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INDIANOLA Continued from Page 17


Indianola hit its heyday when the rail- road moved into the area during the early 1900s. During that period, the north- western Pittsburg County town boasted a population of nearly 1,000 residents and had a full slate of downtown businesses, including at least two cotton gins, a hotel, a full-service drugstore, three gristmills, a bank and a community newspaper. Like many small towns of that era, Indianola’s economy was built on agri- culture. The area’s rich river bottomland was fertile and farmers raised a variety of crops in the sandy soil, including corn, cotton, grains, soybeans, peanuts and on- ions. Once known as the “Onion Capital of the World,” Indianola farmers raised large quantities of onions that were sold to buyers from all over Oklahoma and surrounding states. Bynum’s family also played a major role


in the founding of early-day Indianola. His grandfather, James H. Bynum, moved to the area from Alabama at the age of 18 and started out picking cotton in the fer- tile fi elds surrounding the bustling town. He also worked at the town’s trading post, which he later owned and operated. When the town’s new post offi ce was located inside the trading post, James Bynum was appointed on January 16, 1891 as the fi rst postmaster of Indianola. Roy Bynum still lives in the house his grandparents built in 1903. All of the original out- buildings—including a washhouse, cellar, pump house and smokehouse—have been maintained through the years. Along with collecting historical items, Bynum enjoys sharing his collection with others. In May of 2011, Indianola High School graduate Mike Cathey hosted a 30th reunion for his classmates at Bynum’s home. The Indianola graduates and their guests toured the grounds and the Choate Cabin.


“There


were several classmates in attendance who would have toured the Choate Cabin museum when they were in the third grade, which was a very regular ritual while Ms. Anita Bynum Smith was the third grade teacher for nearly 40 years,” Cathey said. “The Class of 1981 and their families particularly enjoyed seeing and discussing the old Indianola historical photographs from a time even before their births.” Cathey says he’s glad the Indianola his-


tory collection will continue to be open to visitors in the future. “I believe it is important for the chil- dren and youth of today to be made aware of the history and legacy of their com- munity, and of those who made a lifelong commitment to hard work and building lives and livelihoods for us all to model,” Cathey said. “Without this, we really will begin to lose our sense of community and community building. It is also a focal point for many personal and community memories. The people of the Indianola area have always been hard-working and truly built lives and a community from the soil of the area. The Bynum and Cho- ate families have played key roles in the area since before statehood and almost since the beginning of what is now Indi- anola.”


The historical collection can be toured


by appointment. Further information is available by calling Bynum at 918-823- 4421. OL


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