Yukon’s history remembered as birthday arrives

Yukon, once a small town founded in 1891, is getting ready to celebrate its 126th birthday.
Yukon first became known as part of the Chisholm Trail, which started in 1867 after the Civil War. Texans would bring herds of long horned cattle from the ranges of Texas to the railroads in Kansas, passing through several Oklahoma towns, including what would later become Yukon.
Land in Yukon was actually first claimed in April 1889 with the Oklahoma Land Run, but the first census is from 1890 and Yukon wasn’t officially founded until 1891, which is where Yukon’s birthday begins.
A.N. Spencer, a cattleman from Texas, is credited with officially finding Yukon in 1891 although he was not among the first settlers, but to do so he made an agreement with Minnie Taylor and Luther S. Morrison “to plat a townsite and lay the train tacks through the town in exchange for half the lots.” Taylor and Morrison acquired their land through the Land Run.
“A lot of descendants of those people are still here and living on the same land their family got in the run,” said Carol Knuppel, member of the Yukon Historical Society.
A monument of the early settlers, which includes about 800 names of the heads of the households, was built in 2007 at Chisholm Trail Park as part of the Centennial. The monument only contains names of the settlers who lived in the legal limits of Yukon, which was County Line on the east, Reno Avenue on the south, Frisco Road on the west and Wilshire Boulevard on the north.
The town began attracting more people, thanks to the railroad, and also began attracting a large Bohemian population. The Yukon Bohemians later became Czechs, which is where Yukon got its nickname of “Czech Capital of Oklahoma,” and has hosted Yukon’s Czech Festival to celebrate the history since October 1966.
The Canadian County Courier reported on April 1, 1891 that the city had 25 homes, one bank, two real estate offices, two restaurants, a lumber yard, a hardware store, a grocery store, a livery stable, two saloons, a blacksmith shop, a printing office, a barber shop and another barber shop on its way to being completed. The first houses and businesses were located on the north side of Spencer Avenue (now Main Street) and 4th and 5th Streets.
Yukon had its first day of a school Dec. 3, 1891 in a one-room frame building belonging to the First Baptist Church. The first school building was built in 1892 at 5th and Main Streets, another building was then built in 1895. Yukon High School hosted its first graduation in 1904 with only three women who later became Yukon teachers. The District School was then built in 1910 through a $33,000 bond issue. It was designed to accommodate all grades. The next building, designed to serve grades seventh through 12th, was built in 1925 and from there Yukon schools continued to grow. Yukon Schools’ first football field wasn’t even built until 1979.
Yukon’s growth came from the mills began in 1893 by Spencer, but The Yukon Mill and Grain Company, owned by the Kroutil and Dobry families, was up and running by 1902, making Yukon a thriving urban center for area farmers. The mill was so successful it grew to shipping flour and seeds throughout the south, as well as overseas, by 1915. The Dobry family moved across Main Street and built their own mill, Dobry Mills, in the 1930s. Yukon is still most popularly known for its mills today. Residents came together and raised money to relight the mill lights in 1989. Carol said she remembers everyone standing in Snyder’s parking lot, which is now the parking lot of Events at 10 West Main.
“Everything revolved around the Yukon mills,” said John Knuppel, president of the Yukon Historical Society.
Yukon gained its library in 1905, and a dedicated library building by 1927—being named after longtime librarian Mabel C. Fry.
Incorporated in 1901, Yukon had a population of 830 by 1907. The population rose to a little more than 1,000 by 1910 when they voted for water works, sewer and electricity from the mill. The town’s population continued to grow and had an approximate population of 25,892 in 2015.
Yukon’s city government began with a three-man board and has progressed to a city manager system with a five-person City Council.
Yukon has had multiple newspapers throughout its history, including the Yukon Register that began publishing in 1893 and the Yukon Weekly in 1894. The Yukon Weekly then combined with the Yukon Sun in 1900. The Yukon Review was then established in either 1963 or 1967, depending on what research is correct. The City of Yukon is now also gaining a new newspaper, the Yukon Progress.
Yukon will be celebrating its 26th birthday on Saturday. The birthday is always celebrated on the closest Saturday to March 28, 1891.
March 28 is considered Yukon’s birthday since James M. Francis got Yukon a post office on that day. Towns had to have a certain number of people to be able to obtain a post office.
The Yukon Historical Society was formed in 1992 and began celebrating Yukon’s birthday the Saturday closest to March 28.
All of the historical information courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society, Yukon Public Schools, John and Carol Knuppel with the Yukon Historical Society, the City of Yukon and Wikipedia.
This is the second year the City of Yukon and Yukon’s Best Main Street are hosting the Birthday Bash instead of the Yukon Historical Society.
From Main Street, to the houses, to the buildings, Yukon is a continuously growing community with a lot of history. So residents are encouraged to come out to celebrate Yukon’s birthday on Saturday to learn the history, admire the growth and celebrate the great community of Yukon.

1 Comment

  1. Pamela White on May 22, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    I’ve heard stories of my great-Grandfather owning a saloon on Main Street in the early 1900’s his last name was Holsey. I was told a man was shot and killed in the saloon. I was wondering where or if there was any information on this?
    Thank-you,
    Pamela

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