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RETROSPECTION
by J. B. Pope, Minco, OK attorney
as published in the Minco Minstrel, Thursday, September 7, 1939
Reprinted with permission of the present copyright owner of the Minco Minstrel, The Chickasha Star

    In 1890, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company extended its road from Union City, Oklahoma Territory, to Minco, Indian Territory, where it established a depot, stock-pens, and other railroad facilities, and the town of Minco was established upon its present site by C.B. Campbell, who owned the occupancy rights to the lands upon which the town was built, but the fee simple title thereto was vested in the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations or Tribes of Indians, and the lots in the town could not be sold outright, but only occupancy rights thereto could be granted by Mr. Campbell, and so the town originated and was built up. The object of the Railway Company in extending its road to Minco was to get the vast cattle shipments that were then available here from the grazing lands of this section of the Indian Territory. Minco was located in the extreme northwestern corner of the Chickasaw Nation, in the Indian Territory, the South Canadian river about three miles north of town being the northern limits, and the 98th meridian, about an equal distance west of Minco being the western limits of the Chickasaw Nation.

    At the time the town of Minco was established, Washita, Custer, Beckham and Roger Mills Counties, Oklahoma, had been opened for white settlers, and that part of the country was filled with homesteaders and their families, but was without railway facilities, and the merchants of Minco had an extensive trade as far west as one hundred miles, and many loads of merchandise were transported from Minco to those counties. However, in the year of 1896 the Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf Railway Company, now a part of the Rock Island, extended its road, went from El Reno into those counties, and thereby Minco lost its trade from said counties.

    One of the inducements for the early settlers of Minco to locate here was the hope that the Caddo, Wichita, Kiowa and Commanche Indian reservations would be opened up for white settlement, by Act of Congress. This opening, however, was almost indefinitely delayed, and the booming town of Minco that was supported by its western trade then lost by the extension of the Choctaw Olahoma & Gulf Railroad west from El Reno, and hopefully looked forward to the opening of the Wichita country, as it was known, that failed to be opened, gradually died down to a village of only a few hundred people.

    In 1892 the Rock Island Railway Company extended its road from Minco to Fort Worth, Texas, and the towns of Chickasha, Rush Springs, Marlow, Duncan and other towns on its line were established, some of which drew heavily upon the trade and business which Minco had formerly enjoyed, and it then became a long, tedious, and somewhat discouraging wait for the people that remained in the town, hoping that the new country would be opened for settlement. At last, on August 4th, 1901, the country was opened for settlement by proclamation of the president of the United States, and the rush of homeseekers began, and Minco being the gateway to the best part of that country took on new life, and the town boomed again, and many of the present day business and residence houses were constructed.

    When the Rock Island Railway Company extended its road from Union City to Minco, many of the houses that were in Union City were removed by house-movers by truck to Minco, and many of the early day houses here came from Union City. One among the early institutions, and one of the most important, both to the people of the town, as well as of the Indian Territory, was the El Meta Christian College, which was later renamed the El Meta-Bond College. This college was not only prominent as an educational institution, but as a rain-maker as well; for the annual commencement exercises of the college, held in May of each year, at a downtown hall, were almost invariably drenched with continuing rainfall, and the sweet girl graduates, in attending these commencement programs, instead of wearing the organdy, laces, and white hose and slippers, had to resort to slickers and wading boots in order to reach the hall where the exercises ware to be held, and thereby Mrs. Sager became the Chief rain maker of the Minco tribe.

    Owing to the influx of outside population to Minco coincident with the opening of the new country west of town, it became necessary to incorporate the town, which was done in the month of June, 1902, under the laws then in force in the Indian Territory, with a full set of officers, and thereafter it became legally possible to establish and maintain a public school within the town. The people of the town of Minco continued from the establishment of the town in 1890 to the 26th day of October, 1900, to occupy the lots under a permit from C. B. Campbell, when, under Act of Congress and Treaties with the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indian Tribes, the town of Minco, Indian Territory, was established as a Government Townsite, and in June, 1901, the townsite was surveyed and platted into lots and blocks conforming as nearly as possible to the old survey of the town established by C. B. Campbell, its founder, and then it became possible for the people of the town to acquire fee simple title to their lots.

    The townsite law provided that the owner of one residence and one business lot, upon which there were at the time valuable and lasting improvements, exclusive of fencing, tillage and crops; could buy the same by paying to the United States Indian Agent, at Muskogee, Indian Territory, forty per centum of the appraised value thereof as fixed by the townsite commission, payable one-fourth, at the time of purchase, and the balance in three equal annual installments, and all other lots so improved could be purchased by the owners of the improvements at sixty per centum of their appraised value, upon the same terms of payment, and after all of the owners of improved lots had time in which to make their claims thereto and have the lots scheduled to them by the townsite commission, then the remainder of the lots within the townsite were sold at public auction to the highest bidder, upon the same terms of payment as the improved lots were sold, a receipt being given by the U. S. Indian Agent for all payments made until the lots were fully paid for, and then a patent or deed therefor was executed by the Governor of the Chickasaw Nation and the Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation to the buyers. Thus the town of Minco, Indian Territory was established, and title to the lots therein acquired.

    Prior to the incorporation of the town in June, 1902, the citizens of the town and community established a private, or pay, school on the present site of the Minco High School which was called "Minco Academy." The school building was composed of two rather large rooms and a hall between, and comfortably accommodated the pupils attending school there. When the town was incorporated, one of the first steps taken by the people of the town was to establish a public school to be supported by taxation of the property within the town. This school, at first, occupied the "Minco Academy" building, but just before statehood, the citizens of the town voted bonds upon the property of the town in the sum of $10,000.00, and built the "old" part of the present high school building. At statehood, a school district was organized including both the town and outlying portions of the present school district, and the present school site and the "old" part of the present building was bought by the newly created school district of the Town of Minco district, and that is the origin of the present school system.

    In addition to its schools, of which all of its citizens have always been justly proud, Minco has been blessed with numerous churches, among them being the Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Christian, Catholic, Holiness, and Assembly of God, all of which have had many pious, devout, and faithful members.

    In the early days the principal business of the community was stock-raising, with some farming, but "as the man with the hoe" encroached upon the domain of the stock-man, farming largely superseded stock raising on a large scale, and this is now one of the best farming sections within the of Oklahoma.

    Prior to statehood, Mansfield’s Digest of the Laws of the State of Arkansas, by Act of Congress, were put in force in the Indian Territory; and the public institutions in the Indian Territory were set up under the provisions and authority of said Mansfield’s Digest, but at statehood, the Constitutional Convention in creating the State of Oklahoma from Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory extended to, and put in force throughout the new State of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Territorial Code of Laws then in force, and since that time, the public offices and institutions of the state have been set up and operated the Oklahoma Territorial Code and the Acts of the State Legislature.

    Many of the leaders in the establishment and development of the town of Minco and surrounding country nave long since passed to their final reward, but their memory lingers. This retrospection would not be complete without reference to them. As stated herinbefore, C. B. Campbell owned the occupancy rights to the lands upon which the town is situated, and established the town of Minco, and in addition thereto he extensively engaged in merchandising, banking, farming, stockraising, and other enterprises, he having owned and developed some of the best thoroughbred race horses in the United States. J.H. Bond was also one of the pioneers of this section, he being a prominent and successful farmer, stock-raiser, and was also interested in banking and other business enterprises. B. P. Smith was one of the early day ranchmen and farmers, who later became a very prominent banker.

    Meta Chestnutt-Sager, who pioneered in the educational field in this country, established the first institution of learning in this part of the Indian Territory, commencing her educational work in a little school house at Silver City, a community located a short distance northwest of the present town of Tuttle, Oklahoma, where she taught school for some time, later moving her school to Minco, where she later erected the El Meta-Bond College, which was a lasting monument to her as an educator, who is being properly honored on this occasion.

    Tuttle Brothers owned a general mercantile store here in the early days, and J. H. Tuttle was extensively engaged in farming and stock-raising.

    Kirk Woodworth, father of the Woodworth Brothers, of Minco, established one of the first hardware stores here, he having removed here from Kiowa, Kansas, when the town was established, and he established the prosperous business now owned and operated by his sons, as Woodworth Brothers. The Bonebrake Hardware Company was also one of the early business enterprise here, conducted by J. E. Bonebrake and his son, Howard.

    R. S. Hopkins owned and operated the "Hopkins House" on the first block west of the depot on Main Street here. His advertisement of his hotel was as follows: "The Hopkins House, the only second class hotel in this country. The same old crank, R. S. Hopkins, proprietor. We feed the hungry, take care of the sinners, and the Saints can take care of themselves." Mr. Hopkins was a typical Kentucky Colonel, of the old Southern Gentleman style, and many funny incidents were told of him and his hotel by old timers here; one of which pertained to his treatment of a "drummer" or commercial traveler, that stopped by his hotel one bitter cold night. Before retiring this guest left a call for about two o’clock a.m. to catch a train due here about that hour, and Mr. Hopkins, having no night clerk at his hotel sat up and kept a fire burning until the time to call his guest, and when he rapped on the door and told his guest it was time for him to get up to catch his train, the guest groaned, rolled over and tucked the covers around himself, and told Mr. Hopkins he had decided the would not go on that train to which Mr. Hopkins replied: "You will go, too; I have sat up and kept a fire burning up to this time in order to awaken you, and now you have to go." The guest went. A. B. Snow and Company established the first lumber yard in Minco, which was succeeded by the Davidson Case Lumber Company, with the present manager, J.M. Robbins, in charge, and who has been in charge ever since.

    J. D. Lindsay owned and operated a general merchandise store in a frame building where the Wall Garage is now located, and the post-office was for a long time in his store, with F.E. Clayton as.post-master. Mr. Lindsay was agent for the Rock Island Railroad here, and telegraph operator. M. B. Louthan, the first sheriff of Grady County after statehood was the first agent of the Rock Island here. M. Jenkins was also agent at a later date. W. H. Gillum was one of the first grocers here, and operated a store for a number of years. John Murphy operated a boot and shoe shop, making boots for the cowboys of this country in the early days; later repairing shoes for the people after the exit of the cowboy.

    Dr. P. K. Connaway and B. P. Smith owned a drug store, and Connaway practiced medicine here in the beginning of the town. The Bank of Minco, predecessor of the First National Bank of Minco, was first established at Union City, Oklahoma, and later removed to Minco, where it was operated for a number of years as The Bank of Minco, later changing its name to the First National Bank of Minco, Oklahoma. It is the oldest bank in Grady County. In 1904 F.V. Vickrey and associates established the Citizens State Bank here which existed for a number of years, but finally failed because of the depression. The Minco Minstrel established here by Lewis N. Hornbeck at the foundation of the town, and it has survived to tell the story until this day. Minco also has had a flour mill and grain elevator owned and operated by local people; the plant burned in 1896; the town also had a cotton gin, but this deteriorated due to lack of business. In 1898 a new grain elevator was erected on the site of the old which was owned and operated for some time by R.M. and Ira M. Johnson, as Johnson Brothers Elevator Company; this building was also destroyed by fire. In 1903 R.M. and Joseph Brett of McAlester, Indian Territory, came here and built another flour mill at the north edge of town, the people of the town donating the sum of $1,000.00 to them as the inducement to them to build the mill here. This was operated by them under the name of "Imperial Roller Mill and Grain Company", until 1904, when A.G. Click, E.B. Parish and Ira M. Johnson acquired the ownership thereof, and they continued to operate the same under the name of "Imperial Roller Mill and Grain Company" until June 15th, 1907, when the business was re-incorporated under the name of Minco Mill and Grain Co. In 1904, Messrs. Click, Parish, and Johnson, built a commodious elevator in connection with the mill, and continued to do a thriving business until about the first of January, 1913, when the business was closed for lack of sufficient business to make it profitable to operate it longer.

    J.A. Stewart, of Lenior, N. Carolina, came to Minco in 1894, and for a while was a teacher in the El Meta Bond College, afterward severing his connection with the college to enter business. He first established a grocery store here, which he operated for some time, and then went into the hardware and furniture business with R.G. White, afterward buying Mr. White’s interest in the business, and later forming a partnership with L.T. Coffey, who now owns the hardware and implement business established by Mr. Stewart. Moan Grant owned a dry goods business, and G. A. Brown a grocery business here for a number years. W.G. Williams owned and operated the Half-Moon ranch near where Verden now stands. He had extensive live stock interests and was also connected with the then Bank of Minco. Robert Curtis was a ranchman located northwest of Minco. J.E. Wright had a large farm just east of Minco, and also built the Elmer Pinkston residence just east of the Rock Island on Main Street. J.G. Holman, T.J. Robinson, Wm. Chester, W.D. Saunders, and their families were early day residents here who remained with the town.

    There have been many other notable citizens of the town since its establishment, that it is impossible to mention here.