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RANDLETT

Randlett lies in extreme southern Cotton County at the intersection of U.S. Highway 277/281 and U.S. Highway 70 and is approximately one mile east of Interstate 44 and sixteen miles southeast of Walters, the county seat. The only surviving town of the five original platted townsites established with the 1906 Big Pasture Opening, Randlett was named for James Randlett, an Indian agent for the Kiowa and Comanche. Town lots were sold by public auction on May 13, 1907, with an estimated forty-five hundred potential buyers present. John Mabee, soon to be a successful oil entrepreneur, was a pioneer of the new town.

By 1910 Randlett had two banks, a newspaper, numerous retail businesses, professionals, and a population of 574. Although bids for a railroad failed (a proposed roadbed was graded, but the tracks were never laid), the town prospered by serving the needs of a surrounding agricultural area. In the late 1910s and 1920s, with the success of nearby oil and natural gas fields, a drilling boom occurred near Randlett. The two banks merged in 1912 and closed in 1931. In 1920 the population stood at 323, declining to 257 in 1930. In the early twentieth century the Randlett Enterprise, the American, the Randlett News, and the Randlett Progressor reported the district's news.

Randlett remained a small agricultural community throughout the twentieth century. In 1957 the schools of Devol, Randlett, and Union Valley consolidated, establishing the Big Pasture School District in Randlett. In 1964 the H. E. Bailey Turnpike opened, connecting Oklahoma City to Randlett, the last Oklahoma town north of the Red River. The 1960 population was 356, climbing to 461 in 1980. In 1987 the city had elections for the first time in four years when residents succumbed to the fear of losing a monthly state gasoline tax allotment. U.S. Rep. Toby Morris attended the Randlett schools, and U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Fratis L. Duff was born in the town. In 2000 the population stood at 511, with many of residents commuting to work in Wichita Falls, Texas, and Lawton.

SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Charles M. Cooper, "The Big Pasture," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 35 (Summer 1957). Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 14 May 1907, 11 December 1932, 25 March 1962, 5 November 1987, and 7 February 1991. History of Cotton County: Family and Area Stories (Walters, Okla.: Cotton County Historical Society, 1979).

Larry O'Dell

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