Autwine, Oklahoma History


"This information was gathered from various sites throughout the Internet. The numbers behind the sentences correspond to the web page I got the information from during my research. It is a conglomeration of information that has it's resources on the corresponding webpages. Please visit those web pages as the people there have done hard work in making history more available to all of us.

Paul Reeves

At the bottom of the page are 'Places of Interest' where I have captured some of the history of the local area.

Autwine Oklahoma is located about 7 miles west of Ponca City on Highland Avenue. The town declined as an agricultural center after better roads in the area led to farmers taking their business to the larger business centers. Today there is nothing left of the old townsite and the area is used for agriculture.

The town was served by the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (Santa Fe) and was first called Virginia City and was platted on June 17, 1899 by W. A. Bradford.[3] Its post office that served Virginia City was started by a man named Pierce and was successful in locating the post office on his homestead just a mile and a quarter south of Autwine and called it Pierceton[3] and the railroad identified the station as Arta.[2] Soon after the town was started, a meeting was held to determine a single name for the town, post office and railroad station and it was agreed upon Antoine, in honor of Antoine Roy, a Ponca Indian Chief.[1]

Autwine 008

This house would have been about 1/2 mile to the southeast of where the townsite of Autwine was located. To the west of this house is a very large Pecan Grove where my mother and father would take me when I was a child in the 1960's to pick up pecans on the halves. Back in the 1960's it was pretty common to gather fruits and nuts on the halves, meaning that you would pick up two bushels and give one bushel to the owners of the grove or orchard. As of August 20, 2010 the Pecan Grove is still there in the rich Chickaski River soil, and the tress are about 60 feet tall.

Autwine 009

The grass was not mowed, but it is still early in the year so maybe the owners will mow the site to be able to gather up the pecans when they start dropping in the fall.

The townsfolk held a meeting to settle on a name and they decided none of the present names were acceptable, so they chose the name Antoine, in honor of Antoine Roy, a Ponca Indian.[3] There are two different stories of how the name was Autwine instead of Antoine. In one version the Santa Fe railroad agent misspelled the name and refused to change it, had the sign for the station painted and refused to change the spelling.[2] The second story is that the town clerk who sent the name change to Washington to get it recorded was a poor penman, so when the documents came back from Washington it was spelled Autwine.[2]

The town grew rapidly as an agricultural center since the roads in the area were very poor in the fertile Oklahoma soil, and at the turn of the century the town had two elevators, a stockyard, an implement yard, a bank, ten other business establishments and a 'good' doctor, and with 25 homes in town and more in the surrounding area the area was thriving with life. This was a regular shipping point for cattle, hogs and wheat and local ranches were the 101 Ranch located to the south of the location, the Little V, and the William H. Vanselous' Big V Ranch.[1]

Autwine 010

This foundation would have been about the last of the houses that were left in the Autwine area, it is located on the north-south road that used to go through the Autwine townsite. The only item that you would be able to see in August 2010 is this foundation and a sign that says "Autwine Flood Control Area". The only way that I knew this area was the Autwine area was because my mother and father would take us kids out there for drives in the country. In the 1960's there were still a few houses, and a spring where my father would get water out of an old pipe that came out of the grond on the east side of the north-south road and he told me that was why Autwine was built in this area. The spring and old pipe is still there, but it is on private property behind locked gates, and I tried to take a photograph of the water dribbling out of the pipe, but it is too far away from the road, even with a telephoto lens.

This is another old building that would have been on the north side of Autwine townsite, it is still standing, although in disrepair as of August 2010. The old railway was on the north side of the townsite, for the small towns in the early 1900's would build up on the windward side of the prevailing winds, which were from the south in this area. If you ever wondered about the statement, "On the wrong side of the tracks", that was meaning that the houses were cheaper on the side of town that the soot would roll into from the old coal powered steam locomotives, so the houses would have a 'dirty' soot over them. The saying meant other things when the locomotives became diesel powered, but that is yet another story in the life of the American people.

A school for grades one through eight was soon organized with the high school in Blackwell, six miles away, which was correct on the train schedule to carry the children to and from there both ways.[2] Round trips between Ponca City and Blackwell were made four times each day by mail and passenger trains so Autwine became a good location to be able to travel to the neighboring cities while making the trip on horseback was very time consuming.[2]

In the early 1900's the importance of Autwine declined as a trading center as the roads in the area were improved as the first automobiles and trucks made their appearance, so the people began trading in the larger cities. The bank closed in 1904, and in 1905 a fire destroyed the business district, destroying the grocery, dry-goods store, railway depot, the blacksmith shop, the general merchandise store, the hardware store and part of the lumberyard. The only business left standing was an empty store, so most of the businesses did not rebuild. By 1910 there was only one general store, a blacksmith shop, and one elevator in business and then the school was destroyed by tornado in 1912. Last store closed in 1930 and the elevator closed shortly thereafter.[2] The United States Postal Service does list that the Post Office in Autwine was operational from 1903 until 1922.

Today there is little physical evidence that Autwine ever existed, with just the cemetary left in the area. All the former platted land is now used for agriculture and the foundations and buildings are all gone.

Places of Interest:

bigv 001

Big V Ranch was quite the prosperous ranch in the start of the early 1900's and Autwine benefitted greatly from W. H. Vanselous' trade over the years. The ranch has been renovated back to the period settings, and is really quite beautiful to see. Wally and Van Edwards (W. H. Vanselous' grandchildren) have really done a remarkable job of bringing the times back to the presence.

© Lord Gazmuth 2012