Located at the intersection of County Roads E2050 and N3675 in Bryan County, Silo lies three miles north of U.S. Highway 70 from Kiersey Corner. In the nineteenth century the location was on the stage route from Fort Smith, Arkansas, through the Choctaw Nation into Texas. The stage stopped at Nail's Crossing, located three miles southwest of Kenefic, and crossed the Blue River at that point, before making stops at Cotton Trail Junction, south of the present-day town of Brown, at Robbers Roost, and at Silo. All three of those communities had a post office, with the stage delivering their mail.
In the early years there was an American Indian school located nearby. Early non-Indian settlers in the area lived at a campground northwest of the school while they searched for a homestead. The site had a spring, supplying the families with water. In 1893 Silo's post office opened. There were two grocery stores, one owned by J. E. Shelnut and the other by Claude Harrison, a drug store owned by a Mr. Hampton, a barber shop run by Luther Wingate, a restaurant owned by Tom Croley, a dry goods store, a blacksmith shop, a harness and boot repair shop, a wagonyard, three doctors who ran their businesses from their homes, and a hotel. When the hotel caught fire, the townspeople strung up wet wagon sheets to prevent the burning of other businesses.
In 1900 Silo's population stood at 246. According to the Bryan County Abstract Company, Silo was surveyed in May 1901 and officially approved as a town by the U.S. Department of the Interior on September 10, 1901. East-west streets were Texas, Bourne, Houston, and Washita. Main Street traversed north and south, with East First, Second, and Third to the east, and West First, Second, and Third to the west. In addition, there were two small streets, Cotton Lane and Park Lane, which flanked a small lake where two cotton gins were located. The business section stood on Main Street, between Bourne and Texas streets. For a while Silo's businesses served an agricultural community. When the St. Louis, San Francisco and New Orleans Railroad built tracks from Hugo through Durant to Ardmore in 1902-03, it bypassed Silo, and the town began to decline.
Before 1907 statehood, the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, had no free schools for non-Indians in communities that were not incorporated. If an incorporated town had a population of at least two hundred, it could collect taxes to build a school. Silo residents built a house on the corner of West Second and Texas Street. There have been at least two schools at that location. The town demolished the first and used the material to rebuild at the same site. The school served students through the eighth grade, and high school students attended classes at either Cobb or Mead. As Silo was located midway between those two locales, a consolidated school was built in the town to serve the three communities. In 1970 the new school opened, initiating a resurgence in Silo.
At 1907 statehood the population had dropped to 180, and in 1910 it was 152. During the 1940s and 1950s there were two stores still in business. In 1946 the post office, which was located in Harrison's store, closed. The population in 1980 stood at 43, rising to 249 in 1990 and 282 in 2000.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: The History of Bryan County, Oklahoma (Durant, Okla.: Bryan County Heritage Association, 1983). Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2003).
© Oklahoma Historical Society