A local author will detail mysterious graves, ransacking outlaws and a religious cult in his latest nonfiction work, disclosing the little-known history of two Oklahoma towns. David A. Farris, resident of Oklahoma City, reached back as far as 127 years in the state’s history to write Edmond and Guthrie, a Little Off the Tracks, his fifth installment in a repertoire of spooky stories and fact-based folklore.
Farris spent a year digging through the decades of old newspaper articles, documents and books as well as visiting the cities’ respective historical societies and speaking with late Edmond historian Stan Hoig about two grave sites.
The book’s 10 chapters also delve into Summit View Cemetery’s Boot Hill in Guthrie, where several infamous out laws, including Bill Doolin of the Doolin Gang and Elmer McCurdy, a bank rob ber killed in 1911, are buried, according to the City of Guthrie’s website.
“Both towns have a mysterious and exciting past,” Farris said. “I collect information and go where it takes me.”
Farris’ book also incorporates Oklahoma’s recent history with the older tales of outlaw legends Al Jennings and Sam and Temple Houston, a UFO sighting in Edmond and plenty of ghost stories.
For example, the Samaritan Foundation, a new age spiritual group, resided in Guthrie from 1990 to 1995. The foundation’s leader owned two houses in Guthrie and purchased the town’s jail, where members lived for a period of time.
Although two deaths are involved with the Samaritan Foundation, Farris prefers not to account murders, suicides and other touchy topics in order to appeal to a wide audience.
“I don’t really want to be the person that brings some of these speculative stories to the people,” he said. “[Those stories] are already established and already around. I just want to be like, ‘Look what I found.’”
Farris said his nonfiction book draws an audience interested in the unusual history of Oklahoma, particularly Edmond and Guthrie if the readers reside in either town.
“I’m glad to be able to bring such history to the people who can appreciate it most,” Farris said.
In his books, Farris employs an interesting narrative, but one that lacks embellishment, building strictly from the facts.
“If you had a classroom full of kids and you wanted to talk about the territorial governors or Edmond’s first school house, it might be difficult to get their attention,” Farris said. “You’d want to talk about train robberies and Oklahoma’s first ghost story.”