An incorporated community in western Harper County, Rosston is situated along U.S. Highway 64, eighteen miles west of Buffalo and 189 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. The town was founded by Rapheal H. Ross, a West Virginian. He homesteaded nearby in 1901. After arriving in what was then Woodward County, Oklahoma Territory, Ross opened a lumberyard in now-defunct Readout. In 1907 he moved a few miles to the southwest and started a general store. By 1910 he owned approximately twenty-three hundred acres of land.
The Wichita Falls and Northwestern Railway, a Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway subsidiary, was constructed across Harper County in 1912. A depot was built on Ross's property about one-half mile west of his store. There a townsite was established in May 1912. The settlement was named Rosston for Ross and his business partner and relative, A. Rufus Ralston. Its post office opened in January 1914.
Early Rosston was a ranching and farming community whose principal commodities were cattle, hogs, and wheat. The Cox-Henry and the J. M. Higgins grain companies maintained grain elevators there, and the Rosston Milling Company processed flour. Other businesses included the Rosston Livery and Feed Barn, where horses and mules were sold, and the Spencer and McCord hotels. The First National Bank was located inside a two-story, brick structure built in 1912. The Rosston News and the General newspapers began publication in 1917 and 1923, respectively.
Rosston had 181 citizens in 1920. The town declined during the Great Depression, and its population fell from 185 in 1930 to 143 in 1940. Most business buildings were dismantled prior to 1960. At that time Rosston's population totaled 58. The Rosston and Laverne schools consolidated in 1970, and by 1973 only the post office, a garage, and a service station remained open. Passenger train service to Rosston stopped in 1940, and the local track was abandoned in 1972.
Rosston had 56 residents in 1970, 66 in 1980, 54 in 1990, and 66 in 2000. Only two businesses, a child day-care service and a petroleum-industry facility, operated at the end of the twentieth century. Agriculture remained key to the local economy.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Sage and Sod: Harper County, Oklahoma, 1885-1974, 2 vols. (N.p.: Harper County Historical Society, 1974-75). "Rosston," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.
Jon D. May
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