Henryetta -Founding and Naming

This information, however, is gleaned from secondary sources and seems anecdotal at best. In fact, it is reported that Henry, after abandoning his original claim, then selected a site to the north of the Henryetta townsite.

Records at the Okmulgee County Courthouse do not support this but show instead that Henry deeded twelve blocks to the town of Henryetta in 1910, carefully reserving the rights to any coal and asphalt beneath those blocks. This addition was originally platted in 1904 and is known as the "Hugh Henry Addition" or "Henry's Addition." Significantly, it is located to the south of the original townsite and included the blocks between Fifth and Seventh streets on the east and west, and Broadway and Meacham streets on the north and south.

While the precise details of the townsite selection process remain in doubt, it is certain that in 1900 W. E. Winn surveyed the townsite and the Henryetta post office was established. However, there is no clear consensus on how the name "Henryetta" was selected or even if the "Henry" in the name refers to Hugh Henry.10 Nevertheless, on December 16, 1901 the Department of the Interior approved the survey of Henryetta. Henryetta possesses an unusual morphology which might best be described as modified orthogonal.
In an orthogonal plat the streets are shifted east or west of north in order that they run parallel and perpendicular to the railroad.
In Henryetta, however, the streets were surveyed in alignment with the cardinal directions, and therefore are orthogonal in relation to the railroad. This configuration resulted in the placement of the railroad depot away from the main business blocks making it a less prominent focal point of the town (shown above).
The original townsite of Henryetta covered just over 157 acres and was subdivided into 57 blocks, thirteen of which were business blocks. The business blocks stretched along Main Street west from the railroad tracks, with business lots extending to the south side of Trudgeon Street and the north side of Broadway. In railroad towns a customary practice was to create 300-foot square blocks. If residential, these blocks would be subdivided into six lots, each 50 feet wide and 140 feet deep. If the blocks were commercial they would contain twice as many lots. These surveying methods were applied in Henryetta except on those blocks through which the railroad passed. Another customary practice was to make the primary business street 100 feet wide, while other streets were typically 80 feet wide. Both Main Street and Broadway in Henryetta are 100 feet wide.

Natural Resources/Industry

One of the advantages of Henryetta's location is that it is situated in a region that became one of the most important coal mining areas in Oklahoma. The Henryetta Mining District is a region in Okmulgee County that stretches in a southwesterly direction from the vicinity of Morris to the southwestern side of Henryetta. In places the coal was visible in outcrops along the banks of streams. The relative proximity of the coal to the surface meant that it could be strip mined fairly quickly and easily, without generating huge amounts of overburden. However, most of the coal produced in the Henryetta Mining District came from underground mines, many of which extended under the town itself (figure 9). One of the factors raising the value of this coal is that it was recognized as a clean coal with low sulfur content, thus it served as an important fuel not only for industrial purposes, but also for heating homes.

The Henryetta Mining District has a long history and coal was first extracted from the area for commercial purposes in 1902.15 By 1904 at least four different coal companies were working in the area and many more would come and go over the next several decades.16
One estimate suggests that perhaps as many as 25 different mines were being worked in 1915.17 The 1928 city directory listed eleven coal companies with offices in Henryetta.18 One estimate of the productivity of this area suggests that between 1902 and 1955 some 25 million tons of coal were produced in this mineral district alone.19  In addition over one million tons were extracted annually in 1918 and again in 1948, making these the most productive years on record.20
By the early 1950s, however, most of the high-quality coal had been mined and Henryetta's heyday as a coal mining town had passed.
Today, the mines have been sealed off and the mine tipples removed or destroyed, leaving very little surviving material culture that reflects Henryetta's past as a coal mining center. In fact, no mining-related properties or structures were documented during this project.
Another major industry that developed in the Henryetta vicinity was zinc smelting. By the end of 1916 five different zinc companies were operating in the area.
Most of the zinc smelters were located either to the east of Henryetta near Kusa or to the northeast of Henryetta. The Eagle-Picher Lead Company's zinc smelter was the only one to be located on land that became part of the town of Henryetta. The smelter site was located at the northeastern reaches of Henryetta in the platted addition known as the "Henryetta Townsite Company." Henryetta formally annexed this addition in 1916.

"Spelter City" is the name that is commonly used to refer to the "city within a city" that emerged here. Eagle-Picher built a massive smelting facility and, because of its distance from Henryetta's business district, Spelter City came to have its own hotels and union hall. As recorded on the 1920 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Henryetta, Eagle-Picher was operating five zinc distillation furnaces as well as numerous kilns and pottery buildings in Spelter City. The processing of metal ores in Spelter City in northeastern Henryetta continued through the 1960s. As has been the case with coal mining, the material culture of the zinc smelting industry has been destroyed but the slag piles and ore pits often still disclose the locations of this bygone industry.
In the 1920s Henryetta acquired a glassworks industry. Ample supplies of coal in the area ensured a reliable energy supply for the glass-making furnaces used in the manufacture of glass. The Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company purchased approximately 40 acres within Henryetta and built on the north side of the Kansas, Oklahoma & Gulf Railroad adjacent to U.S. Route 62 & 75. For the past 80 years, this site has been continually used for the manufacture of glass products. Today, the site belongs to the Anchor Glass Company which manufactures glass bottles and is the leading employer in Henryetta. Additional historical research on this plant and its buildings is urgently needed as it is possible that this facility, or one or more of its buildings, is eligible for listing in the National Register.
In addition to coal mining, zinc smelting, and the manufacture of glass, some petroleum was produced in the area and some sandstone and shale were locally quarried.
Oil had in fact been discovered in the south part of Henryetta as early as 1906, but more viable wells were drilled in the 1920s.21 Brick plants, welding companies, and lumber yards are some of the other industries that were established in the area. A combination of primary, extractive industry and manufacturing has historically formed the basis of Henyetta's economy.


The processing of agricultural commodities provides another dimension to Herryetta's industrial sector. Grain mills and elevators as well as cotton gins were once taken-for-granted components of the Henryetta townscape up to the 1930s. As late as 1928 Henryetta still possessed three cotton gins and one cottonseed and peanut oil processing plant. 22 However, the demise of cotton agriculture in late 1920s, a process set in motion by a combination of overproduction and soil exhaustion, ushered in a parallel decline in the processing of cotton and cotton-derivatives. In the countryside surrounding Henryetta, lands that once grew cotton and com are now planted to pasture grasses and are stocked with cattle. One extant property in Henryetta is about all that remains to recall the importance of cotton in Henryetta's past. It is the Cotton Hotel at 114 West Main Street.

Commercial/Professional Establishments

Hotels, along with banks and coal companies, were some of the earliest commercial establishments in Henryetta and provided essential boarding facilities in the early period of municipal growth. One of the oldest extant hotels in Henryetta is the Francis Hotel which dates to 1907 and still occupies the northeast comer of Third and Main Streets. Also, Saul's Cut Rate Store/Star Rooms (214 West Main Street) was built in 1918 and is a good example of the dual functions many buildings in the business district served. This building offered a store on the first floor and rooms for rent on the second. The H. M. Beasley Building/Ruby Hotel (200 West Broadway Street) is another hotel. It was built in 1923 and is National Register eligible. Significantly, the Harr Apartments (406-414 North Fourth Street) appear to have been continually used as apartments since about 1915.

One of the first banks built in Henryetta still stands. The Citizen's Bank Building was constructed in 1904 and is located at 412-414 West Main Street. In addition to banks and hotels, commercial development in Henryetta included general merchandise stores, grocery stores, bottling works, hardware stores, drug stores, jewelry stores, law offices, and eventually, a telephone exchange. Several of the buildings which housed these early businesses still exist.
For example, in tenus of grocery stores, the Boerstler Brothers Wholesale Grocery Building (ca. 1916) stands adjacent to the railroad tracks at First and Trudgeon Streets, the Purity Bakery Building (ca. 1925) stands at 117-119 South Fifth Street, and the Piggly Wiggly/Grand Leader Building (ca. 1907) can be found at 403-405 West Main Street.
Two buildings once functioning as hardware stores include the Burnett and Moore Hardware Building (ca. 1909) at 420 West Main Street, and the Clark Darland Hardware Building (ca. 1921) at 421-423 West Main Street. Additionally, the Central Drug Store (ca. 1908) can be found at 410(?) West Main Street. Office buildings such as the Garner Block (ca. 1917) at 115-117 North Fourth Street and the J. R. Reynolds Building (1916) at 505 West Main Street undoubtedly housed the business offices of coal companies and lawyers, As this selection of commercial properties reveals, a good portion of the Henryetta's historic business district is still intact.


Construction of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad through the Creek Nation prompted the establishment of the Henryetta townsite in 1900, and the first train arrived in Henryetta in the fall of that same year. A few years later the Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad extended its track from Muskogee through Henryetta and south to Durant.
For a time the Okmulgee Northern Railroad also served the town.
Therefore, at one time Henryetta was served by as many as three railroads. Of greatest importance, however, are the St. Louis and San Francisco and the Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf railroads. These railroads did not intersect but rather paralleled one another through Henryetta.
Furthermore, the Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad, which eventually became the Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad, was a freight line that specialized in hauling commodities such as coal, sand, and grain. While Henryetta in fact possessed two railroad depots for a number of years, only the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad had a passenger depot. For many years Henryetta also possessed a coal hopper for loading coal in the hopper cars. The decline in the coal industry coupled with the decline in rail transportation hastened the obsolescence of these transportation-related facilities. Neither the depots nor the coal hopper has survived.

Churches and Schools

One of the more interesting developments pertaining to both churches and schools in Henryetta involves the establishment of St. Michael's Catholic Parish in 1912. The expansion of coal mining and of the railroads in eastern Oklahoma resulted in the diversification of the populace. Immigrants from the United Kingdom as well as from Italy, Germany, and Poland worked in the Henryetta mines and on the local railroads. In many ways the establishment of the Catholic Parish in Henryetta was a response to the greater presence of Catholics in the region.
By 1920 both a church and a parochial school had been built on West Gentry Street between Tenth and Eleventh Streets. The school operated into the 19605 but was demolished in 1968. That same year the church was tom down so that construction could begin on a new building.
Not all of Henryetta's churches have suffered this same fate. Indeed, the First Presbyterian Church at West Division and Fifth Streets dates to about 1917. The church, which reflects the Late Gothic Revival style, is both historically and architecturally significant and is likely eligible for listing in the National Register.
Other notable churches in Henryetta include the Grace Episcopal Church at 510 West Cummings Street, the First Christian Church at Fifth and Cummings Streets, and the First Church of God at 307 West Barclay Street.
The first public school in Henryetta appears to have been built in 1905 and was located at 511 West Trudgeon Street. Over the years the building has served numerous functions and has even been moved several times. By 1982 some local citizens had formed a historical society and were working to restore the structure. The Old Henryetta School has since been moved to the 400 block of West Moore Street where it now houses a small museum. One of the other renowned school buildings in Henryetta was the Lyceum Public School which served as the high school until another one was built in 1919. The Lyceum School was a large two and one-half story brick clad building with a hipped roof and prominent gabled dormer above the entrance. It has not survived.

Henryetta's libraries have also enjoyed a rather different history. As noted above, the first school built in Henryetta also served as the town's first library. It was not until 1924 that a new library building was constructed. When the building was constructed at 301 North Sixth Street it had an unusual layout, sometimes describe as "a butterfly plan. This building served as the Henryetta Public Library from 1924 to 1966, when it became a private residence. In 1966 the library moved to its present site at 518 West Main Street.

Cultural and Social

For most of its history Henryetta has enjoyed a variety of social clubs and organizations. Two buildings which once served as meeting halls or lodges still exist. The older of the buildings is the I.O.O.F. Building at 116 North Fourth Street which dates to about 1918. Just a few blocks away at 115 South Fifth Street stands the building that has served as the Masonic Hall. Henryetta provided numerous other options for entertainment as well. As early as 1910 the town could boast having an opera house and air dome theater (figures 12 and 13). Through the 1930s the Morgan Theater near Fourth and Main Streets remained a popular place for movie-goers. It was one of two theaters in the town at the time. Citizens of Henryetta could also enjoy a park which had been created near Cameron Field, where the high school football team played.

Politics and Government

Because Henryetta is not a county seat the impress of politics and government on the built environment has been less noticeable. However, in the 19205 Henryetta built a very elegant city hall that is no longer extant. One other government property that deserves mention is the building that presently houses the Henryetta Public Library.
Although the library has only occupied the building since 1966, the building itself dates to 1935 when it was constructed as the Henryetta Post Office.
Unlike many other Oklahoma towns, Henryetta appears to have weathered the Depression reasonably well, in part because of the lingering importance of coal. As a result, Henryetta possesses fewer buildings constructed as Depression-era relief projects.
One facility which did result from a 1938 WPA project is Cameron Field, located at South C Street at Jack Gibson Drive.

7 Jeny Furrh, "How Henryetta Received Her Name." Daily Times Okmulgee, 21 July 1982, and "100 Sweet Years: Images and Events of the Past." Henryetta Daily Free-Lance, 10 December, 2000.
8 Baird Martin, Historical, Industrial and Civic Survey a/Okmulgee and Okmulgee County. (Prepared for American Guide, W.P.A. Writer's Project, 1936), 10.
9 Original Townsite Survey of Henryetta, Okmulgee County Courthouse, and Furrh, "How Henryetta Received Her Name."
10 Furrh, "How Henryetta Received Her Name." See also Shirk, George H. Oklahoma Place Names. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1966), 101.
11 John H. Hudson, Plains Country Towns (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985), 87.
12 Dunham., R. J. and 1. v. A. Trumbull. Geology and Coal Resources of the Henryetta Mining District. Okmulgee County, Oklahoma. Geological Survey Bulletin No. lOIS-F. (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1955), 183.
13 Ibid., 203.
14 Ibid., 202.
15 Ibid., 203.
16 Sanborn Map Company. "Henrietta [sic], Indian Territory 1904." Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, Oklahoma (Teaneck, NJ: Chadwyck-Healey, 1983), microfilm.
17 Okmulgee Historical Society and the Heritage Society of America, compo and ed. History of Okmuigee County, Oklahoma. (Tulsa: Historical Enterprises, Inc., 1985), 190.
18 City Directory of Henryetta, Okla., 1928.
19 Dunham and Trumbull, Geology and Coal Resources of the Henryetta Mining District, 203.
20 Ibid., 203.
21 Baird Martin, Historical, Industrial and Civic Survey, 12.
22 Sanborn Map Company. "Henryetta, Oklahoma 1928." Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, Oklahoma (Teaneck, NJ: Chadwyck-Healey, 1983), microfilm.
23 "100 Sweet Years: Images and Events of the Past." Henryetta Daily Free-Lance, 10 December, 2000.
24 Wesson., Ruby. "History of the Henryetta Public Library." Written 3 March 1999. Retrieved 25 August 2001 from the Henryetta Public Library website http://www.ocevnet.orgihenlib/about.html.
25 Ibid.