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ROCKY

Located in Washita County, Rocky is eleven miles southwest of Cordell on Highway 183. In 1897 W. F. Shultz and John C. Riffee arrived by wagon from Vernon, Texas, and founded the community. They built the small Rocky Mercantile Store in 1898. The two merchants gathered rock from the Kiowa Reservation, located eight miles southwest, to construct the building. Several American Indians traded at the establishment and always referred to it as the "Rocky Man Store." The business was located at the northern edge of present Rocky.

The Post Office Department established the Rocky post office on July 12, 1898, assigning the name used at the rock store building. Riffee served as the first postmaster. In 1906 the Rocky Weekly Advance reported that the post office handled more than one-third of the mail being delivered to Washita County. Rocky had five mail routes. In 1902 the Rocky State Bank was established as one of the first state banks in Oklahoma. In 1905 another bank opened. The town enjoyed a 64 percent growth rate in 1906. Ten new businesses and nine new homes had been constructed during the year at a cost of more than $18,700.

In 1902 the Blackwell, Enid and the Southwestern Railroad (later acquired by the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, commonly known as the Frisco) built through the town. Rocky is located in the center of a rich agricultural area, with good production of wheat, hay, and cotton. In 1906 Rocky was the home of three grain elevators and three cotton gins, and considerable hay and livestock were shipped out by rail. The town has had at least five newspapers during its history. The 1910 population stood at 378 and grew to 518 by 1930.

In 1897 an area school system, known as the Orange Blossom School, was officially organized and located just one-half mile south of present Rocky. About the time of 1907 statehood the town built a new schoolhouse, and during the late 1930s the Works Progress Administration constructed a new school, which became a community center. In 1967 Rocky residents voted to close the school district, which then consolidated with that of Sentinel. The 1940 population registered 442 but declined to 260 in 1970. U.S. Rep. Josh Lee attended school and later taught in Rocky. In 2000 the population was 174.

SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Cordell (Oklahoma) Beacon, 6 and 22 April 1998. Carl Jones, The Development of Washita County School Districts, 1892-1951, and Financing 1940-1952 (N.p.: Privately printed, 1952). Rocky (Oklahoma) Weekly Advance, 16 August 1906.

Heidi Self-Hoyt

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