Council Hill resides in Muskogee County in the western "panhandle" of Oklahoma. It used to be in the designated Indian Territory before it was incorporated into Oklahoma Territory. The center of the town is on the Arkansas River, but technically it covers a sixty square mile area. Town meetings are held once a year on Council Hill, usually on March 15, but meetings can be called more frequently if needed. Residents vote for three selectmen, a school committee, a Constable, a Treasurer, a Clerk and a Justice of the Peace. These positions pay token salaries, and quite often an individual will hold two or more positions.
The present selectmen are Sawyer Holt, Tristan Holt and Sam Hutchinson (who lives on one of the outlying farms). Marie Bishop, Council Hill's school mistress, serves as the head of the School Committee, as well as Town Clerk and Treasurer. Tristan Holt also holds office as Justice of the Peace and is also the Town Constable and serves mostly to assess and collect property taxes.
The Constable and Justice of the Peace are authorized to deal with criminal matters up to and including high misdemeanors. Felonies are supposed to be referred to by Oklahoma State Police and the county courts in Lawton. In practice, they usually try to keep local matters local and resolve them inside of Council Hill.
All the land in Council Hill is either privately owned or held in common by the community. Within the town, normal trespass laws apply. Farms allow for right-of-way. Unless specifically posted with the required "No Trespassing" signs, anyone may cross open farmland freely as long as the farmer's property is respected.
Roads are all open to the public. Council Hill Road running through the town is maintained by the county and kept in reasonable shape. The other roads are the responsibility of Council Hill and receive only the minimal attention. Even under the best conditions, automobiles will be steadily rattled to pieces by the uneven, washboard surfaces and numerous various potholes. Flat tires are a common occurrence, as are the occasional broken spring or axles.
Few Council Hill residents have cars and most rely on horses for transportation. Horse-drawn wagons, carts and buggies are the commonest forms of transportation in Council Hill. Most residents are willing to rent horses to visitors. Most do not require a deposit, but it is the assumption that they will make due on any damages.
Lengthy stays are usually require taking up residence in one of the houses. The Stuart Boarding House is the obvious choice, as there are five small rooms available for rent. However, Duke is a member of the Klan and is leery of renting a room to a Catholic or Jew and will flatly refuse to rent to any non-white. He will, however, offer the loft in the barn out back to a non-white. Widow Morgan (55) also has a single room that she will rent out to visitors. Allen Ames (36) also has a room to rent out, but he is also a Klan member and holds the same biases as the Stuart Boarding House.
The entire township is linked to the Muskogee Bell Telephone system run through a single switchboard operated out the of the house of the Gardner sisters (57). All telephones are on party lines, some shared by as many as six or eight customers. Most calls must be passed through the town switchboard, but calls between customers sharing a party line can be accomplished without operator assistance by using a coded system of rings. Official switchboard hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but the sisters will connect important or emergency calls at any hour of the day or night. About half of the residences and farms have phones in them.
Council Hill farms are typically small, based on the land that can be worked by a man, his wife, and their children. Typical crops include wheat, corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, cabbage, lettuce and peas. Other fields are given over to pasture land, hay fields and timber lots. Currently, all of the farms are overproducing. The crops grow quick and large and are ripe and bountiful. The animals are well-fed and most are pregnant.
Additionally, most farms keep an apple orchard. Livestock consists of small herds of dairy cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens. Some farms have rabbit hutches or a small collection of bee hives. There is always a dog or two around as well as any number of cats found living in both the house and the barn. Council Hill farms are nearly self-supporting, only a few store-bought goods such as milled flour or cloth find their way into most homes. Many families still make their own soap and candles. Surplus crops and livestock are sold at the farmer's market in Lawton.
Most of the farms are powered by animal labor--horse or ox drawn plows, harrows, cultivators and reapers. A small handful of farmers own tractors but these are ancient, rusted vehicles sometimes jointly purchased by a father and son or by closely cooperating neighbors.Most every resident in the township own at least one firearm. These are used for self-defense, to drive off varmints or to destroy a sick or injured animal. The most commonly found modern weapon is the 12-guage shotgun. Revolvers are next in popularity, most often a .38 revolver. Rifles are less common although a fair number of houses have a .22 lying around. In addition, a number of other houses have an old musket laying around as well.
Penn's General Store
Joseph Penn, 34, owns and operates this store. The building that the store occupies used to be a church and still holds the telltale shape to the building. The store provides the town with all of its basic needs. A hand-operated gas pump stands outside. On the porch of the store are several chairs and milk crates which are set up and usually attract a number of townsfolk who will sit out and lounge, talking and playing checkers. Inside the store, dusty shelves and counters display a variety of canned goods, yard goods, farm tools, newspapers and magazines, knives, flashlights, rope, chain, fishing equipment, rounds of ammunition, a few faded dresses on hangers, and common household items.
Penn's General Store also serves as the local Post Office. All mail to and from the township passes through the General Store and Joseph Penn's hands. Mail addressed to the townsfolk is held at the store to be picked up by the respective addressees. Jeremiah Pratchett, the township mailman, delivers mail intended for folks living farther out of the township. Joe Penn also serves as an agent of the Commonwealth, issuing both fishing and hunting licenses. Penn's General Store is open six days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Joe is courteous to strangers and willingly offers directions to people and places around the township. He is not a member of the Klan, but is very aware of their influence.
Most everyone finds their way to Penn's at some point, including Muskogee County agents from the Agricultural, Welfare, or Health Departments, a group of religious church ladies from Lawton trying to get more people from Council Hill to go to the church in Lawton, traveling salesmen and the like.
Stuart Boarding House
This is a large house that has been converted into a boarding house. It is owned and run by Dennis "Duke" Stuart, although his wife Betty does most of the day to day work in the house and taking care of the guests. Betty is six months pregnant and is showing. There are five rooms available at the boarding house. There is also a loft in the barn, which is usually not for rent, but it will be insisted that any black members sleep there.
Duke fought in the Great War and made it back home without injury. He returned home and went to Washington in July of 1932 to march for his promised war bonus. General MacArthur ordered the attack on the Bonus Marchers and Duke was shot in the leg by a member of the US Army. He returned home to Oklahoma and still has not received his bonus pay and says that FDR is a socialist who sent his wife out to have tea with the soldiers and told them to sign up for his Civilian Conservation Corps. He returned unhappy with that resolution. Duke is also a member of the Klan. Betty and Duke had tried to conceive a child when they were younger, but never had any luck. Her pregnancy at this point in her life is a surprise.
17. Council Hill Public School
Grades 1-8 meet here from September through May.
37. Congregational Church of Council Hill
Reverend Noah Upton, aged 49, leads the services here. The church bells ring every half hour and announce services promptly at 8 a.m. on Sundays.
44. Marie Hunt's Residence
Marie, 32, is the town’s schoolmarm, teaching a mixed class of nearly two dozen children. A graduate of Radcliffe, Marie, unlike most who leave Council Hill, has returned to attempt to improve the conditions of life in the community. She is bright and assertive and, in her role as head of the school committee, an active participant in all town meetings. It is mainly due to the efforts of Marie Bishop that Council Hill has in the last few years seen an increased supply of schoolbooks and materials from the State Board of Education. Unlike many of the other residents, Marie thoroughly enjoys meeting and talking with outsiders. She is bright, witty, and appreciates the opportunity to engage in a lively, literate discussion.
100. Saw Mill
This large structure boasted four cutting blades driven by twin undershot waterwheels. It closed several years ago after being open for only four years. Two local boys who were exploring the area before the official opening of the mill wandered in and died here. Some say that the place is haunted and it was plagued with accidents until the mill could not sustain people willing to work there and closed down.
101. The Old Saw Mill
This old saw mill predates the newer saw mill. It has a single cutting blade and was driven by one small waterwheel. It was intended that this mill would run in conjunction with the larger mill. However, it was closed when the larger mill was closed. Local Klan members use this mill for storage an a meetings place for some of their rallies.
105. Mt. Zion Bapist Church
This was once an old, but maintained building used as a church for the black members of the shantytown. However, it was burned down in July of 1932 and no investigation was ever made.
Referred to derogatorily as "Niggertown" by many of the local residents, this collection of multifamily hovels and shacks is where the community's black members live. The community's leader is the Reverend Gerald Ash whose church was burned down last July, but he still oversees the needs of the people of his community.
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