City fathers produced many fine history books about the earliest days of Oklahoma City, and by and large, they portray a community led by brave, pioneering souls.
The books tell the required history of groups feuding to control early development and leadership of a town that arose overnight in 1889, recounting the early ambitions, struggles and accomplishments of those who shaped the city over its first quarter-century.
For some reason, the city's finest historians never sought to share stories about the prostitutes brought into town to entertain the visiting cattlemen's convention. Books never detailed the houses of ill repute that flourished where the Cox Convention Center is now located. Oklahoma City was a God-fearing Prohibition town where liquor flowed and gamblers openly consorted with women of the night with little fear of the law.
Nope. Those stories couldn't be told openly. But they were shared among the old-timers in smoke-filled rooms. Such tales might have been lost forever, if not for Albert McRill, who published them as a series of “Inside Oklahoma City” columns in a community newspaper more than 60 years ago.
The stories are uncensored accounts that name names, places and guilty parties. They paint a rich picture of a town torn between the ideal of a modern, orderly American city and the decadence of an old West Deadwood.
With ample anecdotes of political intrigue, booze, gambling and whoring mixed with civic and religious zealotry, McRill's stories would make a great HBO series.
McRill's columns unveiled a history that definitely did not have the chamber of commerce seal of approval. In 1955, the columns were stitched together with illustrations and photos for the book “And Satan Came Also …”
McRill, a former city manager, died shortly after the book's release. By the time I first learned about the book a decade ago, the few available copies at used bookstores and online were selling for hundreds of dollars.