The Woods County town of Avard is located in Township 26 North, Range 15 West, Sections 27 and 35, seven miles south and six miles west of Alva, the county seat. The town is situated on County Roads E0220 and N2370. The Avard post office was established on June 1, 1895, and named for the postmistress, Isabell Avard Todd. The Avard Town Company was incorporated in 1904 when the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, or Frisco, built lines westward from Enid, Oklahoma Territory, to connect with the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway at Avard. The town had the customary frontier business establishments, grocery and hardware stores, hotels, restaurants, barber and blacksmith shops, livery stables, saloons, grain elevators, and the Avard Tribune, a weekly newspaper.
The overly optimistic newspaper editor predicted Avard would have a population of thirty-five hundred within a year and that it and St. Louis would be the largest cities on the Frisco route. However, Avard only had 250 residents in 1909. The town served as a cattle- and agricultural products-shipping center for a large area. For years the broomcorn warehouse had a thriving business. It was reported that farmers were coming from as far as forty miles away to sell their broomcorn to Avard's Gerlach Mercantile Company. In 1904 the newspaper reported that thirty-two wagon loads of the product, valued at one thousand dollars, had been delivered to Gerlach's warehouse.
Avard prospered as an agricultural center and railroad transfer point from its founding in 1904 until the mid-1930s. In that decade Avard, like many farming towns, declined because of the nation's economic depression, devastating drought and dust storms, the resulting farm consolidation, and an improved national transportation system. The town was further devastated when tornadoes struck different parts of the community in 1943 and 1944. Avard's public school district, Number 140, had been organized on June 29, 1894. The school, a victim of school consolidation, graduated its last class in 1968.
By 1990 Avard's population had dwindled to thirty-seven residents who lived in eleven owner-occupied housing units. The 2000 census recorded a population of twenty-six. At the beginning of the twenty-first century Avard had one business establishment, a 300,000-bushel wheat elevator, that was a substation of the Alva Farmers' Co-Op Association.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Avard (Oklahoma) Tribune, 2 June and 1 December 1904. Mildred Julian Hager, et al., comps., Woods (M) County Oklahoma Schools (N.p., 1997). George A. Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names (2d ed.; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1974).
© Oklahoma Historical Society