History of Stroud

J. W. Stroud
James W. Stroud
1859 to 1935

In 1892 James W. Stroud opened a store on property located six miles from the Sac and Fox Agency in Oklahoma Territory. Though the store was only a shack with a wagon load of goods, it was the beginning of Stroud, Lincoln County, Oklahoma. The community which is now referred to as "old Stroud," soon came to have a post office, several businesses and a school, whose building also served as a church.

The town was doing quite well when the Frisco Railroad decided to lay track between Sapulpa and Oklahoma City. The railroad promoters wanted acreage out of each of the four sections which intersected at Stroud. Three of the landowners agreed to let the railroad have every other lot, however the fourth refused. Rather than lose the prospect of a depot. J.W. Stroud bought land one mile east of the town and sold right-of-way to the railroad company. In 1898 J.W. Stroud sold most of the land to Luther F. Aldrich, a town developer; however Mr. Stroud reserved every eighth lot for himself. Some residents were reluctant to move from already developed land in "old Stroud" to the new location. However, move they did, bringing their houses and business. The first train pulled into Stroud on August 17, 1898.

Prior to statehood, Oklahoma was divided into two districts, Oklahoma Territory in the west and Indian Territory in the east. Part of the border between the two territories is now the border between Lincoln and Creek counties. Indian Territory was "dry," but the sale of alcohol was permitted in Oklahoma Territory and Stroud, by virtue of location just west of the Indian Territory line, was "wet." Several saloons operated in Stroud and city revenue was made from saloon tax from 1899 until 1907 Statehood and prohibition. However, the staple business of the area was farming and Stroud was home to many cotton gins as well as a cottonseed oil mill and a stockyard.

The 1900 Census figures show the city of Stroud with a population of 800, as well as 2200 in the surrounding area of Keokuk Township.

Chief Keokuk
Chief Keokuk - died 1903

The first school opened in "old Stroud" in 1893. The town's newspapers at the time, the "Stroud Star" along with the "Stroud Messenger" reported the first commencement ceremony for Stroud in 1901.

The Main street through town which is also Third Street was part of the Ozark Trail, the first marked highway across Lincoln County. Main Street was a dirt road until 1924. This street is part of Route 66, first made in 1927. Today historical Route 66 is still well traveled by local, out-of-state and foreign visitors.

The first bond issue voted in Stroud in 1906 provided electricity to the growing town. Stroud contracted with Oklahoma Gas and Electric to purchase electricity for resale to the community in 1954. However, in 1986 Stroud council members signed an agreement with Grand River Dam Authority to provide electric service for resale which continues to this day. Also in 1906 work started on ensuring an adequate water supply with the addition of several water wells. However, community growth strained the troublesome water wells until Stroud Lake was established in 1970. The first sewer system was installed in 1924. The mid 1920s also saw a change in Stroud from a town to an official designation of city with a mayor and city council.

In March of 1915 Stroud, Oklahoma made headlines across the country for the capture of Henry Starr and another of his gang, Lewis Estes. Starr and his cohorts attempted to rob both the First National Bank and the Stroud National Bank at the same time. During the shoot-out both Starr and Estes were wounded and subsequently captured.

Oil was first struck near Stroud August 23, 1923 with the bringing in of the Big Ruby #1 in the Key West field. Other subsequent oil discoveries in 1925, 1930 and 1938 made Stroud, for a short period, a boom town.

The 1930's brought the end of the era of cotton as the last cotton was ginned in 1936. The local economy moved from agriculture to a manufacturing and oil base. Allied Materials Corporation established an asphalt refinery and later roofing materials plant in 1934. After several decades of operation the plants shut down and were completely dismantled in 1987.

During 1951 and 1952 the State of Oklahoma through the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority built the Turner Turnpike, a four-lane highway connecting Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Stroud, as a mid-way point along the Turnpike, featured full-service gas stations and in 1953 a Howard Johnson's Restaurant. However, during the 1980s major construction changes brought the end to the full-service stations with the arrival of self-service and replaced the leisurely dining experience with a fast food restaurant.

Something as common place as a brick can gain attention when it is thrown. In 1959 two local businessmen discovered that Stroud, Gloucestershire England and Stroud, Oklahoma both had brick manufacturing plants and initiated the "International Brick Throw Contest."

Stroud Centennial Book
Stroud Centennial 1892 to 1992
Book available for $45
Contact Stroud Public Library

Two other Stroud communities joined the competition, Stroud, New South Wales, Australia and Stroud, Ontario, Canada. In addition to the men throwing bricks, the ladies began throwing rolling pins and the contest evolved into the "International Brick and Rolling Pin Throwing Contest." After several years Canada dropped out of the competition but the other Strouds continued until 2011 when the yearly contest ended.

Stroud's central location at three intersecting highways, Route 66, State Highway 99 and the Turner Turnpike, facilitates the transportation industry. Along with Allied as a major employer along came Miller Truck Lines, a transportation company with a large fleet of vehicles, who established corporate headquarters in Stroud. Another company SYGMA, food service distributor, located in Stroud in the 1980s. Development of land north of Stroud in 1992 brought the Tanger Outlet Center, which began with 30 outlet stores and grew to 53 stores employing several hundred people. It was a major economic boom for the City of Stroud, however May 3, 1999 brought a devastating tornado which destroyed both the Tanger Outlet Center and the SYGMA distribution center and with it several hundred jobs. Currently Stroud is enjoying a resurgence of the oil and gas industry as Stroud is home to Service King, an oilfield workover rig manufacturer. Stroud is also a transloading point for oil being transported to the Cushing, Oklahoma area. Other oil and gas industries continuing operations in Stroud include John Cassidy Companies.

Dedication of the airport in 1931, located 2 miles north of Stroud, started when the Department of Commerce arranged to lease 100 acres of land from Jont Smith for the United States Government. Later funding was received to develop airport facilities under the Civil Aeronautics plan. In the mid-1960s the City of Stroud bought the land from the owners rather than continuing to lease. Stroud's aerospace industry began when Consolidated Heliflight, a helicopter maintenance repair facility and later a specialized testing service for jet turbine engines was established in the early 1980s. Today, Mint Turbine, an aviation engine repair overhaul company, operates in a newly expanded modern facility.

Stroud has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places; this includes the "Rock Café", "Bon Ton House", "James W. Stroud House", and many others. Learn more about them on the Historic Places page.

The twenty-first century around Stroud ushered in a new agricultural era with the establishment of several vineyards and award winning wineries. Stroud was designated Oklahoma's "Winery and Grape Capital." An annual celebration of this agri-tourism industry is held every June with "Stroud's Historical Route 66 Wine and Food Festival" hosted by the Stroud Chamber of Commerce and the Grand River Dam Authority. Stroud also has a strong presence in the medical industry with Stericycle, healthcare agencies, a clinic and a hospital.

Stroud has had many slogans over the years such as "The Midway City", "Hub of the Turnpike", or "Stroud Proud". For those who like small hometown living, Stroud is "The Place to Be" so "Come Grow with Us."