The History Of A House

by - March 04, 2013

In 1928 the Head of E.W. Marland’s gas pipeline network built a house on a lot given to him for naming his firstborn son after the man responsible for handing out city lots. His lot was in the 800 block of North Fourteenth Street, in Ponca City, Oklahoma, directly across the street from the fence boundary of Marland’s estate. Dan Kygar, who was a hunting companion of E.W. Marland had made a run into the Ponca City area during the Cherokee Strip of September 16, 1893. He was a Barber, the President of the Kay County Gas Company, and a few years after building this home became Mayor of Ponca City.[1] During his time as Mayor the famous 101 Ranch was up for sale, and Al Capone who was in prison at the time, made a run at purchasing 2,000 acres of the Ranch. When asked about Capone’s offer, Dan Kygar responded with this:

          “I have no information in regard to the purchase of the famous 101 Ranch by
          the Capone brothers. But we have outlived the Dalton’s, Al Jennings, Ben Cravens,
          Henry and Belle Starr, Al Spencer and four gubernatorial impeachments. If the Capone’s
          can give us new thrills, send them along, but advise them to bring their bodyguards. All
          Oklahomans excel in steer juggling, bronc busting, and bulldogging. They take theirs
          straight. Advise them to spike their weak beer with some of our hill corn and make their
          advance. The old ranch has already been tamed by the encroachments of civilization. A
          little Chicago culture will do no harm. Inform the Capone brothers they should see me
          first. I’ll extend them an Oklahoma welcome where children cut their teeth on 45s and
          30-30s and the keys to the city and assure them protection until they have become
          acclimated. After that, they look out for themselves."

The deal fell through, and the Capone’s didn’t come to Ponca. On the night Dan Kygar was quoted as saying these words, he went home to bed at 816 North Fourteenth Street. He rode up into that driveway, walked through that front door and maybe told his wife about the Capone’s wanting to buy the Ranch. Same front door. Same floors. Same walls. Same stairs. Same fireplace. That home was a setting for his scenes. Although no Kygars remain living in the home (we’ve looked in all the closets) their story is part of the story of the home. They are integral to its history, but not the other way around.

As a little kid in the late 70’s and early 80’s the main thing I noticed driving by that house was the Cain’s Coffee truck that usually sat in the driveway. Our house, our church, my school where all down other streets, so if we were driving by 816 North Fourteenth Street, it usually meant 1 of 2 things:  we were either coming or going from Barnsdall, or Lessert field. Either we had a car full of suitcases, or Chris or I were in baseball uniforms with a ball glove on our hand. The house looked big and a little dreary with moons cut in the shutters. I bet the house smelled like coffee (at least once a day it still does). While the Cain’s Coffee Man owned it, they were robbed blind one day...

Mrs. Vance, who was elderly by then, but as a young woman had worked for Marland Oil and was the first female executive for an oil company in the United States, lived in the home she and her husband had built next door to the south of 816.  She walked over as a large moving truck pulled into the driveway and began unloading the house in broad day light. She told the movers she didn’t know her neighbor’s were leaving. The official looking movers reassured her they were. They weren’t. (There is an alarm system now.) Thankfully they didn’t follow Mrs. Vance across the yard where treasures from her life travelling the world in the 20’s and 30’s as an Executive with Marland Oil sat behind her front door. Audrey Vance. She was amazing. She and her husband Joe, who had been coach for the American Legion Baseball teams after leaving pro-baseball, never had children, but she felt like she helped raise "100’s of Ponca's sons" as her home was always full of them. She had memories and stories from around Kay and Osage counties and around the world. She went from being a teenage school teacher in a one room school house in Osage County to witnessing a school of white whales swimming alongside the ship she and a group of Marland's people were travelling on off the coast of Alaska. That was one of the most amazing things she ever saw. As I sat across from her at the little table where her solitaire cards were usually laid out, listening to her tell me stories from those days I didn't fully appreciate how precious those scenes were.

We don’t know about all the scenes that have taken place in our house. Many more people that I don’t know have lived and walked through those doors.


I do know one day we moved in. I still remember that day. It was the 4th of July between my 4th and 5th grade year. I was “packing” in my room undisturbed by what all was going on in the rest of our house on Oriole Street. I had closed the door where my poster of Bo and Luke sitting on top of the General Lee was taped up, and was supposed to be loading the 2 or 3 boxes sitting on my bed with my stuff. Seriously, my room was basically untouched, and in no way would make one believe I wouldn’t be going to bed there that night. I think I still didn’t really get it. I fiddled with all of my little girl trinkets I was pulling out of the drawers….until all of a sudden Daddy swooped in and told me to go find mom. As I walked out of the room, he started to pack…not taking time to find delight in my Smurfy figurines and sticker collection. As I walked into the living room, every thing was gone. Next thing I know, I lived somewhere else. The Cain’s Coffee Man’s house. 816 North Fourteenth Street. Our family had a new setting for our scenes. We became part of the history of this house, integral to its story…but not the other way around. Regardless of the setting, God made us a family. Our scenes are part of His plans for us. Scenes for His glory and our good, in any setting. (PS "integral" is a word that I can type, but that I cannot say. Even as I sit here and practice it aloud. It nevers sounds right, but it types right.) 

I don’t mean not integral in the way of not appreciated…but more so in the way of not essential to our story because our story is about family, and while we are family on this earth our story is to be about: doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God. The setting can be anywhere...even Texas. Trusting Him with the path before us, as we grow in relationship with Jesus Christ and reflect His gospel in our lives…seems like a tall order, but its mostly about just saying yes and living faithful…which we learn more about everyday. 816 North Fourteenth has been a great setting for family get-togethers, prom pictures, sleepovers, movie watching, coffee drinking, healing, laughing, crying, visiting, reading, cooking, yard work, working on cars…not unlike any of our homes on any other street. We have loved almost every bit of it! I say almost because by the time we moved in my parents had to do some pretty major work, and apparently that isn’t always fun. We didn’t have central air conditioning until well after I graduated Highschool, and our heater was a boiler in the basement with radiators throughout the house that had pipes that banged so loud we would joke about maybe calling the Ghostbusters. (If we didn't joke, we might have run out screaming.)  All of that uncertainty about the house is gone now. If there were ghosts, they left when the boiler did. Now, it runs like a machine. It has been a fascinating and beautiful setting for our scenes. Mom and Dad have been good stewards of 816 North Fourteenth Street, taking care of what did not come to them without coming through the Father’s hands. They will definitely be leaving it better than they found it, and ready to be a setting for another family, because it is time for our scenes to be set someplace new.

The setting isn’t integral. (still can't say it) The scenes are the point. And as God does in my life, as He is doing in lives we witness, as He is able to do in your life, God is graciously leading Mom and Dad in a new direction and a new setting (we do not know the address yet). Each step toward Him, is the right direction for them. Their new scenes will still be filled with family, our Magnolias family and Grace, but will be set somewhere around Edmond, Oklahoma where Chris, Leigh and two third’s of their grandkids live and where they will have some new neighbors to get to know. They are following the scenes and not demanding to hold onto their current setting and force scenes to take place there to grow tired and weary of it. They are leaving it with a willingness of heart, evidence of God’s grace in these plans for their next home. They are saying “yes, Lord” like they have so many times before because they know that…”Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6 This is where, in times of change, peace stems: from knowing the Shepherd, and where He ultimately leads.

So, the stake that Kygar put down on Fourteenth Street will be passed to the next family to hold steady. To keep the Capone’s out of town, the coffee brewing, the pipes from banging and its story from being untold. Someone new will walk through the front door each day, and imprint their scenes into the story of this house. It is time for the history of the house to take a new path, and it is a precious time of trust and faithfulness for Mom and Dad.

“Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6: 26-33

Peace always begins with seeking God, so usually does the battle, and so usually the adventure.

House for Sale: Historic home in Ponca City, Oklahoma. 816 North Fourteenth Street.

[1] Walton, John Brooks, and Kathy Adams. More Historic Homes Of Ponca City and Kay County. Tulsa, JBW Publications. 2005.

[2] Brumley, Kim. Marland Tragedy: The Turbulent Story of a Forgotten Oklahoma Icon. Tate Publishing. 2010.

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