History of Bartlesville & Washington County, Oklahoma

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Washington County, OK


Population: 188 in 2000; 167 in 1990
(formerly Evans)

Cherokee Indian chief W.C. Rogers, who had a large trading store at Skiatook in present-day Tulsa County, started a store here in 1899. He was in the upper house or senate of the Cherokee nation from the Cooweescoowee District. The store's post office was established on December 15 of that year (having moved from McFall) and was named after William and Cecilia Evans, who worked there until the town's incorporation in 1904. Ben Evans lived just north of Vera near the railroad grade, and was an influential farmer and stockman. In 1901 a one-room school was built by volunteers in the south part of town, with funds for materials from Ben Evans. The first teacher was Zella Alkire, followed by her brother Cecil in 1903.

When Vera was incorporated Eli Carr became postmaster, having closed his store one mile north of town near a railroad underpass. The town was named for Vera Duncan, daughter of James Duncan. Vera was an agricultural shipping point on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, becoming the largest hay shipping point in the area around 1905, shipping twenty railroad box cars per day of prairie hay made from bluestem grass. In its heydey it had two banks, a grain elevator, cottin gin, three grocery stores, a theater, the Farbear hotel, a lumber yard, two blacksmiths, three churches, two barber shops, the Yeager drug store, a telephone office, four restaurants, and seven large haybarns. Rogers' store operated until his death in 1917, and was known for its large stock of general merchandise, valued at $100,000 in 1917.

A 40,000,000 cubit foot gas well was drilled southeast of Vera in the early 1900s, but there was never extensive production in the area. In the 1920s, improved roads and cars caused its population to dwindle to about 250, which held fairly steady for many years.

Henry StarrOutlaw Henry Starr robbed the Vera State Bank of $1,300 on January 13, 1915, part of a string of robberies he committed in 1914-15. He was a relative of the notorious Belle Starr, and was shot three months later when he tried to rob two banks at the same time in Stroud. Starr survived and served four years in prison, only to be killed during a 1921 Arkansas bank robbery attempt. He had robbed banks and trains since 1893 in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. He was proud to claim that he robbed mored banks than any other man in America. His grave in the Dewey Cemetery is marked by a blank headstone.

Vera Post Office

Photo © Ian Swart of Fletcher, OK; Link

Vera Town Hall

Photo © Ian Swart of Fletcher, OK; Link

Washington County Carrel