Home > PublicationsEncyclopedia >  Soper

SOPER.

Located in southwestern Choctaw County on U.S. Highway 70, Soper is situated eleven miles west of Hugo. In 1902 dwellings and businesses began to spring up in the area when the Arkansas and Choctaw Railway (A&C) built a line through present southern Choctaw County. The young community was named for Pliny L. Soper, an attorney for the A&C. The post office was established on April 12, 1903, with Malcom E. Walker as the first postmaster. That same year Walker built the first hotel and bought what was known as the Snippee Store. The store building soon housed a general mercantile, the post office, the Hicks Confectionery, operated by Walker's brother-in-law, L. W. Hicks, and a telephone office, operated by Walker's future wife, Lizzie Lee.

By 1904 Soper's first religious institution, the Methodist Church, was organized, as was its first school, a one-room affair taught by a Professor Amos from Athens, Arkansas. In 1906 the Bank of Soper was established with Thomas E. Oakes as president and J. T. Jeter as cashier. Capital assets were said to have been twenty-five thousand dollars. The bank building stood on the northeast corner of Main Street and U.S. Highway 70. In 1918 another bank was built on the west side of Main Street about halfway between Highway 70 and Paris Avenue. Both banks operated until 1923. After the Bank of Soper closed, the building housed several other businesses, including a dance hall, a cafe, several bars, a movie theater, and a series of grocery stores. In 1981 Jack Beavers and his wife operated the Soper Grocery in the seventy-five-year-old building, when it was destroyed by a fire.

By January 1, 1907, Walter L. Garner had founded the first newspaper, the Soper Herald. In 1914 Garner sold the newspaper to Roy E. Crossett, who named it the Soper Democrat. After thirty-three years Crossett ceased publishing the paper and sold the equipment to W. E. Schooler of Hugo.

Some of the businesses advertising in the early issues of the Soper Herald included Ellis Brother's Shoe Store, Dry Goods, and Apparel, C. L. Harris Dry Goods, Soper Drug Company, W. E. Larecy Store, L. W. Hicks Loans, Insurance, and Real Estate, Nail and Walker Furniture Store, and Jeter and Jeter Insurance.

At 1907 statehood Soper had 296 residents. By 1920 the population had reached 538. The town supported two doctors, two banks, four churches, a newspaper, and a new three-room school and had water and electric utilities. Agriculture provided the economic basis for the community, cotton being the main crop. At its economic peak the town had three restaurants, three cotton gins, two barbershops, and two hotels.

The 1940 census recorded 481 residents, a number that declined to 322 in 1970. In 1960 a tornado destroyed most of the downtown area's brick buildings. By 1990 the cotton fields had been converted to pasture land. The town had only one industry, a manufacturer of hay-baling equipment, but supported a grocery store, two convenience stores, a service station, two caf├ęs, four churches, and two beauty shops. According to the 2000 census 300 people lived in Soper, and the 2010 census counted 261.

Altha Alder

See also: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS

Bibliography

Ruth Balch Harris, "The Coming of the White Man to McCurtain, Choctaw, and Pushmataha Counties" (M.A. thesis, East Texas State Teachers College, 1956).

George H. Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names (2d ed.; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1974).

"Soper," Hugo (Oklahoma) Daily News, 1 July 1977.

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society. This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia and part or in whole.

Photo credits: All photographs presented in the published and online versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture are the property of the Oklahoma Historical Society and are held in the agency's Research Division Photograph Archives (unless otherwise stated).


Citation

The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Altha Alder, "Soper," The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, www.okhistory.org (accessed November 24, 2017).

About the Encyclopedia | Terms of Use | Using the Encyclopedia