Ghost Town Information

Batchelder
Ed Kelly
Tyner
Grainville
Mervine
West Dock
Three Sands
*Arta
*Foster City
*Gray
*Geily
Erie
Alcorn
Wilber
Vernon
Lillivale
Clifford
Smackover
*Blue Ridge
*Kanolka
*Kaw City
*Riverview
Bain
Alert
Owen
Polk
Middleton
Dilworth
Cross
*East Side
*Four Ways
*Hatchville
*Rock Falls
Eddy
Autwine
Retta
Uncas
Longwood
Washunga
Parker
Hickman
*Murray
*Pierceton
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Batchelder

Located six miles east of Ponca City, consisted of a General store, housing a post office from February 4, 1895 to October 31, 1903. A dance hall, on the second floor, accommodated the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs. Batchelder was located on the Arch Kenyon homestead, with Kenyon serving as the postmaster. Carson S. Williams carried mail on a small burro to Batchelder from Cross for the nine years the post office was in existence.





Ed Kelly

Ed Kelly was a trade center between Ponca City and Tonkawa. It consisted of the Kelly Elevator, with its 100-foot corncrib and large coal storage. Ed Kelly worked for the Santa Fe Railroad though no one ever knew in what capacity.The elevator was used until 1950, when Tonkawa built the Tonkawa Co-op elevator.





Tyner

Tyner consisted of a grain elevator three miles south and one-half mile west of Blackwell.





Grainville

Grainville consisted of an elevator operated by Blackwell Co-op Elevator Association on the Frisco line. It is unknown as to when it was built or how it came by its name.





Erie

Erie was located on the Kansas-Oklahoma State Line Road. In the early 1890’s, as the Frisco Railroad worked in the area, construction workers lived in shacks and tents in Erie until their work was completed; then they moved south.





Alcorn

Alcorn was southwest of Tonkawa and consisted of an elevator beside the Rock Island tracks. The town was named after John Scott Alcorn, a Vice President of Marland Oil Company.





Wilber

Wilber, eight miles west of Chilocco, was a grocery store run by Deci L. Wilber, who served as postmaster from May 9, 1894 to November 30, 1908. The post office was located in the store until free mail delivery from Braman started.





Vernon

Vernon, one and one-half miles north of Peckham, was a post office on the Tom Trenary homestead.





Lillivale

Lillivale consisted of a store and post office on the James E. Lilly homestead from May 3, 1894 to April 30, 1903.






Bain

Bain was a store and post office located four miles south and one east of Uncas on the corner of a farm owned by Dan Bain. Around 1900, one of the two brothers operating the store and post office started another store across from the Longwood post office, which was about one and a half miles southwest of Kaw City. The brothers took the post office charter from Bain, made a few changes, and took it to the new store. Gus Pellman, operator and owner of the Longwood store and post office, did not know it was a forgery and turned his mail center over to the brothers. They operated for about six months before the federal government caught up with them. This is the only post office in Kay County that was stolen.





Alert

Alert was near the Grant County line in southwest Kay County. Alert was the home of a large general store operated by brother’s Swan and Will Olson and their wives. They bought lots for the store from a homesteader and opened for business on March 5, 1894. A post office opened three months later. They stocked merchandise most needed by the farmers; windmills, hardware, farm machinery, dry goods and groceries. The store prospered, but the brothers sold out to a Mr. Shirley. A new postmaster named Mr. Geller was appointed. The two men changed the towns’ name to Geily (a combination of their two names). When the Frisco Railroad passed three miles to the north, the store began to lose its customers to Eddy a newer town on the railroad line.






Owen

Owen, five miles south of Tonkawa, lived a very short life. It had a blacksmith shop, grocery store and a post office. The post office began operations December 8, 1898, with Charles O. Howe as its first postmaster. It operated until August 31, 1901, reopening September 6, 1901 for several more years. Owen never developed as a town, even though the railroad line ran diagonally through the township.





Polk

In the southwest corner of the county (Kay), the counties of P, O, L, and K met. It was here that a town called Polk was started shortly after the Run. Leo Miller gave land for a sod schoolhouse with a wood shingle roof. Don Lawhead and Mr. Neikirk ran a general store and post office near there. The store was blown away by a tornado in the fall of 1894, but the following spring, George Meece built a new store one-mile east, on the Maston Riley farm and it was named Polk. Meece also served as postmaster during the two years his store was in operation. Meece raised six children alone after his wife’s death. His daughter Flora, recalled how the store kept them from having to pull up stakes and move again. John Prather had a general store and blacksmith shop on his claim about two miles north of Meece’s store. It was located on his homestead on the Northeast Quarter of Section 30, Township 25 North, Range 2 West. When the Meece store closed, Prather moved the post office to his store and became postmaster of Polk. Due to Mr. Prathers ill health, the post office was discontinued and the store closed in 1904.





Middleton

Middleton was located three miles south of the Kansas border on the southwest corner of the Chilocco Indian School reserve, like Nardin, started late. It became a town site when the railroad established a stop there. With the farming industry having a prosperous year, the town obtained a post office in 1900 (originally established at Gray, two miles north of Middleton). It became a cattle-shipping point the next year when the Middleton StockYards were built. The town was platted and a small business district developed. A number of people lived in the vicinity, establishing several rural schools and churches, but these were communities, rather than full-fledged towns. Several families moved into town and a Presbyterian Church was soon erected. The first school was held in the vacated 12 x 12-foot shack of Sarah Lewison. Businesses included Bill Stevenson’s store, David McHugh’s store and post office, Burney Allen’s lumber yard, John Spohn’s restaurant, Elmer Cumming’s blacksmith shop, Jame’s Lockwood’s hotel and John Landon’s telephone switchboard. These gave the town substance. Even so, Middleton never grew to be large, holding on for two decades.





Eddy

Eddy, another community that failed to become an incorporated town, should have changed its name to “Disaster”, being hampered by one disaster after another. Charles A. Spencer started the community when he moved his post office from Osborne, Grant County, to Kay County, primarily because of the new railroad line. The post office opened January 3, 1901, named “Eddy” after the son of BES Line builder, Ed Peckham. At one time or another, Eddy claimed two grain elevators, a livery stable, four or more grocery stores, a restaurant, two lumber yards, a general store, the Hayes Hotel, Baptist Church, Methodist Church and a fine big depot. Then came disasters. Fires burned out whole sections of Eddy in 1907, 1920 and 1939. Tornadoes demolished much of the town in 1904 and 1914. Eddy’s post office, established January 3, 1901, remained open until February 22, 1957, but the town was never able to overcome the many disasters it endured.





Autwine

Autwine, originally platted June 17, 1899 by W.A. Bradford, west of Ponca City, was given the name “Virginia City”. A man by the name of Pierce was successful in locating a post office on his homestead just a mile and a quarter south of Autwine. The post office was called “Pierceton” causing a bit of confusion. When the Santa Fe Railroad called it “Virginia City” depot “Arta”, the townspeople decided “enough!” A town meeting was called to settle on a name and they decided none of the names were acceptable. They chose the name “Antoine”, in honor of Antoine Roy, a Ponca Indian, who was very popular and respected by both white and Indian neighbors. The name was sent to Washington, D.C. to be recorded, but an error occurred. Either the town clerk wrote Antoine carelessly, or the official who recorded it spelled it incorrectly. At any rate, the “n” became a “u” and the “o” became a “w”, recording the town as “Autwine”.





Retta

Retta, located six miles from Blackwell, was named after 16 year old town resident, Retta Richmond. Retta’s post office was established April 3, 1902 with Joshua Bean, postmaster. The town included a pool hall, dance hall, boarding house, grocery store, blacksmith and grain elevator. The Retta Methodist Church was the last building to close in 1959. The building was moved to Nardin in 1960, where it became the Asbury Methodist Church. As for Retta, she married Harry B. Patten on November 5, 1905, and died February 20, 1973 at the age of 91.





Uncas

Another late-starting town was Uncas, located near the Black Dog Crossing on the Ox Bow Bend of the Arkansas River, in eastern Kay County. The town of Uncas, named for a Mohegan Indian chief, was platted in 1902. At the time, the Santa Fe was building a branch line through the site. Several families homesteaded this area after the Run of 1893. Lafe DeVore farmed there while James Kenton and Gano Dawson operated trading posts, drawing trade from the Kaw Agency and lands east of the river. A post office was established on June 21, 1895, named Uncas. The mail was brought from Kildare and anything going to the Kaw Agency was taken across the Arkansas River at Dawson’s Crossing, located about a mile east of the trading post and a mile south of Black Dog Crossing.

The first school was built of native stone, located a mile west of the Uncas townsite. It had an enrollment of 94 students until other district school houses were built. Pupils walked, rode horses or traveled to school in wagons.

Railroad construction created jobs for local men and brought new businesses. L.E. Bacher and Sons General Merchandise, Sam and Andy Booster’s hardware store, Margaret Chapin and Mrs. George Jacques’s candy kitchen, Bertha Baker’s hat shop, John Springer’s barber shop, C.O. Spurlock’s contracting business and George Beardsmore, blacksmith at the trading post, were early day businesses. A quarry, grain elevators and stockyards profited from the railroad and remained for several years. John and Fred Pearce, Ernest and Forrest Armstrong, George Danhour, Arthur Pasley and Mr. Koehler were stone masons who built structures in Uncas, Newkirk and several other towns, using limestone quarried at nearby Lewis Rock Quarry. In addition, Lafe DeVore pioneered a brick-making factory on his farm, using soft red clay material to produce bricks for cistern purification. The first medical doctor was Dr. LaMiller; later, Dr. Sewell settled in the town. Dan Bain, an early day sheriff, feared by horse thieves, lived in the Uncas area.




Longwood

With the opening of the Kaw City townsite, the village of Longwood, earlier opened during the Cherokee Outlet run and located a half-mile south and mile west of Kaw City was abandoned. Its three merchants, G.H. Pellman (Longwood’s Postmaster), C.D. Bendure and Jack Frost, who had a combined hardware and grocery store, moved their buildings and goods to Kaw City in 1902. The Woodman Hall’s two story building followed in short order. Dr. J.B. Irvin opened an office and became Kaw City’s first physician, later joined by C.S. Barker. The deputy postmaster in Longwood operated the post office out of his home after the buildings of Longwood were moved to Kaw City.




Washunga

Washunga was established in 1903 and named for the third chief of the Kaw tribe. The Kaw Indian lands had taken allotments in 1902 and town lots went on sale June 25, 1903. “Washunga is now a full-fledged city.” reported the Kaw City Star, on November 13, 1903. City officers were J.C. Columbia, mayor; H.D. Early, Clerk and William Hardy, treasurer. The city was composed of six wards. Aldermen were Dr. Compton, D.Early, C.J. Hill, General Hardy, M.L. Leopard and D.W. Bush.

A post office had existed at the Kaw Agency since June 28, 1880. The original Kaw Agency office was named “Washungo”, then “Washunga” in 1906. Mr. Davenport was the first postmaster of Washunga and Forrest Choteau was appointed to the position on September 4, 1903 to replace Davenport, who had died. W.H. Hill replaced Choteau on May 6, 1904 when he resigned the position after serving only eight months. The post office closed November 15, 1918.

An Indian boarding school was built and in operation in 1893 near the Kaw Agency. The school included a one-story building for classes and a huge four-story dormitory, both built of native stone. In later years the school building was used as the Kaw Council House and was moved to a location above Washunga Bay, being the only Kaw Agency building to survive the construction of the Kaw Dam. The large dormitory was destroyed by fire in 1910. A small white school was constructed for use as a public school and later the dormitory was rebuilt for use as a public school.

A memorable character of the Kaw tribe was Julie Pappan’s grandson, Charles Curtis. Julie convinced the orphaned Charles to stay in Topeka, Kansas with the Curtis family and receive a good education, instead of returning to live with her at the Council Grove reservation. He remained in Topeka and went on to serve Kansas in Congress for 34 years. He also became Vice-President of the United States under Herbert Hoover, from 1929-1933. Charles visited Washunga often, never forgetting his Indian heritage.






Mervine

Mervine, named after D.T. Mervine of the Wells Fargo Company and Santa Fe Railroad, sprang up in the vicinity of McClaskey well. Drilling in the area started around 1898 by the Newkirk Oil and Gas Company and flourished between 1915-1916, following the discovery of oil. By 1918 Mervine had four grocery stores, three lumber yards, a blacksmith shop, tire shop, Methodist Church, feed store, two rooming houses and Roy Hill’s two story furniture store. Mervine children attended Stony Point School, with 70 students attending between 1915-1916. One-half mile west of the railroad depot was a nitroglycerine depot. Heavy equipment rumbling through Mervine’s main intersection always had the right of way.





Dilworth

Dilworth sprouted in the mid teens, enjoying its own Oil Field Shortline Railway. It was platted by W. Matthews and John A. Frates, president of the Dilworth Town Site Company and an employee of the Santa Fe Railroad. The town sprawled over 60 acres of the Charles Dilworth farm, ten miles northwest of Newkirk. The Lew Wentz Oil Company, Empire (later Cities Service), 101, Sinclair, and Marland Oil Companies converged on Dilworth. The population of Dilworth, according to Homer S. Chambers “...rose as by magic to 3,500 to 4,000 within a few months.” Chambers became postmaster when the post office opened March 17, 1917. Two thousand people (some estimates were 4,000) lived in Dilworth’s new homes and rooming houses; sent their children to Dilworth’s new Pleasant View grammar school and high school; and shopped in Dilworth’s business district. On October 23, 1917, the town voted to become incorporated.

Several false-front buildings lined the broad, unpaved main street. Among these businesses were the Fred Davenport Bakery, the Empire Pipe Yard, a clothing store, telephone office, W.R. Pickering Lumber Company, Hillsdale Rooming House, O.F. Graff Rooming House, Star Grocery, John Lewis Garage, Mike Trapp Barber Shop, Keith and DeRossett Pool Hall, Bob and Babe Morrell Pool Hall, Allen’s Drug Store, O. C. Munn Hardware Store, physicians Pryor and Bishop, Tom McQuirt General Store, Dilworth Bank, Roy Hill Furniture Store, a theatre, refinery and the Charlie Rollins Elevator.

A new $60,000 sewer system had just been completed when disaster first struck Dilworth. The first indication of problems was a rapid decline in oil production. The final blow came in 1922 when Dilworth’s tinderbox business buildings went up in flames. Fire fighters struggled to save what they could from what was felt to be arson. The town never recovered, since too much of Dilworth’s business district was lost. Dropping productivity in the oil fields saw the oil boom move on. On February 7, 1924, Dilworth’s population was 72, as the town faded away with its post office closing March 29, 1929.






West Dock

West Dock, also known as Dock, one-half mile west of Dilworth, also thrived. Located on the Frank Dilworth homestead, it consisted of three stores and a bunk and boarding house. When it was obvious that Dilworth was going to be the town to survive, West Dock yielded to its competition.





Clifford

Clifford was a town, with neither a post office nor many residents. The one thing it did have was plenty of travelers and shipping from its depot. Clifford was at the end of the “Oil Field Short Line Railway” and had a turnabout, boxcar depot and large auger to load grain. It was originally named “Berenice”, but this caused confusion with a town in eastern Oklahoma called “Bernice”. Clifford, established in 1916, closed in 1929.





Three Sands

Three Sands was located on the Kay-Noble line, five miles south of Tonkawa and thirteen miles east of Marland (Bliss). An oil boomtown, most of the drilling was centered around the Sam McKee farm, but activity shifted northward along the highway that lead to Tonkawa. At each successive crossroad a cluster of stores and houses would spring up. Businessmen sought to profit by providing goods and services to the oil field workers-groceries, dry goods, equipment, repair shops, entertainment, food and places to sleep. As the drilling activity would move, another town would spring up at the next crossroads. Hatchville, a grocery store east of the discovery well, was operated by Charlie Hatch, mayor of his establishment. Murray, two miles into Noble County, consisted of a barbershop, grocery store, filling station and dry goods store on the F. H. Murray farm. Four Ways, Kanolka and Three Sands made their appearance known at three corners east of Marland’s discovery well. Other business centers in the area were East Side, one mile east of Three Sands’ original intersection; Foster City, one mile west; Riverview, seven miles west, (Three Sands’ greatest rival); and Blue Ridge. These business districts never disappeared completely as oil activity moved and the business district for the oil field eventually stretched three miles.

Three Sands was like other oil boomtowns of the day, started out as a grocery store and cafe in a shack on the C.C. Endicott farm. At first it was called “Comar”, after on of the seven major oil companies engaged in exploiting the (Tonkawa) field. (“Comar” meant “companies of Marland”). The Tonkawa News complained about the confusion of names in the oil field business district. Merchants and officials from the Comar Company met and agreed on the name “Three Sands” because, at the time, oil was being produced from three different oil sands- Endicott, Carmicheal and Tonkawa. (If they had waited six months, they could have named the town “Seven Sands” for the same reason.)

By December 1922, 11 boarding houses and several cafes served meals to hungry oil field workers. These types of businesses usually came first, followed by oil tool supply houses, machine shops, boiler shops, markets and stores. Within a month, the Cozy Theater was under construction and the town’s first two-story building, a dance hall, was planning to offer entertainment. By March of 1923, citizens were petitioning for a post office, claiming there were 2,000 people living in town with around 3,000 more in the vicinity. On June 15, 1923, the post office located at Four Corners (also known as Murray Corner) was moved to Three Sands. Carpenters worked day and night to put up frame buildings for businesses and housing. Neat company houses were built and painted green for Comar, grey for Gypsy, grey with red roofs for Amerada and gold for Carter. Lumber was so much in demand that carpenters did not dare leave it unattended at night. Until houses were built, many people lived in tents, shacks or dugouts. Accommodations were less important than making a quick profit from the oil being produced at 200,000 barrels a day. ”Two-Ton Tilly” and “Three Sands Blanche”, boarding house operators, and the “hunchback” who made deliveries for a local bootlegger, rubbed elbows with geologist, oil field workers and housewives. A writer for the Daily Oklahoman in April 1923, described Three Sands as “...a crowd not a city. A struggling, shoving, pushing, determined, reckless, maddened, coldly calculating mixture of human beings who have forgotten for the time being that they are alive-who don’t seem to care how long they live-who, in fact, are bent on one thing-the getting of all the money they can as fast as they can. The person visiting Three Sands today finds himself in a traffic jam surpassing that of any city of 300,000 inhabitants. There isn’t such a thing as the ‘right-of-way’, The man who tries to make his way through the street is ‘in-the-way’ of everyone, including himself. All he can do is keep going. He can’t turn around, he can’t stop, he can’t become impatient-he can only keep going and at the same speed decided upon by a mile of automobiles, motor trucks, and pedestrians. If he took a notion to get away from the throng and speed through the fields to his destination, he would find himself trying to dodge oil well rigs that are so thick it’s pretty hard, sometimes, to walk between them without getting oil on your clothing.”

Oil productivity began to fluctuate and by 1930 only a few hundred of the original 2,000 inhabitants still resided in Three Sands. The high school closed in 1946 and a grocery store-the first, as well as last business in Three Sands-closed in 1951. The post office shut its doors in 1957 and like many a boomtown before it; Three Sands became little more than a memory.
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Smackover

Smackover was south of Tonkawa and the Salt Fork River. A farmer, leasing 1,000 feet of land on each side of the road, began building a town called “Smackover“. It was named after an earlier boomtown-Smackover, Arkansas. Shacks and tents quickly filled the area along the road. Smackover quickly became notorious for its crime. One area resident best described Smackover as “...the sin-filled, oil boom addition of Tonkawa.” The town was short lived, when in June 1923, floodwaters inundated Smackover, leaving its main street under 10 feet of water. It never recovered and most of its residents moved away.





Cross

Cross was a townsite that appeared to have promise. Cross, located north of Ponca City, had a railroad depot, express office and post office. It was platted prior to the Run and promoted by the Santa Fe Railway Company, who planned it to be a dominant city. When the dust cleared on the afternoon of September 16, 1893, Cross claimed 1,500 residents. A government-sanctioned distillery was located there, one of only two ever located in Oklahoma. Operated by a Civil War veteran, Captain W.B. Baker, he also ran a saloon and livery stable. The distillery and saloon were conveniently located across the street from the office of the justice of the peace. Cross built a public school, had two newspapers, the Cross Resident and Oklahoma State Guide, hotels and a number of businesses.

As a town, Cross was to be short lived, for one-mile further south lay another town, more aggressive than most, which became Ponca City.

Ponca had almost everything it needed for success as a town except for a railroad depot-Cross had that. Trains stopped at Cross but steamed right through Ponca, much to the chagrin of Ponca’s “aggressive” citizens. Ponca importuned the Santa Fe officials for months to locate a station at Ponca, but they refused steadfastly on the grounds there was not enough business to justify two stations located one mile apart. Secret business agreements were made with the railroad agent at Cross. Late one Saturday night, movers slipped into Cross, picked up the agent’s house and rolled it towards Ponca. They were nearly out of Cross by dawn when the residents woke and realized what was happening. Angry men from Cross tried to stop the movers but were held off with a shotgun by the man in charge. That evening, the house was at the edge of Ponca. It was guarded throughout the night and early Monday morning the house was placed on its new lot. In September 1894, one year after Ponca was founded; the Santa Fe gave into pressure from some territorial legislators. They agreed to build a spur into Ponca and set up a station there. Ponca was not through with Cross yet. Several hotels and businesses were moved from Cross to Ponca, followed by one house after another. Within six months little was left of Cross, it had all been incorporated into Ponca.






Parker

Parker was a town created by a Dr. Parker of Arkansas City, Kansas, who like the founders of Blackwell, expected his town to be the “premier” city of Kay County. Parker was located one mile south of Blackwell across the Chikaskia River. At least two two-story buildings were built and two newspapers established. Parker set about trying to convince a railroad to build a spur into the town then tried to convince the people of “Blackwell Rock” to give up their post office, even though they didn’t have one yet and to merge with Parker, giving up the name Blackwell. A.J. Blackwell convinced the townspeople of Blackwell to turn down the merger with Parker. Shortly thereafter, the Chikaskia River flooded the small town of Parker and practically washed it away. However this was not the end of Parker. It went through two more incarnations, first as Chikaskia City and then as Kay Center. Kay Center at least had the distinction of having its own post office from October 9, 1897 to June 1, 1898, then it too ceased to exist as an organized town.





Hickman

Hickman was two miles north and three miles east of Washunga. On December 16, 1923, a post office was established. Hickman was located on the Lemon Hickman property south of Ike Clubb.