William and Martha Kirmse – Sod House

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Our First Home - 1904
Our First Home – 1904

Kirmse Family and First Homes[1]
Kirmse Family and First Homes[1]


Left to right:  William Kirmse, Julius Henry Kirmse, Martha (Cordes) Kirmse, and Margaretha (Meier) Cordes.


The first home (1904) of William and Martha (Cordes) Kirmse as shown in 1910.  This 12ft x 18ft sod house was on the relinquished homestead near Goodwin, Oklahoma that William and Martha purchased after their wedding – as William Kirmse noted in his autobiography.

William and Martha were an adventuresome couple and did not take advice about moving to Oklahoma.  “Friends and relatives implored them not to move to Oklahoma to make their home because the people thought Oklahoma was wild Indian country and they feared for the couple’s safety.”[1]  I remember Grandmother Kirmse telling this story and then following up by saying “But we never saw even one Indian”.

In 1904, this section of Oklahoma, once the realm of Plains Indian peoples, was in the Cherokee Outlet and in turn was part of the Territory of Oklahoma. “The Territory of Oklahoma was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 2, 1890, until November 16, 1907, when it was joined with the Indian Territory under a new constitution and admitted to the Union as the State of Oklahoma.”[2][3][4]

A map of the Oklahoma Territory and the reduced Indian Territory circa 1890's.[3]
A map of the Oklahoma Territory and the reduced Indian Territory circa 1890’s.[3]


Circa 1904.


Goodwin, Ellis County, Oklahoma – The William and Martha Kirmse homestead was about 1 mile east of Goodwin, Oklahoma and about 7 miles southwest of Shattuck, Oklahoma.


  1. KIRMSE, WILHELM (WILLIAM) family biography, from “Pioneer Footprints Across Woods County 1893-1975” by the Cherokee Strip Volunteer League,  1976. p.138.
  2. “Oklahoma Territory” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oklahoma_Territory.
  3. Oklahoma Territory and the reduced Indian Territory Map. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/45/Okterritory.pngOkterritory“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
  4. Everett, Dianna. “Shattuck,” Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, Oklahoma Historical Society, June 24, 2015. http://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=SH010