name='keywords'/> Boomer, Sooner and Johnny-Come-Lately: The History of Norman Oklahoma: Edward P. Ingle and the beginning of the Norman Transcript


Edward P. Ingle and the beginning of the Norman Transcript

  Edward P. Ingle and the beginning of the Norman Transcript

 Purcell, Chickasaw Nation, was bustling with activity on the morning of April 22, 1889, the day of the opening of the unassigned lands for settlement in what is now central Oklahoma. The small town of barely four hundred people swelled to over 2000 in the weeks leading up to the landrun; advertisements for free land circulated through out the United States and Europe. At the end of the 1880s, Oklahoma Territory was becoming one of the last places to establish a home on the “frontier.”  Railroad interest helped to persuade the federal government to open Indian lands, new settlement would improve business on recently finished lines through the Territories.  Purcell was established as a railroad town in 1887 when the Atchison, Topeka, Santa Fe (AT&SF) completed their line from Kansas to Texas and established a depot in the Chickasaw Nation. Town lots in Purcell went up for sale on April 5, 1887, and a post office was soon established. Purcell was the only town on the border of the unassigned lands; land-seekers waited patiently in Purcell for the opening on April 22.   

The men and women who sought free land came from different economic backgrounds, from different cultures, and from different regions of the world, all looking for a new life. On the day of the opening, they positioned their horses and wagons on the boundaries of the unassigned lands. There they waited for the signal at 12 noon of April 22 to race toward the marked 160 acre parcels up for grabs; many scouted their favorite section before the run. For some, who chose not to travel by horse and wagon, a special train waited at Purcell’s depot. Passengers planned to “jump off” as the train slowed to a stop at Norman Station, which was 25 miles to the north. It wasn’t only agricultural land up for grabs. The Santa Fe sent out their engineers in advance of the opening to mark off townsites along the route.  They marked off three towns through central Oklahoma-- Norman, Oklahoma City, and Guthrie. Those who staked town lots were businessmen and women, entrepreneurs looking for a new start, looking for economic opportunity. Edward P. Ingle exemplifies such a person. Ed Ingle boarded the AT&SF passenger car waiting at the Purcell Depot just before 10 a.m. on April 22, 1889.  The overcrowded train slowly left the depot chugging its way toward Norman Station. The engineer paced the speed of his train to arrive at Norman at the designated start time of 12 noon.

Before Ingle moved to Purcell in 1888, he was a farmer by trade. He was born in Staffordshire, England on September 7, 1858. His family immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1865, where they took up farming. Soon after settling in Pennsylvania, the family started moving west, they established farms in two different areas of Illinois and finally in Arkansas. In Arkansas, Ingle’s father, George, died from a gunshot wound during a confrontation with local miners.  Edward P. Ingle married Effie Dorrance in 1880. The newlyweds established a farm in Illinois, and in 1886, they bought a farm in Cowley Co. Kansas.  Ingle, like many seeking new opportunities continued to move westward. In 1888, he moved his growing family from Kansas to Purcell, Chickasaw Nation.  

Ingle, along with Albert Rennie, Delbert L. Larsh, Pryor Adkins, Charles T. Gorton, John Helvie, Thomas R. Waggoner and brothers, Tyler and George Blake were members of the Norman Townsite Company (NTC). Delbert L. Larsh, Santa Fe station agent in Purcell, a man who understood the opportunities of being in on the ground floor of establishing a new town, organized the first meeting of the NTC on April 2, twenty days before the land opening on the April 22. Larsh invited men of varying backgrounds to organize the new town of Norman. Pryor Adkins and Charles T. Gorton were Chickasaw cattlemen, John Helvie, was a Santa Fe engineer. Thomas R. Waggoner was Purcell’s RR depot’s chief clerk and cashier. Brothers Tyler and George Blake were pharmacists and Edward P. Ingle, noted in 1888 as publisher of the Purcell Register.  Ingle left the hardscrabble life of a farmer and took up the pen of a publisher when he moved to Purcell. Lawyer, Albert Rennie, drew up a map of Norman assigning streets and town lots.

Once the Norman Townsite Company members stepped down from the train in Norman, they laid claim to their town lots. Some claimed more than one, and outside the designated town, some claimed 160 acres of agricultural land. Charles T. Gorton, claimed both town lot and 160 acres, which later became the site of the University of Oklahoma. Ingle claimed a corner west of the Santa Fe tracks, the N.E. corner of Main Street and Santa Fe Street as a good location for his new newspaper, the Norman Transcript. 

While still publishing the Purcell Register, Ingle expanded his publishing empire when he released the first issue of the Norman Transcript on July 13, 1889.  His next issue was July 20, then the publisher went on a hiatus until the late fall of 1889.  In December of that year, he started to publish the Norman Transcript on a regular weekly basis. The Norman Transcript had competition from the Norman Advance, which was actually Norman’s first newspaper. The Blakeney Brothers published the first issue of the Norman Advance on July 11, 1889, two days before the Transcript. Ingle didn’t see a need for Norman to have two newspapers. He stated in his first Transcript issue, “The boys are evidently of the opinion that there is room here for two newspapers. Perhaps there is, but we are of the opinion that it will be dry picking for some of us for a time.” Besides reporting the news, newspapers were usually the only printer in town; they picked up commercial business along with publishing required legal notices. Newspapers also gained revenue from political interest, especially if the newspaper publisher was of the same political persuasion as the benefactor.  Ingle was a Republican and the Blakeney Brothers were Democrats; two papers of opposing political views represented Norman quite nicely.

The premiere editions of the Norman Transcript consisted of four pages. At first, the content emphasized more regional, national and international news than local news. Ingle recognized this when he informed his readers that, “Our columns are short on personal matters this week but hereafter we expect to be around to note every occurrence of importance of this and surrounding vicinities.”  To make up for the dearth of local news, Ingle found news that might be of interest to many newly transplanted Kansans, who now resided in Norman; he devoted several columns on the front page to news from different Kansas communities. In a column entitled, “Kansas State News,” Ingle informed his readers that “Cowley County has 16, 083 horses”,  “Lyons Kansas wheat is selling at 69 cents a bushel,” and that, “Kansas Supreme Court has decided that a verdict rendered by a jury is not legal.” Other news in a column entitled “Current Comment,” Ingle related that there had been 113 Fourth of July celebrations and that, “A man living in Illinois is only three feet six inches tall. He is not long for this world.” Ingle devoted the third page to “Local Brevities,” which shared the page equally with local advertisements. In “Local Brevities” Ingle picked up whatever tidbit of news he could find from his observations walking the boardwalk of the three-month old town. “Considerable Railroad material is stocked up here,” and,  “Norman already has many good and substantial buildings”(he also added elsewhere that these building needed to be painted.) Other “Local Brevities” included, “A street-sprinkler was needed a portion this week,” indicating the problem with dust from the streets and perhaps a sign that mid-summer was dry in the new town and surrounding agricultural community. Ingle also noted,” Everybody seems to be busy and that fact speaks well for the future of our town.”

Through out the first editions of the Norman Transcript, Ingle noted that the paper was a champion of the people and of Norman. It was a positive paper not necessarily a progressive paper in the late nineteenth century political meaning of the word. Ingle wrote, “yes, this is a booming sheet and we have the country and town to back us up in every assertion.” As an example, Ingle continued, “The Commercial Bank of Norman is to be an establishment here in the near future. And, so we boom.”  There was also a column with miscellaneous political news from Washington D. C. And even a paragraph or two from other parts of the world, interesting news items that Ingle thought would pique the interest of his readers.  In his July 20 issue he ran an article dateline London entitled, ”Details of Jack’s Latest Crime.”  The article was about “Jack the Ripper’s” latest of murder of a middle-aged prostitute in the London district of Whitechapel.  

Edward P. Ingle was in and out of the newspaper business for the rest of his life. He first retired as publisher of the Transcript in 1894. He sold the paper to R.Y. Mangum and O.W. Meacham of Purcell, but after the two defaulted on their financial obligation to Ingle, Ingle once again acquired the newspaper. In 1877, J.J. Burke took over as editor relieving Ingle of the duties; Burke leased the business from Ingle and by 1903 he purchased the remaining interest in the paper. Later, Ingle was employed as a bookkeeper.

Edward P. Ingle was not an educated man, which was typical of many late nineteenth-century Americans. He could read and write, english skills he most likely learned in the home as he grew up. In an effort to better himself and his family, he took the economic opportunity afforded him in establishing a new town and a new community. Ingle lived the rest of his life in Norman. It is recorded that he built the first home in the City; over his 45 years in Norman, he owned three homes. While he considered himself a publisher of a newspaper, he kept his hand in farming. In 1910 he listed his occupation as a farm manager. Twenty-four years later, he also listed his occupation as a journalist in the newspaper industry. Ingle died in 1934 in Norman at a time when the City was experiencing the hardships of the Economic Depression.

The men, who formed the Norman Townsite Company in the small town of Purcell, were not speculators, like many who participated in the various landruns in what is now Oklahoma. Members of the Norman Townsite Company were men with vision and an entrepreneurial spirit. They looked at the hayfields alongside the Santa Fe tracks, and saw the possibilities born in developing a new town of prosperous citizens.   Edward Ingle promoted that vision. He not only “boosted” the hard work of settlers to fashion a town that would become a commercial center, a county seat, and the home of the state’s major university, but he cheered this growing community in his newspaper. A hundred and twenty-seven years later the Norman Transcript is still an important part of the Norman Community.



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