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DILL CITY

Located in Washita County on State Highway 42, Dill City is nine miles west of Cordell. Non-Indians settled in the area after the 1892 Cheyenne and Arapaho Opening. The Dill post office was established August 9, 1902, and named for David S. Dill, an attorney from Hobart who conducted the legal work that created the town. The Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway later bought by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway, had listed the town as Dill City, while the U.S. Post Office Department designated it Dill. Town leaders hoped to clear up the confusion and changed the name to Dill City on February 1, 1944.

Frank McDonald, in an agreement with the Delaware Western Construction Company, a division of the Orient Railroad, deeded a portion of his farm to establish the town. On the evening of February 23, 1903, the Orient Land and Townsite Company held an auction to sell lots, in anticipation of the coming railroad. The northern half of Dill developed on land owned by Lucretia Reed.

By 1908, after the Orient built tracks through the area, Dill had become an active community, supporting a telephone exchange, a local newspaper, three dry goods and grocery stores, and a hardware and implement store, that carried a large stock of buggies, wagons, harness, saddles, and plow tools. The town also boasted a drugstore, a printing office, two doctors, two hotels, restaurants, a pool hall, a bank, a barbershop, a furniture store, two livery stables, a lumberyard, a cotton gin, several churches, a railroad depot, a two-cell city jail, and other smaller businesses. In that year, however, a disastrous fire broke out. A bucket brigade, using a downtown water well, attempted to control it, but it destroyed several buildings. Many of the businesses were not reestablished. The 1910 population stood at 240, slowly climbing to 511 by 1930.

The Dill School District was established with the 1904 school term. From 1907 until 1911 several schools joined the district, and in 1911 the Dill City Consolidated District Number Three was established and continued to grow. In 1993, due to loss of population and decrease in students, the district was consolidated with the Burns Flat School District to form the Burns Flat-Dill City Schools.

Dill City served as a water station for the railroad. Agriculture and ranching have been the economic mainstay during most of the town's history. The population registered 453 in 1950, 578 in 1970, and 526 in 2000.

SEE ALSO: CHEYENNE-ARAPAHO OPENING, SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Carl Jones, The Development of Washita County School Districts, 1892-1951, and Financing 1940-1952 (N.p.: Carl Jones, 1952). Vester Montgomery, "History of Washita County" (M.A. Thesis, University of Oklahoma, 1929). Dee Ann Ray, "Dill City: Queen of Washita County," Cordell (Oklahoma) Beacon, 13 April 1984.

Wayne Boothe

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