Located in northern Greer County, Willow is situated thirteen miles north of Mangum, the county seat, and one mile west of State Highway 34 on State Highway 34A. It is the third largest town in the county.
In 1888 the Beeson family moved from Wise County, Texas, and settled on four sections of land that included the present Willow townsite. In 1898 the first general merchandise store was built, and on October 17, 1899, the Willow post office opened. The town's name was adapted from the postmaster's name, William O'Connell. In 1910 the town moved to the present site in order to be adjacent to the Wichita Falls and Northwestern Railway, which was acquired by the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway in 1911. Incorporated in 1911, Willow had three general stores, a bank, a restaurant, and a blacksmith. On May 5, 1916, the first issue of the weekly newspaper, the Willow Times, came off the press. The first federal census for Willow counted 286 inhabitants.
In 1930 the population peaked at 347 residents, and the town had three cotton gins that annually processed eight thousand bales annually. Following the Great Depression population numbers fell to 248 in 1940. The town is well known for its wolf hunts and domino tournaments. In the surrounding agricultural region farmers raise livestock as well as cotton, wheat, and peanuts. Since 1940 Willow has continued to lose residents. In 1970 and 1980 the censuses reported 188 and 162, respectively. At the turn of the twenty-first century the population stood at 114.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Thelma Olive, ed., A History of Old Greer County and Its Pioneers (Mangum, Okla.: Old Greer County Museum and Hall of Fame, 1980). "Willow," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.
Peggy Crabb Bielich
© Oklahoma Historical Society