Avery – Ghost Town of Oklahoma
Established in 1902, Avery is a stop along our Guthrie-Stillwater-Cushing dual sport loop. Currently there is an old school building still standing, and a few houses in what once was a thriving agricultural community in Lincoln County. Many of the early citizens of Avery worked in the nearby Cushing oil fields.
From the book “Ghost Towns of Oklahoma” by John W. Morris:
LOCATIONS (a) Sec. 11, T 16 N, R 5 E
(I7) 12 miles north, 7 miles east of Chandler; 7 miles south, 1 mile east of Cashing
POST OFFICE: September 16. 1902—August 26, 1957
RAILROAD: Eastern Oklahoma Railway (Santa Fe)
Avery, established in 1902, became one of the most important agricultural growing and shipping centers in central Oklahoma before World War I. The soils of the area were fertile, the growing season long enough for crops such as cotton and fruits to mature, and the pastures suitable for cattle grazing. Roads were poor, and there were no large towns in the immediate vicinity until Cushing developed as an oil collecting and refining center. Also, the railroad through Avery made connections with the main line of the Santa Fe at Newkirk and Pauls Valley as well as connections with the Rock Island at Shawnee.
As agriculture developed, the railroad became the source of life for Avery. Reports indicate that more animals were shipped from the town during certain years than from any other place between Pauls Valley and Arkansas City, Kansas. Herds of hogs and cattle were driven to the stockyards by men on foot. There was one day in 1907 when 125 cattle cars were loaded and shipped to Kansas City. About twice a year notice would be sent to farmers that a poultry car would arrive on a certain date. Farmers would then bring in chickens, ducks, and turkeys to sell. During the cotton picking season the gins would run twenty~four hours a day. One man stated that he “had counted 125 wagon loads of cotton and forty loads of grain on the streets of Avery in a single day.” In addition to shipping out, the railroad was responsible for bringing in the feed, seed, coal, and machinery sold and used.
Avery was also the cultural and social center for the area. ln addition to the saloons, which had to be closed at the time of statehood, the village had the usual stores, livery stables, blacksmith shops, and restaurants. There were two hotels, which tried to outdo each other. The price of a hotel room for one night plus breakfast was fifty cents. One could get an entire home—cooked dinner for twenty-five cents. Each Saturday night a dance was held in the hall above the drugstore. “The single boys came on horse back; those dating came in buggies; and those married came in wagons with plenty of hay and straw in the bottom so the youngsters could sleep while mamma and papa were at the dance.” There was also a magic lantern show which operated on Saturday nights. With the opportunity to make “big money” working in the oil fields near Cushing, Drumright, or Shamrock, many young men left the farms. World War I also took others away. The Model T Ford and better roads made it easier to buy and sell in the larger towns. The soils of the area, not having been fertilized, declined in production. Gradually, farms were consolidated and much land returned to pasture.
The old main street of Avery is now overgrown with weeds, and trees stand where buildings formerly stood. The remaining business buildings are unused, some half torn down, others rotting and falling down. The depot has long since been removed. Although the tracks remain, they are seldom used. The large school, built during WPA days. stands vacant and neglected. A few homes are still occupied.
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This is an interesting story. G. A. Robertson, who owned the General Mercantile in Avery, was my great, great uncle. I guess he closed the store when he got older and business declined. The family story goes that someone ask him what he was going to do about the people who owed him money. HIs reply, “Nothing. They probably need it more than I do.”
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