Dewey County begins 32 miles from the western edge of Oklahoma. Its county seat is tiny Taloga, population 299 in the 2010 census. [They had 300 until the Democrat moved away.]

Dewey County

Dewey County begins 32 miles from the western edge of Oklahoma. Its county seat is tiny Taloga, population 299 in the 2010 census. [They had 300 until the Democrat moved away.]

Few of you will readily recognize this county but it has many notable features you need to know. First, it is drained by the North Canadian River which flows southeast through Shawnee. It is bisected by highways 3 and 270 which lead straight to Shawnee. If you are headed for “No Man’s Land’, [aka Oklahoma Panhandle,] you pass right through it.

Named for George Dewey who was commissioned a Lieutenant out of the Naval Academy in 1857 just in time for duty in the Civil War. By 1897 George was Commander Dewey over the Asiatic Squadron thanks to the help of Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt. With Roosevelt’s help he was able to accumulate both numerous battle ships and coal supplies in Hong Kong in anticipation of war with Spain.

When war was declared April 25, 1898 he moved the fleet to Manila Bay where they destroyed the entire squadron of obsolete vessels of the Spanish then laying there at anchor like sitting ducks in the harbor. They were no match for the flag ship Olympia’s five and ten-inch guns and were quickly and totally destroyed. Honestly, there was no real ‘battle’ involved.

By May 7 news of his victory had reached President McKinley making Dewey a national hero. The nation was hungry for heroes then and by 1903 Dewey was promoted to the special rank of Admiral of the Navy, and he and all 299 members of his squadron were awarded the Battle of Manila Bay medal with Dewey’s image on one side. He was one of only four Americans entitled to wear a medal bearing his own image. He was honored by a two-day parade in NYC and in Washington, D.C. and presented with a $10,000 sword custom made by Tiffany & Co. now on display in the National Museum of the U.S.N. in Washington.

The timing was right for the naming of “County D” in Oklahoma by vote of county residents in 1898.


Highway 3 from its southeast terminus near Tom passes through Slapout on its route to its northwest terminus 583 miles distant at the end of the Panhandle. Tom Lemmons bought a ranch on highway 3 in Dewey County during the Great Depression and built a chicken coop on the highway. He converted that coop into a store that was poorly stocked gaining it a reputation among locals of always being “slapout” of something. Converted to a gas station, it attracts travelers on their way to Colorado who stop for gas and a visit with Slapout’s eight residents.

Carrie Nation

On this same trip along highways 3 and 270 from Shawnee to Colorado you will pass through the Dewey County’s largest ‘city,’ Seiling (pop.860). I’ve been told it contains the county’s largest employer e.g., Braum’s. Viewers of Channel 9 will recognize its most famous son, former weatherman Gary England. Americans will be familiar with prohibition advocate Carrie Nation who traveled the nation early in the twentieth century busting up saloons with her hatchet.


You can tell a native Okie by how they pronounce this town’s name [Pop. Est’d. 726 in 2015]. Strangers call it “Vick-ee” and natives, “Vie-Si.” I’m still conducting Google searches for any other notable characteristics of Vici or Leedy [pop.435 or county seat, Taloga. .


Sited virtually on the country line in the extreme southeastern corner of Dewey County is the unincorporated community of Fay—so small no population is listed. It probably exists because it is on the only railroad through the county—the Grain Belt Corporation RR running 186 miles from Enid to Frederick.

Why mention Fay? Paraphrasing, can anything good come from Fay? When I began this article I found the County and asked myself if I knew anything about this county. Well, I did. It is the birthplace and now home of a really good man and EHS 1954 classmate of mine, Travis Miles. Who was Travis Miles, you ask? Travis has the distinction of being a State Senator from Ft. Smith who for fourteen years was Minority Leader of the Arkansas State Legislature. He was so because then he was the only Republican in the Senate—itself a distinction considering party affiliations there now. He also ran his own ad agency there for many years.

Travis is a very intelligent and one you would say is a ‘character.’ He inherited the ancestral farm outside Fay in retirement and there built a house INSIDE his pole barn! [He’s never had to replace his roof , re-paint, or mow his yard, so don’t draw hasty conclusions about Travis’s mental state. He’s short, rotund, and now legally blind, but benighted he is not.

Travis has Dewey County credentials as the first post office was in his Grandmother, Exer Abercrombie’s house. He might still be a Senator had not a lady beat him in an election by criticizing his close friendship with then Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. It seems that when Clinton needed Republican support he and Travis could work together. Travis was from an era when legislation was made through compromise in which the minority’s interests were recognized—even a minority of one! Travis was that way because he and I sat through the same Civics class in the ninth grade—something I wish more politicians in Washington had done.