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Located in McClain County, Dibble lies just north of State Highway 39 and approximately one mile east of State Highway 76. For much of the nineteenth century the site of the present community existed in the Chickasaw Nation's Pontotoc County. According to historian George Shirk, John and James Dibble operated a ranch in the area and contributed their name to the town. The town is also located near Dibble Creek. The ranch rested on the Fort Smith to Fort Sill military road and served as a stopping point for soldiers and travelers. The village may have been in existence as early as 1869, and the U.S. Post Office Department designated a Dibble post office in 1894, with Horatio Orem as postmaster.

In 1901 the Gazetteer and Business Directory of Indian Territory reported that Dibble had one hundred residents, a hotel, a grocery store, a general store, a blacksmith, a doctor, and three stockmen. Ranching served as the early economic staple, soon followed by farming. In 1902 J. T. Payne platted the townsite, which the Department of Interior approved in November of that year, withholding the land from the Chickasaw allotment process. In 1906, after the Oklahoma Central Railway failed to build through the town, laying its tracks eight miles north at Blanchard, the town lost many of its burgeoning businesses. In 1911 Polk's Oklahoma Gazetteer estimated a Dibble population of 150 and listed two general stores, a confectioner, a blacksmith, a doctor, and a drugstore. In 1918 the population dropped to 125, but the town had added a gristmill, a cotton gin, and a feed store, reflecting the emphasis on area farmers.

In 1926 the post office discontinued. In 1936 the Works Progress Administration built an addition to the school, which educated children from the surrounding region. In 1937 State Highway 39 was completed adjacent to the community, allowing the school district to annex outlying rural schools. Also in 1937 the town incorporated, and in 1940 the population stood at 97. The school, area petroleum drilling, and agriculture supported Dibble for much of the twentieth century. In 1953 another post office began operation. The 1960 population was 127, climbing to 184 in 1970. In 1990 the town had 181 residents, which rose to 289 in 2000. That year there were 568 students enrolled in the Dibble School District.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Dibble," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Joyce A. Rex, ed., McClain County, Oklahoma, History and Heritage, Vol. 1 (Purcell, Okla.: McClain County Historical and Genealogical Society, 1986).

Larry O'Dell

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