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Death of a Town, Texana

September 10, 2003

Almanac Transcript

It's not all that unusual of residents of Oklahoma or other relatively new states to witness the death of a town. Settlements in every area of the state are slowly fading away as did the town of Texana, the subject of this weeks Oklahoma Audio Almanac.

There seems to be hundreds of towns in Oklahoma that have created a name by joining bits and pieces of other state names together like Texarkana, Texline, and Texlahoma just to name a few. The settlement of Texana in southern Macintosh County was so called due to the first settlers being from Texas. The reason behind the 'ana' part of the name isn't known. There isn't anything left of Texana now. A research trip to the area reported that the village was almost gone, being no more than the proverbial wide spot in the road, and that was in 1950.

It's easy as we drive along the highways to see fading towns and dismiss them as just another eyesore on the horizon without really thinking about what took place there. Texana, Oklahoma began in 1840. Situated near the mouth of the Canadian River, the town quickly turned from a settlement of refugee Texas Cherokees to a thriving community. The town, relying on the cotton trade as well as sales to nearby bands of Native Americans, soon began to thrive as three, four and then five separate stores appeared. Several cotton gins and numerous other establishments filled out the town.

By the turn of the century, the population of the town numbered well over 300 and continued to grow. Three full time doctors served the area as did a dentist. In the wake of a tornado that flattened a portion of the town a communal fund was set up and gangs of workers rebuilt each destroyed house, barn or business. The town of Texana was witnessed a hard work, dreams, hopes and disappointments. People arriving there put their stake in the fate of the town and hoped that they were building something viable that would last into the future. Something that their kids and grand kids could be proud of.

As we speed past what used to be a thriving community, I think it is important to remember that in the case of Texana, what looks like relatively little now was the scene of four generations of families all living in that same space. People were born, lived and passed away in the town that we now regard as nothing or merely a wide spot in the road.

In this week in 1940, the town centennial year, the post office of Texana, Oklahoma closed for the very last time and the town and the memories of all the things occurring there took the final steps towards oblivion.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a joint production of Oklahoma's Public Radio and the Oklahoma State University Library.

 

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