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DEVOL

Located just north of U.S Highway 70/State Highway 36 in Cotton County, Devol is six miles southeast of Grandfield and seven miles northwest of Randlett. The name honored J. Fiske Devol, who owned the property prior to the community's development. In 1907 the Wichita Falls and Northwestern Railway Company helped establish the town when it built tracks through the area. The U.S. Post Office Department established the post office on November 30, 1907. In 1911 the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway (MK&T) acquired the railroad.

By 1911 Devol comprised approximately four hundred residents and had a bank, newspaper, a number of retail outlets and restaurants, a hotel, and many cattle brokers. Beginning in approximately 1918, proximity to the Burkburnett oil field in Texas brought an influx of population and prosperity to the region. Although no significant oil discoveries were found near the town, many refineries were built, including the Constantine Refining Company and the Oklahoma Petroleum and Gasoline Company, which dismantled its West Tulsa plant and shipped it to the site. Several pipelines crossed the Red River to the community, while numerous wildcatters bought and sold area leases. Devol swelled with oil-field workers who, reportedly, wanted to live away from the more rowdy oil towns. The 1920 population stood at 1,936. The oil boom ended circa 1922, and the 1930 U.S. Census reported a population of 328. In 1927 the bank failed. In 1932 the Sinclair Pump Line Company still had a pipeline at the town.

Devol dwindled after World War II. In 1940 the population was 208, which declined to 152 in 1950. In 1953 the high school closed, and in 1957 all the grades consolidated with Randlett and Union Valley, creating the Big Pasture School District at Randlett. In 1959 a tornado inflicted major damage to the business district, destroying the railroad depot, Masonic Hall, a service station, and the post office. In 1960 Devol reached it lowest reported population at 117. From 1948 to 1961 the community did not hold municipal elections, and in 1972 the MK&T abandoned its tracks. In the early 1980s the only business was a tack shop specializing in racehorse saddles, selling its product by special order throughout the nation. In 1990 the population stood at 165. In 1997 the town successfully petitioned to keep its post office, which was again threatened with closure in 2002. Luther Eubanks, a Devol native, held the position of chief federal judge for the Western District of Oklahoma for four years and served as a federal judge for more than twenty years. The 2000 population stood at 150.

SEE ALSO: PETROLEUM, SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 24 April 1919, 13 January 1920, 31 August 1959, 28 December 1961, 22 January 1996, 9 June 1997, and 7 June 2002. Devol (Oklahoma) Review, 13 February 1919. History of Cotton County: Family and Area Stories (Walters, Okla.: Cotton County Historical Society, 1979).

Larry O'Dell

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