At left: Cash M. Cade
The first Mayor of both Coldwater, Kansas, and Kingfisher, Oklahoma.
About everybody who lived in Comanche-co. during the latter 80s (1880s) knew Cash M. Cade and Robt. C. Palmer, who were prominent citizens of Coldwater from 1884 to 1889. When a portion of the new state of Oklahoma was opened for settlement in 1889, Mr. Cade and Mr. Palmer joined the crowd which flocked to that country, and each remained there and was active in the up-building of that state. Mr. Palmer died over 30 years ago. Mr. Cade is still an active and prominent business man in Shawnee, Okla., where he is engaged in banking.
In an interview printed in a recent issue of The Shawnee News, Mr. Cade tells in a very interesting way of the life-time acquaintance of himself and Mr. Palmer. We believe that his story will be of much interest to Comanche-co. people, especially to the early settlers of the county who still survive, hence we reprint the article. The News reporter says:
"Yesterday I had related to me a story of brotherly love that has survived the hour glass by which time is measured and has persisted even after the Grim Reaper has claimed his own. For 32 years Cash M. Cade of Shawnee, has been making a pilgrimage to a little cemetery in Kingfisher, Okla., where he has been keeping a tryst with the dead. Every Decoration day since 1893, with the exception of one, this loyal friend has placed a flower upon the grave of R. C. Palmer, who for eight years, was his bosom companion and closest friend. In 1913 Cade was traveling in Europe and was unable to make his pilgrimage to the shrine of friendship, but in distant lands his thoughts turned to this friend of pioneer days, and by special arrangements the grave was decorated through Cade's direction.
"When Decoration Day comes around, just drop a flower on my grave Palmer told his friend shortly before he died. This simple request had become a command in the life of Cade.
At left: Gravestone for Robert C. Palmer, Kingfisher Cemetery, Kingfisher, Oklahoma.
Photo courtesy of Allen Shutler.
"The story of the two men's friendship is one that goes back to the pioneer days and carries through the frontier epoch of Oklahoma. Mr. Cade tells the story well:
"It was back in 1885 at Coldwater, Kans., that I first met Robert Palmer. The democratic convention was in session and was being presided over by Judge J. D. F. Jennings, father of the famous Al Jennings. Like all other conventions in those days, everything was 'set' before the convention opened and the 'whips' only recognized those who were in accord with their policies. As a republican I was enjoying the convention immensely. Palmer was a delegate from Glick-twp. He asked recognition, but it was refused. A frail wisp of a young man, weighing 115 pounds, freckled of face, red of hair, I believe he was one of the homeliest men I have ever seen. But he clamored for recognition from the chair and finally his friends, placing him on their shoulders, carried him to the platform. Gaining recognition in this manner, Palmer unloosed one of the most powerful party speeches I have ever heard. He captivated his entire audience, and so wildly did they cheer that the floor of the building was stomped in and the convention had to be adjourned to another building.
"I was so impressed with Palmer's oratory that I looked him up after the meeting and invited him to visit me in my office. After some conversation, I learned that he was penniless and his health was bad. My sympathy and interest aroused, I asked him to move into the city and share my office free of charge. This offer was accepted. We came to Oklahoma together in 1889. Palmer soon had worked up a good deal legal business and became a partner of C. O. Blake, a well known lawyer of El Reno, who died a short time ago. Blake was later general counsel for the Rock Island railroad. In those days, we practically made our own laws and enforced them. Palmer became head of the arbitration board of the provisional government. It was his duty to settle claims arising over disputed ownership to town lots. Out of the hundreds of claims he decided, only two have ever been reversed.
"But Oklahoma was a fatal spot for Bob. He contracted tuberculosis. I took him to Old Mexico and later to San Antonio, Texas. He showed great improvement at San Antonio and gained about 15 pounds in weight. I begged him to remain in Texas, but he refused, saying he was going with me. We returned to Oklahoma and the attack of tuberculosis again started, gradually forcing Palmer to the grave.
"A few days before he died we called in his old family physician, who cared for him day and night until the end. Finally when Bob's lungs had completely collapsed and he was in intense pain the physician decided it would be a mission of mercy to permit Bob to pass out easily. Therefore the evening before he died the doctor prepared a large dose of morphine. Just before he administered the medicine the 6 o'clock whistle sounded. 'Well, Bob,' the doctor said, 'that will be the last time you will ever hear that whistle.' Bob lapsed into unconsciousness. None of us ever thought he would ever speak again. But about three o'clock in the morning Bob aroused himself and asked for a lady who was formerly his secretary. We drove overland for her and Bob conversed with her before he died the next morning.
"When the 6 o'clock whistle sounded on the morning of his death, Bob grinned good naturally at the doctor and told him he was a liar. He passed away that day. Andrew J. Seay, second governor of the territory of Oklahoma, wrote the epitaph on the grave of Robert Palmer. It reads: 'Here rests a good lawyer and an honest man."
"For many years W. F. Doorley of Kingfisher has been helping me to decorate Bob's grave. Last year Doorley forecast his own death to me by saying, 'Next year you will decorate Bob's grave alone, but I will still be here." Doorley died the past winter and is buried on the same lot with Palmer.
"Bob was a fine man, generous, free hearted and honest. I shall keep my promise to decorate his grave as long as I live. He was my friend."
A Pioneer Fulfills Friend's Plea of 1898
One of the pioneer settlers and town promoters in the early days of Coldwater was Cash M. Cade, a real estate dealer.
In the May 29 issue of the Oklahoma City Times a front page picture and the following article about Mr. Cade was published and will be of interest to the old timers of this city.
"Early Sunday, Cash Cade, 92 year old Oklahoma City 89er, will make his fifty fifth Memorial Day pilgrimage to place a rose on the grave of an old friend buried at Kingfisher.
"Ever since Memorial Day, 1894, Cade has placed a single flower on the burial place of his companion in the run in '89, Robert Caldwell Palmer.
"Only on three occasions has Cade failed to perform the ritual born of a simple deathbed request of his friend. "Drop a flower on my grave once in a while."
"Twice he was bedfast with illness, and he made arrangements for someone else to fulfill his promise.
"In 1913, Cade was touring Europe on Memorial Day, so he cabled orders that the decoration be carried out.
"As Cade who lives with his wife and son, Leo, at 831 East Drive, prepared to make his trek to Kingfisher, he was in a reminiscent mood.
"He seemed to enjoy talking about his friend, the old days in territorial Oklahoma, and about the events in Kansas which led to the pair's meeting.
"It was in 1885 at Coldwater, Kansas, that Cade first saw Palmer, who was a newcomer to that part of the west from his native Kentucky. He was born May 30, 1860, a member of a prominent Civil War family.
"Palmer was just a wisp of a young man, weighing only about 115 pounds, recalls Cade, his face was freckled; his hair was red and he was just about the homeliest man I ever saw.
"But although his face was wrinkled beyond his years, every wrinkle radiated goodwill and friendliness.
"He was attending a Democratic county convention at Coldwater and I was too. Palmer was a delegate from Glick township and in the heat of the convention, his fellow delegates urged Palmer to make a speech in their township's behalf.
"Well, sir, you've never heard such oratory; that young man impressed me immediately, and as soon as he was through speaking I looked him up and introduced myself," Cade recalls with a proud chuckle.
"For some reason I believe that boy, was honest, and I never once through the years of our constant association together had reason to doubt him.
"I offered him an opportunity to come and live with me, when he told me he had come west at the suggestion of his doctors in an effort to regain his health. He didn't find out exactly what was wrong with him until a few days before he died. But he said he had no money and didn't feel like imposing on me.
"I suggested he could help me in my office, and I'd see to it that he got along all right. After much persuasion, he agreed. And that's when our friendship began."
Then Cade told how the two made the run.
"We came to Lisbon, as Kingfisher was then known for a short while, and I built our dugout near the center of what is now Kingfisher's downtown section. The dugout was right where the Kingfisher county courthouse now stands.
"But Oklahoma was a fatal area for Palmer; his health failed more and more, and all the while Cade took care of him.
Meanwhile, Palmer, always hopeful and optimistic about his health, made a "deal" with Dr. J. R. Shive, of Kingfisher. He would take care of Shive's legal and office matters (Palmer was a lawyer) and in exchange for his services, Dr. Shive would give him medical treatment.
"But Palmer didn't pick up very much," Cade said. "Then we heard that San Antonio was becoming quite a health center, so I took him there. To everyone's surprise he rallied. He picked up weight and began looking pretty good. Then the matter of money came up and I had to return to Kingfisher and recoup.
"Palmer stayed in San Antonio without me only two weeks, and then returned to Kingfisher.
"The day before he died, the evening whistle blew at the Kingfisher ice plant. Dr. Shive, who had been administrating 'shots' to ease his pain, turned toward Palmer and told him that he'd never hear that whistle again. Palmer told Shive that he was kidding. That was July 22, 1893; Bob Palmer died the next day - he didn't hear the whistle again."
Note from Claudia Hamilton Meyer: Attached are photos from Block 16, Kingfisher Cemetery. You really can't read the Palmer stone much at all & I didn't have any rubbing supplies with me. But according to a transcription Mary Lou Morgan did several years ago, below is what I think is on the stone: R.C. Palmer, Jul 23, 1899, 39 yrs 1 mo & 23 days.
There's also a Mary J. Palmer buried in Block 16 although I didn't see a stone with her name. R.C. Palmer's stone is one row to the west of Doorleys (you can see part of Doorley's in the background).
Gravestone of William F. and Frances H. Doorley
Kingfisher Cemetery, Kingfisher, Oklahoma.
Photo courtesy of Claudia Hamilton Meyer.
The Western Star, December 3, 1887.
Sheriff's sale Under Order of Sale
State of Kansas, Comanche county,
O. J. Lewis, Plaintiff vs. Robert C. Palmer, Defendant.
By virtue of an order of sale to me directed and delivered, issued out of the office of the clerk of the District Court of the State of Kansas, sitting in and for Comanche county, in said state, I will, on the 4th Day of January, A. D. 1888, between the hours of 10 o'clock, a.m. and 4 o'clock, p.m., of said day, at the Court House door in Coldwater in the county and state aforesaid, offer at public sale and sell to the highest bidder, for cash in hand, all the right, title and interest of the above named defendant in and to the following described city of Coldwater property to-wit:
Lot nine (9) in block one hundred and ten (110) with all the appurtenances thereon; this property is to be sold subject to a mortgage of $350.
Said property to be sold as the property of the above named defendant.
EMIL BOWERS, Sheriff.
Palmer & Blake, attys. for defdt.
District Court Proceedings
The Western Star, June 18, 1887.
District Court Proceedings
The Coldwater Review, March 2, 1888.
R.E. "Reb" GODDARD: A Few Reminiscences of Pioneer Life in Comanche-co.
The Western Star, February 4, 1921 and January 18, 1922.
Cash M. CADE: The Early Days of Coldwater
The Western Star, February 25, 1921 and March 17, 1922.
From Question Point Oklahoma: Ask A Librarian
I have not found any information on Robert C. Palmer. Nothing in The Daily Oklahoman archives or in a book called "Pioneers of Kingfisher County". There is another book on Kingfisher called "Echoes of Eighty-nine" by the Kingfisher Study Club in 1939 but it doesn't have an index and is a non-circulating book. If you live in Oklahoma City you are welcome to use it here at the Okla. Dept of Libraries.
You might want to try the Kingfisher Public Library and see if anyone there has any information:
Kingfisher Memorial Library
505 W. Will Rogers
Kingfisher, OK 73750
The Kingfisher Public Library also has a nice collection of research material. It includes microfilm of newspapers dating from the late 1800s forward, OK census film, the Cherokee rolls, and an extensive collection of reference books. Featured in the collection are copies of The New World, the first newspaper published in Oklahoma.
And it looks like the Kingfisher genealogy people are getting ready to publish another volume to "Pioneers of Kingfisher County" and you might want to contact them.
I read your article on the web and wish we could contribute more to it.
Thanks for using Ask a Librarian.
Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above Western Star news article to this web site!
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