History of Woodford and the Surrounding Community/Beginning of Woodford
The little town of Woodford is located at the foot of the Arbuckle Mountains. This little town was started when two bachelor brother, by the name of Bywater, came to this part of the world and established a small log store and a blacksmith shop. This was about the year of 1874. Their places of business were located about two hundred yards east of the present post office. These two brothers stayed in business here for four years, and Mr. George Akers bought them out. A few years later he established a small grocery store where the post office is now located. This store was built of Bywater’s old building and a part of the lumber was hauled from Gainesville, Texas with teams and wagons. Woodford was first called Bywater because the Bywaters were the first to settle here.
About the year of 1877 Mr. Wood Smith came to this little town and established a United States Post Office. The building was also built of logs cut and hauled from the Arbuckle Mountains. This building is now used by Mr. Arthur Presley. This little town was afterward called “Woodford” for its first postmaster.
The old settlers of this community seem to disagree as to where the first schoolhouse was established. Some say it was about three miles north of where the Hickory Dam is now located, while other say it was about one quarter mile west of the post office. There was in time a schoolhouse located one-quarter mile west of the post office, but whether it was the first one or not is not known. This building was destroyed by a storm and was afterwards moved to the southern part of the little town where the high school now stands. Miss Susie Love was the first teacher of Woodford and Mrs. Jimmie Speake, formerly Miss Tarver was the second.
The cemetery is located about one-quarter mile west of the post office, on top of a hill. Some of the old settlers of this community say a child by the name of Job was the first to be buried in this cemetery while other say an outlaw was the first. This outlaw was said to be hiding out and was captured by two U.S. Marshals from Fort Worth, Texas and was shot under a tree, a few hundred yards east of the cemetery.
A very pretty sulfur springs marks the general appearance of Woodford. The exact time of this spring’s beginning in not known. It originated from a broken water stream in the Arbuckle Mountains. This spring has supplied practically all the people of Woodford ever since its origination. Until about statehood this spring was walled with a hollowed-out log. It was fenced with hewed logs which were fixed by the first settlers. The users of this spring got to it by means of a step-ladder over the fence made of sawed-off logs.
The first roads through this part of the country were almost no roads at all. They were mere trails which were made by cattlemen. These roads did not have any particular course; they led in most all directions across the hills and hollows. The first road from Woodford to Ardmore led straight across the country southeast to Ardmore. Before statehood, there were no section lines in this country. Ira and J. M. Redding and Mr. Finch were the men who put the first wire fence in this country.
There were hardly any crops raised here during the early days. What land that was owned by individuals living here was mostly used for pasture. There were some few small patches of land cultivated by settlers. These were very small and were mostly worked by hand.
Woodford’s first gin was established about one mile southwest of the little town. This first gin was owned by Cummie Littleington and the next by Jim Alverson.
Mr. John Wood established the first drug store at Woodford and Mr. J. M. Hill the first hotel, in the eastern part of town where he now lives.
The first constable of Woodford was Bird Pruitt. Mr. Williams was the first Justice of the Peace and Mr. Holmes Akers, a brother to Mr. George Akers, was a deputy Sheriff.
A few of the earliest settlers of Woodford were: Mr. Fahgan, Lewis McKinley, Edd Chicken, Joe Murray, Wood Smith and the two Bywater brothers.