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VERA

Vera is a rural community in southern Washington County. It is situated approximately seven miles southeast of Ramona and two miles east of U.S. Highway 75, near the intersection of County Roads E0390 and N4000. Originally known as Evans, the town was renamed Vera in November 1899 and incorporated in 1904. Vera's first mayor was Hugh Watson.

Vera's history began when William C. Rogers opened a store there in 1899. Rogers, who was elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1903, employed William and Cecilia Evans, a Welsh couple, for whom the town was first named. The Vera post office was established on December 15, 1899, with Eli Carr as postmaster. Rogers donated the land upon which the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway depot was constructed in 1900. The town's population increased from 175 in 1907 to 312 in 1910.

Vera was a farming community whose primary crops were corn and hay. A grain elevator and hay barns lined the railroad tracks, and the Richardson Grain Company was founded by Charlie Richardson in 1905. Abundant harvests of prairie hay resulted in Vera's designation as "the Hay Capital of the World." The community experienced an oil boom in 1915. The Vera Field, located southeast of town, had twenty-five oil wells and nine gas wells by mid-October 1915. Several dairies operated near Vera during the 1930s.

Vera's first school opened in 1900. A brick school building was constructed in 1910, and a larger facility was erected in 1928-29. The Cherokee Times and the Vera Monitor were early newspapers. The latter became the Vera Record in 1913.

Improved roads and the prevalence of automobiles caused Vera's population to decline after 1920, reaching a low of 125 in 1960. The 1970 and 1980 censuses reported 215 and 185, respectively. The railroad depot and business district were gone by 1982, and only four churches, the post office, a fire station, and a convenience store remained. The town had 188 residents in 2000. At the turn of the twenty-first century children in Vera, in addition to those in Ochelata and Oglesby, attended the Caney Valley public schools in Ramona.

SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Ruby Cranor, Caney Valley Ghost Towns and Settlements (Bartlesville, Okla.: Blackman Printing, 1985). Paul F. Lambert, Margaret Withers Teague, and Kenny A. Franks, Washington County: A Centennial History (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1999). Margaret Withers Teague, History of Washington County and Surrounding Area, 2 vols. (Bartlesville, Okla.: Bartlesville Historical Commission, 1967-68). "Vera," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Jon D. May

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