Stanley Tubbs Memorial Library
|Motto: "Built on Pride, Dedicated to Excellence"|
|• Mayor||Julie Ferguson|
|• Total||33.4 sq mi (87 km2)|
|• Land||32.9 sq mi (85 km2)|
|• Water||0.5 sq mi (1 km2)|
|• Density||270/sq mi (100/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CST (UTC-5)|
Sallisaw is a city and county seat of Sequoyah County. Its name was derived from the French word salaison meaning "salt meat" or "salt provisions". The population was 8,880 at the 2010 Census, an 11.2 percent increase from 7,891 at the 2000 census. Sallisaw is part of the Fort Smith, Arkansas–Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area.
In the 1840s and 1850s Sallisaw had been the name of a steamboat landing on the Arkansas River, between Fort Smith and Fort Gibson. Modern Sallisaw's beginning as a permanent community began in 1887–1888, when Argyle Quesenbury, a white man, and Will Watie Wheeler, a relative of noted Cherokee leader Stand Watie, laid out lots for a town. Several post offices had existed in the area nearby, even before there was a named community. There was a post office called Childer's Station from 1873 to 1888 when its name was changed to Sallisaw. Another community fifteen miles north bore the name Sallisaw for a period until 1888 when the name of the post office there was changed to Mays, remaining so until it closed in 1896.
Will Watie Wheeler established several businesses in the town during the 1880s and 1890s. These included a cotton gin, saw mill, grist mill and lumberyard. In 1896, he opened the Coffin Shop, which later became the Wheeler Funeral Home. The latter was still doing business in Sallisaw in the twenty-first century.
The Kansas and Arkansas Valley Railway (later the Missouri Pacific Railroad) built an east-west line from Van Buren, Arkansas to Sallisaw in 1888-90. The Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad built a north-south line through Sallisaw in 1895–96. The two intersected in Sallisaw.
The local newspaper, Sequoyah County Times, began publication in 1932. It was founded by Wheeler Mayo, son of an earlier Sallisaw businessman, and his wife. This paper was still owned by the Mayo family in the twenty-first century.
The word Sallisaw was taken from the French word 'salaison' meaning salt provisions. The French, who hunted in the area long before the town was founded, called Sallisaw Creek "Salaiseau" because hunters salted bison meat there. English naturalist, Thomas Nuttall, recorded the name as Salaiseau, in his journal during his exploration of the area in 1819.
Sallisaw is located at  According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.9 square miles (33 km2), of which 12.7 square miles (33 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (1.40%) is water.(35.457978, -94.794421).
The city lies within the Green Country region of Oklahoma, known for its rolling green hills. It has three highways running through it: U.S. 59, or Kerr Boulevard, U.S. 64, or Cherokee Avenue,which is the city's main street, and I-40. It is located in the central area of the county, 14 miles from Muldrow, 11 Miles from Vian, and 19 miles from Roland. It is 22 miles from Fort Smith.
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,989½ people, 3,206 households, and 2,151 families residing in the city. The population density was 629.0 inhabitants per square mile (242.9/km²). There were 3,556 housing units at an average density of 280.0 per square mile (108.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 68.29% White, 1.35% African American, 20.30% Native American, 0.29% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.11% from other races, and 8.62% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.25% of the population.
There were 3,206 households out of which 31.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.1% were married couples living together, 15.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.9% were non-families. 29.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.99.
In the city the population was spread out with 26.6% under the age of 18, 9.9% from 18 to 24, 25.0% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 89.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $24,821, and the median income for a family was $31,572. Males had a median income of $26,793 versus $19,775 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,231. About 18.5% of families and 23.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.6% of those under age 18 and 15.9% of those age 65 or over.
The local economy was based on cotton farming during the town's early years. During the 1920s, the focus of the economy shifted to the production of lumber, oil and natural gas. A prison camp was established here during World War II. After the war, a variety of industrial and retail businesses were established.
The Sequoyah County Times, founded by Wheeler Mayo in 1932, is called "the largest-circulation, non-metro, non-daily newspaper in Oklahoma." It was still owned by the Mayo family in the 21st century.
East Cherokee Avenue is a business loop, with Sallisaw's only mall, the Eastgate Shopping Center, originally a Wal-Mart store. Wal-Mart was moved to 1101 W. Ruth Avenue in 2001. The Sallisaw Municipal Airport is located a half mile south of the intersection of I-40 and U.S. 59.
Blue Ribbon Downs, a horse racing venue, was established in Sallisaw during the 1960s by Bill Hedge. He sold the track to an investment group in 1973. Legalization of gambling on horse racing did not occur until 1982, so the first pari-mutuel race occurred August 30, 1984. This caused a short-term boom in track-related businesses. However, the popularity waned and the track struggled financially. The Choctaw Nation bought the facility in 2003, put in more capital and converted it to a "racino" that combined the race track with a casino. Despite the improvements, the track was not a financial success and closed permanently in 2010.
The post office is located at 111 McGee Drive, on the east side of town.
Its main public schools are Eastside Elementary, Tommie Spear Middle School, and the high school which is located on West Ruth Avenue.
The hospital is Sequoyah Memorial Hospital, at 213 Redwood Avenue.
- The Joad family from the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck were sharecroppers from Sallisaw.
- Brad Paisley mentions Sallisaw in his song "I Wish You'd Stay".
- Charlie Daniels mentions Sallisaw in the song "Christmas Time in Dixie".
- Pretty Boy Floyd grew up near Sallisaw. His Sallisaw funeral in 1934 attracted 20 thousand and perhaps as many as 40 thousand people. As of 2013 it remains the most highly attended funeral in Oklahoma history. Floyd is buried in the Akins Cemetery in the nearby town of Akins.
- Jack C. Montgomery (1917–2002) was a United States Army officer who was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions during World War II.
- Robert Reed of Brady Bunch fame lived for a time on Highway 64 east of Sallisaw near the Gans exit.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- CensusViewer:Sallisaw, Oklahoma Population.
- Richard.Mize, "Sallisaw," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. (Accessed February 9, 2010).
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- Green Country at TravelOk.com.
- U.S. Decennial Census; census.gov
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.