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The Okmulgee County community of Winchester is located just east of U.S. Highway 75 and the junction of County Roads E0840/N3935, approximately twelve miles north of Okmulgee and four miles northeast of Beggs. Winchester began as a satellite town, envisioned by a development group working in cooperation with the B-Line Corporation. Tired and frustrated by "big city living" in Tulsa, members of the group, led by William D. Crews, started development on twenty-five hundred acres of pasture land that Crews had acquired in 1959. Described as a "bedroom" community with the character of a small town, Winchester received its final order of incorporation on February 18, 1974.

In March 1989 Winchester had no store, no gas station, and no post office, but the town was selected as the national site for a $150 million war museum complex. The museum was the project of the Delaware based nonprofit organization, Institute for the Study of American Wars (ISAW). In February 1989 the ISAW announced the proposed museum. In March of that year the Institute selected Winchester as the museum's site and projected that five hundred new jobs would be brought to the area. More than seven million annual visitors were expected to visit, and millions of dollars awaited the local economy. By April 1989 the ISAW withdrew the Winchester proposal. Although disappointed by the news, Winchester and its citizens resumed their identity as a residential community.

Winchester's population increased steadily from 150 in 1980, to 301 in 1990, and to 424 in 2000. At the turn of the twenty-first century residents received telephone, mail, school, and fire-fighting services from the town of Beggs. Winchester remained a rural community into the twenty-first century with no retail businesses or municipal services. The town hall, however, served as a forum for public meetings and sponsored an annual wiener roast and hayride.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Okmulgee (Oklahoma) Daily Times, 8 March 1989. Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 8 March 1989. "Winchester," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Glynis Coleman

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