Phillips is located in Coal County on U.S. Highway 75, three miles south of Coalgate, the county seat. Phillips began as a mining camp, situated between Coalgate and Lehigh on the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway (MK&T). The town was named for Henry L. Phillips, who owned a store and operated a coal mine. When the post office was authorized on April 2, 1892, he became the first postmaster.
In 1908, one year after Oklahoma statehood, the Phillips school opened with John H. Andrews, Lillian Strauss, and Jewel Stephenson as the first teachers. The town supported the MK&T station, several cafes, and an ice plant. By 1918 Phillips had electricity provided by the Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and a Methodist church had been organized. At that time the town had an estimated population of 650.
Like other mining towns, Phillips suffered economic decline when the deep coal mines closed in 1921. Consequently, the population fell from 972 in 1920 to 176 in 1930. The post office closed on April 2, 1927, and the school was annexed to Coalgate in 1956. At the turn of the twenty-first century, Phillips had 150 residents.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Oklahoma State Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1918 (Detroit, Mich.: R. L. Polk and Co., 1918). Betty Poe, comp. and ed., History of Coal County, Oklahoma (Dallas, Tex.: Curtis Media, 1986).
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