, Muskogee, OK

December 1, 2013

Town long forgotten — except on official map

Associated Press

— LAWTON (AP) — One of the strange phenomena in this modern age we live in is that the name of an old post office site established first as Era in 1901 and then renamed Creta before being discontinued in 1904 is still listed on the official map of Oklahoma.

Creta, in southwestern Jackson County, is on Oklahoma 6 between the towns of Olustee and Eldorado, and there is nothing there today but an old brick cistern that was constructed behind the Holder Brothers Store in 1914.

Mark Holder, who lives on the very land once known as Creta, explains the meaning of the name: “Creta is a Latin word for chalk ... just glancing around at the surrounding gypsum hills with their natural white chalky appearance, hence, the name Creta.”

Creta also lent its name to the surrounding hills, which became known as the Creta Hills, quaint hills, escarpments, sinkholes and gyp bluffs struggling to rise out of a harsh prairie landscape. They have the appearance of a Godforsaken remnant from the rugged past built up over eons of time, The Lawton Constitution reported .

The Creta Hills are southwest of Altus in Jackson County between Olustee and Eldorado, south of the towns of Gould and Duke, south of U.S. 62 between Altus and Hollis. The Wichita Mountains are visible as ghostly apparitions on the far northern horizon.

At the place where Creta is denoted on maps, a post office was established and called Era on April 26, 1901. The name was changed to Creta on Feb. 20, 1904, and the post office was discontinued on Oct. 31, 1904. In 1914 the Holder Brothers established a general mercantile store at Creta.

“My great-great grandfather, Dr. Issac Newton Holder, was a Civil War veteran and came to Oklahoma following the route of the Trail of Tears, first settling in Tahlequah for a while and then set up medical practice in Denison, Texas,” according to Mark Holder, who explains the settlement of this country. “With the passing of his first wife he married Caledania Gray, a nurse, and the firstborn was a set of twins James ‘Jim’ Daniel and Issac Newton ‘Newt’ Holder on April 17, 1872 at Pottsboro, Grayson County, Texas.

“Uncle Newt came to this rugged country in about 1903 (then known as Old Greer County) and settled on land near the present site of Creta, and Jim followed a couple of years later and settled on nearby land. One of Jim and Newt’s brothers, Heber   Holder, was the first brother to settle on land at Creta in 1898.”

He added: “Jim fought and was a veteran of the Spanish-American War (1898). And one way Uncle Jim fed his large family was by raising bay horses and for years selling them to the U.S. Army at Fort Sill.”

Brothers Newt and Jim built the Holder Brothers Store at Creta on Boggy Creek. The small store was built out of wood boarding with a porch overhang added to the front; chickens freely roamed around the yard outside of the store. A cistern was built of brick right behind the store. The store at Creta sold a variety of goods, such as eggs, meat, farmers’ produce and general supplies. At one time there were a cotton gin at Creta and a blacksmith shop.

“The Holder Brothers eventually had their own token coins,” Holder said, “as no one had any money going into the Depression. The purpose of the coin, with Holders Brothers stamped on it, was so people could have a source of trade by giving them a token coin allowing them to bring and leave eggs at the store to sell and then come back and trade the coin back in to buy some flour. It was a way of trading goods. Money was very tight in those times and hard to come by, so the Holder Brothers Store closed its doors in 1932, another victim of the crash of ‘29.

“Although Uncle Newt never married, he made his home with Jim and his wife Samantha (Criswell) and their eight children,” Holder said with a laugh, “and road maps listed Creta, population 11. Eleven Holders made up the population of Creta.”

“Uncle Newt, when he would herd cows, always carried a whiskey bottle in his pocket wrapped with a cloth around it and filled with water,” Holder said. “Uncle Newt was herding cows up and down the railroad tracks and a train came by and took off one of his arms. His arm was severed and was thrown into an old abandoned cistern and so all these years later all the kids know where Uncle Newt’s arm is buried.”

The Holder brothers of today, Mark and his brother Rick, have managed to keep Creta on the map and proudly carry on in the time-honored tradition of the Holder Brothers of the past. Mark is CEO of Stockman’s Bank and raises Angus cattle. His brother Rick established and owns Holder Brothers Beef, an all-natural Angus beef with no antibiotics and no growth hormones. Rick Holder also has possession of the old Holder Brothers Store cash register that used token coins and is kept at the beef business in Altus as a reminder of those Holder Brothers before them.

For those of you still looking for Creta, the only trace left of the old Holder Brothers General Store and Creta are the remains of the old brick cistern, which has since caved in.