The southern Hughes County town known as Gerty is located approximately eight miles south of Calvin at the crossing of County Roads E1500 and N3780, one mile west of U.S. Highway 75. The town lies eight miles southeast of Allen and approximately seventeen miles southeast of Holdenville, the county seat. The community's original name was Buzzard Flop, situated in the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory. Although buzzards may not have roosted there, the place was a rest stop for travelers and freighters on the trail from Fort Smith, Arkansas, through McAlester and the Choctaw Nation to Stonewall. The site provided clear spring water and level camping spots. Before 1880 the surrounding country (owned by the Choctaw Nation) made an ideal cattle country, many of the American Indians possessing large ranches. In 1893 James S. Raydon built a log cabin, put in a grocery store, and established a post office. The latter was approved by the federal government on June 15, 1894, and called Guertie, for Raydon's daughter. Raydon was the first postmaster.
When whites began to arrive, they leased and cultivated the land, raising cotton, corn, wheat, oats, and fruit. In 1891 the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway built its line ten miles north of Guertie. After the Dawes Commission had accomplished its work in allotting land to eligible Choctaws, George Sorrell sold his quarter section, containing Guertie, to the federal government. The townsite was then surveyed and the lots sold, stimulating settlement. In December 1907 the town name was changed to Raydon. In that year of statehood the town had population of 600, four general mercantile stores, three hotels, three drug stores, two blacksmith shops, three active lodges, three churches, a hospital, a bank, a café, a sawmill, and a newspaper called the Guertie News. Because citizens began to get mail intended for Ragan, in June 1910 the Post Office Department changed the name back to Guertie and then changed the spelling to Gerty, to avoid confusion with Guthrie in Logan County.
Subscription schools first solved the problem of education. In 1903 a two-story, frame building was constructed on the present school site. Money, labor, and lumber were donated, the latter freighted in from the Kiamichi Mountains. In 1923 the districts of Gatewood and Lawrence consolidated with Gerty. Social Hill also merged with Gerty in 1947. The first class to complete an accredited high school course graduated in 1929. By 1936 170 students attended the grade school, and 55 attended the high school, but by 2000 the Gerty School District served only 28 students. The population of Gerty stood at 305 in 1910, 251 in 1920, 137 in 1930, 206 in 1940, 155 in 1950, 135 in 1960, 139 in 1970, 149 in 1980, 95 in 1990, and 101 in 2000. The town serves a surrounding agricultural community, and some residents find work in Holdenville or Coalgate.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Gerty," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2003.
Fran Cook and Spencer P. Petete
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