AUTO TRAILS Back Roads into the Past
AUTO TRAILSBack Roads into the Past

Ardmore to Waurika

Junction with U.S. Highway 77 (0.8 mile west of Ardmore on U.S. 70)

Side Trip to Marietta (U.S. Highway 77 South)

Marietta (16.7 miles south of U.S. 70 on U.S. 77 at Main Street)

In the early 1830s, the Marietta area was part of a larger section of south and eastern Oklahoma that was designated for resettlement of eastern Native American groups. The Choctaws were granted reservation lands in southern Oklahoma at that time, including present day Love County. In 1837, the Chickasaws relinquished title to their lands in Mississippi and joined the Choctaws in this part of southern Oklahoma. The first documented settler of Love County was R.L. (Bob) Love, a Chickasaw Indian who settled in the Oil Springs area near present day Marietta in 1841. With the help of a business partner, Love established a resort, the Love and Boyd Oil Springs Hotel, to take advantage of the believed healing powers of the local springs. Another early settler was Overton (Sobe) Love. Also a Chickasaw, Overton become one of the largest landowners in the area and later served the Chickasaw Nation as a judge.

Settlement of the area increased after the Civil War, largely due to the ranching industry. The Arbuckle Trail, laid out by Jesse Chisholm, crossed the Red River just south and east of what would become Marietta. The Arbuckle Trail then continued north towards Ardmore before turning west and continuing in the direction of Fort Arbuckle. There, it rejoined the main northbound Chisholm Trail, approximately 25 miles west of Marietta. After witnessing cattle from Texas pass through the area, local Native Americans realized the profit potential from raising cattle on local pastureland. By 1875, there were several large ranches in the area, operated by Native American families. The largest and most famous was the Bill Washington Ranch. Washington had married into a Chickasaw family, thereby allowing him to control as much land as he could reasonably use.

In 1881, this area was surveyed to determine the best placement for a rail line linking cattle grazing areas in Texas with markets in Kansas. The most favorable route for the rail company ran through what would become the city of Marietta on its path from Arkansas City, Kansas to Gainesville, Texas. Prior to the arrival of the railroad, the community consisted only of a gin, a mill, and five scattered homes. The site of Marietta, and the surrounding area, was then in the possession of two Chickasaws, Jerry and Bill Washington; Jerry Washington's wife was named Marietta, and it was in her honor that town was named. In 1887, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad began to lay track in the Marietta area and the first train passed through on July 28th, 1887. Ranching continued to be an important industry in Love County, but between 1895 and 1930, cotton became an important cash crop as well. Following World War II, Marietta experienced a severe economic downturn, with only temporary relief from oil strikes at several locations in the county.[i]

Points of Interest:

Love County Courthouse (W. Main Street, between 4th and 5th Avenue)

This structure was built in 1910.

Love County Jail and Sheriff’s Residence (408 W. Chickasaw Street)

This structure, built in 1910, replaced an earlier county lock-up built in 1905. 

Santa Fe Depot (SW Front Avenue and Main Street)

The Marietta Santa Fe Depot was built in 1913, replacing a circa 1887 wooden depot located on the east side of the railroad tracks.

Site of Bill Washington’s Ranch (0.7 mile south on U.S. 77, 1.5 mile west on Indian Trail Avenue/Greenwood Road)

William E. ("Uncle Billy") Washington was the stuff of which legends are fabricated. A shrewd, resourceful, at times ruthless man (he killed his brother in an argument over a piece of land) on a raw frontier that put a premium on such character traits, he was almost assured of success. Marriage to a Chickasaw woman gave him access to Indian land, but this was only a springboard for his ambitions. At the height of his career he ran thousands of cattle over much of what is today Love County, raised enough cotton to maintain his own scale house, hired enough hands (100 and more much of the time) to maintain a commissary and store on the home ranch and two additional stores, issue his own coins (of tin, in denominations from twenty cents to a dollar) and script money.


The ruler of such a broad empire obviously needed a suitable castle. The William E. (the "Uncle Billy" tag came later, with the mellowing of age) Washington Ranch Home met this need. Built painstakingly by skilled artisans from around 1888 to 1890, it cost $50,000 and represented a definite high mark for architectural virtuosity in what was then still largely undeveloped Indian country.

Washington saw his empire begin to crumble, however, when the Choctaw Nation, after 1889, began to pressure ranchers occupying territorial lands to fence them. The coming of statehood in 1907 crimped his free-swinging operation even more seriously. His fortunes continued to ebb and about 1920 he sold out and moved to southeastern New Mexico. Here he made at least two only partially successful attempts to rebuild his empire, but age and the times were against him. He died in the 1930s.[ii] The house was destroyed around 2000. 

Site of Refuge Spring (13.1 miles south on U.S. 77, 1.1 mile west on Scott Road at stream crossing)

Nearby is the burial ground of early Texas outlaws. The white cedar trees, set out about 1840, formed an approximate boundary between Texas and Oklahoma. When an outlaw, fleeing from Texas, reached this spot he was safe; but for many of them, especially those who had been severely wounded by pursuing posses, it proved only a temporary sanctuary.

Site of Brown’s Ferry (14.2 miles south on U.S. 77, 0.2 mile east of Interstate 35, 1.1 mile south on Brown Springs Road)

Samuel A. Brown was born in the year 1862. and is a son of Azariah R. and Jennie (Alderman) Brown. His father was born in the State of Tennessee, and is today one of the venerable pioneers of Texas, where he established his home in 1846, the year following that of the admission of the state to the Union. His was a broad and varied experience in connection with life on the frontier and he represented the Lone Star State as a valiant soldier of the Confederacy in the Civil War. Before the building of railroads in Texas he carried the first mail from McKinney to Dallas. In 1874, he removed to Gainesville, Texas, and six miles north of that place he established what known for nearly half a century as Brown's Ferry. A site northwest of the ferry was later selected as the crossing place of the line of the Santa Fe Railroad. He laid out the first road, by way of Brown's Ferry, from Gainesville to Beef Creek, in the Chickasaw Nation of Indian Territory. He continued the operation of his ferry until 1889, when he established his residence at Davis, Indian Territory. This sterling Texas pioneer celebrated in 1915 his eighty-first birthday anniversary. It is of historic interest to note that Azariah Brown was pilot for the surveyors who selected the route of the Santa Fe Railroad across the Chickasaw Nation. In the colony that the Browns established in Collin County, Texas, was Garland Martin, maternal great-grandfather of Samuel Brown, and that worthy pioneer of Texas lived to the patriarchal age of 100 years.[iii]


Near this crossing is Brown Springs Cemetery. Historical records list 26 people as buried here. Most of them died in the late 1800s. At least four died as infants; four others died before their 5th birthdays. Only 10 lived beyond 25 years of age. 


Oklahoma, New Mexico & Pacific Railway Crossing (7.2 miles west of U.S. 77 on U.S. 70, west of Newport Road in Lone Grove)


Hewitt (7.7 miles west of Oklahoma, New Mexico & Pacific Railway Crossing on U.S. 70)

In 1880, the Hewitt's, Goodell's and Horton's, living in Texas, decided to migrate north. On Christmas Day, 1880, the party passed what today is the main street of Wilson and went one mile further east to settle in what became Hewitt. In 1889, Hewitt was officially founded, the first store was established and the post office opened. [iv]

Side Trip to Healdton Oil Field (Dillard Road North, Crest Road West)

Healdton Oil Field Bunkhouse (3 miles north on Dillard Road, 0.2 miles west on Crest Road, north of road)

The Healdton/Hewitt Oil Field Bunkhouse was constructed in 1923 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. 


Junction with U.S. Highway 70 Alternate (0.7 mile west of Dillard Road on U.S. 70)

Side Trip to Wilson (U.S. 70 Alternate South)

Wilson (1.1 miles south on U.S. 70 Alternate at Rotary Avenue)

Wilson lies on the route of the Oklahoma, New Mexico & Pacific Railway. The original track bed is still visible along the south side of Railroad Street between 7th Street and 4th Street, traveling parallel to and between Main Street and Ada Street. 

In 1912, the decision was made by Jake Hamon, Ardmore oilman, and John Ringling, the circus magnate, to build a railroad (the Oklahoma, New Mexico & Pacific Railroad) west from Ardmore to Ringling. Work on the road-bed began in May of 1913; the first spike was driven August 4th; and the railroad was completed in January of 1914. In 1917, an extension (the Ringling & Oil Fields Railroad) was made to Healdton.


Jake Hamon and John Ringling drove the best possible land bargains with the towns along the railroad right of way. When Hewitt was approached, Jake Hamon felt a depot was worth more than what was being offered. So, on September 22nd, 1913, it was announced a contract had been let for the erection of a depot at a new town site about one mile west of Hewitt. While Wilson was founded in the fall of 1913, it was not incorporated until November 5th, 1914.


The new town site was named Wilson, in honor of John Ringling’s secretary, Charles Wilson. However, since there was an older town of Wilson located seven miles southeast of Ardmore, the new town and its post office became “New Wilson”. By 1918, the old Wilson had disappeared and on August 5th, 1918, Oklahoma governor R. L. Williams declared “New Wilson” would henceforth be known simply as “Wilson”. The name of the post office was not changed until January 28th, 1920. About the time Wilson was founded, oil was discovered in the region; by the end of 1914 Wilson was estimated to have over 2,000 residents. By 1918, there were three oil refineries, three cotton gins, over 5,000 residents, and everything that went with a booming oil field town. During this time Wilson served as the trading center for many smaller communities in the region. With the depression days of the 1930’s and WWII, many of these communities ceased to exist. The railroad closed in 1976.[v]


Junction with Oklahoma Highway 76 (3.3 miles west of U.S. Highway 70 Alternate on U.S. 70)

Side Trip to Healdton (Oklahoma Highway 76 North)

Healdton (4.6 miles north on OK 76 at 1st Street)

Healdton was originally called Mason for its founder, Elisha Mason. The local post office was established in 1883 one-half mile east of the current town site. Mason was renamed Healdton in honor of Charles H. Heald, who settled in the community in 1888 and became its postmaster in 1897. Prior to 1907 statehood, Healdton was situated within Pickens County in the Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory.


Healdton flourished as a cotton center until the Oklahoma, New Mexico & Pacific Railway was constructed in 1913 and 1914. The track extended west from Ardmore to Ringling and south of Healdton. Thus bypassed, many residents moved closer to the railroad, causing the local economy to fail. Fortunately, the Healdton Oil Field was discovered in 1913. As a result, in 1916 and 1917 the Ringling & Oil Fields Railway was built north from near Ringling to just west of Healdton. Ben Heald, Charles Heald's son, had succeeded his father as postmaster. Seeing an opportunity for town growth, he moved the post office to the railroad and established "new" Healdton at its present location.

The petroleum industry transformed Healdton into a thriving community. Many of Oklahoma's oil pioneers, including Wirt Franklin, Robert A. Hefner, Sr., Erle Halliburton, and Lloyd Noble, established operations in the Healdton Field. By 1918, the oil produced there accounted for 15 percent of the state's output. During the 1920s and 1930s, the field began to deplete. Oil is still produced in the area, although on a smaller scale.[vi]

Point of Interest:

Healdton Armory (4th Street and Franklin Street)

This structure was built between 1935 and 1936 by the Works Progress Administration.


Ringling (6.8 miles west of OK 76 on U.S. 70 at OK 89)

This community was named for one of the brothers who operated the old Ringling Brothers-Barnum and Bailey circus. The story is that in the early 1900s, a young lawyer named Jake L. Hamon boarded the circus train that lay on a siding at Ardmore and presented his card to John Ringling, who said, "I'm afraid we can't do anything for you; our legal business is already taken care of." Hamon answered, "I don't want your legal business, I want three dollars. Several years ago I worked as a roustabout for this circus, and when I was paid off you beat me out of that amount." Ringling liked the young man's nerve, invited him to stay for dinner, they became friends; and in 1914 when oil was found on Hamon’s leases west of Ardmore he induced Ringling to enter the field and build twenty miles of railroad to their holdings. That road was extended, and at its western terminus is the town named for the circus man. In 1916, most of the residents of Cornish, a small town one mile to the south, moved to Ringling, leaving only an orphans' home on the old site.

Side Trip to Petersburg (Oklahoma Highway 89 South, Oklahoma Highway 32 East)

Petersburg (13.4 miles south on OK 89, 1.9 miles east on OK 32)

One and one-half mile southwest of Petersburg is the site of San Bernardo, one of the earliest towns in Oklahoma. San Bernardo was the more northerly of two eighteenth and nineteenth century Taovaya Indian settlements on either side of the Red River. The other settlement, San Teodro, was in extreme northern Montague County, near the site of present Spanish Fort, Texas. San Teodoro was in existence as an unnamed intertribal trading post at least as early as 1719. By the early 1700s, it consisted of more than 120 grass houses, each sleeping from ten to twelve persons, spread out along both sides of the river. In 1719, Jean Baptiste Bénard de La Harpe, a French explorer and trader, established friendly relations with the tribe. During the next two to three decades, Spanish influence in the area conflicted with the Tawehash-influenced region. The Tawehashes (or Taovayas) attacked the Spanish settlement of San Sabá. In retaliation, Captain Diego Ortiz Parrilla received permission from Charles III to organize a retaliatory raid. The Spanish, joined by 300 Apaches, arrived at the Red River with 500 men and two cannons on October 7th, 1759. Their forces were unprepared, however, for the 6,000 strong force of the Tawehashes protected by a well-built fortress flying the French flag. Over the next four hours, the Tawehashes outmaneuvered and forced the retreat of the Spanish force.


By 1770, no French or Spanish influence remained in the area. During that year, Athanase de Mézières, lieutenant governor of Spanish Louisiana, visited the Tawehash settlement and befriended the natives; on October 7th, 1771, he negotiated a trade and friendship treaty with them. This treaty was one of several similar agreements negotiated by Mézières to win for Spain the allegiance of various Indian groups in north Texas. Mézières named the part of the village north of the Red River San Bernardo, in honor of Bernardo de Gálvez, governor of Louisiana. The part of the settlement located south of the river he called San Teodoro, in honor of Teodoro de Croix, commander general of the Provincias Internas. Together, the two villages quickly became a popular trading location, although they never came under any Spanish missionary influence. By the early nineteenth century, the Tawehashes, decimated by smallpox, had largely abandoned San Teodoro. Thereafter, San Bernardo gradually decreased in size until it no longer existed, while San Teodoro was subsumed by the community of Spanish Fort.[vii]


Junction with U.S. Highway 81 (22.5 miles west of Ringling on U.S. 70)

The Meridian Highway, now U.S. Route 81, is a major north–south route that transects the Great Plains from Canada to Mexico. The highway follows the land division grid of the Great Plains from Winnipeg, Manitoba, through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas to Mexico, parallel to the sixth principal meridian. Established in 1911–12, it was originally known as the Meridian Road. Later renamed the Meridian Highway, it has been called North America's first international automotive highway.


The Meridian Highway evolved primarily as a farm-to-market road, important to the rural areas, small towns, and cities through which it passed. The original route followed section line roads, running perpendicular to historic east–west transportation corridors. Reflecting its creation from existing farm-to-market rural roads, the original highway passed through each county seat along its route. In 1911 the Meridian Road Association was formed to mark, map, and promote the highway; in 1919 it became the Meridian Highway Association. Similar to contemporaneous good roads organizations, the Meridian Highway Association consisted of representatives from the states, counties, and cities along the route. The Meridian Highway promoters, however, perhaps in recognition of its divergence from more established routes, emphasized the absence of mountain passes and proclaimed that motorists could travel from Canada to Mexico without shifting gears. The association sold memberships and instituted widely publicized tours. When the association was a year old, in 1912, an automobile caravan was organized to travel the route south to Mexico, an event that was irregularly repeated in subsequent years.


As a north–south route that cut through the heart of the Great Plains, the Meridian Highway was relatively unrestricted by geographic barriers. The highway's few major river crossings, therefore, were of tremendous importance. A significant evolution of the route into a modern highway was the completion of the Meridian Highway Bridge in 1924 at the Missouri River between Yankton, South Dakota, and Nebraska.[viii]

Side Trip to Fleetwood (U.S. Highway 81 South)

Ryan (10 miles south on U.S. 81 at OK 32)

An old town fighting stubbornly for existence is the way Ryan has been described. In 1908, Ryan lost its year-long light with Waurika for the seat of Jefferson County.

Terral (18.7 miles south on U.S. 81 at Apache Avenue)

This community was named for a preacher who was responsible for laying out the town site when the railroad came through in 1892.

Site of Fleetwood (18.7 miles south on U.S. 81, 5.4 miles east on Apache Avenue/Fleetwood Road)

Looking southeast from these markers is Red River Station in Texas. The Chisholm Trail crossed the Red River and come out in Indian Territory here at the Fleetwood Community. Millions of cattle crossed here on their way from Texas to Abilene, Kansas, and other points off the Chisholm Trail. The cattle were so thick at times in the river crossing that a cowboy could walk across the river on their backs. Northwest of the site on the I. C. McGinnis land in a branch of Fleetwood Creek are wagon wheel ruts in sandstone that are very distinct today.


Side Trip to Duncan (U.S. Highway 81 North)

Addington (6.2 miles north on U.S. 81 at Donald Avenue)

The community was founded in the 1890s along the right-of-way of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad. A post office was established at the town site in January of 1896, and the village was named for its first postmaster, James P. Addington. Incorporated in 1901, Addington showed promise as an agricultural community with cattle, hogs, cotton, and corn as major commodities. Two cotton gins were in operation soon after statehood in 1907. Other businesses of that time included a lumberyard, a brick plant, and two stockyards.[ix]

Comanche (15 miles north on U.S. 81 at OK 53)

Comanche is a wide-spreading town that grew up in the midst of an oil field. The first oil well was completed in 1918. Before the coming of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway in 1892, Comanche was called Wilson Town in honor of a member of the Chickasaw tribe. The town originated as a trade center for a large area of ranch territory in both the old Chickasaw Nation and the Kiowa-Comanche reservation in which cattlemen leased range at the rate of twenty-five cents per head of cattle. By the 1930s, the town had four cotton gins and the Comanche Grain & Elevator Company, which manufactured Preferred Diary Feed and Preferred Hen Scratch. After allotment, settlers came in, and the region became primarily one of farms.

Duncan (24.7 miles north on U.S. 81 at Main Street)

This community was named for a trader, Willian Duncan, once a tailor at Fort Sill, who settled nearby in 1879 after marrying a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. In 1889, when it became known that the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway was coming through from the north, Mrs. Duncan, acting under her tribal rights, selected as a farm a five-hundred-acre tract in the path of the rails. Three years later, with the depot built and the town site laid out, Mrs. Duncan sold lots on the understanding that when it became possible to give title legally she would do so. The promise was carried out after allotment, and when the Kiowa-Comanche reservation was opened to settlement in 1901 an additional tract of 540 acres was added to the original town site.


The business section of the city lies on a small plateau, from which the residence streets drop off toward the north, west, and south and end in the somewhat rough red land out of which Stephens County pastures and farms have been carved. Duncan's growth has been based on stock-raising, agriculture, and oil. The city is the central supply point for an area in which more than nineteen hundred producing oil wells have been drilled since the first one came in, on March 10th, 1918, for two hundred barrels a day. The Halliburton oil well cementing process for safeguarding wells, which was used throughout the world, was originated and developed here.

Points of Interest:

Fuqua Park (U.S. Highway 81, between Beech Avenue and Oak Avenue)

This park was named for Duncan's first mayor. It is on a tract of thirty-two acres at what was once the northern edge of the city. There is a municipal swimming pool in the park, and also—at the southwestern corner facing

Duncan Armory (Ash Avenue, between 14th Street and 15th Street)

Overproduction of petroleum and a consequent drastic drop in oil prices in the early 1930s created a catastrophe that put hundreds out of work in this section of Oklahoma. The effects were severe in Stephens County and in Duncan. By September of 1934, 2,732 Stephens County families, comprising 34.7 percent of the county population, were receiving direct relief through programs such as the Federal


Emergency Relief Administration and the Public Works Administration. The impact from these programs, however, was limited. Creation of the Works Progress Administration in May of 1935 brought a new attack on the problems of the Depression. The WPA was designed to combat record national levels of unemployment by setting up public works projects. WPA work gave men and women a dignified way to earn a meager living. By September of 1935, the number of families on relief had been reduced to 1,693, or 23.8 percent of the county population, and by September of 1936, 1,027 persons in Stephens County were on WPA projects. By the late summer of 1935, Stephens County municipalities had submitted a number of proposed WPA projects. The Duncan City Commission submitted several proposals, one of which was for the armory. Duncan was initially approved to receive an armory but was one of 19 cities for which armories were scheduled and then not placed back on the final list. It took the intervention of Oklahoma Congressmen and Senators to get Duncan back on the list of approved cities. After several sites were considered, the city commission selected a site in Fuqua Park for the new building and deeded the property to the state. 


Groundbreaking for the Duncan Armory took place on October 24th, 1935, and construction proceeded through the rest of the year, through 1936, and into 1937. Due to labor shortages, materials shortages, and weather-related shutdowns, a short project expanded into a long one. In January of 1936, WPA administrator General William S. Key ordered project supervisors to rearrange the work schedule from one eight-hour shift to two six-hour shifts per day. This would accomplish two purposes: it would employ more workers, a bona-fide WPA goal, and it would bring the project back onto its original schedule. The number of men working on the armory increased from 32 to 42. A Union revival meeting with seating for 1,000 in the drill hall was held in the armory during the first weeks of April, 1937, while the last finishing touches were being completed. The armory was dedicated on May 21st, 1937. On that day, Duncan celebrated with an open house, parade, cornerstone laying ceremony, banquet, and band concert. General Key, state WPA director, and other state and local dignitaries, participated in the dedication, and the program concluded with a dance in the new armory.[x]

Patterson Hospital (929 W. Willow Avenue)

As Duncan grew westward from the rail site, the downtown area began to change. Up to and including the 1923 Sanborn Map survey, lots 17, 18 and 19 Block 158 were a home site. Just as the downtown business district expanded and the population grew, the need for a readily accessible, modern hospital grew. Dr. James Patterson, owner of the Ruth Hospital, located upstairs on Main Street, chose lots 17, 18, 19 and 20 in block 158 at 10th Street and Willow Avenue for his new hospital.


Dr. James L. Patterson was born in Missouri in 1884 and educated at the Ensworth Central Medical College. He moved from Missouri to Mutual, Oklahoma (Woodward County) where he practiced medicine. Dr. Patterson served as a medical officer with the 1st Cavalry during World War I and returned to Woodward to practice with Dr. Ralph Workman. In 1926, Dr. Patterson moved to Duncan, where he purchased the Ruth Hospital located on Main Street. As the population of Stephens County increased, the hospital became inadequate to serve its needs.


The Patterson Hospital was constructed in the fall of 1928, at a cost of $90,000.00 and was equipped with the state of the art equipment and teaching facilities. After completion, the Patterson Hospital served as one of the first and most significant hospitals in south central Oklahoma. Built with more than sixty rooms, fifty of which were for patients, the building included two operating rooms, X-ray laboratory and kitchen. The basement of the building provided a home for nurses and served as a training school. By the late 1950's, hospitals constructed in the 1920's were incapable of serving current medical needs and were no longer economical to operate. The Patterson Hospital served Stephens County and the surrounding area for twenty-eight years. Later uses of the building have included the first home of the Duncan Community Residence, the Men's Health Club and the Haunted House for Halloween. When the Patterson Hospital became the home of the Duncan Community Residence, the concept of a group home for handicapped individuals was innovative and unorthodox.[xi]

Brittain-McCasland Building (914 W. Main Street)

W. L. Brittain was an active businessman in Duncan. He dealt in real estate, started a hardware/dry good store in this building and invested in the oil fields of Empire City. He was believed to have been a charter member of the Duncan Chamber of Commerce in 1918; he headed several of its committees. Most notably, his committees searched for a desirable location for a new ice plant and, in 1920, he headed a committee to locate a site for a wagon yard. On December 8th, 1924, he was elected as President of the Chamber of Commerce for a one-year term, with Earl P. Halliburton, founder of Halliburton Company, as one of the Directors. Walter Brittain was active in Duncan until 1926 when he decided to move to Oklahoma City.[xii]

Brittain-Garvin House (411 N. 9th Street)

The property where the Brittain-Garvin house now stands was originally purchased from the Department of Interior U.S. Indian Service, Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, on November 2nd, 1905, by James R. and Lillian Dennis. They constructed a single floor, T-shaped house with front and side porches about 1906. The property was resold twice before being purchased by Walter L. and Willie B. Brittain on August 8th, 1916, for the sum of $2,000. The Britain's had the house located on the property moved to the rear of the lots and started construction of a new two-story home. Walter Brittain sold the house to Monroe Green on November 10th, 1926, for the sum of $10,000. Green in turn sold the house to Knox and Charlotte Garvin on September 10th, 1927 for the same sum. Mrs. Garvin had the garage, child's playhouse, and the fishpond added in 1931. The garage apartment was for use as servants’ quarters and the playhouse was built for her daughter Mary Helen. Knox Garvin was also active in Duncan. A member of the First Presbyterian Church, he was also an officer of the Rotary Club, an early president of the Chamber of Commerce, a charter member of the Elks Lodge and of the Duncan Golf and Country Club. He was president of the Gant-Garvin (later Gant, Garvin and Wegener) Oil Producers and was

instrumental in the development of the oil fields in Stephens County. His company also drilled the first wells in the vicinity of the Oklahoma State Capitol, including one which was directionally drilled so as to bottom directly under the Capital building. Garvin was elected to the Oklahoma State Senate in 1932 and served during the administrations of Governor William H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray and Governor E.W. Marland. During his tenure, he was chairman of various committees, including the powerful Oil and Gas Committee and where he authored the first oil and gas conservation measures ever enacted by a legislative body. [xiii]

Johnson Hotel and Boarding House (314 W. Mulberry Street)

Black settlement in Duncan was a result of the freedmen agriculturists who had secured allotments of land in the area following the Civil War. The Chickasaws, like the other four tribes of the Five Civilized Tribes, were slaveholders and, when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, black slaves of the Chickasaws were given from 40 to 160 acres of land. Consequently, many of the black freedmen remained in the region because of its excellent potential for cotton production. Duncan’s black residential section evolved in the early 1900s in the southeast section of town, commonly referred to as "the Hill." Duncan's population remained around 2,000 until the oil boom of the early 1920s. Black inhabitants of Duncan also stabilized at approximately 200 during the first two decades of the century.


With the discovery of oil fields southwest and east of Duncan, the town's population soared and black population reached over 1,000. A separate high school was constructed for blacks and lodging facilities for black oil field workers were sorely needed because of racial discrimination in housing. Fred Johnson, a long-time resident of Duncan's black community, financed and built the only hotel and boarding house on "the Hill." Completed in 1924 at the peak of the boom, the Johnson Hotel housed blacks who worked in oil-related industries as well as the fields. By 1930, Duncan had two large petroleum-related businesses Magnolia Pipe Line Company and Halliburton Services. Blacks were among the over 2,400 employees working for these two firms. From 1924 to 1934, the Johnson property served the black community as a hotel and rooming house. During recent years, it has been used as a private residence.[xiv]

H.C. Chrislip House (709 N. 14th Street)

When the H. C. Chrislip House was completed in 1928, it was the first built in Duncan in the Mission Revival style. David Robert Gray, son of Walter Pickney Gray (known in Florida as Walton Grey), served his apprenticeship while working with his father in St. Petersburg, Florida. Walton Grey Homes were beautiful, luxurious homes, designed, built, furnished, and sold complete. This is where David Robert Gray learned the art of masonry construction and decorative stucco applications. The Walton Grey homes captured the attention of H. C. Chrislip, who commissioned David Robert Gray to construct his home. David Robert Gray came to Duncan in the latter part of 1926 where he then met and married Eilean E. Green in 1927. After the completion of the Chrislip home, Gray remained in Duncan doing contracting and construction work in the Duncan area. He specialized in decorative brick laying, including the brickwork on the Duncan post office. He built houses throughout the Duncan area and worked with Lucian Haas and Robert Jobert, other locally well-known builders. Additionally, Gray was responsible for some of the vernacular cobblestone construction in Medicine Park, Oklahoma, a popular resort community in the 1920s.[xv]

W.T. Foreman House (814 W. Oak Avenue)

The Foreman house was constructed in 1918. William Thomas (W.T.) Foreman moved with his family to Indian Territory from Texas " a child," settling near Marlow, Indian Territory. After "...studying pharmacy,'' Foreman initially worked in Duncan for Dr. W. T. Howell in his drug store on the south side of Main Street. In 1902, Foreman opened his own pharmacy at 807 W. Main Street in downtown Duncan. He married Etta Whisenant in 1902. Foreman passed away in early January of 1941 in Duncan and his wife died in the same month twenty-one years later in Dallas, Texas. At the time of Foreman's death, the couple had only one surviving child, Mrs. W.L. Smith of Duncan.[xvi]

City Drug Building (807 W. Main Street)

This building was once the site of Foreman's Drug. That business, founded by W.T. Foreman in 1902, continued in operation until about 1955 when it was sold and renamed City Drug. In addition to his pharmacy, Foreman was also a director and stockholder in the First National Bank of Duncan. [xvii]

Louis B. Simmons House (401 N. 9th Street)

From 1918 to 1920, oil exploration reached Stephens County with the discovery and development of the Empire Field. Petroleum production surrounded the town, and Duncan became a central point for locating the various industries that serviced the oil fields. Oil brought boom times to Duncan. A number of nationally important business located here, including Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Services. Large production companies, such as Magnolia Petroleum and Carter Oil, built offices and shops in and near town; smaller companies, such as Rocket Oil Company, followed suit. Refineries cropped up on the outskirts of town. These included the Western Oil Corporation Refinery and the Pauline Oil & Gas Company Refinery. A third, the Rock Island Refinery, was founded by Louis B. Simmons in 1921.


Simmons, born in Tennessee in 1876, had come to Texas after World War I. In Wichita Falls, he entered the oil business and moved his interests to Duncan in 1921 where he subsequently founded Rocket Oil Company, Rocket Island Oil Company, and Rock Island Refining Company, headquartered at 401 N. 9th Street. His production area was in Stephens, Garvin, and Carter counties. The Rock Island Refinery grew from a capacity of 1000 barrels/day in 1922 to 6,500 barrels/day in 1936. The company owned its own pipeline system from the fields to the plant, where it made a product named "Rockilene" that left the plant in a fleet of tank cars also owned by Rock Island Refining. The gas was wholesaled to distributors in Oklahoma and twelve other states. The entrepreneurial activities of L. B. Simmons, Erie Halliburton, and other oil men contributed to Duncan’s rapid population growth population and fueled the expansion of the central business and residential districts in the 1920s.


By 1921, City fathers touted their hometown as "a competitor to Tulsa, Okmulgee, and Ardmore" because of its twelve oil supply houses and "fourteen large lumber yards which supply rig timbers and special types of lumber for oil work." These boosters characterized their city as "a cosmopolitan little city, with paved streets, fresh new buildings and an air of wide-awake alertness." Within this time, this residence at was constructed about 1922, presumably by the owner of the property at that time, P. R. Harris.[xviii]


Waurika (1.1 miles west of U.S. 81 on U.S. 70 at OK 5)

Waurika is a town that in layout resembles a stadium, its residence section spread out and overlooking an arena of business buildings. It is located on the 98th Meridian, the dividing line between the Five Civilized tribes’ land on the east and the Comanche-Apache-Kiowa lands on the west. Like many other Oklahoma towns, it has in its short history changed names. When first laid out in 1892, the railroad station was called Monika. This post office was designated in April of 1895 and discontinued May of 1898. Prior to 1895, the post office was called Peery and had been established in May of 1890. Both of these post offices were located east of the 98th Meridian in Pickens County of the Chickasaw Nation. As part of the Chickasaw Nation, non-Native American settlement was restricted by the laws of Indian Territory.


On August 6th, 1901, the lands west of the 98th Meridian near what would become Waurika opened for non-Native American settlement. As part of the Comanche-Kiowa-Apache lands, the area was opened through a land lottery. Although lands east of the 98th Meridian remained restricted for several more years, settlement along the west side of the Meridian began to rapidly occur. Following the 1901 land opening, the Kingfisher Improvement Company, under the ownership of brothers T.B. Kelley and E.J. Kelley, surveyed and platted the new town of Waurika. A post office for the community was designated on June 28th, 1902. Although originally restricted to the west side of the 98th Meridian, additions east of the Meridian were soon added as the Native American allotee Elizabeth Bohannen platted her lands. Development of the town rapidly occurred. Waurika's central business district developed as originally platted west of the 98th Meridian. The larger residential development occurred east of the 98th Meridian, where it remains today.[xix]


Waurika became the seat of Jefferson County in 1908 after a year's fight with the nearby town of Ryan. Besides farm trade, Waurika was also dependent on the Rock Island shops at the southern edge of town. West of Waurika are hill pastures that were once covered with nutritious buffalo grass; in the days of the trail drives cattle were allowed to linger here in order to put on fat quickly. This varied range and farm country was a part of the Kiowa-Comanche reservation, opened to white settlement in 1901. Where once stolen Comanche ponies ranged, graded white-face cattle now graze.

Points of Interest:

First Presbyterian Church (SW. 1st Street and W. Broadway Avenue)

In early September of 1905, another church was organized in Waurika, the First Presbyterian Church. Although desiring a permanent building immediately, church members held services in the local schoolhouse and other existing local tabernacles for several years. By January of 1907, the congregation was firming plans for construction of a permanent building as the local newspaper noted " has begun on the large brick Presbyterian church." Construction was begun in 1908 and completed in late 1909. [xx] 

Rock Island Railroad Station (Meridian Street, Railroad Street and E. Anderson Street)

In October of 1908, Waurika was designated a division point on the Rock Island line. By early 1909, it appeared a new station would become reality with construction to start in the spring. The February of 1909 plans consisted of a two-story, brick and stone depot with train sheds. The new station was spurred by the anticipation that the Frisco Railway would complete a line between Ardmore and Waurika and the Enid & Waurika line, a division of the Rock Island, having a branch road near the new depot. With three roads converging on the depot, plus the hoped-for designation as county seat, the newspaper predicted "...Waurika will resemble a mining camp just after gold has been struck." In addition to the new station, the Rock Island had plans for a new freight house which would accommodate seventy-two cars at once. This was a "...stupendous..." number as the freight depot at Chickasha could "...accommodate but thirty cars at a time." According to the local newspaper, "The Rock Island and Frisco expect this to be the largest and most important freight depot point in Oklahoma...".


Within five months, the plans had changed. Attributed to hard times, the new passenger station was to be a "temporary" frame building. The savvy newspaper was quick to point out that "where ever temporary cheap stations are built it always develops that they are permanent ones at least until they either wear out or rot down." Although work was expected to commence within a few weeks with the completed depot to be ready for fall, in September, "Owing to short crops and short business in this part of the state...", the Rock Island delayed the plans for another year. As a stop-gap measure, the old depot was to be "...enlarged and used until the new passenger station (was) built when it will be used as freight house."


In March of 1910, the Rock Island appropriated nearly $60,000 "...for the purpose of building a new passenger station and dining room at Waurika." Both the station and Grier eating house were to be of brick and stone and would "...follow the plans published in The News some months ago, with provisions for trackage to accommodate the Enid & Waurika branch now in operation and the Ardmore & Waurika branch when it is built." Work was slated to start on April 1st and " pushed to completion." The following month, the eating house and passenger station had been combined into one building to be constructed of rough concrete. In July of 1910, Division Superintendent H.M. Hallock informed the newspaper that the contract for the new passenger station and freight depot in Waurika had been let and that work was scheduled to begin shortly. By November of 1910, the Rock Island continued to unload "... several carloads of material every week at this place for the new passenger station to be built here," but actual construction work was limited, if at all.


Although the new passenger station had not yet materialized, Waurika was named a general passenger division point effective January 15th, 1911. Passenger train crews made changes at these points, while new engines were attached to the passenger trains and the old engines were cleaned and recoaled for the next run. This designation had a significant economic meaning for the town as it was anticipated "...many conductors, engineers, firemen, brakemen and porters will make this (their) headquarters." In April of 1911, Mr. T. H. Beacom, the General Superintendent of the Southwestern lines, came through Waurika on an inspection tour. At that time, Beacom told a reporter that the passenger station and eating house at Waurika were still on the company agenda. He indicated that work on the Waurika depot would begin after work on the new station in Chickasha was completed. Although the local newspaper for much of the latter part of 1911 and most of 1912 is not available, the neighboring town of Cornish noted in early February of 1912 that " on the new depot at Waurika is progressing rapidly." In mid-January, the Rock Island put "...a force of men" to work on excavating the grounds and building the foundation. By late March of 1912, the Waurika newspaper noted " on the new depot is now nearing completion."


According to newspaper information obtained from a local resident, the new passenger station opened in September of 1912. There is no mention of an eating house. The opening of the new depot put a halt to the shipment of alcohol by rail into Waurika. As the new depot was located fifty feet east of the 98th Meridian, "booze" shipments were prohibited effective August 1st, 1912. Although then within the state of Oklahoma, the new station was located in the former Indian Territory and was classified as an "Indian Territory town." Using the authority granted in an 1896 law which prohibited the introduction of liquor from outside Indian Territory into any areas occupied by Native Americans, the federal authorities maintained jurisdiction over the shipment of liquor into Oklahoma despite the statewide prohibition enacted with statehood. As such, recipient of booze shipments violated both state and federal laws with the federal government the primary enforcer.


Eleven years after completion of the Rock Island Passenger Station, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy (Burlington) Railway extended a branch from its Wichita Valley line. Operating the main line between Wichita Falls, Texas, and Byers, Texas, the new branch track heralded the Burlington's first road into Oklahoma. Additionally, the first train on the new road was "...the first train to enter the state over a new road since several years before the World war." The Burlington also used the Rock Island station for passenger deployment. Also in 1923, the Rock Island announced plans to extend a new line east of Waurika to Ringling. This "...gave people cause to rejoice..." as the extension to the east would open a direct route to the coal and timber regions of eastern Oklahoma and western and central Arkansas.[xxi]


[i] Gaston, Kelli E., Santa Fe Depot; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; June 1st, 2007.

[ii] Ruth, Kent; Bill Washington’s Ranch House; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; February, 1971.

[iii] Thoburn, Joseph B.; A Standard History of Oklahoma, Volume IV; American Historical Society, Chicago and New York, 1916, pg. 1376-1377.

[iv] History of Wilson; Wilson Historical Museum;

[v] History of Wilson; Wilson Historical Museum;

[vi] Healdton; Oklahoma Historical Society;

[vii] San Teodoro; Texas State Historical Association;

[viii] Ahlgren, Carol; Meridian Highway; Encyclopedia of the Great Plains;

[ix] Addington; Oklahoma Historical Society;

[x] Marsh, Jill; Duncan Armory; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; September 9th, 1996.

[xi] Horning, Sue; Patterson Hospital; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; March, 13th, 1995.

[xii] Rowell, Jerry O. and Rowell, Sammie G.; Brittain-Garvin House; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; March 30th, 2000. 

[xiii] Rowell, Jerry O. and Rowell, Sammie G.; Brittain-Garvin House; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; March 30th, 2000. 

[xiv] Miller, Mark C.; Johnson Hotel and Boarding House; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; February of 1985.

[xv] Anderson, Norma and Anderson, Dale H.; Chrislip, H.C., House; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; January 25th, 1993.

[xvi] Savage, Cynthia; Foreman, W.T., House; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; February of 2003.

[xvii] Savage, Cynthia; Foreman, W.T., House; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; February of 2003.

[xviii] Everett, Dianna; Louis B. Simmons House; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; November 10th, 2000.

[xix] Savage, Cynthia; First Presbyterian Church; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; October of 2001.

[xx] Savage, Cynthia; First Presbyterian Church; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; October of 2001.

[xxi] Savage, Cynthia; Rock Island Passenger Station; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; November of 2001.

Contact Us Today!

Caddo Publications USA

Tweets from Lyn Wilkerson @autotrails
Print Print | Sitemap
© Caddo Publications USA