The incorporated town of Ashland is located in southwestern Pittsburg County, eleven miles northwest of Kiowa on County Road E1550. In 1902 the Post Office Department selected the name Ashland when it established a post office in the community. The local residents suggested the name Pearl City. By 1920 cotton and cattle provided the prosperous, agriculture-based town with its principal money crops.
The early business district included a bank, five general stores, two cafes, a creamery, two barber shops, two blacksmith shops, a hotel, a cobbler's shop, a gristmill, a post office, and two cotton gins. Active churches were Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, and Church of God. The young people in town were active in the Methodist Epworth League. There were chapters of the Masonic Lodge and the Eastern Star. The Ashland News reported to the town in 1911 and 1912. The 1911 population was estimated at three hundred residents. That same year, the town suffered a major disaster when a fire destroyed almost half of the business houses, all of which were of wooden construction. Most merchants rebuilt.
In 1908 the Ashland School District was laid out and organized. It originally comprised only a grade school but later added two years of high school. About 1936 four years of high school were offered and graduated eight students in the first senior class. In 1930 the U.S. Census reported a population of 131. In the 1960s Coalgate, Stuart, and Haywood annexed parts of the school district. In 1966 Kiowa annexed the remainder of the students, and the Ashland school closed.
The population dropped from 142 in 1940 to 104 in 1950. In the early 1940s Ashland lost most of its agriculture-related income, when the U.S. Army Ammunition Depot (then the U.S. Naval Ammunition Depot) constructed on the surrounding farm land. As the boll weevil had already destroyed cotton production, only ranching remained as the principal nonindustrial occupation. The population in 1960 stood at 87 residents. After the loss of the school there has been a gradual decline in population, from 73 inhabitants in 1970 to 53 in 2000.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, People and Places (McAlester, Okla.: Pittsburg County Historical and Genealogical Society, 1997). George Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names (2d ed.; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1974).
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