Boley, Oklahoma

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Boley is a town in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 1,126 (including the local prison population) at the 2000 census. It was founded in 1903.

The Boley Public School District is one of the smallest public school districts in the state of Oklahoma. For the most recent data available, it tied with Sweetwater for the smallest high school with 15 students. For a combined district, K-12, Boley finished first, just ahead of Clarita (58) and Sweetwater (60), with 51 students.[3] Boley is also home to BBQ equipment maker, Smokaroma, Inc, and the John Lilley Correctional Center. The Boley Historic District is a National Landmark.[4][5] Currently Boley hosts The Annual Boley Rodeo & Bar-B-Que Festival festival.[6]

Contents

History

The coming of the Fort Smith & Western Railroad allowed agricultural land to be more profitably used as a townsite. Property owned by the Barnett family, among other Creek freedmen, midway between Paden and Castle was ideal for a station stop. Once the railroad management was convinced a Negro town was viable Boley, Creek Nation, Indian Territory was created. As there were no other Negro towns nearby, the town population quickly swelled as the Great Migration got under way. During the early part of the 20th century Boley was one of the wealthiest Negro towns in the US boasting the first nationally chartered bank owned by blacks, and its own electric company.[7] Booker T. Washington visited Boley in 1905, and was so impressed he included Boley in his speeches. Boley's development paralled the railroad, after World War I a fall in agricultural prices and the bankruptcy of the railroad caused Boley to also go bankrupt in 1939. With the Second Great Migration underway by 1960 most of the population had left.[8][9] So far the New Great Migration has not benefited Boley.

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