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BRECKINRIDGE

Located in Garfield County seven miles east of Enid, the county seat, Breckinridge is sited four miles north of U.S. Highway 64 on County Roads N2960/E0400 in Union township. When the Cherokee Outlet opened to settlement in September 1893, wheat farmers occupied the area around the future town. The Enid and Tonkawa Railway Company (sold to the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway [CRI&P] in 1900), built its line through the area from North Enid to Billings in 1899. The Blackwell, Enid and Southwestern Railroad Company (BES; after 1907, the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway) also built a branch through the area from Blackwell through Hunter and Enid to Darrow in 1900-1901. The two railroads intersected at Breckinridge.

In March 1901 the Frisco Town Company platted the town, and it is said to have been named for Breckinridge Jones, president of the Mississippi Valley Trust Company of St. Louis. He was a major financier of both the BES and the Denver, Enid and Gulf Railway. Richard Kent was appointed postmaster on June 15, 1901. The postal designation was originally spelled Breckenridge but was changed to Breckinridge two months later.

Small-town amenities quickly developed. Rural dwellers organized a German Lutheran congregation in 1899 northwest of the future town. Later called Immanuel Lutheran Church, it moved into the new settlement, constructed a building in 1901, and maintained a private school at least through the 1930s. By 1909 some inhabitants also organized a Congregational Church. The town incorporated in 1911. By 1918 residents patronized a bank, a hardware, and several general store/grocery establishments. Blackwell Milling and Elevator Company and the Randals & Grub elevator served the surrounding farmers. Breckinridge had a German band in the pre-World War I years. The Breckinridge Times informed the citizens in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Union township had attracted 675 people by 1907. Census figures were not collected for the town until 1920, when 132 residents called it home. A decline to lows of 67 and 42 in 1950 and 1960, respectively, came after World War II. The post office closed on November 22, 1963. Breckinridge rebounded in the 1970s after Farmland Industries constructed a large ammonium nitrate fertilizer plant east of Enid. The 1970 census recorded 261 inhabitants and the 2000 census, 239.

SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Breckinridge," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. "Breckinridge," Vertical File, Public Library of Enid and Garfield County, Enid, Oklahoma. Homer S. Chambers, "Townsite Promotion in Early Oklahoma," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 19 (June 1941). George Rainey, The Cherokee Strip (Guthrie, Okla.: Cooperative Publishing Co., 1933). Stella Campbell Rockwell, ed., Garfield County, Oklahoma, 1893-1982, Vol. 2 ([Enid, Okla.]: Garfield County Historical Society, 1982).

Dianna Everett

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