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CASTLE

Located in Okfuskee County, Castle is situated on U.S. Highway 62, six miles northwest of Okemah, the county seat. Named for the first postmaster, Manford B. Castle, a post office was established on February 25, 1903. Located along the Fort Smith and Western Railway, the town supported several cotton gins, grist mills, and the Castle State Bank by 1911. John Bakhaus, John McKernon, and Oscar Larimore built the first church in 1908. That same year the Castle News, edited by S. H. Austin and J. Y. Bryce, served the African American population. The first federal census reported for Castle indicated a population of 294 in 1910. Population peaked at 381 in 1920.

The surrounding area was suitable for ranching and general farming. Among the ranchers were John McKernon and Jerry Mosely, and the Ward-Strauss ranch also operated. The primary cash crops were cotton and sweet potatoes. With a population of 283 in 1930 the area continued to support five cotton gins and one grist mill. By the 1940s oil wells were drilled in the East Castle pool. The population continued to decline to 242 and 144 in 1940 and 1950, respectively. It stayed stable at 149 in 1960, but rebounded to 212 in 1970. Castle had 130 inhabitants in 1980, reaching a low of 94 in 1990. At the turn of the twenty-first century Castle was a "bedroom" community of 122 residents.

SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Castle," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2003).

Linda D. Wilson

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