Pryor (officially Pryor Creek), Mayes County, Okla., is beautifully situated on the undulating prairie which dips gradually toward the west to the limpid stream from which the town derives. its name. A prettier town site could not have been found in all this broad and expansive land. The streets are almost level, just sloping enough to afford natural drainage. Pryor is the county seat of Mayes County, and has a population of more than two thousand. It is on the main line of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway, 209 miles north of Denison, Texas, seventy-seven miles south of Parsons, Kan., and forty miles north of Muskogee. It is surrounded by a vast area of fine farming lands, and draws trade from a large scope of fertile country. It is admirably located and has a large field in which to expand.
The original Indian name of Pryor Creek was Coo-y-yah, meaning “Huckleberry” in the Cherokee language. – This name, however, proved too difficult for English speaking people, and after a few, years’ wrestling with the varied spellings and the harrowing pronunciations, Coo-y-yah was changed to Pryor Creek.
The M., K. & T. Railroad was located through the Indian Territory in 1870. The road was built through what is now Mayes County, in 1871. The first merchant to have a general store in Pryor was W. H. Mayes (Old Tip) as far back as 1875. Mayes was succeeded by John H. Harris, W. T. Whitaker, J. C. Hogan, W. A. Graham and others. The post office was established early in the year 1882. W. T. Whitaker, aided by others, built the first school and church building in 1888. The first telegraph office was opened in Pryor in the year 1889. The first bank was organized in 1900. W. A. Graham was the principal organizer and is still at the head-of the institution-the First National Bank of Pryor Creek. The Citizens Bank & Trust Company was organized a few years later, and in 1908 the First State Bank, now the American National Bank, was organized.
Pryor Creek was first surveyed and platted under the Cherokee laws about the year 1888 by I. P. Bledsoe. The United States Government survey followed in September, 1902.
Under the Cherokee government, Pryor was located in what was known as the Cooweescoowe district,, later in 1902 when it was made a court town by the Federal Government and the first courthouse was built, it was placed in the Fifth recording district of the Northern Judicial District of Indian Territory. The bill incorporating the town of Pryor Creek under the Cherokee law was introduced in the Cherokee Council house about the year 1889 by Councilman D. W. Vann, and in the Senate by Senator Samuel H. Mayes. October 13, 1898, the town was incorporated under the laws of Arkansas. governing cities and towns.
Lee Mills was the first mayor under the Cherokee laws. The first election under the Arkansas law was held- December 29, 1898. David I. Elliott was elected mayor, serving two terms. David B. Beard was elected mayor at April election in 1900, and was reelected the following year. In April, 1902, Dr. J. E. Bristow was elected mayor, but resigned November 5, 1902, and J. C. McConnell was elected by the council to fill the unexpired term. In April, 1903, Prof. Frank R. Morgan was elected mayor. Mr. Morgan served many years and was succeeded by J. Z. Hogan. W. A. Graham was elected in 1913 and served until 1917. R. A. Wilkerson served during the years 1917 and 1918 and was succeeded by C. L. Samuel, who retired in 1921. Thos. J. Harrison is the present mayor. Pryor is under the aldermanic form of government and the city affairs are run as a strictly business proposition. The city owns its own water plant and enjoys the very best and purest water in the state, having recently installed a settling basin at their plant on Grand River which completes the water system of the city to the extent that there is plenty of water for everyone for all purposes, at a very reasonable cost.
Pryor’s water system cost $200,000 and while part of the system is ten years old, the plant no doubt is worth today as much as $300,000. The bonded indebtedness has been reduced. to $163,000. The levy to cover sinking fund interests and payment and the general government of the city for last year total but 18 mills based on an assessed valuation of only $1,266,871. With an increase in building and business that -Pryor is sure to have, increasing the value of the assessed valuation, the tax levy is sure to be lower.
The municipal affairs are run on a strictly cash basis, and there is not a single outstanding warrant against the general fund of the city.
The new $140,000 courthouse is just about completed. It is conveniently located for beauty and efficiency. Pryor has two nice brick ward school buildings and a new $72,000 brick, high school building and one of the accredited high schools of the state. The average attendance the past year for the ward and high school, is more than seven hundred. The new high school building is equipped with one of the best auditoriums and gymnasiums in the state.
No less than five churches house the church-workers and help Pryor to lead in Sunday school work. The Christian Church, the Baptist Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, have their substantial brick buildings which are fully paid for. Pryor has several miles of concrete sidewalk and expects to build many more blocks this year. The main street running through the town, east and west, is graveled almost a mile. There are no special taxes of any kind in the town.
Pryor has the usual number of banks and business houses that are found in the average town, and the Pryor Creamery does a thriving business for the country surrounding Pryor is a dairy country.
The Pryor Ice and Light Company is a $50,000 corporation. The M. C. Hadley Steam Laundry is one of the best in the state and would be a credit to any town. Three grain elevators and a flour mill handle the grain for the Pryor trade territory. Three well stocked lumber yards supply the builders of the town and surrounding country. Pryor has a cotton gin, a bottling works and an ice cream manufacturing plant. Although on the northern edge of the cotton belt, there are many other cotton gins in the county ; more than eight hundred bales of cotton were baled at Pryor last year. One firm in Pryor ships more than four hundred cars of hay annually. The Pryor Creamery shipped out of Pryor 140,000 pounds of butter last y ear. The poultry and egg industry runs into the thousands of dollars each month. More than five hundred cars of livestock and grain are shipped from Pryor each year. One man ships 500,000 sweet potato plants annually and no less than a quarter million of other plants. Another resident living in the outer edge of town, sells more than two thousand pounds of honey annually, and another Pryor man got a return of just a little less than five hundred dollars per acre from strawberries. Sweet potatoes are sold here in large quantities. Some of these items may not sound so big, but these are mentioned to show the possibilities of Pryor and surrounding country.
Pryor is well equipped to take care of the tourists, by having clean, up-to-date hotels, plenty of garages with first class mechanics and equipment and a brick filling station, modern in every respect. A camp ,ground for the automobile tourists is conveniently located to the business section of the town.
A large radium water bathing pool, well equipped for all bathers, is located on a site adjoining the town and furnishes much recreation during the summer months. The many streams- surrounding Pryor furnish sport for the man with the reel. Pryor has a radio station.
Pryor has a Commercial Club with a ‘paid membership of about one hundred and meets regularly each Thursday at the noon hour.
Source: Benedict, John D. Muskogee and northeastern Oklahoma, including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. 3 v. illus., ports., facsims. 28 cm. Chicago, S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.