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VICI

Located in the northwestern corner of Dewey County, Vici lies twenty-one miles south of Woodward on State Highway 34 at its intersection with U.S. Highway 60/State Highway 51. In February 1899 Albert Vincent received a permit to establish a post office two and one-half miles southeast of the present Vici site. He served as postmaster, and the mail came from Beement, six miles east. Vincent soon moved his post office/store to a spot three-fourths of a mile south of present Vici, and another store was moved there from Beement in 1902. That was the beginning of "Old Vici." More businesses followed, including a hotel, and a school appeared. On May 10, 1908, a tornado blew away the entire town, and the townspeople all huddled in a cave. There were no injuries, and residents quickly rebuilt their homes and business houses. The Vici Visitor was printed weekly in 1906, followed by the Vici Beacon from 1911.

Transportation access stimulated further growth. In 1911-12 the Wichita Falls and Northwestern Railway (later part of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas, or Katy) constructed a line past "Old Vici." Deciding to relocate closer to the railroad, residents moved their buildings to the new location by placing them on large axles and wheels pulled by horse-powered block and tackle. The business firm of Kell and Kent built the first building in "New Vici" and filed a town plat on September 11, 1911. Most of the business buildings were placed or constructed on an east-west street, Broadway; Main Street intersected and also served as a commercial artery. Many of the early buildings were still in use at the beginning of the twenty-first century. In 1911-12 a bank, a hardware store, and other businesses moved to "New Vici" from Cestos, a community to the east. A Dr. Houser came from Missouri to practice medicine and to be the postmaster. He built the new town's first brick building. Thomas Ray and sons Albert and Jesse came from Kiowa, Kansas, in January 1916 and bought Houser's building for a general store, which the family operated until 1983. The upper story housed the Masonic and Eastern Star hall for many years.

Vici was a prosperous agricultural-products shipping point in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. A 1920 population of 425 grew to 617 in 1940. In 1937 Vici's two-story school was replaced by a larger facility that was enlarged in the 1980s as rural school consolidation brought new students to town. Population declined after World War II, and by 1960 only 601 people inhabited the town. Ranching, oil and gas activity, and a large nursing home provided the economic base in the late twentieth century. Although railroad service ended in 1972, the town grew to 845 residents by 1980. Vici maintains a mayor and town board form of government. The 2000 census recorded 668 residents.

SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Spanning the River: Dewey County Family History (N.p.: Dewey County Historical Society, 1976). "Vici," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Olive Ray

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