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Side Note

The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

Asher is featured in John Grisham's first work of non-fiction, The Innocent Man, as the high school home of Ron Williamson.

More at Amazon.com

 

Side Note

Asher is mentioned in
the October 13th issue
of Entertainment Weekly
in the "backstory" of
Ron Williamson.

 

External Links

WIKIPEDIA

Check out these new Wikipedia articles to learn more about the area.

 » Asher, OK

 » Avoca, OK

 » Chisolm Spring, OK

 

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View some Ads from Asher businesses in 1913 on this page.




On this Page: Article Asher Baseball Quick Facts Area Cemeteries


History and Facts

 

Wikipedia Article

This is a segment of the Wikipedia article on Asher.  Read further on Wikipedia, including Demographics, Education, Media, Notable Persons, Additional Photos and Related Links. 

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Clicking links in this article will cause you to leave this page and go to Wikipedia.

Geography

Asher is located at 34°59′19″N, 96°55′36″W (34.988580, -96.926550),GR1 at the intersection of US Hwy 177 and State Hwy 39 in Pottawatomie County. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.1 km˛ (0.8 mi˛), all land.


Nearby Areas

Asher is approximately 30 miles south of I-40 and 34 miles west 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 west of Chisholm Spring, once the site of a trading post operated by Jesse Chisholm, for whom the famous cattle trail was named [1]. A Chisholm family home and cemetery are also located in Asher [2]. Nine miles east of Asher is the Sacred Heart Mission Site.

History

Beginnings

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.

Avoca Township

Main Article: Avoca Township, Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma

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.

Growth

On October 12, 1900, 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 400 square miles 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, 1903, 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 Oklahoma 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.Graham Hotel on Asher's Main Street, 1918.

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

Tecumseh, Oklahoma 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 [3].

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 [4] [5] [6]. 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 [7]. Several businesses on US 177 remain, mostly serving those traveling through the area.


Click
here for the live page on Wikipedia, which contain additional information and sources used. 

 

"Asher, Oklahoma." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 10 October 2007. UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 17 Nov 2006 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asher%2C_ok>.

 

Asher and Baseball  [ Return to Top ]
Probably no small town is known as well for a sport than Asher is.  The following is an excerpt from John Grisham's new book The Innocent Man
, which chronicles the story of Ron Williamson, how he was arrested and charged with a crime he did not commit, how his case was (mis)handled and how an innocent man was sent to death row.  Ron Williamson played baseball in Asher and was a 1971 graduate.

   "The rural community of Asher sits almost unnoticed on Hwy 177 ... Like most very small towns, Asher seems an unlikely place for anything noteworthy, but for forty years it had the winningest high school baseball team in the nation.  In fact, no high school in history, public or private, has won as many games as the Asher Indians.

   It all began in 1959 when a young coach named Murl Bowen arrived and inherited a long-neglected program--the 1958 team did not win a game.  Things changed quickly.  Within three years Asher had its first state title.  Dozens would follow.

   ... During his career at Asher, it was not unusual for Coach Bowen's teams to win a state title in the fall, then follow it up with another one in the spring.  During one remarkable stretch, Asher qualified for the state finals sixty straight times--thirty years in a roll, fall and spring.

   In forty years, 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."

Grisham, John.  The Innocent Man:  Murder and Injustice in a Small Town.  New York: Doubleday, 2006.


 

Asher and "Old 18" [ Return to Top ]
Downtown Asher is located on old SH 18, which was once one of Oklahoma's longest north-south highways.  At its peak, SH 18 traveled from Dickson, OK (11 miles east of Ardmore) to the Kansas border near Shidler in Osage County.  US 177 replaced the highway between Dickson and Shawnee in 1967.  US 177 runs roughly on top of old 18 between Dickson and Asher, therefore only a few small segments of the original highway remain through that stretch.  I have started an article, which can be read here, that focuses on the existing areas of the highway between Asher and Shawnee, where US 177 and old SH 18 are separated.  This article mainly pulls from both old and new maps.  If you are aware of an error or would like to make an addition, please email me.
 

Quick Facts [ Return to Top ]
Following are some facts about Asher.  For the complete profile, click here.

» Population

Year 2000 Census

419

Year 2004 Est.

433 (+3.3%)

» Gender

Male

206 (49.2%)

Female

213 (50.8%)

» Location 

Elevation

1030 feet

County

Pottawatomie

Zip code

74826

Land area

0.8 square miles

» Median Figures

Median resident age

36.3 years

Median household income

$20,341 (2000)

Median house value

$31,100 (2000)

» Race

White Non-Hispanic

80.2%

American Indian

16.7%

Two or more races

4.1%

Hispanic

3.3%

Other race

1.0%

» Ancestries

United States

15.8%

Irish

10.5%

German

8.4%

Dutch

2.6%

English

2.1%

French Canadian

1.4%

Information taken from http://www.city-data.com/city/Asher-Oklahoma.html.  Updated 02 Nov 2005

 

Neighboring Communities [ Return to Top ]
Following are Asher's neighboring towns.  You may click each town for more information.

City Population   Location
Wanette 418   Located 6 miles [9 km] to the West Southwest ().
Saint Louis 213   Located 7 miles [11 km] to the North Northeast ().
Konawa 1,434   Located 9 miles [14 km] to the East Southeast ().
Byars 286   Located 10 miles [16 km] to the Southwest ().
Macomb 63   Located 11 miles [17 km] to the North Northwest ().
Tribbey 286   Located 11 miles [17 km] to the Northwest ().
Maud 1,159   Located 12 miles [19 km] to the Northeast ().
Stratford 1,484   Located 13 miles [20 km] to the South ().

Source: http://www.roadsidethoughts.com/12/c12_1006700.htm


Area Cemeteries [ Return to Top ]
The following is a list of cemeteries within a few miles of Asher.  For more information and burials, click the link below the cemetery.  The two sites are not related, so be sure to check both if you are looking for an individual; one may have information the other does not.  The Wanette Cemetery would be the best place to start if you are looking for a passed relative.  For other cemeteries not listed, visit the main page of Find a Grave (FG) or Oklahoma Cemeteries (OC). 

Note:  This site is not run by the City of Asher. 
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