An incorporated community in eastern Osage County, Avant is situated just west of State Highway 11, twenty-six miles southeast of Pawhuska and thirty miles north of Tulsa. The town was named for rancher Ben F. Avant, a Gonzales, Texas, native who settled in Osage County (the former Osage Nation) in 1895. Avant had first visited the region in 1892. Upon his return he married Rosalie Rogers, an Osage-Cherokee Indian. He leased acreage from the Osage tribe and began farming and ranching in 1896. His land became a part of his wife's Osage allotment in 1906. On August 28, 1923, Ben Avant was shot and killed by the Avant town marshal following a dispute.
The Midland Valley Railroad (later the Missouri Pacific Railway) was built across Osage County in 1905-1906. Starting at Tulsa, construction reached the Avant ranch in 1905, where a post office, designated "Avant," was established in August 1906. Town development began in autumn 1909, and a two-story, brick school house was completed the following spring. Early businesses included the Avant State Bank, the Parker Brothers Jewelers, the Avant and Midland hotels, and the Avant Novelty Theater, where motion pictures and vaudeville were presented. The Avant Advocate, the Avant Derrick, the Avant Hustler, the Avant News, and the Osage County Hustler were the town's newspapers.
Avant promoters touted its petroleum, natural gas, and farming potential. The Avant Oil Field was discovered northeast of the present townsite in 1904 and produced up to seventy-five barrels of oil and twelve million cubic feet of natural gas per day. During the 1950s the Sinclair Oil and Gas and Cities Service Oil and Gas companies used the waterflood method in the field to increase output. Farming and ranching activities remained important to the local economy throughout the twentieth century. The town had a peak population of 1,071 in 1920. That figure dropped to 381 by 1960 before climbing to 461 in 1980.
Avant had 372 residents and nine business establishments in 2000, including a commercial bank, a child day-care service, and two limited-service restaurants. The town continued to maintain a post office and an elementary school. Employment and additional public services were available in Tulsa, Bartlesville, Skiatook, and other neighboring communities.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Avant," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Kenny A. Franks, The Osage Oil Boom (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1989). Osage County Profiles (Pawhuska, Okla.: Osage County Historical Society, 1978). Les Warehime, History of Ranching the Osage (Tulsa, Okla.: W. W. Publishing, 2000).
Jon D. May
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