Mannford Area Newspapers

The city of Mannford was named for Mann’s Ford, a crossing on the Cimarron River located on the allotment of Hazel and Tom Mann. The post office was established on April 11, 1903, with Frederick E. Martin serving as the first postmaster. The town quickly became a key shipping point for cattle with the laying of the Arkansas Valley and Western Railway, later the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, between 1902 and 1903. By 1907, some of Mannford’s prominent businesses included the Mannford State Bank, the Mannford Mercantile Company, the Palace Drug Store, and the Mannford Enterprise newspaper.

The Mannford Enterprise was edited and published by H. U. Bartlett, who was also president of the Mannford Mercantile Company. The first issue was printed on February 7, 1907 and continued at least through August 22, 1907. The paper was published every Thursday and offered subscriptions for $1 per year. Bartlett believed Mannford would soon be one of the most prosperous towns of Moman County. At statehood in November 1907, Mannford became part of Creek County, but the county was almost named for Moman Pruiett, a prominent attorney who attended the 1906 Oklahoma Constitutional Convention as a special delegate representing the Democratic Executive Committee. He was given the honor of naming a county at the convention, which he chose as “Moman”. However, Pruiett ran afoul of William “Alfalfa Bill” Murray, who was able to force a vote to change the county’s name to Creek in honor of the local tribal nation.

By 1910, the town had grown steadily with numerous businesses serving the community, including the Mannford Electric Light Plant, Clegg’s Furniture, the New State Hotel, and Mannford Dairy. As a largely agricultural community, Mannford was home to two cotton gins, a livery, a harness shop, and a lumber and hardware company. The town also supported a dentist, a physician and surgeon, and a Methodist Episcopal Church led by Pastor Thomas A Ludlow. On September 9, 1910, Mannford also gained a new newspaper, the Mannford Herald. H. M. Sullens edited and published his paper weekly on Fridays, and subscriptions cost $1 annually. At the start of its second year of publication, the Herald became a legal newspaper. Sullens retired from the newspaper business in November 1911, and H. H. Sherman became the new owner and editor. Sherman continued printing the Herald every Friday at least through September 6, 1912.

By the 1950s, Mannford’s population had crown to over 400, but the town was facing oblivion due to the construction of the Keystone Dam. The US Army Corps of Engineers began building the dam in 1957, and in 1959, Mannford residents voted to move the town to a new location to the southeast. Plans for “New Mannford” were developed by the University of Oklahoma Community Development Center, and construction began almost immediately. The move to the new site was completed in 1963, and the dam was completed in September 1964, fully inundating the old towns of Keystone, Mannford, and Prue with water.

On Thursday, June 30, 1960, the Mannford Publishing Company printed the inaugural issue of the New Mannford News for the “new town on the shores of a new lake beside a new highway.” Dale Denney served as editor. In April 1961, the Mannford Publishing Company was purchased by the Brown Publishing Corporation, and Bill Berly became managing editor with the April 13th issue. In September 1969, Lou Allard and Gordon Rockett of the Drumright Publishing Company purchased the New Mannford News and combined it with the Oilton News to create the Lake Keystone News under the Keystone Publishing Company. The new publication continued as a weekly until a second edition was added in March 1981, but it only lasted through September.

In April 1983, the Lake Keystone News was consolidated with the two Drumright papers: the Drumright Derrick and the Drumright Journal. Together they formed the News Derrick and Journal, published by Jim and Jane Head of the Drumright Publishing Company. The new publication was printed weekly on Wednesdays. In October 1984, the Heads began printing two separate editions for Mannford and Drumright, both titled News Journal. The next four years saw several title changes for the Mannford edition, including the Mannford Area News Journal, the Lake Keystone News Journal, the Mannford News Journal, and the Mannford/Lake Keystone News Journal. The paper continued printing at least through November 1988.

On March 19, 1981, the town of Mannford gained a second newspaper, the Mannford Eagle. The Eagle was founded by Mary Heller (president), Shirley Sissom (vice president), and Margaret Edger (treasurer) of the Mannford Eagle Publishing Company. The paper was the first in Oklahoma to be helmed by three women in the male-dominated newspaper industry. All three had previously worked for the Drumright and Oilton newspapers, as well as the Lake Keystone News. The Eagle was printed weekly on Thursday and provided coverage of Mannford and surrounding areas, including Silver City, Jennings, and Olive. The paper provided news of the Chamber of Commerce, local schools, and the outdoor scene of Keystone State Park and Keystone Lake.

In February 1986, the Eagle was purchased by Jim and Shirley Webster of the Leader-Press in Sand Springs, but later that same year in December, the Websters sold the Mannford Eagle and the Sand Springs Leader to Park Communications, Inc. The papers changed hands again in December 1993, when they were sold to American Publishing Company, who immediately sold them, along with papers from Broken Arrow, Bixby, and Jenks, to Bill R. Retherford of Retherford Publications. They became part of the Neighbor Newspaper group, which Retherford eventually built into the largest privately held newspaper group in Oklahoma. He operated 19 newspapers until his death in June 2005. Shortly after his death, the group was sold to Community Publications, Inc. in Arkansas. They continued the Mannford Eagle until December 28, 2011, when the last print edition rolled off the presses. Starting in 2012, the Eagle transitioned to being online only.

Another homegrown newspaper began in Mannford in September 1994: the Mannford Star. Lee Lane edited and published the Star from its first issue on September 12. The first issues were tabloid size and were printed every Saturday. In May 1995, the paper size increased to a standard newspaper page. That same year the Star was also printing a shopper titled Star Shopper’s Guide, later called Keystone Star Shopper. It appeared every Tuesday at least through January 1996. Lee Lane continued the Mannford Star as a locally owned and operated publication at least through June 2001.

At a Glance

Cite This Collection

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Mannford Area Newspapers in The Gateway to Oklahoma History. Oklahoma Historical Society. accessed June 2, 2023.

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