Located in west-central Creek County, Depew is situated on Historic Route 66, approximately twenty-nine miles southwest of the county seat, Sapulpa. The area around Depew was originally within the Creek Nation, Indian Territory. A settlement known as Hall developed near future Depew when the St. Louis and Oklahoma City Railroad (later the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway) built a line between Sapulpa and Oklahoma City in 1898. In 1901 Walter F. Malley founded the town, and a post office known as Depew, in honor of U.S. Sen. Chauncy M. Depew of New York, was established on April 12, 1901. Beginning on June 5, 1905, the Depew Investment Company platted a town and sold lots. During 1905 and 1906 children received an education at a subscription school taught by Florance Atwell. In 1909 a school building was erected.
Before oil was discovered nearby in 1911, Depew served as an agricultural support center. With an estimated population of 150 in 1909, the townspeople used the First State Bank and read the Depew Independent newspaper. Farmers patronized a cotton gin, a hardware store, two blacksmith shops, and three general stores. By 1915 the oil field near Depew had developed, and the Sapulpa and Oil Fields Railroad constructed a line from Depew to Shamrock, another oil-boom town. By the 1930s several grain mills, three gasoline plants, and four cotton gins operated. In 1950 the Oklahoma Natural Gas Company built a large underground storage plant south of Depew.
The first federal census reported a peak population of 1,126 for Depew in 1930. The next three decades saw a decline from 876 in 1940 to 686 in 1960. Numbers increased slightly to 739 in 1970 but declined to 682 and 502 in 1980 and 1990, respectively. At the turn of the twenty-first century Depew, with 564 residents, had two elementary schools and a high school. Ninety-three percent of employed residents commuted to jobs in Bristow and Sapulpa. Painter and sculptor Wayne Cooper was born in Depew.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Depew," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2003).
Linda D. Wilson
© Oklahoma Historical Society