Originally published on 3/24/2010 But Updated 4/2/2010 To Add Full PDF & HTML versions of …
In 1st National Bank & Bunky, 1st National’s 1939 64-page booklet was the subject — pages 3-45 of which contained excerpts from the booklet, The First Eight Months of Oklahoma City by “Bunky” (McMaster Printing Company 1890). As to Bunky’s 1890 work, I said,
I have not yet had the privilege of seeing an original copy of this publication. If and when I do, the contents of this PDF file will be revised as needed. For now, that which follows are taken by me as substantially if not completely matching the original work.
I’m glad to say that I can now discard the qualifications expressed in the 1st National & Bunky article. Although my eyes have still not seen a copy of the original 110 page book, they have now seen a facsimile replica of the hard-to-find original work.
Better still, I now own a copy of that facsimile. Here’s how that came to be. When waxing poetic to my wife, Mary Jo Watson, over the great “find” in the 1st National & Bunky booklet and, more particularly, when I described with enthusiasm the part of the booklet which contained excerpts from Bunky’s work, she said (not being titillated by my remarks), “Oh, I have a copy of that,” but she didn’t share my enthusiasm. She said, “It contains some very racist remarks,” which, in fact, it does in one of its sections. But, history is what it is, and I said, “Wow! You know my interest in Oklahoma City history and you’ve not told me that you have a copy of Bunky? Let’s find it!” We searched high and low through her bookcases and cabinets but to no avail. Quite possibly, we did not look in the right part of her personal multi-thousand book library (I’m not kidding … mostly her library’s volumes are about art and art history, particularly Native American) but, in any event, it was not to be found.
“I’ll call a few friends,” she said, “and see if they have a copy.” She did. Friend #1 did not have it. Friend #2 said that she’d look. After several days passed by without a reply from Friend #2, I gave it up and put Bunky out of my head. We then left for a very nice spring break trip (courtesy my son and his fiance) to the Broken Bow area in far southeast Oklahoma — and a great and refreshing trip it was.
Returning home, after lugging into the house all of the trip stuff, a natural part of business was to check our mail while we were away. That evening, Mary Jo said, “Close your eyes.” I did. Opening them, I saw that she was holding with two outstretched hands a copy of Bunky’s The First Eight Months of Oklahoma City. A piece of her mail was from Friend #2! Hoo-ahh!
Friend #2 is Mary Ellen Meridith and to her I am greatly indebted, as are you also, if you want to have or to read a digital copy of Bunky’s original literature. It is presented below.
About The Author. “Bunky” (without further description in the booklet) was the author of the 1890 publication. His real name was Irving Geffs. Luther B. Hill’s 1908 A History of the State of Oklahoma, Vol. I (1908), pages 218-219, says this about the author of First Eight Months of Oklahoma City:
This unique little book, printed at Oklahoma City in 1890, containing 110 pages in pamphlet form, was written by “Bunky,” and aside from this name the historian gave no hint of his own individuality. His real name was Irving Geffs. Some time before the incidents which he describes he had taken too much liquor, and on recovering his senses found that he was a regularly enlisted soldier of the United States army, a position for which he had no special liking, but it was several years before he was able to get out. He was with the infantry that camped at Oklahoma City the day before the opening, and on leaving the army remained in the city for some time. He was a left-handed scribe, a clever writer, and was in the employ of some of the first newspapers of the city, especially with Frank McMaster.
McMaster was publisher of early-day newspaper, The Oklahoma Gazette, and was publisher of Bunky’s booklet.
Other than the above, Irving Geffs aka Bunky appears to have dropped out of sight and out of mind. I’ve located nothing else which gives a description of the author or of his life or death after publication of his singular work.
Later Publications. The booklet was republished on two occasions other than the 1988 version contained in this article. It was first republished in 1939 by the Trave-Taylor Company, and then in 1989 by HISTREE in a rendition by Larry S. Watson. Both of these versions are available to be purchased on the internet and a pair of such ads appear below (the ads are not linked to purchasing locations but you can Google for them).
|Ad for the 1939 Publication
||Ad for the 1989 Publication
Women’s Posse Publication. A third republication of Bunky’s work, presented here, was produced in 1988 by the Women’s Posse component of the local Westerner’s organization.
When that was done, my wife and her two friends were members of the Women’s Posse and copies had been distributed for them to sell. Mary Jo couldn’t find hers nor could Friend #1. But Mary Ellen found hers and presented a copy as a gift. I again extend my thanks and appreciation to Mary Ellen Meredith of Oklahoma City for the copy of this booklet which wound up in my grubby OKC history hands!
The Westerner’s Women’s Posse 1988 republication appears to have been handled differently than the others. Instead of fixing typos and/or other improvements, this republication included any warts that were present in the original. It was an exact copy of the original and that’s what makes it historically special. An April 16, 1989, Oklahoman article said,
All that is known about Bunky is he one night overindulged in drink and woke to discover himself enlisted in the U.S. Army. Before he was able to disengage himself from the military, he wound up shipped to Indian Territory, stationed with the infantry in charge of peacekeeping at Oklahoma Station during and after the Run. Bunky remained in Oklahoma City after his discharge and recorded his observations for local newspapers. In 1890, he wrote a 110 page pamphlet called “The First Eight Months of Oklahoma City” published by McMaster Printing Co. Only three copies of the original book remained in 1989 when it was reprinted — typos and all — by the Oklahoma Women’s Posse of the Westerners.
In a companion April 16, 1989, article, the Oklahoman said,
Bunky waxes poetic on the romantic new territory; comments on the personalities of the growing town, reports on scandals and successes and … in the telling, furnishes an invaluable record of the first days of the city.
The 75.3 MB PDF version The HTML Version
Bunky’s account of the 1st eight months of Oklahoma City begins on Sunday, April 21, 1889, the day before the Land Run. It ends sometime in December 1889 or January 1890 with a description of the Oklahoma City Ditch and Water Power Company and the 6-mile canal which actually didn’t start construction until December 1889 or January 1890. To read Bunky’s description, one would suppose that the canal had already been completed and was already a great, marvelous, and functioning thing!
The most gigantic undertaking in Oklahoma Territory or in the entire southwest was the Oklahoma City water power canal. * * * To this canal Oklahoma City is indebted for a great many things. It has made her the metropolis and commercial center of the Territory and in the future will be her beacon light.
In fact, the canal had its debut later in 1890. Reports vary as to the opening date. Angelo Scott’s 1939 book, The Story of Oklahoma City, places the date “in the spring” of 1890, but a March 21, 1909, Daily Oklahoman ad by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company places the opening date on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1890.
Whichever date may be true, when described by Bunky, the canal had not yet opened since it failed the day following its opening when the canal waters sunk into the sand, as described in this article. Bunky’s description, written as fact, was obviously inaccurate speculation.
A reader of Bunky’s book should read it with eyes wide open and use his/her capacities for critical analysis to separate historical fact from remarks written by Bunky when he was wearing his rose colored glasses. The book is a fun read … all but one section which, as previously alluded to, stands as a testament to the racial bigotry which would remain the fact for many decades in our city’s history which were yet to be lived.
The full scanned Women’s Posse book is available to you here in two forms … PDF and HTML. There are differences.
PDF VERSION. To skip the discussion/explanation below, click here to open (or right-click to save to your computer … see below) the 75.3 MB PDF version of Bunky’s book. If you are wanting to print a copy of the book, the PDF version is definitely what you’d want to use.
Right-click Options. Depending on your web browser software, a similar but different pop-up menu will appear when right-clicking on the above link. This describes what you should do if you want to save the file to your computer so that you can read Bunky anytime you want, whether connected to the web or not. Depending on your web browser software, right-clicking gives the following options:
If you’re a Firefox user, select “Save Link As …” as shown at the above left. If you’re an IE Explorer user, select “Save Target As … .” They both do the same thing. After selecting, you will be prompted by your software to save the file to a location you select on your computer. It doesn’t matter where. The file name is “bunky.pdf” although you can save it to a different name if you want.
About the PDF File. Opening the PDF file, page 1 looks like the image below:
You will also observe “bookmarks” at the left which you can open and close as you want, and they help navigate through the book … click on the image below to see it better …
HTML VERSION. If you’re not wanting to save and/or print the large PDF file and/or have a slow browser connection and/or just want to browse more quickly though the book, you might prefer this option. To skip the discussion/explanation below, click here to open the HTML version which will open in a separate window or tab, depending on your web browser software.
About the HTML Files. Unlike the PDF version which contains a single file, the HTML version contains 113 HTML pages which are linked together. The pages are an index (home) page which contains quick links and a description of the book, together with linked pages for each page in the book. Navigation links are present on each page.
The Home/Index page is shown below (click on the image for a full-screen view):
The Home/Index page also includes “Quick Links” to rapidly move to particular pages in the book. Hover your mouse over a page number for a brief description of a page’s content, as shown below.
Page Backgrounds. Each page of the book is presented on 1 of 9 background images, like the page shown below (click on it for a larger view).
Although not part of Bunky’s book, I thought it appropriate to add background photographs taken by That Man Stone during the period of time covered in Bunky’s work. Each background image is actually a pair of Stone’s images combined to form a single file and on each HTML page you can open the background image to have a closer look if you want.
Those background images are also shown below … click on any image below for a 1024 px wide view.
So there you have it. The 1st 8 months of Oklahoma City, April 22, 1889, through December 1889 — January 1890, according to Irving Geffs.