Marty Askins

Marty Askins shows how Duncan’s original layout is following the railroad tracks not true north and south. As the city grew, added streets were aligned to the cardinal directions.

Workers walk with determination, often with folders, printouts and more thicker than an unabridged version of the Bible, the smell of old books and papers lingers in the air and warnings about food and drinks common on doors.

This is just a small glimpse into the hall of the Stephens County Abstract Co.

The company was started in 1906 by H.A. Furst long before statehood according to Marty Askins, co-owner, who’s family has had it since 1950.

“From 1906, until Duncan was established as the county seat of Stephens County, Mr. Furst or his son-in-law, Jim Bullard, traveled to Ryan every day to copy by hand any document that pertained to the purchase or sale of acreage in what later became Stephens County,” he said.

And that continues to this day, well not by hand, but the gathering of information for the titular abstract.

“An abstract is the history of a piece of property from statehood, or a little bit before in some cases, to present. We mostly work with people who buy and sell land, mostly homes for the leaning company to be able to make the loan on the property,” Askins said.

The records cover things like chain of sale, what buildings are on the land, what had been added, what has been removed, even down to some incidents like fires to mineral rights.

Marty runs the business with his sisters, Jari and Carrie, and the three inherited it from their parents.

Ollie M. Askins Sr. purchased the company while it was at 921 Main Street, and shortly thereafter married Jarita P. Bicknell, and the couple had three children, Jari, Carrie and Ollie “Marty” Jr.

Ollie moved the building once, and then when the new courthouse was being planned, he started purchasing land to be near it. The company sits on one of those properties today.

Askins said his father worked in office until his 90th birthday and passed away June 19, 2005. Jarita worked with her husband and she passed March 22, 2009.

For the last several years Marty said he had been working on his father’s dream — a new building.

In 2016 a plan was put in motion designing, planning and figuring out where people would work once the building at 114 S. 11th was demolished so they could continue their work.

The ground breaking was Feb. 16, 2018 Askins said.

“It’s been a long time, we opened up Dec. 17 (2018) but not everything was finished yet, we didn’t have signs up, we didn’t have the landscaping in yet,” he said. “Then we started having storms with the high winds and started seeing leaks, so we had to get them fixed. We wanted everything to be right.”

Now, they are ready to invite the public to come see the building and they also thank the customers for their understanding. Askins said there is a come and go reception set from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 22.

He had not received conformation on a ribbon cutting at that time. He was also contemplating on if they will dedicate the building to Ollie and Jarita.

“I think the building itself is the biggest compliment I can do for my dad,” he said. “They’re looking down — they saw every bit of it, when …we were standing out there with the shovels, I’m sure they’re happy.”

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