In 1903, as the work of grading the new Midland Valley Railroad had reached a point about half way between Tulsa and Muskogee, it was observed that on the prairie, just ahead of the , construction camp, was a beautiful site for a town. All of the land belonged to the Creek Indians and something had to be done in order that legal title to town lots might be guaranteed to purchasers. Mr. T. J. Way, one of the pioneers of that section of the country selected an eighty-acre tract belonging to Amos Rolland, a full-blood Creek, and petitioned the secretary of the interior to authorize Rolland to sell it for town site purposes. Mr. Way bought the land and when, after the customary delay of several months, the sale was approved by the Interior Department, the tract was conveyed by Mr. Way to the town site company of which C. N. Haskell, P. B. Hopkins and Walter Eaton were the promoters, and the town of Haskell sprang into existence. Eighty acres was not deemed of sufficient size, however, td build the town, which the promoters had planned, and through the efforts of Mr. J. C. Scully, title was obtained to an adjoining tract which also was platted into town lots. Mr. Scully became the local agent of the Townsite Company, and his profits in selling real estate, together with his later adventure in drilling oil wells, have made him wealthy.
For many years prior to the platting of the town site of Haskell, a country post office, one and a half miles south, called Sawokla, had been maintained. Sawokla also had a store and a cotton gin, but these were all moved to Haskell within a short time after the railroad was completed and Sawokla disappeared from the map.
Two Syrians under the firm name of S. Beshara & Bro. established the first store. in Haskell. With a capital of $140 they erected a tent and installed a small stock of goods. Within a few months a strong prairie wind blew their tent away and in its place they erected a building 10 by 20 feet in size. As the town grew, the Syrians’ trade increased, and within six years they had built a substantial brick building of two rooms and had filled both rooms with merchandise.
In 1904, Mr. C. E. Henson, a pioneer merchant, moved a stock of goods from Arkansas to Haskell and opened a general store in a frame building in the south part of the village. By strict attention to business, his trade rapidly increased and within a few years he erected a brick store building and filled it with a good stock of merchandise.
Before Haskell was scarcely a year old, Mr. Nat Lambertson came down from Kansas, looked the village over and decided to locate. He began with a small hardware store and was appointed postmaster by President Roosevelt. He became actively interested in the public affairs of the town, served as a member of the town council, and was elected as Haskell’s second mayor. At the close of his term as postmaster he started a grocery store which he still continues to manage.
Mr. A. J. Englert is another pioneer who has helped to make Haskell a thriving little city. He came when the town was still in its infancy and being favorably impressed by the splendid agricultural possibilities of the surrounding country, he built a mill and elevator, thus furnishing a market for the farmers’ grain. He built a substantial home, served two terms as city treasurer and now devotes his time to handling real estate and oil leases.
Haskell supports four good banks, which fact speaks well for a town of its size.
The Haskell National Bank, organized as a state bank in 1904, was the first to be established. In 1912 it was converted into a National Bank and its capital increased.
The First National Bank began business in 1905 and but slight change has been made in its official staff since its organization.
The International Bank, a private institution, was also organized in 1905. In 1908 it was chartered under the state guaranty bank law, and is still operated as a state bank.
These banks have been conservatively managed and are well supported. by the business men of the city and by the farmers and oil companies of the surrounding community.
During. the past year a fourth bank has been established under the title of the Arkansas Valley Bank.
Natural gas and oil have both been discovered in the vicinity of Haskell. As early as 1908 a number of profitable gas wells were drilled and the discovery of oil soon followed. By 1910 the rush of oil prospectors and drillers was in full blast and quite extensive oil fields were developed, south and west of the city.
The religious welfare of the people of Haskell and vicinity has not been neglected, as is evidenced by its several prosperous churches. The Christian denomination was the first to build a church house, their building having been completed early in 1905 and dedicated on Easter Sunday of that year.
In 1908 the Presbyterians erected a pretty building, using the native rock instead of brick or wood. This building was christened The “Robertson” Memorial Presbyterian Church in memory of the great missionary family of Robertsons. Mrs. Augusta R. Moore, daughter of the noted missionary, who still resides on her farm near Haskell, was the principal contributor toward the cost of this building. This church was dedicated on April 18, 1905, by Rev. A. Grant Evans, who at that time was president of Henry Kendall College, at Muskogee.
In 1907 the Catholic Church was erected upon a lot donated by Mr. J. C. Scully, one of the active business men of the city.
The Baptists, Methodists and other denominations have also built up churches, and for a city of its age and size, Haskell is well supplied with places of worship.
Haskell has also built up a good public school system, consisting of a high school and two ward schools. A complete high school course is maintained and a corps of twenty-two teachers is employed in the entire system.
This young city has paved streets, cement sidewalks, electric lights, natural gas for fuel, water works, a weekly newspaper and a population of 2,400.
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.