Located in the western part of Cherokee County, Hulbert lies between Wagoner and Tahlequah on Highway 51. It is fifty-five miles southeast of the metropolitan area of Tulsa. Hulbert Store and Grist Mill was built in 1890. Local oral history established that the town was named after Benjamin Hulbert, a trapper and hunter from Kentucky. He married a Cherokee and built his store on her land allotment. Situated west of the Double Spring Creek area, the store was built on land that was once a peach orchard. Platted by Bob King, the town relocated after the turn of the twentieth century to the present site, three-fourths of a mile east of Double Spring Creek. Moving the town was influenced by the already established Ozark and Cherokee Central Railway (later part of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, or Frisco). A post office was established on May 4, 1903.
At one time there were two hotels, two cotton gins, a blacksmith shop, feed mill, wagonyard, and livery stable. The town also had several dry good stores, a barber shop, restaurant, telephone office, doctor's office, post office, schools, and churches. Between 1980 and 2000, Hulbert's population has again decreased more than 14 percent from 633 to 543. The Hulbert Bank, now known as the Bank of Cherokee County, has been in continuous operation since 1908 and was founded by Howell C. King. The decision of the Frisco to discontinue passenger service in 1940 and freight service in 1942, the building of the Fort Gibson Dam (begun in 1942 and completed in 1953) and the economic depression of the 1930s hastened the town's population decline.
Hulbert citizens voted to incorporate their town on January 18, 1965, and it became a certified city in 1996. This made it possible to facilitate civic development and opened the door for economic growth. At the dawn of the twenty-first century the town had a volunteer fire department, established in 1968, and a senior citizen's center. At that time, the public library planned a new building to accommodate an ever-expanding inventory, and local entrepreneurs created a new business park and city park. In 2000 the city of Hulbert supported a post office, a police station, multiple churches, and schools for grades kindergarten through twelve. In addition, Water District Number Eleven and Lake Region Electric Co-op were located in Hulbert, as well as a newly established health clinic. Local community businesses and organizations sponsored a monthly legislative breakfast. Many privately owned businesses made up the Hulbert Business Association. Hulbert's first federal census recorded the inhabitants as 505 in 1970. The census counted 633 in 1980 and 499 in 1990. The small community had a population of 543 in 2000. Each summer Hulbert celebrates Hulbert Days and in December hosts a Festival of Trees to honor the 2,200-acre Sequoyah State Park, located eight miles west on Highway 51.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: David Campbell, Railroads Through Cherokee County: Frisco Ozark Route and the St. Louis and Oklahoma Southern (Tahlequah, Okla.: Indian Territory Genealogical and Historical Society, 1998). Cherokee County: Where It All Happened, 2 vols. (Hulbert, Okla.: Hulbert Community Public Library, 1998-99). "Hulbert Earns Coveted Certified City Title," Oklahoma Living (March 1997). Tahlequah (Oklahoma) Daily Press, 10 February 1965, 19 January 1965 and 5 April 1973.
Carol L. Kirkland
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