Located in northeastern Logan County, Orlando is situated twenty-one miles north of the county seat of Guthrie, one mile west of the Payne County line, and one mile south of the Noble County line. As an agricultural trade center Orlando straddles the Southern Kansas Railway (later the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway) constructed in 1887 and U.S. Highway 77, which was paved through Orlando circa 1922. The place's name changed from Cherokee to Orlando when a post office was established on July 18, 1889. Several theories exist regarding the town's name. One states that it honored Warren "Orlando" Hysell, who claimed 160 acres adjacent to the railroad station known as Cherokee at the opening of the Unassigned Lands on April 22, 1889. He paid the government $10 an acre to have his claim platted as a town site. However, historian George Shirk asserts that it was named for Orlando Hysell, a relative of the town developer. W. W. Black operated the first general merchandise store built in Orlando. Early-day churches included the Evangelical, the Christian, and the Lutheran.
During the Territorial Era (1890–1907), Orlando had an eventful history. In 1892 Oliver Yantis, a member of the Doolin Gang, was shot and captured south of Orlando. He was brought to town, and he died. His likeness was captured on photographic plates for posterity. The following year Orlando blossomed into a tent city of more than sixty thousand, who awaited the opening of the Cherokee Outlet. The next excitement occurred in 1896 when con artists purchased homesteads southwest of town, salted them with gold, and inaugurated a brief "gold rush." By the time the scam was realized several town merchants were impoverished. Around 1902 an Orlando housewife unknowingly purchased adulterated kerosene for home use. She filled her lamps, and when lighting them, a fire started which destroyed her home, took her life and that of two of her children, and spread to several surrounding homes. The incident influenced the writing of Article 20, Sec. 2 of the state constitution, which specified the testing of kerosene's specific gravity. When the Constitutional Convention convened in 1906, Albert H. Ellis of Orlando was elected second vice president.
After 1907 statehood Orlando became a sedate community that experienced erratic growth from 340 persons in 1910 (the highest recorded population) to 161 in 1920 and from 226 in 1930 to 332 in 1940. In 1927 a tornado damaged several buildings and killed two residents. During the Great Depression, Orlando's city leaders asserted that there were no unoccupied town residences and no citizens on public assistance. The event that arrested development in Orlando was the construction of Lake Carl Blackwell in the late 1930s. Although the 3,350-acre lake is located in Payne County, it displaced approximately one hundred families who traded in Orlando. According to one family historian, the most exciting event that occurred in Orlando was the armed robbery of the Emde grocery store in June 1948.
At least three early newspapers informed citizens. Apparently, the short-lived Orlando Signal was printed in 1891. The Weekly Orlando Herald newspaper was first published in 1892, and the Orlando Clipper replaced it in November 1906. At age seventy-seven in 1927 William L. Lanter, the last publisher/editor of that organ, reportedly had the distinction of being the oldest editor in the state during his tenure at the Clipper.
After World War II passenger trains discontinued service to Orlando. When Interstate Highway 35 opened east of Orlando in 1964, commercial traffic on U.S. Highway 77 reduced to a trickle. The population ranged from 262 in 1950 to 202 in 1970 and from 198 in 1990 to 201 in 2000. At the turn of the twenty-first century, the Mulhall-Orlando school district offered grades prekindergarten through high school and had an enrollment of 246. The census of 2010 found 148 persons residing in Orlando.
See also: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS
Helen F. Holmes, ed., Logan County History, 1889–1977: Logan County, Oklahoma, 2 vols. (Guthrie, Okla.: History Committee, Logan County Extension Homemakers Council, 1978–1980).
Who's Who in Logan County: The People and Enterprises Who Have Made Logan County (Guthrie, Okla.: Cooperative Publishing Co., 1927).
The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Thomas L. Hedglen, “Orlando,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=OR005.
© Oklahoma Historical Society.