The Maurer Family
Blackwell, Oklahoma's First Charity Case
Bridge Street in Blackwell, Oklahoma
One of my favorite stories of Blackwell's early days deals with their first charity case...The Maurer family.
On September 16, 1893, Blackwell was founded. On this location there was only A.J. Blackwell's offices which were the only buildings in town. Most of the residents were living out of tents and covered wagons. Money and food were tight. City residents and downtown storefront buildings had to be built. The process was slow, as materials were brought in by rail to Kildare and transported over land by hack drivers, four times a day.
It was on the first Thanksgiving of 1893 when our pioneers were sitting down to give thanks to the Lord for what he had done for them...new land, new town, new hope, and a new start. It was also on this day when a Blackwell Times and Record reporter heard about Mr. Maurer, a poor cripple, and his family.
When he located them, they were living in a very pitable condition. The stove was out-of-doors, and the mother, with a nineteen month old baby in her lap, was sitting in an old rocker attempting to keep the child and herself warm. Two little boys, ages seven and four, both barefoot, their little blue, swollen, cracked feet and legs, stood shivering as the bleak, cold winds whistled through the bare trees.
The man, badly crippled, looked helplessly on, with no ray of hope to brighten his dreary life. Had it not ben for the generosity of neighbors, the two butcher shops, and Mr. Bowen, proprietor of the Vienna Coffee House, they would have starved.
Mr. Maurer informed the local reporter that if they could get to their old home in northern Kansas, they would be all right, as he had friends and relatives there who would assist them. The reporter, hearing these words, and the poor conditions of the family, which touched his heart tremendously, ventured out across the residents that could help in their needs.
A paper was circulated for thier benefit and so generously did our pioneers respond to the call that soon $28.18 was raised. Mr. A.J. Blackwell very generously allowed them to go into one of his rooms where they were made comfortable until arrangements could be made for them to start. Someone took the eldest boy and bought him s psir of shoes and socks. Shoes were procured for the rest of the family while clothes were donanted by several unknown people.
City Clerk Berkley auctioned off the Maurer family's most prized possession, a cow, and got $12.00 for her, $3.00 of which had to go to Mr. Dorman for keeping her. By hard work on the part of several gentlemen, they were fixed up fairly comfortable, and started for northern Kansas a little after noon on December 6, 1893.
Mr. Maurer thought $35.00 would be sufficient for the journey, so the remainder was deposited in the bank for the next case of charity.
When finding this story, it touched my heart to see our pioneers take hold of this work and give of their means cheerfully. And on behalf of the helpless little ones, as well as the discouraged parents, I quote an old promise made to all who so nobly do these little duties of life:
"Verily, I say unto you, as much as ye did it unto one of these, my brethen, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40