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History Of Woodward
by Mrs. Mildred J. Hepner
Published in "The Key Finder"
Vol. III No. 1 (January 1982) - Vol. III No. 2 (April 1982)

      Woodward County was formed in 1893 from the Cherokee Outlet. It was orginally "N" County. On 6 Nov 1894 the new citizens voted to change the name to Woodward and to establish the town of Woodward as the county seat, named from a station on the Santa Fe railway, and it in turn, for a director of the Railway Company, B. W. Woodward.

     On Statehood Day - 16 Nov 1907 - Woodward County was partioned into present day Woodward, Harper, western part of Woods, and the northern part of Ellis Counties.

     Fort Supply was the first landmark in Woodward County, built on lands granted by treaty to the Cherokee Indians. One of the cattle Trails "The Great Western Trail" crossed Woodward County.

     The total land area of Woodward County is 1,252 square miles. In 1900, the population of Woodward County was 7,469, (6.0 persons per square mile) personal property valued at $1,546,863 and real estate valued at $1,463,539. By 1907, the population had almost doubled to 14,595 (11.8 persons per square mile). In 1980 the population had grown to 21,172 (16.9 persons per square mile), with 13,610 living in the town of Woodward.

Brothers Gave Family Name To Woodward

The city of Woodward was never really "founded," it was just designated. And today there is doubt how it was named. This seems to be the most authentic:

Following the close of the Civil war a family of several Woodward brothers, who had served in the Confederate army, came into western Kansas. Hugh Woodward became a freighter through this area, hauling to Fort Supply and cow camps. This was good buffalo hunting territory and on one occassion in the '80s Woodward and a companion were in this immediate vicinity on a hunt. A blizzard came up. Woodward, disgusted, posted a sign which read, "5 miles to Hell: 25 miles to Heaven." and signed it. The community was named.

Rail Stopping Point
Woodward was a railway stopping point, with a warehouse for old Fort Supply, 14 miles distant, when the Cherokee Strip opened to homestead steetlemtn in 1983. When Hoke Smith, then secretary of the interior in Grover Cleveland's cabinet, outlined the counties in the strip and named the county seat sites, he designated Woodward. It its first days it had all the color of a frontier—pioneer settlement, a shack courthouse, some stores, saloons, a genuine cowboy center.

Woodward is still boastful of being the last portion of the old frontier, the center of the "short grass" country, the hub town of the beef bowl, the town with the moste extensive trade and the dirtribution are in the state.

Distribution Center
The growth of Woodward resulted from that fact. Its very isolation makes it a natural distribution center. It is built almost entirely on agriculture and livestock and its industries are akin to those. It it is really desired to make a friend of Woodward just refer toit as the "New York City of westerh Oklahoma." The town folks like that.

Woodardites still point to the time when it had it's gold rush. Seven miles west of town are numerous caliche hills. During the late '90s there was something that looked like gold and the rush was on. On all parts of the main hill, in some instances extending into the flatter areas, claims were staked out. Specimens were sent daily to geologists and assayers. Gold wasn't found

Temple Houston Oppened Office

Temple Houston, son of General Sam, came to Woodward from Texas when the Strip was opened and established himself as an attorney. Another was Jack Love, who in 1907 was elected one of the first trio of corporation commissioners for the new state of Oklahoma. A nearby resident, too, homesteading farther south, was Carr Nation, who used her hatchet first in demolishing a Woodward bar.

Then, there was Billy Bolton, who launched at Woodward "The Livestock Bulletin," the first of its kind in the southwest, and Dave Marum, attorney-newspaper man, who prided himself on looking like General Grant.

Newspaper article reproduced in The Key Finder, Vol. 18 No. 1, Winter 1997. The article is dated April 16, 1946 and was written by Corb Sarchet for the Oklahoma City Times.

Oklahoma Independent History and Genealogy
Oklahoma Independent History and Genealogy



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