Little Known Black History Fact: Boley, Oklahoma

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  • Boley, Oklahoma was established in 1904 as one of the largest and most thriving black towns in the country. Formed after the Great Migration, when thousands of blacks moved up north after slavery, Boley was founded on land that was owned by a black woman, Abigail Burnett McCormick. McCormick had inherited the land from her father, a Creek Freedman.

    Abigail McCormick invited blacks far and wide to come and establish a home. She was named mayor of the town. Booker T. Washington referred to Boley as “the most interesting and enterprising negro town in the U.S.”

    Six years after being established, Boley, Oklahoma grew to a population of 4,000. The historical town garnered attention for building the first Black-owned electric company and the first Black-owned bank in the country. The people took care of the town, establishing five grocery stores, five hotels, seven restaurants, four cotton gins, three drug stores, a jewelry store, four department stores, two insurance companies, two photographers and an ice plant. It became the place for the annual meetings of many fraternities, including Eastern Stars and Black Masons.

    All was positive in the town of Boley until 1932, when the gang led by Pretty Boy Floyd attempted robbery of the Farmers & Merchants Bank. The outlaws consisted of three men, two of them white. They would kill the bank's president, but the quick hands of the Boley officers never allowed the men to flee the scene alive.

    In 1975, the town of Boley was declared a historical landmark. Though its popularity and population fell during the Great Depression, Boley, Oklahoma continues to live, with its annual Boley Rodeo and their Founders Day Celebration. It is also the home of Smokarama Incorporated, a manufacturer of pressure smokers for smoking meats.
     

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