St. Joseph's Original Building 1910Saint Joseph Academy


Since distances were too great and transportation too slow, children attended schools centered in or near the large ranches in the County.  School was held usually in homes for a family and neighboring children.  

The first school in Chickasha, Oklahoma, was started in September 1892, and school was held in the Presbyterian church building.  The following fall, a school building was built.  A subscription fee of $1.50 a month was charged, but that was not enough to pay for the lumber used to build it, so the School Company made plans to sell the building in order to pay the debt.

In 1898, the property, consisting of a whole block, with a two-story school building, formerly built by the city as a subscription school and later used as a business college, was purchased from the Chickasha School Company by Reverend Isidore Ricklin, O.S.B. of Anadarko, for $1,650.  The members of the Chickasha School Company relinquished all claims to Block 53 and sold all its improvements to the Catholic congregation.  With the permission of Right Reverend Theophile Meerscheert,  Bishop of Oklahoma and Indian Territory and the consent of the Most Reverend P. J. Ryan, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and at the request of Reverend Isidore Ricklin,  Mother Mary Agnes, at the time, Superior General of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, Glen Riddle, Pennsylvania, sent four Sisters to open Saint Joseph School at Chickasha, Indian Territory, on the 25th of August, 1899.  It was the only religious school in Grady County.  St. Joseph School began with an enrollment of 135 students.

Improvements and addition were made through the first years to accommodate the increased number of children in the parish.  When it was realized that the income of the Day School was insufficient to support the school, the Boarding School was initiated to provide more funds.  The classrooms were on the first floor of the two-story building while the Sisters and the few children lived above.  The number of children increased in the parish, therefore, more Sisters were needed.  The Sisters needed more classrooms so they proceeded to build another small building from their funds.  The Knights of Columbus urged the Sisters to enlarge the building, making a contract to occupy a portion of it until it was required for the school.  It wasn’t long until the school required all available space for classrooms.

The first public schools in Grady County were established in Chickasha in the fall of 1900. A subscription fee was charged until in 1902, after the town was incorporated, the citizens voted the first bond issue - $65,000 for the purpose of erecting school buildings. 

After twenty years of steady labor and determination, a campaign was started for the purpose of obtaining funds for the erection of a new school.  The growth of the school had been very rapid and the buildings were entirely inadequate to the use of the increasing student body.  The campaign was a success and the rough red brick building which the residents of Chickasha remember as St. Joseph’s Academy was built.  The old white wooden building was moved, from the Northwest corner of 7th Street and Colorado Avenue to the Northeast corner of 8th and Colorado by the contractors, Monnot and Reid, and the building was later dismantled on July 30, 1937.

 By 1924 the number of Sisters had increased to twelve; the number of boarders to seventy and the number of students in daily attendance to two hundred and fifty.  By 1926, St. Joseph’s Academy provided, in addition to the regular grade work, a four-year High School Course accredited by the State of Oklahoma, a course in Business training, and special courses in vocal and instrumental music.

The first graduates of St. Joseph’s Academy were Mayme Teefey in 1908, Mary Laflin and Leno Brien in 1910, Gertrude Spalding in 1912, and Margaret McCaull, Ada Link, and Isabella Brooks in 1915.  The first class to graduate from an accredited St. Joseph's in 1917, consisted of Myrtle Link, Marie Decker (Ross), Opal Burson and Thelma Mahoney.

Through the sixty-nine years of St. Joseph Academy's existence, Chickasha, has been witness to and benefited from the contributions made to it through its youth, and the Sisters of St. Francis: Sisters Mary Concordia, Luke, Lumen and Ethelburga, Sister Mary Cosma, Mary Libentia, Sister Mary Osmunda, Sister Mary Patricia, Sister Mary Gratiana, Sister Rose Marie, Sister M. Eldreda, Sister M. Teresa, Sister M. Rosaline, Sister Marie Rose Carmel, Sister Romula, Sister Florian.  Sister Mary Benedict, Sister Mary Enda, Sister M. Eulalia,  In it's final years, the sisters staffing the school were: Sister M. Carissa, Sister Alvira, Sister Honorata, Sister Gerlinda, Sister Humilianna, and Sister Anthony Geline.  Many others can be seen in the census records below. 

 The words taken from the 1926 Year Book of St. Joseph’s Academy, spell out the goals of the institution from the day of its founding on August 25, 1899 to the day of its closing, May 27, 1968. “It is the aim of St. Joseph’s Academy to give its students an education, moral and intellectual, which will enable them to be models of every virtue as well as useful and accomplished members of society.”  St Joseph’s Academy is remembered as a noble institution.


Chickasha Daily Express, November 17, 1898.

Chickasha Star Newspaper,  May 17, 1968.



Chickasha, Grady County, Oklahoma

Saint Joseph's Academy is identified as St. Joseph's Catholic Boarding School on the Census of 1910.  It was actually St. Joseph's Academy, a Catholic School conducted by the Sisters of  Saint Francis.  The census showed only 7 of the 25 boarding students were Indian.  Those Indian students were also listed as residents of the St. Joseph Orphan School.  The other students were found with their parents on the next census.  Frequently, the orphan Indian students moved on to additional educational facilities.  Some were found on the 1920 census in Murray County at the Murray State School of Agriculture in Tishomingo, Oklahoma. 

St. Joseph's School, later called St. Joseph's Academy, was run by the Sisters of St. Francis.  This order of religious nuns, in America, originated in 1855 in the city of Philadelphia.  Bishop John W. Neumann enlisted the help of the sisters who had a base community in Ireland.  Pope Pius IX counseled the bishop to found an American Community from within the ranks of his own parish in Pennsylvania.  In reviewing the census records at St. Joseph we can see the prevalent Irish background of the Sisters, and also the Community's ties to the state of Pennsylvania.     



Census Transcriptions:  


1910 Census  Oklahoma, Grady County, Chickasha, Ward 2 Pct. 1, Enumeration District 96. 

Saint Joseph Catholic Boarding School

Address is:  702 to 728 Kansas Avenue

[ The students are listed first, and then the staff.]

Brooks,    Belle            W     f     12             OK   OK   OK

               Della            W     f     17             OK   OK   OK

Laflin       Mary           W     f     17             OK    NY   TX     

Reynolds  Wana           Ind   f     15             OK    TX   OK

Fealy        Agness        W     f     15             AR     IR    OK

Jourdan     Leona         W    f     13              TX     TX   OK

                Jay             W    m    12              TX     TX   OK

Payne       Ethel           W    f     11             OK     MO  OK

                Virginia       W     f      7             OK     MO  OK

                Vera            W    f      9              OK     MO  OK

Laflin        Josle           W    f     14             OK     NY   TX

Newton     Harland       W    m   15             TX     KY   KY

                 Bernard      W    m   13              TX     KY   KY

                 Damien       W    m   11            OK     KY   KY

                 Clarence      W    m    5            OK     KY    KY

                 Letha          W     f     7            OK     KY    KY

Davis         Ben            Ind    m  11            OK     Eng    KY

                 Henry         Ind    m   8             OK     Eng    KY

Ireton        Jack            Ind    m   7             OK     IRE    TX

                Thomas       Ind    m  10            OK     IRE    TX

Carnett      Gertrude      W     f     9            OK     Unk.    AR

Whitaker    Floyd          W     m   11           OK     TX     TX

Fryear        Edward       Ind    m    7           OK    TX     TX

                  Robert        Ind    m   10          OK    TX     TX

Jackson       Ida             W      f     9           TN    MO    TN


220 S. 7th Street   Dwelling # 330

Sister   Ludmilla           Sister of Charity       W   f     34  Pennsylvania   England   New Jersey  teacher

           Ruth                 Sister of Charity       W   f    39   Ireland            Ireland     Ireland        teacher

           Osmunda          Sister of Charity       W   f    38   Ireland            Ireland     Ireland        teacher

           Eshelburga        Sister of Charity       W   f    38   Ireland            Ireland     Ireland        laundress

          Adonza              Sister of Charity       W   f    36   Ireland            Ireland     Ireland       seamstress

          Huburta             Sister of Charity       W   f    50   Penn               France     Penn          cook

  Most of the Sisters are recorded as speaking ' Irish' except for those born in Pennsylvania who speak English. 



1920    Census Oklahoma, Grady,  Chickasha,  Ward 2  E. D. 167,  Sheet 2A

Enumerated January 16, 1920     ( Saint Joseph's School)

No house number.

Dwelling 278, fam# 32

Morrissy     Margaret head         f   W        48       IR     IR     IR       mother superior

Moran        Mary      Sister        f   W        51       IR     IR     IR       teacher 

Tourcher    Julia        Sister        f   W        60      PA    Fran.  Fran.   cook

Freeman     Mary      Sister        f   W        56       PA    IR     IR        seamstress

Realy         Catherine Sister       f    W       56       IR     IR      IR        matron

Gallegher    Susan      Sister        f   W       45       IR     IR      IR        laundress

Sweeney    Mary       Sister        f    W      42       IR      IR     IR         teacher

Boyd         Mary        Sister       f    W      35      WY    WY   WY       teacher

Turner       Beatrice    Sister       f    W      36       MO    Engl.  MO      teacher

Hurd         Josephine  Boarder    f    Ind    10       OK     OK  OK         (students)

                Jewel         Boarder    f    Ind     8       OK     OK  OK

                Houston     Boarder    m  Ind    12       OK    OK  OK

McKenna  Patrick       Boarder    m  W     11       NE     IR  NE

                Helen         Boarder    f    W      9        NE     IR   NE

Pruner      Wanita        Boarder   f    Ind    12       OK    OK  OK

                Patrick        Boarder   m  Ind    10       OK    OK  OK

                Charles B    Boarder   m   Ind    8        OK    OK  OK

Scherf       Bernard      Boarder   m    W    13        PA    PA   PA

                Rosalia        Boarder    f     W   11        PA    PA   PA

                Urban          Boarder   m    W     9        PA    PA   PA

                Gerald         Boarder   m     W     8        PA    PA   PA

                Agnes          Boarder   f       W    6         PA   PA   PA

Malone     Emma          Boarder   f      W   13         OK   Bohemia  Bohemia

                Lilly             Boarder   f      W   10         OK   Bohemia Bohemia

Bowers     Ruby            Boarder   f      Ind   6         OK   OK    OK

                Eva May       Boarder   f      Ind   4         OK   OK    OK

                William         Boarder   m     Ind   8         OK   OK    OK

O Leary    Joe               Boarder   m      W    ?         MS    MS     MS

                Mary            Boarder   f        W    8         MS    MS     MS

Urban       Dan              Boarder   m       W    8         TX   TX     TX

Kelly        Jesse             Boarder   m       W    8         NM   TX   TX

Alexander Pauline          Boarder    f        W  14         OK    LA    MO

               Nellie              Boarder   f        W  11         OK    LA    MO

Moore     Eunice            Boarder    f        W  13         OK    MO    OK

               Sheba             Boarder    f        Ind 11         OK    MO    OK

Bund       John               Boarder    m       Ind 12        OK     IL        IL

Kurtz       John               Boarder    m       W  19        OK    USA  USA

Coyle       Isabella           Boarder    f         W  16        PA     PA     PA

               Cecelia           Boarder     f         W  13        PA     PA     PA

Burson     Maurice          Boarder    m        W  14        OK    NE    Greece

Thompson Eva               Boarder    f          W  15        Nor   Nor Norway

Cofer         Esther          Boarder     f          W  13        OK    IA      MO

Long         Thelma         Boarder     f          W   15       OK    OH     KS

                 Byron           Boarder     m        W   11       OK    OH     KS

Beeson       Leonard        Boarder     m        W   10       OK    OK    OK

Blake         Clay              Boarder     m        W   13       OK     OK   OK

                 Wanda           Boarder     f         W   11        OK    OK   OK

Stennis       Katheryn       Boarder      f         W   15        Minn.Greece IA

                 Helen             Boarder      f         W   13       Canada   Greece   Iowa

                 Thelma          Boarder      f          W   22       Iowa       Greece   Iowa 




Census 1930   Oklahoma,  Grady,  Chickasha,  Ward 2,  Enumeration District 9

Sheet 8B    April 10, 1930

St. Joseph Catholic School  (on lines 84 to 96)

210 South 7th Street. 

Van Nus,   Frank        Head-Rectory     55     m       s          Holl   Holl    Holland  1911, 1918NA  Priest, Catholic Church

Lenton       Fred   R    Head                 63      m      mar.     IL      PA     IL                                  Dealer, Grain

                 Frances A. wife                  41      f        mar.     KS     NY    IA

Osmunda   Sister Sr.    head ($75000)   55      f        s          Ire      Ire     Ireland   1886  1923NA   Principal School - Cath.

Eradma      Sister                                 56       f       s          Ire      Ire     Ire         1896                 matron Catholic School

Grati          Sister                                 58       f       s          Ire      Ire     Ire         1882                 matron  Catholic School

Joanetta     Sister                                  46      f        s         OK     OK    England                           teacher      "  

Belli           Sister                                 47       f        s         Ire      Ire     Ire         1903                  laundress   "

Anthony     Sister                                 44       f        s        OK     OK     OK                                 teacher      "

Mary --?--  Sister                                 40       f        s        DE      Ire      Ire                                  teacher     "

Lordes       Sister                                  35      f         s        Ire       Ire     Ire         1911 PA            teacher    "

Harold        Sister                                 32      f         s        PA      Ire      Ire                                  teacher    "

Humiliana   Sister                                 25      f         s        OK      IA      IA                                  teacher   "

Lilia           Sister                                 32      f          s        Ire       Ire      Ire        1912 NA            cook      "

Stapleton    Dorothy    Pupil, Boarder     7       f          s        IL       IL       IL       


 Note:  Sister Anthony and Sister Humiliana were still teaching at the school when I attended there in the 1950's and 60's.

           They were Sisters of Saint Francis.