History of Russett as written by Carrie (Waggoner) Jester
Written by Carrie Jester to Mac McGallard of the Daily Ardmoreite. (There is no date for the article)
History of Russett
Over in Johnston County between- Mannsville and Ravia, beside the new highway to Tishomingo, you can see the little that remains of the pioneer days town of Russett. It is located in edge of the Washita River valley where the soil in deep and fertile-tile and farmers located very early.
The Oklahoma Place Names book lists, "RUSSETT. In southwestern Johnston County, 6 miles
east of Mannsville. A post office from October 3, 1894, to September 15, 1924."
Carrie Jester, who moved to Russett In Indian Territory days and now lives at Madill, sent along
the following remembrances of the now-vanished town. It reads:
I was born in Cook County Texas August 8, 1893 and my parents Tom and Martha Waggoner
moved to Russett, I.T., when I was four months old. At that time Russett was a nice little town that
people might refer to as a wide place in the road.
I grew up there and spent most of my life there. I got all my education there. We did not have good schools -- they were subscription schools. The parents would pay one dollar per month for each
child that attended the school. Many people with large families were unable to pay the dollar and the teacher would teach a short time and quit, because they had no pay.
My earliest recollection of Russett was they had a big cotton gin, a big lumber mill and a grist mill. The owner's name was Payton. They had two large stores that sold everything from horse collars to ladies taffeta petticoats.
The owner of one of the stores was Lonnie Cornstock, the other was Sam Hays and Will Craig.
They were half brothers. There was a drug store. The owner's name was Will Hamilton.
The post office was there. The postmaster was Mr. Abernathy. There was a small cafe. The
owner's name was Lee Shepard.
There was also a large blacksmith shop. The owner was Joe Pitson. Mr. Pitson made coffins to
bury the dead. He made those out of plain lumber and covered them with certain cloth material such as velvet or sateen. In that day they called them coffins which in our modern time are called caskets.
We had one large building which was the school house when we had school. We also held church
services there on Sunday. Then all the social activities were held there.
They had a dentist Dr. Caperton. There were two doctors Dr. Trinkle and Dr. Lipscon. The little
town was then north of the present old school house on what is now the Holland Jester ranch.
In 1901 the Rock Island Railroad Co. built a line through Russett. It ran from Ardmore to Haileyville. There were four trains daily. They had a nice two story Depot and a water tank.
In 1904 an Indian woman came there. Her name Kate O'Brien. She was called (Aunt Kate). She
and two son's were allotted several hundred acres of land there. Russett, our little town, was on her allotment and she wanted it moved.
So she laid out a town site south of the old Highway 70 and where the present Baptist Church
stands. Most people bought lots and moved. The business men moved their businesses and houses
and continued to operate their business for many years.
In 1905 we had the first school that lasted for 9 months. The teacher, Miss Julia Wilhite taught
the one room school for three years.
After statehood they built a two story frame school building. They employed three teachers but
only taught thru the 8th grade. In the early twenties they voted bonds and built the brick school
We had a high school then and some of the finest men and women anywhere graduated from the
school. They are everywhere in all professions and business.
In the 1918's and 1919's Fred A. Chapman Sr. came to Russett and bought thousands of acres
of land. Mr. Chapman was a great asset to the community.
He cleared away the excess timber and drained the lakes and ponds of stagnated water that
caused so much malaria. People were infected with the malaria and in some cases it caused death.
He had his heart in the school and worked diligently for the advancement of pupils and school
as a whole. Mr. Chapman had a grocery store there for many years.
Everything is gone except the Baptist Church, They still have services each Sunday. There is no
social activity. There are many fine people out there and some new houses are being built. But when the old timers come by they say, "Well, where is Russett, I can't find anything like it used to be."
No, it is gone with the wind. But who knows it might return some day and be another wide place
in the road."
The following is a thumbnail photo of Mrs. Jester giving the history of Russett at the Holiday Inn in Ardmore in 1975. Click on the thumbnail to enlarge the photo. Then click on your browser's return button.
(editor's note: Below is a thumbnail of a clipping from the November 24, 1977 edition of the Johnston County Capital Democrat. We could have extracted the text but thought you might like to see a copy of the real clipping.)
To read the clipping, click on the thumbnail and please be patient as it downloads. Click on browser to return to this page.