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Wynnewood Chamber of Commerce
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Excerpts from the Wynnewood Kiwanis Club History of Wynnewood
Wynnewood is situated in the State of Oklahoma at 97 degrees 10' west longitude and 34 degrees 38' north latitude. Located in the territory that the United States bought from France in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, and upon a plateau above the Washita River flood grounds, the area was an ideal place for the early pioneers to settle. Also it was an area where, for undocumented centuries, the plains Indians had lived happily with the land that provided abundant water, wildlife, plants, and trees for all their needs.
Early 1900's Main Street (looking west) in Wynnewood
Wynnewood was located in the Chickasaw Nation of Indian Territory before statehood in 1907. Just north of this site, a clay stagecoach road crossed the Washita River. Here a band of Cherokee Indian refugees from the Texas Revolution and the Civil War settled on the east bank of the river. To travelers the settlement became known as the Cherokee Crossing at Cherokee Town. It featured a trading post, hotel, stores, blacksmith shop, cotton gin, and a post office from 1874 to 1877. When John Walner, a Cherokee Town resident learned that the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Company planned to build a railroad through the area about 4 miles south of Cherokee Town, he moved by ox team his store and home to the new area. The new town took the name of Walner, and the Walner Post Office was established January 8, 1886. The railroad came through in the spring of 1887 and built a depot at Walner. The railroad men renamed the town Wynnewood after Wynnewoood Pennsylvania just as they named Berwyn, Ardmore, Wayne and Paoli after towns in Pennsylvania which were along the railroad there. The post office changed its name from Walner to Wynnewood on April 6, 1887. Thus the city of Wynnewood in the Chickasaw Nation was officially established in 1887 at the depot area of the railroad. The town grew rapidly as the community went about setting up a city government and it went from a frontier settlement to a thriving city of stores, schools, businesses, churches, doctors, culture, industry, transportation and sports.
First National Bank on Main Street in 1900's Wynnewood
The citizens petitioned the federal government to incorporate and establish a local governing body and the petition was granted and an election was held on August 3, 1898. The United States District Clerk, Ardmore, Indian Territory, certified that the following had been elected to office in the City of Wynnewood, of the southern District of the Indian Territory; Mayor, W. C. Lee; Aldermen, W. B. Crump, H. T. Long, Jake H. Leewright, A. J. Goff, and J. W. Mitchell. Thomas Collins, Notary Public, administered the oath of office to the new officers on August 31, 1898. Later an ordinance was passed creating the office of City Marshal and the office of City Recorder. An election for these two offices was held on September 13, 1898 with Asa Aughtry elected City Marshal and Penn B. Rabb City Recorder. They were both sworn in on September 15, 1898. As the need arose the Wynnewood Council created additional offices. Some records were lost but most are available and listed here. (Some of the records for 1908 through 1957 were lost but what is listed here is fairly accurate).
Starting in 1886 as a tent-dugout settlement Wynnewood grew to more than a mile square city with a population of over 2500 by statehood in 1907.
The first postmaster remembered by the old timers was Mr. Walner, who had the post office in his tent store. The next to serve were a Mr. Kiser and Mr. W. C. Lee who was postmaster in 1895. Then Mr. Nelson Henry Norman became postmaster in 1897 and served for eight years during the terms of McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt. He was followed by Dr. E. E. Norvell. When Wilson was elected Mr. George Rollow was appointed and served until there was another change in political parties. Mr. T. B. Fessenger was appointed under Harding in 1926 and moved the Post Office from Main Street to 120 North Commercial Avenue where it remained for thirty-one years. A new building was built on the east side of Dean A. McGee Avenue by Paul Baker and the post office was moved there in 1957. John Jennings served for several presidential terms and Lewis Whitaker followed him during the Truman Administration. Robert Wright succeeded him in 1972. Helpers and rural carriers were, A. L. Parks, J. M. Pyle, J.B. Himes, M.A. Young, A.H. McLeon, W .L. Eppler, A.F. Hunt, W. S. Klingsmith, R. E. Luke, Dude Hollis, Milo Wilson, Archie Covington, Mrs. Earl McElhaney, Mrs. J. E. Shearon, Miss Alma Grant, Louis Bolander, Mrs. Elizabeth Baker, J. T. Blackwood, Bart Hensley, Cletus Dixon, and Sharon Pyle.
Tom C. Fields came to the southwest from Dyersburg, Tennessee and established the first newspaper in the Chickasaw Nation, The Chickasaw Enterprise, which became the Pauls Valley Enterprise and finally the Pauls Valley Democrat. Fields purchased an interest in the Wynnewood Republic in 1891, a news paper already established. The newspaper burned on March 29, 1899 and was re-established in 1901 with Guthrie as editor and the name changed to the Free Press. The Buckley Brothers established the Truth, another newspaper, in Wynnewood in 1898 and suspended the publication in 1902. Tom and Dora Linn were early publishers of the Wynnewood Republic before selling to H. S. Shackelford and Esslinger on October 9, 1902. Shackelford and Esslinger changed the name to the New Era. Files of the New Era from that period are among the Gazette files today. No earlier files have been located. Esslinger sold his interest to Lyman E. Stoddard and Stoddard sold to J. Y. Wheeler. Shackelford and Wheeler continued to publish the newspaper until its sale on October 8, 1920 to G. C. Dodson. Dodson published the New Era until May 1923, when he sold to W. E. Showen, publisher of the Maysville News. Showen sold to Corley in 1929 and Corley sold to Squiers after only a few publications. Squiers merged the New Era and the Gazette which he owned before purchasing the New Era. The Gazette began on November 18, 1906, established by Tom Fields. Squiers sold June 2, 1945 to Harold C. M. Petersen. Petersen sold in 1959 to J. B. DeSilver and he sold to Bill and Marcie Rogers in 1966.
Wynnewood Elected Officials
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