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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Situated in Mayes County, Locust Grove is located eleven miles south of Salina on State Highway 82 at the intersection of U.S. Highway 412, better known as Alternative or Scenic Highway 412. Locust Grove's history began years before its founding. According to records of the Oklahoma Historical Society, the Locust Grove area is one of the few places in Indian Territory that saw Civil War action. Federal forces under the command of Col. William Weer surprised a group of Confederates camped near Pipe Springs about sunrise July 3, 1862. Confederate Col. James J. Clarkson's demoralized force of three hundred men could not form a battle line. Although gunfire continued all day in the locust thickets, Clarkson surrendered his remaining men. The locust thickets used in this battle provided the town with its name, Locust Grove.

Locust Grove post office was established March 26, 1873. In 1908 Joel Bryan moved the post office near his store. In 1910 Louie W. Ross bought the Bryan store and moved it to his father's ranch house. This area contained a cemetery, a gristmill, two blacksmith shops, and a separate building to house the post office. This community thrived as Locust Grove until the founding of the present town of Locust Grove.

The existing Locust Grove was founded on May 12, 1912, by O. W. Killam, as a direct result of the construction of the Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf (KO&G) Railroad. Killam, lawyer, merchant, realtor, and promoter, purchased Elzina Ross's Cherokee allotment for the purpose of establishing a townsite. Ross had opened a boarding house for the railroad workers in her home. The site was platted with streets, business lots, residential blocks, parks, and a public market place. The new town was incorporated March 4, 1913, and the lots were sold at public auction. The KO&G was completed in time for Locust Grove's first Christmas. By 1920 the population consisted of 587 residents.

The town prospered from 1912 until 1929 when both banks failed during the Great Depression. In the 1930s population growth stagnated, but the town grew to 525 in 1940, 730 in 1950, and 828 in 1960. The community rebounded with churches, three convenience stores, caf├ęs, banks, a lumber company, and schools. The population of 1,326 in 1990 increased to 1,366 in 2000 and to 1,423 in 2010. No longer dependent on agriculture, Locust Grove has varied industries and recreational facilities that help support the town. The area produced artist and sculptor Willard Stone, who is remembered in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. The Willard Stone Museum is located east of Locust Grove on alternate U.S. Highway 412 (Scenic 412).

Betty Lou Harper Thomas


Historical Highlights of Mayes County (Pryor, Okla.: Mayes County Historical Society, 1977).

Pryor (Oklahoma) Jeffersonian, 8 August 1985.

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

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Betty Lou Harper Thomas, “Locust Grove,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=LO002.

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