Latimer County, Oklahoma

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Latimer County, Oklahoma
Map of Oklahoma highlighting Latimer County
Location in the state of Oklahoma
Map of the United States highlighting Oklahoma
Oklahoma's location in the U.S.
Founded 1907
Named for James L. Latimer
Seat Wilburton
Largest city Wilburton
Area
 • Total 729 sq mi (1,888 km2)
 • Land 722 sq mi (1,870 km2)
 • Water 7 sq mi (18 km2), 0.95%
Population (Est.)
 • (2013) 10,775
 • Density 15/sq mi (5.8/km²)
Congressional district 2nd
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Latimer County is a county located in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Its county seat is Wilburton[1]. As of the 2010 census, the population was 11,154.[2] This was a 4.3 percent increase from 10,692 at the 2000 census.[3] The county was created at statehood in 1907 and named for James L. Latimer, a delegate from Wilburton to the 1906 Constitutional Convention. Prior to statehood, it had been part of Gaines County, Choctaw Nation.[4]

History[edit]

The area now known as Latimer County became a part of Gaines County in the Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory in 1831. The county seat was Gaines Courthouse, near present-day Panola. In 1858, the Butterfield Overland Mail established a route through the territory that included stage stops at Edwards's Station (near present Hughes), Holloway's Station (near Red Oak), Riddle's Station (near Lutie) and Pusley's Station near Higgins.[4]

The beginning of large-scale coal mining stimulated the building of railroads into the area. In 1889-90 the Choctaw Coal and Railway Company (later Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad and still later a part of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific line) built 67.4 miles of track from Wister to McAlester, Oklahoma|McAlester]]. The Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway (Katy) completed a branch line from North McAlester to Wilburton in 1904.[4] However, the coal industry collapsed because of labor unrest, competition from oil and gas and the Great Depression. By 1932, only one mine in the county still operated. Mining towns had lost almost half of their population. At one point, 93.5 percent of the county population was on government relief. Federal construction projects provided many jobs to help the unemployed. Projects completed included Wilburton Municipal Airport, schools at Panola and other communities, and road-paving projects. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) developed a park project at the state game preserve, now part of Robbers Cave State Park.[4]

In 1933, Spanish–American War veterans established Veterans Colony. This facility allowed former soldiers to build cabins, live there year-round, grow their own food, and socialize. In later years membership was opened to veterans of all wars. Veterans Colony still operated at beginning of twenty-first century.[4]

Geography[edit]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 729 square miles (1,888.1 km2), of which 722 square miles (1,870.0 km2) is land and 7 square miles (18.1 km2) (0.95%) is water.[5]

The Sans Bois Mountains span the northern border of the county, while the Winding Stair Mountains extend into its southern part. The Fourche Maline, Brazil and Sans Bois creeks drain the northern part of the county into the Poteau River, a tributary of the Arkansas River. Buffalo and Gaines Creeks drain the southern part into the Kiamichi River, a tributary of the Red River.[4]

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]

Education[edit]

In 1909 state government created the Oklahoma School of Mines and Metallurgy at Wilburton, placed centrally within the southeastern Oklahoma mining district. In 2000, as Eastern Oklahoma State College, the school was a two-year, liberal-arts institution.[4]

Economy[edit]

After the collapse of the coal mining industry, the county economy slowly recovered, based mainly on raising cattle, lumbering, and production of oil and gas.

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 11,321
1920 13,866 22.5%
1930 11,184 −19.3%
1940 12,380 10.7%
1950 9,690 −21.7%
1960 7,738 −20.1%
1970 8,601 11.2%
1980 9,840 14.4%
1990 10,333 5.0%
2000 10,692 3.5%
2010 11,154 4.3%
Est. 2013 10,775 −3.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
2013 Estimate[2]

As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 10,692 people, 3,951 households, and 2,868 families residing in the county. The population density was 15 people per square mile (6/km²). There were 4,709 housing units at an average density of 6 per square mile (3/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 73.01% White, 0.96% Black or African American, 19.42% Native American, 0.18% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.51% from other races, and 5.91% from two or more races. 1.53% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 20.7% were of American, 9.5% Irish, 8.1% German and 5.0% English ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 3,951 households out of which 32.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.90% were married couples living together, 11.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.40% were non-families. 24.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the county, the population was spread out with 25.70% under the age of 18, 11.40% from 18 to 24, 24.20% from 25 to 44, 22.50% from 45 to 64, and 16.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 97.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $23,962, and the median income for a family was $29,661. Males had a median income of $27,449 versus $19,577 for females. The per capita income for the county was $12,842. About 19.00% of families and 22.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.70% of those under age 18 and 16.40% of those age 65 or over.

Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of January 15, 2012[8]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
  Democratic 5,298 81.68%
  Republican 814 12.55%
  Unaffiliated 374 5.77%
Total 6,486 100%

Politics[edit]

Presidential election results[9]
Year Republican Democrat
2008 68.54% 2,860 31.46% 1,313
2004 56.58% 2,535 43.42% 1,945
2000 47.40% 1,739 50.83% 1,865

Economy[edit]

Coal mining was the basis of the county economy even before statehood, with mines operating by 1895. By 1912, The county 27 mines and about three thousand miners producing 3,000 tons per day. However, the industry collapsed during the 1920s due to labor disputes, competition from petroleum-based fuels and the onset of the Great Depression. Only one mine was still operating in 1933.[4]

Agriculture was primarily limited to vegetables sold in the mining towns. Cotton, corn and cattle were the primary cash crops sold outside the area. After the coal industry collapsed, the main industries were cattle raising, lumbering and production of oil and gas.[4]

Communities[edit]

Cities and towns[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

NRHP sites[edit]

The following sites in Latimer County are listed on the National Register of Historic Places:

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 9, 2013. 
  3. ^ [ CensusViewer:Population of Latimer County, Oklahoma.] Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Everett, Dianna. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. "Latimer County." Retrieved August 27, 2012.[1]
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved April 27, 2014. 
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  8. ^ http://www.ok.gov/elections/documents/reg_0112.pdf
  9. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved 2011-06-11. 

Coordinates: 34°52′N 95°14′W / 34.87°N 95.24°W / 34.87; -95.24