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The first settlers of White Rock made the mad dash to grab land during the Cherokee Land Run of 1893.

"They lined up on the Kansas border and came down after a gunshot. You know what that was. You've seen the movie," said Andrea McCluskey, an 84-year-old retired school teacher who was born in the area.

When the Rock Island Railroad built a spur line to Billings, Okla., in 1899, those settlers moved again.

"That town literally picked up and moved over here when that spur was built," said Betty Hayton, the vice president of the Billings Community Chamber of Commerce.

Billings sits near the Kansas line, about 75 miles north of Oklahoma City in a flat, fertile area known for hard red winter wheat and cattle. An oil strike south of town in 1915 created an oil boom for a time, but all the towns in Noble County have gotten smaller, except for Perry, the county seat, Hayton said.

In mid-September, the town celebrates a Wheat Country Festival.

"There's always a pie and cake auction that gets real fanatic," Hayton said.

Jars of homemade plum jelly, made with wild sand plums, get snatched up early. During the festival, the historical society gives tours of a museum and library dedicated to Henry Bellmon, the first Republican governor of the state. Bellmon, a hometown boy, went on to serve two terms in the U.S. Senate, then win re-election as governor.

The Bellmon museum and the Dr. Renfrow-Miller Museum, a red sandstone-block home dubbed the "Castle on the Prairie," are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Unlike many small towns, where grocery stores have morphed into convenience stores, the Billings grocery still carries fresh meats. The block-long downtown includes a bar and a bank, other shops and a funeral home. There's a swimming pool and newly renovated community building.

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"We don't have any stop lights, but we do have a sign or two where people stop," Hayton said.

A powdered-metals manufacturing plant at Billings and a nursing home for mentally handicapped adults make the town "more of a drive-in-to-work community" than a bedroom community for a larger town, Hayton said.

In 2007, Billings hired a police chief after nine years without one. He didn't last long, McCluskey said. The police chief worked a day shift and gave out too many speeding tickets. He was replaced by two night watchmen who call the sheriff if they have anything bad to report.

"Not a lot goes on, thank you, Lord," McCluskey said.

Windows have been broken downtown and the occasional street light shot out with a BB gun. Outside town, thieves have stolen copper and scrap metal from farms.

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