is a town in Pottawatomie County
, United States
. The population was 419 at the 2000 census
Asher is located at (34.988580, -96.926550), at the intersection of U.S. Highway 177
and State Highway 39
in Pottawatomie County. According to the United States Census Bureau
, the town has a total area of 0.8 square miles (2.1 km²
), all of it land.
Asher is approximately south of I-40
and east of I-35
. Nearby cities (with 15,000+ population) include Ada, Oklahoma
(21 miles south) and Shawnee, Oklahoma
(27 miles north). Asher is located two miles (3 km) west of Chisholm Spring
, once the site of a trading post operated by Jesse Chisholm
, for whom the famous cattle trail was named. A Chisholm family home and cemetery are also located in Asher. Nine miles east of Asher is the Sacred Heart Mission Site
As of the census
of 2000, there were 419 people, 164 households, and 123 families residing in the town. The population density
was 523.8 people per square mile (202.2/km²). There were 186 housing units at an average density of 232.5/sq mi (89.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 82.10% White
, 12.89% Native American
, 0.95% from other races
, and 4.06% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 3.34% of the population.
There were 164 households out of which 29.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.0% were married couples living together, 17.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.0% were non-families. 22.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 2.94.
In the town the population was spread out with 26.0% under the age of 18, 9.1% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 96.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.4 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $20,341, and the median income for a family was $21,875. Males had a median income of $29,750 versus $17,344 for females. The per capita income for the town was $9,340. About 20.5% of families and 22.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.2% of those under age 18 and 22.4% of those age 65 or over.
Asher dates back to 1892 when George "Matt" Asher, from Clay County, Kentucky, purchased land in Oklahoma Territory
from a Shawnee estate salesperson to set up his farm home. The post office was established in 1901 when the postmaster of nearby Avoca, Oklahoma
, George A. McCurry, moved the Avoca post office and his store to the new community that would become Asher. This was done without permission from the government and left Avoca without a post office. According to the tale, McCurry was given a home and store building as payment for moving the post office to the new settlement. The town was named for Mr. Asher, who supplied the land with the consideration the community would carry his namesake. There was a sale of public lots in 1902.
Asher is the last remaining post office in the original Avoca Township, which also included the towns of Sacred Heart Mission, Osmit, Avoca, Meanko, Boyer and Violet.
On October 12
, the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf (CO&G) bought the Shawnee to Tecumseh Railway branch from the Tecumseh Railway Co. and promptly extended the branch to Asher. For the next 40 years, Asher would serve as the termination point for the branch and its engine, "Old Beck
." Rapid construction of railroads opened up of a fertile section of the South Canadian River
valley to shipping facilities. Asher was the trade center and market of the area. Further development came when, on January 15
, The Jennings Company closed on 1,000 business and residence lots. The Jennings Company advertised investment in the growing town and new factories and industries of various kinds soon located in Asher.
Asher and the new settlers had hopes of creating a large city. However, the settlers were disappointed when the towns of Seminole and Konawa were built and took away much of Asher’s trade. The people of Asher would not give up, and pulled together town resources and constructed a bridge across the Canadian River. The state then used the bridge in its construction of State Highway 18, drawing a small amount of trade to the area from nearby cities, such as Ada. Before the construction of the bridge, those south of Asher could only cross the river when it was shallow enough.
Asher, originally a cotton farming community, suffered in its early years from crop losses caused by boll weevils. Farmers were then dealt a further blow when the town’s first two cotton gins were destroyed by fire. These set backs compounded the loss of trade and left the town in dire straits.
In 1927, oil was discovered in and around the town. Asher sprang up almost overnight to serve the needs of the oil workers. It was also around this time that executives moved into Asher and purchased enormous amounts of supplies and merchandise at inflated prices. There were many businesses in town including feed and grocery stores, jewelry stores and drug stores as well as banks, barber shops, hotels and a small theater. Many leading families of Oklahoma, such as the McAlisters, the Campbells and the Byruns, lived in the town. There were also many doctors with offices in Asher. For a while, Asher became prosperous.
County Seat potential
was originally the county seat of Pottawatomie County. In late 1930, a long-standing war between Shawnee and Tecumseh escalated when voters approved measures to move the seat to Shawnee. A spin-off of this feud was the move for the creation of a new county, to be named Petroleum County. The new county would be composed of prime oil-producing land, including the southern half of Pottawatomie County and portions of Seminole, Pontotoc and McClain Counties. The move was started by Tecumseh supporters who wanted to make Shawnee’s county seat victory as hollow as possible by removing the most valuable section of the county. Asher was slated to be the county seat and it was planned that the greater part of Tecumseh would move down to form an impressive community. There was a paper--The Petroleum County Times
—produced, meetings held and petitions circulated. However, the measure never progressed further as times were not favorable for the creation of a new county.
End of the oil boom
The oil boom ended when only four wells proved to be profitable. Once again, Asher was in danger of dying out. Fortunately, another oil well was found just west of the town. This time the people connected to the well were local citizens and were cautious and conservative in their estimates and spending. This led to a small but steady production of oil in the community. Asher was dealt another setback in 1967 when SH-18 was taken out of commission and traffic was diverted west of town on the new US Highway 177
. Businesses migrated to the new highway and many storefronts in the original town were closed. The final business, Green's Market, which was located on Division Street (old SH-18) closed in 1985, after serving the community for 40 years. Several businesses on US-177 remain, mostly serving those traveling through the area.
In 2001, Asher celebrated its 100th anniversary. The town, along with others in the county that had passed the centennial
mark, was honored on a centennial monument dedicated September 21, 2007. This date was chosen to coincide with the Oklahoma Centennial. Other Asher honorees were the First Baptist Church, which was founded in 1902 and Asher School, which was established in 1903. The monument is located in Centennial Park, on the grounds of the Santa Fe
Museum, in Shawnee, Oklahoma
Timeline of major events
Below is a time table of major events that occurred in Asher as well as surrounding communities whose events affected Asher's history.
|| Event |
||Jessie Chishom establishes trading post . E of Asher |
||Avoca area (Wewaukee Springs) a regular stop for adventures on way to the gold rush in CA |
||Chishom post abandoned |
||First members of Asher family move to OK to est. home |
||First school in Avoca (near what is now Avoca Cemetery) |
||First general store in Avoca |
|October 30 1901
||Asher townsite opened up |
|November 26 1901
||Post Office established |
||Public sale of lots ($750) |
||George Stone (Dep. Sheriff) moves to Asher |
||Asher townsite platted, G.M. Asher supplies land |
|April 26 1902
||Shawnee-Tecumseh railroad expands to Asher / Old Beck began service |
||Asher Altruist begins |
||Asher FBC then First Methodist est. |
||Town became center of baseball interest |
||District Judge J. Knox Byrum born in Asher |
||Asher Merchantile Co. established |
|December 13 1906
||Asher State Bank robbed |
|Up to 1920s
||2 hardware stores, 2 banks, jewelry store, lumber yard, dry goods store, general store, and (until 1907) 6 saloons --per Annie Roe |
||Canadian River Bridge opens |
||Fire destroys 2 blks of businesses |
||Fire destroys blk of business, incl. Canadian Valley Bank |
||Pearson oil discovered |
|September 2 1927
||Canadian Valley Bank robbed |
||Water well drilled to supply water to oil fields |
||Oil workers/executives moved in; Asher prosperous |
||Oil discovered in Asher |
||Asher School current building built |
||Petroleum County/Asher county seat talks |
||Asher School gym built |
|February 10 1942
||Shawnee-Asher railroad branch ends |
||Asher segment of SH-18 is replaced with US-177, diverting traffic from town. |
||Green’s Market closes after 40 years |
||Asher School main building renovated |
Asher's Post Office was established on November 26, 1901 when it was moved from nearby Avoca.
Below is a list of Asher Postmasters .
| Date Started
|| Postmaster |
| 29 Nov 1901
|| George A. McCurry |
| 8 June 1904
|| Charles Snook |
| 11 June 1906
|| Kate R. Snyder (or Snider) |
| 14 Sept 1914
|| John S. Wood |
| 8 Dec 1917
|| Winnie D. Rawlings |
| 20 Feb 1920
|| Winnie R. Farmer |
| 25 Aug 1922
|| Fred M. Perkins |
| 12 Mar 1923
|| Lillian Gilpin (acting) |
| 11 June 1923
|| Francis T. Laster |
| 7 Mar 1927
|| John R. Hibbard (acting) |
| 15 Dec 1927
|| John R. Hibbard (appointed) |
| 1 July 1935
|| Orval L. Harris (acting) |
| 24 Jan 1935
|| Orval L. Harris (appointed) |
| 14 June 1940
|| John A. King |
| 19 May 1949
|| Pearl A. Hopkins (acting) |
| 1 Sept 1950
|| Perry H. Townsend, Jr. |
| 14 Dec 1979
|| Linda L. Sturgill (ofc. in charge) |
| 8 Mar 1980
|| Rosemary McKinley |
| 30 Sept 1992
|| Janna Jones (ofc. in charge) |
| 28 Oct 1992
|| Teresa Sexton (ofc. in charge) |
| 9 Jan 1993
|| Donald Slarve |
| 28 Jan 1993
|| Teresa Sexton (ofc. in charge) |
| 14 May 1993
|| Vicky Stover (ofc. in charge) |
| 13 Nov 1993
|| Deborah L. Cooley |
| 29 Mar 1995
|| Lois L. Rennewanz (ofc. in charge) |
| 22 July 1995
|| Lois L. Rennewanz |
| 11 Apr 1998
|| Cynthia Schaffer (ofc. in charge) |
| 05 June 1998
|| Debbie Turner (ofc. in charge) |
| 12 Sept 1998
|| Deborah D. Turner |
| 21 Feb 2001
|| Deborah Zimmerman (ofc. in charge) |
| 07 July 2001
|| Carol Kelly (ofc. in charge) |
| 25 Mar 2002
|| Bill Beard (ofc. in charge) |
|| L. M. Conley (ofc. in charge) |
| 13 May 2003
|| Lindsay A. Williams-Likens (ofc. in charge) |
| 23 July 2003
|| Michael L. Hockersmith (ofc. in charge) |
| 19 May 2004
|| Wayne A. Cooksey (ofc. in charge) |
| 13 Nov 2004
|| Michael L. Hockersmith |
Asher Public Schools is an independent school district. It has an elementary school (grades Pre-K to 8) and a high school (grades 9 to 12). The school was established in 1903. In 1913, there were four other school districts within three miles (5 km) of Asher—Clover Dale, Gravel Hill, Avoca
, and Pleasant Hill. The schools were small, consisting of only a room or two. Basic facilities were at a minimum. Talk began of consolidating all of the schools into the Asher district. This was later accomplished, presumably around the time Asher’s new school building was built in 1929.
Asher Schools’ main and original building (after consolidation) was constructed in 1929. The building would later receive two additions, to either end. The center of the facility originally served as the schools’ gym, before being converted to an auditorium when a new gym was built in the 1940s. An extensive renovation was completed in late 2006 on the original building. The work was made possible by a $1.295 million bond issue that was approved by residents in February 2005.
Asher School, the Indians, participates in baseball, softball and men and ladies basketball. Probably no small town is known as well for a sport than Asher is. For forty years, from 1959 to 1999, Asher had the winningest high school baseball team in the nation. No high school in history, public or private, has won as many games as the Asher Indians. In those forty years, Asher won 2,115 games, lost only 349, hauled home forty-three state championship trophies, and sent dozens of players to college and minor-league baseball.
Asher also has chapters of the Business Professionals of America (BPA), Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) and the National FFA Organization (FFA). Asher 4-H and FFA regularly captures the top sheep honors at livestock shows.
Asher receives the following television stations off-air.
- KFOR-4 NBC (Oklahoma City)
- KOCO-5 ABC (Oklahoma City)
- KWTV-9 CBS (Oklahoma City)
- KTEN-10 NBC (Sherman-Denison, TX)
- KXII-12 CBS (Sherman-Denison, TX)
- KETA-13 PBS (Oklahoma City)
- KOKH-25 FOX (Oklahoma City)
- KOCB-34 CW (Oklahoma City)
- KAUT-43 MNT (Oklahoma City)
- KSBI-52 IND (Oklahoma City)
- KOPX-62 i (Oklahoma City)
The following newspapers are circulated in Asher.
- The Canadian Sands (Monthly Regional; Wanette, OK)
- The Ada Evening News (Daily; Ada, OK)
- The Shawnee News-Star (Daily; Shawnee, OK)
- The Oklahoman (Daily; Oklahoma City)
- District Judge J. Knox Byrum. Born in Asher in 1904, Judge Byrum was admitted to the bar on 1927, elected to the state legislature in 1928, served as a Shawnee municipal judge from 1930 to 1934, elected county judge in 1934 and later became a district judge. Knox is now deceased.
- Coach Murl Bowen. Bowen coached the Asher Indians from 1959 to 1998. Coach Bowen's teams won 2,115 games, lost only 349, hauled home forty-three state championship trophies, and sent dozens of players to college and minor-league baseball. Coach Bowen is now retired from Asher and lives north of town.
- Ron Williamson. Williamson is the primary character in John Grisham's first work of non-fiction, "The Innocent Man." He graduated from Asher High School in 1971 and played baseball for the Indians. Williamson went on to play minor-league ball for the Fort Lauderdale Yankees before beginning a downspiral that ended with him being arrested and sent to death row for a crime he was eventually cleared of. Williamson died December 4, 2004 due to cirrhosis of the liver.
- Will Hunt. During his high school years at Asher, he won multiple state titles and was named the 1989 Oklahoma Player of the Year. In college, he won national honors at Seminole Junior College (now Seminole State College) and Louisiana State University (LSU). Later he was drafted into Minor League Baseball by the Detroit Tigers and also played with the independent Northern League. Hunt briefly coached the Indians in baseball and basketball following the retirement of Coach Bowen. He is now an Oklahoma City firefighter and resides in Tecumseh.
- Cody Whitney. A 1999 Asher graduate and current resident, Whitney was an actor when he was young, in the television shows Young Riders and Webster and the TV movie Red River. Whitney is now a PBR (Professional Bull Riders, Inc.) bullrider.