Beckham County, Oklahoma

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Beckham County, Oklahoma
Map of Oklahoma highlighting Beckham County
Location in the U.S. state of Oklahoma
Map of the United States highlighting Oklahoma
Oklahoma's location in the U.S.
Founded November 16, 1907
Named for J. C. W. Beckham
Seat Sayre
Largest city Elk City
 • Total 904 sq mi (2,341 km2)
 • Land 902 sq mi (2,336 km2)
 • Water 2.1 sq mi (5 km2), 0.2%
Population (est.)
 • (2013) 23,637
 • Density 25/sq mi (10/km²)
Congressional district 3rd
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Beckham County is a county located on the western border of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 22,119.[1] Its county seat is Sayre.[2] Founded upon statehood in 1907, Beckham County was named for J. C. W. Beckham, who was Governor of Kentucky[3] and the first popularly elected member of the United States Senate from Kentucky. Beckham County comprises the Elk City, OK Micropolitan Statistical Area.

(Beckham County, Kentucky was organized and named on February 9, 1904, but was dissolved April 29, 1904, by the Kentucky Court of Appeals because it was not created in conformance with state law).


In 1855, the U.S. government leased the western part of the formerly reserved Choctaw and Chickasaw Nation lands, which became known as the Leased District. After the Civil War, the two nations were forced to cede the land to the US government under terms of new treaties required because they had been allies of the Confederacy. Under the treaties they were also required to emancipate their slaves and provide them with citizenship in their nations.

In 1869, the former Leased District was designated by the President as the Cheyenne Arapaho Reservation, following their removal from further west. During the 1880s, Texas cattlemen leased grazing land from the Cheyenne and Arapaho.

Under the Dawes Act of 1891, the government split up such communal lands, allocating plots to individual households of various tribes. After distribution was made, the government declared any additional lands on the reservation to be "surplus". In 1892, the government opened such surplus land to settlement by non-Indians, attracting numerous European-American settlers and immigrants.

The area was designated as County F in the newly created Oklahoma Territory, until it was renamed Roger Mills County. At statehood, portions of land from both Roger Mills and Greer counties were joined to form Beckham County. Sayre was named as the temporary county seat. A 1908 election after statehood made Sayre, Oklahoma the permanent seat.[3]

In 1910, a piece of southern Beckham County was returned to Greer County. The Gannett survey of 1927-1929 found that the true 100th Meridian, the boundary between Texas and western Oklahoma, was 3,800 feet (1,200 m) farther east than previously thought. The US Supreme Court ruled that the strip of land must be returned to Texas, thereby reducing Beckham County's area slightly.[3]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 904 square miles (2,340 km2), of which 902 square miles (2,340 km2) is land and 2.1 square miles (5.4 km2) (0.2%) is water.[4] The county is drained by the North Fork of the Red River and its tributaries: the Timber, Sweetwater, and Buffalo creeks. The northwestern part of the county is part of the High Plains. The rest of the county is part of the Gypsum Hills physiographic region.[3]

Major highways

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 19,699
1920 18,989 −3.6%
1930 28,991 52.7%
1940 22,169 −23.5%
1950 21,627 −2.4%
1960 17,782 −17.8%
1970 15,754 −11.4%
1980 19,243 22.1%
1990 18,812 −2.2%
2000 19,799 5.2%
2010 22,119 11.7%
Est. 2014 23,691 [5] 7.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
1790-1960[7] 1900-1990[8]
1990-2000[9] 2010-2013[1]
File:USA Beckham County, Oklahoma age pyramid.svg
Age pyramid for Beckham County, Oklahoma, based on census 2000 data.

As of the 2010 United States Census,[10] there were 22,119 people, 8,163 households, and 5,485 families residing in the county. The population density was 24.5 people per square mile (9.4/km²). There were 9,647 housing units at an average density of 10.7 per square mile (4.1/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 85% white, 4% black or African American, 2.8% Native American, 0.8% Asian, less than 0.01% Pacific Islander, 4.6% from other races, and 2.8% from two or more races. Twelve percent of the population was Hispanic or Latino.

There were 8,163 households out of which 34.6% included children under the age of 18, 50.9% were married couples living together, 11.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 32.8% were non-families. Individuals living alone accounted for 27.6% of households and 11.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the county, the population was spread out with 24.1% under the age of 18, 9.9% from 18 to 24, 28.1% from 25 to 44, 25.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.4 years. For every 100 females there were 105 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 112 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $45,726, and the median income for a family was $57,316. Males had a median income of $42,470 versus $27,075 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,470. More than 12% of families and 15% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26% of those under age 18 and 14.4% of those age 65 or over.


Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of January 15, 2013[11]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
  Democratic 5,730 51.67%
  Republican 4,010 36.16%
  Unaffiliated 1,349 12.17%
Total 11,089 100%
Presidential election results[12]
Year Republican Democrat
2012 79.54% 5,508 21.46% 1,417
2008 78.03% 5,772 21.97% 1,625
2004 73.85% 5,454 26.15% 1,931
2000 62.26% 4,067 36.86% 2,408


The county economy has been based mainly on farming and raising livestock. The major crops have been cotton, wheat, alfalfa, kafir, milo maize, and broomcorn. Mineral industries have occasionally been significant. In the early 20th century, there was some salt production. A limited amount of oil and gas production began in the 1920s.[3]




Unincorporated communities

NRHP sites

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


  1. 1.0 1.1 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 8, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Wilson, Linda D. "Beckham County," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, 2009. Accessed March 28, 2015.
  4. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 18, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved February 18, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 18, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved February 18, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-11. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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