HARRAH, Okla. (KFOR) — The first time Dennis Sizemore walked this two acre plot west of Harrah, he needed a machete to get more than 10 feet.
“It was completely grown up,” he says. “A lot of brush, small trees, and grass four feet high.”
He couldn’t see the headstones at the old Kansas Cemetery or the foundation of what was once a school and community center.
“They came down from Kansas to open a school and settle in this area,” he explains.
Dennis grew up in Spencer and has a ranch nearby, so he knew this place existed. But he soon learned more about who was here; a Confederate Army surgeon for instance.
Sizemore says, “I can’t imagine seeing the things he saw.”
In another part of the cemetery, he spots the grave of a woman who survived the Land Run of 1889 only to die a year later in 1890 and be the first to be interred here.
There are even outlaws on the register, un-named, but buried sideways with only a rock to mark their place.
Dennis says, “They were not liked at all.”
It was a forgotten place for as long as he’d been around. The brush kept getting higher, the weeds taller, and the headstones broken or stolen.
“It just worked on my mind that a place with so much historical stories about it, I hated that it was going to ruin.”
An amateur historian in his own right, Sizemore sized up this unclaimed acreage and started work.
It took a year to clear the place.
He put the stones back up and made more than 60 wooden crosses for the graves that needed them.
Dennis uncovered the foundations for the school, opened in 1900, and even the community well that sat alongside the Tecumseh stage coach road.
With ownership of the land still in question and the graves still here, this little spot of the old Oklahoma County is safe for now.
The place does honor its inhabitants once again, and will do so as long as Mr. Sizemore is here to care for it.
‘Is This a Great State or What?’ is sponsored by WEOKIE.
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