History of Stroud

James W. Stroud 1859 to 1932

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 – 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 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 below.

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.”

301 W. 7th Street 918-968-2567 All pictures courtesy of Stroud Public Library.

Stroud Historic Places; Self Guided Walking Tours

Stroud has eleven properties on the National Register of Historic Places. An additional two places are located just outside Stroud; two places were on the register, but no longer exist. Approximately 170 properties are listed in the Oklahoma Landmarks Inventory. More detailed information can be found in the Library’s local history collection.

Time Frame App

“The Time Frame app combines historical photography and Augmented Reality in a self-guided history tour through communities across Oklahoma. Players follow clues to find key locations in a community. Using the camera on a mobile device, respective historical photos are layered over the present day view of that location. Accompanying narration and sound effects provide extra context without distraction. Players collect the photos and narrations, filling their digital albums as they visit locations.” – timeframetours.com
Download the app: Apple Store | Google Play

Brief History of Stroud

After the 1891 opening of Sac and Fox Tribal lands, James W. Stroud opened a store on property located six miles from the Sac and Fox Agency in Oklahoma Territory. The community, which is now referred to as “Old Stroud,” was granted charter of a post office in September 1892; thus, the beginning of Stroud, Lincoln County, Oklahoma.

The town was doing quite well when the Frisco Railroad decided to lay track between Sapulpa and Oklahoma City. Mr. Stroud bought land one mile east of the town and sold right-of-way to the railroad company. Mr. Stroud sold most of the land to Luther F. Aldrich, a town developer. The residents moved, bringing their houses and business. The first train pulled into the new Stroud town on August 17, 1898. depot

The first school opened in Old Stroud in 1893. The town’s newspapers at the time were the “Stroud Star” and the “Stroud Messenger.” 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. 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.

Main Street became part of the Ozark Trail, the first marked highway across Lincoln County, then part of Route 66.

Henry Starr Robberies

In 1915, two banks in Stroud were robbed at the same time by a gang led by infamous robber Henry Starr. As they were leaving, shots were fired in the street between the banks and the train tracks. Visitors may follow metal sculptures on main street along the route they took. The Starr Walking Trail was made possible by a grant from Keep Oklahoma Beautiful Roadside Beautification.

National Historic Register (Tour 1)

Hotel Lincoln: 323 W. Main

Also known as the Hotel Stroud, this brick-with-brick-front Commercial building was originally a one-story drug store, but in 1924 it was extended and a second story was added to be the Hotel. Today the name is still painted on the upper east side.
William Alfred Mensch Building: 218 W. Main

Mr. Mensch was a local businessman and built a Commercial style building in 1922 with limestone and sandstone. As a stone-with-stone-front example, it is rare in Stroud. The back section was added on in 1924. It was restored in the late 1990’s.

Stroud Trading Company Building: 201 W. Main

Built in 1901 with brick with sandstone trim, the building originally boasted the largest floor space of any commercial structure in Oklahoma Territory. The second floor was designed especially as a lodge hall and opera house. The building once extended to the alley with a Masonic emblem in the masonry; it was removed in 1982.

Ozark Trails - Replica Marker: 200 W. Main
The inclusion of Stroud’s main street in the Ozark Trail resulted from road improvements made by the residents between 1915 and 1925. According to a newspaper article in 1920, a marker for the trail had been placed at the intersection of present-day Highways 66 & 99 and another marker was to be made and placed at the turn-off from the Ozark Trail to Prague. That second original monument still exists at N3540Rd & E 890 Rd. The replica was placed in 2020.
Rock Café: 114 W. Main

The restaurant has been in operation as the Rock Café since the sandstone building’s construction was finished in 1939. Fire gutted the building in 2008, but the exterior walls were saved as was the road sign. The Café also lays claim to fame as contributing to inspiration for Disney’s Cars (2006).

James W. Stroud House: 110 E. 2nd St.

Built in 1898 by the town’s founder, this is a Territorial Era home with Eastern Stick Style architectural features. James, his wife Martha, and 7 children lived here in a house 24’x36’ and two stories.

National Historic Register (Tour 2)

Bon Ton House: 404 N. 4th Street
Built in 1902, the Bon Ton Home exhibits many features of the asymmetrical sub-type of the Second Empire Era.
George Hughes House: 308 W. 5th St.
Constructed in 1923 during the Craftsman Period, the Hughes Home embodies the characteristics of the two-story, hipped roof sub-type of the Craftsman Style.
Joseph Carpenter House: 204 W. 6th St.
Completed in 1913, the imposing 2½ story Carpenter residence was one of the largest homes in Stroud and is the oldest example of the Prairie Style in Stroud.
Stroud Public Library: 301 W. 7th St.
Built in 1929, this was the Southwestern Bell Telephone switching station and is the only Art Deco building in Stroud. It was renovated in 1996 to house the library.
Oscar Hadley House: 622 N. 4th Ave.
Constructed in 1915, this is typical of many Bungalow Style houses as it draws upon the Western Stick Style for many of its features. Mr. Hadley, co-owner of the local lumber company, imported California redwood for use as framing material and rafters for the house.
Walter Hadley House: 424 W. 7th St.old school

Constructed ca. 1910, this is the oldest example of Craftsman Period dwelling in Stroud, although deviating from the traditional gable roof. Oscar and Walter Hadley were brothers and both prominent citizens of Stroud.

Old Stroud School
The only other place on the Historic Register near city limits is the Old Stroud School building. It is on the northwest side of town at 800 N Old Stroud Road. Its restoration was begun by the Stroud Historic Neighborhood Association in the early 1990s.

Historic Buildings near Main ~ Long Tour

Starting at the intersection of Hwy 66 & 99 and going East. You will also pass all the buildings on Tour 1.

Skyliner: 717 W. Main

Built about 1960, the Skyliner has one of two examples of neon signs in Stroud, so typical of the Route 66 era.

Masonic building: 429 W. Main

Built in 1909, the Masonic and Odd Fellows lodge hall took up the full upper story. Three store rooms fit below, most notably, Jondahl’s Furniture.

Telephone building: 417 W. Main

Built in 1903, this housed Stroud first telephone exchange in the upper level.

1st Christian Church: 23 W. 4th St.

Begun in 1901 at this location, it was known as the “Little Church Around the Corner” in the 1940’s when sermons where aired on Tulsa radio; the new sanctuary was built in 1960.

Return to the stop light on Main Street, continue East.

Salt Creek Building: 318 W Main
Original Stroud sandstone building built by J.W. Stroud c. 1900. Had angled store-front windows in historic pictures and seems to have had an awning on occasion.
Barton Building: 312 W Main

Built in 1920, it was the Ritz Theater in the 1930’s and 40’s. The Bartons owned both the Ritz and the Cozy Theater, which building was at 407 W. Main.

At 3rd Ave, turn left, go north one block.

Baptist Church: 302 W. 4th St.

There has been a Baptist church in Stroud since 1901. The current sanctuary was built in 1965. The old bell can still be seen in front of the building.

Return to Main Street, continue East.

Burford Building : 214 W Main

This Late Victorian Commercial brick building with gabled parapet was built in 1910. Note the Coca-cola sign painted on the east side.

At 2nd Ave, turn left, go north one block.

Methodist Church: 32 N. 2nd Ave.

The Methodist congregation began meeting in 1893 at the Old Stroud school. The church moved to it’s present location in 1931 and the current sanctuary was built in 1968.

Go South, crossing Main street.

Lucas Stroud House: 202 N. 2nd Ave.

This 20’x30’ house built in 1898 by Lucas Stroud, son of J.W. Stroud, the town’s founder, was originally located at 201 W. 5th Street. It was acquired by the Stroud Historic Neighborhood Association and moved to its present location in Centennial Park. It was restored in 2018.

At the Water Tower, turn left to continue East.

Joseph Evans House: 124 E 2nd

Built in 1917; Mr. Evans came to Stroud in 1901 and with his brothers established the Evans grocery business, a lumber yard, dry goods and feed stores. Mr. Evans served on the Stroud City council and was instrumental in securing the pavement for Stroud’s Main Street.

On N Bryan Ave, go North back to Main Street, turn right to continue East.

Old Doc Baird House: 420 E. Main
This home was originally built by Andrew Whitmore in 1902 and is sometimes referred to as the Dr. W. D. Baird Home. Baird, a local physician, purchased the home in 1920 and lived there for 24 years.
Whitmore House: 502 E. Main

Remodeled in 1986, this home is important to Stroud both architecturally and historically. Andrew and Edith Whitmore built the home around 1900. Mr. Whitmore, a successful and respected cotton buyer, is credited with making Stroud an important early-day cotton market. He served several terms as City Councilman and also as Town Marshall in 1904. The architecture of the home reflects the popularity of Victorian designs in the Territory. The tower is particularly unique to the period as are the fish-scale shingles and porches built to catch the Oklahoma breezes.

Go East to Allied Rd., turn left, going North about two blocks.

Lumm Mansion: N. Allied Rd.
Dr. and Mrs. E. E. Lumm built this home on an eighty-acre tract in 1913. The home is constructed of concrete blocks. The Georgian columns soaring to the third floor and the second-story balconies are reminiscent of the great antebellum homes of the South. Dr. Lumm was a well-known, early-day Stroud doctor who required dynamite, shovels, and an ax in his practice – tools needed to clear the rough paths and roads he traveled to reach his patients.