|Achille is located twelve miles south of the county seat of Durant and at the intersection
of State Highways 78 and 91. Three miles southeast of present-day Achille the Methodist Episcopal Church had opened
the Bloomfield Academy for Chickasaw girls in 1853. At that time the area was located in the Chickasaw Nation,
Indian Territory. The community developed after the Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad built a line from Calvin
(Hughes County, Oklahoma) to the Red River in 1908 10. A post office, designated as Achilla, was established on
June 10, 1910. The name was changed to Achille on August 5, 1910. According to historian George H. Shirk, the moniker
is a corruption of a Cherokee word, atsila,
meaning fire. During the Civil War (1861-65) Cherokee refugees had located in the area and called it atsila. Surrounded by fertile land, farmers produced cotton
and corn. By 1911-12 Achille had an estimated population of fifty. Residents had organized Baptist and Methodist
Episcopal churches and supported three general stores, a bank, a meat market, a lumberyard, a cotton gin, and two
physicians. In 1918 the community, with an estimated six hundred citizens, was served by the Achille Telephone
Company and the weekly Achille Press published by J. H. Lindsay. Also, at that time a second cotton gin was operating.
The first federal census for Achille reported 500 inhabitants in 1920. The censuses for 1930, 1940, and 1950 indicated
populations of 383, 356, and 383, respectively. In the 1930s in addition to agricultural pursuits an iron foundry
provided employment. During the 1940s and 1950s several gas stations and grocery stores, a lumberyard, and a cotton
gin continued to serve the populace. By 1960 the census numbers declined to 294, and the railroad line was abandoned
on May 8, 1965. Since that time Achille has seen an increase from 382 residents counted in 1970 to an official
peak number of 506 tabulated in 2000. At the turn of the twenty-first century the Achille school system, serving
a dispersed rural area, had an enrollment of 501 in grades prekindergarten through twelve. Of those employed 95.3
percent commuted to work in larger urban centers.
Armstrong is located in Bryan County, the small town of Armstrong
is approximately five miles north of Durant and one-half mile east of U.S. Highway 69/75 on the banks of the Blue
River. The town formed on the tracks of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway, after the company constructed a
line through the area in 1872. In a 1928 article in The Chronicles of Oklahoma historian Grant Foreman asserted
that Armstrong sustained a post office from 1882 to 1883, after which the mail went to Caddo. In 1896 the Post
Office Department did establish a post office in Armstrong, but it was discontinued in 1920. The town's name honors
Frank C. Armstrong, who was a member of the Dawes Commission. In 1911 Armstrong had a population of 46 and one grocery store operated by M. W. Maupin, who
also served as the postmaster. In 1916-17 the Office of the State Game Warden (later the Department of Wildlife
Conservation) developed a fish hatchery at the town. Agriculture, the railroad, the town's proximity to Durant,
and outside dollars from sports enthusiasts visiting Lake Texoma and Blue River provided the key to the community's
economic survival. By 1980 the population stood at 133, declining to 122 in 1990. In the mid-1990s Armstrong incorporated.
In 2000 the U.S. Census reported 141 residents.
|Bennington lies twenty miles east of Durant near U.S. Highway 70 on County Road E2075.
The community originated in 1853 when Presbyterian minister A. G. Lansing established Mount Pleasant Mission Station
near present Matoy in the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory. By 1855 Lansing left the operation to Rev. Charles
C. Copeland, and the mission moved south several miles to escape the unhealthy conditions of the boggy bottom of
its original, remote location. Copeland named this second enterprise Bennington Mission Station, in honor of a
town near his home in Vermont. In 1873 a post office was established, then disbanded in 1878, and reestablished
in 1884. By that time John McDowell and a partner, named Brown, had erected a gin and a general merchandise store
near the station, known as the Red Store. Over time several proprietors operated it, and other businesses came
and went. At one time forty-five persons lived in the community. The settlement was called "The Store,"
while the church and mission were called Bennington. In 1902 the Arkansas and Choctaw Railway built through the
area and missed Bennington by two miles. Some of the buildings around The Store, and perhaps The Store itself,
were dragged down to the railroad line, where a new town was established in 1903. Bennington grew quickly. In 1903
there were reportedly 250 people, along with six general merchandise/grocery stores, a dentist, two drug stores,
a hotel, a livestock exchange, three blacksmiths, a lumberyard, a bank, and a newly moved post office. In the early
twentieth century several fires destroyed parts of the town. Still the population grew to 513 in 1910 and 915 in
1920, but 1930 showed a loss to 492. The Presbyterian church at the old location lost many members to the new church
in town. A Baptist Church began in 1903, and a Methodist congregation soon followed. From 1904 to 1922 the Bennington Tribune served the town. The Bennington Journal reported from 1939 until 1946. The
population in 1940 stood at 513 residents, falling to a low of 226 in 1960, before rebounding to 302 in 1980. In
1976, a 1956 graduate of Bennington High School, Wes Watkins, was elected to the U.S. Congress. At the beginning
of the twenty-first century Bennington showed its decline. Most of the old store fronts were gone, and businesses
had moved away. The public school served a large rural area and existed as the busiest place in town. The 2000
census reported a population of 289.
|Bokchito, located in the eastern quadrant of Bryan County at the junction of U.S. Highway
70 and the southern terminus of State Highway 22, is thirteen miles east of Durant and thirty-seven miles west
of Hugo. The neighborhood of Bokchito, a Choctaw word meaning "big creek," was occupied by Choctaw during
their early removal into Indian Territory. In 1900 a town coalesced and moved to the present location when a line
that soon became a branch of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway (Frisco) laid tracks through the area. Armstrong
Academy, established in 1844, was located close to two miles north of the town. On April 27, 1901, Bokchito was
incorporated as a part of the Choctaw Nation. Early-day businesses included two hotels, two groceries, two druggists,
two mercantiles, numerous cotton buyers, and other standard amenities of turn-of-the-century towns. Newspapers
serving the population included the Bulletin,
the Times, the Success, and the News. Social
institutions included several churches, and the Woodmen of the World and the Masons established lodges. In the
mid-1930s the town acquired a steel jail from the old Mayhew court grounds that served the Choctaw Nation. In 1912
the community built a two-story school, which later burned. At the end of the twentieth century Bokchito is part
of a consolidated school district, the Rock Creek District, with the town of Blue. The elementary was located in
Blue with grades kindergarten through six, the high school in Bokchito with grades seven through twelve. Throughout
Bokchito's existence the area's economic base remained agriculture. Early crops included cotton, corn, peanuts,
oats, hay, and cucumbers. Beef and dairy cattle also continued to factor into production. The estimated population
of Bokchito in 1901 rested at 200, and the 1910 census listed 535 residents. In 1950 there were 643 residents,
which slowly condensed to a 1990 population of 576. The 2000 census reported 564.
|Caddo is located in north central Bryan County, Caddo is north of Durant on U.S. Highways
69 and 75, approximately two miles south of the Atoka County border on a branch of the Blue River. The town was
named for the nearby Caddo Hills, site of an 1808 battle between the Caddo and Choctaw, in a low range of hills
two miles southeast of the town. The engagement was a major defeat for the Caddo. The area was formally part of
the Choctaw Nation. Caddo is the oldest town in Bryan County. The Choctaw Nation originally used the site as a
court town, and on the first Monday of each month they gathered at the site to air complaints or to stand trial.
The location became a stopping place on the trail between Fort Smith and Fort Sill. Maj. Aaron Harlan built a store
nearby. Caddo owed its growth to the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway (MK&T, or Katy), which built a line
through the Choctaw Nation in 1872. Katy engineer Ben Munson staked out Caddo Station. In October 1872 Big John
Scullin and his Irish laborers laid the first track into the site. A post office was established December 19, 1872,
with W. S. Burke as postmaster. Aaron Harlan's wife, Sarah Ann, helped found the First Methodist Church in 1873.
By 1873 about four hundred people had clustered around the depot. The rapid population influx meant that some residents
had to live in tents. Caddo was a communications hub in early years. The community soon served as a freighting
and trade center for a surrounding important ranching and farming area. Crops included corn, oats, sugarcane, and
cotton, and processing facilities at one time included five cotton gins. In 1874, according to the Oklahoma Star,
Caddo boasted three general stores, attorney C. J. Harkins, physician A. D. Folsom, photographer U. M. Cooper,
Dr. J. B. Jones, a boot repair shop, a meat market, a blacksmith, a drugstore, and many other businesses. In 1890
the town claimed to have the largest cotton market in the territory. By 1890 the population had grown to 2,170.
Incorporated in 1898, Caddo appeared to be the most populous and promising town in the region. One of its most
successful citizens was merchant and noted cattle raiser Wilson Nathaniel Jones, later chief of the Choctaw. When
the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway began to build an east-west line across the Katy tracks, the merchants
raised land prices, causing the railroad officials to decide to build the tracks through Durant. This made Durant
the fastest growing city, and it became the county seat. Caddo was left behind. Six miles southwest of Caddo lay
an area of oil and sulphur springs that served as a resort for southeastern Oklahoma at the turn of the twentieth
century. Peter Maytubby operated a health resort at Maytubby Springs. The Choctaw called the springs' waters "God's
medicine," and sophisticated townspeople thought the liquid conducive to good health. In 1930 Caddo's population
stood at 933 but slowly dropped to 814 in 1960. In 1973 the town celebrated its centennial. Planning committee
chairperson was favorite son James Pinckney "Cowboy Pink" Williams, a lieutenant governor and state treasurer.
At the end of the twentieth century Caddo's major industries included ranching operations and one of the state's
largest fish hatcheries. The 2000 census recorded a population of 944.
|Calera is located south of Durant on U.S. Highway 69/75 in Bryan County. Originally called
Cale, Indian Territory, the town was built in 1872 when the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway (MK&T or Katy)
built through the Choctaw Nation. Named for railroad official George W. Cale, its earliest beginnings were a livery
stable, grocery, cotton gin, and school for local farmers. All of the buildings lay on the east side of the tracks.
On November 30, 1889, the first post office was established, with John C. Womack as postmaster. Ten years later
Dr. John A. Sterrett, a Troy, Ohio, entrepreneur and member of the Choctaw Townsite Commission, and Butler S. Smiser
commissioned a survey for a townsite. In 1899 the town was christened Sterrett, but Katy officials refused to accept
the name and referred to the site as Cale Switch or Cale. The dispute continued until 1910, when the townspeople
compromised on the name Calera. By 1907 statehood the city had moved west of the tracks. Office buildings, banks,
and businesses were constructed with Main Street serving as the major road north and south to Durant and Colbert.
This became Highway 69/75. A newspaper, the Sterrett Sun,
served the town. It was owned and printed by J. R. Moore. Later the Calera News, which failed in the 1920s, reported
to the community. William Bondies operated one of Calera's first major industries, a prairie hay and grain business
He owned scales to weigh the hay and grain being shipped on the railroad. For a number of years the area was a
large national supplier of prairie hay. The town's population stabilized in the 1920s (703 in 1920) and then began
to decline. As more citizens moved to larger towns for jobs, the city gradually became a farm community, depending
upon peanuts, cotton, and hay. In 1940 the population was 597; a resurgence began in the late 1960s, with a 1970
mark of 1,063. In 2000 the census recorded 1,739.
|Colbert lies on State Highway 91, near its intersection with U.S. Highway 69/75. The
establishment of Fort Washita in 1844 and Armstrong Academy in 1850 preceded Colbert's founding. A post office
was established with Walter D. Collins as postmaster on November 17, 1853. The town's name honored Benjamin
Franklin Colbert of the Colbert family, descendants of a Scottish family who had intermarried into the Chickasaw
Nation. In 1848 Colbert moved to the area to build a home on the Red River. A wealthy cotton farmer, he owned twenty-five
slaves. In 1853 he secured permission from the tribe to run a ferry across the Red River. In 1858 the community
became a stop for the Butterfield Overland Mail. Colbert agreed to transport the stages and passengers over the
river for free and to maintain the road. The line stopped first at Nail's Crossing on the Blue River and then at
Carriage Point or Fisher's Station, named for Fisher Durant, the Choctaw who ran the station, before entering Colbert
from the west. The ferry operated until B. F. Colbert later sold his interest in the ferry to the Red River Bridge
Company. At the ferry site in 1892 the company completed a toll bridge, but it was destroyed by a flood in 1908.
In 1915 the company rebuilt the bridge and by the 1920s charged seventy-five cents per vehicle. Later, a proposal
for a free bridge occasioned the Red River Bridge War. Because of a federal injunction filed by the Red River Bridge
Company against the Texas Highway Commission, Texas Gov. William W. Sterling ordered the Texas Rangers to prevent
the opening, prompting Oklahoma Gov. William H. Murray to call out the National Guard. In 1931 the federal courts
settled the issue, after the Texas legislature passed a bill that allowed the bridge company to sue the state.
In 1872 the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railway, or Katy, built through Colbert to Denison, Texas. Attracted by
cotton and peanut farming, settlers moved to the area in greater numbers. In 1899 the town was platted by the Dawes
Commission. In 1906 the First National Bank was organized by Dr. W. H. McCarley, a physician. The Colbert Times served as the community's newspaper in the
1910s. In 1940 the town had a population of 602, which rose to 671 in 1960, and by 1980 stood at 1,122. Nearby
Lake Texoma creates an inflow of tourist dollars to bolster the economy. The Colbert's Ferry site is listed in
the National Register of Historic Places
|Durant is situated at the intersection of U.S. Highways 69/75 and 70, fifty-two miles
east of Ardmore and seventy-six miles southwest of McAlester. Occupation of the townsite began in November 1872
when a wheelless boxcar was placed on the east side of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway tracks. In 1873 Dixon
Durant erected the town's first building, a wooden store, on the east side of the boxcar. Named "Durant Station"
for his family, it was shortened to Durant in 1882. Since the first settlers came to the area, agriculture
has remained the town's economic base. The primary commercial crops were peanuts, cotton, wheat, and cattle. By
1902 there were eight churches, sixteen groceries, sixteen physicians, five hotels, fifteen attorneys, an ice plant,
and numerous other businesses. Growth continued rapidly, due to a rapid influx of mixed-blood Choctaws and whites.
Very few full-bloods lived in Bryan County at the time. In 1894 the Presbyterian Church opened the Calvin Institute,
which evolved into Durant Presbyterian College and closed in 1966 as the Oklahoma Presbyterian College. On March
6, 1909, the Oklahoma Legislature approved the establishment of Southeastern State Normal School at Durant. In
1921 the institution became Southeastern State Teachers College and in 1974 Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
In 1999 the state legislature proclaimed Durant "the Magnolia Capital of Oklahoma," and the town annually
hosts a Magnolia Festival the weekend following Memorial Day. Oklahoma Gov. Robert L. Williams resided in Durant.
In 1975 Chief David Gardner located the headquarters of the Choctaw Nation in the former Oklahoma Presbyterian
College buildings. At the beginning of the twenty-first century Durant continued to grow with wholesale, retail,
and light manufacturing businesses supported by one of the top-ranked public school systems in the state. The 1890
census did not include Durant in its list of important towns. In 1900 the population was 2,969, and 5,330 in 1910,
rising to 12,823 in 1990 and to 13,549 in 2000
|Fort McCulloch was the main Confederate fortification in southern Indian Territory during
the Civil War. Built by troops under the command of Brig. Gen. Albert Pike, Fort McCulloch was positioned on a
bluff on the south bank of the Blue River about three miles southwest of Kenefic in present Bryan County, Oklahoma.
After the Confederate defeat at the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, in March 1862, Pike abandoned his headquarters
at Fort Davis in the Cherokee Nation. Believing the site was vulnerable to Union attack, Pike removed his troops
to the Blue River, some 150 miles to the southwest in the Choctaw Nation. Named for Gen. Benjamin McCulloch who
died at Pea Ridge, the post was strategically located along routes leading to Forts Gibson and Washita in Indian
Territory, Fort Smith, Arkansas, and supply towns in north Texas. Consisting of earthworks and no permanent buildings,
the fort was garrisoned by Texas and Arkansas troops. Although the fort was not abandoned until the war's conclusion,
the importance of the outpost began to fade with Pike's resignation in July 1862. Thereafter it served as a haven
for refugees and, briefly in 1865, as Gen. Stand Watie's seat of command.
|Fort Washita was established in 1842. Positioned one and one-half miles east of the Washita
River, and about eighteen miles north of the Red River, the site of Fort Washita was approved by Gen. Zachary Taylor,
commander of the Second Military Department. Construction of the post was performed by men of the Second Dragoons
under the command of Capt. George A. H. Blake. The fort served to protect the Chickasaw from aggressive Plains
Indian tribes and unscrupulous whites, and it also stood guard over the Texas frontier. During the 1850s the fort
was a bustling stop for travelers destined for the California gold fields. A nearly continuous construction of
permanent buildings at Fort Washita began in 1843. Within fifteen years a hospital, surgeon's quarters, and barracks
had been constructed of stone. Other additions included such amenities as a bowling alley, a bar, a library, and
a newspaper. Various companies of dragoons, infantry, and artillery garrisoned Fort Washita from its founding until
it closed in 1858. Comanche activity in that year caused the fort to be reoccupied in December. During the Civil
War, Fort Washita was abandoned by Federal troops under Lt. Col. William H. Emory in May 1861. Confederate soldiers
quickly seized the post and used it for a variety of functions. The fort's buildings were burned in August 1865.
In 1870 Fort Washita was transferred to the U.S. Department of the Interior. Kept by the Chickasaw Nation, the
fort's grounds were allotted to tribal members in the early 1900s. In 1962 the State of Oklahoma purchased the
land and transferred it to the Oklahoma Historical Society, and restoration of the site began. Fort Washita was
listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. Fort Washita Historic Site and Museum, situated fifteen
miles east of Madill on State Highway 199, is open to the public.
|Hendrix is one-half mile west of County Road N3720, less than a mile from the Red River.
The town's name honors James A. Hendrix, the first postmaster and owner of an early general store. In 1908-1910
the Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway (MO&G) built tracks through the area on the way south to Texas, bypassing
the town of Kemp. In 1910 approximately fifty Kemp residents petitioned the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to
force the MO&G to build a side track and stop station called Kemp City at present Hendrix. The commission ordered
the railroad to satisfy the request, but the MO&G appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which upheld the
commission in 1911. Prior to this, in 1909 the U.S. Post Office Department had already established a post office
in Hendrix's store near the site. Many Kemp businesses, including the bank, relocated to Kemp City. For the first
half of the twentieth century the town had two names, Hendrix (its postal designation) and Kemp City. In 1911 the
new community already supported a telephone exchange, a sawmill, three merchants, a saloon, a barber, a livery
stable, a contractor, and a real estate office. North of town the Bloomfield Indian School and Seminary still operated.
The school traced its roots to 1852, when the Methodist Episcopal Church had established the Bloomfield Academy
for Chickasaw women. The school moved to Ardmore in 1914, and in 1972 the Bryan County property was listed in the
National Register of Historic Places (NR 72001055). In 1916 a tornado destroyed most of the town, including the
bank, and killed many residents. Although some businesses did not rebuild, many did, and the post office was moved
to the town proper. The 1920 population stood at 130, declining to 84 in 1930 before rebounding to 145 in 1940.
Agriculture, timber, and ranching drove the local economy. In 1965 the railroad abandoned its tracks through the
town. In 1967 the Bryan County commissioners officially renamed the town Hendrix, after its residents petitioned
for the change. Through the years the population slowly decreased; in 1960 the population was 142, declining to
117 in 1970 and to 106 in 1980. In 2000 the population stood at 79.
|Kemp is three miles east of Hendrix and one-half mile east of County Road N3740. Originally
known as Warner Springs, the community attracted settlers in the 1880s, because of the water provided by local
springs. Most of these early residents belonged to the Chickasaw tribe, and the town was situated in Panola County,
Chickasaw Nation. Circa 1890 the town name changed to Kemp, in honor of prominent Chickasaw Jackson Kemp. In 1890
the Post Office Department designated a post office at the townsite. The 1900 population stood at 221. In
1909, as the Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway (MO&G) bypassed the town while laying tracks south to Texas,
Kemp's estimated population was five hundred. Prior to railroad construction, the town supported a bank and was
a trade center for fifteen to seventeen square miles of prime agricultural land that produced large crops of cotton
and corn. Several businesses and the bank relocated to the new community of Kemp City, later Hendrix, on the railway,
while other businesses moved to Achille, over seven miles north of Kemp, also on the MO&G. In 1918 Kemp still
had a telephone company, three general stores, two grocers, three physicians, a drugstore, an undertaker, a blacksmith,
a cotton gin, and a hotel. In 1920 the census reported a population of 396, declining to 186 in 1930. In 1960 the
population was 153, and Kemp still served as a farming community. In 1968 the school closed, and the students were
sent to Yuba. The town converted the school building into a community center. The 2000 census reported 144 residents.
|Kenefic lies on State Highway 22 approximately seven miles west of Caddo. The area has
a considerable history in the Choctaw Nation. Near the present town stood Fort McCulloch, constructed in 1862.
Nail's Station on the Butterfield Overland Mail route, which ran from 1858 to 1861, was also located near Kenefic.
The community held the postal designation of Nail from 1888 to 1910. When the Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway
(MO&G) laid tracks through the region in 1908-10, the MO&G Land Improvement Company promoted the town,
advertising lots for sale in a variety of state newspapers, including Oklahoma City's Daily Oklahoman. In 1910
the postal designation changed to Kenefic, named for William Kenefick, president of the MO&G. Throughout its
history the town has been referred to as Kenefick and as Kenefic. Its lone newspaper, published in the 1910s, had
the title Kenefick Dispatch. By 1911 the
community had an estimated population of 250 and supported the newspaper, a bank, a hotel, a doctor, and a number
of retail stores. By 1913 the town had added another bank. In 1920 there were 413 residents. In 1930 the population
stood at 284, and it declined further to 115 in 1950. The town continued as an agricultural community. Pioneer
aviator Ira Clarence Eaker lived in Kenefic as a young man. In 1990 residents successfully fought to keep the Union
Pacific Railroad, which owned the tracks at the time, from removing the rails of the abandoned line. The 2000 population
was 192, and Kenefic served as a "bedroom" community for the region's larger towns, as 95.5 percent of
workers commuted to their jobs.
|Mead lies adjacent to U.S. Highway 70, approximately six miles west of Durant. In 1866
a band of Creek, who were being provisioned by the federal government, camped one mile southwest of present Mead.
West of their location existed two large springs that they selected as a camp meeting grounds. Many Presbyterian
missionaries held services there, including Allen Wright, Stephens Peter, J. Frank Wright (son of Allen), and Dixon
Durant. Durant would preach in Choctaw and English, serving a mixed audience of Choctaws and non-Indians. Soon,
A. J. Lucy arrived in the area and opened a store, naming the village Double Springs. As the number of residents
increased, they built a church, which also held a school. C. W. Guew began a subscription school, charging white
children one dollar per month and allowing American Indian children to attend for free. In 1890 C. W. Meade moved
to Double Springs, established a store, and became the first postmaster. In 1894 the name changed to Meade, and
later dropped the final "e." In 1902 the Choctaw and Arkansas Railway, which later that year became the
St. Louis, San Francisco and New Orleans Railroad, built a line one mile north of Mead, and the town moved adjacent
to the tracks. Prior to 1907 statehood the new Mead had a mattress factory, a garage, a bakery, a bank, a grocery
store, a dry goods store, a drugstore, three doctors, and a newspaper, the Mead
Messenger. The 1918 population was estimated at three hundred residents, declining
to approximately 150 by 1936. The bank closed in 1924 and by the mid-1930s most of the businesses had left, with
a general store, barbershop, and drugstore remaining. Similar to other Bryan County towns, during most of the twentieth
century agriculture and ranching dominated the area's economic focus. In 1970 the population had dropped to eighty
residents. Tourism at nearby Lake Texoma, and the proximity to Durant has helped the town revive, with a 1980 population
of 143. In 2000 the population stood at 123.
|Silo lies three miles north of U.S. Highway 70 from Kiersey Corner. In the nineteenth
century the location was on the stage route from Fort Smith, Arkansas, through the Choctaw Nation into Texas. The
stage stopped at Nail's Crossing, located three miles southwest of Kenefic, and crossed the Blue River at that
point, before making stops at Cotton Trail Junction, south of the present-day town of Brown, at Robbers Roost,
and at Silo. All three of those communities had a post office, with the stage delivering their mail. In the early
years there was an American Indian school located nearby. Early non-Indian settlers in the area lived at a campground
northwest of the school while they searched for a homestead. The site had a spring, supplying the families with
water. In 1893 Silo's post office opened. There were two grocery stores, one owned by J. E. Shelnut and the other
by Claude Harrison, a drug store owned by a Mr. Hampton, a barber shop run by Luther Wingate, a restaurant owned
by Tom Croley, a dry goods store, a blacksmith shop, a harness and boot repair shop, a wagonyard, three doctors
who ran their businesses from their homes, and a hotel. When the hotel caught fire, the townspeople strung up wet
wagon sheets to prevent the burning of other businesses. In 1900 Silo's population stood at 246. According to the
Bryan County Abstract Company, Silo was surveyed in May 1901 and officially approved as a town by the U.S. Department
of the Interior on September 10, 1901. East-west streets were Texas, Bourne, Houston, and Washita. Main Street
traversed north and south, with East First, Second, and Third to the east, and West First, Second, and Third to
the west. In addition, there were two small streets, Cotton Lane and Park Lane, which flanked a small lake where
two cotton gins were located. The business section stood on Main Street, between Bourne and Texas streets. For
a while Silo's businesses served an agricultural community. When the St. Louis, San Francisco and New Orleans Railroad
built tracks from Hugo through Durant to Ardmore in 1902-03, it bypassed Silo, and the town began to decline. Before
1907 statehood, the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, had no free schools for non-Indians in communities that were
not incorporated. If an incorporated town had a population of at least two hundred, it could collect taxes to build
a school. Silo residents built a house on the corner of West Second and Texas Street. There have been at least
two schools at that location. The town demolished the first and used the material to rebuild at the same site.
The school served students through the eighth grade, and high school students attended classes at either Cobb or
Mead. As Silo was located midway between those two locales, a consolidated school was built in the town to serve
the three communities. In 1970 the new school opened, initiating a resurgence in Silo. At 1907 statehood the population
had dropped to 180, and in 1910 it was 152. During the 1940s and 1950s there were two stores still in business.
In 1946 the post office, which was located in Harrison's store, closed. The population in 1980 stood at 43, rising
to 249 in 1990 and 282 in 2000.
One of Oklahoma's oldest continuously operated family ranches, the Stuart Ranch
developed in Bryan County on land homesteaded in 1868 by Robert Clay Freeny. In the 1830s he traveled to the Choctaw
Nation with his wife, Sarah Ellis, a Choctaw citizen. After living in Soper and Boggy Depot, he relocated to the
ranch site near Caddo. There he engaged in farming and ranching, including trading horses and mules to the U.S.
Army. After the senior Freeny died in 1878, Robert Clay Freeny II controlled the ranch. He performed as a judge
for Blue County, Choctaw Nation, and was a member of the Choctaw Light Horse Association, the Choctaw and Chickasaw
Stock Association, and the Anti-Horse Thief Association. After 1907 Oklahoma statehood Freeny served as a Bryan
County Commissioner. He died in 1924. In 1931 Freeny's youngest daughter, Ida, married Robert Terry Stuart, and
they later acquired the ranching property. R. T. Stuart presided over the Mid-Continent Insurance Company of Oklahoma
City, where the couple mainly resided. In the 1930s the ranch began to phase out its short-horned cattle for a
Hereford herd. In 1949 R. T. Stuart, Jr., bought the first of the operation's Quarter Horses (the elder Stuart
preferred Arabians) and began an award-winning Quarter Horse lineage. In 1963 the ranch purchased stallion Son
O Leo, who sired a number of quality horses, including three American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) champions.
In 1995 a Stuart Ranch product, Genuine Redbud, won the Super-horse title at AQHA's World Championship Show. In
1950 Stuart, Jr., began managing the business, and in 1957 Stuart, Sr., died. In addition to his insurance and
ranching interests, the Texas native had been chair of the Oklahoma State University regents, president of the
state chamber of commerce, and a member of several civic and fraternal organizations. In 1956 he had been inducted
into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. The ranch continued to make scientific and modern improvements, including an airport
on the property. Stuart, Jr., who had become president of the insurance company at the age of twenty-one, also
contributed to the state, providing leadership for the Oklahoma 4-H Foundation, the Boy Scouts of America, and
the Frontiers of Science Foundation. He also served on the board of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
and as a Regent for Oklahoma State University. In 1993 Stuart augmented his approximate sixteen-thousand-acre ranch
with twenty-two thousand acres in Jefferson County. That year his daughter, Terry Stuart Forst, took over as ranch
manager. She partnered with the Noble Foundation of Ardmore and the Oklahoma State University Extension Service
to reduce brush that restricts productive grazing land and to improve their herds. The ranch hands compete and
often win the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association's Oklahoma Range Roundup and other ranch rodeos. In 1995 the ranch
won AQHA's coveted Best Remuda Award, which honors outstanding performance by a ranch remuda (working horses bred
to work and pen cattle). In 1996 the properties ran fourteen hundred commercial Hereford and Hereford-Angus crossed
cows and also leased land for grazing cattle. Stuart, Jr., died in 2001. At the beginning of the twenty-first century
Forst continued to operate the ranch, and in 2004 she was elected to the board of the National Cowboy and Western
Source for town histories: The History of Bryan County, Oklahoma (Durant, Okla.: Bryan County Heritage Association, 1983).
Other Sources Used: Bryan County Democrat (Durant, Oklahoma) , 18 December
1924. Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City),
9 November 1992 and 31 January 1999. Ellis Freeny, Peter Freeny and His Descendants
in America (Oklahoma City: Ellis Freeny, 1995). The
History of Bryan County, Oklahoma (Durant, Okla.: Bryan County Heritage Association,
Inc., 1983). Amy Sanders, "Fifth-Generation Rancher Sets New Goals For Oklahoma's Oldest Family Ranch,"
Cattleman 83 (August 1996).