Alfalfa County, Oklahoma Trails To The Past
Alfalfa County
Oklahoma Trails To The Past
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Selenite Crystal From Great Salt Plains    Indigenous peoples inhabited and hunted in this area for thousands of years. By 1750, the Osage had become a dominant tribe in the area. About one third belonged to the band led by Chief Black Dog (Manka - Chonka). They made the Black Dog Trail before 1800, from Baxter Springs, Kansas to their summer hunting grounds in Oklahoma. It extended east of Baxter Springs to the Great Salt Plains in Alfalfa County. The Osage stopped at the springs for its healing properties on their way to hunting. They cleared the trail of brush and large rocks, and made ramps to the fords. The trail could accommodate eight horsemen abreast and was the first improved road in Kansas and Oklahoma.
   Alfalfa County was formed in 1907 from Woods County. The county is named after William H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray, the president of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention and ninth governor of Oklahoma.
    After treaties in 1828 and 1835 future Alfalfa County lay within the vast Cherokee Outlet, owned by the Cherokee Nation but coveted by non-Indians after the Civil War. Primarily conducted by Texas cattle companies of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association on leased land, ranching was the principal activity from 1870 to 1890. The big outfits operating there included Miller-Pryors and Company, the British-syndicate-owned Texas Land and Cattle Company's and Cattle Ranche and Land Company's T5 Ranch (on Eagle Chief Creek near Carmen), the Eagle Chief Pool, and Drumm and Snider. The latter lease, called the U Ranch and under the direction of Maj. Andrew Drumm of Kansas City, had established a grazing operation for longhorn cattle in the Outlet perhaps as early as 1870. Headquarters were southeast of Driftwood on the Medicine Lodge and Salt Fork rivers. Cattle trails and roads crisscrossed the region from the mid-nineteenth century. One of the most significant was the Cantonment Trail, which extended southeastward from Kansas, passing the future locations of Jet, Timberlake, and Helena on its way to Canton, or Cantonment, in Blaine County.
    Originally Alfalfa County was part of Woods County, created at the opening of the Cherokee Outlet in September 1893. Alfalfa County was created at 1907 statehood. The town of Cherokee, approximately in the center of the county, became the permanent seat of government through an election held in January 1909. Carmen, Ingersoll, and Jet also received votes. County officials met in rented rooms and in a schoolhouse until 1924, when a bond issue paid for a courthouse.

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Alfalfa County Courthouse
300 South Grand Ave., Cherokee, OK 73728
Phone (580)596-3523 (Court Clerk)

National Historic Register

Alfalfa County Courthouse, Cherokee
Aline IOOF Lodge No. 263, Aline
Carmen IOOF Home, Carmen
Carmen IOOF Lodge No. 84, Carmen
Cherokee Armory, Cherokee
Cherokee Friends Church, Cherokee
Cherokee IOOF Lodge No. 219, Cherokee
Farmers' Exchange Elevator, Goltry
Farmers' Federation Elevator, Cherokee
Hotel Cherokee, Cherokee
Ingersoll Tile Elevator, Ingersoll
Sod House, Cleo Springs

Adjacent Counties

Grant County | Garfield County | Major County | Woods County
Harper County, Kansas | Barber County, Kansas
Last Updated, Tuesday, 10-Jul-2018 11:04:38 MDT
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