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County Conundrums

November 21, 2001

Historian's Notes

I thought that this topic was interesting because it highlighted the youthful and fluid nature of Oklahoma. On the East Coast, state, county and town boundaries have -- excluding the Civil War alterations -- been fairly static for a hundred years or so. In contrast, young Oklahoma is still to this day working out what towns should live or die as well as county demarcations.

Resources

Chronicles of Oklahoma (Win. 1968). 46 (4).

Almanac Transcript

County conundrums this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.

Hello, I'm Steven Knoche Kite.

In the early days of Oklahoma Territory the counties were not situated as they are today. Originally, lacking names, the first counties of Oklahoma Territory were given letter distinctions, so that you had county A, county B, C, D and so on. The only county still maintaining their original title is Kay County who, with statehood, changed its name from the letter K to the word Kay. The residents of early day Oklahoma witnessed many changes to their counties, borders were altered, county seats moved and in at least one instance a county completely disappeared.

Day County was situated on the border of Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle. The Cimarron River divided the county in half and the scenic Antelope Hills provided county residents with a break from the continuous flatness of the landscape. For the first few years the "Hamlet of Ioland" was the county seat, but in a confusing twist of politics the county records were loaded up and moved to Grand, and that town became the county seat for the remainder of Day County's existence.

Grand received its name, so the legend goes, because of the clear sweet water running from a nearby spring. All other water in the area held heavy concentrations of gypsum, but when city officials tasted the clear spring water they exclaimed, “well that’s Grand!” , and the town had its name.

The citizens of Day County were proud of their land and towns and worked hard to promote and build up the region. Compared with surrounding towns, Grand and Day County flourished, businesses sprang up, several newspapers set up shop and of course saloons and other such establishments were abundant.

People of the area had real hope for their fledgling community but the state government had other plans. It was in this week of 1906 on November 20th that politicians in Oklahoma drafted a proposal to do away with Day County dividing it instead into two new counties. With the proclamation of statehood Roger Mills and Ellis Counties appeared on maps and Day County was no longer. The citizens of Grand fought hard to maintain county seat status for at least one of the new counties, but alas it was not to be. The county seats moved elsewhere, and the once grand town of Grand was left to whither away. Only empty prairie now stands to mark the once busy and thriving site of Grand.

Day County and the city of Grand ghosts of Oklahoma’s past this week on the Almanac.

I'm Steven Knoche Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a joint production of the Oklahoma State University Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

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