I live in Arizona, some 1200 miles away from Boynton, the little Oklahoma town I write about in my series. Both of my parents were raised in Boynton, and I spent a lot of time there in my childhood. My grandmother owned Mrs. Casey’s Cafe on the main street for over fifty years.
The period I write about is the early 1900s. The book I’m writing now is set in 1916. Boynton was quite the thriving community back then, with a population of around 1800 souls who lived within the town, and many more on surrounding farms, including my great-grandparents and their children. In 1916, Boynton had two banks, five church buildings, a weekly newspaper, a brick plant which employed 100 men, an oil refining company, four general merchandise stores, two large hardware houses, a furniture store and farm implement story. There was also a big cotton gin, which I remember well from my own childhood. The 1916 Directory of Boynton states that “Altogether Boynton is one of the most progressive cities in the state, and its future is full of brilliant promise.
It didn’t quite turn out that way. The Great Depression did it in, like it did so many Oklahoma farming communities. The brick plant was already derelict by the time I came along, and the refinery was long gone. But for most of my girlhood, Boynton boasted some 800 souls and had a nice little main street with a grocery and other shops, including a drug store with an old-fashioned soda fountain that sold three flavors of ice cream, one scoop for a nickel.
After my grandmother died in 1979, I didn’t go back to Boynton again until 2006, when I did a book signing event for Hornswoggled, held in the Boynton Historical Society building, which when I knew it, was a Dairy Queen. Things had changed even more in the intervening thirty years, and not for the better. The west side of the main road through town is but an empty field now. Just a building or two remains on the east side, including the building Grandma’s cafe inhabited. It’s now some sort of domicile. My grandmother’s house is gone, though the elm tree my father planted when he was eight (that would have been in 1930) was still there. The 2000 Census says that the town’s population was 275, though I’m guessing it’s much less than that now. The old Christian Church that my great grandfather helped found is still there.
Why do I ponder on this, you may ask? There is another little OK town about fifteen miles north of Boynton called Haskell, where my mother’s parents retired and where my uncle and cousins lived when I was a kid. Haskell is still a going concern, and in order to maintain a connection to the homeland, I have been taking Haskell’s weekly newspaper, the Haskell News for several years. I just received last week’s edition today, and what do I find but the following article about Boynton:
Not Boynton’s finest hour…Boynton is finding itself in the headlines. This small town has had money struggles for several years, some of it their own doing,some of it not..Town Hall closing for several days, not holding regular elections…a warrant has been issued for the Town’s mayor and administrator on misdemeanor warrants for nepotism. On top of everything, they closed the high school where my parents, aunts and uncles, and cousin went to school.
All in all, when I write about the Boynton that Alafair Tucker and her family inhabits, I might as well be writing about Atlantis – a place that only exists now in my dim racial memory.
The photo is the Boynton High School graduating class of 1940. By the way, the handsome devil with the smoldering look, second from the right in the back row, is my dad. (click on the picture to make bigger)
October 3rd, 2016
The man next to your dad in the dark suit is my dad, Francis Pitts. He was the principle, teacher and basketball coach.
April 5th, 2017
My Grandmother was born in 1923. She was told by a family member that she was born at a Creek Indian Mission in Boynton, Oklahoma. Do you have any information about that Mission or knowledge of it even existing? We have looked on the internet and cannot find any information about it at all.
April 19th, 2017
I lived in Boynton from 1938 to 1943, moving to Muskogee. I knew Mrs. Casey and Carl. Mr. Pitts was my 8th grade history teacher. Next [north] door and at end of building were the stairs going up to the telephone office. The operators were Kate Smith and Leona Corrons, my aunt. Down [south] the street and near the post office was Lackeys Grocery, my father, A.V. Jewell was the butcher. I was a member of the Christian Church which you noted. My grandfather, E.D. Corrons worked at the brick plant. The cotton gin and the factory ruins were playgrounds for us. I was last in Boynton in the 1990’s. So sad to see how it has run down, but what wonderful memories I have. Norma [Jewell] Tracy of Napa, CA.
April 19th, 2017
Enjoy the site.
June 6th, 2017
Hi: my father was Billie Corrons, son of Leona Corrons. My mother is still with us, Wanda Faye Corrons, and is nearly 95 years old. I would appreciate any pictures or information you could give to me. My father became known as Bill Eugene Corrons, after graduating from Purdue Univ. after WWII and coming to Southern California. Thank you for your help, Jackie Corrons-Hickey, daughter of Billie Corrons who was the son of Leona Corrons. P.S.: I never knew anyone whomsoever on my Father’s side of the family and have only one picture of Leona standing in front of an old house in the Winter in Boynton, OK.
November 4th, 2019
The girl second from the left on the front row is my mother, Ina Mae Burrows. Three girls over is a friend of my mother’s she always referred to as Mary Lee Wheeler (not sure if Wheeler is a maiden or married name). Despite Boynton’s current sad state, my mother had fond memories of growing up there.
November 4th, 2019
How nice to hear, Kay! I remember Boynton as a wonderful place when I visited my grandmother there in the 50s through the 70s. Last time I was there, in 2018, it was unrecognizable. Thanks for putting a name to your mom and Mary Lee.
June 29th, 2020
I was so happy to find this, although I wish I could track down more. My parents worked for an organization in Checotah that Dr. Norma Sneed was part of. She had a medical clinic in a storefront on the main street there in Boynton, and we lived in the back side of it, back in the 70’s.
I remember there was a restaurant across from us, and they taught my sister and I how to fold their cloth napkins using the bottoms of the glasses to look like flowers. I was back there a few years ago and the building where we lived is now an empty lot and the restaurant is abandoned with bullet holes in it. I did buy a shirt from the little building that is the Historical Society that was from a recent (yearly?) brick throwing contest!
My dad (Bob Edwards) left that organization to pastor the Christian Church, at which time we moved into the parsonage.
Mr. Ford was my teacher/principal at the school. I would love to track down some of my friends at that time, but I just don’t see that happening.
Thanks for the article!
July 1st, 2020
Hi, Laura. Thanks for writing. I love hearing from Boynton natives. Did you by any chance know Craig Turner?
January 5th, 2021
580 491 4711 do you know a jack Kolakowski who was adopted. His birth name was Edwards and he live most of his life in Okmulgee Ok
April 29th, 2021
My great grandma, and her husband owned Charlene’s Hideout bar, and I believe the hotel above it. Her husband was the chief of police Chuck Myers. I grew up driving through Boynton quite often, and my mom went to school in Haskell and graduated from high school there, while living in boynton. I would love to know more about the town, and if anyone knows anything about the bar/hotel, and possibly any stories about my family. My grandma passed away in 2016.
January 8th, 2023
My family name in Boynton was Sutton. My grandpa grew up there until he move to Tucson, Arizona. But my uncle Archie lived there until late 90s early 2000s before his age got the best of him. I was in high school when we picked him up and took him to oru hospital were he passed shortly after. So many stories about the family, the town, and the property they lived on. Thank you for sharing your story. Hopefully one day my family or myself will be able to share