Located in Sequoyah County, Moffett is situated on County Road E1120, west of the Arkansas River across from Fort Smith, Arkansas, and approximately one mile south of U.S. Highway 64. Originally a dispersed rural community in the Cherokee Nation, Moffett sheltered Cherokee and Cherokee freedmen after the Civil War. In 1908 the town received a postal designation and took the maiden name of Martha Moffett Payne, the wife of Dr. Samuel Payne, an influential resident. The town became a small retail point in the 1910s.
Located in the Arkansas River floodplain, the area's fertile land benefitted agriculture, with cotton the leading crop. By 1918 the surrounding area and the town's estimated population of 150 supported three general stores. A cotton gin and a saw mill operated. In 1927 Moffett officially incorporated. In 1930 the population stood at 340. In the 1930s a livestock auction began and continued to expand, creating another industry that benefitted the town. At the beginning of the twenty-first century the Ft. Smith Livestock Auction Company continued to hold regular auctions at the Moffett stockyards. In 1940 the census counted 538 inhabitants, a number that declined to 357 in 1960. Population loss slowly continued, and in 1990 the U.S. Census reported 219 residents. Moffett's history has been marked by repeated floods, and many times the town suffered severe damage from them, including significant events in 1943, 1957, 1986, and 1990.
Early in its existence Moffett earned a reputation for its drinking and gambling establishments. These places attracted people from Fort Smith and, in later decades, soldiers stationed at the now-defunct Fort Chaffee, also in Arkansas. During World War II the U.S. Army declared the town off limits to military personnel, a ban that lasted until the mid-1970s. In 1967 country singer Charlie Walker recorded a song titled "Moffett, Oklahoma" that reflected the town's image. In 1994 local officials obtained a federal grant to fight crime, although at the time there was no police force with which to do so. In 2000 the town's population stood at 179. The public schools served prekindergarten through eighth grade and enrolled 311 students.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 11 March 1973 and 17 April 1983. Lola Mize, "Moffett Community," in The History of Sequoyah County, 1828-1975 (N.p.: Sequoyah County Historical Society, 1976). Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 14 October and 7 November 1994.
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