Singing the praises of the Wagoner County community of Red Bird

Thursday, February 24th 2005, 10:20 am
By: News On 6

100 hundred years ago Red Bird, Oklahoma was a brand new town, with a bright future. Thursday it is a fading community whose mayor is trying to save from extinction.

News on 6 reporter Rick Wells went to Red Bird in Wagoner County to talk to the mayor about his home town.

Welcome to Red Bird, Gene Osborn is the mayor; he's got a campaign going to revitalize his home town. "We just need people.'

He grew up here but much of the Red Bird he grew up in is gone. There is a core group of families and lots of available land. "We have plenty of land that is inexpensive right now.” And despite appearances they are making improvements. They have installed miles of natural gas lines and the town has its own water system.

There are advantages to development in Red Bird. "The advantage would be over places where developers are going now where there are no utilities; we have those things in place." They are making street improvements, new street signs are stacked up ready to install. Bobbie Howard runs the post office; she's another enthusiastic Red Birdian. "We're here and we're growing."

Beyond all that Red Bird is historic. One of almost thirty all black towns that sprang up in Oklahoma after the Civil War, a place where freed slaves could live and govern themselves. Osborn: "We have a historic school building that was the first all black high school in Wagoner County." He was the last graduate of the Miller Washington School in 1959. They have some grant money to help turn it into a community center.

Gene Osborn brought Red Bird out of bankruptcy in the early 90's. Now, he’d like to ensure its future with some new faces. He thinks it’s ready for development. “The perfect place it's all here."

Red Bird is located off state Highway 51B midway between Coweta and Porter in Wagoner County.