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Washita County, Oklahoma

Foss, Oklahoma

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Contributed by Marti Graham, August 2003. Information posted as courtesy to researchers. The contributor is not related to nor researching any of the families mentioned.

foss-1959.jpg (50819 bytes)

foss-1975.jpg (49271 bytes)

Foss 1959

Foss 1975


Located approximately 12 miles northwest of Cordell, Oklahoma and 12 miles southwest of Clinton. Section 1 and 2, Township 11 North, Range 19 West. Post office established September 1900 and William Radford was the first postmaster. Town was named for J. M. Foss of Cordell.

Foss had its beginnings in the late 1890s when settlers living near a post office called Wilson moved four miles northward to the valley of Turkey Creek. They tried to name their new post office Graham, but that name was taken. The Post Office Department named the new place Maharg, an anagram for Graham. May 2, 1902, a sudden flash flood, caused by unusually heavy rainfall practically wiped out the village. Several persons drowned, buildings were wrecked or washed away, animals were destroyed. The residents moved out of the creek bottoms to higher land adjacent to the railroad already built through the area. A post office named Foss became the name of the town that developed.

Foss grew rapidly, and by 1905 had a population of 900-1000 persons. The town was surrounded by productive farmlands. Top prices were paid for farm products. Stores and shops sprung up to serve the area. Two banks had larger deposits than most rural areas. Three cotton gins operated and in 1908 shipments of cotton approximated 10,000 bales, most ginned in Foss.

Rock and brick business buildings replaced frame structures, large up-to-date homes replaced smaller ones, a school system was organized and several churches built substantial houses of worship.

After the initial rapid growth, the population leveled at approximately 500. By 1912 Foss had an electric plant. An opera house had been constructed and a second hotel added.

Foss had several newspapers at various times. Foss Enterprise (1905), Foss Banner (1901-193?), Foss Democrat (1903-19??).

After 1920, however, the town began to have problems. Located almost midway between the larger and rapidly growing rail centers of Clinton and Elk City, and with the faster transportation of the automobile, trade territory of Foss was largely absorbed by Clinton and Elk City. Foss began to decline.

The financial problems of the late 1920s, the depression, the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and World War II of the 1940s all caused migration from the area and the closing of stores. In the 1950s and 1960s there was some revival caused by the increase use of the air force installation at Burns Flat. With the closing of the base many people moved. One bank continued to stay open until September 1977.

Population was 163 in 1998.

Foss is today but a reminder of the past. Ruins of Kobel's gas station and an old jail remain. Foundation outlines of old buildings are visible and sidewalks lining vacant town blocks, never to be used again.

1999 photo of the Foss Post Office.

foss-1904.jpg (85983 bytes)
Foss 1904


Sources:

  1. Morris, John W.. Ghost Towns of Oklahoma. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1965.
  2. Shirk, George H.. Oklahoma Place Names. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1965.
  3. Speck, Gary B.. Ghost Towns of Oklahoma, Foss, Oklahoma. 2001. August 16, 2003 <http://freepages.history.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~gtusa/usa/ok/foss.htm>.
  4. Oklahoma Route 66 Association. no date. August 16, 2003 <http://www.oklahomaroute66.com/tour66.html>.
  5. Post Mark Collectors Club. no date. August 16, 2003 <http://members.aol.com/_ht_a/pmcc30/0177.htm>.
  6. The Route 66 Caravan. 2003. August 16, 2003 <http://www.cart66pf.org/66caravan/roadlog27.htm>.
  7. "Counties and Township Maps for Oklahoma." OKGenWeb. 2003. OKGenWeb. 18 Aug 2003 <http://www.okgenweb.net/okprojects/maps-dot.html>.


 

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