The Healdton Herald
Healdton, Carter County, Oklahoma
March 6, 1980
NORDMAN Worked on First Dillard Well by HELEN HEDGEPATH of the Healdton Herald
(part of the article)
Our Old Timer this week boasts of working on the first well that was drilled in the Dillard Field. He was born July 17, 1891 on the old WEST farm (now called the JIM ORME place) near the old Vickrey Addition. This week we honor WILLIAM HENRY “BILL” NORDMAN as our Old Timer of the week. His parents were GEORGE S. and REBECCA JANE WADKINS NORDMAN, early day settlers here. His father was originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and his mother from Missouri (born 1871 Blair Creek, Shannon County, Missouri to JESSE WOODS WADKINS and SUSAN MCGEHEE WADKINS).
Bill told that his grandfather (WILLIAM HENRY NORDMAN born about 1815 in Hanover) was from Germany. He remembers hearing his grandfather getting his education in a Catholic school in the old Country. (His grandmother MARY CAROLINE CAMPBELL NORDMAN was a midwife, nurse and a "doctor" who helped when no regular doctor was available.)
Bill was from a large family. He had brothers, FRED NORDMAN who died in Arkansas; ALEC NORDMAN (died in California); DEBS NORDMAN (EUGENE DEBBS NORDMAN was killed in New Mexico), and LEO who lives at Healdton. His sisters were MAY TURNER of Fox (LAURA MAY NORDMAN married 1904 and died within a few months); NELLIE ROBINSON of Duncan (NELLIE married TOM SHUROY / SHUWROY, divorced, married CHARLES MORROW, divorced, then married JAMES ROBISON at Duncan where she died); VIOLA STEUDEMAN of Ardmore (VIOLA died in Ardmore, leaving two young sons whose father placed them in an orphanage and the sons were gone when their grandmother Becky Wadkins Nordman Fowler searched for them to bring them to her home). All of them have passed away except one brother LEO NORDMAN, living at Healdton.
Bill told how his father was crippled, one of his legs shorter than the other, and he was a peddler. He had an enclosed buggy and he went all over this area peddling his wares (LILLIE WRIGHT told the story how GEORGE NORDMAN had a Victrola that played music to attract attention as he approached potential customer’s home). His mother was a midwife. It wasn’t unusual for someone to come after her and she would be gone, sometimes a day or so at a time.
In the early years, the children attended school at the one room Greenville school. This was a subscription school where the Jones Butane Co. is located, north of Healdton. He also described the school as being across the road west of the old GREENWOOD place. At one time the children also attended school at the old Iron Top School east of town.
He told of living close to the JACK SHRADER family. He also talked of ALBERT JONES, father of GEORGE JONES, also the JOE TRAMMELL family, JIM ROZZELL and COCKRELL families at Graham. He talked of his aunt, EMMA WEST, wife of DAVE WEST. (EMMA AGNES NORDMAN married DAVID WEST 1881 in Montague County, Texas; the West family moved from Montague County to near Healdton late 1885).) Emma was Bill Nordman’s father’s sister. (WILLIAM HENRY NORDMAN and MARY CAROLINE CAMPBELL were married 1838 in Hamilton Co., Ohio; among their children were JOHN NORDMAN who also lived in the area in 1890, EMMA and her husband DAVID WEST, and GEORGE SYRENIUS NORDMAN who married REBECCA JANE WADKINS 1885 Cooke County, Texas where they lived for awhile then, these Nordmans moved to old Healdton by 1889. George died 1915 and Becky 1968.)
The Nordman family moved to a farm 2 ½ miles east of Graham about 1905. (The family moved around, sometimes living at Healdton, sometimes at Dixie, one rented house burned in 1904, taking all family possessions, including the old German Catholic Bible.) This was about the same time the JOHN B. CHANCE family moved to Graham from Tennessee.
He later met and married ANNIE MAE CHANCE (daughter of JOHN BEAUREGARD CHANCE and MARY PRUITT Chance, who was a half-sister to Parilee Pruitt, stepmother to Zelah Ponder who married Annie’s brother JOHN WALTON CHANCE). They married Christmas Day, 1910. He said they went together two or three years before they married. Annie was a quiet and very shy person. He laughed as he told that he had to teach her to talk. She was a beautiful girl with dark hair that she wore in pigtails.
I asked him where he and Annie went when they were going together. He said they went to Literary (usually a debating club), church and spelling matches. Most all the activities in those days were held at the school. They had dances and play parties in the homes. He and Annie lived with his parents after their marriage. He told of building two log houses on land his father had leased.
He worked for awhile for early day Graham physician, Dr. IRBY. The doctor also owned a drug store and a grocery store. Bill told that Dr. Irby furnished them a house to live in and he drove a buggy for the doctor as he made housecalls to families in that area.
Bill and Annie had eight children: SYLVIA, who married HOWARD BAILEY and lives at Maysville; CARL NORDMAN who lives in Wink, Texas; LONA, who married ROBERT FLOYD EMBELIN and lives north of Healdton; SYBLE who married MORRIS PIERCE, died in Kingsville, Texas then died in Healdton 1975; JACK who died as a young boy; BILLIE (ELVIA WILLIA) who married ZACK FORE and lives north of Healdton; BETTY who married DONALD HENDERSON and lives at Pruitt City; and BARBARA who married JERRY SMITH and lives at Wichita, Kansas.
His grandchildren: Sylvia has two stepsons, W. H. BAILEY of Ada and THEO RAY “BOW” BAILEY of Arkansas, a daughter LAWANA of Maysville and a son MIKE BAILEY of Oklahoma City. CARL has a daughter CARLA of Wink, son MARK of Houston, and a deceased son GARY JIM. LONA has three daughters ANITA of Fort Worth, LINDA of Houston, and ROBBIE of Healdton. Syble had a daughter KARON KAY of Colorado and a son JAMES MORRIS PIERCE Jr. of New York. BILLIE has five children, SUE of Burkburnett, BILLY ZACK of Healdton, REGINIA of Pooleville,VALI of Healdton and REBECCA of Pruitt City. Betty has two children, DONNA of Elk City and DAVID of Pruitt City; Barbara has two children, SHERRY and TERRY, both of Wichita, Kansas. There are several great-grandchildren.
ANNIE CHANCE NORDMAN died in May 1944. He later married BEULAH PONDER BRISCOE (Beulah and Annie were half-cousins) and they moved to Healdton where they ran the Bulldog Café and then the Corner Café. Beulah died August 1964, then he later married ROSIE STEUDEMAN in 1965 (Rose had been a sister-in-law of Viola Nordman Steudeman; Rose divorced Bill in 1979.)
In the early years, he told of running a grocery store at Hewitt (the John B. Chance family moved to Hewitt in 1915 from Graham, operating a store and post office, then Bill and Annie Nordman moved there, purchasing land from the Chances, building a two room house with a side room. John Chance bought out Bill’s store stock and added it to the Chance general store and grist mill.). He also told of working in the oilfields around old Hewitt, farming, and roughnecking. At one time he worked for WESTHEIMER & DAUBE Co., the Texas Oil Co., and SCHERMERHORN Oil Co. During the Depression years, he lived on his stepfather’s place (JAMES HENRY FOWLER) at Graham(the family moved there and farmed on Henry’s land, getting a “government setup” to farm where they lived until early 1946). He told that his girls could put out as much work as any man.
It was during this time, the family attended the Freewill Baptist Church at Clemscot. He told that he, his wife and older four daughters were saved and baptized at the same time. He was active in the church for a time. At one time, he served as Sunday School Superintendent.
BILL NORDMAN says he has worked hard all his life and he made sure his children learned how to work. (He took his son Carl and daughter LONA out of school, at ages of 12, and put them to work in the fields on the old COLBERT farm near Wilson where the family sharecropped and they did not return to school. The other daughters attended school with two graduating from high school, SYBLE and BETTY, both at Graham High School. He took his older children to pick cotton in the western part of the state where they lived in a converted chicken house, tents, etc. during a few cotton picking seasons.)
He has had fairly good health over the years. He has been in the Healdton Nursing home for the past six months. He has an unusually good memory at age 88 and enjoys having company.He invites his friends to come by for a visit or a game of dominoes.