Latimer County, Oklahoma

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Latimer County, Oklahoma
Map of Oklahoma highlighting Latimer County
Location in the U.S. 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
 • Total 729 sq mi (1,888 km2)
 • Land 722 sq mi (1,870 km2)
 • Water 7.0 sq mi (18 km2), 0.95%
Population (est.)
 • (2013) 10,775
 • Density 15/sq mi (6/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] 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.[3]


In 1831, the area now known as Latimer County became a part of Gaines County in the Choctaw Nation in the Indian Territory in 1831. The county seat was then at Gaines Courthouse. In 1858, the Butterfield Overland Mail established a route through the territory, which 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.[3]

The beginning of large-scale coal mining brought 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) laid 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.[3] However, the coal industry collapsed due of labor unrest, competition from oil and gas, and the Great Depression of 1929. By 1932, only one mine still operated in the county. Mining towns lost almost half of their population, and at one point, 93.5 percent of those remaining in the country was on government relief. Federal construction projects provided many jobs to help the unemployed, including Wilburton Municipal Airport, schools at Panola and elsewhere, 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.[3]

In 1933, the Spanish–American War veterans established Veterans Colony. This allowed Spanish-American War veterans 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 operates.[3]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 729 square miles (1,890 km2), of which 722 square miles (1,870 km2) is land and 7.0 square miles (18 km2) (1.0%) is water.[4]

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.[3]

Major highways

Adjacent counties


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. 2014 10,693 [5] −4.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
1790-1960[7] 1900-1990[8]
1990-2000[9] 2010-2013[2]

As of the census[10] 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[11]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
  Democratic 5,298 81.68%
  Republican 814 12.55%
  Unaffiliated 374 5.77%
Total 6,486 100%
Presidential election results[12]
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


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.[3]

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.[3]


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.[3]




Unincorporated communities

NRHP sites

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


  1. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Everett, Dianna. "Latimer County," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, Oklahoma Historical Society, 2009. Accessed April 4, 2015.
  4. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved February 21, 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 21, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved February 21, 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 21, 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 21, 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". Retrieved 2011-06-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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