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Located in Sequoyah County, Gans is on State Highway 141, approximately seven miles southeast of Sallisaw and one mile southwest of U.S. Highway 64. Originally lying within the Sequoyah District of the Cherokee Nation, the dispersed rural area was locally called Jack Town. It subsequently became known as Gann, after the brothers Charlie, Swimmer, and Tom Gann. In 1895-96 the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad built tracks through this location and requested the residents change the name to Gans, as the rail system already included two localities named Gann. In 1899 the post office, which had been established in 1896, was renamed Gans. In 1900 the railroad sold its holdings to the Kansas City Southern Railway.

Gans's growth in the early nineteenth century was due to agriculture and to market access through the railroad. In 1900 Gans's population stood at 136, and by 1911 the town had a bank, two cotton gins, a sawmill, six general stores, three doctors, two drug stores, two blacksmiths, and a restaurant. The Gans Reporter served as an early, short-lived newspaper. Cattle and hog raising as well as farm production dominated the economy. In 1918 the surrounding region and town could shop at nine retail establishments. The town also had a bank, three churches, a cotton gin, and a sawmill. By 1920 the population climbed to 295, but it declined to 204 in 1930. In 1924 the bank relocated to Sallisaw.

In 1933 Gans, which had incorporated under federal guidelines for the Cherokee Nation in 1902, lost its corporate status. In 1953 the town reincorporated, and by 1960 it had a population of 234. In January 1957 a devastating tornado struck, killing eight people, injuring eleven, and inflicting an estimated $100,000 worth of property damage. In 1980 the population was 346. The town's children attend the Gans School District, which had 250 students in 1990. Gans native Bryant "Big Country" Reeves, an Oklahoma State University and professional basketball player, donated a city hall building in 2002 after he retired and returned to live in his home town. In 2000 the U.S. Census reported 208 residents, with most employed residents commuting to work in larger towns. The kindergarten through high school enrollment had climbed to 321.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Cherokee Fox Clemmons, "Gans History," in The History of Sequoyah County, 1828-1975 (N.p.: Sallisaw, Okla.: Sequoyah County Historical Society, 1976). Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 24 January 1957 and 14 January 2002.

Larry O'Dell

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