Ghost town of Avery, Oklahoma





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Published on Jan 2, 2013

Originally settled after the land run of 1892, the small community south of present day Cushing, Oklahoma was called Mound City. With the arrival of the railway, George Castiller deeded land for a town site and the town was plotted in 1901. Selecting the name Avery, after a local railroad official, the town was officially established in September of 1902 with the opening of its post office. Roads were poor at best, and at the time, no large towns existed in the immediate area. Ironically, the poor transportation was one of the primary reasons for Avery's early success. Avery never experienced the rapid growth of the boom towns, but became a thriving community in the early part of the century.

Due to its rail access, it became a key agricultural and shipping center, moving large amounts of cattle, hogs, wheat, cotton, poultry and other agricultural products from a large surrounding area. It was not uncommon to see as many as one hundred twenty-five cotton wagons a day at the peak of the cotton season. Four passenger trains passed through Avery daily and the railroad also brought in much needed items, such as seed, coal and machinery.

At one time, this small town boasted at least two grocery stores, two cafes, a millinery and dress shop, barber shop, two hotels, two churches, a drugstore, grain elevator, cotton gin, lumber yard, blacksmith shop, saloon, meat market and livery stable. One could buy milk, butter and eggs from individual homes. Initially, Avery had no school building, so children walked to a school district one mile east of town, known as Pleasant View. Avery's first school house was built in 1907 and served until it was replaced by a built WPA school in 1938. Avery had two banks during its existance. The Citizens Bank, which later moved to the oil boom town of Shamrock (now also a ghost town) on January, 11th,1916, and the First State Bank of Avery, voluntarily liquidated on May 5th, 1935.

Mail was delivered via three rural routes by horse drawn mail hack, The brothers Oscar and Bruner Hoyt, owned the saloon, which was probably the most frequently visited establishment in town. The towns two hotels were in constant competition so a person could get a hotel room and breakfast for fifty cents, or a home cooked meal for twenty five cents. The Matthews hotel also had a Mad Stone, which was a stoney concretion, essentially a hair ball, taken from the stomach of a deer, which was used to heal people suspected of being bitten by a rabid dog.

There was a dance hall above the drug store and dances and magic lantern shows were held on Saturdays. Magic Lanterns were a combination of overhead projector and viewmaster. Beginning in 1913-14, the first automobiles began showing up and service stations and garages eased out the livery stable business. The general merchandise store owned by G. A. Robertson was just that. One could buy anything from fresh meat to hardware items, from toothpicks to funeral services. General merchandise stores of the day were kind of the local Wal-Mart, with better service.

The town began a rapid decline in the depression years. Oil had been discovered nearby, but Avery never experienced any benefit. The only full-time work was as a section hand on the railroad or part time with the Works Progress Administration and many of the young men joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. The new WPA school built in 1938 did little to restore the town. Overuse of the soil and lack of fertilizers resulted in lower crop productions and many of the farms consolidated and were returned to pasture. The nearby oil booms now meant much larger towns surrounded Avery, attracting away people in search of jobs.

The post office closed in 1957 and the WPA built grade school closed in the 1960s, consolidating with the nearby Happy Valley school. Standing in viewing distance the the Cushing oil tank farm, a few scattered homes, a church, the cemetery, and the old WPA school are all that remain to mark Avery's existence.


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