[Account Book Kept by Blacksmith Ernest L. Cotter in Western Oklahoma]
Weatherford, Ok. 1914-1918. , 172pp., with a few small ephemeral items laid in. Contemporary burlap over boards, decoratively stamped in black. Spine perished, moderate scuffing, staining, and dust-soiling to binding. Short closed tears to a handful of leaves, about half of one leaf torn away, text quite dust-soiled but easily readable. Good. Item #2456
A rare peek at the inner workings of a rural blacksmithing shop in west-central Oklahoma during the years of World War I. Ernest L. Cotter had been a blacksmith in Oklahoma City and Weatherford since at least 1913, according to his obituary in the Daily Oklahoman, dated March 25, 1959. His family's blacksmith shop, the Owl, was originally built in Weatherford in 1909; the building was later relocated and is now a part of the Heartland Museum, dedicated to celebrating the history of Route 66.
According to the ink stamp in the present account book, Cotter offered "Blacksmith and Wood-Work" services. The legion of entries in the book record Cotter's work between 1914 and 1918 for a wide variety of customers in Weatherford. Each customer's name is written at the top of each page, listing the work performed and the type of work performed with costs listed for each service. Cotter sharpened sweeps, plow shares, and cultivator shovels. He forged wagon tongues, made pieces for hay rakes, shoed horses, set tires, repaired wagons, straightened iron, made subsoil knives, and so much more. His customers were mostly private individuals, which included the town's namesake, Bill Weatherford, but he also performed work for companies such as the Palmer Potter Hardware Company, the Winne Lumber Company, and the City Meat Market, as well as the city of Weatherford (mainly work done to the "ice wagon") and the Cedar Township. One page of the book from 1915 lists services provided to the "R[ail] R[oad] East end section."
Weatherford is situated in west-central Oklahoma, on land originally made available to homesteaders as part of the Cheyenne-Arapaho Opening of April 19, 1892. The town was incorporated on August 3, 1898, after the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad arrived. Two years later, the population reached 1,017 residents. William John and Lorinda Powell Weatherford were active community members as well as the namesakes of the town. Ranching and farming of corn and cotton were the early backbone of the town, and eventually a brick manufacturer, a cement plant, and a broom factory were opened and provided early residents with much needed employment. The town is now a hub for several oil and natural gas companies, and boasts a population of over 10,000 residents.