History of Wilson
In 1880 the Hewitt's, Goodell's and Horton's, living in Texas, decided to migrate north. On Christmas Day 1880 the party passed what today is the main street of Wilson and went one mile further east to settle in what became Hewitt. In 1889 Hewitt was officially founded, the first store was established and the post office opened.
In 1912 the decision was made by Jake Hamon, Ardmore oilman, and John Ringling, the circus magnate, to build a railroad (the Oklahoma, New Mexico & Pacific Railroad) west from Ardmore to Ringling. Work on the road-bed began in May of 1913; the first spike was driven August 4th; and the railroad was completed in January 1914. In 1917 an extension (the Ringling & Oil Fields Railroad) was made to Healdton.
Jake Hamon and John Ringling drove the best possible land bargains with the towns along the railroad right of way. When Hewitt was approached, Jake Hamon felt a depot was worth more than what was being offered. So, on September 22, 1913 it was announced a contract had been let for the erection of a depot at a new town site about one mile west of Hewitt. While Wilson was founded in the fall of 1913 it was not incorporated until November 5, 1914.
The new townsite was named Wilson, in honor of John Ringling’s secretary, Charles Wilson. However, since there was an older town of Wilson located seven miles southeast of Ardmore, the new town and its post office became “New Wilson”. By 1918 the old Wilson had disappeared and on August 5, 1918 Oklahoma governor R. L. Williams declared “New Wilson” would henceforth be known simply as “Wilson”. The name of the post office was not changed until January 28, 1920.
About the time Wilson was founded, oil was discovered in the region; by the end of 1914 Wilson was estimated to have over 2,000 residents. By 1918 there were three oil refineries, three cotton gins, over 5,000 residents, and everything that went with a booming oil field town. During this time Wilson served as the trading center for many smaller communities in the region. With the depression days of the 1930’s and WWII, many of these communities ceased to exist. The railroad closed in 1976; today Wilson’s population has stabilized at about 1,600 residents.