Carter County



Wilson News February, 1915

In 1880 the Hewitts, Goodells and Hortons, living in Texas, decided to migrate north. On Christmas Day 1880 the party passed what today is the Main street of Wilson and went one more mile to the east to settle in what became known as Hewitt. In 1889 Hewitt was officially founded, the first store was established, and the post office was opened.

In 1912, the decision was made by Jake Hamon, Ardmore oilman, and John Ringling, the circus magnate, to build a railroad (the Oklahoma, New Mexico and Pacific Railroad) west from Ardmore to Ringling, Lawton and eventually to the west coast. Work on the railroad began around May of 1913; the first spike was driven on August 4th; and the railroad was completed to Ringling in January 1914. Although much discussion and planning occurred in regard to taking the railroad further west, the plans never became a reality.

Jake Hamon and John Ringling decided to drive the best possible land bargains with the towns along the railroad right of way. When Hewitt was approached, Jake Hamon felt a depot was worth more than what was being offered. On September 22, 1913 it was announced that a contract had been made for the erection of a depot at a new town site about one mile west of Hewitt.

Wilson was founded by the two men in August 1913; it was incorporated on November 5, 1914. By the end of 1914, "New Wilson" was estimated to have over 2,000 residents; by early 1918 it had a population of about 3,000. Wilson (named for John Ringling's secretary, Charles Wilson), was initially named "New Wilson" since there was an older town of Wilson located 7 miles southeast of Ardmore. By 1918 the other Wilson had disappeared and on August 5, 1918 Oklahoma Governor R. L. Williams declared that "New Wilson" would now known simply as "Wilson." The name of the post office was not changed until January 28, 1920.

Wilson Landmarks Past and Present

The Ice Plant

In early 1921 work started on the Gordon-Nuckolls ice plant.
In November The Wilson Ice & Coal Company purchased and finished the plant which opened in early 1922.
It later became The Crystal Ice Plant. The large back room contained vats where the ice was produced in 300 pound blocks, then stored in the front room of the building.

Mobley Hotel

In 1917, Ben E. Mobley, former mayor of Wilson, completed the Mobley Hotel on the north side of Main Street.
The hotel had 28 rooms with private baths, hot and cold water, a barber shop, lobby, and other stores.
In 1921 new proprietors took over the hotel and "...state that they have cleaned the hotel up morally and every other way and that it will be kept in that condition."

Thompson Theatre

During its early days Wilson had a number of theatres including the Dreamland, Empress, Ezy, Hippodrome, Rialto, and Yale.
In 1925 Ferris and Glen Thompson purchased land on the south side of Main Street, constructed a 43 by 140 building and opened the Thompson Theatre.
The building was torn down in 1982.

High School

The three-story building was erected in 1918.
It contained "...a large basement, splendid auditorium seating around 350, a large and commodious study hall and five high school recitation rooms."
The third floor was removed in 1937-38. The gymnasium was completed in 1938 and is now referred to as "The Old Gym." The former high school was razed in 1985.

South Ward School

South Ward School was a two story building completed in 1917 that housed both the elementary and high school.
In 1921 the second story was removed, and major additions were made so that there were fourteen rooms, all on one floor.
In 1966 the new elementary school opened and South Ward School closed.

Skinny Stewart

Arthur "Skinny" Stewart #32 was an All-State Wilson High football player.
Following graduation in 1945, he attended Southeastern State College where he earned All-American honors and won the Jim Thorpe award.
He was drafted by the Washington Redskins, and later played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
In later years he was a coach and counselor in Wilson until his retirement.

Bayou No. 1

Oil was discovered in the Healdton Oil Field in 1913. Other oil fields-Dillard, Wheeler, Hewitt and Brock-were soon developed.
The Bayou No. 1 wooden derrick, circa 1917, was the first drilled in the bayou along U.S. 70 about 3 miles east of Wilson.
By 1920, the Hewitt Field had over 300 wells and produced 25,000-35,000 barrels per day.
During the oil boom days of the 1920's Wilson was home to two refineries - Nyanza Refinery and the Ardmore Producing & Refining Company.

Oldest Church

The oldest surviving church in Wilson is the First United Methodist Church located on 1st Street.
The original building was destroyed by fire in late 1919. The present structure opened August 22, 1920.

Train Depot

Work began on the depot in September 1913; train service began on a regular basis from Ardmore to Wilson in late October.
Work was completed on the depot in late 1913 or early 1914 and trains serviced Wilson until the 1970's.

In 1916 Wilson shipped more cotton than any other town in southern Oklahoma.
In 1923 there were three cotton gins - Reed's Gin, Choctaw Gin, and (New) Wilson Gin.
In addition, a good deal of grain was produced in the area, although after the Dust Bowl days of the 1930's
farming never regained its former prominence in and around Wilson.

courtesy - Wilson Historical Society & Museum



17 August 2014