By Vesta Baker
A history presentation was held at the Rock Building on Monday, April 25, 2022, to commemorate the founding of two important organizations in Caddo. The first half of the program was presented by former Caddo teacher, Judy Rowland, on the history of Caddo Cemetery. She is the current President of The Civic and Cemetery Club of Caddo, which was established in 1903.
Judy began with a January 8, 1876, report from the Caddo Herald, only four years after Caddo was declared a town. The Oddfellows of Caddo were enclosing a four-acre area in the hill east of town, for a much-needed public cemetery. The Masonic Lodge and Grange were also invited to take part in the project. They were hopeful that every man and woman in town would feel they had an interest in providing a suitable place for burial.
In a later edition, August 19, 1910, the Caddo Herald gave an account of women’s clubs taking responsibility for improvement of the cemetery. While attending a funeral in 1892, women noticed that the grave was hardly accessible because of briars and weeds, and many graves were sunken, and some occupied by varmints. Several women took on the ‘herculean task” of devising a plan and raising funds to properly care for the cemetery. They bought tools, planted trees, hired a caretaker, and by 1905 had made plans to build a chapel.
To buy materials for the chapel, they started by putting on plays, with local children as actors. Many individuals made private donations, and the ladies did other things like a fiddle contest and an oyster supper.
They instigated a town cleanup and organized public trash pickup. Another five-acre plot of land was later donated by Mrs. C.A. Bilbo, and in 1956 the ladies of the Caddo Civic and Cemetery Club had it surveyed and marked into cemetery plots. More additions and improvements have been made in the past 25 years, and the work of operating the cemetery continues to be in the hands of the Civic and Cemetery Club. On behalf of the Club, Judy extended an invitation to the ladies in the audience to consider joining the Club, and for all individuals to consider making a financial gift or including the cemetery in their estate planning.
After a short intermission, the fifth-grade classes of Mrs. Adair and Mrs. Doyle took the stage. They lead the audience in the pledge of allegiance to the American and the Oklahoma flags, then sang a collection of patriotic songs. Parents and grandparents have good reason to be proud of their students, for their polite attention to the program and for the excellent musical performance.
Following the student performance, a presentation was made on the history of Caddo Masonic Lodge #3, by Yates Canipe. Some men who came to settle in Caddo in the 1800s, had been active in Masonic Lodges elsewhere. Authority was obtained in 1873 from the Grand Lodge of Arkansas to organize a Lodge in Caddo. The organization of the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory was, in fact, held in Caddo. The man who was chosen as the first Grand Master, at that organizational meeting in 1874, was Granville McPherson. He was Worshipful Master of Caddo Lodge, owned the newspaper and had a great deal of influence in the Caddo community.
At the close of the program, the audience was informed about the June 4 banquet for 80s and 90s, and all were urged to save the date July 2, to attend the crowning event of the Sesquicentennial, which includes an official proclamation and display of the contents of a time capsule which was buried in 1972, by the Centennial Commission. A variety of musical entertainment is being planned, for a day of community celebration from 10am to 2 p.m., under the pavilion.