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MARBLE CITY

Located in Sequoyah County, approximately nine miles north of Sallisaw, Marble City is by County Road E1000, leading west from U.S. Highway 69 at Brushy. The early history of Marble City is closely tied to that of Arkansas Territory and the Western Cherokees. In 1828 the area received its first post office, serving Nicksville, in Lovely County, Arkansas, (to which the region was briefly attached). That post office discontinued in 1829 when the federal government moved the Western Cherokees from Arkansas into the area and ordered all non-Indians to vacate. At that time the Arkansas Territorial Legislature terminated its claim to the land. In May 1829 Dwight Mission relocated from Arkansas and took over the Nicksville improvements.

During the remainder of the nineteenth century the site of future Marble City was distinguished primarily by constant changes in postal designation as a settlement gradually formed there. In 1835 a post office was designated nearby as "Kidron," named for a stream mentioned in the Bible. Kidron served the area's Cherokee settlers and missionaries. James Orr, affiliated with the mission, served as postmaster. In 1858 the post office moved elsewhere and changed its designation to Marble Salt Works, but the next year another Kidron post office was established near the Dwight Mission location. In 1869 this post office discontinued. In 1886 the Post Office Department opened a Kedron (spelled with an e) post office near the same location. By 1895, when the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad (later the Kansas City Southern Railway) laid tracks through the area, the post office moved adjacent to the railroad, closer to a marble quarry, and was redesignated Marble.

Meanwhile, people continued to settle there, enticed by railroad access and business opportunities. In 1910 the population stood at 342. In 1906 the name of the community changed to Marble City, and by 1911 the town had a bank, a newspaper, a hotel, a telephone exchange, five general stores, numerous livestock dealers, and many other retail outlets. In the early twentieth century the Marble City News and the Marble City Enterprise reported to the town. In 1920 the U.S. Census reported 344 residents.

Farming, ranching, and quarrying contributed to the town's growth. The region has Oklahoma's only true marble outcrops, with commercial quarrying beginning in approximately 1895. From 1906 to 1914 the Ozark Marble Company mined the stone, with its product used in the construction of Oklahoma City's Pioneer Telephone Building and at the Rice Institute (later Rice University) in Houston, Texas. In 1932 two limestone companies and two sawmills operated. In 1939 the Sinclair Lime Company began mining limestone near the town, and in 1964 they built a large plant that converted limestone into quicklime. In the 1960s the town also held three kilns used to manufacture charcoal briquets. The 2002 annual report of the Oklahoma Mining Commission reported Global Stone Saint Clair, Incorporated, and Marble City Gravel, Incorporated, as registered limestone companies.

For the last half of the twentieth century Marble City remained a small agricultural and industrial center with a few grocers and gas stations serving the residents. In 1961 Watie Davault stepped down as mayor, a position he had held for forty-seven years. The 1960 population was 271, and it climbed slightly to 294 in 1980. Dwight Mission (NR 73001570), three miles southwest of town, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Citizen's State Bank building (NR 88001235) is also listed. In 2000 the kindergarten through eighth grade enrollment was 176, and the population stood at 242.

SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Lucille McGee Choate, "Marble City Community History," in The History of Sequoyah County, 1828-1975 (N.p.: Sequoyah County Historical Society, 1976). Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 13 August 1933, 29 December 1961, and 25 June 1965. H. D. Ragland, A History of Sequoyah County, Oklahoma (Sallisaw, Okla.: H. D. Ragland, 1957).

Larry O'Dell

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