The incorporated community called Beggs occupies 4.3 square miles in northwestern Okmulgee County. The town is situated along Alternate U.S. Highway 75/State Highway 16, thirteen miles northwest of Okmulgee and thirty-one miles south of Tulsa. As work on the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway (Frisco) moved south from Sapulpa in the Creek Nation, Indian Territory, in 1899, Frisco vice president C. H. Beggs, who was in charge of construction, chose a site to build a depot and a stock pen. Although the first business to serve the settlement was a saloon, retail merchants began to build clientele from the stock-raising area, and a growing population followed. Beggs officially became a town on September 15, 1900, when its post office opened.
Long before rumors of petroleum started to circulate, hog, cattle, and horse ranches were located near Beggs. In 1918 production began from an oil discovery one-half mile west of town. Lease buying and drilling turned Beggs into a boomtown, and prosperity was the order of the day. To maintain an economy after the boom, which lasted until 1926, revenue came from corn, cotton, pecans, and stock raising. The economy at the end of the twentieth century was more varied. Beggs had fifty-two commercial enterprises in 2000, including twelve construction firms and ten retail and four wholesale trade establishments.
In 1896, when the Dawes Commission's authority over the Five Civilized Tribes increased, a traveling federal court was subsequently organized and held preliminary hearings. The first was conducted in 1903 at Beggs and heard grievances in connection with such matters as livestock theft.
In 1910, before the oil boom, Beggs's population was 855. Between 1918 and 1926, when oil production peaked, Beggs had a floating population of approximately five thousand inhabitants. The town's official high population was 2,327 in 1920. That number declined from 1,531 in 1930 to 1,107 in 1970. The 2000 U.S. Census showed Beggs's population to be 1,364, which was a minor fluctuation from 1,428 in 1980 and 1,150 in 1990.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Beggs," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Okmulgee Historical Society and the Heritage Society of America, comps. and eds., History of Okmulgee County, Oklahoma (Tulsa, Okla.: Historical Enterprises, 1985). Jerry Quinn, et al., comps., Okmulgee Centennial, 1900-2000: Including Okmulgee's Most Influential (Marceline, Mo.: D-Books Publishing, 2000).
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