Coal County, Oklahoma
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Coordinator: Mel Owings

 

Clarita

 

Soon after Oklahoma opened for Statehood, many small towns and villages sprang up. This was due to the influx of many people seeking a better way of life.

One of these small villages was later known as Kittie. It was located in the northwest section of Section 11, 1S, 8 E in Coal County. When a post office was established on January 3, 1902, it was named for Kittie Toler, daughter of E. B. Toler, first postmaster.

A townsite was never laid out but the village soon had a cotton gin ran by a Plez Goff, a general store, the post office and a school.

Several homes were established here as people from Missouri, Kansas, Texas, and Arkansas came to the blacklands of western Coal County. It was later to be known as the garden and agriculture belt of the county.

Kittie, like many villages, had a short life for by 1908 talk of a railroad soon to be built to run from Muskogee to Denison, Texas, was the talk of all around. As soon as the line was surveyed a townsite was bought but since the railroad would pass nearly a mile away it spelled doom for Kittie as a town.

An ad in a county paper told of the auction of town lots to be sold in the new town of Clarita. This was to take place on Monday, November 9, 1909. It was to feature a Balloon ascension, with a man and a woman to jump out of it in parachutes. It would be followed by a big 'bar-b-que', sponsored by the Ashflat Land Company and the M. O. and G. Railroad.

Lots would be sold to the highest bidder with a down payment of 25% and the remainder to be paid at 10% per month on the balance of the sale price. D. A. Sloan was the townsite developer.

The name of Clarita was chosen to replace Kittie by the railroad to honor the wife William Kenefick, President of the M. O. and G. Railroad of Kansas City. On January 19, 1910 the post office was changed to Clarita and Kittie ceased to exist.

By 1910 Clarita was a booming town and agriculture center on the railroad. The railroad was offering two north bound departures at 10:34 a.m. and 6:44 p.m. South bound left the depot at 9:45 a.m. and 5:11 p.m. The depot burned in December 1911 but was replaced by a more modern depot with a waiting room for blacks and another one for whites. The freight office and storage was about 28' x 40' square feet and the office was equipped with telegraph service.

With the coming of the railroad, Clarita had two major lumber companies. The McGee Creek Lumber Company, owned by G. T. Crawford and managed by H. M. Grimland, The Lingo-Looper Lumber Company, A. D. Trout, Manager, and later by a Mr. Danner.

By September 1910 the town had a newspaper. The Clarita Enterprise, published by T. J. Minnis as editor and subscription was $1.00 per year.

Dr. J. M. Duncan had been living in the area since 1901. He lived east of town and operated a large farm.

Dr. E. F. Taylor of Bromide moved his practice to Clarita in June of 1910 and offices in the Clarita Pharmacy, managed by J. W. Wilkins as proprietor. In March, of 1912, Dr. John Gazebrook, a Cancer specialist, joined Dr. Taylor in his office to specialize in cancer treatment. Dr. Taylor continued to practice in Clarita until 1927 when he moved with his family to Maysville, Oklahoma.

A Dr. Richardson had his office in the rear of the bank building. A Dr. L. M. Overton used this same office for practice at a later date.

In January 1910 the Wapanucka Oil and Milling Company announced the building of a new cotton gin at Clarita. This did not materialize and in 1911 a Mr. Reed built a gin on Main Street, two blocks north of O'Neal Avenue, and it was run by Plez Goff who had operated the gin at Kittie.

The first electric cotton gin was built by the Petty Brothers Gin Company, Claud and J. D., and brought electricity to Clarita in June 1926. Until that time electricity was used only by a small group of businesses as furnished by a gas generator in the Schmelzer Blacksmith Shop and Garage. The new electric service furnished by the Public Service Company allowed everyone to obtain electric service. Claud Petty continued to operate the gin until being bought out by the Texoma Gins, Inc., Dallas, in the early 40's. J. S. Maytubby later managed the gin, as later did John E. Grigsby, and L. A. Stutte.

In 1910 the town had its first bank, The First State Bank, with C. B. Burrows as President and John D. Baldwin as cashier. R. E. Callaway later operated this bank before it closed. The Farmers State Bank was chartered and opened for business on September 8, 1922 with T. A. Bryan as President. Jake Ray was Cashier at the bank when it was robbed on September 26, 1927 with the robbers getting away with only $300.

Cotton was being produced up to 1 1/2 bales per acre. Oats in excess of 100 bushels per acre and wheat at 40 bushels per acre. Corn at 50-60 bushels per acre. In 1911, D. A. Sloan was to plant 80 acres of onions. Several acres of peaches and apples had been planted. An ad in the paper indicated that peaches could be bought at the Duncan Farm for 25 per bushel.

By 1910, Jimmy and Inez Kitchens were operating a hotel near the depot. The Clarita Hotel, on O'Neal Avenue, was operated by Mrs. T. S. Minnis, wife of the newspaper owner. Both hotels offered meals for 25 cents per meal.

Mr. C. C. Guerry operated a dray service until the 20's when Bruce B. Carter, formerly of Stonewall, entered the dray service and hauled groceries from Coalgate and McAlester warehouses.

E. E. Kitchens operated a barber shop. In 1911, Kitchens and Anders operated a barber shop with Moore operating a shop for more than 30 years. Later Ernest Shockey and Paul Maynard barbered at Clarita.

In April 1909, George W. O'Neal, a member of the first state legislature, quit teaching school at Kittie to devote full time in the O'Neal Brothers Store. George W. and L. M. O'Neal operated a General Merchandise store and also sold Studebaker Wagons and undertaking supplies. Their ad showed them selling flour for $1.60 per hundred, 2 cans of tomatoes for 10 cents, and salt for $1.60 a barrel.

Boucher Brothers, buyer of poultry, eggs and butter, also sold farm equipment and Moline Wagons. They built a 30' X 50' corrugated building to house their farm implements which was located at the corner of Main and O'Neal Avenue.

C. A. O'Neal and A. E. Collier, were contractors, specializing in home and business buildings.

Blanclet and Guynes build and operated a livery, feed and sale barn in February 1910.

The Texas Store, one of the largest General merchandise Stores in town, was owned and operated by John W. Butz.

In 1910, J. H. Evens from Missouri came and put in the first hardware store in town.

The One-Price Store, selling furniture, undertaking goods and feed stuff, was owned and operated by R. A. Arnold.

W. A. Austin of Bromide came and put in a General Merchandise Store in 1911, the Clarita Bargain House, selling men's shoes for $2.50, ladies shoes for $1.50, and Calico for 5 cents a yard. Thread was 8 spools for 25 cents, ladies hose for 8 1/2 cents, and coal oil 12 1/2 cents a gallon.

J. S. Anderson owned and operated a dry goods store in 1910 and in 1911 build a two room house on the back of the store building.

By 1911 when Clarita was one year old, it had 6 general merchandise stores, a newspaper, a bank, 2 lumber yards, drug store, post office, cotton yard, grain elevator, 2 restaurants and hotels, a blacksmith, 75 resident houses and 375 people.

In early 1910 John M. Clifford went to Coalgate to collect and raise money to build the Methodist Church. J. C. Vincent contracted to build the church in Block 22, on April 21, 1911. By now Clarita had a Christian Church (Church of Christ), Baptist, Presbyterian, and Methodist Church, with W. S. Lee as pastor.

Also at this time Fraternal Orders were also expanding. The I.O.O.F. (Odd Fellows) met every Saturday night. The A.F.and A.M. (Masons) met on or before the Thursday night on or before the first full moon. W.O.W. (Woodmen) each Friday night and M.W.A. every Wednesday night. The R. N. of A. met monthly in the I.O.O.F. Hall.

By March 1911, Clarita had a baseball team (The Red's), managed by A. E. Schmelzer with the following players: E. E. Kitchens, s.s.; Marvin Park, 2B; John Clifford, LF; Dillon Anders, CF; Cleve Goff, RF; Clarence Kitchens, 3B; Will Anders, 1B; Leslie Kitchens, C; and Sam Anders, P.

In 1926 Clarita became a member of the Pittsburg County Baseball League, composed of teams from: Pittsburg, Atoka, Kiowa, Clarita, Halieyville, and McAlester. Otis O'Neal was president. John W. Moore, V.P., and Cody O'Neal, Delmer O'Neal, Charlie Plummer, Luke Ridley, guthrie O'Neal, Bryan O'Neal, Oren (Skinny) O'Neal, Leonard Cook, Eddie Cook, Guy Cantrell and a Lee.
By J.E. Grigsby
History of Coal County, Oklahoma
Copyright George B.Hill and Curtis Media Corporation 1986
Compiled and edited by Betty Poe

Clarita 1999 Photo Album

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