Sugden is an incorporated community located in southwestern Jefferson County, Oklahoma. It is situated west of U.S. Highway 81 and Beaver Creek, one mile east and five miles south of Waurika on County Roads E2020/N2810. Sugden was named for Joseph D. "Ikard" and Eli Calvin "Cal" Sugg, brothers who established a ranch circa 1874 along Beaver and Cow creeks in the Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory. Their acreage encompassed the present Waurika and Sugden townsites. Homesteaders were attracted to the region, and a general store was constructed beside Beaver Creek in the early 1890s. The business house was known as "Sugg's Den," and a settlement developed nearby. A post office was added to the site in November 1893, and the village was designated Sugden.
Early Sugden was an agricultural town. Local farmers and ranchers shipped cattle, hogs, wheat, cotton, and corn via the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway. Businesses in 1900 included a cotton gin, a hotel, a bank, and two general stores. Residents perused the Sugden Leader and Sugden Signal for news.
Several factors contributed to Sugden's decline. Town officials failed twice to have Sugden declared the seat of Jefferson County. The first attempt was at the 1906 Oklahoma Constitutional Convention when Ryan was chosen, and the second ended with Waurika's selection by county voters in March 1912. Approached by way of a low-water crossing, Sugden was often isolated by the floodwaters of Beaver Creek. Efforts to construct a bridge over the stream were unsuccessful, and local businesses suffered. Town development was also hampered by an inadequate fresh water supply.
The Great Depression and drought reduced Sugden to a ghost town. The community had 321 residents in 1910 and 171 in 1940. That number fell to 54 in 1970 and was 59 in 2000. The Sugden post office closed in November 1955. By the mid-1970s no school or businesses remained.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Shelby Lynn Barnes, "Problems of Access Often Hurt Sugden," The Cotton Electric Current (Walters, Oklahoma), 14 February 2000. Jim M. Dyer, History of Jefferson County, Oklahoma (N.p.: N.p., 1957). John W. Morris, Ghost Towns of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977).
Jon D. May
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