Located in northwestern Pottawatomie County, Bethel Acres is situated approximately four miles south of Interstate 40 and four miles west of Shawnee and U.S. Highway 177/State Highway 3W. The area was opened to non-Indian settlers during the Sac and Fox land opening on September 22, 1891. Pioneers who staked claims in present Bethel Acres soon established Bethel school district. Supposedly, classes were held in a brush arbor until a wood-frame school building was located at the corner of Clear Pond and Bethel roads. On April 24, 1962, twenty-six of the thirty-three eligible voters voted to incorporate Bethel Acres, an area of four and one-half square miles. Local citizens decided to incorporate because they feared that Shawnee, Tecumseh, or Oklahoma City would annex them. Bethel Acres residents wanted to retain their rural life style, unrestricted by city ordinances that would prohibit livestock. Lucile B. Walker served as the first mayor.
In 1970 Bethel Acres had a population of 1,083. In 1980 and 1990 censuses indicated 2,314 and 2,505, respectively. Numbers rose to 2,735 in 2000 as more individuals desiring a rural setting moved into the vicinity. In October 1978 residents had a newly constructed community building and fire station that housed six fire trucks. By 1986 the area had its own water system and water tower. In 2003 citizens passed a bond issue to build a new kindergarten and first grade building. At the turn of the twenty-first century 96.6 percent of the employed commuted to jobs in Shawnee, Tecumseh, and Oklahoma City.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Pottawatomie County History Book Committee, comp. and ed., Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma History (Claremore, Okla.: Country Lane Press, 1987). Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2003).
Linda D. Wilson
© Oklahoma Historical Society