The coal mining towns of Dewar and Coalton, Oklahoma were located on the peripheries of what was once considered the greatest oil fields in the Western United States. The towns were located in Okmulgee County, Oklahoma, and were situated along the tracks of the Missouri, Oklahoma, and Gulf Railroad.
Dewar was incorporated in September 1915 and began as a train depot for railroad workers in 1909. The town was named in honor of William Peter Dewar, a railroad official of the Missouri, Oklahoma, and Gulf Railway¹.
For the next two decades Dewar thrived as a community, benefiting from the growth of the coal, petroleum, zinc, and railroad industries. By 1920, Dewar enjoyed its largest population of 1,558 inhabitants.
By 1930 the town had two schools, two bus lines, four churches, and a steady population of 994 residents.
As the 1930’s progressed, however, the town began to decline. Between the late 1930s and 1940s, the coal mines in Dewar closed. In 1964 both of Dewar’s railroad depots closed. By the year 2000, Dewar’s population had decreased to 919².
In the towns of Coalton, Dewar, and nearby Henryetta Oklahoma three coal companies operated the mines. The following table outlines these companies, their number of employees, and the years which they were in operation³:
As with most coal communities, stores which issued scrip were established to meet miners and their families needs. Common during the era, coal companies often separated their commissary and company store businesses into separate entities⁶. In the case with these three communities, it appears the possibility exists that one company store was established, structured in this manner, and contracted to serve the employees for all three coal companies.
Edkins lists 6 varieties of Dewar William Seymour emissions. All with the exception of the 1-cent piece have an Edkins rarity rating of R-4. The 1-cent piece possesses a rating of R-6. A listing of the Symour varieties is tabled below:
Below is a 50¢ specimen issued by The Seymour Company. Edkins⁷ lists The Seymour Company as being the company store for the Consolidated Fuel Company. Dodrill³ lists The Seymour Company as being the company store for the Oklahoma Consolidated Coal Company, the Sterling Coal Company, and also the Consolidated Fuel Company. This particular variety has a rarity rating of R-4 on the Edkins Rarity Scale.
Despite the concretions that appear in both the upper-left quadrants of the obverse and reverse, the specimen has fared well given its age. The rainbow patina that has formed on its flan is most striking, and lends great beauty to its character.
The specimen was photographed using axial lighting with glass angled at 45 degrees.
Notes and Sources
Photo Credit: ‘Broadway Dewar Okla,’ Linda Geary Sisemore
‘The Dewar, Oklahoma, Coal Field,’ Coal Age, Volume 1, No 28, John A. Garcia, April 20, 1912, pgs. 898-899
‘Dewar,’ Oklahoma Historical Society’s Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture
20,000 Coal Company Stores, Gordon Dodrill, ©1971, pgs. 52, 185, 230, 242
‘Coal Men of America’, Arthur M. Hull, Sydney A. Hale – 1918
‘Supplement to Bulletin of the American Institute of Mining Engineers,’ March 1918
Scrip, Stuart E. Brown JR, Virginia Book Co., ©1978, pgs. 50-52
Edkins Catalog of United States Coal Company Scrip Third Edition Volume I, Bill Williams, Steve Ratliff, NSCA, ©1997, pgs. 237-238
‘Henryetta, Oklahoma,’ The Library of Congress Digital Archives