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The Kiowa County community of Roosevelt is located on U.S. Highway 183, thirteen miles south of Hobart and fourteen miles north of Snyder. The town began as Parkersburg, and at the turn of the twenty-first century serviced by the Grainbelt Corporation (GNBC) short-line railroad, a Farmrail System, Inc., affiliate in Clinton, Oklahoma.

The Roosevelt townsite was planned by the Parkersburg Development Company before the opening of the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache Reservation in 1901. Since another Parkersburg existed southwest of present Clinton in Washita County, that name could not be used as a post office designation. Charley Hunter, a townsite organizer, had been a Rough Rider with Theodore Roosevelt during the Spanish-American War. Hunter admired Roosevelt and named the settlement in his honor. The Roosevelt post office was established on October 31, 1901. President Roosevelt visited Roosevelt, Oklahoma, in 1903, providing a highlight for area residents.

Roosevelt's initial businesses, schools, and churches soon appeared. The rich soil surrounding the town was good for farming, especially cotton. Early establishments included a lumberyard, bakery, hotel, drug store, bank, grocery store, hardware store, doctor's office, meat market, general store, restaurant, furniture store, undertaker, millinery, and dry goods store. The town's first newspaper was the Roosevelt Record.

By 1907 statehood Roosevelt's population was 173. That figure grew from 298 in 1910 to 744 in 1940. After World War II the number of residents dropped from 679 in 1950 to 280 in 2000. At the turn of the twenty-first century farms and ranches continued to operate around Roosevelt, and the downtown area remained small.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Roosevelt," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Susan Smith, "'Parkersburg,' now 'Roosevelt,'" in Pioneering in Kiowa County, Vol. 1 (Hobart, Okla.: Kiowa County Historical Society, 1975).

Ethel Crisp Taylor

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