Town without children on verge of extinction

Monday, April 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

RENFROW, Okla. (AP) _ If children are the future, the town of Renfrow might not have one.

The Grant County community of 16 people _ about six miles south of the Kansas line _ was one of 38 towns in the country with no children, according to the 2000 Census. And having lost 19 people since 1990, Renfrow could be a ghost town in the making.

It wasn't always that way.

Mayor Frank Ender said that during prohibition, the bustling town was nicknamed ``Little Chicago,'' thanks to its bootlegging mayor.

At one point there were 65 children in the community, said town trustee Treva Barclay.

But in the 1960s, the school closed.

And now a town that once boasted two banks, four service stations, a lumber company, a grocery store, a post office and a school, has just a barber shop and two trucking companies.

Of the town's residents, four are from the same family _ Patricia, Frank, Erica and Robert Ender.

Treva Barclay and her daughter, Audry Thompson, serve as town trustees. Other residents include Pat and Lillian Allen, William Kidder Jr., Debbie Leighty and Ernie Massey, Stanley and Beverly McCurley, Jack Toney, Diana Ehlers and Tim Ehlers.

Town leaders say they realize that the town is perilously close to extinction, but they are not ready to give up on Renfrow.

They plan to keep lots in town mowed with a new tractor paid for with a grant from the Northern Oklahoma Development Authority.

There are also plans to renovate the playground near the community building this summer, with the hope that children will once again come here to live.

Town trustees also want to improve the community building and install street signs throughout town.

``There's a lot of history here, and the people would like to keep the history,'' resident Debbie Leighty said.