The town of Union City began April 10, 1884 when this part of Oklahoma was unassigned land. George Dixon acquired 40 acres of this unassigned land about three-quarters of a mile south west of the present site of Union City. He set up a trading post and began selling lots. By 1889 there was a small settlement there and it was called Union City. The Union City Post Office was established the same year.
Union City became quite a lively town, and before long it contained 22 saloons in order to accommodate the many Chickasaw, Cheyenne-Arapho, and Caddo Indians. Liquor and gambling were prohibited in Indian Territory. Union City was the nearest place for the Indians to find relaxation.
In 1892 officials of the Rock Island Railroad offered to route the railroad though Union City for the sum of $500.00. The citizens of Union City thought that the railroad would come through town anyway and they did not pay. However, the train was routed about three-quarters of a mile to the east through the small community of Sherman. This is why, even to this day, that part of Union City is known as Sherman.
By 1894 the tracks were being laid through Sherman and the people of Union City started their move to be next to the track. However, not everyone moved to the new location some business men decided to move to El Reno and others went to Minco. Union City was finally located in its new location and had approximately 35 business establishments, with a large trade territory. The Business district was a little over two blocks long and contained several grocery stores, a bank, drugstore, three blacksmith shops, two licensed saloons, many illegal gambling places, a pool hall, creamery, butcher shop, bowling alley, three grain elevators, jewelry store, men's clothing store, restaurant, two livery stables, a barber shop, four churches, a real estate office, confectionery shop, newspapers (Union City Leader and Union City Alert), a bakery, Joe Strunk's Hotel, which was built in 1892, a china and crock ware shop, hatchery, farm machinery dealership, lumberyard. By 1904 Union City also had a telephone exchange.
At this point let us look at an early day map of Union City and see where these business places were located. We will start on the corner where Jack Woolard and Teresa Woolard have their country market. The first business here was the location of a service station. Now west across the tracks where Mrs. Cecil Simmons lives now (1986). This was the location of Joe strunk's Hotel, built in 1892. Across the street west of the hotel was Johnson's Saloon, west of the saloon was the Mitchell's Restaurant and their home. Next comes the McCandles china ware shop, next was my grandfather's (Nick Hentzen) blacksmith shop. He also had a saloon next to the blacksmith shop. Just south of this saloon Tom Kirby had a hatchery.
Where the Baptist Church is today John Petree had a grocery store and furniture stare. (This is the same John Petree who later established the Petree Ranch west of Union City.) Behind the Petree store was a creamery and south of the creamery was the butcher shop. West of the Petree store M.P Kelly had a grocery and dry goods store. When Kelly moved his store north across the street Joe Clasen had a pool hall in this location. Kelly also had two storage buildings west of his store. South across the street from the old bank Charles Liebler had a grocery store and an insurance agency. Later a lean-to on the west of the Liebler store become Kelly's store for eggs. Kelly handled lots of eggs through this store. On some Saturdays he would ship out 100 crates of eggs on the 6:15 p.m. train (each crate of eggs contained 30 dozen). Joe Michalicka used to work for M.P. Kelly and part of his job was to make these wooden crates. He wold make 200 each week. Joe said when he worked for Kelly it was from sun up to sun down and all of this for $1.00 per day. Ralph Patzack and Hermon Leverick used to haul these eggs to the depot and load them on the evening train. The eggs were sent to Oklahoma City. Some of the other early day employees of Kelly were Mayme Conrad Gatz and Vera Needham.
In 1910 Doctor Richardson built the old bank building across the street from the school. Before the was there the Nick Hentzon family home was located on this corner. In 1900 Nick Hentzon built the house where Ester Schumacher lives today. In the fall of that year the Hentzen family moved to this location.
The brick building just east of the old bank started out as the Newton, Dricol, Kramer hardware store. Later M.P. Kelly moved his grocery and dry goods store to this location. After this Frank and Mayme Gatz had a grocery and dry goods store here and still later it became the Ag. Building for the school. Just east of the Ag. Building was the Pappe grocery store. The later became Wineheart's shoe shop. Mr. Wineheart also repaired furniture and reupholstered buggy and carriage seats. When business was slow he would sit in front of his shop and play his zither. In the area where the fire station (town hall) is today there used to be an ice cream and confectionery shop. Also in this same area Gardner's had a pool hall, beer parlor, and bowling alley. Just to the west of the fire station (town hall) was located the Union City power plant. This consisted of a gasoline engine and a generator. The town had electric lights for a few hours each evening, if they could keep the engine running. Next to this power plant Harve Mathews used to have a small bakery. Across the alley north of the fire station (town hall) was George Snitz's livery stable.
Across the street east of the fire station (town hall) was the location of the Furhing stores. They sold hardware and machinery. These stores were two stories and for a time the family lived upstairs. Later on the telephone exchange was located in this upstairs area.
East of the Furhing stores was the T.J. Hadley grocery and dry goods store. (this brick building is still there) In 1907 Dan and Albert Gatz bought the Hadley General Store, the business was operated under the name of Gatz Brothers General Store until 1925 when Dan sold his share in the business to his brother Albert.
Albert retired in 1955 and was the oldest merchant in Canadian County, having operated a business uninterrupted for 48 years. Albert died January 1956. Some of the Gatz employees were Isabelle Downey Ratterman, Christina Conrad Patzack, Agnes Gappa Dixon, Mary Musshafen Morrison, Louise Clasen, Emma Musshafen Sweeney, Veronica Gappa Sweeney, Leo Radtke, Sr., George (Bum) Segress, Virginia Kudek Gappa. In the block north of these stores was the W.W. Jackman lumberyard, for a time the also had the post office and the skating rink. Just east of the Gatz store was the Union City Bank. This is the bank Doctor Richardson bought from Mr. Cotton in 1906. Above this bank was a dance hall. East of the bank Doctor Richardson had his first office. East of this office was the Cooper Livery Stable.
Now let us go up the street toward the elevator. In the early days Union City had three elevators. The first one was covered with tin and was sometimes known as the Charley Brown elevator. Dude Dixon and George Snitz were also associated with this elevator. Next came Sy Greenwood's elevator it was painted red. Next was the Union City train station. North of the dept. was another elevator it was painted white and run by Charles Liebler. North of this elevator was the Union City stockyards. George Clasen and Felt Petree bought and sold livestock here.
The location where the Easy Shop Convenience Store is located today. This used yo be the location of the Romer grocery store. Mr. and Mrs. Vic Divacky built the present store. Later that store was owned and operated by the Wright family.
Now let us return to the Union City of 1894, at this time the principal newspaper was called the Union City Leader. This was a weekly paper and Charles Liebler posted the grain markets in the paper each week. The market for April 7, 1894 was as follow: Wheat $.40 per bushel, corn $.30 per bushel, oats was the same price as corn, baled hay $4.50 per ton, eggs $.7 per dozen.
Other items in the 1894 Union City Leader were, Joe Strunk's Hotel, rooms one dollar per day, special meal tickets for traveling men cost $3.50 per week. In the same paper (April 7, 1894) El Reno will soon be getting electric street lights, El Reno postmaster makes $1,800.00 per year.
July 7, 1894 Doctor D.P. Richardson is very low, recovery hopeful, but doubtful, July 21, 1894, Doctor Richardson is getting better and in a few days will be up and going. July 14, 1894, the South South Canadian River is booming with mad water and mud the week. Saturday evening, July 14, 1894, Union City band concert at the band room, vocal, instrumental, also ice cream will be served. July 21, 1894, James McMahan had 20 acres of wheat that averaged 30 bushels per acres. August 4, 1894, Canadian County land is valued at $6.00 per acre.
In 1894 Union City had four churches. The Baptist Church has regular preaching every third Sunday at 11:00 am. The preacher E.A. Patterson. The north Methodist Church had services every first Sunday and 11:00 am and at 7:30 p.m.. The preacher J.H. Clark. The south Methodist Church had services the 4th Sunday of each month at 11:00 am and at 7:30 p.m.. The preacher M.D. Long.
On May 5, 1894, Bishop Meerschaert arrives at the depot, and a large number of town people are there to greet him. Charles Liebler gave a welcome speech. The bishop blesses the new Catholic Church and at 7:30 that evening he gave a grand lecture, the church was full to capacity. Mrs's Furhing, Strunk, Schnitz and Misses Louise Heppler and Anna Furhing decorate the church.
Doctor David Paul Richardson (1869-1957) was probably the most famous citizen that Union City had. He came to Union City as a general practitioner later he became the druggist, the banker, the postmaster, the mayor, and the Baptist Sunday School teacher. H was also a Mason, Elk , and Oddfellow. He was named as a possible candidate for Governor of Oklahoma. He was State Banking Commissioner for six years. (for more infomation on Doctor Richardson see volume I of the History of Canadian County)
The present bank of Union dates back to 1900, by 1906 it was in sad condition. There was $20,000.00 on deposit $4,000.00 of this belonged to Doctor Richardson. He bought a failing bank and in a few years it was prospering so that by 1910 a new bank was built across from the school. The bank continued in this location until 1977 when a new bank was built along 81 highway.
Union City has been visited by a number of tornadoes. The first one on record was in 1896 when a tornado destroyed the Union City Catholic Church. This church was located across the street to the west of the present day Methodist Church. In 1927 another tornado went through town. This one destroyed a number of homes plus the cotton gin, which was located where the bank is now. In 1939 a tornado struck to the east of town. the tornado of the afternoon of May 24, 1973, is the one that everyone remembers. It destroyed much of the north and east part of Union City. (our Links page has a link to a video on the May 24, 1973 tornado)
In 1894 Union City had a two room school, in the same location as now, with two teachers. They were Katie Mead and her niece Bess Mead. Bess had grades 1-2-3-4 and Katie 5-6-7-8. Over the years the rural schools consolidated with the Union City school. The new gymnasium with cafeteria and community storm shelter was built in 1961. The high school addition was in 1982. The old high school was remodeled and is now used for the elementary grades. Today (October 1986) the average daily attendance for Kindergarten though 8 grade is 178 students. The average daily attendance for the high school at this time is 82. There are 12 high school teachers and 11 grade school teachers. The superintendent is Ben Grove, high school principal is Wallace Boblit and elementary principal is Mrs. Rebecca Wright. This is a far cry from the time of Katie and Bess of nearly on hundred years ago.
Now let us look at some of the present day (1986) business establishments in Union City, starting at the intersection of 152 and 81 highway. First of all we see a Conoco Service Station owned by Lloyd and Nancy Menz. For many years there has been a service station on this location, but it was not always that way. In 1902 the local paper called the Union City Alert had the following ad for the town's leading saloon. the name of the saloon was the Congress Hall, the proprietor was Nat Haywood and his advertisement went as follows: "Ye thirsty souls, both one and all, visit Uncle Nat at the Congress Hall." This Congress Hall was located right where the Conoco station is today.
This next article was also in the 1902 Union City Alert: "The largest man in the world arrived in Union City on the noon train on Monday. The big man is Lewis Wilkins. He came to visit his brother Frank, who lives four miles west and a little south of town. Lewis is 8 feet-two inches tall, wears size 24 shoe, and weight 365#. While sitting in a carriage in front of Kelly's store he removed his ring from his finger, a half dollar could easily pass through the ring. He is enjoying a rest at his brother's farm and will make a tour of the western states this spring."
Just north of the Conoco station is the postoffice. the Union City Postoffice qas established August 28, 1889 at the origional townsite of Union City. Over the years Union City has had many postmasters, the present (1986) one is Carolyn Lewman. The postoffice has 126 open boxes. Jess White is the rural route carrier and he drives 67 miles and stops at 223 boxes.
North of the postoffice is the Bank of Union. This bank dates back to December 1900. (There was also a bank at the original town site, but this bank does not go back that far.) In 1906 Doctor Richardson bought this bank from J.M. Cotton. He was associated with the bank until his death in 1957 at the age of 88. Today (1986) the bank has a total assets of over 26 million dollars. Eldon Ray Ventris is the President and Chairman of the Board. The Vice President is H. Allen Miller.
North of the bank Tom Bosler has a bady shop for repairing cars and pickups,.
Across 81 highway west of the Conoco Station is the Easy Shop convenience store owned by Don Warren from Hinton, Oklahoma. South across the street is the T & B Country Market. They sell groceries and produce. During the summer they sell lots of watermelons. This time of the year (October 1986) they have the street in front of the store lined with big yellow punkins. Jack and Teresa Woolard operate this store. South of this store the Union City garage. Bill Wedman repairs all type of motorized vehicles in his garage. East across 81 highway from the Union City garage is the Dairy Mart which is owned and operated James and Brownita Smith.
R & R Auction Service. Harold Ratterman and Bill Ray operate this service. They have a sale almost every Saturday.
One mile east of Union City is the location of Larry's Produce. They process meat and produce and sell this to a number of stores and restaurants in central Oklahoma. This is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Larry Gabel.
At this time (1986) Union City has one grain elevator. This is owned by Kenneth Miles, who lives in El Reno. He also has elevators in El Reno, Darlington, and Okarche. The Union City elevator has a total wheat storage capacity of about 500,000 bushel. The managers at Union City are A.L. and Cherly Reed.
the Union City -- Town Hall and fire station are located in the same building. The present Board of Trustees consist of Jack E. White, Rudy Everett, and Mike Dawson. Rudy Everett is the mayor. The city clerk and treasurer is Susie Heger. the town has fire trucks. The fire chief is Harold Ratterman. Bill Ray is the assistant fire chief. The Union City Chief of Police is Charles Dries. The patrolman is Larry Guthries.
This History of Union City would not be complete without a few words about Kate Boevers. (1891-1986) she was born on February 25, 1891 in Fenton, Iowa. The family came to Oklahoma in 1899 and lived on a farm one mile north and three miles east of town. Kate had six brothers and four sisters. Kate's mother died on February 23, 1910. She died at 6:00 p.m., at the family home, four hour after having a stroke. After her mother's death Kate and her father moved to Union City. Kate took in boarders, cooked for railroad men, who were building a bridge across the South Canadian River. For this she was paid one dollar per day. She milked a cow, sold butter and milk and kept a flock of chickens.
Kate took a business course which she did not use, because after her graduation her father became ill. He was bedfast for three years and Kate took care of him during this time.
In 1941 Kate moved into the house where she lived until her death.
During World Was II Kate worked at Mustang Field. She started as dishwasher and soon was chief salad maker. Later she became guard at the entrance gate. Her boss said that Kate could really shake them down.
Kate learned the art of sewing and tailoring. She made ladies suits by turning and redoing those outgrown by husbands, sons, or brother. She done all this for $5.00 each.
In 1955 Kate helped organize the Union City Grow and Give Flower Club. This club was active for 28 years and during this time she missed two meetings because of family funerals.
She was not sure when she became active in home extension work but her name is recorded in the Union Workers 1958 year book. She was a part of this group for the rest of her life.
No one knows when or how Kate learned to grow and arrange and judge flowers. Her beautiful flowers were shared with anyone wanting or needing them. They were frequent prize winners at fairs and other exhibitions. She judged floral arrangements at the Canadian County fairs and neighboring counties.
Kate did table decorations for Union City dinners and banquets. This she always did for the Union City Lions Club, of which she was a honorary member, and also for any and all school functions. For 35 years she made flora; decorations, bridal bouquets, and corsages for weddings. She believed that young people should have every encouragement possible toward a stable marriage. Her flowers always looked professional and beautiful. She always done this free of charge.
At 95 Kate still gardened and shared the fruit of her labor with others. When she was reminded of the dangers to her health while working in the summer sun she said, "If I die in my flower bed with a hoe in my hand, just remember I was where I wanted to be, doing what I wanted to do."
In 1977, Kate received the Lions Outstanding Citizens Award, along with the Lion's District Governor's Pin. She received life time pass to Union City school activities. In 1981 the Union City School Annual was dedicated to her.
Kate was active Methodists for 70 years, always serving where needed. Her flowers grace the pulpit every Sunday during growing season.
I want to thank all who helped me write this history of Union City. Without their willing and able assistance it would not have been possible. They are Mrs. Evelyn Albers, Mrs. Marguerite Pinkston, Mrs. Louise Wilcox, Mrs. Martha Pappe, Mrs. Carolyn Lewman, Joe Michalicka, Kenton Petree, Ben Grove, Rudy Everett, Jack and Teresa Woolard, Mrs. Anna Demmer*, Kate Boevers*, Ralph Patzack*, and Donna Baron.
Town of Union City