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STIDHAM

Located in McIntosh County, Stidham is situated six miles west of Eufaula, six miles north of State Highway 9, twenty miles east of the Indian Nation Turnpike, and three miles from Lake Eufaula on County Road N4120. Eufaula, Checotah, Muskogee, and McAlester serve as trade centers for Stidham. The Creek played an integral role in populating the area. Some of the tribe's more prominent members were Alex Posey and his sister Ella (Posey) Mitchell, who resided in the area until her death. Other early Creek settlers included the McIntoshes, whom the county was named for, and George Washington Stidham, the town's namesake.

The Post Office Department established a post office in 1897, with Alexander Lyons designated as postmaster, followed by Jim Bruce. Pearl Sexton Harding later served in that capacity for several years. In the early twentieth century Stidham was a thriving town with a cotton gin, barbershop, theater, drug store, lodge hall, merchandise stores, post office, and several churches. At the beginning of the twenty-first century the community no longer had a post office, after fire destroyed the building's interior. In 1910 the population registered 116, declining to 93 in 1930.

Farming and cattle ranching helped support the town. In 1956, with the beginning of Eufaula Dam's construction, many farmers were forced to sell their land, curtailing the need for a cotton gin. The 1950 population was 46, a figure that climbed to 88 in 1960 before slowly falling to 60 in 1980.

Stidham once boasted of busing an average of five hundred students, ranging from the primary through the twelfth grades. In 1968, due to the decline in population and enrollment, the community lost its high school to Eufaula. In 2004 Stidham possessed a preschool through the eighth grade school system, with an average enrollment of 125 students. A 1942 built Public Works Administration building still provided the classrooms. Only two churches served the community in 2000 when the population stood at 23.

SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: John Downing Benedict, Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma, Including the Counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa, Vol. 1 (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1922). Indian Journal (Eufaula, Oklahoma), 28 June 1973. George H. Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names (2d ed.; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1974).

Wilma Rippy

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