“Federal Report on Vice Conditions in Tulsa” (1921)

If I haven’t mentioned it earlier, my interest in history is ultimately, people – the normal, real people who may or may not be remembered after they are gone.  People like most of my ancestors, and quite likely me.  Most people are interested in the upper names, the people “of name”, but I am more interested in the “all other men” in the quote.  This leads me down some pretty strange paths at times.One of the areas I research is the Tulsa Race Riot, and related things.  Recently I ran across the “Federal Report on Vice Conditions in Tulsa”, and thought I’d share that here, with pictures of some of the locations mentioned.  My comments are in green.

Federal Report on Vice Conditions
in Tulsa.
_______________________

1.  State of Oklahoma.

2.  City of Tulsa

3.  Date: April 21, 22, 23, 25, 26 1921  that would be Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday.

4.  Agent:  T. F.G.

5.  Summary of conditions:  Vice conditions in this city are extremely bad.  Gambling, bootlegging, and prostitution are very much in evidence.  At the leading hotels and rooming houses the bell hops and porters are pimping for women and also selling booze.  Regarding violations of the law, these prostitutes and pimps solicit without any fear of the police, and they will invariably remind you that you are safe in these houses.

6.  Open houses of prostitution: Fourteen.

102 North Boulder Street.   Entrance in rear.  Madame a well built woman, and two girls rooming here.  Was directed by the madame to the front room facing North Boulder Street, for improper relations with  girl about thirty years old.  Her price $3.00.

102 N. Boulder

102 N. Boulder and Forbes Hotel

 

The  1921 City Directory  lists this as “Arnie T. Kennemore (Susie V.) Cook.

Over 322 East First Street.   The Madame not being in, three girls “hustling” here. Was solicited by a light haired girl to go to bed.  This girl’s price $3.00; She is about twenty-two years old.

The  1921 City Directory  lists this as  “Bessie Phillips, Furnished rooms”.

318 1/2 East First Street.  Madame Nell Russell.  Two inmates.  Was solicited by one of these girls to go to bed.  Price $3.00

The  1921 City Directory  lists this as  “Warner Dennis, Restaurant”.  Nell Russell is listed as working at 326 1/2 E 1st, and rooming at the same.

320 1/2 East First Street.  The Madame told me her girl was out, and instructed to return later and hire a room, and she would have this girl come to the room; also being told that the girl’s price was $3.00.

The  1921 City Directory  lists this as  “Oil City Flour and Feed Co”.

 

320 1st St

320 1st St


An amusing note:  324 (or 326) East First is the site of the infamous “May Rooms”, which was Tulsa’s longest running brothel, in existance from the 30s until Madame Pauline Lambert  (nee Clara Palmer) died in 1979.

20 1/2 East First.  One Madame and one girl.  This girl is about seventeen years old, who told me she makes good money here, and also “hustles” on the streetsl her price to go to bet $4.00.

The  1921 City Directory  lists this as  “Finklestein and Gordon Clothing”.  David Finklestein and Philip Gordon.

 

20 1/2 East 1st St.

20 1/2 East 1st St.

405 1/2 East First Street.  Rooming House.  I was solicited by a young girl, very slender.  Going upstairs, I was taken to her room.  The Madame, Maud Fleming, asked no questions.  The girl’s price was $3.00.  This same house was raided by the police about two hours  afterwards, for gambling.  Two gamblers were shot, one dying a few hours after.

The  1921 City Directory  lists this as  “Loose-Wiles Biscuit Co”.   I have to say that “loose wiles” is a dandy name for a brothel.  Next  door, in the old Tulsa Paper Company, is now McNellies Pub.

409 1st St

409 1st St

Empress Rooms, East First street near Main.   The madame told me  to wait a minute, later directing me to a room in a rear of house.  In the room were three girls, one of them remarked to take my pick.  Price $3.00.  The madame offered to let a room if I picked up a girl on the streets.

The Empress rooms aren’t listed in the 1920 City Directory.  I assume from the address that they are around this location:

Empress Rooms

Empress Rooms


Queen City Rooms, Detroit near East First Street
.  Five inmates rooming here.  The madame was out when I called, but was solicited by a woman about thirty years old to go to bed.  She informed that the madame and four girls were out riding horses.  This house is over a livery stable.

This would be the Queen city livery stable at 110 S. Detroit, run by Thomas Miller.  It’s pretty much where the garage is here:

Queen City Rooms and Livery Stable

Queen City Rooms and Livery Stable


Forbes Hotel, East Archer street, corner North Boston
.  I called here in the afternoon.  Four girls were scrubbing floors, cleaning rooms, etc.  I inquired for a room, and was told by a young woman (not the madame) that they were all taken, but if you want a girl you have got the right place, and then telling me that her price was $3.00.

Central Hotel, 15 1/2 North Main Street.
  The madame (Mrs. Francis Watson) told me that she had four girls rooming here that they were “hustling”.  She then called a very heavy set woman who was sitting in the rear of the hallway to me.  This woman called “Bessie”; she telling me her price was $3.00.  While there I saw four men gambling with cards in the main hallway.

Central Hotel

Central Hotel

Wisteria Rooms, 1084 East Second Street.  Three Girls, the colored porter, calling a girl for me.  Her price $3.00 to go to bed.  The porter insists upon a fee of one dollar.  I saw two other girls here that are “hustling”.

There is no 1084 East Second Street in the 1921 Directory, but there is a 108 1/2 , “J. L. Smith furnished rooms.”

Next, the north side of the tracks…

 

Below are colored houses:

505 East Archer street:  Having “Rooms” sign on house.  I saw a piano just inside the entrance, ad an old colored woman as the madame, and four inmates.  Was solicited by a young colored yellow woman to go to bed.  Price $3.00.

1921 City Directory lists this as “David R. Roland (Alice) (c)”

The 1920 Census  shows:

505 E Archer   David R. Roland b Furn rooms Roland, Dave R. Farmer D.R. Roland b furnsihed rooms D.R. Roland, Rooms 2 story frame, $5,000
  Ollie Roland b Roland, Ollie Boarding House Manager
  Roland, Earline None
  Clayton, Thelma None
  Roland, John Bootblack
  Battles, Will B Janitor, Office Building
  Blackbriar, Flora B Domestic
  Cross, Annie Chambermaid, Hotel
  Cross, Emmet Porter, Hotel
  Dillard, Dolly B Maid
  Hendeson, Mabel Maid
  Jerrell, William Laborer
  Lovis, Will B Cook, Restaurant
  Nelson, Chester A B Laborer
  Phillips, Sperling Hotel Porter
  Phillips, Theresa None
  Stovall, Willie B Fireman
  Tete, Ethel Cook
  Tete, Henry Carpenter
  Vann, Gale B Domestic
  Wash, Bessie Chambermaid, Hotel
  Wheeler, Laura Chambermaid
  Williams, Coy Porter, Hotel

503 East Archer street:  “Rooms” sign on house.  Two young girls solicited me on doorstep to come inside and go to bed; their price being $2.00. 

Edward Durham, Furnished Rooms (Amanda)

503 E Archer   Edward Durham b laborer Durban, Eddie Office Building Janitor Edward Durband b furnished rooms
  Amanda Durham b Durban, Amanda None
  Bailey, Alex B Restaurant Waitress
  Johnson, Henry B Restaurant Pantry Boy
  McClarkin, Melvin B City Schools Teacher
  Patterson, Homer B Rooming House Porter
  Walker, Albert Restaurant Busboy
Archer and Frankfurt

Archer and Frankfurt

420 East Archer street, Midway Hotel.  I was picked up by a colored girl standing outside on the sidewalk and requested to go to her room No. 22, her price being $2.00.

Midway Hotel

Midway Hotel

7.  Street conditions, etc.  The streets surrounding the Frisco depot being worked and found bad.  Just an aside, this was the area that formed the main battle groundduring the race riot  only a month  after this report was written.  On East and West First street, especially on a Saturday evening, the porters at the Carlton (24 1/2 E), DeVern  (not found), and Imperial (118 1/2 E) Hotels stand in front of their entrances soliciting men to go upstairs with their “keen” women.  These hotels I had visited previously , and was solicited by each of them to go upstairs.  The prostitutes “hustle” on North and South Main, East and West First , Second, Third, and Fourth streets, later taking them men to their respective rooming houses.  I had seen eighteen solicitations upon the above mentioned streets by the women.  At the DeVern Hotel I saw a porter take three men upstairs within half an hour.  At the other hotels I mentioned, I did not see any men go upstairs with the porters.

8. Hotel conditions:  Very bad.  The above mentioned hotels I have classed as open houses.  All the hotels that have been covered I found prostitutes operating, or the proprietor would gladly let you a room for immoral purposes should there not be any women with rooms there.

At this point, the author lists 24 hotels (major and minor)  where girls could be ordered in for a fee.  As much as $10. at the Hotel Tulsa.
There are also 5 houses where rooms could be rented for immoral purposes.

14.  Number of prostitutes seen in all places during investigation; 64.

14A.  Total number of prostitutes seen in open houses; 25.

15.  Total number of prostitutes seen in hotels; 5.

16.  Total number of prostitutes seen in rooming houses; none.

17. Total number of white prostitutes seen; 57.

18.  Number of colored prostitutes seen; 7.

19.  Total number of prostitutes seen on streets; 19.

20.  Total number of prostitutes seen in dance halls, etc.; 5

I saw eight prostitutes at the Armory Dance Hall, whom I had also seen in open houses or upon the streets above mentioned.

21.  Total number of prostitutes seen in cafes, restaurants and cabarets; none.

22.  Total number of pimps seen; 19 (all colored porters or bell hops at the above mentioned hotels).

23.  Weather 21st Fair; 22nd Fair; 23rd Fair; 25th Rain; 26th Fair.

 

brothelmap

Map of the Brothels mentioned in the “Federal Report on Vice Conditions in Tulsa” (1921)

(Minor editing 11/25/2015)

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Green Corn Rebellion


Green Corn Rebellion
Originally uploaded by imarcc

Oklahoma has always had an interesting history regarding socialism. In 1914, for example, the Socialist candidate for governor won 21 percent of the vote, and Socialists held 6 seats on the Legislature and a majority of the county level elected offices. There were 12,000 dues paying members of the party in Oklahoma in that year. It is likely this was a result of a massive recruitment among the tenant farmers (a system that had its own unique Oklahoma twists as well). Among the Socialists were the Wobblies (the Industrial Workers of the World, the IWW) and the WCU (the Working Class Union). Among the differences between the IWW and the WCU were that generally, the IWW considered farmers to be part of the problem, capitalists, not true wage workers, while the WCU recognized that, in Oklahoma at least, many farmers were little more than starving exploited laborers on land they didn’t, and couldn’t, own. The WCU, unlike the IWW and the Socialist party, were a secret society (sometimes referred to as the Jones Family or the Jones Boys) willing to use violence to further its goals. Among the IWW and WCU goals were the abolition of profits, interest, rents, public ownership of everything, the eight-hour day and a workers’ compensation program, old age pensions, child labor laws, and free school textbooks, no police, no conscription, the equality of women and of all races.

In 1916, Woodrow Wilson was elected president on a platform that included “He kept us out of war”, so in April of 1917, when he declared war on Germany, many people felt betrayed by this. In August of 1917, an interracial group of Oklahoma tenant farmers determined to resist conscription, and at the end of the Green Corn festival (about 2 August) rose up. Hundreds of men, whites, African-Americans and Native Americans (some WCU, some IWW, some Socialist, some just poor and angry) gathered on a bluff near the Sasakwa farm of John Spears. Their plan was a simplistic one – to first seal off their local counties (Potawatomi, Seminole, Pontotoc and Hughes), recruit a larger army, and then march onto Washington DC, picking up the recruits along the way, overthrow the government, end the war, and reform the economy to return to the workers the fruits of their labors. They believed that the more organized brotherhoods would join with them, and they’d have the power to pull it off. I know this sounds ludicrous, but if you consider what the Bolsheviks were able to do later that year in Russia, it was not an absolute departure from reality.
They began by cutting phone and telegraph lines, and destroying railroad bridges. They were put down by huge posses from the local towns, who hunted them down. Finally, at Spears Bluff, a final battle occurred in which 3 of the rebels were killed. The rebels surrendered fairly easily rather than shoot at their neighbors and there were over 450 arrests. There were several bloody engagements with holdouts, but within a week, the rebellion was over. There were 184 indictments and of those 150 were convicted and were shipped off to the prison at Leavenworth.

Green Corn Rebellion

During the Great War, a massive repression of anti-war sentiment occurred throughout the nation, and Oklahoma had its own twist to that as well, likely in some part tinged by the Rebellion. As an example, on 17 August 1917, a little over a week after the Rebellion, Captain Leo Rooney of the Tulsa Home Guard led the “Slacker Raid” in which over 2000 suspected conscientious objectors were rounded up and interned (incidentally, Rooney also organized the internment of the African American citizens of Tulsa during the Tulsa Race Riot). The IWW were eventually driven from Oklahoma by lynch mob and legal arrest.