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Located in Okfuskee County eight miles southeast of Okemah, Clearview is one of more than fifty All-Black towns of Oklahoma and one of only thirteen still existing. The town was founded in 1903 along the tracks of the Fort Smith and Western Railroad. J. A. Roper, Lemuel Jackson, and John Grayson platted the town site and formed the Lincoln Townsite Company to attract settlers and advertise the settlement. Originally the post office designation was Lincoln, but in 1904 a postal service order changed it to Abelincoln. This, however, was rescinded a month later. From its beginning the community supported a newspaper, the Lincoln Tribune, that evolved into the Clearview Patriarch. Grayson and Roper also organized the Abe Lincoln Trading Company to operate a general store, deal in farm produce, and buy and sell real estate. Grayson also became the town's first postmaster, and Roper owned a sawmill and lumberyard.

By 1904 the town boasted a two-story hotel and a print shop. Very early in its existence Clearview enjoyed a brick school building and two churches. Around 1911 Roper and Jackson departed, and J. E. Thompson moved to Clearview. In 1914 he announced to Booker T. Washington, at a Negro Business League meeting, that he owned or managed a total of fifty-eight hundred acres of land in Okfuskee County. From 1916 to 1920 John C. Leftwich operated Creek and Seminole Agricultural College northeast of town. A 1907 population figure of 618 declined by the late 1930s to 420. The Great Depression and the falling price of cotton had severely crippled the town. The 1990 census recorded only forty-seven people residing in Clearview.. The community still hosts an annual rodeo and in the 1990s experienced a resurgence of population.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Norman L. Crockett, The Black Towns (Lawrence: University of Kansas, 1979). "Official Programs of the Clearview Rodeo," Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. J. P. Owens, Clearview (Okemah, Okla.: J. P. Owens, 1995). Arthur Tolson, The Black Oklahomans: A History, 1541-1972 (New Orleans, La.: Edwards Printing Company, 1973).

Larry O'Dell

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