Welcome to our Knoles Cemetery Restoration Project site!
These orange stakes are unmarked graves. 239 of them! Please help me find names for them, since the tombstones are gone.
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History of the Cleveland County, Pottawatomie County area:
On 2 May 1890 the first census had only two townships in County 3, Norman and Noble. Then on 24 May 1890 The Cleveland County area was called Little River County then temporarily it was called "Third County" or County 3. 25 Aug 1890 it voters elected the county name as "Cleveland County". 22 Sep 1891 Shawnee-Pottawatomie Land Run extended the eastern boundary of Cleveland County 6 1/2 miles. The northern boundary was moved south from the present day 59th street to 89th street of Oklahoma City. The results increased the size of the county by about 1/3. The Historically significant Knoles Cemetery (formerly Pleasant Ridge Cemetery) is a one-acre cemetery, located on a small hill one tenth of a mile west of Harrah Newalla Road, and on the north side of Franklin Road, slightly west of the intersection at address 19135 E. Franklin Road. The legal land description describes it in the southwest corner of the southeast corner of four acres. The Knoles School/Church/Cemetery’s four acres is in the southeast corner of the 160 acres in southeast quarter in Section 2 Township 9 Range 1 East. Two of George W. Frazey's children are suspected to be buried next to him and would have been buried in the cemetery about 1890 or before. He had been in the territory since 1887 and these two children are not on the 1890 census. They may have been the first to be buried there. Mr. Knoles said that an old indian that lived at the river bottom was the first to be buried there. Martin Knoles is first listed on the 1893 Tax Rolls for Little River. The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald had an article in 1895 stating that 5 people had started a Seventh Day Adventist School in Linden. Ermina (Flint) Farnsworth was a school teacher and had taught Seventh Day Adventist School in Kansas in the 1880's. She helped her family start this school. Her husband, Irvin E. Farnsworth, was the Pastor for the church when it began. In 1895, that same year, the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald wrote another article about a Seventh Day Adventist Church being started in the area. The church and school was called Pleasant Ridge also and must have been started about the same time. Martin Van Buren Knoles patented his 160 acres which somehow contained the school, church and cemetery, also some of the town of Linden in 1903. He sold these four acres of land, after he gained it in his land patent, to the Pleasant Ridge School District # 65, on April 19, 1906 for $60.00.The School was called Pleasant Ridge until after Martin Knoles death 1917. Knoles Cemetery and School land is just south of the ghost town of Linden Township, which was located on the northeastern edge within Martin Van Buren’s 160 acres of land. Linden’s town center was at SE 164th and Harrah Newalla Road. Another reference puts it at SE 134th and Harrah Newalla Road. Knoles Cemetery is in the vicinity of the current towns of Newalla, Little Axe, and Pink of Cleveland County, Oklahoma. Knoles Cemetery is eleven miles south of Newalla, eight miles northeast of Little Axe, and three miles northwest of Pink. It lies four miles east of Lake Thunderbird. It is just a few miles west of the current Pottawatomie line. It was in the 1890's within the Pottawatomie County. The ancient Indian Grounds for the Shawnee Indians was where Lake Thunderbird is today.
The Linden community was established shortly after the land run of 1889 and the post office of Linden was established on October 17, 1893. The first Post Master was James L. Swailes. The name Pleasant Ridge cemetery is found in government documents titled “Headstones provided for Union Civil War Veterans 1879-1903”, attached to George W. Frazey’s name, which is a Civil War Veteran that is interred in the Knoles Cemetery. An unknown researcher also has ancestors of his family listed as buried in Linden. Knoles Cemetery (aka Pleasant Ridge Cemetery) is the only cemetery within at least eight miles in Cleveland County and within four miles crossing into Pottawatomie County. The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald stated that the area was full of Germans, Absentee Shawnee Indians and Pottawatomie Indians. One portion of this Little River area on the 1892 Tax Rolls was nearly exclusively Shawnee Indians. The Little Jim's, Pecan's, and many others.
Linden Post Office was annexed into Newalla Post Office and discontinued January 24, 1906 effective February 14, 1906. The 1890 Veteran’s Census and several of the censuses in the 1900’s list the area as Little River, not Linden.
Two people of the Linden Community were inventors. Lucinda Wilson was a woman inventor. In 1903 Lucinda and Charles Wilson patented the “Cotton Picking Bag. Charles Wilson patented the envelope in 1904.
Martin Van Buren Knoles was a Representative of the Shawnee or Pottawatomie Nation appointed by the Oklahoma Governor and accompanied the Shawnee or Pottawatomie Chief to Washington D.C. for Indian Bureau business. It is said that the Pottawatomie Chief met one of his wives there. Martin Knoles was also a delegate to the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention and voted whether Oklahoma became a state in 1907. Martin Knoles participated in the elections with colorful Oklahomans like Peter Hanraty, Charles N. Haskell and William “Alfalfa Bill” Murray, the Convention President. Martin Knoles and his family are buried at Knoles Cemetery.
In 1910, a 15-year-old boy Luscian King Truscott Jr. was a student at Stella School, who lived in Little River. He attended the Stella School. His father was a physician in the area. In 1912, he wrote a letter to Fred Knoles asking to teach at Knoles School. He was given the job to teach under another teacher and roomed with the Fred and Sarah Knoles family. Later, in 1917 he joined the Army and was accepted at West Point. He became a Four Star General, who successfully commanded the Third Infantry Division, VI Corps, U.S. Fifteenth Army during World War II, succeeding General Patton.
The Knoles School (District # 65) functioned from 1895 until its annexation on June 3, 1947. The community and school consisted of Whites, Shawnee and Pottawatomie Indians and “colored” people as stated on the school censuses. All of which went to Knoles School together before there was segregation. Knoles along with Red Hill was annexed into the Stella School District 19-20, and then on June 17, 1962 all of these schools were annexed into Little Axe School District 70. The Knoles School building was sold in 1952 when the three acres of school land was sold to the Wilson's Family. It is said that the building is in one of several places, either in Norman or to a black man that lived up Harrah Newalla Road. The building has not been found. Mr. Wilson built his house near this building site.
Knoles Cemetery deed consists of one acre. The School was on three acres. In the one-acre cemetery there are still portions of rows of graves visible. There are many more no longer seen. Ground Penetrating Radar was able to show the locations of the 239 graves no longer marked. Hopes still exist that someday these graves will be marked and names of these dead also found. Cement blocks are being donated by an anonymous donor to remark these graves. Knoles Cemetery’s legend is that there are a lot of Shawnee and Pottawatomie Indians of the community buried scattered throughout the Knoles Cemetery, including an Indian Chief. This Chief is said to have been a friend to Martin Knoles. It is said that some of the Indian graves were marked with fieldstones. The fieldstones were removed by the Wilson's and piled up on the side of the cemetery and buried. The Wilson's stated it was so they could mow easier. Some of these were found off the side of the cemetery. This legend passed down that in the northwest corner of the east half of the cemetery was a burial mound of the Indian Chief. Logs stacked in a pyramidal shape encompassed this mound. They are now gone. The bordering neighbor, Mr. Wilson, has since leveled this mound. The Wilson's dump truck was parked in this area for years. Mr. Wilson stated he filled in the school cellar. Community legend is that when the neighbor filled in the cellar of the Knoles School, they filled it with tombstones from the cemetery. Several Knoles family members remember seeing them stacked up inside the Wilson's fence.
A metal detector was used in the cemetery and a metal grave marker was found buried an inch or two under the dirt. It is thought to be the marker for Floyd Dickinson who died between 1960-1968. The I.O.O.F Cemetery verified the manufactured time frame of the marker as the correct time frame. The three other temporary markers documented by the WPA in 1934 were not found. It is not know if Mr. Dickinson is a WWI, WWII or Korean War Veteran. There is a WWII Veteran with his name and living in the general area of Pottawatomie County listed on Ancestry.com. The Dickinson's were friends with the actor James Garner, and were related to the Davis family who married the Knoles and are linked to my family.
The Doolin Family that was related to the outlaw Bill Doolin, lived in Little River at Section 21-R9N1E and is documented in the Norman Transcript as harboring him while he was sick in the 1890's. The neighboring Pottawatomie County was well known at the time for some of the most violent saloons of the era that the outlaws would hide at.
There are at least three Civil War Veterans buried at Knoles Cemetery: George W. Frazey, Company B 14th Iowa Infantry, died 23 July 1896, Horace Flint, Company K 13th Wisconsin Infantry, died January 30, 1907 and Martin Van Buren Knoles, Company A 152nd Regiment Illinois Infantry, died January 1, 1917. These men and their families evidentially migrated to the Oklahoma Territory. There may be many more veterans buried at Knoles. There are forty-nine veterans listed on the 1890 Veteran’s Census. Of these only half of their graves have been located in other cemeteries or documentation that state their location have been found. The other approximately 25 grave locations have not been located at all, nor documentation stating the graves location. They could possibly be in this endangered cemetery. It is suspected that the records for this cemetery were destroyed when the Knoles School/Church was sold. Oklahoma Conference for the Seventh Day Adventist are looking through their archives. The local newspaper for this era might lend clues to their locations.
After the Knoles Schoolhouse was sold with three acres of its land, the cemetery was retained by the Cleveland County School System and cared for by Sarah (Alls) Knoles, the daughter-in-law of Martin Van Buren Knoles and Melena "Lena" (Davis) Knoles. She would insist that people come out once a month and clean up the cemetery then the clean up crew would have picnic on the cemetery grounds afterward. Sarah and Fred’s baby daughter was buried there in 1898. After Sarah’s death in 1968, the cemetery fell into disrepair. The school did not maintain it. A member of the Cleveland County School Board was also a family member of the neighbor bordering the cemetery. The School Board Member/family member sold three of the four acres to Mr. Wilson, excluding the cemetery from the sale. Little Axe School retained the cemetery and leased the oil and gas rights to Henry Brendle. Little Axe School had forgotten they owned it over time due to staffing changes, retirements and records being sent to storage. The Cleveland County Court Clerks Office, under Helen Jansing, had purged the court files, discarding the school records that showed the school land annexations. These records were tossed from the second story window of the Cleveland County Courthouse. An employee of another department found piled on the sidewalk and took them to John Womack who combed through them and wrote four books. Some of these records were turned over to the Cleveland County Genealogical Society. Overtime, no one knew who owned the cemetery and no one maintained it. The bordering neighbor, Mr. Floyd Wilson, took advantage of this, running off anyone who came to the cemetery and he started removing tombstones, fencing and encroaching his fence. There was once wrought iron fencing with a large arched gate that had the cemetery and schools name on it. This fence and arch are gone. His horses and farm equipment were on the west half of the cemetery where his fence was encroached to the east. This neighbor used the east half of the cemetery as a location to discard his trash, wood, old fence panels and burned electric poles and storage of more farm equipment. This led people of the community to think he owned this land, making them less willing to dispute the destruction. He also admitted to cutting into the cemetery to change the location of the school drive and installing a new drive for his home he built in the 1970's. Note that at this eastern edge where the cemetery drops off are graves that are the width of adult graves but only a half as long as they should be. There are graves under his drive at the top of the drive which is at the top of the hill. They are marked with red x's or concrete blocks. The original school drive started on Harrah Newalla about 175 feet north of Franklin and went west across 200 feet and then turned north. This bypassed the graves. The widened area of his current drive is where the old drive turned to go north. By moving the drive he removed many graves. Portions of the original drive can be seen on google earths history. Mr. Wilson states there can't be graves under his drive, he removed too much of the dirt.
Mr. Durkee, who was hired by the county to survey the area for the purpose of widening Franklin Road, performed a survey in 1964. This area hadn't been surveyed since the establishment of the metes and bounds before 1889, but Mr. Durkee's family had been the neighbor to George W. Frazey in 1890. He mistakenly read the school deed, which stated there were four acres of school land with one of these four acres being used as a cemetery. He measured it as five acres total, four as school land and one acre being used as a cemetery. This mistake allowed a larger measurement for the three acres then it should have, shifting the cemetery to the west, running the eastern property line down the middle of the each of third row of at least sixty-seven graves, dividing each grave in half, giving the adjoining neighbor the bottom half of each of these graves in one row and all of two other rows. The Durkee survey gave thirty-three feet of easement on the south end that contained graves to the county for the widening of Franklin Road. His survey showed that Knoles Cemetery was there and that the easement would take up some of the graves in the cemetery. These graves were pre 1937 and possibly as early as the 1889 land run, when Franklin Road was just a wagon trail and before easements existed. The road widening should have shifted to the south or the graves should have been relocated with the supervision of the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The Oklahoma Department of Health was never contacted by the County to get permission to move these graves.
In the late 1970’s Franklin Road was widened according to the easements established by the Durkee survey and at least 8 graves of each of the 30 rows of graves were graded away. One known grave that was graded away was, Luther A. Flint, my 2nd great grandfather, the son of the Civil War Veteran, Horace R. Flint. Luther was a carpenter and helped to build Highgate College that become Griffin Sanatorium and other Norman structures. These graves where scattered down Franklin Road. Several pieces of tombstones have been found but they are not the pieces with names. The south end of the cemetery is slowly eroding and needs to be stabilized so that the graves that are now dangerously perched on the edge don’t become exposed or fall off the edge. One of these graves in danger belongs to the Civil War Veteran, George Frazey.
In February of 2011, the property lines of the cemetery were repined according to the Durkee survey showing the atrocity of the misplaced boundary line, further showing endangerment of the cemetery that borders land with the destructive neighbor.
Of those documented buried there, only eight original tombstones still exist. Harry C. Stallings in 1968 and James and Naomi Pickard in 1992 along with the many times the Knoles Family documented the tombstones visually surveyed the cemetery. Over time the names on their list of those tombstones still in existence decreased as tombstones disappeared. Families of those buried there are in the process of replacing the missing tombstones, trimming trees, cleaning up the cemetery and replacing the fencing. A makeshift sign has been made announcing the cemetery again. Research is still being done to find names of people who might be buried at Knoles Cemetery (Pleasant Ridge). While work was being done, longstanding residence of the community would stop by to see what was going on. Many would state that they never knew a cemetery was there since nearly all signs of it were gone, trees had grown up shielding the few remaining tombstones and the Wilson's would run people off the cemetery telling them it was their front yard property. The Wilson's would call the sheriff several times over this.
A string grid was laid in attempt to plot the rows and graves. Little yellow daffodils and purple irises began to peek up, giving a hint of where some people are buried, falling perfectly within the grid. The ground radar was able to identify one metal casket, two vaults and one large buried structure like a vault or tombstone. There are several babies graves and one of interest that has two adults buried close and one infant in the middle on top of the two adults. One grave is a very large grave that the ground radar company said is a very, very large persons grave. The graves from the 1930's have collapsed this year announcing the date of their creation. This can be verified by graves in the county that have dated tombstones from the early 1930's. Those graves are collapsing this year also.
The graves in the east half of the cemetery are very close together, indicating very early burials without a casket or very thin caskets. The graves in the west half are spread further apart.
The Endangered Knoles Cemetery is all that is left of the school, the community of Linden and most of Little River. It is the final resting place for people of the community, Veterans, Native Americans, Pioneers, Boomers and Sooners of the Land Run of 1889.
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