Forward by Pat (Tower) Ruble
This thesis on Prague was written by my father William Ray Tower. It is full of
names and information on Prague and the surrounding areas.
I was born in Prague, my father was born in Prague, and my grandfathers were
some of the original people of Prague. My grandfather was Reuben Theodore
Tower and his mother was Pearl Heudonia McElvany. Her father was William
Rainey McElvany. My grandfather was called Shorty or R. T. Tower, and my
great-grandfather William McElvany was an early preacher in the area.
My mother was a Rogers and she lived in the area alot also. She was born in
Pottawatomie Co. They came to Oklahoma in 1895 (McElvanys) to pick cotton and
stayed. My Tower line came to work also and married my grandmother and
stayed. Dad would have been thrilled to know it was used.
Note: There is also a map he made and a page that is signed by four men who
approved his thesis. And a drawing of the Prague Methodist Church. This
thesis is on file at the Oklahoma State University.
Pat (Tower) Ruble (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF
PRAGUE, OKLAHOMA, 1908 - 1948
WILLIAM RAY TOWER
Bachelor of Science
Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College
Submitted to the Department of History
Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of
MASTER OF ARTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. THE ORIGIN OR THE FOUNDING OF THE TOWN
2. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE TOWN FROM 1902 TO 1929
3. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE PRAGUE COMMUNITY FROM 1929
4. CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE TOWN OF PRAGUE FROM 1902 TO 1948
5. CITY ORGANIZATION AND GENERAL DEVELOPMENT FROM 1902 TO 1948
6. PRAGUE IN WORLD WAR I AND II
7. THE STATUS OF PRAGUE TODAY, 1948
In this thesis I have tried to present a general history of the town of
Prague, Oklahoma, from its founding in 1902 until the present.
The town has a varied and interesting history, which I feel in some respects,
is typical of the beginnings of many of our Oklahoma communities.
The story of Prague is connected with the railroad, with cattle, with
agriculture, with oil. Through it all runs a thread of romance produced by the
foreign elements, the Czechoslovakian and German inhabitants, that may make
the story of this town slightly different from that of the average Oklahoma
In gathering my data I am greatly indebted to Mrs. Junia Heath Jones, the
editor of the Prague News Record. Her help in furnishing useful notes
and making available the back issues of the Prague News Record aided by
my research very greatly.
I am also indebted to the Prague city officials for making available to me the
various reports of the town trustees, maps of the original townsites,
financial statements of the city, and other pertinent documents.
To the members of the County Clerk's office in Chandler, Oklahoma, I am indeed
grateful for putting at my disposal deed, maps, and original papers that have
helped me to gather the necessary material for this thesis.
To all those pioneer settlers who gave me first hand information concerning
the founding and growth of the town, I am grateful. Among those early settlers
interviewed were: Joe Eret, R. T. Tower, W. M. Valasak, W. R. McElvany, Simon
Mertes, Tom Nash, George Jepsen, S. A. Woods, Fred Heinzig, M. E. Tope, and E.
To the following group of persons, the sons and daughters of the original
pioneer settlers, I am appreciative for the help given me in tracing some of
the facts, which they alone could give. The are: L. P. Wilson, Earnest
Blumenthal, Fritz Heinzig, Mrs. Ellen Mobacher, Baxter Davis, Alice Morrison,
T. V. Hartman, A. B. Herring, Jerry Suva, Kenneth Copeland, Howard Tope, and
Miss Helen Herring.
Finally, to all who contributed in any way to the writing of this thesis I
wish to extend my appreciation for the assistance rendered.
This thesis attempts to present a general history of the town of Prague,
Oklahoma, between the years 1902 and 1948.
This little town was formally laid out by the Ft. Smith and Western Railroad
in 1902 as a coaling station for the railroad. The close proximity of the town
to Indian Territory, where prohibition was enforced, made of Prague a wide
open town with as many as thirteen saloons at one time. Under these conditions
law enforcement became a problem. The citizens of Prague tried to solve this
problem by importing some of the old frontier town-taming marshals. Those
frontier marshals did make of Prague a law abiding community, but only after a
period of gun-fighting and killing.
The foreign-born element has always played an important part in the life of
the Prague community. Approximately one third of the town's population is
Bohemian, and at least two thirds of the business houses of Prague are owned
and operated by Bohemians. How these Bohemians came to be there, how they
named the town, and how they played such an important part in the life of the
town, is an intriguing story.
The German element has done a great deal for the agricultural life of the
community, for these Germans brought with them, and introduced, ideas of
scientific farming and soil conservation at a time when such ideas were
virtually unknown in this part of the country.
The economic life of Prague is built around four great pursuits: cattle,
agriculture, railroad, and oil.
The story of how the railroad built the town, the story of gradual economic
development based primarily on agriculture and oil, the impact of two World
Wars on a small community with a strong foreign element having close ties with
the old country, the struggle of the town to grow, and the gradual absorption
of all the outlying small towns, provides an interesting and heretofore
unrelated chapter in the history of the Southwest's frontier.
THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDING OF THE TOWN
The little town of Prague, Oklahoma is located in southeastern Lincoln County.
Like many other Oklahoma communities, its history goes back only slightly more
than fifty years, for it was built on land that was formerly a part of the old
Sac and Fox Indian Reservation.(1)
The Cherokee Commission was appointed in 1865 by President Grover Cleveland
for the purpose of giving allotments of 160 acres of land to each member of
the tribes. The surplus land in the Indian Reserves was to be sold to the
government and opened to white settlement.(2) This commission that had been
dealing with the Cherokees in Tahlequah was reorganized in 1890. David Howell
Jerome, former Governor of Michigan, and Warren G. Sayer of Indiana were
appointed to take the place of former Governor Hortranft of Pennsylvania who
was forced to retire because of illness, and of former Governor Fairchild who
resigned in 1890.(3)
This reorganized commission met at Guthrie in May, 1890, to resume its labors.
After a short stay in Guthrie, the commission moved to the Sac and Fox Agency
to negotiate for the land within that jurisdiction, in what is now Lincoln and
Pottawatomie counties. On June 12,1890, the Cherokee, or Jerome Commission as
it was then called, negotiated with the Sac and Fox Indians for their land.(4)
These tribes owned a tract of land in the eastern half of what is now Lincoln
County, made up of 479,667 acres that had been deeded to them in the Treaty of
February 18, 1867. Allotments were made by the commission consisting of 160
acre tracts of land to each of 584 Indians, in the total amount of 87,683.64
acres After deducting 800 acres for school land and agency purposes, 391,184
acres remained for white settlement. The government paid the tribe $485,000
for these 391,184 acres of land which were opened for white settlement by a
run on September 22, 1891.(5)
On May 20, 1890, the commission reached an agreement with the Iowa Indians.
This tribe owned 219,464.27 acres of land assigned to them by the executive
order of August 15, 1883. These lands comprised approximately the northwest
quarter of what is now Lincoln County. The commission allotted 8,685 acres to
108 members of the tribe, leaving 210,000 acres for white settlement.(6)
The commission on June 25-26, 1890, made agreements with the Pottawatomie and
absentee Shawnee Indians for the land held by them under the Treaty of
February 27, 1827, and an act of Congress of May 23, 1872. This land occupied
what is now the major part of Pottawatomie County. Allotments had been made
to some of the tribesmen by the Dawes Act or Allotment Act of 1887; and after
the execution of the agreement with the Jerome Commission, allotments of
215,679.42 acres were made to 1,496 Pottawatomies, and 70,791.47 acres to 563
absentee Shawnees, or a total of 2,061 allottees, leaving something over
275,000 acres of land for white settlement.(7)
The lands of these four tribes having been divided into counties by the
Secretary of Interior, as required by law, the President on September 18,
1891, issued his proclamation opening them to settlement at noon four days
later. On September 22, 1891, there ensued another mad dash of people seeking
homes in a new land. The land was practically all occupied the first day by
twenty thousand people, anxious to pay $1.25 per acre for the available 7,000,
one hundred and sixty acre tracts of land. There was a lively scramble for
lots in the townsites of Tecumseh and Chandler, which had been set aside by
the government as county seats for the new counties of Pottawatomie and
The white settlement of the community where Prague now stands dates back to
this opening of the Iowa, Pottawatomie, absentee Shawnee, and Sac and Fox
Reservations in 1891. The closest railroad points to the community where
Prague now stands were at Stroud, twenty miles north, and Shawnee,
twenty-eight miles southwest.(9)
Many small cross-roads country towns sprang up in the vicinity of where Prague
now stands. The larger of this group included Arlington, Keokuk Falls,
Bellmont, Dent, and Lambdin.(10)
Arlington at its height had two stores, a hotel, an Odd Fellows Hall, a
Methodist Church, a Blacksmith shop, one saloon, a post office and three
doctors, Dr. Frank Isles, Dr. F. N. Norwood, and Dr. S. A. Burklin. All of the
doctors and most of the business houses moved to Prague after its founding to
be near the railroad. This hamlet is located six miles north of the present
site of Prague, and has almost completely disappeared except in name.(11)
Keokuk Falls was established in 1891 on the North Canadian River at the
waterfall that was named for old Chief---- Keuokuk of the Sac and Fox tribe.
The power of the waterfall was harnessed and put to use in a gristmill to
which the farmers of a large area took their corn to be ground into meal. At
its peak it had five general stores, a saloon, a government licensed still, a
hotel, a blacksmith shop, and a newspaper, the Keokuk Kall, published
in 1899. The population in 1899 was one hundred and ninety-eight. This town
was located seven miles south of where Prague stands today. At the present
time nothing remains of this settlement. Even the river has changed its course
and there is no waterfall.(12)
Bellmont was also founded in 1891 as a cross-roads farming town. It had four
general stores, one hotel, a saloon, a blacksmith shop a doctor, Dr. Ralph
Hanna, with a population totaling fifty to seventy-five persons. Bellmont is
located eight miles west of where Prague stands today.(13)
Dent was the smallest of this group of towns having only one store and a
saloon. It was founded in 1893 and is located very close to where the present
town of Prague now stands.(14)
The little cross-roads town of Lambdin was started in 1892. It had a general
store, a saloon, a hotel, a post office and a population of perhaps forty
persons at it height. This hamlet could have become the permanent townsite of
the Ft. Smith and Western Railroad that Prague later became, had it not been
for the short sightedness of the land owners surrounding it. Lambdin was
located two miles east of where the present town of Prague stands. The old
town has completely disappeared.(15)
All of these little hamlets have disappeared except in name or possibly one
store in some of them. They were simply absorbed by the growing town of Prague
that started in 1902.(16)
From 1891 to 1902 the population was steadily growing in the area of
the four Indian Reservations that had been opened by a run in 1891. On the
date of entry some twenty thousand persons rushed in to claim homes. By 1902
the population had almost doubled.(17)
In the group that made the run for the Sac and Fox country were a group of
young Bohemians. Many of them had been directed into this region by friends
living in Oklahoma City who knew that a party of Bohemians were camping on the
North Canadian River. These included Frank Barta, Joe Eret, Squire Valasak,
Frank Suva, Julius and John Bontty, Wesley and Frank Benes, Frank Mastenia,
and Victor Martinet. These Bohemian people did not come from any particular
locality or in any one group. They were drawn from all parts of the United
States by the well-advertised opening of the Sac and Fox reserve. Once they
were settled in this region, they came to love the country in which they made
their new home. Letters to friends brought many others to the growing Oklahoma
country. Since political conditions in the mother country were bad under the
rule of the Austrian Hapsburgs, many families came to the New World to escape
the tyranny of Austrian rule. Many were also interested in escaping the long
military service required by Austria at this time.(18)
The community where Prague now stands was settled in part by Bohemians from
two widely separated sections of the United States. About one-half of them
came from Texas, while the rest came from Nebraska.(19)
The present town of Prague was built on the farms of two of these early
Bohemian farm families. Frank Barta and John Simek sold their farms to the
banking firm of Hoffman, Charles, and Conklin of the Sac and Fox agency. This
business firm, in turn, gave the Ft. Smith and Western Railroad a right of way
to build a coal chute to supply their line. The town of Prague was built on
the former Simek and Barta farms.(20)
In 1901 the community around the present town of Prague was thrilled to learn
that a railroad was to be built connecting Ft. Smith, Arkansas, with Guthrie,
Oklahoma. This railroad line would pass through the southeastern part of
Lincoln county and travel northward, passing five miles south of Chandler to
Fallis, Oklahoma, and then on to Guthrie.(21)
The banking firm of Hoffman, Charles, and Conklin of the Sac and Fox agency,
with Herman Josey, a town promoter and capitalist, had a contract with the Ft.
Smith and Western Railroad to lay out a series of townsites between the
western line of the Creek Nation and Guthrie.(22)
A coaling station had to be established in southeastern Lincoln County to
serve the railroad. People speculated, of course, where it would be placed.
Most people favored Lambdin, since it was already an established agricultural
center with a post office. The railroad and the banking firm of Conklin,
Hoffman, and Charles favored Lambdin because of its level land and ideal
location for a townsite. Negotiations were soon under way to purchase a right
of way for the coaling station and townsite. The necessary land was owned by
Lee Watts, who not relaxing the value of his land it was divided and sold as
town lots, asked a much higher price than the promoters were willing to
Because of the high price asked for his land by Watts, the banking firm of
Hoffman, Charles, and Conkling with the town promoter Herman Josey and Jay
Brunson, the engineer who surveyed the Ft. Smith and Western right of way,
closed a deal whereby portions of the northeast and southeast quarters of
section twenty-eight and thirty were purchased from Messrs. Simek and Barta,
two young Bohemian farmers, who lived two miles southwest of the Lambdin
community. The site for building the coal chute and the town was changed from
Lambdin to what was later to be the town of Prague. This change in location
was secured by Hoffman, Charles, and Conkling by purchasing the land and
promising to give the railroad the land for the coal chute and railroad
As part of the purchase agreement Mrs. Barta was allowed to name the new town.
She, having cherished memories of old Prague in Czechoslovakia, immediately
named the town Pra-ha. Squire Valasak, a store keeper at Dent, changed the
name to its anglicized form, Prague, in 1902.(25)
News of the opening of the new town was well publicized. Advertisements were
carried for weeks in the Oklahoma City Times-Journal, announcing the
official sale of lots to begin on May 20, 1902.
Residential lots, at this official opening of the new town, sold from ten
dollars to one hundred dollars. Business lots sold from two hundred to seven
The new town of Prague soon became an important center for trade because it
was the only shipping point for an extensive territory that included parts of
Lincoln, Okfuskee, Pottawatomie, and Seminole counties.(27)
Prague was twenty-eight miles from any town of importance at this time. It was
fifty miles east of Oklahoma City on a direct line with Ft. Smith, Arkansas.(28)
The town of Prague became a complete economic unit from the very beginning.
The merchants and professional people of the small cross-roads towns moved to
Prague to be near the railroad. The town served as a shipping point for a vast
trade area that includes the river bottom farms of the North Canadian and the
Deep Fork rivers in addition to the farmers occupying the rich land that lies
along the creeks that flow into these rivers.(29)
Inasmuch as Prague did serve as the economic center of a large surrounding
area there was great agitation from 1902 through 1920 for a new county to be
formed that would include parts of Lincoln, Pottawatomie, Okfuskee, and
Seminole counties, with Prague as the county seat. Prague and Chandler became
bitter rivals over this issue. With the coming of good roads in the 1920's the
agitation for the proposed county gradually died. However, the people of the
surrounding communities look to Prague for leadership today more than they
look to their own county seat towns.(30)
Work of building the railroad attracted many to Prague. Wages were considered
high. The base pay for common labor was 17 1/2 cents per hour or $1.75 per
day. The grading camp was near Okemah, the county seat of Okfuskee county, but
many workers spent their time in Prague. The grading contract was held by Dave
Griffin Construction Company of Ft. Smith, Arkansas.(31)
Since Prague was only three miles from Indian Territory and prohibition was
enforced there, the whites and Indians came to Prague for their alcoholic
refreshments. There were thirteen saloons operating in the new town almost
immediately, and the enforcement of law and order became a problem for five
In 1907 Oklahoma was admitted into the union as the forty-sixth state. With
the bill of admission came prohibition and the Prague saloons had to go.(33)
In 1902, six months after the official opening of the town, the population
numbered six hundred. In 1907, five years late, the population was nine
hundred and ninety-eight. Thus, in five years the town of Prague had grown
from nothing to almost one thousand persons.(34)
To solve the problem of law and order, the city officials of Prague had to
hire marshals that were fearless as well as skillful in the use of a gun. The
most colorful of these old frontier town tamers were Frank Miles and Hance
Gaylor. Both of these men possessed the qualities of the greatest of the
West's town-taming marshals. It is largely to these two men that Prague owes
its early respect for law and order.(35)
1. Map of Lincoln County - County Court House, Office of the County Clerk,
Chandler,. Oklahoma, 1947.
2. Grant Foreman, History of Oklahoma. Norman: University of Oklahoma
Press, 1942, p. 244.
5. Ibid., p. 243.
9. R. T. Tower and G. T. Nash, Interview, July 15, 1947.
11. Grant Foreman, Oklahoma Imprints. Norman: University Press, 1942,
12. R. T. Tower and G. T. Nash, Interview, July 1947.
14. W. M. Valasak, Interview, July, 1944.
16. R. T. Tower and W. M. Valasak, Interview, July, 1944.
17. Grant Foreman, History of Oklahoma, p. 255.
18. Joe Eret and W. M. Valasak, Interview, July, 1944.
20. Mrs. Junia Heath Jones, Notes on Prague. An unpublished manuscript
examined. in office of Prague News Record, June 28, 1947.
21. R. T. Tower and G. T. Nash, Interview, July, 1947.
22. Tulsa Tribune, September 30, 1928.
23. R. T. Tower and G. T. Nash, Interview, July 10, 1947.
24. County Clerk's Office - Deeds, also map of the original townsite of Prague.
Lincoln County, Chandler, Oklahoma, October 10, 1902.
25. Joe Eret and Bill Valasak, Interview, July 10, 1941.
26. Shawnee Herald, May 21, 1902.
27. Simeon Mertes, Interview, June 20, 1947.
28. Prague News Record, September 7, 1947.
29. R. T. Tower and G. T. Nash, Interview, July, 1947.
30. Mrs. Junia Heath Jones, Notes on Prague, p. 2.
31. Indian Papers, M. S. Vol. II, pp. 140-141, University of Oklahoma
32. Journal of Town Trustees M. S., Vol. I, Dec. 1902, Prague City Hall.
33. R. T. Tower and G. T. Nash, Interview, July 10, 1947.
34. L. S. Clover to Mrs. Junia Heath Jones, Prague News Record,
July 1, 1927.
35. R. T. Tower and G. T. Nash, Interview, July 10, 1947.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE TOWN FROM 1902 TO 1929.
Agriculture is the most important industry in the life of the town of Prague.
The first thing that attracted settlers to the Prague vicinity was the rich
farming land of the region.(1)
The location of the town is in the heart of one of the best agricultural
regions in the state. Prague is seven miles from the North Canadian River with
its thousands of acres of fertile bottom land. The town is ten miles from Deep
Fork River, which also has a large extent of bottomland that is considered
ideal for the growing of cotton and corn.(2)
Flowing into these two rivers are three large creeks bordered by many acres of
rich bottomland. These are Petaquah Creek, Deer Creek, and Robison Creek.
These three streams empty in Deep Fork River and pass through the Prague
The town of Prague isolated twenty-eight miles from Shawnee, twenty miles from
Stroud and Seminole; thus making it the logical marketing center for all of
this agricultural area.(4)
The raising of cotton became the chief occupation of the farmers of the Prague
vicinity. During these early years, the rich river and creek bottom land
easily yielded from one to two bales of cotton per acre.(5)
In 1904 the first bale of cotton was brought to Prague by J. B. Hall of the
Bellmont community. A gala occasion was made of this event with J. B. Charles,
of the First National Bank, auctioning off the bale of cotton to the highest
bidder. It was purchased by B. F. Whitmore for 15 3/4 cents per pound,
bringing its owner $81.10. This was considered a remarkable price for cotton
at that time and attracted many farmers to the Prague market. In fact the
Prague News, a weekly newspaper published at Prague, proudly announced
that cotton was being brought to Prague for sale that had been grown within
five miles of Shawnee.(6)
On October 22, 1904, two hundred bales of cotton were sold in Prague during a
single day. This was a record breaking sale, according to the Prague
The year 1904 saw ten thousand bales of cotton marketed in Prague. Six to ten
thousand dollars was being paid out daily for cotton. This naturally caused
the town to boom, and its fame spread as one of the best cotton markets in
Cotton prices held steady through 1905 with a top price of 7.70 cents per
pound being paid for the cotton in the seed.(9)
In October, 1906, three hundred bales of cotton representing $20,000 were sold
in Prague in one day. This was another record breaking sale, and it certainly
showed that Prague was rapidly forging to the front as a cotton marketing
One fourth of the cotton handled by the Ft. Smith and Western Railroad was
shipped from Prague, according to a statement sent out by the general manager.
This is remarkable in view of the fact that the F. S. and W. was 185 miles
long and ran through some of the best cotton land in Oklahoma. Over one
million dollars worth of cotton was shipped from Prague in 1906.(11)
From 1907 through 1924 the community of Prague had bumper cotton
crops. There was a steady expansion in cotton farming and a steady increase in
the number of bales shipped all through this period. The F. S. and W. was
kept busy trying to transport the crop. All through these years we find
complaints from the Prague citizenry that the railroad could not haul the
cotton away as rapidly as it was brought into Prague. The F. S. and W. had to
rent cars from the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas line to handle, as well as they
did, the hauling of the tremendous crops.(12) From August 20 to October 1,
1924, the cotton gins of Prague had ginned 2,900 bales with one half of the
crop still in the field.(13)
By 1927 Prague had three cotton gins in addition to the Union Cotton Oil
Company. One of the gins, owned by B. F. Whitmore, was an electric gin. This
was considered quite progressive for the time.(14)
In 1928 the boll weevil struck the Prague cotton farming region and virtually
destroyed the crop. This destruction coupled with the low farm prices, which
had prevailed from 1921 on caused many Prague farmers to go into
bankruptcy.(15) The comparative prices of cotton through the years were as
follows. In 1904 the first bale of cotton brought 15 3/4 cents per pound. The
average price in 1904 was approximately 10 cents per pound in the lint.(17)
From 1916 through 1919 cotton brought as much as 40 cents per pound in the
lint. The average price was 33 cents per pound.(18)
After the end of World War I, and the collapse of the European market, the
average price of cotton fell during 1921 to 12 1/2 cents per pound in the
lint, and in the following years dropped as low as six cents per pound. At
that rate it is small wonder that many of the Prague cotton farmers were
forced into bankruptcy. Low prices following World War I, and the
destructiveness of the boll weevil brought an end to the community's economic
development based on cotton.(19)
In view of the location of Prague in the heart of one of the greatest cotton
growing districts in the state, Prague's business leaders believed that a
factory which would make cottonseed oil, meal, cake and hulls would be
profitable to both the cotton growers and those who wished to raise cattle.
Herman Josey, the chairman of the townsite company, and a stockholder in the
First National Bank, set out to interest capitalists in establishing such a
Josey found a group that would be interested and the Union Cotton Oil Company
was established at Prague with a capital stock of $40,000. The first directors
were W. M. Haws, W. M. Morgan, Jim Monar, all of Norman, Oklahoma, J. W.
Dupree of Wynnewood, Oklahoma, and H. C. Chamberlin of Chicago, Illinois.(21)
The business of the new firm grew until by 1920 it had branches in Macauber,
Boley, Castle, and Paden in Okfuskee County, besides its home office and gin
in Prague, Oklahoma. In 1928 the company was capitalized at $75,954 and in
addition, had a depreciation reserve of $90,000, and was giving employment to
about forty persons. George Jepsen, the original manager of the plant, became
its president in 1910, and he and Mrs. Bill Ambrister are its chief
The Union Cotton Oil Company is still operating in 1948, although its
activities have been handicapped by the decline in cotton production caused by
the boll weevil. The firm was also hurt by the loss of the railroad in 1938,
but it has shifted its interest to the feeding of cattle and is still fairly
prosperous. The mill takes care of most of the cotton still raised in the
vicinity of Prague. It feeds is products, cottonseed meal, cake, and hull, to
beef cattle that are sold on the open market. The mill has also purchased many
farms since the depression of the thirties and is one of the large scale farm
groups of this Prague community.(23)
A unique feature of the economic history of the town of Prague, Oklahoma, has
been the stability of its banking institutions. Two banks were established
shortly after the town was organized in 1902. In fact, the first building to
be constructed in the town of Prague was a bank. The first two banks were the
First National Bank and the Lincoln County Bank. The first National Bank was
established by the Sac and Fox agency banking firm of Charles, Conklin, and
Josey. The above named men together with Dr. F. N. Ayres, Prague's first
doctor, Frank Chandler, and George Sutton were the chief stockholders. This
bank took in $30,000 in deposits the first day it opened in 1902.(24)
In 1904 in a financial statement published in the Prague News the First
National Bank listed $83,905.85 as its total assets at that time.(25)
The First National Bank's resources had increased from $125,204.63 in 1905 to
$170,845.15 in 1906. The personnel had also been changed to George Sutton,
cashier, George C. Barber, assistant cashier, and Herman Josey, president.(26)
The First Nation Bank's resources almost doubled every year after 1902. In
1907 it financial statement read $206,724.08.(27)
In 1908 the personnel of the First National Bank changed to J. O. Myuer,
cashier, George C. Barber, E. L. Conklin, J. E. Gravitt were directors. Its
total assets were $261,136.38.(28)
The First State Bank was established in Prague in May, 1908. B. F. Whitmore
was President, D. J. Furgeson, cashier, George C. Barber and B. F. Whitmore,
the directors and chief stockholders. This bank began business in 1904 with
assets totaling $11,735.32.(29)
This bank did a modest business as a separate institution until 1930, when it
combined with the First National Bank for purposes of economy. These two
banks had been under the same management since 1915 when J. O. Myer purchased
the controlling interest from B. F. Whitmore and George C. Barber. J. O. Myer
together with George Sutton bought the controlling interest of the First
National Bank. These two men operated the two banks as separate units, but
with a common policy until 1930. George Sutton acted as president of the First
National Bank and J. O. Myer served as president of the First State Bank
until they merged. In 1932 Sutton's interest was purchased by L. P. Wilson,
and he, along with Myer's heirs, control the bank today. The First National
Bank is considered today to be one of the strongest and safest banks in
The Lincoln County Bank was also established in 1902 with H. I. Kingsbury and
A. G. Rogers as the chief stockholders. A. P. Slover was cashier. The total
assets of this bank in 1902 were $40,672.28.(31)
By 1907 the name of the Lincoln County Bank had been changed to the Prague
National Bank and it total assets were 114,540.55.(32)
The following year the Prague National Bank acquired new directors. C. C.
Bush, R. G. Casey and R. H. Manseur became the directors, having purchased the
controlling stock from H. I. Kingsbury and A. G. Rogers. The bank's assets in
1908 were $161,136.38.(33)
This bank is still in operation and has prospered under the guiding hand of A.
P. Slover, who became its president in 1915, C. C. Bush who succeeded him, and
finally T. G. Hinson who is the present president of the bank.(34)
Another bank appeared in Prague for a time called the Farmers and Merchants
State Bank. It was established in 1909 with W. G. Botts as president and E. L.
Garnett as cashier. Its total assets in 1909 were $36,228.08. This bank
operated in Prague until 1915 when its stock was absorbed by the First
The stability of these banking institutions during the years of depression and
booms, and during the trying days of the twenties and early thirties reflect
the conservative and fine management of the institutions. The stability of the
banks did much to foster the whole economic development of the community.
As Prague served a large agricultural community, it became a major business
center from the beginning. In 1902, shortly after the official opening of the
townsite, Prague already had a number of places of business. The first two
drug stores were owned by F. N. Troutman and T. L. Briggs, and T. C. Hatcher.
The first restaurant was established by Bill Fowler. There were three hotels:
The Barta, Thomas, and Arlington, all located where the present hotels stand.
The first drygoods store was owned by M. Blumenthal, a Jewish peddler who came
to Prague vicinity in 1901. The first hardware store was owned by Dick Bond
and Bob Carew. The first lumber yard was operated by George Dixon and the
Bobey Bros. The banks, as previously mentioned, were established by Conklin,
Josey, Charles, Hoffman, Sutton, H. I. Kingsbury, and A. G. Rogers. The first
residence was built by Frank Chandler, one of the stockholders of the First
National Bank. The first exclusive home furnishing store was established by T.
Two years later, in 1904, a list of the business houses included: Prague
saddle shop; Hancock Bros. Livery and feed; Livery, feed, and wagon yard, E.
E, Long, proprietor; Totten and Monard, painters; second had store, F. M.
Thrasher; Kentucky Club Saloon; A.. Marks, proprietor; veterinary, S. A.
Thompsom; Dr. F. N. Norwood, physician and surgeon; Star restaurant, J. A.
McConell; John Davis, attorney; J. M. Sandelin, attorney; J. R. Dobery, lumber
company; Prague hardware and implements; Blue Front restaurant, Bill Fowler,
proprietor; Pastusek Bros., drygoods and groceries; The Leodore, dry goods, M.
Blumenthal; barber shop, E. H. Snelling; J. W. Huffman, dentist; Emmet
O'Kane, drygoods; First national Bank; Lincoln County Bank; N. S. Smith,
auctioneer; Prague Brick Co., H. G. Reel, proprietor; Wade-Branch Hardware
Company; Kentucky Liquor House, J. J. Klobzubo, proprietor; Fair, drygoods
store, J. A.. Fine; B. F. Whitmore, drygoods and groceries; Star Barn, Hancock
Company, P. W. Water; Brimes and Co., drygoods and groceries; Wes Klobzubo,
auctioneer; John Z. Maz, physician and surgeon; F. O. Kucera, real estate and
lawyer; O'Rouke and Huggets, grocery and market; Myer and Son, groceries; City
Barber Shop, Joe Eret, proprietor; The Rocket store, C, B, Harrington,
proprietor; Mertes and Heately, hardware; L. B. Hampton, Drygoods; Goodmans
Department Store; C. O. D. Grocery and Market; Biggs Drug Store; Shumater,
photos,; Merrit Grocery; Dr. Hanna, an eye specialist; Dosey and Roberts
Saloon, later bought by Lee Watts; Cottage Hotel, T. C. Haley, proprietor;
Twelve years later in 1916 the list of the leading business firms was as
follows; The First National Bank; Prague National Bank; New York Bargain
Store; First State Bank; Whites, (all these were drygoods stores); Frank
Kucera, Busy Bee Café; Charles Good and Frank Svoboda, blacksmithing and
woodwork; The Long Bell and Prague Lumber companies; C. M. Sodlo, tailor; P.
S. Mertes, Parks Bros., O. R. Blumel and Wade-Branch hardware companies; Hohn
Vana, tinsmith; John Ceruany, real estate; Whitmore's Gin; Union Cotton Oil
Company; Prague News, Prague Patriot, newspapers; Thomas,
Arlington, Barta, hotels; City Barber Shop; Doctors F. H. Norwood, S. W.
Burkland, Dr. Isles, Dr. Hanna, Dr. Cossey, Dr. Davis, Dr. Kerfoot; J. D.
Grimes, J. J. Klabzubo, Pastusek Bros., W. M. Valasak, Turners, V. G. Soika,
F. R. Valasak, all had grocery stores; Frank Sekora was a leathersmith; E. E.
Long Confectionery and real estate; Foster Drug Company. A town of some
fifteen hundred people, Prague was growing and prospering.(38)
The history of Prague is closely associated with the history of the Ft. Smith
and Western railroad. This railroad was built by Andrew Mellon and the Fitch
brothers during the railroad building era of our country. It was laid out
across eastern Oklahoma from Ft. Smith, Arkansas to Guthrie, Oklahoma, a
distance of one hundred and eighty-five miles. It crossed eight Oklahoma
counties and touched twenty-two towns. The leading towns on its route were
Spiro, Bokoshoe, Quinton, Dustin Weleetka, Okemah, Prague, Wellston, Fallis,
and Guthrie. From Fallis it ran trains over the M. K. and T. lines to
Oklahoma City. It also ran trains over the K. C. S. lines into Ft. Smith,
Arkansas, from Spiro on the eastern end of the line.(39)
The road was organized in 1889, and for twelve years after its completion the
road prospered. In 1915 it slipped into receivership for eight years, and then
it emerged for eight more years. In 1923 it slipped into receivership again
for the rest of its life.(40)
The P. S. and W. operated small passenger trains until 1927. It operated
freight and passenger trains mixed until its demise in 1939.(41)
The road played an important part in the life of the Prague community during
its early days. It was an outlet for the great cotton crops that were grown in
the Prague vicinity. It ran special weekly excursion trains on Sundays,
charging a special low fare. These trains were enjoyed very much by the people
all up and down the line, for there were no good roads, and the automobile had
not yet made its appearance.(42)
Financially, the road presented a sorry picture. It showed a profit during
only twelve years of its life. It lost money in seven of its last eight years,
and broke even in the other, but it paid no interest to its stockholders in
the last ten years of its life.(43)
On January 18, 1939, the M. K. & T. ordered the line to quit using its tracks
from Fallis to Oklahoma City because it owed $90,000 in back rent. The K. C.
S. followed the same policy as the organization also owed $50,000 back rent to
her. In addition, the road owed the state $100,000 for back taxes. The sum of
its major debts was more than twice the assessed valuation of $106,000 as set
by the Oklahoma Tax Commission in 1929.(44)
Governor Leon C. Phillips and Mac Q. Williamson, attorney general, tried had
to save the railroad but failed. Many concerns and investment groups were
contacted in an attempt to get them to buy and operate the road, but all to no
avail. The road went under the hammer, May 31, 1939, and its property and
stock was sold for scrap. About fifteen Prague families were affected by the
abandonment of the road, as Prague was a division point for the line.(45)
The loss of the railroad has greatly handicapped the growth of the community.
It seemed for a short time that the town might be seriously injured, but it
has continued to grow and prosper despite this handicap.(46)
The oil industry has also influenced greatly the economic history of Prague.
Though the town is situated in a rich agricultural district and depends
chiefly on agriculture for support, it is also surrounded by several oil
fields of considerable size.(47)
The first oil boom came to the Prague community in 1915 with the discovery of
the Paden field. The little neighboring town was flourishing under typical
early day oil boom conditions. In anticipation of expanded activities,
excitement ran high in Prague; even the Prague News became a daily.(48)
From 1915 to 1923 there was a great deal of leasing of desirable land by
oil companies around Prague, but no new fields were discovered. In 1923 Prague
had its second oil boom, with the discovery of oil on the Leader Ranch,
fifteen miles north of Prague. The ranch was owned by M. Blumenthal, owner of
Prague's leading drygoods store.(49)
The big Wewoka oil field came in 1923. This field is forty miles from Prague
but it was connected the Stroud field by a highway that ran through Prague and
caused the town to share in the activity.(50)
The development of the Earlsbourough oil field reached its peak in 1926 and
was the next boom to affect the little town of Prague. Earlsbourough is thirty
miles from Prague, but again the traffic from the booming field came through
Prague bringing its golden harvest.(51)
The Cromwell-Seminole Oil fields were brought in 1927. As a result, one of the
largest fields in the state was approximately twenty miles straight south of
Prague. Again, the oil fever ran high in the little town, but still no oil was
discovered in the immediate vicinity of Prague.(52)
The location of the Stroud-Key West oil field twenty miles to the north,
Paden, nine miles to the east, Crowmwell-Seminole pool, twenty miles south,
and Willsetta, ten miles to the west, gives Prague an excellent location for
trade with the booming fields without experiencing the worst features of an
The last oil development to affect Prague vitally came in 1931 during the
depression days and eased the impact of unemployment on this community. This
field is the closest of all the fields to Prague as it lies just outside the
southern city limits. Thus Prague has benefited greatly from oil but has never
had a first class boom of its own.(54)
1. Joe Eret, Simon Mertes, and R. T. Tower, Interview, July 28, 1947.
2. Mrs. Junia Heath Jones, Notes on Prague, p.3.
3. R. T. Tower and G. T. Nash, Interview, July 12, 1947.
4. A. B. Herring and L. P. Wilson, Interview, July 20, 1947.
5. R. T. Tower and G. T. Nash, Interview, July 12, 1947.
6. The Prague News October 6, 1904.
7. Ibid. October 22, 1904.
8. Ibid. December 18, 1904.
9. Ibid., October 10, 1905.
10. Ibid. October 6, 1906.
11. Ibid., October 10, 1905
12. Prague News Record, December 12, 1925.
13. Ibid. May 15, 1927.
14. Ibid., October 14, 1927.
15. Ibid. March 14, 1928.
16. Prague News, October 5, 1904.
17. Ibid. September 22, 1904.
18. Ibid. December 1, 1919.
19. Prague News Record, December 10, 1930.
20. Prague News, April 9, 1907.
21. Ibid., September 1, 1907.
22. Tulsa Tribune, September 30, 1928.
23. George Jepsen, Interview, July 6, 1947.
24. Mrs. Junia Heath Jones, Notes on Prague, p.4.
25. Prague News, January 23, 1904.
26. Ibid., January 4, 1906.
27. Ibid., January 10, 1907.
28. Ibid. January 5, 1908.
29. Ibid. March 15,1908.
30. L. P. Wilson, Interview, July 15, 1947.
31. Prague News, January 4, 1904.
32. Ibid. January 7,1907.
33. Ibid. January 8,1908.
34. R. T. Tower, Interview, July 12, 1947.
35. Prague News, May 5, 1919.
36. Mrs. Junia Heath Jones, Notes on Prague, 1947, p.6
37. Prague News, December 10, 1904.
38. Mrs. Junia Heath Jones, Notes on Prague, p. 8, 1947.
39. Tulsa World, May 28, 1929.
42. Mrs. Junia Heath Jones, Notes on Prague, 1947, p.8.
43. Tulsa World, May 28, 1929.
46. H. W. Hartman, Interview, July 15, 1947.
47. R. T. Tower and G. T. Nash, Interview, July 10, 1947.
48. The Prague News, October 15, 1915.
49. Prague News Record, May 10, 1923.
50. Ibid. May 23, 1923
51. Ibid., May 30, 1926
52. Ibid. July 20, 1927.
53. Ibid., August 1, 1925
54. R. T. Tower, Interview, July 15, 1947.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE PRAGUE COMMUNITY FROM 1929 TO 1948
The depression of 1929 to 1935 dealt the Prague farmer a much heavier blow
than the Prague businessmen and laborers. The small oil field opened south of
town in 1931 eased the business strain and furnished unexpected jobs for
unemployed laborers, but virtually nothing would help the low prices of
agricultural products, and many farmers were forced into bankruptcy and lost
The town tried to ease the pressure of the depression and encourage
agriculture by introducing vocational agriculture into the high school in
1930. Prague had its first fair, July 11, 1929, and opened the district fair
on September 30 of the following year.(2)
The severity of the agricultural depression was best evidenced by the number
of mortgage foreclosures and the voluntary sale of many small farms. The
Union Cotton Oil Company bought a great deal of land from bankrupt and
discouraged farmers;, as did J. J. Klabzuba and Parks Brothers Hardware
Company. These thrifty and community-minded citizens knew that much of the
business activity of Prague depended upon agriculture, so they were determined
to save the agricultural wealth for the town.(3)
With the depression the small farm and farmer largely disappeared around
Prague and in their place came the large ranch.(4)
L. P. Wilson of the First National Bank now owns a fifteen thousand acre ranch
south of Prague that was once small farms. Roy Parks, president of Parks
Brothers Hardware Store and Funeral Home, owns a twenty thousand acre ranch
east of Prague. The Union Cotton Oil Company owns ten thousand acres in farm
land, while J. J. Klabzuba Estates owns twelve thousand acres of farm land.
Other Prague businessmen own lesser amounts of land, but their holdings are
still large. The latest scientific methods are used on these large farms in
raising crops. All of them raise large herds of purebred cattle, and utilize
strip cropping, contour plowing, cover crops, land testing, commercial
fertilizer, green fertilizer and terracing of all land, including pasture
lands. So once again agriculture is a profitable business around Prague.
Peanuts have been substituted for cotton as a major crop. The growing and
harvesting of pecans, a native wild product, has greatly added to the income;
but the basic crop under the new farm program is cattle. The boll weevil
menace was never beaten, and cotton production has fallen off until it is no
longer a major industry in the Prague community in 1948.(5)
The oil business around Prague remained static from 1931 to 1946. There was,
however, some wildcat drilling going on all of the time. Seismographic
geological surveys were being made of the land practically every year. Some
new leasing was going on, and most of the old leases were kept up, but there
was no great oil activity during this entire period. The leasing, for
example, in the 1920's before the depression was seldom below $12 per acre. It
ranged from that figure to $100 per acre for five year leases on land for oil
purposes. From 1930 to 1946 the average lease price was $5 per acre for old
leases, and very few new leases were being taken.(6)
In 1946 a new field was discovered southeast of Prague some three and a half
miles. This field has produced some gushers and is gradually spreading north
and northwest from the original discovery well. Leasing activity has increased
and leases now range from $5 to $75 per acre depending on the location from
the new field.(7)
The town of Prague has started a new building period since 1946 partly because
of the returning veterans from World War II and partly from the new oil
A comparison of Prague's business establishments in 1928 and 1948 will give
some idea of this business increase. In 1928 Prague had the following business
houses; three cotton gins; Union Cotton Oil Company; a modern ice plant; three
banks; four hotels; one hospital; one grist mill; two theaters; a bottling
works; telephone plant; one wholesale grocery; two lumber yards. The city owns
and operates its own water and light plant. It also owns a sewer system with
a disposal plant large enough for a city of five thousand inhabitants. Water
wells furnish water from a depth of five hundred feet. The city owns a modern
motorized fire department. It also maintains a municipal and tourist park. The
town has twenty-one blocks of paved streets and six blocks of white way
In 1948 Prague has the following lineup of business houses: six large modern
grocery and markets; two banks; one movie theater; eight garages and a motor
car establishment; seven filling stations besides the garages; three wholesale
gasoline dealers; one wholesale grocery company; The Union Cotton Oil Company;
two cotton gins; three drygoods stores; two variety stores; a leather smith;
two shoe shops; two modern auto-tourist courts; two large help-you-self
laundries; two grist mills; one modern food locker plant; Greer's Office
Building, modern, air conditioned; three hardware and furniture stores all
large, well equipped; one modern funeral home; one novelty manufacturing
plant; one wreath manufacturing plant; two drug stores; two wholesale
automobile parts establishments; four new residential additions; eight
churches; two school buildings; one community building; one modern city hall
and jail; a photo studio; one modern eight bed hospital; modern ice plant;
three farm produce houses; five cafes; one cleaning and pressing
establishment; seven homes of the $30,000 variety; seventy-five homes of the
$5,000 and above variety; 40 blocks of paved streets; 6 blocks of white way
lighting; a municipal library; a municipally owned park and golf course. A new
airfield and swimming pool are in the making in 1948.
1. Prague News Record, March 14, 1934.
2. Ibid., September 1, 1930
3. R. T. Tower, interview, September 1, 1930.
4. The appearance of the boll weevil and low farm prices brought this
about. R. T. Tower and Roy Parks, Interview, July 22, 1947.
5. L. P. Wilson, George Jepsen, and R. T. Tower, Interview, July 25, 1947.
6. E. E, Long, Interview, August 1, 1947.
7. R. T. Tower, Interview, June 5, 1948.
9. Prague News Record, August 28, 1928.
10. Howard Tope, Interview, June 10, 1948.
CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE TOWN OF PRAGUE FROM 1902 TO 1948
To be progressive a town must have good schools and Prague feels that it has
the best to offer in this department. The first school Prague had was located
in the old Bohemian Hall in the south part of Prague.(1)
In 1904 the land was given to the school district of Prague by Herman Josey,
agent for the townsite company, for a school building. The building was
started in 1904 and was built directly across the street from where the grade
school stands today.(2)
Two hundred and thirty pupils were enrolled in Prague school in 1905. They
were under the leadership of H. C. Linchide, the present president of East
Central State Teachers College at Ada, Oklahoma, as principal. M. A. Shotwell
was the superintendent of schools. The faculty was made up of Mrs. J. Scudler,
Miss Elsie Vaughn, Miss Mamie Lowe, and Miss Cora Kennedy.(3)
Prague entered the first Lincoln County track, field, and fine arts meet at
Chandler, Oklahoma in 1905. Otto Weathers ran the one hundred-yard dash but
was defeated. He was the only athletic entry from Prague that year. In the
meet Chandler won first, Carney second, and Agra, third. In the fine arts
division Edna Kennedy won the recitation division. Her reading was: "It Takes
a Man to be Brave". Cora Casey won the division in debating. The debate topic
was "Resolve that the 15th Amendment to the Constitution of the U. S. is fair
and just." Both these girls were very capable in their fields according to the
Fourteen pupils graduated from the eighth grade in 1905. They were Howard
Riddle, Ensley Barbour, Grace Kennady, Edna Kennedy, Avis Barbour, Robert and
Jes Harris, Earl Dawkins, Ollie Parkhurst, Ellen Whitmore, Carl Shannon, and
A high school was started in 1906.(6) Mr. Linchied and Mr. Shotwell served
Prague's school from the date of its first organization in 1902 to 1909 when
they were succeeded by A. H. Burris.(7)
The first year Prague schools were ever able to offer work covering a full
twelve year's program, with sixteen credits offered for graduation, was in
The following curriculum was offered in the high school in 1909:
Freshman Sophomores Junior-Senior together
-------- ---------- ----------------------
1. Latin I 1. Caesar 1. Cicero
2. Algebra I 2. Algebra II 2. Composite Algebra
3. Physical Geography 3. Plane Geometry 3. Solid Geometry
4. Modern History I 4. Modern History I 4. American History
5. Rhetoric 5. Arithmetic 5. English History
6. Arithmetic 6. Grammar 6. Rhetoric (9)
Prague High School began to play football in 1915 and fielded its finest team
in 1917. This team was undefeated in regular season play and lost only to
Norman in an unofficial state championship playoff game. The town has always
been strong for athletics, but has been football conscious since 1917.(10)
The town of Prague had an organized sandlot baseball team as early as 1902.
It continued to field a ball team until 1930, which enjoyed the continued
support of the town and community.(11)
Prague's most illustrious athlete was Jim Thrope, the old Carlisle Indian
School great. Thorpe, considered by many experts to be the greatest athlete of
all time, got his start in the Prague community. He was born and reared on the
Thorpe allotment eight miles south of Prague. He attended the Sac and Fox
Indian School at the agency fifteen miles north of Prague until he went to
Carlisle Indian School where he won his fame. Thorpe at Carlisle ran the
100-yard dash in 10 seconds flat, high jumped 6 feet 3 inch, put the shot 42
feet, and threw the discus 125 feet. He was also good enough to play
professional baseball; he later played with the New York Giants. Football was
Thorpe's greatest game. He was named on Walter Camp's All American teams in
1911 and 1912. In the 1912 Olympic Games he won both the pentathlon and
decathlon events. After doing this, the Amateur Athletic Union accused Thorpe
of being a professional athlete because he had played summer baseball for $25
per month. This ruined his amateur standing and his medals were taken from
him. A. H. Whislander, a Swedish athlete, who had run second to Thrope in the
1912 Olympic Games was given his medals. This fine Swedish athlete refused to
take Thorpe's medals, saying that they belonged to a better man.(12)
The Prague schools have been strong in the fine arts ever since their
founding. The Bohemians in the town love music, singing, and dancing. The
Prague schools have always had a strong music curriculum both in instrumental
and vocal music. Contributing greatly to the musical training of the town have
been Mr. and Mrs. George Eret, operators of Prague's music store and private
teacher of stringed instruments. For years Eret was the director of the Prague
Town Band, an institution that was started in 1904 and continued until 1935.(13)
George and Emily Sadlo, the son and daughter of C. M. Sadlo, a tailor in
Prague since 1906 and originally from Prague, Czechoslovakia, have won fame
for themselves in teaching of music in the public schools of Oklahoma.(14)
Mrs. V. B. Haws in 1926 introduced the Czechoslovakian folk dances into the
school. From 1926 through 1930 under Mrs. C. O. Moore, the Prague folk dancers
built up the reputation of being the best in the state, in Czech folk
In the field of Art, a Prague girl, Miss Olinky Hardy, is considered one of
the best interior decorators in the midwest.(16)
A. H. Burris served as superintendent of the Prague's schools from 1909 to
1915. He was succeeded by B. F. Thompsom who served from 1915 through 1917. R.
C. Marshall was superintendent from 1918 through 1920. F. H. Snyder served
during 1921 and 1922. He was succeeded by R. C. Marshall again in 1923, and
he in turn was succeeded by V. B. Hawes in 1924. From 1924 to 1927 Mr. Hawes
served as superintendent. He was succeeded by M. E. Burk in 1927. In 1928 C.
O. Moore became superintendent and remained in this office until he was
succeeded by A. B. Herring in 1930. Mr. Herring served the Prague schools from
1930 to 1943 when he was succeeded by Walter Fields who is still
superintendent in 1948.(17)
The Prague Grade School building was built in 1907 and is still in use. The
Prague High School building was built in 1915. It was declared unsafe in 1927,
and school was held in the churches of the town for five months.(18)
The top story of the old high school was torn down in 1928 and a new south
wing was added to the building. This structure still serves as the present
high school building.(19)
In 1932 the people of Prague built their first gymnasium. It was built by the
town and is used and spoken of as a community building. This greatly aided the
schools physical education program.(20)
In 1935 Prague began to operate school busses. The number of students in High
School increased from 100 in 1934 to 250 in 1935. The number of teachers in
High School increased from four to nine. The system operated three school
busses. One was owned by the district; the other two were privately owned and
worked on a contract.(21)
The curriculum has been expanded to include typing, shorthand, bookkeeping,
band, vocational agriculture, vocational home economics, and public
In 1944 a junior high was started in connection with the senior high school.
This gives the Prague school system a modern six, three, three division of
The churches of Prague have an interesting history. The first church services
were held in Prague by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South in 1903 in the
old school house.(24)
The first church built in Prague was on "A" avenue east of the Arlington
hotel. It was a Methodist Episcopal church, South, but with rare generosity it
was agreed all denominations could use the building for worship. The church
was built in 1904, and Rev. J. A. Pool was appointed pastor of the church on a
half-time basis, with Okemah, by the Annual Conference of the Methodist
Church, South, January 23, 1904.(25)
The Catholic congregation built the second church building in the Prague
community. The church was completed March 9, 1905.(26) This building served as
a house of worship until 1918 when a tornado completely destroyed it. A second
building, still in use, was erected in 1919. A parsonage to house a resident
priest was added in 1925. Under the leadership of Rev. Eric Beevers this
church has become one of the leading religious forces in Prague. Its
membership is largely made up of Bohemian groups which comprise approximately
thirty percent of the town's population.(27)
The Methodist Episcopal Church, North, extended its activities to Prague in
1905. Rev. M. E. Riley was appointed pastor on a part time basis. He held
services two Sundays each month at Prague, and two services each month at
Choctaw, Oklahoma. The Northern and Southern Methodists used the same building
for a number of years and finally united their congregations in 1912.(28)
In 1928 the Methodist Episcopal Church began the construction of a beautiful
new brick building on the corner of "A" Avenue. This church, of latest design,
was completed under the guidance of Rev. J. A. Pennington. This is the same
building that is in use today.(29)
A pipe organ was donated by the Barbour estate to the Methodist Episcopal
church in 1944. This makes the Methodist Episcopal church one of the largest
and best equipped churches in Prague.(30)
The Methodist Protestant church moved to Prague in 1926 from the country where
it had previously been active as a rural church at a place called Shady Grove,
some two miles north of Prague. This group was first organized by Rev. W. R.
McElvany, a pioneer Methodist minister, at Rocky Point School house in 1902.
The church held services at Rocky Point until 1915 when it moved and built a
building at Shady Grove. In 1926 the congregation decided to move to Prague
and purchased the building owned by the Presbyterian church. This congregation
operated as a separate unit of Methodist until 1944 when it was united with
the Methodist Episcopal church.(31)
The Presbyterians organized and built a church on "A" Avenue, one block east
of the present site of Rollins Hospital, in 1906. George C. Barbour,
stockholder in both the First National and First State Banks, was the driving
force behind this program. Various ministers of the Presbyterian church
conducted services in Prague from 1906 to 1920 when it was finally decided to
disband because of the small and declining membership of this group. Their
building was sold to the Methodist Protestant church in 1926.(32)
The supporters of the Baptist faith built their first church home on Brunson
Avenue in 1906. The congregation originally was quite small, but the
membership has grown until at the present time theirs is the third largest
church in Prague. The Baptists completed a beautiful brick building in 1946.
They are one of Prague's most active denominations.(33)
The Christian church group was organized, and the first services held in a
frame building on Broadway in 1915. This group has always maintained a pastor,
even if only on a part time basis. The members of this church completed an
annex to their house of worship in 1936 and now have a nice frame building
adequate for the church's needs.(34)
The Nazarene church was established in Prague in 1928. Its growth was steady,
and the present house of worship was built on "A" Avenue in 1942.(35)
The present edifice of the Church of Christ was built in 1941 on "A" Avenue
just across the street from the Methodist Protestant church.(36)
The Pentecostal Holiness Church was launched in 1945 in its present home in
the west part of Prague and is steadily growing.(37)
As is the case with many small American communities, the churches play a vital
role in the moral life of the community.
To be progressive, a town must have a good newspaper and Prague is no
exception. The first newspaper was printed July 24, 1902, virtually as soon as
the town was founded. The name of the newspaper was the Prague News and
it was edited at first by F. N. Newhouse. It was twelve column, four page
paper, Republican in politics, and it served to bind the town and community
In 1903 a rival newspaper came into being. It was called the Prague
Patriot, and was owned by F. N. Mullen. It was also a twelve column,
four page paper and declared itself as independent in politics. In 1905 Mullen
gave this paper to his son-in-law, W. S. Overstreet. After a few struggling
years of lean business, Mr. Overstreet sold the paper to B. S. Edwards, and
the latter continued to publish the paper until 1909. In this year a great
pioneer newspaper man, Frank Nipper, came to Prague and bought the Prague
Patriot. Mr. Nipper almost immediately changed the name of the paper to
the Prague Record. Mr. Nipper bought out his rival, F. N. Newhouse, and
the Prague News in 1914, and the two papers were combined under the
name of the Prague Record. Mr. Nipper continued to publish the paper
through 1919. During this period the paper was printed weekly except for a
brief period in 1915, at the height of Prague's first oil boom. At than time
the hopes of the town's future ran high, and the paper was printed daily. In
1919 Nipper sold his paper to De Wald and Falkenstine of Hennessy Oklahoma.
Mrs. Junia Heath Jones bought the paper from them in 1920 and has been the
editor and publisher ever since. Mrs. Jones changed the name of the paper to
the Prague News Record in honor of the two pioneer papers. The Prague
News Record is a six page, twelve column newspaper, Republican in
politics.(39) It is considered by many as one of the finest small town
newspapers in Oklahoma today.
1. Ellen Whitmore Mobacher, Interview, August 5, 1945.
2. Prague News, February 4, 1904.
3. Prague News, September 18, 1905.
4. Prague News, April 6, 1905.
5. Ibid., June 1, 1905.
6. Ibid., August 9, 1906.
7. Bid, August 12, 1909.
10. Baxter Davis, a member of 1917 team, Interview, July 15, 1945.
11. Newspaper Files of Prague News and Prague News Record,
12. Shawnee News, December 16, 1943.
13. A. B. Herring and George Eret, Interview, July 10, 1947.
14. Prague News Record, May 10, 1929.
15. Prague News Record, May 10, 1921.
17. A. B. Herring, Ellen Mobacher, and Francis Patton, Interview, April 6,
18. Prague News Record, November 5, 1927.
19. A. B. Herring, Interview, July 10, 1947.
20. Prague News Record, October 10, 1932.
21. Annual Statistical Report of Prague Public Schools, 1941-42.
22. Application for Accrediting, Prague High School, 1942, Dept. of
Education, Capitol Building, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
23. Walter Fields, Interview, September 1, 1944.
24. Mrs. Junia Heath Jones, Notes on Prague, 1947, p.4.
26. Prague News, March 15, 1905.
27. Jerry Suva, Interview, September 1, 1944.
28. Rev. W. R. McElvany, Interview, June 10, 1930.
29. Prague News Record, May 1, 1928.
30. R. T. Tower, Interview, July 10, 1947.
31. W. R. McElvany, Interview, June 2, 1930.
32. Mrs. Hattie Cheek, Interview, April 5, 1940.
33. E. E. Long, Interview, July 12, 1947.
34. Bruce Duncan, Interview, July 11, 1947.
35. R. T. Tower, Interview, August 1, 1947.
36. F. M. Schubert, Interview, August 1, 1947.
37. R. T. Tower, Interview, July 10, 1947.
38. Mrs. Junia Heath Jones, Interview, July 27, 1947. She is editor of the
Prague News Record.
CITY ORGANIZATION AND GENERAL DEVELOPMENT
The town of Prague officially organized its government in the commission plan
November 28, 1902. As a result of the elections held, the first city officials
selected were as follows: F. W. Troutman, B. F. Whitmore, and D. J. Bond,
trustees; F. N. Newhouse, city clerk; J. E. Johnson, treasurer; C. L.
Claybourn, marshal, and F. B. Spring, police commissioner.(1)
After the election held in the fall of 1904 the city officials were: Jake
Mertes, J. W. Huffman, and R. M. Crow, trustees; George Dixon, city clerk; J.
M. Pastusek, treasurer; Sherman McNabb, marshal; A. F. Wood, police
commissioner; and Frank Leader, city assessor.(2)
The most notable fact about the early political history of Prague was the
great turnover in personnel of the municipal government. During this period
virtually no official served more than one term and each election brought to
office a new group of administrators. Not one of the old group of officials
was re-elected in 1909. The new officials were: Ed Gilroy, Matt Thisen, B. F.
Whitmore, trustees; D. J. Ferguson, city clerk; C. E. Kensey, assessor; A. P.
Slover, treasurer; James Harris, justice; Frank Miles, marshal. These city
offices are all elective. Early elections in the town brought lively
controversy among the citizens of Prague. The degree of heat generated in
these elections is strikingly shown in the Prague News. Many of its
issues are filled with political advertising and speeches which reflected the
active campaigning for city offices.(3)
Prague continued to adhere to the commission plan of city government until
1927 when the mayor-council type of city government was adopted.(4)
Much of the credit for the political stability and progress of the town can be
given to the capable leadership of two men. The first was the pioneer merchant
and trustee, B. F. Whitmore; the second was Prague's first mayor, the
railroader and banker, H. W. Hartman. The careful and capable guidance of
these men aided greatly the development of Prague into the beautiful, thrifty,
little community that it is today.(5)
From January 5, 1903 to June 18, 1906, the town of Prague grew very
rapidly. The census report for 1907 shows the population of Prague to be
998.(6) This is an increase of 398 persons over the census report of 1902
which gave the Prague population as 600 people.(7)
In 1916 Prague had developed into a town of 1498 persons.(8)
According to official census returns, Prague's population remained near the
1916 figure until comparatively recent times. However, the population has
varied from time to time according to unofficial counts and estimates. In 1920
the official population was still 1489 but the unofficial population,
according to the Prague News Record, was over 2000 persons. This figure
remained virtually constant until 1946 when Prague developed its post-war
boom. The unofficial population figure in 1947 was quoted at 3,500 persons.(9)
Prague in 1923 was in the midst of a campaign for good roads. This trend has
been paramount during the entire history of the town. The town cooperated with
its old rival, Chandler, and succeeded in having the Ozark Trail, one of the
first good roads connecting Oklahoma City and Tulsa, routed through Prague in
The good roads fight carried over into 1924 when Prague and Chandler were
trying to float a $900,000 bond issue to improve the local roads in Lincoln
County. On two different occasions during this year the measure was submitted
to the people. On both occasions it failed, although Prague voted favorably
for the issue both times.(11)
A newly constructed bridge over the North Canadian River was opened to traffic
in 1924. This greatly increased Prague's trade territory for it made it the
closest shipping and trading point for the farmers of a large area south of
the Canadian River.(12)
Prague began the first organized movement to become modernized in 1925 when
the town was asked to assume $30,000 in bonds to put in a new water system and
a sewage disposal plant. The water bonds carried in the first election, but
the sewer bonds lost.(13) The sewer bonds carried in the second election, and
Prague built its modern sewer system and disposal plant in 1926.(14)
The main street of Prague was paved in 1926 as part of the modernization
The north-south road was rebuilt and widened at this time. However, it did not
have a hard surface until 1932. This is the road that connects the Seminole
and Stroud oil fields that were booming at this time.(16)
Prague continued its modernization program in 1927 when the city built its
first white way lighting system. At the same time, the town was also piped for
the use of natural gas. This made Prague a completely modern little city, as
far as public improvements and public services were concerned.(17)
Interested citizens of Prague also started a cemetery beautification program.
This program was carried on until Prague has what is thought by many to be one
of the most beautiful cemeteries of any small town in the state.(18)
Civic activity has always played an important part in the life of the town
since its first commercial club was formed in 1907. In 1927 a Junior Chamber
of Commerce was formed with one hundred members. This body has become one of
the most active groups for the betterment of the community.(19)
Barta Avenue was paved in 1927 from the east side of Prague to the railroad
underpass west of town. This gave the city twenty-one blocks of paved
Dr. J. S. Rollins moved to Prague from Paden in 1927 and established Rollins
Hospital. This is Prague's only hospital. It is claimed that Rollins Hospital
is one of the best small hospitals in the state.(21)
A wholesale grocery business came to Prague in 1928. This business was moved
to Prague from Okemah, the county seat of Okfuskee County, by Sam Gray and the
Streetman brothers. This business grew until it has become one of Prague's
largest business concerns.(22)
The man who guided Prague through all this improvement period and encouraged
and directed the modernization and beautification program was H. W. Hartman.
Mr. Hartman came to Prague from Ft. Smith, Arkansas. He was connected with the
Ft. Smith and Western railroad. A public spirited citizen, he served the
community in several official capacities. He first served the city as a
trustee and later as a mayor, after the city had adopted the mayor council
plan of city government in 1927. His vision, foresight, and sound business
judgment brought Prague through her modernization period so competently that
she managed to emerge both improved and debt free.(23)
One of the major problems facing the city fathers, including Hartman, was the
matter of providing adequate public utilities. Prague's water and light plant
burned in 1918 and expenditures were necessary to rebuild the plant. In 1918
the city voted $45,000 in bonds for this purpose. A short time later a
contract was made with the Oklahoma Power and Transmission Company of Bing,
Oklahoma, whereby Prague was to purchase at wholesale prices electricity for
its use. This service was started January 19, 1922.(24)
In 1927 the Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company of Harrah, Oklahoma, purchased
the properties of the Oklahoma Power and Transmission Company, and built their
lines to Lambdin, two miles east of Prague. Mr. Hartman and other city
officials reached an agreement with O. G. and E. that has proved satisfactory
in every respect. They were able to furnish the city with the desired electric
power at reasonable rates. The city agreed to buy all its electricity and gas
from this company, giving the latter exclusive right in supplying the town
with electric power and gas. Both parties have been well satisfied with the
agreement. The O. G. and E., because of this monopoly right, sold to the city
at reasonable rates all of the power and gas it could use. From this
arrangement the city has saved enough money to pay all the debts, and no city
tax is levied. The city owns its own distributing plant valued at $50,000. The
rates charged have been so reasonable that the consumer has felt free to use
all of these commodities that he needed. From the profits the city has
accumulated a surplus of $42,000.(25)
1. Journal of the Town Trustees M. S., No. 1, December 12, 1902, City Hall,
2. Prague News, July 10, 1905.
3. Prague News, February 18, 1907.
4. Prague News, February 6, 1927.
5. Prague News Record, April 14, 1927.
6. Thirteenth Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1910.
Population, Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, IV Volumes 1913-14.
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1913.
8. Fourteenth Census of the United States taken in the Year 1920.
Population, Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, IV Volumes 1921-23.
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1922.
9. Mrs. Junia Heath Jones, Interview, June 20, 1948.
10. Prague News Record, September 23, 1923.
11. Ibid., July 24, 1924.
12. Ibid., August 10, 1924.
13. Ibid., January 15,1925.
14. Ibid., August 18, 1926.
15. Bid, December 1, 1926.
16. Ibid., January 5, 1927.
17. Ibid., January 5, 1927.
18. Daily Oklahoman, September 11, 1935.
19. Prague News Record, April 13, 1927.
20. Ibid., May 18, 1927.
21. Ibid., June 22, 1927.
22. Ibid., August 29,1928.
23. R. T. Tower, Interview, July 5, 1947.
24. Journal of the Town Trustees M. S,, Vol. 2, 1917 to 1923, Prague City
25. Financial Statement of the Town of Prague, 1942, Minutes of the Town
Trustees, 1942, City Hall, Prague, Oklahoma.
PRAGUE IN WORLD WAR I AND II
The Town of Prague has been intensely active in both World Wars. There are
some five hundred Czechs, Moravians, Bohemians and Slavs residing in the
vicinity of Prague and their animosity toward Germany and Austria has been and
is still intense.(1)
These foreign-born people that others in Prague refer to simply as "Czechs"
are so close to the old country and its problems that any flare-up of
bitterness and strife in Europe is reflected in Prague. This is understandable
when we remember that many of these people are just a few years away from
their homeland, and many of them still have near relatives living there. As an
example of the close ties, one could point to the following persons and how
they can divide public opinion in a community.
C. M. Sadlo came to Oklahoma in 1869 from Bohemia to escape twelve years of
military service under the Austrian Hapsburgs. He has a sister living near
Prague, Czechoslovakia, today. Mr. Sadlo was a leader of Prague (Oklahoma)
Bohemians in both World Wars.(2)
Mike Mitacek came to Prague, Oklahoma in 1910 from Bohemia and started in the
town as a shoemaker. He has a blind and aged mother in the Sudentenland. This
mother and her family have suffered greatly first under Austria, then
O. R. Blumel came to Prague from Austria in 1905. He set up a harness shop in
Prague when he was nineteen years old. His relatives are all in Austria. His
sympathies are naturally with Austria.(4)
Fred Heinzig came to America in 1905 from Germany and bought a farm in the old
Sac and Fox Indian Reserve. He was the head of a German colony that settled on
the rich farming land north of Prague. All his relatives are in Germany; and
consequently his interest is in the German people.(5)
With this cross section of feeling in the Prague community feelings naturally
ran high in Prague during 1916-18. The Czechs outnumbered the Germans about
ten to one so the general trend of feeling was in support of the Allies. The
German sympathizers were very confident of the success of Germany in the early
part of World War I. Fist fights and near riots, caused bitterness of feeling
among foreign-born residents, were common in Prague.(6)
As the War moved on into 1917, the Irish and English groups around Prague
gradually became more active supporters of the war against Germany. It became
increasingly dangerous to voice pro-German sympathies. There were two cases of
near lynching in the Prague community over the expression of sentiment
favorable to the cause of the Central Powers. After these incidents the
pro-German groups were more reserved in their public utterance, knowing they
were hopelessly outnumbered in the community.(7)
There was intense patriotism on the part of the Bohemians, Irish, and English
groups around Prague after the United States entered the war in April 1917.
The little community sent one hundred and eleven men to serve in the armed
forces in World War I.(8)
Of the one hundred and eleven men in service, only one was killed in action.
He was Edward Walla, a young Bohemian farm boy. He was killed by shrapnel in
the Battle of the Meuse-Argonne Forest when a shell exploded directly over
him. His remains were sent home in 1920 for Prague's only World War I Military
funeral. Since he was the only Prague boy killed in action, the American
Legion Post was named for him. It is called the Edward Walla Post Number 11.(9)
A memorial service in honor of all the war dead is held each year. It is
conducted with military ceremony by the American Legion Post and has become a
major occasion in the community. There have been as many as four thousand
persons gathered at the Prague cemetery for one of these services.(10)
The Red Cross and Salvation Army were active in Prague during World War I. The
ladies of the community formed sewing and knitting groups to work for the men
in uniform. The churches held many special services and prayer meetings for
the boys overseas. The town over-subscribed every war loan. The residents
bought Liberty Bonds, and observed wheatless and meatless days. Looking at the
community as a whole during World War I, there was a general feeling of both
patriotism and sadness coupled with bitter hatred against the Germans and
Austrians in Prague.(11)
A higher degree of patriotism prevailed in the Prague community during the
Second World War. With it went a unity of public opinion that was not
noticeable during World War I. If any Prague citizen harbored pro-German
sympathies he kept them strictly to himself. There was no wild shouting, flag
waving, or fist fighting such as had characterized World War I in Prague.
There was rather a grimness of determination to complete a necessary but
Feeling ran high among the Czech population of Prague in 1938 on the occasion
of the German's invasion of Czechoslovakia. The Prague Czechs hoped that their
relations in central Europe would fight Germany. They denounced Germany and
also criticized Great Britain for trying to appease Hitler. Both Czech lodges,
the Z. C. B. J. and Sokol groups sent protests to the British government
denouncing their desertion of Czechoslovakia.(13)
C. M. Sadlo, the head of the Sokol Club, a national gymnastic organization,
was particularly open and bitter in his denunciation of Hitler for taking over
his homeland. He was equally critical of Great Britain for abandoning
Frank Kucera, head of the Z. C. B. J. Lodge, a fraternal insurance
organization, was equally critical of both Hitler and Britain. These two
Prague Czech leaders hoped that the United States would intervene to save
their homeland in 1938.(15)
When war came to this country in 1941 every phase of life in Prague reflected
an intense loyalty. Red Cross sewing and knitting groups met each Monday
afternoon and worked far into the night all during the war. Another group met
daily from 1943 until the end of the war to roll bandages and pack medical
suppliers for the Red Cross. The local U. S. O. furnished each draftee or
enlisted man with a kit of helpful articles.(16)
The town of Prague, as in the first war, over-subscribed in every war bond
drive during the conflict. Stamps were sold in the school, and the entire
school system was actively engaged in helping the war effort. The town also
went over the top in all scrap metal, scrap rubber, and paper drives made
during the war. Fats were saved religiously during the entire period. There
was little quarreling or complaining in Prague over war shortages. Everyone
seemed to think these were necessary inconveniences in the grim fight against
the totalitarian powers. Seventy people from the Prague community at one time
were working for the Douglas Aircraft Company in Oklahoma City. These people
continued to reside in Prague and drove daily to the aircraft plant. This
factory built the famous C-47 transport plane, and later the A-26 fighter
bomber. Forty more Prague workers found employment at Tinker Field near
Oklahoma City. This field was a base for overhauling the war-weary planes,
especially B-20 bombers, before returning them to combat service.(17)
In addition to these activities Prague and the surrounding community had some
five hundred men and women in the military forces during World War II. Of this
group A. B. Herring, Jr., Ed Krotual, and Frank Mastena were killed in action.
James Trent, Jr. and Carl Cooper were seriously wounded but recovered.(18)
Looking back upon the years of strife, Prague should be, and is, justly proud
of her war record. She has nothing but praise and reverence in her thoughts
for those who gave their lives for their country.(19)
1. Prague News Record, April 5, 1936.
4. Oklahoma City Times, December 24, 1944.
5. Fritz Heinzig, Interview, July 10, 1943.
6. R. T. Tower and Fritz Heinzig, Interview, July 10, 1945.
7. R. T. Tower, Interview, July 21, 1947.
8. Prague News Record, December 28, 1918.
9. Prague News Record, December 15, 1923.
11. R. T. Tower, Interview, July 30, 1947.
13. Tulsa Tribune, March 20, 1939.
16. Mrs. Junia Heath Jones, Notes, 1947. p.5.
17. Lee Easily, Interview, June 6, 1944.
18. R. T. Tower, Interview, July 15, 1947.
19. Lloyd Oplinger, Interview, June 1, 1948.
THE STATUS OF PRAGUE TODAY
The present city of Prague, Oklahoma, has experienced a steady growth since it
founding. The town first depended primarily upon cotton farming for its basic
activity. This period continued until 1926 when the boll weevil destroyed the
cotton industry. Oil played a minor par in the growth of the community as did
the railroad, but the main factor contributing to the growth of the Prague
community has been the civic-mindedness and foresight of its leaders. As long
as Prague leaders continue to be unselfish in their efforts to make the town
better, Prague should continue to grow.(1)
It is true that the town faces many major problems. One, if not two of them,
have been met and conquered. The loss of the cotton growing industry was a
major blow to the economic prosperity of the town. In fact, it had provided
for years the lifeblood of the community. This difficulty has been met and
overcome with the shift form small cotton farms to large bonanza farms or
ranches, and the shift from cotton to peanuts, pecans, and cattle as a basic
crop. This economic change carried with it a major social change also, but the
community has met and overcome this very great obstacle. The second great
handicap has only been partially solved. This was the loss of the railroad.
Prague was dealt a major blow with the loss of the Ft. Smith and Western
Railroad. Transportation was and is, difficult. Of course, passenger traffic
is well taken care of by private automobiles and busses. However, the
freighting problem is more difficult to solve. Truck lines are taking care of
the freighting business, to be sure, but trucks do no yet handle freight,
particularly heavy bulky commodities, as cheaply as did the railroad. Because
this is true, the cost of living is higher in Prague than in towns that are on
the railroad. The transportation of heavy loads for any industry is a major
difficulty for Prague.(2)
If a modern community is to prosper, some type of industry must be attracted
to the town to furnish employment for the members of the community. If jobs
are not available, the youth is forced to leave the community to find
employment elsewhere. This will lead to the eventual death of a community.
Without a railroad it is increasingly hard to induce even small industry to
move into a town. Prague has the Union Cotton Oil Company, The Novelty
Manufacturing shop, and a Wreath Manufacturing Plant, but this is not enough
to induce more people to move into the town. Prague definitely needs more
industry to develop a balanced economy. If she can attract it or start it
herself she will continue to grow. If not, she may decline and gradually
assume the status of a small inland country village.(3)
A more progressive attitude seems to be needed as far as the matter of
improvement is concerned. It is notable that the civic leaders during recent
years have not fought too strenuously to force certain badly needed
improvements. Prague needs a swimming pool, a municipally owned park, tennis
courts, a well-equipped and attractive softball field, a larger public library
with a reading room, and an active recreational program that will take care of
the entire community, the youth, and the adult as well. Prague probably needs
an airfield with concrete runways, and a modern, attractive air depot. Small
industries should be sought and their owners sold on the possibilities of
locating in Prague If the civic leaders of the town see this need and do
something about it, Prague will continue to grow and prosper. If not, she
likely to slip backward and become a small country village.(4)
1. H. W. Hartman, Interview, June 12, 1945.
- Primary Material
Thirteenth Census of the United States taken in the Year 1910.
Population, Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, IV Volumes 1913-14.
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1913.
- Fourteenth Census of the United States taken in the Year 1920.
Population, Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, IV Volumes 1921-23.
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1922.
- These reports were used to verify the population claims of the Prague
News Record, and to show the rapid growth of the town.
- Indian Papers. University of Oklahoma Library, Norman Oklahoma.
- Vol. II provides excellent background material for the story
of the town of Prague.
Annual Statistical Report of Prague's Public Schools, 1941-42
- Application for Accrediting Prague High School, 1942.
Department of Education, Capitol Building, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
- These two reports helped to obtain useful material on the public
schools of Prague that could not have been obtained otherwise.
- Deeds and Map of the Original Townsite of Prague, Oklahoma, October 10,
1902. County Clerk's Office, Lincoln County, Chandler, Oklahoma.
- The documents mentioned above helped to locate the early history of
the townsite of Prague, Oklahoma, and to trace the story of how the town was
almost located at Lambdin, two miles east of where Prague is located today.
- Financial Statement of the Town of Prague, 1942; from the Minutes of the
Town Trustee, 1942. Prague City Hall, Prague, Oklahoma.
- This statement gives the financial status of the town in 1942.
- Journal of the Town Trustees, Vol. I, December 12, 1902.
City Hall, Prague, Oklahoma.
- Journal of the Town Trustees, Vol. II, 1917 to 1923.
City Hall, Prague, Oklahoma.
- Journal of the Town Trustees, Vol. II, January 5, 1903 to January 18, 1907.
City Hall, Prague, Oklahoma.
- These documents gave excellent material on the early government and
the financial status of the town.
- Jones, Mrs. Junia Heath, Notes on Prague, Oklahoma. An unpublished
manuscript. Prague News Record Office, Prague, Oklahoma.
- This manuscript was extremely helpful. It relates important happenings
in the Prague community that have been gathered by Mrs. Jones from old
Prague News Record (1904-1948).
Most of the social, economic, political, and religious history of the town
was taken from this source. Some of the papers from 1915 to 1948 are to be
found in the files of the Prague News Record Office. The papers from
1904 to 1914 are to be found in the Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma
- Shawnee Herald (May 12, 1902).
- This paper is to be found in the Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma
City, Oklahoma. It furnished part of the background history of the town.
- Shawnee News (December 16,1943).
- Tulsa Tribune (September 30, 1928).
- Tulsa Tribune (March 20, 1929).
- Tulsa World (May 28, 1939).
- Daily Oklahoman (October 11, 1935).
- Oklahoma City Times (December 24, 1944).
All the above named newspapers are to be found in the files at the
Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They provided the
story of the abandonment of the Ft. Smith and Western Railroad.
Interviews with the pioneer citizens of the community.
Without the information supplied by these early settlers, or relatives
of early settlers, it would not have been possible to write this history.
Foreman, Carolyn Thomas, Imprints of Oklahoma.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1936.
- This book contained excellent information on the early newspapers of Oklahoma.
- Foreman, Grant, History of Oklahoma.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1942.
- This work provided background material on the opening of the Sac and
Fox Indian Reservations.
Typist was Janet Croft. (manuscript)
Electronic transcription by Pat Ruble.
HTML coding by John Matthews.
John Matthews -
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