Location of Pink, Oklahoma
|• Total||26.0 sq mi (67.2 km2)|
|• Land||26.0 sq mi (67.2 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||1,119 ft (341 m)|
|• Density||44.9/sq mi (17.3/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||1100744|
Pink is a town in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, United States, and is part of the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area. The only town in the United States bearing this name, Pink lies within the boundaries of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. The 2010 census population was 2,058, a 76.7 percent increase from 1,165 at the 2000 census.
Pink is situated in the Cross Timbers, a belt of low, rolling hills that is covered by a mosaic of pastureland, rangeland, and woodland encompassing the least-disturbed forest in the U.S. Forty minutes from downtown Oklahoma City on Highway 9 between Tecumseh and Norman, Pink is in Frontier Country, the central region of Oklahoma that was once part of the wild-and-rowdy Great American Frontier. Although Oklahoma’s territorial frontier days have ended, the remarkable spirit of this thriving crossroads region embodies the feisty independence of bygone days.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Government
- 5 Economy
- 6 Education
- 7 Culture
- 8 Health
- 9 Transportation
- 10 References
From the information gathered during archaeological excavations along the Little River west and south of Pink, it appears that people lived in this area for many thousands of years including during the four-thousand year drought of the Altithermal which started around 8,500 years ago and turned most of Oklahoma into a vast desert. The Thunderbird Dam Site on Little River west of Pink appears to have been used from around 500 BC to 1000 AD. Hunters found the ridge above the river a good camping spot near water and plentiful game animals including deer and turkey.
The Oklahoma region became part of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The Indian Removal Act, signed into law by President Andrew Jackson in 1830, authorized the President to negotiate land exchange treaties with tribes located in lands of the United States. Relocation to Indian Territory began with the Five Civilized Tribes and soon expanded to other groups residing east of the Mississippi River. Originally driven west by the Iroqouis to the Lake Michigan area prior to 1640, the Potawatomi were driven out of their homes again during the Indian Removal. The Indiana Potawatomi were removed to Kansas and settled at St. Mary's Mission, becoming known as the Mission Potawatomi. Taking up United States citizenship, they became the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. In 1867, the Citizen Potawatomi sold their Kansas lands in order to purchase land in Indian Territory in what would become Pottawatomie County, including Pink.
The Potawatomi arrived in Indian Territory to find Shawnee occupying their land. The Shawnee had been living along the Canadian River in the Choctaw and Creek nations since about 1845, and being absent from their Kansas reservation, they became known as the Absentee Shawnee. In 1872, the United States Congress gave the Absentee Shawnee title to the lands they occupied in the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Two decades later, the Dawes Act of 1887 forced the Citizen Potawatomi, Absentee Shawnee, Sac & Fox, and Iowa to accept individual allotments in 1890, opening their unoccupied land to settlers in the Land Run of 1891, including land that would become the town of Pink.
One band of Absentee Shawnee led by Big Jim (Wapameepto), grandson of Tecumseh, opposed absorption into white society for fear of losing their cultural traditions. Fort Reno soldiers forced them from north of the North Canadian River to south of the river near Shawneetown in November 1886. Their old houses were burned and improvements destroyed, leaving them without shelter during that winter. Within three years they managed to build log houses and plant small fields and orchards amidst the White Turkeys, another band of Absentee Shawnees. By 1889 it was evident that their land was going to be broken up and sold.
Refusing to accept the notion of allotments, Big Jim's Band removed themselves to the most distant and worthless part of the Citizen Pottawatomie Nation. Big Jim thought that white men would not be interested in the sandy hills near the confluence of Hog Creek and Little River, and would consequently leave them alone. It was a futile attempt to escape allotments, and in 1890 Big Jim and his followers were forced by the Cherokee Commission to accept 80-acre allotments of mostly sandy hills and overflowed bottomland. The community, known as Big Jim Settlement (population 184 in 1901), later became Little Axe in eastern Cleveland County. The original center of the settlement was flooded upon completion of Lake Thunderbird in 1965.
Some of the easternmost Big Jim Band allotments were in what became the town of Pink. Most all of the original Pink allotments have been sold over the years, however a 340-acre contiguous tract still exists at the Pottawatomie/Cleveland county line on both sides of Highway 9. A stone foundation of one of the original homes is located north of Old Highway 37.
1891 Land Run
On September 22, 1891 at 12 o'clock noon, by proclamation of President Benjamin Harrison, the second Oklahoma land run began, opening 6,097 homesteads of 160 acres each in what would become Lincoln and Pottawatomie counties. The Citizen Potawatomi and Absentee Shawnee were paid by the US Government sixty-nine cents for each acre that would become the town of Pink. The claimant for each homestead was required to pay $1.50 per acre upon filing a claim in Guthrie or Oklahoma City, and required to reside on the land for at least five years. Information regarding the original claims can be found in 72 volumes of the Federal Land Tract Books at the Oklahoma Historical Society Research Center in Oklahoma City.
During the 1889 and 1891 Land Runs, Texans and other Southern Democrats took up land suitable for cotton production north of the Red River. These Southerners carried Democratic "yellow-dog" propensities into the territory as far north as the Oklahoma City-Pink-Tecumseh area.
Challenges to settlement
In 1936, John Fortson wrote about the difficulties faced by early settlers of Pottawatomie County:
Settlers in Pottawatomie County were confronted with problems from which the settlers of Oklahoma territory, opened in 1889, were free. Oklahoma territory was devoid of inhabitants at the opening, and particularly of an Indian population possessing livestock. Tribes in Pottawatomie County were already settled on farms, and to the east the Creeks and Seminoles possessed cattle and horses and some revenue from farming and leasing land to the whites.
Oklahoma territory settlers found trains and telegraph lines crossing the country, while the Pottawatomie area was un-traversed by either. Pottawatomie County was nearly always torn with internal dissension and always at cross purpose with territorial authorities. Top these statements with the fact that this county bordered Indian territory on two sides, and you have the reason why the county became a rendezvous immediately after the opening for many outlaws operating at the time, and produced such law violators as Black Jack Christian and his brother Bob of the High Five Gang, George Weightman (alias Red Buck) of the Doolin-Dalton Gang, and George “Hookie” Miller, who after years of crime became a US Deputy Marshal.
This scarlet chapter is due principally to the “line” saloon towns that sprang up along the territorial boundary, to the outlaws operating in both territories that found these places convenient hangouts, and to the cattle and horse stealing done by these outlaws. Early day criminal dockets are long lists of trials for horse stealing. Until the Anti-Horse Thief association began functioning effectively at the turn of the century, farmers found it difficult to keep enough livestock to farm.
Two definite trails were used by the outlaws to move their stolen horses out of the county, relates John Hatfield, veteran peace officer. Both entered the county almost due west of Tecumseh [most likely through present-day Pink]. One branched off to the north, passing through the vicinity of old Shawneetown and leaving the county near Keokuk Falls. The other branched south, leaving the county at a point between Maud and old Violet Springs.'On these trails,' Hatfield says, 'stations were established every 25 miles or so. A man would pick up a horse, say, at Violet Springs. He would ride that night to the station located west of Tecumseh, then return to Violet Springs with another horse before his neighbors could become suspicious. The stolen horse would be taken on west by other riders, who in turn would ride back with horses stolen in the west. Thus through this convenient "shipping" method, the thieves were able to market their wares at spots far distant from the scene of the theft.'
In April 1900, the Tecumseh Republican encouraged the formation of an Anti Horse Thief Association to combat the perpetual problem that plagued area farmers. A scheme was proposed whereby each member would pay a levy if another member's horse was stolen, thereby reducing the financial impact to the unfortunate member.
The town name of Pink was probably chosen because it is complementary to Brown (now part of Pink), which was located a few miles east in the same township and range. This an example of the "twin name fad" in Pottawatomie County, like the towns of Romulus and Remus. There is local anecdotal evidence to suggest that the town was named after a man named Pink, however a survey of the 1900 Census provides no evidence in support of this theory.
The town of Pink emerged sometime after the land run and before January 24, 1894 when the United States Post Office Department designated the Pink post office to be operated by Joseph Fahnestock. For some reason Fahnestock declined his appointment as postmaster, however the next month Thomas M. McKittrick accepted the postmaster job. McKittrick's wife Laura died one year later in February 1895, leaving her husband and seven children. The post office was moved to Michael Sheyers' place on Section 16, where Laura was buried, and Sheyers was appointed postmaster. McKittrick reportedly planned to move his family to Missouri soon thereafter. The post office was discontinued in January 1897, reestablished in 1901, just to be discontinued permanently in February 1906. The Tecumseh post office now serves the town.
A cemetery was established at the corner of present-day Fishmarket Rd and Willow View Rd. The stones were dozed away to make way for land development, with the graves likely not relocated. A number of early Pink residents have been buried in either the Black Cemetery, earliest burial in 1893, or Brown Cemetery, earliest burial in 1892. As evidenced by the headstones, there was an increasing number of births beginning in 1891, coinciding with the Land Run.
The 1891 Oklahoma and Indian Territories map portrays Shawneetown (Shawnee) as the only settlement north of Little River in the future Pottawatomie County. Pink appears later on Cram's 1898 Oklahoma and Indian Territory Map. Topographic mapping of Pink and Pottawatomie County began sometime after 1903. Pink School was built sometime prior to 1910 and is depicted on the 1910 McComb Quadrangle at the northwest corner of Section 28, Brinton Township (now corner of Okay Rd and Willow View Rd).
Unlike some other places in Oklahoma and Indian Territories, there were no railroads established in the county until after the 1891 Land Run. As late as 1906 the focus in mapmaking was still on depicting railroads, by which time several lines had been built in the county. None would ever come closer to Pink than about 10 miles, which guaranteed lesser importance for the town in an age dominated by railroads.
Although there was no railroad, an east-west road sprang up very early in Pink over which cotton was transported from the eastern part of the county to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in Norman until the Choctaw Railroad was opened for business in Shawnee in February 1896. This east-west road is depicted on the Oklahoma 1916 Highway Map, the oldest existing such highway map for the state. The road was in reality little more than a dirt trail that became one of the first numbered roads in the state. What began as Highway 37 (1927) became Highway 41 (1932), renumbered to Highway 9 (1938) and finally paved in 1941. Erosion and the difficulty of creek crossings forced abandonment of the original location of the road between 1927 and 1932. The permanent scar of the old highway can still be seen sporadically through wooded land due west of the intersection of Fishmarket Rd and the existing Highway 9.
By 1928 the town center was located just east of what is now Fishmarket Road on Highway 9. In the early years of Pink, Walter Reuben Stapp, a blacksmith by trade, operated a gristmill located on the west side of present-day Fishmarket Rd 1/2 mile south of Highway 9. O. A. Miller ran a general store, traveling frequently to Tecumseh and Shawnee looking after personal business matters as well as School District 114 business. The store was later owned by J.R. McLaughlin, then A.C. Stapp and J.M. Stumpp. As late as 1936, the Tecumseh Cotton Oil Company maintained a location on Miller's property at the southeast corner of present-day Highway 9 and Fishmarket Rd.
Agriculture played a big role in the establishment of the town. First planted in the Choctaw Nation in 1825, by 1907 nearly 25% of Oklahoma's cultivated acreage was planted in cotton. Hundreds of cotton gins processed the lint into five-hundred-pound bales and separated the seed from the fiber. Compressing plants pressed and stored bales, textile plants processed the fiber, and cottonseed oil mills crushed seeds, using the residue oil for food products, the linters to make paper, the hulls to mix with livestock feeds, and the cake and meal to feed animals.
Cottonseed oil production increased dramatically in the early 20th century with the introduction of Wesson cooking oil in 1899 and Procter & Gamble's Crisco in 1911, both utilizing the oil. Cottonseed produced by Pink farmers found its way into the marketplace after being processed at one of the several dozen cottonseed oil mills in Oklahoma.
In 1917 a radical tenant farmers' organization called the "Working Class Union (WCU)" claimed membership of 35,000 in the state of Oklahoma. Seventy-five percent of 24 year-old Oklahoma farmers rented the land they worked, and many found their economic prospects hopeless. With no interest in fighting a "rich man's war" in Europe, they found themselves at odds with the recently imposed draft.
The WCU was more of a secret society, complete with night riding and physical violence against its opponents. Although it is unknown how many Pink farmers were members of this organization, it is likely that at least some sympathized with the 50 active members centered around neighboring Brown. This local group held meetings in dugouts, abandoned farmhouses, in the woods and other convenient places. A neighbor, D.O. Barton, who later became a Pottawatomie County deputy, reported them to the federal government, the local revolt was quashed, and five men were convicted of conspiracy.
Some young Pink residents may have been members of the Jones Family, a group active in the Socialist movement during World War I. A few of the group's youth were thought to be participants in the Green Corn Rebellion. This group met three miles southwest of Pink at the Mardock Mission (also known as Big Jim's Mission), built in 1898 by the Maine Branch of the Women's National Indian Association. The Mission was originally built to serve as a school, religious building, and agricultural experiment station for Big Jim's Absentee Shawnee, however it also attracted a number of white settlers as they migrated into the area. By 1907, the now non-existent town of Mardock had a post office, two stores and a cotton gin.
In a rush to get land into production, many early farmers cut down pecan trees without realizing the value of the nuts. It wasn't until about 1920 that the value of a pecan crop was recognized, and by 1935 it was the second largest cash crop in the county, behind alfalfa.
Soils around Pink are highly erodible when disturbed. Intensive farming of the land diminished growing capacity and increased soil erosion. Like so many places in Oklahoma, agriculture declined by the 1930s. Some prime cropland still exists, primarily near streams and on bottomland. Livestock farming and residential are now the main land uses.
Erosion and soil exhaustion drove a number of residents to the southeastern part of the county in search of better land, more rain, and work in oil production. By 1936 the western half of the county, including Pink, averaged 20 inhabitants per square mile, less than in 1908.
A few oilfieds were developed around Pink in the early 20th century, with production declining as the years passed. The area was reconsidered for petroleum extraction beginning after 2000, with some new wells entered into production using hydraulic fracturing.
Pink is located in the Cross Timbers, a small and unique ecoregion that stretches from Kansas to Texas. Millions of 200-400 year-old trees have survived in areas unsuitable for farming. The Cross Timbers is one of the least disturbed natural places on Earth, with some of the ancient post oak forest appearing just as it did 6,000 years ago.
Washington Irving, the famous American author best known for "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", visited Indian Territory in the autumn of 1832. Irving's journey began and ended in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. He probably passed somewhere south of Pink on or about November 1, 1832 on the return trip to Fort Gibson. His travels were chronicled in A Tour of the Prairies in which he described the Cross Timbers:
The Cross Timber is about forty miles in breadth, and stretches over a rough country of rolling hills, covered with scattered tracts of post-oak and black-jack; with some intervening valleys, which, at proper seasons, would afford good pasturage. It is very much cut up by deep ravines, which, in the rainy seasons, are the beds of temporary streams, tributary to the main rivers, and these are called 'branches.' The whole tract may present a pleasant aspect in the fresh time of the year, when the ground is covered with herbage; when the trees are in their green leaf, and the glens are enlivened by running streams. Unfortunately, we entered it too late in the season The herbage was parched; the foliage of the scrubby forests was withered; the whole woodland prospect, as far as the eye could reach, had a brown and arid hue. The fires made on the prairies by the Indian hunters, had frequently penetrated these forests, sweeping in light transient flames along the dry grass, scorching and calcining the lower twigs and branches of the trees, and leaving them black and hard, so as to tear the flesh of man and horse that had to scramble through them. I shall not easily forget the mortal toil, and the vexations of flesh and spirit, that we underwent occasionally, in our wanderings through the Cross Timber. It was like struggling through forests of cast iron.
The hills, cuestas, and ridges of Pink and the surrounding Northern Cross Timbers are naturally covered by a mosaic of oak, savanna, scrubby oak forest, eastern redcedar, and tall grass prairie. Native on porous, coarse-textured soils derived from sandstone are post oak, blackjack oak, and understory grasses. Tallgrass prairie naturally occurs on fine-textured soils derived from limestone or shale. Fire supression has increased forest density and allowed eastern redcedar to invade the landscape.
The Cross Timbers have substantial paleoclimatic value. The post oak trees have recorded regional and large-scale weather and climatic extremes spanning the past 350 years, some with profound ecological and human consequences. A network of precipitation-sensitive post oak chronologies has been developed from living trees and historic building timbers. These proxies provide an accurate history of past moisture anomalies, including "the monsoon" of 1813-1850, followed by a prolonged drought and environmental crisis in the 1850s worse than the 1930s Dust Bowl.
Pink has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cfa), with frequent variations in weather daily and seasonally, except during the consistently hot and sometimes humid summer months. The area is subject to prolonged and severe droughts, sometimes resulting in wildfires. Conversely, occasional very heavy rainfall occurs with flash flood potential. Consistent winds, usually from the south or southwest during the summer, help temper the hotter weather. Consistent northerly winds during the winter can intensify cold periods. Severe ice storms and snowstorms happen sporadically during the winter. The average temperature is about 61 °F (16.1 °C). Temperatures range from an average daytime high of 94 °F (34.4°C) to an average low of 26 °F (-3.3°C) in January. Growing season is about 212 days.
Pink receives about 39 inches (99 cm) of precipitation annually with an average of 1 inch (2.54 cm) of snow. One in five years receive 10 or more inches (25.4 cm) of snow. Thunderstorms occur on about 49 days each year, predominantly in the spring and summer. Pink has a very active severe weather season from March through June, especially during April and May. Located in the Texas/Oklahoma/Kansas core of Tornado Alley, the area is prone to especially frequent and severe tornadoes as well as very severe hailstorms and occasional derechoes.
An F1 tornado damaged the Pink Baptist Church during the 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak on May 3. Three tornadoes touched down on May 10, 2010 – an EF2, and EF3 and an EF4. Homes were destroyed, wide swaths of trees were flattened and hail damage was widespread.
As of the census of 2010, there were 2,058 people, 732 households, and 567 families residing in the town. The population density was 44.9 people per square mile (17.3/km²). There were 819 housing units at an average density of 18.0 per square mile (6.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 84.5% White, 0.3% African American, 8.6% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0% Pacific Islander, 0.5% from other races, and 5.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4% of the population.
There were 732 households out of which 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.6% were married couples living together, 9.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.5% were non-families. 18.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.17.
In the town the population was spread out with 27.3% under the age of 18, 7.9% from 18 to 24, 22.8% from 25 to 44, 30.7% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.4 years. For every 100 females there were 103.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 to 64, there were 101.6 males.
The 2012 median income for a household in the town was $46,588, with median monthly housing costs of $671. The median income for a family was $37,857. Males had a median income of $35,263 versus $26,719 for females. The per capita income for the town was $19,199. About 11.2% of families and 15.7% of the population were below the poverty line (up from 11% in 2000), including 21.3% of those under age 18 and 14% of those age 65 or over.
Oklahoma City expanded into Pottawatomie County in 1962 during an aggressive expansion that covered portions of five counties. The annexation frenzy lasted for 34 years beginning in 1955. Norman expanded eastward to within a few miles of Pink to protect itself from Oklahoma City annexation, further threatening the autonomy and rural status of Pink. In response, Pink was incorporated in the late 1960s, effectively blocking further expansion of Oklahoma City and Norman into western Pottawatomie County.
In 1977 a town hall and fire station were built south of Highway 9 at Fishmarket Rd and Sandy Rock Rd. A Senior Citizens Center was added in later years. A minimum lot size of two acres, with most being more than 10 acres, maintains a rural lifestyle. A number of larger tracts of 80 or more acres still remain.
The town is governed by a mayor and representatives from each of five wards. The town has grown periodically through small annexations.
There is no central business district in Pink. Traditional retail is non-existent. Country Boy Market, Sonic Drive-In, Dollar General, fuel, car wash, and a bar are located 3 miles west of town in Little Axe.
Most of Pink is served by Tecumseh Public Schools, providing K-12 education through an early learning center, two elementary schools, a middle school and a high school. Students are afforded a large variety of classes and programs to provide a well rounded education in academics, fine arts and athletics. The area north of New Hope Rd is served by Bethel Public Schools with two elementary, one middle school and one high school, boasting a success rate as one of the finest scholastic and extra-curricular public school institutions in Oklahoma.
On June 12, 1949, Brendle Baptist Mission's twenty-three members met and formed Pink Baptist Church on Highway 9 . Brother Clovis Hibbard was the church's first pastor, and work on the first building began in August 1949. The sanctuary, nursery, gymnasium and several classrooms were damaged in the 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak. Church services were held in the gym until the new sanctuary was dedicated on June 23, 2002.
Pink Holiness Church is located about one mile east of Pink Baptist Church.
Camp Sooner, owned and operated by the Independent Christian Churches of Oklahoma and Texas, offers a retreat center, dining hall, cabins, swimming pool and activities in a Christian setting.
Health care is available in Tecumseh, Shawnee and Norman. The nearby Little Axe Health Center operated by the Absentee Shawnee Tribal Health System currently serves only Native Americans, Soonercare members and insured AST employees.
There is no public transportation. Residents must rely on automobiles due to the rural location. Passenger rail service is available on the Heartland Flyer from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas at the Norman Amtrak station. The nearest commercial airport is Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City.
A widening of Highway 9 to four lanes through Pink is scheduled to begin with right-of-way purchases and utility relocation in 2018.
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