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The Kiowa County community of Gotebo is located at the intersection of State Highways 54 and 9, thirty-nine miles southeast of Clinton and fifty-one miles northwest of Lawton. The town was originally called Harrison and was named in honor of Pres. Benjamin Harrison. Harrison was settled during the opening of the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache Reservation in August 1901. The townsite adjoined a Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway depot built a few months earlier. Railroad officials had named the station Gotebo after a local Kiowa chief. The Harrison post office name was changed to Gotebo in 1904, and the town incorporated soon thereafter. Chief Gotebo (ca. 1847-1927; Kau-Tau-Bone) was well respected, not only by his own people, but also by whites. He was one of the first Kiowa to be baptized at the Rainy Mountain Church. He is buried at the Rainy Mountain Indian Cemetery, situated between Gotebo and Mountain View.

Gotebo schoolhouse, 1909

Cattle ranching and farming are the primary sources of income for the rural area surrounding Gotebo, with cotton and wheat as principal crops. However, the majority of town residents are retired. Those who work commute primarily to Hobart or Mountain View. Local newspapers have included the Harrison Gazette, the Gotebo Herald, the Gotebo Gazette, the Gotebo Record, and the Gotebo Record-Times.

The Gotebo school closed in 1990, and students were transferred to Mountain View. Enrollment in the Mountain View-Gotebo School District was 307 in 2000. The 2000 census for Gotebo was 272 compared to 740 in 1910. That number increased to 827 in 1930 and declined from 607 in 1940 to 378 in 1970. The town's population increased to 457 in 1980 but fell during the last two decades of the twentieth century.

Opening of H. H. Wedel's Big Department Store, Gotebo, 1909

In 1996 the annual "Gotebo Get Down" started as a parade and celebration, providing locals with a day to meet and enjoy food and fun. Held the Saturday before Labor Day, the festivities also present an opportunity for former residents to return for a visit. An estimated crowd of twenty-five hundred attended the initial event.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Gotebo," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Frances Heller, "Gotebo," in Pioneering in Kiowa County, Vol. 1 (Hobart, Okla.: Kiowa County Historical Society, 1975).

Marilyn Thurman

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