Slaughterville was not the most elegant name for a town, local residents had to admit. Some even toyed with the idea of changing it … but that was before People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals offered an alternative.
In exchange for changing the name of the Cleveland County town to the more animal-friendly Veggieville, as the group proposed in 2004, Slaughterville would receive $20,000 worth of veggie burgers, says Marsha Blair, the town administrator.
In a packed meeting room, town trustees gave thumbs down to the offer. Among the opponents were two children and other descendants of James T. Slaughter. A bend in the road near his dry goods store had long been dubbed Slaughter’s Corner, so the place-name was modified when three communities united to form the town in 1970 to ward off annexation by nearby cities.
The descendants “said they were offended at the thought of being forced to change the name because they were proud of their name,” Blair says. “They said their father and grandfather lived a good life.”
Oklahoma has its share of unique names – Slapout, Slick, Cookietown and Frogville.
Slapout, in the Panhandle, was likely named by highway workers who joked about the single convenience store being “slap out” of merchandise, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society.
Frogville, near the Red River in Choctaw County, was named for the area’s abundance of those amphibians, which were “said to be so large they ate young ducks,” according to Oklahoma Place-Names by George H. Shirk.
The name of Cookietown in Cotton County, according to Shirk, was inspired by mercantilist Marvin Cornelius, known for giving cookies to children who visited.
These days, many of the towns have tiny populations because of the oil industry’s boom and bust years. Slick was founded in 1920 and named for oil tycoon Thomas B. Slick, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society. A railroad line was built to the town in eastern Creek County, and for a while it was an oil distribution and shipping point. The population, once estimated at 5,000, had dwindled to 400 by 1930. It now is home to about 150.
Blair likes Slaughterville’s population of just over 4,000.
“We really don’t want to get big,” she says. “Our goal is to stay rural.”
Residents mostly live on acreages and have wells and septic tanks. The town has two Dollar General stores, along with a couple of convenience stores, a tire shop, an equipment rental business, four churches and the Canadian River Winery.
“We recently got a grant for a parks and rec trail,” Blair says. “Our people volunteer and are willing to put their hearts into the town.”