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VELMA

Velma is situated sixteen miles southeast of Duncan on State Highway 7 and nine miles east of the Stephens/Carter county line. The town is located in east-central Stephens County. Named for a local merchant's daughter, the Velma post office was established on September 25, 1886. The community had begun to develop in the late 1860s as settlers followed the cattle herds along the Chisholm Trail. Originally located in Pickens County, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory, Velma was included in Stephens County, created at 1907 statehood.

During its early decades Velma was predominately a farming community with cotton being the principal cash crop. By the 1960s row crops and cattle-hog operations had preempted cotton, but agriculture remained an important local source of revenue. In 1917 the first oil well in the Velma area was drilled, one that continued to produce through the 1960s. Oil production and petroleum-related industries thereafter dominated Velma's economy. With oil activity at a high, Velma flourished in the 1960s and 1970s as the town built a community water system and a nine-hole golf course. The golf course remains an area attraction. Between 1965 and 1969 the community also incorporated and obtained a bank and new telephone exchange.

In 1909 Velma had a reported an estimated population of one hundred. Ten years later the town had grown to number approximately 150. The first federal census to include Velma came in 1970, at which time the community included 611 citizens. The town peaked in 1980 with a population of 831.The number of residents then fell to 661 in 1990. Holding steady, the population in 2000 stood at 664 inhabitants. Among the various businesses in the community a local newspaper has never been recorded.

SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 9 June 1963, 10 June 1969, and 12 April 1999. Oklahoma State Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1909-1910 (Detroit, Mich.: R. L. Polk and Co., 1909). Oklahoma State Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1918 (Detroit, Mich.: R. L. Polk and Co., 1918). George H. Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names (2d ed.; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1974). "Velma," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Cynthia Savage

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