One-hundred sixty acre allotments of mixed-grass prairie land were split across northwest Oklahoma County in the west Edmond oilfields and then settled by the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889. They were farmed for more than five decades when Doyle “Bud” Peachee found a farm where he planned to reside.
The land was on the west side of N. MacArthur Boulevard, along the southern bottomland of the winding Deer Creek.
It was 1956, and Peachee’s land was also about a mile and half south of the Deer Creek Schools’ campus — then composed of one building with grades kindergarten to 12.
Pictures from the early 1900s or late 1800s taken in the area show vast grasslands with few trees, except along the creeks, including Deer Creek. These grounds had proven to be fertile for crops as long as it didn’t flood.
Mom was from the city, she was not a farm girl.
“She was from the city, and she had no desire to live on a farm,” said Melissa Peachee Briscoe, who has spent decades researching her heritage and published a book on local history.
Briscoe was the 1973 Deer Creek High School senior class reporter. She has helped the district gather historic photographs recently for projects they have underway to preserve old pictures for displays. One display is planned at the new fourth and fifth grade center being built at N. Meridian Ave. and N.W. 206th Street to be open by fall 2020.
In 1956, Helen Jeanne Peachee made it known she likes brick houses, and it was the only way her farming husband got her to move into the country.
“The carrot for her was a new brick home,” Briscoe said.
Doyle “Bud” Peachee built it and they moved in January 1957 when Briscoe was 18 months old.
“This was going to be a wheat farm and corn and there was a drought in 1956 and 1957 and the grasshoppers ate up the corn. And the wheat burned up,” said Briscoe, who still lives on a newer house on the same property in unincorporated northwest Oklahoma County.
“We had to have an income and there was an old dairy barn on this place that had been built in the 1930s,” Briscoe said.
Bud bought cattle and the city girl learned to milk cows. They also raised wheat and alfalfa.
“My mother became the milker of the cows and the raiser of the baby calves,’ Briscoe said.
Briscoe and Elizabeth Williams wrote the book, “The History of Deer Creek, 1889-1975,” which detailed the school district’s area history up to the changes that would happen in the 1970s, when a rural farm school became a new home to people leaving larger districts in the city.
There were 14 one-room school houses across what is now a 72-square mile district, such as the Lynch School at N.W. 150th and N. Rockwell, and the Rosebud School at what is now N.W. 234th St. and State Highway 74/Portland Ave. Then in 1936, a new campus was built at the corner of N.W. 206th Street and Covell Road and N. MacArthur with a building for grades K-12 and a gymnasium.
By the time Briscoe was in high school in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Deer Creek students had a strict dress code — girls could not wear pants unless a shirt went to their thighs, and the boys had to make sure hair was not covering their ears or eyes or below shirt collars. Sideburns could not be below the ears.
The district barely had enough students from the area farms to keep the doors open when things started to change in Oklahoma City. Busing and integration came in 1972, as did “white flight” with families moving to surrounding smaller school districts.
The school district was known for their basketball teams. The girls’ team won the state championship in class C in 1966 and the boys’ teams won state championships in 1970 in class B and 1974 in class A.
The district was still low on students and needed a business teacher. Martha Moore was hired in 1967 with approval from the school board partially because she was able to fulfill special requirements the board had for any new hire.
“One very important qualification Martha Moore had was she was the mother of six children who was willing to build a house and live in the district,” Briscoe said.
“We were not allowed to wear skirts when I was in school until my senior year in high school,” Briscoe said.
By 1973, the number of people who moved into the district who protested the dress codes and clothing styles changed.
It was in the 1970s that the Deer Creek landscape started to change, with housing additions and more residential development.
“People who could afford to move to Deer Creek and put up a telephone pole and a mailbox could establish residency and their kids could go to school in the district while they built their homes.
The first housing addition on small acreages was at Coffee Creek Road and Santa Fe in what is now Edmond in an addition developed by Bob Turner called Ramblewood Hills. The west side of the district remained predominantly agricultural-based.
“Everything changed from the fall of 1972 until 1976,” Briscoe said. “The great ‘white flight’ was beginning to happen out here,” Briscoe said. “Deer Creek Schools went from a rural-based agricultural school — meaning the families that were in the school were agricultural, farmers — from there to an urban school by 1976.”
Those wishing to contribute their historical photos to Deer Creek Schools can email them to: Sydneyhaas@dcsok.org.