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AMORITA

The town of Amorita is located in north-central Alfalfa County on State Highway 58 approximately twelve miles north-northeast of Cherokee, the county seat. The town was created in 1901 in Byron Township of Woods County, about two miles north of the town of Byron, by the Choctaw Northern Railroad (later owned by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific system) as it completed a line from south to north through the county. After 1907 statehood the area was in Alfalfa County. The railroad established the Amorita townsite in late September 1901. It may have been named for the wife of railroad owner Charles E. Ingersoll. In November the track layers reached the site. On November 27 the town opened with a sale of lots, but only six or eight were sold. However, by mid-December John West had established a butcher shop, and George Harbough and E. D. Drake had set up a grain and coal business. Farming was the primary occupation of those in the surrounding area. To serve them, two grain elevators were completed in February 1902. The town's location on the railroad assured its survival and growth, despite serious rivalry from nearby Byron. Byron, however, did not acquire rail access until October 1902.

The outlying rural residents conducted their business with Amorita's merchants. With an estimated 250 residents in 1909, the settlement was large enough to have Methodist and Presbyterian churches, the Bank of Amorita, and a weekly newspaper, the Amorita News. It was soon succeeded by the Amorita Herald. Telephone connections were available. About a dozen retail businesses operated, including a grain dealer. Christian and Presbyterian churches had been added by 1911. The number of inhabitants remained fairly steady through the 1910s, and they voted to incorporate the town in May 1912. The U.S. Census of 1920 recorded 196 residents.

The small community remained fairly prosperous until the onset of the Great Depression. In 1919 citizens voted a fifty-thousand-dollar bond to construct a new building for consolidated schools of Amorita and two other districts. Another bond in 1921, voted by both Byron and Amorita, allowed the construction of electric power lines from Kansas to both towns. However, the economic problems of the 1930s caused the failure of the Bank of Amorita. The railroad abandoned its line in 1936. In 1940, 208 people inhabited the town.

In the 1940s and 1950s the community still supported eight businesses, but by 1950 the population had dropped to 125, and by 1960 to 74. As a result of the decline the school district consolidated with that of Burlington, Byron, and Driftwood in the 1960s. In 1990 four businesses and two churches, a post office, and a senior citizens center still functioned. Amorita finished the twentieth century with a population of 44.

SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Amorita," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Byron (Oklahoma) Republican, April 1901, March 1902. Our Alfalfa County Heritage: 1893-1976 (N.p.: Alfalfa County Historical Society, 1976). "Town of Amorita Just Hanging On," Enid (Oklahoma) News-Eagle, 14 June 1990.

Dianna Everett

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