Descendents of Allen Threatt, Sr., filled Luther Town Hall Thursday for a reception to celebrate the family patriarch’s recent induction into the Oklahoma Route 66 Hall of Fame. The reception was held prior to a meeting of the Luther Town Board of Trustees.
Threatt died more than 70 years ago and his legacy has endured as the founder of the Threatt Filling Station, which was an important and thriving business on Route 66 at the edge of town at County Line (Pottawatomie) Road. Mr. Threatt, his wife, and many family members are buried at the Tillman Cemetery, just down the road. He came to Luther, Oklahoma, from Shelby, Alabama, with his wife Alberta, and their growing family, sometime around 1915.
The Threatt family homesteaded the quarter-section of property he acquired – farming, quarrying the native sandstone, and selling produce to the travelers on what was Old Highway 7 on the edge of the property. An entrepreneur, Allen Theatt used some of the sandstone to build a filling station to serve those travelers on the route from Tulsa to Oklahoma City. Little did he know, that road would become part of the federal highway system, Route 66, connecting Chicago to Los Angeles.
A Safe Haven in Luther
The centerpiece of the Threatt Family Farm was the filling station right on Route 66.
“It did what a service station did – offered fuel, fixed flats. But it was so much more than that because Allen Threatt was so much more than that. It became a safe haven for Black travelers in an area dotted with sundown towns,” said Rhy Martin, president, Oklahoma Route 66 Association.
Most agree the station was the first and one of the only Black-owned filling stations on the original 2,448 miles of Route 66, at least on Oklahoma’s 375 miles of it.
Martin said the station became an official Red Cross First Aid Station in the 1930s, with the first all Black staff, and was also a Greyhound bus stop. The family farm also offered shelter to those fleeing after the 1921 Race Massacre in Tulsa’s Greenwood District, he said.
The Threatt Filling Station expanded over time to include a cafe, store, bar, campground, and even a roadside attraction rattlesnake pit, as Allen Threatt was willing to try something new to help support his family. Allen Threatt’s grandchildren, who are all grandparents themselves now, recall those good times, including the “Negro” Baseball League tournaments on the weekends, and when Actress and Singer Pearl Bailey would stop in on cross-country tours. It is unknown whether she ever sang on the weekend dance stage or entertained at the Brown Bomber (County Line) Bar, which was built next to the station.
The Luther Town Board passed a Resolution at the meeting, acknowledging Allen Threatt’s induction into the Oklahoma Route 66 Hall of Fame.
Ut Procim, “that I may serve.”
Luther Mayor Terry Arps said when thinking about the presentation, the motto, Ut Procim, came to mind. It’s a Latin phrase meaning “that I may serve.”
“Allen Threatt may not have known what that meant in Latin, but he knew what it meant. He served his God, he served his family, he served his community and he served his nation in a manner that gave credit to all of them. I just am happy and honored to propose this resolution.”Resolution-THREATT-8.5×11
Arps said he hopes momentum in the way of interest, volunteers, and funding will grow to help restore the Threatt Station, as well as Luther’s Booker T. Washington Park, and the Tillman Cemetery.
The Legacy Continues
The station closed several decades ago, but the building stands and is under renovation to re-open as a type of museum or visitor center, hopefully before the 2026 Route 66 Centennial. In 2021, The Threatt Station was named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation list of America’s 11-Most Endangered Historic Places.
Soaring costs are outpacing donations, however, the family is relentless in seeking funding to continue the renovation and offer the property as a visitor center or museum. Donations can be made to the family’s nonprofit organization, The Threatt Filling Station Foundation.