Recalls Her Youth On Cobb Creek
History In Our Midst series
The third oldest of 13 children, Mary
(Dunn) Cosper of Colony survived scarlet
fever in 1919, the Big Colony Tornado in
1951 and major surgery in 1993.
Mary celebrated her 84th
birthday, Dec 30, 1993, by coming home
from the hospital. Although she tires
easily, Mary enjoys company and talking
about the history of Colony and Colony
folks. She remembers most of what has
happened in this small western Oklahoma
town established in 1886 by John Seger.
Mary was born to Elbert Franklin and
Elizabeth Francis (Schwartz) Dunn on Dec
30, 1909, on a farm four and a half miles
north of Colony.
Marys father, a carpenter, water
well driller and farmer, had two
daughters by a previous marriage. After
Mary, six more girls and four boys were
born into the Dunn family. All of the
children were born at Colony, except for
Jenny, the daughter born right after
Shortly after Mary was born, the Dunn
family moved to Tulsa for three years, so
Mr. Dunn could work for the railroad.
In 1912, the Dunns returned to
Colony and leased land across Cobb Creek
on the north side. There, the family
built a house and lived until 1919.
During that year flood waters from the
north, where Crowder Lake has since been
created, flooded the lower area around
Cobb Creek. An outbreak of scarlet fever
took the life of Marys eldest
sister. The entire family was quarantined
and couldnt attend the funeral.
Dr. E.E. Darnell, then Colonys
medical doctor, told the Dunns they
must move out of the bottom land to
The Dunn family moved up on the hill,
across the street from Marys
current residence, to a house behind
where her daughter and son-in-law,
Virginia and Delmer Scott, now live.
When Mary, only 16 at the time,
married James Lloyd Cosper on June 30,
1925, they moved into the house where
Mary now lives. At the time, it was a
Talking about the hotel prompted
additional Colony memories from Mary. She
said, the hotel had been used as a high
school and one of the teachers had been a
Mary, completed only the eighth grade.
She was Valedictorian of her class. In
the early years, Colony offered only two
years of high school and didnt have
any graduating seniors until 1932.
Like her mother, when Mary married
Lloyd he had two children---James
Richard, age 3, and Ethelda, 21 months.
The young family moved into the hotel.
Also, living in the hotel at the same
time was Grover Ainsworth, who barbered
in Colony; Thelma and Jack Beckham, who
ran a café; and a Mathis family.
In the 1920s, Mary and Lloyd bought
the old hotel. There they eventually
raised four more childrenVirginia,
Jimmy Doyle "Buddy", LaQuita
(deceased) and Lilburn.
Even though Lloyd passed away in 1992,
Mary still lives in the house on the
hill. Besides her children, 49
grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and
13 great-great-grandchildren, Mary
entertains many friends and other
Among the other relatives who visit
Mary in the little house on the hill are
her four youngest surviving
siblingsLenore Hodge of
Weatherford, Gwendola Barnes of Colony,
Bill Dunn and Jim Dunn, both of OKC.
In the early years of their marriage,
Mary recalled Colony as a bustling town
with hotels, a movie theater,
mercantiles, cafes, cream stations, two
cotton gins, a pool hall, shoe shop,
barber shop, butcher shop, a livery
stable and blacksmith, garage and gas
station, phone office, dance hall, bank,
a doctor and dentist, a newspaper, a
hospital near the school, churches and a
bead lodge established by the Reece
Kincaids who were missionaries to the
Columbian Presbyterian Mission Church.
According to Mary, Virginia Kendrick
played an old pump organ at the historic
Mission Church. One of the Indian boys
from the Seger Indian Industrial School
had to keep the pump going.
Talking about the church prompted
additional memories about the Seger
School. Mary said the Indian children,
about 100 girls and boys, lived at the
boarding school. She vividly recalled the
children, girls in blue dresses and boys
in khaki uniforms, being marched by a
school matron from the school to the
church for services. Besides regular
studies, the male students operated a
dairy across the creek and the girls
learned cooking, sewing and other
Recalling all that had been a part of
Colonys early days, Mary said the
Big Tornado of 1951 almost blew the whole
town away. It was a Friday
late in the day, when her son Lilburn
came rushing into the house to announces
the coming storm. They had only seconds
to seek shelter.
The next day, Colony residents found
many homes and businesses destroyed. As
they are today, the Fred Kauger
buildings, which housed the barber shop,
drug store, the old Post Office and
Paynes Grocery remained.
During her 80-some years in Colony,
Mary has seen a lot of people come and
go. Some of the names she recalled
besides those already mentioned included
Dr. Jones, Dr. Childress, Rosser,
Milliner, Brown, Parks, King, Eby, Jahns,
Reed, Whitt, Dr. Ballard, Montgomery,
Gallup, Gleener, Smalley, Baird,
Lumpmouth, Washa, Devina, Ramsey, Veal,
Littlebird, Dr. Sullivan, Walker,
Freeman, McQuaid, Sharry, Cronk,
Crissman, Hashbrook, Gaunt, Dunaway,
Clancy, Rhoads, Gyles, Smart and many
Besides remembering nearly
everyones name, Mary also remembers
where they worked, etc.
In the early years of their marriage,
Lloyd worked at the co-op and as a
mechanic for Earl Brown at the garage.
Later, he drove a school bus for Colony
In 1943, Mary worked as a cook at the
old Colony School. When the new buildings
were opened in 1954, Mary again worked as
a cook and stayed until she retied
Over the years, Mary has cataloged
into her memory so many people and events
about Colony. Along with Ted and Irene
Johnson, she is the oldest living Colony
resident who was born in Colony and still
Indeed, Mary had a lot of stories to
tell about old Colony. Often, she is
sought out by people looking for a link
to their past
like my cousin,
Jeannie (Dorothy Jean Brown) Gonzales of
Long Beach, California.
Mary is one of Colonys
treasuresa link to our Pioneer and
Native American history
Along with this
article there is a photo of Mary and
Eunice Cosper, stating., "In 1937,
Mary Cosper (right) and Eunice Cosper
posed besides what was left of the old
hospital located in the Colony
Footnote: Mary Cosper passed away
30 December 1999
.Note by James L. Cosper her
Grandson: - Mary Helen Dunn Cosper passed
away Dec 30, 1999 in Colony, OK. She is
buried with her husband, Lloyd in Poage
Cemetery near Colony, OK.