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COLE

Located on State Highway 74B in McClain County, Cole is six miles southeast of Blanchard. From 1855 the area existed in the Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory, with ranching a primary economic focus. In 1906 the Oklahoma Central Railway (OCR) laid tracks in the region. In 1912 surveyor H. Macklin and his associates from Chickasha platted the town near the railroad. The name honored Judge Preslie B. Cole, who had agricultural interests in the vicinity. The U.S. Post Office Department designated a Cole post office on April 2, 1912, with Sara Cunningham as the postmaster. Soon, a cotton gin was built, and O. A. Madden moved from Washington, Oklahoma, to establish a general store. In January 1913 the company of Haskins and Keltner, who already had a general store in Blanchard, opened a Cole franchise operated by Adrian Read. By 1918 the business was known as Keltner and Read, and eventually Read became the sole owner.

In 1913 the town's estimated population stood at twenty-five, and by 1918 it was only thirty. The two general stores remained the primary business entities in the town's early history. In 1914 the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway acquired the OCR. In 1942 the railroad abandoned the tracks from Purcell to Chickasha, including the segment through Cole. In 1954 the post office discontinued. In 1962 the residents completed incorporation proceedings, but the town became inactive. In 1975 the town reorganized and held municipal elections, with E. J. Oglesby attaining the mayor's office. The 1970 population was 131, which climbed to 309 in 1980. In the mid-twentieth century a cooperative gin and gristmill operated, and for most of the century's latter half Bridwell Mill and Supply served the area residents, continuing into the twenty-first century. The 2000 population stood at 473.

SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Blanchard (Oklahoma) Record, 11 July 1912, 25 July 1912, and 2 January 1913. Maurice H. Merrill, "The Oklahoma Central Railroad," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 59 (Winter 1981-82). Purcell (Oklahoma) Register, 17 April 1975, 24 April 1975, and 22 May 1975. Joyce Rex, ed., McClain County, Oklahoma: History and Heritage, Vol. 1 (Purcell, Okla.: McClain County Historical and Genealogical Society, 1986).

Larry O'Dell

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