Comanche is located in the southwestern part of Stephens County, eight miles south of Duncan on U.S. Highway 81. Crossing the community from east to west is State Highway 53. The town was preceded by the Tucker post office, established April 28, 1887, and located three miles east of present Comanche. In 1892 J. D. Wilson, a Chickasaw, platted the original townsite, which was located on his allotment in Pickens County, Chickasaw Nation. In January 1893 the post office changed names from Tucker to Comanche as many settlers moved from Tucker to the new townsite.
With the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway line completed in 1892, Comanche enjoyed a central position for early-day cattlemen in the area. With the opening of the land for general settlement after 1897, large ranches gave way to smaller farming operations. In addition to the usual cotton, wheat, and other grain crops, peanuts, and pecans were also important in the Comanche area. By the 1930s the town had four cotton gins and the Comanche Grain and Elevator Company, which manufactured Preferred Dairy Feed and Preferred Hen Scratch. Oil and gas also aided the community's economic development. The first oil well was completed in 1918. Within twenty years there were two hundred producing oil wells within an eight-mile radius of town. Aiding Comanche's development was the 1920s designation of two federal highways, U.S. 70 and U.S. 81, through the community. While U.S. Highway 81 continues to serve as an important north-south corridor, the east-west U.S. Highway 70 bypassed Comanche in 1938.
In 1900 Comanche had 547 residents. By 1910 the population more than doubled to number 1,301. Despite the opening of oil wells in the vicinity, the town only gained 126 citizens over the next decade, bringing the 1920 population to 1,427. Comanche grew to 1,704 by 1930 before dropping to 1,533 in 1940. The population of the town peaked in 1950 at 2,083; however, the 1960 count was lower by just one. In 1970 the number dropped to 1,862 before regaining ground to equal 1,937 in 1980. Since then, the population has again declined, falling to 1,695 in 1990 and 1,556 in 2000.
The Comanche Times began publication in 1992 and continues to serve the community. Other newspapers in Comanche included the Comanche News which published briefly from 1906 to 1907 and again from 1968 to 1992. Begun in 1904, the weekly Comanche Reflex ran until 1933.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: "The History of Comanche, Oklahoma," in "Comanche," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. History of Stephens County (Duncan, Okla.: Stephens County Historical Society, 1981). Jackson Weedman, "Comanche," in "Comanche," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.
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