So last week I attended the State Historic Preservation review committee meeting where they were reviewing my National Register Nomination for the Excelsior Library. Good news is that the nomination was well received and it is now being sent for final review by the nation review committee. As we were talking about the library, the conversation turned to other African American libraries in Oklahoma. The only purpose-built African American library still standing in Oklahoma that I could confirm is in Guthrie. One of the committee members brought up Boley, Oklahoma, an all-black town which still has a library. But the question remains was the library building built as a library or is there another building standing that was? This question led to my researching Boley, which led to Youtube videos, which led to a map showing all-black communities in Oklahoma. Langston is in Logan County, but there was another star on the map, another all-black town in Logan County?
Turns out the town was named Iconium. It was located 3 miles northeast of Meridian in South Cimarron Township. There is little information remaining about Iconium, originally named Main, after the town’s developer George W. Main. The town’s name was later changed to Iconium, after Iconium, Iowa the home town of the town site’s owner. The town provided a post office and a railway stop along the Frisco service, which ran between Guthrie and Chandler. After trying to research the town with few results, I am left wondering why the town is included on some lists of all-black towns in Oklahoma. My research makes me doubt that Iconium was established as an all-black town, even though there was a large African American population in the area. George W. Main, the town developer, was listed as white in the census records and the Mount Hope-Iconium School, which closed in 1947, was listed as a white school, with the Fairview School serving blacks. Census records from 1900-1920 show the township as having about an even mix of whites and blacks, with Berry and Excelsior Schools also serving African Americans in the area. So why does Iconium sometimes appears on the list of all-black towns in Oklahoma? Is it because of the large number of African Americans in the area? Information I am unable to find? Do you know anything about the town’s history?
Amy Loch is the Executive Director of the Logan County Historical Society. This blog was created to share stories of experiential history in and connected to Logan County.