third and final presentation of “Blacklight” was performed before a large and appreciative crowd.  

20 Years Ago

Rush Springs Veterinarian Tammy Sharp has confirmed one case and a possible second of West Nile Virus in horses here. 

Jimmy McAdoo was been named Chisholm Trail All-conference Coach of the Year.

Dr. Michael Lepien, chiropractor, will open an office on Highway 81 South, Rush Springs on October 28.

Linda Nichols is the newest member sworn into office on the city council.

Age has a way of creeping up on all of us, canines included. Officer Pecos, Rush Springs’ drug dog, is feeling the effects age can cause and submitted his retirement notice to the city council at Monday night’s meeting.

30 Years Ago

Ground breaking ceremonies have been scheduled for the Rush Springs Senior Retirement Center on Tuesday, Nov. 10, in the 400 block of West Blakely.  The retirement center will provide residences for retired  person who are still able to live independently but no longer desire to have the upkeep of home and yard.

Beginning October 29, the Rush Springs Gazette will begin moving to a new location at 220 West Blakely.  

The Rush Springs High School Academic Team  traveled to Davis on Oct. 17 where they captured the championship trophy. Team members are Becky Elam, Sarah Stowers, Shane Griswold, Travis Langham, Edie Medlin, Coy Weese, Shanna Jones, Jeremy Sharpe, Dee Dee Havins, Tim Miller, Steve McLemore, Bryan Brantley, Brian Rice and Kaysie Beard. Sponsors are Kathy Cloud ad Kay Werhan.

40 Years Ago

A community effort has resulted in the construction of new bleachers on the west side of the Rush Springs football field. They will be used by visiting spectators.

Glenda Willis, chairman of the  Rush Springs Town Board, said that board members and the town clerk have been receiving considerable flack in regards to the $1 attached to water bills for ambulance service. The town of Marlow is also subsidizing the service. The board is seeking the indulgence of residents until a better plan can be worked out. 

Nancy Worden was elected president of the newly organized Young Homemakers Organization (YHO).

Lori Goodwin has been selected to participate on the drill team squad at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford.

50 Years Ago

Students from here attending Central State University in Edmond are Cathy Eubank, Lindell Langham, and Kerry Pelley.

Campaign ads were for George McGovern for President, Ed Edmondson for U.S. Senator, Tom Steed for Congressman and “Yes” or “No” for state question on liquor by the drink.

Ladies participating in the hobby show Wednesday in Chickasha were Jane Reading, Tommie Wright, Mrs. C.A. Williamson, Mrs. N.C. Shotts and Mrs. Barry Miller. All are members of the Slaton Home Extension Club.

60 years Ago

Redskins won over the Minco Bulldogs 66-0 Friday night.

Three local grocery stores were burglarized sometime Sunday night including Duke’s Foods, Roberts’ Grocery and Worsham Grocery. Grady County Sheriff Emmitt Watson and local policeman Haskell Tuck investigated the burglaries.

Henry Bellmon, Republican candidate for governor of the state of Oklahoma, will be in Rush Springs Friday, Nov. 2. Hank Thompson and band is also on the tour with the candidate.

The Rush Springs Gazette was notified early Wednesday afternoon that the $75,000 bond issue recently voted by the people for the extension of water works and sewer facilities had been matched by federal funds and construction could begin within 55 days.

70 Years Ago

The Minco Bulldogs got the stopper out of the bottle and opened up a scoring torrent that completely drowned the Melonheavers 32 to 0 in what was supposed to have been an evenly matched game here.

A lot of Oklahoma grass was destroyed by fire last week with nearly 200 acres burning off north of Rush Springs on Saturday.

About 85 persons met at the Slaton Club House Oct. 28 for the annual Halloween party. Music was furnished by Nevlin and Linda Whybark, Andy Anderson, Charles Odom, Gene Smith and Rube Ewing.

Three of the Farmers Union’s highest state officials will be in Rush Springs Monday evening to attend the six-county general meeting in the high school auditorium, according to Spencer Bernard, state director.

Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Sorrels  of El Reno and Mrs. Fred Brown visited Mrs. Mattie Keirns Monday.

80 Years Ago

Dr. and Mrs. George F. Gauger left Thursday for Kansas City, Mo., where Dr. Gauger will attend two days of post graduate work at the Kansas City College of Osteopathy. Elaine will visit her grand mother at Bethany and relatives in Oklahoma City.

Dale Sorrels, son of Mr. and Mrs. A.I. Sorrels, left Saturday to accept employment in a defense plant in Seattle, Wash.

Bill McWilliams, Pat Wettengel and K. Worsham attended the Nebraska-OU football game in Norman Saturday. Jack Wettengel returned home with them to spend the week end.

Mary K. Crittendon came Sunday morning from Washington, D.C. for a ten-day visit with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. L. Crittendon. She has been employed in Washington for the past nine months.

90 Years Ago

The members of the Bon Temps Club and their families held a “Depression and Halloween” party at the city hall Monday night. Most of the costumes consisted of old clothes which in many instances were every day and Sunday best clothes.

Miss Ruby Nichols, instructor of vocational home economics would like to meet with individuals interested in participating in adult study groups.

Guests Sunday at a house party given by Mr. and Mrs. Lucius Long at their ranch home near Meers were Mr. and Mrs. Marvin James and son, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Hale and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Cayce Dunn, and Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Mullican and daughter.

History of Rush Springs

Rush Springs gets its name from the large springs near the head of Rush Creek from which the early town got its water supply. 

The term “Rush” is believed to be taken from the many rushes that grew along the banks of the creek, others have said because of the “rushing” water that flowed from the springs. 

Rush Springs is one of the oldest settlements in Grady County, Okla. Its history may be divided into six periods:

1) The first period up to 1858, the springs served as a camping place for Indian tribes from very early days. The Wichita Indians first moved by the springs and settled on Rush Creek about four miles southeast of the present town around 1850. 

It was at this place that the famous “Battle of the Wichita Village” transpired.

2) The second period between 1865 and 1892 deals with the famous Chisholm Cattle Trail. It was over this trail that thousands of head of cattle were driven northward across the territory from Texas to Kansas to be shipped by rail to eastern markets.

Rush Springs is located on the historic Chisholm Trail that passed about one and one-half miles east of the town. The springs here became a watering place for many herds of cattle. 

This trail ceased to be used after the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad was built across the territory in 1892. 

Old wagon tracks worn into sand rock are still visible along the trail.

3) The years from 1871 to 1878 constitute the third period. Fort Sill had just been established and supplies had to be shipped to it from points in the eastern part of the Indian Territory. 

Supplies were first shipped from Fort Smith, Arkansas, Fort Gibson, Boggy Depot, and Atoka.  After the building of the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad across the eastern part of the territory, Caddo became the main shipping point. 

Government freight and many passengers as well as the mail were hauled from here to Fort Sill. The route between the station and the fort went by way of Rush Springs. A stage stand was built and a little town sprang up. 

4) The years from 1878 to 1892 constitute the fourth period. During the latter part of the year 1878 the Huntley Ranch was established on Rush Creek near the site of the old Wichita Village. The ranch became a stage stand and a freight station for local settlers. 

A post office was established at this place in 1883. It was known as Parr. This post office was moved to Rush Springs in 1892.

5) The fifth period begins with 1892 when the Rock Island Railroad came through by the springs. The town took on a rapid growth. It became one of the government freight stations to Fort Sill and was very active for nine years.

6) The sixth period dates from 1901 when the Frisco and Rock Island railroad lines were extended to Fort Sill and Lawton. The freight trade ceased at Rush Springs. Since then, the town has depended on ranching, farming, and oil interests for its existence.

As the history of Rush Springs unfolds one can readily see that there were in reality two towns at two different times; the Rush Springs during the period from 1871 to 1878 and from 1892 until the present time. 

*All historical facts taken from the book “The History of Rush Springs” by Hobart D. Ragland.

First Festival

The Rush Springs Watermelon Festival has been held contin­u­ously since 1948 but actually had its beginning in 1940 and has become one of the most popular festivals in the state. The Festival was held in 1940, 1941 and 1942 but dis­contin­ued for five years because of World War II. The Festival resumed in 1948. This year marks the 77th year for the festival which has always been sponsored by the Rush Springs Lions Club.

Ada Mae (Tims) English was the first watermelon queen and she still re­sides in Rush Springs. Okla­homa Governor, Leon C. Phillips, had the honor of crowning the first watermelon queen that year. The crowning took place in the school auditorium as the fes­tivi­ties that night were rained out in the park and everyone moved inside.

The festival began as a hometown event with a crowd estimated at 4,000 gathered in the park that evening for the closing activities which included serving free watermelon. Rossler F. Henton was the first festival chairman. He, along with R.O. Gibbs and “Pop” Eitelman, were committee members who worked out the details for the community event. That year, the Rush Springs Gazette stated, “Rush Springs is Okla­homa’s leading wa­termelon shipping point” and, “the oldest CCC Camp (Civilian Conservation Corps)  in the state is locat­ed in the Rush Springs city park.”

The Festival has proven popular since its beginning and has gained state and even national notoriety. The crowds have in­creased in number to around 20,000 to 30,000 visitors each year. Over 50,000 pounds of wa­ter­melons are purchased from area watermelon growers and served to festival visitors during the day. 

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