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Incorporated in September 1915, the south-central Okmulgee County community of Dewar is situated three miles northeast of Henryetta and twelve miles south of Okmulgee on U.S. Highway 266. Dewar originated as a train depot and became a settlement founded by railroad workers in 1909. Once the townsite was established, a post office opened there on April 27, 1909. Dewar was named after William Peter Dewar of Muskogee, an official of the Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway (MO&G) and a member of the board of directors of the Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway Company of Texas. The MO&G went into receivership in 1913 and was reorganized as the Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway (KO&G) in 1919.

From the mid-1910s into the early 1930s Dewar was a thriving community whose growth was fueled by the railroad, coal, and petroleum industries. A cotton gin opened there in 1915, and the Okmulgee Northern Railway (ON) was built through town in 1916. Also in 1916, natural gas-fired zinc smelters were built nearby. In 1920 Dewar experienced the historical peak of its population, 1,558. In 1930 the town had two schools, four churches, the KO&G, two bus lines, and 994 residents. City administrators then included Mayor S. A. Varner; police chief, B. F. Morgan; city clerk, Miss J. E. Powers; and postmaster, E. B. Larimore. Early newspapers were the Dewar Telegram and the Dewar News.

By the late 1930s and early 1940s, as Oklahoma's coal industry declined, Dewar's local coal mines were closed and crude production was limited to oil leases. During the 1940s the population experienced its sharpest drop, declining to 778. That figure subsequently rose from 1,015 in 1950 to 1,048 in 1980. Both the KO&G and the ON railway lines were abandoned in June 1964.

Dewar had seven businesses and 919 citizens in 2000. At that time, manufacturing and the education, health, retail, and social service industries sustained the local economy. The town had an elementary school and a high school. The nearest hospital and airport were at Henryetta.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Dewar," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Okmulgee Historical Society and the Heritage Society of America, comps. and eds., History of Okmulgee County, Oklahoma, Vol. 1 (Tulsa, Okla.: Historical Enterprises, 1985). Lawrence Thompson, "The Doers Do It at Dewar," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 21 January 1940.

Glynis Coleman

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