Colcord is located in southern Delaware County eight miles northeast of the community of Kansas, Oklahoma, and eighteen miles southeast of Jay, the county seat. State Highway 116 connects the town to U.S. Highway 59/State Highway 10 four miles to the west and to the Arkansas state line twelve miles to the east. The town is six miles north of U.S. Highway 412. The area was first settled by the Cherokee, some moving into the area as early as the 1830s. These people were called the "Old Settlers." More Cherokees were removed from the southeastern part of the United States over the Trail of Tears in the late 1830s. Settlers encountered many difficulties through the 1850s, and the Civil War left the Cherokee Nation a battlefield and a wasteland. Reconstruction proved a slow, painful process. In the late 1880s and 1890s many whites moved into this part of the Cherokee Nation. Descendants of many of these Cherokee and white settlers remained in the vicinity through the twentieth century.
Colcord began as the community of Row, Indian Territory, located one mile north of the present town. In the 1890s Row emerged as settlers came to the Indian Territory, and a post office was established on May 20, 1905. The town included a bank, a school, a hotel, and numerous other businesses. After 1907 Oklahoma statehood Row expanded as restrictions were lifted on both American Indians and settlers.
The main road between U.S. Highway 59/State Highway 10 and Gentry, Arkansas, was laid out one mile south of Row. There, the community of Little Tulsa developed. Charles Burbage, a rural mail carrier, owned some property at this new site. He surveyed 64.8 acres of land into blocks and lots. In September 1928 residents decided to name the new community Colcord, after Charles F. Colcord, a prominent oilman and early Oklahoma Territory lawman from Oklahoma City. Colcord owned a large ranch west of town. Pleased to have the town named after him, he purchased football uniforms for the high school players. In 1928 the first class graduated from Colcord High School. In 1929 Burbage secured the town's incorporation.
On February 1, 1930, the post office moved from Row to Colcord. Regulations required that the post office had to change locations after closing hours of one day and before opening hours of the next day. For many years some citizens of Row considered the post office "stolen" overnight. Charles F. Colcord died at his ranch west of town on December 10, 1934. His daughter and son-in-law, Harriet and Jim White, operated the Jug Brand Fruit Farm for many years at the ranch and employed several local residents.
The community of Colcord continued to grow, and the school district expanded to cover a large area. During the 1930s or 1940s the incorporation of the town was discontinued, and no organized government existed to promote the populace. In 1959 the Colcord Chamber of Commerce was organized, and the town, with a population of 273, was reincorporated in 1960. In the 1960s and 1970s city government brought about many improvements. The Dan D. Draper Community Center, swimming pool, and park were built honoring Draper's support for the community. In 1980 and 1990 the census reported 530 and 628, respectively. The 2000 population comprised 819 persons. The surrounding economy mostly comprises farming, cattle, poultry, and dairy operations. In 2001 the U.S. Postal Service erected a new building. Town businesses at the beginning of 2002 included a grocery store, two restaurants, a convenience store, a new Senior Citizens building, beauty shop, florist, video store, several churches, and the Talbot Library and Museum. The community hosts an Old Settlers Day on the second Saturday in June to honor its heritage and its founders.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: George Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names (2d ed.; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1974). Delaware County (Oklahoma) Chieftain, 19 September 1928. Delaware County (Oklahoma) Journal, 28 June 2001. The Story of Two Towns: a History of Row-Colcord and the Surrounding Area (Colcord, Okla.: Colcord Historical Society and Josten's, 1985).
Donna Beals Clark
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