By: Autumn Bracey
These days, businesses line the streets near 51st and Mingo. Some of them have been there for decades.
But if you go back in time, the area was home to the community of Alsuma.
“There was once a vibrant town that existed,” said Shirley Ballard Nero with the Oklahoma Historical Society.
The town is a distant memory for many, but there are still traces around, like the soccer complex named for the community.
Lloyd McMann grew up just east of the park between 1947 and 1966.
“If you lived in Alsuma, you loved Alsuma,” McMann said. “It’s kind of hard to tell an outsider all about Alsuma unless they were in here to live the culture.”
McMann remembers a tight-knit community filled with dozens of families and good neighbors.
“It’s a big change from when I was raised out here. People had their own houses, they had gardens, they had ways of living,” McMann recalled.
James Goodwin also grew up in Alsuma.
“Alsuma to me was a village,” Goodwin said. “A village of people. And so people from the village would come up and they would fish or we would play football on the front lawn.”
Goodwin is grateful for his time growing up on a farm in the town.
“For a young person, it was a good place for me to grow up. I was removed from any kind of devilment I could have gotten into the city I suspect,” Goodwin said.
With the community in decline, the growth of Tulsa and Broken Arrow consumed Alsuma. The town was annexed by Tulsa in 1966.
Nero said it became challenging for residents to get services once the area was zoned as an industrial area.
Tom Sewell owns Tulsa Gas Technologies. The property where his business sits was once part of Alsuma. He bought the land in 1999.
“We bought the property; it didn’t have any running water. It had an outhouse. They had inside spigot, like a weather proof spigot and that’s all they had for running water,” said Sewell.
Sewell does not think the area was neglected, just forgotten. He said that while the town is now gone, the area still serves the community.
“Some of our high values, some of this equipment here in the back, these are 50, 60 thousand dollar pieces of equipment and you start driving that sales tax back into Tulsa and it’s a good deal,” he said.
Those who grew up there said what’s been erased by history is still remembered.
“Alsuma had the Black, White community and they didn’t have the arguments, the fighting, carrying on. We all enjoyed each other, shopped at the same stores, and played in the same playgrounds,” said McMann. “That’s the way it was back then.”