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Oklahoma City street names have some history

Mary Phillips Published: March 11, 2013

From the unpaved streets of the Land Run to the Interstate highways of today, city drivers are not surprised by the potholes, cracks and rough surfaces they encounter.

A story from The Oklahoman on Nov. 27, 1925, addressed that issue but also gave the history of several street names.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

“Pavements rutted by heavy truck traffic, inclement weather are not endeared to the hearts of Oklahoma Cityans in their infancy of heavy taxes nor when a puncture is picked up. They are the roundelay of abuse from city hall to the city limits — and yet have a heart — they have a heart.

“Take Bath avenue, back of that name is a personality — not a Saturday night ablution. The street was named for V.L. Bath, realty man.”

Bath was one of Oklahoma City’s earliest settlers.

“Dewey avenue has two fathers and is proud of both. One is Admiral Dewey, Spanish-American war hero and the other, Dr. Fred S. Dewey, pioneer physician of the capital city and formerly an army contract surgeon during the 90s. It is the only street in the city that old-timers attribute to different men.”

Dr. Frederick Stanley Dewey was Oklahoma City’s first coroner. His father was Adm. George Dewey’s cousin.

“Peter Billen who platted the Aurora addition was a prominent farmer here, breathed life into the painted curb signs, Billen avenue.”

Billen was born in Prussia in 1845 and grew up in Aurora, Ill. He moved to Oklahoma City in the 1890s and bought a farm on NW 16th.

The addition he platted was named for his boyhood home.

“Ellison avenue looks to Luke Ellison, prominent Mason in Oklahoma City in the early days as a godfather.”

Ellison bought the farm that was to become the Miller Boulevard neighborhood for $200.

“Reno is for Major Reno, an early-day army officer.”

Maj. Gen. Jesse L. Reno was killed while commanding his troops at the Battle of South Mountain during the Civil War.

He lent his name to towns in Nevada and Pennsylvania, a county in Kansas, as well as our own El Reno and Fort Reno.

“The forests live with Ash avenue, Elm street, Cypress and Walnut and the Indian tribes with Pottawatomie, Choctaw or the state’s with Pennsylvania and California while Kate avenue they’ll tell you at the city hall received it’s baptism at the hands of a congenial Irish woman, called Kate, who served home-made doughnuts and coffee to a crew that surveyed the street.”

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