Le Flore County, Oklahoma

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Le Flore County, Oklahoma
LeFlore County Courthouse.jpg
LeFlore County Courthouse in Poteau
Map of Oklahoma highlighting Le Flore County.svg
Location within the U.S. state of Oklahoma
Map of USA OK.svg
Oklahoma's location within the U.S.
Named forAn influential Choctaw Indian family
Seat Poteau
Largest cityPoteau
  Total1,609 sq mi (4,167 km2)
  Land1,589 sq mi (4,115 km2)
  Water19 sq mi (49 km2), 1.2%
Population (est.)
  Density32/sq mi (12/km2)
Congressional district 2nd
Time zone Central: UTC−6/−5

Le Flore County is a county located along the eastern border of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 50,384. [1] Its county seat is Poteau. [2] The name honors a Choctaw family named LeFlore. [3]

County (United States) Subdivision used by most states in the United States of America

In the United States, an administrative or political subdivision of a state is a county, which is a region having specific boundaries and usually some level of governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 U.S. states, while Louisiana and Alaska have functionally equivalent subdivisions called parishes and boroughs respectively.

U.S. state constituent political entity of the United States

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders. Four states use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.

Oklahoma State of the United States of America

Oklahoma is a state in the South Central region of the United States, bordered by Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, Texas on the south, New Mexico on the west, and Colorado on the northwest. It is the 20th-most extensive and the 28th-most populous of the fifty United States. The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people". It is also known informally by its nickname, "The Sooner State", in reference to the non-Native settlers who staked their claims on land before the official opening date of lands in the western Oklahoma Territory or before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which dramatically increased European-American settlement in the eastern Indian Territory. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were merged into the State of Oklahoma when it became the 46th state to enter the union on November 16, 1907. Its residents are known as Oklahomans, and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.


Le Flore County is part of the Fort Smith, AR-OK Metropolitan Statistical Area. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma is the federal district court with jurisdiction in Le Flore County.

Fort Smith, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

Fort Smith is the second-largest city in Arkansas and one of the two county seats of Sebastian County. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 86,209. With an estimated population of 88,037 in 2017, it is the principal city of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area, a region of 298,592 residents that encompasses the Arkansas counties of Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian, and the Oklahoma counties of Le Flore and Sequoyah.

Arkansas State of the United States of America

Arkansas is a state in the southern region of the United States, home to over 3 million people as of 2018. Its name is of Siouan derivation from the language of the Osage denoting their related kin, the Quapaw Indians. The state's diverse geography ranges from the mountainous regions of the Ozark and the Ouachita Mountains, which make up the U.S. Interior Highlands, to the densely forested land in the south known as the Arkansas Timberlands, to the eastern lowlands along the Mississippi River and the Arkansas Delta.

Fort Smith metropolitan area human settlement in Arkansas, United States of America

The Fort Smith Metropolitan Statistical Area, as defined by the United States Census Bureau, is a five-county area including three Arkansas counties and two Oklahoma counties, and anchored by the city of Fort Smith, Arkansas. The total MSA population in 2000 was 273,170 people, estimated by the Bureau to have grown to 289,693 people by 2007.


The Choctaw Nation signed the Treaty of Doak's Stand in 1820, ceding part of their ancestral home in the Southeastern U. S. and receiving a large tract in Indian Territory. They signed the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830, which ceded the remainder of their original land and caused the removal of all Choctaws who had not voluntarily migrated to the tribe's new territory. [3]

Treaty of Doaks Stand

The Treaty of Doak's Stand was signed on October 18, 1820 between the United States and the Choctaw Indian tribe. Based on the terms of the accord, the Choctaw agreed to give up approximately one-half of their remaining Choctaw homeland. In October 1820, Andrew Jackson and Thomas Hinds were sent as commissioners who represented the United States to negotiate a treaty to surrender a large portion of Choctaw country in Mississippi. They met with tribal representatives at Doak's Stand on the Natchez Trace. They met with the chiefs Pushmataha, Mushulatubbee, and Apuckshunubbee, who represented the three major regional divisions of the Choctaw. Chiefs of the towns and other prominent men accompanied them, such as Colonel Silas Dinsmoor.

Indian Territory U.S. 17th-, 18th- and early-20th-century territory set aside by the United States Government for the relocation of the indigenous peoples of the Americas

As general terms, Indian Territory, the Indian Territories, or Indian country describe an evolving land area set aside by the United States Government for the relocation of Native Americans who held aboriginal title to their land. In general, the tribes ceded land they occupied in exchange for land grants in 1803. The concept of an Indian Territory was an outcome of the 18th- and 19th-century policy of Indian removal. After the Civil War (1861–1865), the policy of the government was one of assimilation.

Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek

The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was a treaty signed on September 27, 1830, and proclaimed on February 24, 1831, between the Choctaw American Indian tribe and the United States Government. This was the first removal treaty carried into effect under the Indian Removal Act. The treaty ceded about 11 million acres (45,000 km2) of the Choctaw Nation in what is now Mississippi in exchange for about 15 million acres (61,000 km2) in the Indian territory, now the state of Oklahoma. The principal Choctaw negotiators were Chief Greenwood LeFlore, Musholatubbee, and Nittucachee; the U.S. negotiators were Colonel John Coffee and Secretary of War John Eaton.

In 1832, the Federal Government constructed the Choctaw Agency in Indian Territory about 15 miles (24 km) west of Fort Smith, Arkansas. The town of Skullyville grew up around the agency. The town housed Indian agents and was a stage stop (Walker's Station) for the Butterfield Overland Mail route. It was also the Choctaw capitol for a time. In 1834, the U. S. Army built Fort Coffee a few miles north of Skullyville, but closed it in 1838. The idled fort then became the Fort Coffee Academy for Boys, operated by the Methodist Episcopal Church. That church also opened the New Hope Seminary for Girls in 1845, just east of town. In 1847, the Choctaw Agency burned and its functions were transferred to Fort Washita. [3]

Skullyville, Oklahoma Unincorporated community in Oklahoma, United States

Skullyville is a small unincorporated rural community in Le Flore County, Oklahoma, United States. It is about one mile east of Spiro, Oklahoma and 15 miles (24 km)west of Fort Smith, Arkansas. Now essentially nothing but a cemetery remains, but it was an important community before the Civil War. Skullyville was the site of the Choctaw Agency from 1832 until 1839. It then became the capital of the Mushulatubbe District of the Choctaw Nation, a stop for the Butterfield Stage and capital of the Choctaw Nation. The town suffered serious damage during the Civil War, then was bypassed by the railroad and abandoned by businessmen who moved to the nearest railroad station. Closure of the post office in 1917 was essentially the death knell of the town. It is now considered a ghost town.

Walkers Station

Walker's Station was a stage stand on the old Butterfield Overland Mail route in Indian Territory. It was located at the old Choctaw Agency in Skullyville, in what is now Le Flore County, Oklahoma. The station was named for Tandy Walker, Choctaw chief, and later, Governor of the Choctaw Nation. The old Choctaw Agency building was his residence.

Butterfield Overland Mail

Butterfield Overland Mail was a stagecoach service in the United States operating from 1858 to 1861. It carried passengers and U.S. Mail from two eastern termini, Memphis, Tennessee, and St. Louis, Missouri, to San Francisco, California. The routes from each eastern terminus met at Fort Smith, Arkansas, and then continued through Indian Territory (Oklahoma), Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Mexico, and California ending in San Francisco. On March 3, 1857, Congress authorized the U.S. postmaster general, Aaron Brown, to contract for delivery of the U.S. mail from Saint Louis to San Francisco. Prior to this, U.S. Mail bound for the Far West had been delivered by the San Antonio and San Diego Mail Line since June 1857.

The Battle of Devil's Backbone was fought near the present town of Pocola on September 1, 1863. Union Major General James G. Blunt defeated Confederate Brigadier General William Cabell. Union troops burned the academy in 1863, because it was being used to house Confederate troops. [3]

Battle of Devils Backbone battle of the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War

The Battle of Devil's Backbone was a military engagement in the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War. Devil's Backbone is a ridge in the Ouachita Mountains approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) southwest of Greenwood, Arkansas. The battle was fought on September 1, 1863, in Sebastian County, Arkansas. The Union victory ensured the safety of the Fort Smith garrison until the end of the war.

James G. Blunt Union major general during the American Civil War

James Gillpatrick Blunt was a physician and abolitionist who rose to the rank of major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He was defeated by Quantrill's Raiders at the Battle of Baxter Springs in Kansas in 1863, but is considered to have served well as a division commander during Price's Raid in Missouri, which occurred in 1864.

In 1866, the Choctaw government was able to reopen area schools. New Hope Seminary operated until it burned in 1896. The first school for Choctaw freedmen opened at Boggy Depot. In 1892, the Tushkalusa (black warriors) Freedmen Boarding school opened three miles southeast of Talihina. [3]

Coal mining and timber production attracted railroad construction beginning in 1886, when the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad (leased to the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway in 1904) built tracks from Wister west to McAlester and, in 1898, from Wister east to Howe, continuing the line to Arkansas in 1899. In 1896 the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad (acquired by the Kansas City Southern Railway in 1900) built tracks through the region north to south, exiting into Arkansas near the Page community in southern Le Flore County. In 1900-01 the Poteau Valley Railroad built a line from Shady Point to Calhoun, which they abandoned in 1926. Also in 1900-01 the Arkansas Western Railroad constructed tracks from Heavener east to Arkansas. In 1901 the Fort Smith and Western Railroad connected Coal Creek west to McCurtain in Haskell County. In 1903-04 the Midland Valley Railroad laid tracks from Arkansas west through Bokoshe to Muskogee. The Oklahoma and Rich Mountain Railroad, owned by the Dierks Lumber and Coal Company, constructed the county's last railroad, from Page to the lumber town of Pine Valley in 1925-26. [3]

Prior to statehood, the area that became LeFlore County was part of Moshulatubbee and the Apukshunnubbee districts, and in Sugar Loaf, Skullyville, and Wade counties in the Choctaw Nation. [3]

Robert S. Kerr, former Governor of Oklahoma and U.S. Senator, left a legacy in Le Flore County, where in the 1950s he established a ranch outside of Poteau. In 1978 the family donated his ranch home to the state, and it was opened as the Kerr Conference Center and Museum. The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Overstreet-Kerr Historical Farm are also in the county. [3]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,609 square miles (4,170 km2), of which 1,589 square miles (4,120 km2) is land and 19 square miles (49 km2) (1.2%) is water. [4]

The Arkansas River forms the northern boundary of the county, while its tributaries, the Poteau and James Fork Rivers drain much of the county into the Arkansas. The Kiamichi, Little and Mountain Fork Rivers drain the rest of the county into the Red River of the South. The Ouachita Mountains extend into the southern part of the county, along with associated ranges: the Winding Stair Mountains and the Kiamichi Mountains. Cavanal Hill is partly in the northern part of the county. [3]

Lake Wister, a flood control reservoir, is in the central part of the county. [5] The Ouachita National Forest, in the county's southern half, and Heavener Runestone State Park are tourist attractions. [3]

Additionally, Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area is located in the county. It is one of two National Recreation Areas located in the state of Oklahoma, the other being Chickasaw.

Major highways

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


Historical population
1910 29,127
1920 42,76546.8%
1930 42,8960.3%
1940 45,8666.9%
1950 35,276−23.1%
1960 29,106−17.5%
1970 32,13710.4%
1980 40,69826.6%
1990 43,2706.3%
2000 48,10911.2%
2010 50,3844.7%
Est. 201649,873 [6] −1.0%
U.S. Decennial Census [7]
1790-1960 [8] 1900-1990 [9]
1990-2000 [10] 2010-2013 [1]

As of the census [11] of 2000, there were 48,109 people, 17,861 households, and 13,199 families residing in the county. The population density was 30 people per square mile (12/km²). There were 20,142 housing units at an average density of 13 per square mile (5/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 80.35% White, 2.21% Black or African American, 10.72% Native American, 0.21% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.44% from other races, and 5.03% from two or more races. 3.84% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 22.7 were of American, 10.1% Irish, 9.6% German and 7.7% English ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 17,861 households out of which 33.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.50% were married couples living together, 11.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.10% were non-families. 23.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.05.

In the county, the population was spread out with 26.10% under the age of 18, 9.70% from 18 to 24, 27.00% from 25 to 44, 23.30% from 45 to 64, and 13.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $27,278, and the median income for a family was $32,603. Males had a median income of $26,214 versus $19,792 for females. The per capita income for the county was $13,737. About 15.40% of families and 19.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.10% of those under age 18 and 16.50% of those age 65 or over.


Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of January 15, 2019 [12]
PartyNumber of VotersPercentage
Democratic 13,69350.32%
Republican 9,21733.87%
Presidential elections results
Presidential elections results [13]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2016 77.6%13,36218.9% 3,2503.5% 609
2012 70.6%11,17729.4% 4,662
2008 69.3%11,60530.7% 5,136
2004 61.3%10,68338.7% 6,741
2000 54.8%8,21543.6% 6,5361.6% 234
1996 39.7% 5,68947.7%6,83112.5% 1,796
1992 34.9% 5,85046.8%7,84318.3% 3,070
1988 51.1%6,96448.3% 6,5940.6% 83
1984 58.5%8,60440.8% 5,9900.7% 104
1980 49.5%6,80748.5% 6,6682.1% 284
1976 37.5% 4,90761.4%8,0331.1% 145
1972 67.5%7,93229.2% 3,4333.4% 394
1968 32.8% 3,60036.7%4,02030.5% 3,345
1964 35.5% 3,90464.5%7,105
1960 52.3%5,30247.7% 4,844
1956 45.0% 4,31055.0%5,276
1952 42.2% 4,63157.8%6,349
1948 29.4% 2,82170.6%6,786
1944 39.2% 3,66760.5%5,6600.2% 22
1940 35.6% 4,66464.0%8,3790.3% 44
1936 32.5% 3,89467.4%8,0610.1% 14
1932 21.4% 2,36378.6%8,680
1928 52.5%5,16846.9% 4,6220.6% 57
1924 40.3% 3,32649.3%4,06910.3% 852
1920 54.3%4,93441.4% 3,7644.3% 386
1916 37.6% 1,94449.8%2,57612.7% 656
1912 37.7% 1,53849.5%2,01912.9% 525




Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

NRHP sites

The following sites in Le Flore County are listed on the National Register of Historic Places:

  • Arkoma School, Arkoma
  • Choctaw Agency, Spiro
  • Peter Conser House, Hodgen
  • Dog Creek School, Shady Point
  • Jenson Tunnel, Cameron
  • Lake Wister Locality, Lake Wister
  • LeFlore County Courthouse, Poteau
  • Old Military Road, Talihina
  • Overstreet House, Cowlington
  • Poteau Community Building, Poteau
  • Poteau School Gymnasium—Auditorium, Poteau
  • James E. Reynolds House, Cameron
  • Shady Point School, Shady Point
  • Skullyville County Jail, Panama
  • Spiro Mound Group, Redland
  • Summerfield School, Summerfield
  • Terry House, Poteau
  • Trahern's Station, Shadypoint
  • Tucker School, Spiro
  • Twyman Park, Poteau
  • Williams School, Cameron

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Arkoma, Oklahoma Town in Oklahoma, United States

Arkoma is a town in Le Flore County, Oklahoma, United States. It is part of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,989 at the 2010 census, a decline from 2,180 in 2000. The name of the town is a portmanteau of Arkansas and Oklahoma. Throughout its history, Arkoma has served as a "bedroom community" because many residents commuted to work in Fort Smith.

Bokoshe, Oklahoma Town in Oklahoma, United States

Bokoshe is a town in Le Flore County, Oklahoma, United States. It is part of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area. Bokoshe is a Choctaw word meaning "little creek." The population was 512 at the 2010 census, a 13.8 percent gain from 450 at the 2000 census.

Heavener, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Heavener is a city in Le Flore County, Oklahoma, United States. It is part of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area. It was named for Joseph H. Heavener, who settled in the area about 1877. The population was 3,414 at the 2010 census, an increase of 6.7 percent from 3,201 at the 2000 census. Heavener is notable for the Heavener Runestone just outside the city limits.

Howe, Oklahoma Town in Oklahoma, United States

Howe is a town in Le Flore County, Oklahoma, United States. It is part of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 802 at the 2010 census, a gain of 15.1 percent from 697 at the 2000 census. The town was once noted for producing coal and coke. Now its economy is mainly supported by agriculture.

Pocola, Oklahoma Town in Oklahoma, United States

Pocola is a town in northeastern Le Flore County, Oklahoma, United States. It is part of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 4,056 in 2010, a gain of 1.55 percent from 3,994 in 2000. It is approximately 10 miles (16 km) from Fort Smith, Arkansas. Pocola is a Choctaw word meaning "ten."

Poteau, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Poteau is a city in, and county seat of, Le Flore County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 8,520 as of the 2010 census.

Rock Island, Oklahoma Town in Oklahoma, United States

Rock Island is a town in Le Flore County, Oklahoma, United States. It is part of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 646 at the 2010 census, a decline of 8.9 percent from 709 at the 2000 census.

Talihina, Oklahoma Town in Oklahoma, United States

Talihina is a town in Le Flore County, Oklahoma, United States, its name originating from two Choctaw words, tully and hena, meaning iron road. Iron road is reference to the railroad that the town was built around. It is part of the Fort Smith, Arkansas–Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,114 at the 2010 census, a loss of 8.0 percent from 1,211 at the 2000 census.

Wister, Oklahoma Town in Oklahoma, United States

Wister is a town in Le Flore County, Oklahoma, United States. It is part of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,002 at the 2000 census. Wister was named for Gutman G. Wister, an official of the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad (KO&G), and the father of noted writer Owen Wister.

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U.S. Route 271 highway in the United States

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Oklahoma State Highway 112 highway in Oklahoma

State Highway 112 is a 24.6 mi (39.6 km) state highway in Le Flore County, Oklahoma. It connects Poteau to Arkoma. It has no lettered spur routes.

U.S. Route 59 in Oklahoma highway in Oklahoma

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  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Larry O"Dell, "LeFlore County," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.
  4. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  5. Harold Crain, "Wister." Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.
  6. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates" . Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  7. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  8. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  9. Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  10. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
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  12. "Oklahoma Registration Statistics by County" (PDF). OK.gov. January 15, 2019. Retrieved 2019-02-27.
  13. Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved 2018-03-29.

Coordinates: 34°54′N94°42′W / 34.90°N 94.70°W / 34.90; -94.70