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GOLTRY

Goltry, a rural community in far southeastern Alfalfa County, lies twenty miles southeast of Cherokee, the county seat. Through Goltry passes State Highway 45, by which Enid, the nearest city, is twenty miles to the east. Opened to non-Indian settlement in September 1893 as part of the Cherokee Outlet, the area was in Woods County until the creation of Alfalfa County at 1907 statehood. After the opening, a settlement called Karoma emerged on the John Streich farm, approximately one and one-half miles southeast of present Goltry. Among the township's early arrivals were a considerable number of Germans from Russia (ethnic Germans who had immigrated to the United States from homes in Russia), farmers by occupation. A number of other settlers hailed from the German state of Bohemia and from Switzerland. As late as 2000, 33 percent of the town's residents claimed to have German ancestry.

Goltry owes its existence to the Arkansas Valley and Western Railway (later part of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, or Frisco, system), which in 1904 constructed a line from east to west across that part of Woods County that after 1907 was Alfalfa County. Karoma's townspeople moved most of their homes and businesses to the railroad. In 1904 a townsite company headed by John Linden surveyed and platted the town on 240 acres. The new community was incorporated and named for Enid resident Charles Goltry, who owned the land and whose milling company constructed a grain elevator there. James Hagemeier was appointed Goltry's postmaster in January 1904. At statehood, 183 people made Goltry their home.

Rail access made the settlement a market center. By 1910 the town had 320 residents, two churches, a public school, a bank, and the Goltry News. An elevator, an implement dealer, and a grain dealer served area farmers, and residents enjoyed about a dozen retail establishments, a billiard parlor, and telephone connections. Hovering between two and three hundred throughout the twentieth century, the population peaked in 1930 at 346. Despite the economic depression of the 1930s the town prospered as a shipping and market center. Oil production in southeastern Alfalfa County began in the mid-1920s and bolstered Goltry's economy. Three oil producers/refiners constructed loading racks at the railroad siding there. During the 1930s the citizens approved a water system bond, secured a new community building, high school, and grade school, and constructed a public park. A slow decline brought the population to 330 in 1940, 313 in 1960, and 305 in 1980. During the 1940s and 1950s Goltry and the surrounding agricultural area, which produced wheat and livestock, supported eighteen businesses and a bank.

Agriculture, petroleum, and the railroad sustained Goltry through the second half of the century. Wheat production primary, but nearby oil and gas production during the 1960s and 1970s boosted income. The town reincorporated in December 1974. In the 1990s residents supported five churches, a bank, a Farmers' Co-Op elevator, and a few businesses, and the consolidated Timberlake School District educated the youth of Helena, Jet, Nash, and Goltry. The Farmers' Exchange Elevator is listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NR 83004156). In 2000 the town had a population of 268, down from 297 in 1990.

SEE ALSO: CHEROKEE OUTLET OPENING, SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Goltry," Vertical File, Public Library of Enid and Garfield County, Enid, Oklahoma. "Goltry," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Our Alfalfa County Heritage, 1893-1976 (N.p.: Alfalfa County Historical Society, 1976). Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publications, 2003).

Dianna Everett

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