Located in western Okfuskee County, Paden is situated on U.S. Highway 62, twenty miles west of the county seat, Okemah. Originally within the former Creek Nation, the town was named in honor of Deputy U.S. Marshal Paden Tolbert. The townsite included 320 acres, part of which was taken from the allotment of a Creek named Lucy Beaver. A post office was established January 21, 1903.
In 1903 the Fort Smith and Western Railroad, connecting Fort Smith and Van Buren, Arkansas, with Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory, was built through Paden. Before 1907 statehood the town prospered, supporting four cotton gins, a lumberyard, a blacksmith shop, four general stores, banks, a stockyard, churches, a school, and a hotel. The Paden Pioneer newspaper was established in 1903. In 1907 the population stood at 272, and a second newspaper, the Times , was published. In 1908 the Okfuskee County High School was built in Paden, becoming Paden High School in 1935.
In 1920 the population reached 419 and in the next two decades grew to around six hundred. The town was a service center for area farmers growing primarily cotton, peanuts, and corn. The railroad ended service in 1939, and during World War II many inhabitants left the area. At the turn of the twenty-first century Paden was a "bedroom" community with a population of 446. The surrounding area supported cattle ranching.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Paden," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2003).
Joe Spencer Funchess
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