Long before Oklahoma became a state in 1907, Oklahoma Indian Territory was nonetheless a player in national historic events.
During the Civil War, the territory had its share of the skirmish. Battles at Honey Springs and Chustenahlah were victories for the Union and Confederate armies, respectively, fought in the northeast part of the territory.
These and other battles were fought in Indian Territory, proving the severity of the war as it reached every part of the divided, turbulent nation.
Driving down a county road, it is not uncommon to see a cemetery, nestled down in tall grass or surrounded by growing wheat, seemingly forgotten when the prospect of prosperity beckoned settlers to bigger towns and cities or when natural disasters forced them to move to higher ground abandoning the land they once called home.
Frazer Cemetery, west of present-day Altus, is such a place. The aging headstones, often unmarked or fading with time, provide a glimpse of days gone by and questions left unanswered.
Altus High School 1967 alumnus Jimmy Don Carter, and Jerry Patrick, commander of the Sons of the Confederacy camp in Lawton and veteran of the Vietnam War, are working to see that those Oklahomans who fought for their country, whether Union or Confederate, are honored and remembered for generations to come with clearly marked headstones.
“We want to mark the graves of Civil War soldiers,” Carter said. “No matter their race or side in the war, they deserve to be remembered for their part in American History and their service to their country.”
Carter, a seventh-grade math teacher at Highland East Junior High in Moore, and Patrick, a former student professor at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, have been compiling photographs of headstones throughout the state with the hope of identifying veterans of the Civil War.
They are asking anyone with information regarding any Civil War veteran buried in Jackson County or throughout the state of Oklahoma to contact them with validated proof of birth of the veteran and the military regiment in which he or she served.
This information also includes the veteran’s name, rank and military unit.
For more information or to help in the effort, contact Carter at 405-209-7844 or Patrick at 580-351-4713.
Reach Katrina Goforth at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077.