Located in northern Grant County, Renfrow is situated ten miles northeast of Medford, the county seat, on U.S. Highway 81 (the Chisholm Trail Highway). The area was opened to non-Indian settlement during the Cherokee Outlet Opening on September 16, 1893. Named in honor of territorial Gov. William C. Renfrow, a post office was established on May 25, 1894. The town developed along the Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway (later the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway), which built a line from the Kansas-Oklahoma state line to Minco (Grady County) in 1889-90. According to a pioneer, the railroad had a siding, used for loading hay and grain, located three miles south of Renfrow and known as Bird's Point.
Situated in an agricultural area, Renfrow businesses served the local farm population. By 1909 two general stores, two hardware stores, two grain dealers, a livery, and a blacksmith offered goods and services to the farmer. Citizens supported the Christian and Methodist churches, a bank, and a weekly newspaper. In the 1930s commercial establishments included a bank, a lumberyard, and three grain elevators. Two teachers taught students in a brick school building. Through the mid-1940s and mid-1950s the Bank of Renfrow continued to serve the community as well as the Mutual Telephone Company, a grocery store, two gasoline stations, and a branch of the Clyde Cooperative Association.
In 1900 Renfrow had 129 inhabitants. At 1907 statehood 159 individuals resided in the town. Population peaked at 207 in 1910. Thereafter, it continued to decline from 132 in 1920 to 39 in 1970. As the population dwindled, the high school was closed in 1927 and the elementary school ceased to exist in 1968. In 1980 and 1990 the census reported 27 and 19, respectively. At the turn of the twenty-first century the incorporated town had 16 residents.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2003). "Renfrow," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Guy P. Webb, History of Grant County, Oklahoma, 1811-1970 ([North Newton, Kans.]: Grant County Historical Society, 1971).
Linda D. Wilson
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