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Located six miles northwest of Altus and three miles west of U.S Highway 283 on County Roads E1580/N2010, Martha lies between Bitter Creek and the Salt Fork of the Red River in Jackson County, formerly Old Greer County. In 1885 Clint Maddox became the first settler in Martha. G. W. (Green) Cotney came later and built a two-story hotel. Henry C. Doughty filed the plat for Martha after Thomas Medlin became the first postmaster and named the town after the first schoolteacher, his daughter Martha. The post office opened on May 18, 1889. Henry C. Doughty, Clint Medlin, and Thomas Medlin built the first general merchandise store. Mr. A. S. J. Shaw, Oklahoma state treasurer and candidate for governor in 1930, taught at the Martha school in 1901-02.

By 1909 Martha had an estimated population of 65. Citizens had organized Baptist and Methodist churches, and a cotton gin served the area farmers. In 1910 the Wichita Falls and Northwestern Railway (later the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway) built a line from Frederick to Elk City and passed through Martha. By 1918 the community, with approximately 150 residents, had a bank, a hotel, and three cotton gins operated. In 1930 the first federal census for Martha reported 327 residents. From 1940 to 1990 the numbers remained in the 200s, with a high of 268 tabulated in 1970 and a low of 217 counted in 1990.

At the turn of the twenty-first century the cotton production in the Martha area, lying within the Lugert-Altus Irrigation District, totaled approximately 11,433 bales. Cattle, alfalfa, peanuts, soy beans, wheat, maize, and pecans were raised commercially. Martha, with 205 residents, continued to grow with a few new houses being built each year and two new commercial buildings built in 2000-01. The cotton gin was modernized each year to provide the best handling of the large cotton crops.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Cecil R. Chesser, Across the Lonely Years: A History of Jackson County (Altus, Okla.: Altus Printing Co., 1971). "Martha," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Harold Doughty

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