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When the great Picher lead and zinc mining field was discovered in 1914, many satellite communities sprung up, including the town I was raised in from 1920 to 1942 — Cardin. Due to a lack of roads and transportation, it was necessary to have these communities to provide the essentials for the miners and their families.
She was first known as Tar River, however, the town was incorporated in 1918 as Cardin, named after Oscar Cardin who promised to install one-half mile of concrete sidewalk if the town was named after him. He and a brother Louis had been adopted by the Quapaw Indian Tribe and both were prominent in the early development of Ottawa County.
Forty acres of deeded land formed the center of Cardin, the lots were owned by individuals with restrictions that no mills, derricks or ponds could be located there. Perhaps this provided the stability for the townspeople to stay permanently situated and not being forced to move because of surface mining activity.
If you have never lived in a "boom town," you missed the excitement of daily growth along with the sounds of the carpenter's hammer and saw. In 1926 during the peak mining activity, Cardin's population was estimated to exceed 10,000, including the adjacent areas of East Cardin Hill, housing across the mining leases on the south, Whitebird on the west and String-town on the north. It had three theatres, three banks and one elementary school, grades one through six with Mrs. Ella Coffey as principal, a part of school district 15.
Saturday Night Live" must have orginated in the Picher-Cardin area. There was never anything quite like it, it was something to behold. Everyone went to town to cash and spend their paycheck. It was time for haircuts, clothing and grocery shopping, window shopping, visiting and maybe a movie, silent in the early days, too.
Many believe that Tar Creek was the center of the great lead and zinc deposits and certainly there were many high producing mines surrounding Cardin. They were the Lucky Bill, Benny, Haybird, Woodchuck, Blue Goose, Crystal, John Beaver, Anna Beaver 1 &. 2, Golden Rod #7, Rialto, Bethel. Dorothy Bill, Laclede, Panther and Velie Lion.
The Commerce Mining & Royalty Co./Eagle-Picher maintained their field offices with their service and repair shops on the west side of town while the Golden Rod Mining Co. had their offices and shops on the east side.
Private businesses included Horn's Cardin Electric Co., Jim Coffey's Cardin Machinery Co., Schuimuffel's Welding Shop, The Sanders' Coyne Lumber Co., J. W. Williams New & Used Furniture Co., grocery stores were operated by Earl Hutchens, Charlie and Dave Molotte, Ted Moxley, Quince Halterman, Hap Masters and The Cooks. Druggists included Guy Waite, Ralph Leslie, The Hively Brothers and J. A. McReynolds. Barbers included Walter Young, Loren Kactiey and George Allen. There were numerous boarding houses and cafes, one of the more popular being Mrs. Elder's Family Style Restaurant that served lunches for 25 cents.
People are the core of any community and Cardin was blessed with a solid group of outstanding families who provided the base for strong churches, school and community spirit. Some of the families were: Paul Sanders, Earl Hutchens, Jim Coffey, Woody Chambers, The Shroyers. John Foster, Frank Sanders, Kelse & Hubert Dodson, Dick & Frank Wright, Walter Bush, The Sweets, Orson Counts, Walter Heaslet, Avery Hale, John Horn. Hap Masters, The McReynolds.
Oscar Parker, Georgia Horn, Jay& John Hemphill, The Bradens, The Diberts. George Allen, Jim Horn, The Sellers, Louis Daugherty, Byron &, Leland Hutchens, The Tyrees, Ted Moxley, George Teeters, Loyd & Cack Dye, Ben Parkison, Frank Wood, Lee Richardson, The Benscooters, Kate Bennett, Leonard & Hayden Brown, John LaFalier. Les Richardson, The Laturners, The Thompsons, Ernie Lackey, The Sheltons, Hud Huddleston, Ralph Leslie, Kenny Farrell, The Stipps, Les Nunn, Walter Guthrey, Joe Hobson, Joe Becker, Karl & Athur Hartley, Grandma Stanley, Dow, Bid &. Bernie Saulsbury, The Andersons, The Heatherlys. Frank Kell. Bob O'Dell, Frank & Herman Mabrey, The Bakers, The Hulseys, The Haynes, The Hendersons. Lug Jones, Harold Holt, Jim Hensley, Pete Vaughn, The Rebers, Hubert Steele, Red Enders, The Jeffreys, Claud Morgan, The Marneys, Jess Capshaw, Theodore Towe, The Fox Family, Bill Miller, Louis Grayson, Oliver Jones, The Greens, Jess Richardson, and The Eldredges plus many more.
The Cardin students liked to remind everybody that they had attended Cardin Tech and often bragged they had the prettiest girls, and best athletes. The school-ground was always covered with fellows of all ages playing baseball, basketball or football. The older boys always took the time to teach the younger boys the fundamentals of every sport and their efforts were not wasted. In that era it seemed that nearly everyone thrived on competition and many great athletes were produced. A few of them were Bill Baker, Frank Mabrey who played baseball in the Cardinal system several years, Mott Stuchlik-Farrell, Ralph Leslie, Lloyd Kennedy, Ott Heatherly and Steve Green. Some believe that had Jack Green remained in school, he may have been the best ever.
The Cardin Baptist Church baseball team was outstanding and won the Church Twilight League several years, led by Frank Mabrey, Ralph Leslie, Ott Heatherly and others.
As the Great Depression struck the area in the early 30's, marginal mines closed, unemployment was, very high and many left for better opportunities elsewhere, primarily California. Most of the solid core of families remained and many of their descendants live there today. The town was unincorporated in 1938 due to an insufficient tax base.
As in nearly every community, the young men of Cardin marched off to battle during World War II, and without exception, they accounted for themselves well. In particular, out of the 1937 Picher-Cardin graduating class. Leroy Parkison, Arthur Jeffrey. Mott Stuchlik-Farrell and James Everly all became pilots in the Army Air Force. Surely they exemplified a native spirit. You can do anything if you are willing to pay the price.
My brother Oliver and I had the Miami News Record paper route for six years in addition to working part of the time as a clerk-delivery boy for the Earl Hutchens' Grocery Store and in our affiliation with the Cardin Christian Church, we were well acquainted with everyone as well as all the local news. Throughout the 22 year span that we Jived in Cardin, it was a tremendous experience. The people were her biggest assets and if I would have had a choice in the matter, I would have chosen to grow up in Cardin, Oklahoma.
BY JIM JONES