Center was established in the mid-1880's and was a white settlment in
the Chickasaw Nation before the area was legally open for white
ownership. By the mid 1890's Center had become the leading town in what
is now Pontotoc County. Its post office was opened on June 9, 1890. It
had a population in excess of five hundred people, and for a while it
had a courthouse located in town. The commercial area was built around
a square in which the two principal water wells were located. Twenty
five stores of various kinds, two hotels, and a leading newspaper, the
Center News, indicate the importance of the town. On March 1, 1900 most
of the business buildings on the west side of the square, including the
courthouse were destroyed by fire. No plans had ever been made to fight
a fire of this magnatude and no fire-fighting equipment was available.
A lot of the business removed to Ada. When the railroad building
westward from Ada Junction to Purcell passed to the south of Center,
other businesses moved to new places being established by the railroad.
Center then lost its importance as a trade center. The old town square
can still be visualized for the area stands vacant today. The current
village of Center is one store and a few houses along State highway 19
and is about one-half mile south of the old square.
Francis is located about two miles south of the Canadian River in a
hilly area, the town was first names Newton. Both the eastern and
western sides of the incoroporated town limits of the village have
hills 100 to 150 feet in height, but an area of comparatively level
land extends through the central part. The post office was first opened
as Newton on April 17, 1894 and was changed on June 5, 1902 to Francis.
The newspapers that were printed out of these locations were the
Francis Wigwam, Franciscan, Francis Banner, Francis Bulletin, Frisco
Meteor and the Frances Herald. In 1902 where the Frisco tracts were
being extended southward from Tulsa to Sherman, Texas many rail sidings
were laid across this level area. Francis then became a placce for the
collection and holding of box , cattle, flat, and coal cars until they
were needed. In 1904 Frisco began establishing regional offices in
Francis. In 1906 some of the division offices were moved to the town,
and Francis became the chief freight division point on the line.
Francis remained mostly a railroad town until 1916. There were about 15
stores, two hotels, two banks, and two restruants who served the people
of the area and travelers from the trains. There was also a tailor who
specialized in the making of the trainmen's uniforms. a jeweler, two
doctors and a lawyer. In 1915 the population was somewhere between 1800
and 2000 people. In 1916 when Frisco began moving their railroad
offices the population depleted drastically. By 1920 there were less
than a 1000 people. By 1940 the population was less than 400. The
current population is about 200. All that remains of the business
section of town is one store, a cafe, a filling station, and a drug
store, where the post office is located. The schools have been closed
and children are bussed into Byng.
"Ghost towns of Oklahoma", 1977, By John Wesley Morris]