Ryan is home to Chuck Norris, an American martial artist, actor, film producer and screenwriter. This small town is located two miles north of the Red River in Jefferson County.
"The agrarian mind begins with the love of fields and ramifies in good farming, good cooking, good eating, and gratitude to God." - Wendell Barry
Located in Jefferson County, just two miles north of the Red River sits a small country town known as Ryan, Oklahoma. The community was founded in 1892 by Stephen W. Ryan, an Arkansas native who married a Chickasaw woman and together accumulated a vast amount of land near present-day Ryan. At the time, the land was part of Pickens Country in the Chickasaw Nation Indian Territory. The construction of a railroad station for the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway was immediately built on Ryan’s land. Soon after, he officially marked the town site to which his home became the first community residence. Originally a boomtown with over 30 downtown businesses, Ryan is now primarily a rural community with a population of around 800. Due to its rich soil and warm climate, Ryan has developed as a leading agricultural and ranching area, abundant with cattle, hogs, cotton, corn and wheat.
There is something to be said about stewards of the land like local ranchers who work day in and day out towards the sustainment of rural development and the sanctity of family and farm life. We would like to share with you the story of a historical ranching family from Ryan whose love of the land, animals and community has made them a legacy among the agri-community of Oklahoma and beyond - The Rash Barrett Family. Located 8 miles south of Ryan, the Barrett Ranch is rich with acres upon acres of wheat and hundreds of grazing cattle. Rash I first came to Ryan in 1896, where he accumulated a large amount of land and opened a small drug store. He began to loan money to people in the community from his store, leading to the formation of the People’s Bank and Trust in 1906, which is still in business today. After his death in 1936, Rash I left his land and the bank to his four sons, one of them being Rash II.
Rash II attended the University of Oklahoma where he met his wife, Oolucha Faulkner, whose father was a rancher in Rogers Country and good friends with Will Rogers, serving as Cherokee District Chief under his father, Clem Rogers. After Rash II and Oolucha married, they returned to his father’s ranch in Ryan, where he took over the bank and ranch operations. In 1937, they built a family home on the land in the same year that they had their only son, Rash III. (Pictured Above)After his passing in 1952, Rash II left the family ranch to his son and three daughters. After graduating high school, Rash III left Ryan to attend college and work in the oilfield. Rash III returned to his roots in 1958, where he and his wife Levita took over the Barrett Ranch operations and moved back into family's original homestead, of which they still reside today. (Pictured Below) As a generous, well-known and highly-respected man in the community, Rash III continues to own and operate the family business to this day with the help of his fourth and fifth generations.
Rash III and his team of cowboys have earned many prestigious titles for their ranching efforts over the years. In 2013, the Rash Barrett Cattle Company along with the Pitchfork Ranch clinched the title of Range Round-Up Champion Team in the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association’s 29th Annual Range Round-Up Championship at the State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City. The OCA Range Round-Up features 12 teams of ‘real ranch’ cowboys representing 16 of Oklahoma’s most historic ranches competing in six events exhibiting day-to-day ranch work like Wild Cow Milking, Stray Gathering and Team Branding. From there, the team went on to represent the state of Oklahoma as they advanced to the World Finals. The team included Rash’s son-in-law, Todd Casebolt, who has spent some time in the pro rodeo circuit and has managed the Barrett Ranch for over ten years. (Pictured in Image 1) And not to mention, Rash's grandson, Raesh Casebolt, placed as one of the top three participants in the Junior Donkey Bronc Riding. We bet he learned how to ride from the best of the best! Ryan would not be what it is today without devoted residents like Rash III whose continual support and progressive endeavors in the community keep the lovely little world of Ryan going round.
Other notable residents in the community are Laura Thorn Jackson and Loretta Corley, two best friends that have worked tirelessly towards the restoration of downtown Ryan and the preservation of its historical treasures. Together, they painted stunning murals illustrating the heydays of Ryan on historic buildings like the former Chickasaw Nation Court House and Ryan Opera House. They also restored the old Ryan funeral home into a local museum called The Parlor, featuring a collection of historical documents including Chickasaw Nation court records and resident birth records like that of American martial artist and Walker, Texas Ranger star, Chuck Norris. Visitors to The Parlor can browse an array of themed vignettes showcasing the good ole’ days of Ryan and view other fascinating objects like ancient Native American artifacts and old western memorabilia. The museum also houses untouched equipment from the aged funeral parlor like the embalming table, preservative ointments and mortician tools. This is truly an eccentric venture back in time!
Small towns like Ryan may not have the hype of a metropolitan, but their relaxed, genuine and unpretentious characteristics give them the charm that big cities just cannot provide. If you truly immerse yourself in towns like Ryan, you will quickly find that the good-hearted souls, signature foods and solemn ways of life are really quite exhilarating. Come discover this humble country haven!
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