TOWNS

 

ATWOOD

Located in Hughes County, Atwood is situated thirteen miles southeast of Holdenville, the county seat, at the intersection of State Highways 1 and 48. On January 23, 1897, a post office was established at Newburg (Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory), a settlement located approximately one mile north of the future Atwood. Henry S. Halloway served as Newburg's first postmaster. The Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway (the Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway after 1919) built a line from Muskogee to the Red River, bypassing Newburg. Thus, some of Newburg's residents moved one mile south to take advantage of the rail system. In December 1909 they named their new settlement Atwood for Chester Coleman Atwood, one of the townsite owners.

The community served as a trade center for the surrounding agricultural area, where cotton and fruits were grown. During the first decade of the twentieth century citizens supported a weekly newspaper, the Atwood Herald. In 1910 a grist mill, powered by a gasoline engine, was erected. In 1913 Atwood had a population of approximately 150 who patronized a bank, a drug store, a livery, and five general stores. Travelers received accommodations at a hotel and dined at a restaurant. In the 1930s the town continued to support a cotton gin and a mill. In 1993 Atwood was one of forty-eight Oklahoma communities to receive a federally funded grant for improvement projects. The town received $75,000 to modernize their fire protection. Atwood was incorporated on August 9, 1994, and the population stood at 113 in 2000.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Atwood (Oklahoma) Herald, September 1909-July 1910. "Atwood," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. R. L. Polk & Co.'s Oklahoma State Gazetteer and Business Directory (Memphis: R. L. Polk and Co., 1909, 1913).

Fran Cook and Spencer P. Petete

© Oklahoma Historical Society

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/A/AT006.html

CALVIN

The town of Calvin is located eighteen miles southeast of Holdenville and west of the junction of U.S. Highway 75/270 with State Highway 1/48 in Hughes County. Calvin was first known as Riverview for its location on the south bank of the Canadian River. The Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad (later part of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway) built its McAlester-Oklahoma City line through the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, in 1895 near Riverview. A post office was established on March 21, 1895, with John Walburn as postmaster. The town's name was changed to Calvin in June 1895 by town founder, trader, and banker J. W. Hundley, as at the time of its founding the town was sited on land Choctaw allottee Calvin Perry.

The Choctaw Nation Town site Commission surveyed the site into 350 lots for sale. A fire circa 1904 destroyed the Masonic lodge and several business buildings along Canadian Street, the main thoroughfare. Brick buildings replaced the earlier structures, and the town's 1905 population hovered at 300. From 1900 to 1930 Calvin was a busy, thriving railroad and trade center. Farm products included cotton, corn, and hogs. The Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad (later part of the Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf system) constructed a line through the area, reaching Calvin in 1909. By that time the growing town offered the surrounding agricultural community a choice of four cotton gins, eight general stores, two hotels, and numerous other businesses typical of the era. In 1906 J. W. Hundley established a store and in 1907 erected a building, the largest mercantile establishment in Hughes County. A ferry operating across the Canadian River gave access to Calvin's cotton market and railroad connections.

Over the decades the citizens learned local, state, and national news from the Calvin/Hughes County Enterprise, the Calvin News, and the Calvin Chronicle. Cattle and hogs remained the bedrock of the local economy, and peanuts and a peanut-processing plant also served as a major source of income and employment. The now-defunct Calvin Pickle Company served as a curing station for cucumber pickle processors in Alabama and Texas.

Community pride remained evident, with Calvin winning third place in the 1960 Oklahoma Community Achievement contest for towns of under 1,000 population. In 1956 residents voted $55,000 in bonds for a well, storage tower, and water lines, providing the town's first municipal water system, and in 2000 Calvin received grants to construct new water facilities. Calvin's population in 1910 stood at 570, peaked at 700 in 1920, and declined steadily over several decades, reaching 315 in 1980 and 251 in 1990 but rebounding to 279 in the 2000 census.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Calvin (Oklahoma) Enterprise, December 1904-December 1907. "Calvin," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, Calvin, Oklahoma, 1898-1926.

Fran Cook and Spencer P. Petete

© Oklahoma Historical Society

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/C/CA016.html

DUSTIN

Located in northeastern Hughes County, Oklahoma, fourteen miles east of Wetumka on State Highway 9, Dustin was first called Watsonville, where a post office,was established on April 18, 1898, in the Creek Nation. Marion J. Butler was the first postmaster. The site is approximately four miles south of the North Canadian River. The postal designation was changed to Spokogee on June 27, 1902, with Butler still postmaster, but the location was moved to two miles north of the present townsite. After the Ft. Smith and Western Railroad built its Fort Smith-Guthrie line through the area in 1903, the town and post office were both officially changed to Dustin on May 9, 1904, probably to honor Henry C. Dustin of Cleveland, Ohio, an official of the railway. George W. Beard became postmaster at this time. A local legend also holds that "dustin" was an Indian word for "prairie town." The Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway (MOG, after 1919 the Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway Company) built a north-south line through Dustin in 1905.

Dustin emerged as a trade center for a surrounding agricultural area. Among the community's first businesses were two banks, two drug stores, three doctors, and two hardware stores. A school was built but burned down just before it went into operation. It was replaced, and the first teachers were Clarence Robinson and a Mr. Luttrell. In the early 1900s residents operated four barber shops, three drug stores, two hotels, three banks, a livery stable, two cotton gins, an ice plant/bottling plant, and a wagon factory. The MOG maintained a railroad round house. Several newspapers, including the Dustin Dispatch, the Dustin News, and the Dustonian, informed the citizens in the early decades of the twentieth century. The city installed a municipal water system in 1912. Lake Dustin, a spring-fed municipal reservoir with a capacity of 3.2 million gallons, was built in the 1930s. A new municipal water supply project was begun in 2003.

Dustin's population in 1910 stood at 579 and in 1920 peaked at 713. A steady decline brought a low of 457 by 1960. The figure stabilized, with 501 residents recorded in 1970, 429 in 1990, and 452 in 2000. The Dustin Agricultural Building, a Works Progress Administration-built facility, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NR 88001385).  

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 30 April 1961. Dustin (Oklahoma) Dispatch, December 1904-December 1912. "Dustin," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, Dustin, Oklahoma, May 1920.

Fran Cook and Spencer P. Petete

© Oklahoma Historical Society

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/D/DU013.html

GERTY

The southern Hughes County town known as Gerty is located approximately eight miles south of Calvin at the crossing of County Roads E1500 and N3780, one mile west of U.S. Highway 75. The town lies eight miles southeast of Allen and approximately seventeen miles southeast of Holdenville, the county seat. The community's original name was Buzzard Flop, situated in the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory. Although buzzards may not have roosted there, the place was a rest stop for travelers and freighters on the trail from Fort Smith, Arkansas, through McAlester and the Choctaw Nation to Stonewall. The site provided clear spring water and level camping spots. Before 1880 the surrounding country (owned by the Choctaw Nation) made an ideal cattle country, many of the American Indians possessing large ranches. In 1893 James S. Raydon built a log cabin, put in a grocery store, and established a post office. The latter was approved by the federal government on June 15, 1894, and called Guertie, for Raydon's daughter. Raydon was the first postmaster.

When whites began to arrive, they leased and cultivated the land, raising cotton, corn, wheat, oats, and fruit. In 1891 the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway built its line ten miles north of Guertie. After the Dawes Commission had accomplished its work in allotting land to eligible Choctaws, George Sorrell sold his quarter section, containing Guertie, to the federal government. The townsite was then surveyed and the lots sold, stimulating settlement. In December 1907 the town name was changed to Raydon. In that year of statehood the town had population of 600, four general mercantile stores, three hotels, three drug stores, two blacksmith shops, three active lodges, three churches, a hospital, a bank, a café, a sawmill, and a newspaper called the Guertie News. Because citizens began to get mail intended for Ragan, in June 1910 the Post Office Department changed the name back to Guertie and then changed the spelling to Gerty, to avoid confusion with Guthrie in Logan County.

Subscription schools first solved the problem of education. In 1903 a two-story, frame building was constructed on the present school site. Money, labor, and lumber were donated, the latter freighted in from the Kiamichi Mountains. In 1923 the districts of Gatewood and Lawrence consolidated with Gerty. Social Hill also merged with Gerty in 1947. The first class to complete an accredited high school course graduated in 1929. By 1936 170 students attended the grade school, and 55 attended the high school, but by 2000 the Gerty School District served only 28 students. The population of Gerty stood at 305 in 1910, 251 in 1920, 137 in 1930, 206 in 1940, 155 in 1950, 135 in 1960, 139 in 1970, 149 in 1980, 95 in 1990, and 101 in 2000. The town serves a surrounding agricultural community, and some residents find work in Holdenville or Coalgate.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Gerty," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2003.

Fran Cook and Spencer P. Petete

© Oklahoma Historical Society

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/G/GE012.html

HOLDENVILLE

As the county seat of Hughes County, Holdenville is situated at the intersection of State Highway 48 and U.S. Highway 270, approximately seventy-five miles southeast of Oklahoma City. Originally located in the Creek Nation, Indian Territory, a settlement known as Echo (a Creek word meaning "deer") existed before the arrival of the railroad. Echo became known as Fentress with the establishment of a post office on May 24, 1895. George B. Roderick operated a small store there. In 1895 the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad (CO&G, later the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway) built a line from McAlester to Oklahoma City. As a result, Holdenville was surveyed on September 19, 1895, on land that belonged to Frank Jacobs, his son John Jacobs, and Charlie Grayson. On November 15, 1895, the Fentress post office was renamed Holdenville, in honor of J. F. Holden, an employee of the CO&G. On November 14, 1898, Holdenville was incorporated as a town by an order of the U.S. District Court at Muskogee. At the first municipal election held on December 27, 1898, D. J. Red was elected mayor. The first city council meeting was held on January 4, 1899.

When the St. Louis, Oklahoma and Southern Railway (later the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway) constructed a line between 1900 and 1901 from Sapulpa to the Red River, it passed through Holdenville. At that time it had a population of 749. By 1907 citizens supported three newspapers, the Holdenville Times, the Holdenville Tribune, and the Union Signal. Two years later the settlement had developed as an agricultural trade center and boasted five banks, three cotton gins, four lumber yards, and a cotton-seed oil mill. Joseph Sondheimer, a Muskogee entrepreneur, had a sales outlet for his hides and furs there. His sons took over the business after his death in 1913. In the 1930s five cotton gins and two grain elevators operated. As the Greater Seminole and Hughes County oil fields developed in the 1920s and 1930s, numerous petroleum companies located in Holdenville.

Education assumed a prominent place in community life. In 1896 a Mrs. E. C. Roberts established a subscription school in a one-room frame building. The city government issued a ten-thousand-dollar bond to erect a school building in 1904. In that year eight teachers taught 514 students for an eight-month term. In the 1930s the local public school system included three elementary schools and junior and senior high schools. African American children attended segregated schools. In 1933 junior college-level courses were offered at the high school. A private business college was in operation in the 1930s. In addition to education, religion held a prominent place in residents' lives. Early settlers organized Methodist, Baptist, First Christian, and Episcopal churches. In the 1930s and 1940s fifteen churches represented thirteen denominations.

On June 27, 1908, Holdenville, Wetumka, Calvin, and Lamar competed for the privilege of becoming the permanent county seat. Because none received a majority, a runoff election between Holdenville and Wetumka was held on September 10, 1908, with Holdenville the victor. County officials had offices in the federal courthouse until March 1921, when they moved into a new courthouse. In 1920 the Manhattan Construction Company built the facility, designed by Layton, Wemyss Smith, and Forsyth. Forty-four years later, in January 1965, a modern courthouse was completed at a cost of $450,000.

A public library, sponsored by the Business and Professional Women's Club, opened on September 27, 1929. In the 1980s former resident T. Boone Pickens donated funds for the building's expansion, and the facility was renamed Grace M. Pickens Public Library in honor of his mother. At the time of the library's opening, other city amenities included two parks, one sponsored by the Holdenville Rotary Club and the other known as Stroup Park, in honor of Bertha Stroup, who had donated the land. The parks offered playground equipment and wading pools for children as well as tennis courts and a swimming pool.

Holdenville's economy has been primarily based on agriculture. The main crops have included cotton, peanuts, pecans, corn, hay, and oats. Farmers have also grown sweet and Irish potatoes and orchard fruits. In addition to agriculture, the economy has been augmented by various businesses. Through the years the Covey Corporation manufactured plastic products and employed approximately one hundred fifty workers. Other enterprises included Seamprufe Corporation, a manufacturer of lingerie, and F. B. Fly Company, a producer of fishing tackle. Aquafarms, a catfish processing plant, and the Holdenville State Fish Hatchery also provided employment. In the 1990s Tyson Foods' hog breeding operation and the Earl A. Davis Community Work Center created jobs.

At 1907 statehood Holdenville had a population of 1,868. The census continued to climb to 2,296 in 1910 and 2,932 in 1920, peaking at 7,268 in 1930 due to the oil boom. Population declined to 6,632 in 1940 and continued a downward spiral to 5,181 in 1970. The 1980 and 1990 censuses reported 5,469 and 4,792, respectively. At the turn of the twenty-first century Holdenville's amenities included city parks, tennis courts, golf courses, a hospital, and a municipal airport. Since May 1934 nearby Lake Holdenville has offered outdoor recreational activities. Children received an education at three elementary schools, one junior high school, and two high schools. With an aldermanic form of town government, Holdenville had a population of 4,732 in 2000. Among the properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places were the Holdenville National Guard Armory (NR 88001386), the Holdenville City Hall (NR 81000463), the Moss School Gymnasium (NR 88001388), the John E. Turner House (NR 83002090), and the Stroup Park Swimming Pool and Bath House (NR 88001387).

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Fran Cook, "ACHO" Flower of the Prairie: A History of Holdenville, Oklahoma and Hughes County (Holdenville, Okla.: N.p., [1998]). "Holdenville," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing Co., 2003).

Linda D. Wilson

© Oklahoma Historical Society

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/H/HO011.html

LAMAR

The incorporated town of Lamar is situated in Hughes County on County Roads E1320/N3870, approximately seventeen miles east of Holdenville, the county seat. After the Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway (later the Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway) constructed a line in 1907 connecting Dustin and Calvin, the Lamar community developed midway between the two towns. A post office was established on July 23, 1907. On September 14, 1907, J. R. Luttrell published the first issue of the weekly Lamar News. Two years later Lamar had a bank, a livery, a cotton gin, a lumberyard, a tin shop, a hardware store, and five general stores. In 1909 R. L. Polk's Oklahoma State Gazetteer and Business Directory estimated that Lamar had a population of 500. Citizens passed a ten-thousand-dollar bond issue in May 1909 for the construction of a two-story, brick school building, completed in May 1910. By 1918 the surrounding agricultural area supported two cotton gins, two blacksmith shops, a bank, four general stores, and sundry other businesses. With an estimated population of 350, citizens attended the Baptist and Methodist churches and read the weekly newspaper, the Lamar Sun.

On July 5, 1922, Lamar became a consolidated school district. In October that same year citizens voted by a margin of two to one to incorporate the town. After the Bank of Lamar voluntarily liquidated on December 12, 1928, residents conducted their banking in Holdenville. During the 1940s and 1950s the town supported several groceries and gas stations.

The first federal census for Lamar reported a population of 250 in 1930. It peaked at 296 in 1940. By 1950 the number had declined to 180 and continued on a downward spiral to a low of 97 in 1990. At the turn of the twenty-first century Lamar served as a "bedroom" community for 172 residents, the majority of whom commuted thirty to forty-five minutes to work.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Mary Isabel Elliston, "A History of Hughes County" (M.A. thesis, University of Oklahoma, 1943). "Lamar," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Mrs. Ralph Leach, A History of Lamar, Oklahoma (Wetumka, Okla.: Hughes County Publishing Co., n.d.). Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2003).

Linda D. Wilson

© Oklahoma Historical Society

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/L/LA011.html

SPAULDING

Located six miles southwest of Holdenville, the county seat of Hughes County, Spaulding is situated on County Roads E1380/N3690. The community developed after the St. Louis, Oklahoma and Southern Railway (later the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway) constructed a line between 1900 and 1901 to connect Sapulpa to the area north of the Red River. A post office was established on December 29, 1902. In 1906 Nora Coate served as principal of the Spaulding school, which enrolled one American Indian and fifty white students. In 1918 R. L. Polk's Oklahoma State Gazetteer and Business Directory estimated that the town's population at 200. At that time eight grocers and general stores served the surrounding agricultural area, which produced cotton and wheat. Residents conducted their banking business in Holdenville. In 1930 two school districts were united to form Spaulding consolidated district number seven. That year's enrollment in the elementary and high schools reached 155 and 43, respectively. During the 1940s and 1950s Spaulding had two grocery stores. On May 20, 1966, the post office closed.

The Spaulding School Gymnasium (NR 88001389), a Works Progress Administration project, was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1988. Spaulding became an incorporated town on March 17, 1993. After incorporation the town received matching funds from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture to buy fire-fighting equipment. At the turn of the twenty-first century, the community had 62 residents.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2003). "Spaulding," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Linda D. Wilson

© Oklahoma Historical Society

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/S/SP018.html

STUART

Located in southeastern Hughes County, Stuart is situated on State Highway 31A and on U.S. Highway 270, fifteen miles west of McAlester. Originally, a settlement known as Hoyuby, in the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, existed at this site. Named for a Choctaw allottee, Hoyuby post office was designated on June 23, 1892. John H. Elliott served as the first postmaster. A community developed after 1895 when the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad (later the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway) built a line through Stuart, connecting McAlester and Oklahoma City. Because Hoyuby had various spellings, the post office was renamed Stuart, in honor of Judge Charles Bingley Stuart of McAlester, on April 14, 1896.

In June 1904 Samuel and Lela Wooley provided the land for the townsite. About this same time Berry Alexander "B. A." and Mary Youngblood Nunn came from Texas to Stuart and built a two-story, frame hotel that became known as the Stuart Hotel (listed in the National Register of Historic Places, NR 82001496). By 1909 Stuart citizens had established Baptist, Christian, and Methodist churches. The Bank of Stuart, five general stores, two blacksmith shops, two lumberyards, a cotton gin, and several liveries served the surrounding agricultural area. Cotton was the main cash crop. Royal C. Stuart, Judge Stuart's son, started his banking career as a cashier at the Bank of Stuart. Nine years later the economy supported a second bank, the Stuart Chronicle newspaper, a gristmill, and the Choctaw Cotton Oil Company. Other early newspapers included the Stuart Educator, Stuart Enterprise, and Stuart Star. In the 1930s Stuart served as a watering station for the railroad. In addition, the town had a blacksmith, two cotton gins, and the Texas Pipe Line Company. By the 1940s and 1950s the banks had closed, and citizens traveled to Holdenville or McAlester for their banking needs. Grocery stores and gasoline stations continued to operate in Stuart.

The first federal census reported for Stuart indicated a population of 535 in 1930. As the Great Depression worsened in the 1930s, many farmers, unable to pay their taxes, lost their farms and moved to other promising destinations. Thus, the population declined to 340 in 1940 and continued a downward spiral to 271 in 1960. In 1970 the town had 294 citizens. Since 1970, the number has decreased each decade; 235 in 1980, 228 in 1990, and 220 in 2000. On May 9, 1992, the townspeople dedicated a war memorial to honor Stuart citizens who have served in the armed forces. At the turn of the twenty-first century Stuart continued as an incorporated town with a school offering prekindergarten through grade twelve. Citizens attended the Baptist, Church of Christ, Methodist, and Nazarene churches. The community served as a "bedroom" community, and 93.6 percent of its employed residents commuted to jobs in McAlester, Holdenville, or other towns.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Ott Johnson, Stuart, Oklahoma and the Stuart Hotel (Talihina, Okla.: Mountain Top Press, 1993). Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing Co., 2003). "Stuart," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Linda D. Wilson

© Oklahoma Historical Society

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/S/ST054.html

WETUMKA

Located in northern Hughes County, Wetumka is situated slightly north of State Highway 9 on U.S. Highway 75 and approximately fifteen miles northeast of Holdenville, the county seat. Originally located in the Creek Nation, Indian Territory, Wetumka was named for the former Creek town of Wetumpka in Alabama. Wetumka is a Creek word meaning "tumbling water." Before the Civil War (1861-65), the Creek organized the Wetumka Indian Baptist Church. Thomas H. Scales, an Indian trader, was appointed the community's first postmaster on February 1, 1881. He and D. M. Benson operated general stores. In the early 1880s William Robinson, Dave Barnett, David Benson, and Robert Carr managed ranches near the settlement.

Between 1900 and 1901 the St. Louis, Oklahoma and Southern Railway (later the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway) erected a line from Sapulpa through Wetumka to the Red River. As the town developed, it served as a shipping point for cotton, corn, pecans, and livestock. By 1909 it supported three banks, two cotton gins, three blacksmith shops, two liveries, and a tin shop. Early-day newspapers included the Wetumka News-Herald, the Wetumka News, the Wetumka Herald, and the Wetumka Gazette. In July 1912 a two-story structure, costing fifteen thousand dollars, was completed, to house a city hall and a meeting place for the Masonic lodge. With the advent of the automobile, good-roads enthusiasts in Wetumka in 1915 decided that a one-cent gasoline tax should be assessed to create revenue for improving roads. By 1918 the town supported four cotton gins, a mill and elevator, a wagonyard, an ice company, and a water and light company.

The Wetumka oil field opened in 1919. Drilling activity around the town brought an influx of workers, causing the population temporarily to reach approximately 4,000. Dirt and gravel roads were hastily constructed to accommodate traffic to the oil fields. Streets through the business district were paved. The flurry of activity prompted the railroad to construct a large freight house in February, and a three-story, brick hotel was erected in April 1925. The following year two rooms were added to the school building, and additional teachers were hired. Because the population exceeded two thousand, Wetumka citizens sent the governor a petition requesting designation as a city of the "first class." Gov. Jack C. Walton signed the proclamation on May 21, 1923, and an election was held on June 26 to elect a mayor, a city marshal, and council members.

In the 1930s oil and cotton dominated Wetumka's economy. Five cotton gins and sixteen oil/petroleum companies were in operation. In the mid-1930s workers at a nearby Civilian Conservation Corps camp provided much-needed assistance in soil conservation. City amenities included nine churches, a park, a lake, and a junior college. As cotton production declined through the next decade, only three gins operated in the 1940s. Railey Manufacturing Company provided employment to workers who crafted wood flooring and doors. Municipal plants provided water and electricity, and Oklahoma Natural Gas supplied gas, and Southwestern State Telephone furnished phone service. A prisoner of war camp for German prisoners, erected during World War II, closed in December 1945. The municipally owned Wetumka General Hospital opened in March 1960. In March 1973 a municipal complex opened to replace city hall, which had been destroyed by fire on November 13, 1971. By the 1970s all cotton gins were defunct.

Through the years children received an education at various facilities. On September 1, 1881, the Levering Manual Labor Mission School, under the auspices of the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and partially supported by the Creek Nation, opened to provide education for Creek children. By 1902 Wetumka public school had an enrollment of 261 and employed three teachers and a principal. In November 1938 classes were held in churches and the National Guard Armory after a fire destroyed the high school building. Work started on a new facility on the same site, using federal Works Progress Administration funding. At the turn of the twenty-first century the Wetumka school system offered grades prekindergarten to twelve and enrolled 484. The Wes Watkins Technology Center, opened in 1992, provided vocational-technical training.

At 1907 statehood Wetumka had a population of 300. Three years later it declined to 231. The discovery of oil in 1919 caused the population to dramatically increase to 1,422 in 1920 and 2,153 in 1930. Population peaked at 2,340 in 1940. From 1950 to 1970 the number of residents declined from 2,025 to 1,687. A slight increase to 1,725 was reported in 1980. However, the next decade saw a decrease to 1,427.

With 1,451 residents at the turn of the twenty-first century, Wetumka had a council-manager form of government. The weekly Hughes County Times published there provided news. Citizens continued to celebrate the annual Suckers' Day event, that originated in 1950 after a "confidence man" took money from the townspeople for tickets to a circus that never came to town. The Levering Mission (NR 74001662) and the Wetumka National Guard Armory (NR 88001390) were listed in the National Register of Historical Places.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Mary Isabel Elliston, "A History of Hughes County" (M.A. thesis, University of Oklahoma, 1943). "Hughes County-Wetumka," Vertical File, Oklahoma Room, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, Oklahoma City. "Wetumka," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Linda D. Wilson

© Oklahoma Historical Society

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/W/WE022.html

YEAGER

The incorporated Hughes County town of Yeager is located at the intersection of County Roads E1280/N3750, five miles west of U.S. Highway 75 and six miles northeast of Holdenville, the county seat. In Oklahoma Place Names, historian George Shirk asserts that the town was named for Creek allottee Hattie Yargee and that the Post Office Department changed the spelling to Yeager when the post office was established February 6, 1902.

Yeager developed along the St. Louis, Oklahoma and Southern Railway (later the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway) built between 1900 and 1901. Extant copies of the Yeager Record indicate that the newspaper served the community between 1905 and 1906. In 1917 the Yeager oil and gas field opened and initially produced twenty-five to five hundred barrels per day. As the Yeager field developed during the 1920s, the railroad's revenue dramatically increased by transporting lumber, rig timber, and oil-field equipment to the community. By 1918 citizens had established a Baptist Church and a Church of Christ. C. E. Taylor and W. R. Barney served as president and cashier, respectively, of the Farmers' Bank. With two cotton gins, a gristmill, and two blacksmith shops, the town supported the surrounding agricultural area. In the mid-1940s Fred A. Ashburn and C. D. Wood operated grocery and filling stations. By the mid-1950s Yeager had a grocery and a filling station. After a fire destroyed the school building on January 18, 1957, voters approved a bond issue to rebuild the facility.

In 1918 R. L. Polk's Oklahoma State Gazetteer and Business Directory estimated Yeager's population at 350. The first federal census indicated a population of 300 in 1930. Through the next three decades the number of citizens declined from 284 in 1940 to 107 in 1970. Population increased to 138 in 1980 only to drop to 40 in 1990 and 67 in 2000. At the turn of the twenty-first century, Yeager served as a "bedroom" community for workers who commuted to Holdenville and Wetumka. S

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2003). "Yeager," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Linda D. Wilson

© Oklahoma Historical Society

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/Y/YE001.html

 

County Coordinator
Linda Simpson