Le Flore County, Oklahoma

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Le Flore County, Oklahoma
LeFlore County Courthouse.jpg
LeFlore County Courthouse
Map of Oklahoma highlighting Le Flore 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 An influential Choctaw Indian family
Seat Poteau
Largest city Poteau
 • Total 1,609 sq mi (4,167 km2)
 • Land 1,589 sq mi (4,115 km2)
 • Water 19 sq mi (49 km2), 1.2%
Population (est.)
 • (2013) 49,774
 • Density 32/sq mi (12/km²)
Congressional district 2nd
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Le Flore County is a county located along the eastern border of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 50,384.[1] Its county seat is Poteau.[2] The name honors a Choctaw family named LeFlore.[3]

Le Flore County is part of the Fort Smith, AR-OK Metropolitan Statistical Area. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma is the federal district court with jurisdiction in Le Flore County.


The Choctaw Nation signed the Treaty of Doak's Stand in 1820, ceding part of their ancestral home in the Southeastern U. S. and receiving a large tract in Indian Territory. They signed the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830, which ceded the remainder of their original land and caused the removal of all Choctaws who had not voluntarily migrated to the tribe's new territory.[3]

In 1832, the Federal Government constructed the Choctaw Agency in Indian Territory about 15 miles (24 km) west of Fort Smith, Arkansas. The town of Skullyville grew up around the agency. The town housed Indian agents and was a stage stop (Walker's Station) for the Butterfield Overland Mail route. It was also the Choctaw capitol for a time. In 1834, the U. S. Army built Fort Coffee a few miles north of Skullyville, but closed it in 1838. The idled fort then became the Fort Coffee Academy for Boys, operated by the Methodist Episcopal Church. That church also opened the New Hope Seminary for Girls in 1845, just east of town. In 1847, the Choctaw Agency burned and its functions were transferred to Fort Washita.[3]

The Battle of Devil's Backbone was fought near the present town of Pocola on September 1, 1863. Union Major General James G. Blunt defeated Confederate Brigadier General William Cabell. Union troops burned the academy in 1863, because it was being used to house Confederate troops.[3]

In 1866, the Choctaw government was able to reopen area schools. New Hope Seminary operated until it burned in 1896. The first school for Choctaw freedmen opened at Boggy Depot. In 1892, the Tushkalusa (black warriors) Freedmen Boarding school opened three miles southeast of Talihina.[3]

Coal mining and timber production attracted railroad construction beginning in 1886, when the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad (leased to the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway in 1904) built tracks from Wister west to McAlester and, in 1898, from Wister east to Howe, continuing the line to Arkansas in 1899. In 1896 the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad (acquired by the Kansas City Southern Railway in 1900) built tracks through the region north to south, exiting into Arkansas near the Page community in southern Le Flore County. In 1900-01 the Poteau Valley Railroad built a line from Shady Point to Calhoun, which they abandoned in 1926. Also in 1900-01 the Arkansas Western Railroad constructed tracks from Heavener east to Arkansas. In 1901 the Fort Smith and Western Railroad connected Coal Creek west to McCurtain in Haskell County. In 1903-04 the Midland Valley Railroad laid tracks from Arkansas west through Bokoshe to Muskogee. The Oklahoma and Rich Mountain Railroad, owned by the Dierks Lumber and Coal Company, constructed the county's last railroad, from Page to the lumber town of Pine Valley in 1925-26.[3]

Prior to statehood, the area that became LeFlore County was part of Moshulatubbee and the Apukshunnubbee districts, and in Sugar Loaf, Skullyville, and Wade counties in the Choctaw Nation.[3]

Robert S. Kerr, former Governor of Oklahoma and U.S. Senator, left a legacy in Le Flore County, where in the 1950s he established a ranch outside of Poteau. In 1978 the family donated his ranch home to the state, and it was opened as the Kerr Conference Center and Museum. The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Overstreet-Kerr Historical Farm are also in the county.[3]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,609 square miles (4,170 km2), of which 1,589 square miles (4,120 km2) is land and 19 square miles (49 km2) (1.2%) is water.[4]

The Arkansas River forms the northern boundary of the county, while its tributaries, the Poteau and James Fork Rivers drain much of the county into the Arkansas. The Kiamichi, Little and Mountain Fork Rivers drain the rest of the county into the Red River of the South. The Ouachita Mountains extend into the southern part of the county, along with associated ranges: the Winding Stair Mountains and the Kiamichi Mountains. Cavanal Hill is partly in the northern part of the county.[3]

Lake Wister, a flood control reservoir, is in the central part of the county.[5] The Ouachita National Forest, in the county's southern half, and Heavener Runestone State Park are tourist attractions.[3]

Major highways

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 29,127
1920 42,765 46.8%
1930 42,896 0.3%
1940 45,866 6.9%
1950 35,276 −23.1%
1960 29,106 −17.5%
1970 32,137 10.4%
1980 40,698 26.6%
1990 43,270 6.3%
2000 48,109 11.2%
2010 50,384 4.7%
Est. 2014 49,761 [6] −1.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
1790-1960[8] 1900-1990[9]
1990-2000[10] 2010-2013[1]

As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 48,109 people, 17,861 households, and 13,199 families residing in the county. The population density was 30 people per square mile (12/km²). There were 20,142 housing units at an average density of 13 per square mile (5/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 80.35% White, 2.21% Black or African American, 10.72% Native American, 0.21% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.44% from other races, and 5.03% from two or more races. 3.84% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 22.7 were of American, 10.1% Irish, 9.6% German and 7.7% English ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 17,861 households out of which 33.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.50% were married couples living together, 11.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.10% were non-families. 23.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.05.

In the county, the population was spread out with 26.10% under the age of 18, 9.70% from 18 to 24, 27.00% from 25 to 44, 23.30% from 45 to 64, and 13.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 99.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $27,278, and the median income for a family was $32,603. Males had a median income of $26,214 versus $19,792 for females. The per capita income for the county was $13,737. About 15.40% of families and 19.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.10% of those under age 18 and 16.50% of those age 65 or over.


Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of January 15, 2012[12]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
  Democratic 18,156 69.20%
  Republican 5,405 20.60%
  Unaffiliated 2,675 10.20%
Total 26,236 100%
Presidential election results[13]
Year Republican Democrat
2008 69.32% 11,605 30.68% 5,136
2004 61.31% 10,683 38.69% 6,741
2000 54.82% 8,215 43.62% 6,536




Unincorporated communities

NRHP sites

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

  • Arkoma School, Arkoma
  • Choctaw Agency, Spiro
  • Peter Conser House, Hodgen
  • Dog Creek School, Shady Point
  • Jenson Tunnel, Cameron
  • Lake Wister Locality, Lake Wister
  • LeFlore County Courthouse, Poteau
  • Old Military Road, Talihina
  • Overstreet House, Cowlington
  • Poteau Community Building, Poteau
  • Poteau School Gymnasium—Auditorium, Poteau
  • James E. Reynolds House, Cameron
  • Shady Point School, Shady Point
  • Skullyville County Jail, Panama
  • Spiro Mound Group, Redland
  • Summerfield School, Summerfield
  • Terry House, Poteau
  • Trahern's Station, Shadypoint
  • Tucker School, Spiro
  • Twyman Park, Poteau
  • Williams School, Cameron


  1. 1.0 1.1 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 9, 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 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Larry O"Dell, "LeFlore County," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.
  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. Harold Crain, "Wister." Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.
  6. "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>
  7. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 21, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved February 21, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 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>
  10. "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>
  11. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. http://www.ok.gov/elections/documents/reg_0112.pdf
  13. "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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