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VERNON

An All-Black town located in southwestern McIntosh County ten miles southeast of Dustin, Vernon was established in 1911 on the Tankard Ranch in what was then the Creek Nation. Vernon is one of more than fifty All-Black towns of Oklahoma and one of thirteen still existing. Thomas Haynes secured much of the land for the town site and played a large part organizing the community. Its name honored Bishop W. T. Vernon of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The town received a post office designation in 1912, with Ella Woods as the postmistress. Edward Woodard served as the town's first president, but the office did not last long. Mrs. Louise Wesley established the first school and church. The congregation conducted church under a tree; Mrs. Wesley taught school in her home. In 1917 the community built the New Hope Baptist Church. The Julius Rosenwald Fund provided money to help build a public school. Vernon was one of the first communities in Oklahoma to receive assistance from the Rosenwald Fund.

The Vernon Rock Front Post Office is listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NR 84003152). Rock Hill School is listed in the Oklahoma Landmarks Inventory as a resource related to African American history. Like many rural towns of Oklahoma, Vernon suffered economic distress during the Great Depression. The exodus of many residents to urban centers after World War II added to the loss of population.

SEE ALSO: AFRICAN AMERICAN FRATERNAL ORDERS, AFRICAN AMERICANS, AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, ALL-BLACK TOWNS, BOLEY, CLEARVIEW, NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES, ROSENWALD SCHOOLS, SEGREGATION

BIBLIOGRAPHY: George Carney, "Historic Resources of Oklahoma's All-Black Towns: A Preservation Profile," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 69 (Summer 1991). Jimmie Lewis Franklin, Journey Toward Hope: A History of Blacks in Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1982). Arthur Tolson, The Black Oklahomans: A History, 1541-1972 (New Orleans, La.: Edwards Printing Company, 1972). "Vernon," Vertical File, WPA Writers Project, Archives and Manuscripts Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Larry O'Dell

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