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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

A church said to have been located in Clearview, I.T.
(20699.02.197.329, State Museum Collection, Currie Ballard Collection, OHS).


Located in Okfuskee County eight miles southeast of Okemah, Clearview is one of more than fifty All-Black towns of Oklahoma and one of only thirteen still existing. The town was founded in 1903 along the tracks of the Fort Smith and Western Railroad. J. A. Roper, Lemuel Jackson, and John Grayson platted the town site and formed the Lincoln Townsite Company to attract settlers and advertise the settlement. The post office was originally designated Lincoln, but in 1904 a postal service order changed it to Abelincoln. This, however, was rescinded a month later. From its beginning the community supported a newspaper, the Lincoln Tribune, which evolved into the Clearview Patriarch. Grayson and Roper also organized the Abe Lincoln Trading Company to operate a general store, deal in farm produce, and buy and sell real estate. Grayson also became the town's first postmaster, and Roper owned a sawmill and lumberyard.

By 1904 the town boasted a two-story hotel and a print shop. Very early in its existence Clearview residents enjoyed a brick school building and two churches. Around 1911 Roper and Jackson departed, and J. E. Thompson moved to Clearview. In 1914 at a Negro Business League meeting he announced to Booker T. Washington that he owned or managed a total of 5,800 acres of land in Okfuskee County. From 1916 to 1920 J. C. Leftwich operated Creek and Seminole Agricultural College northeast of town. The 1907 population figure of 618 declined to 420 by the late 1930s. The Great Depression and the falling price of cotton had severely crippled the town. The 1990 census recorded only 47 inhabitants of Clearview. At the turn of the twenty-first century the community still hosted an annual rodeo and supported 56 residents. The 2010 U.S. Census counted 48 living there. In April 2020 the census counted 35 residents.

Larry O'Dell

Learn More

Norman L. Crockett, The Black Towns (Lawrence: University of Kansas, 1979).

"Official Programs of the Clearview Rodeo," Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

J. P. Owens, Clearview (Okemah, Okla.: J. P. Owens, 1995).

Arthur Tolson, The Black Oklahomans: A History, 1541–1972 (New Orleans, La.: Edwards Printing Company, 1973).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Larry O'Dell, “Clearview,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=CL009.

Published January 15, 2010
Last updated December 12, 2023

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