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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


In McClain County, the community of Washington is situated ten miles northwest of Purcell on State Highway 24. Washington's post office charter was approved on May 10, 1904. The post office was established at a site later called "Old" Washington, located about three miles west and one mile north of the present community. Postmaster John Randolph Kerr considered the surnames of former U.S. Presidents Washington, Madison, and Van Buren as possible town names. A popular local story, however, has Washington named in honor of the Caddo chief "Little Boy" George Washington, who previously lived in the area.

With the building of the Oklahoma Central Railway through present McClain County in 1907, Hiram Turner and his mixed-blood Choctaw-Chickasaw wife, Daisy Willis, petitioned the U.S. court at Muskogee to remove the restrictions from a surplus allotment east of their farm so that a townsite could be established. Following approval of the Turners' request on December 24, 1907, Washington became the first Oklahoma community after statehood to have tribal land restrictions removed for townsite purposes.

The Washington post office was moved to the present townsite and was one of the first buildings in the new community. A bank, cotton gins, a hotel, and a lumberyard were among the businesses established. The remaining lots quickly sold, and the town flourished as an agricultural community. In 1920 the first federal census for Washington counted 336 inhabitants. Numbers increased to 400 in 1930 but declined to 359 in 1940 and 292 in 1950. The population remained steady until 1980 when the town had 477 residents. In 2000 numbers peaked at 520. During World War II that number dropped to 265, but it grew to 279 in 1990, 520 in 2000, and 618 in 2010. The April 2020 census reported 672 residents.

Hoyt Burns


Hoyt Burns, Early History of the Town Washington, Oklahoma (Del City, Okla.: Del City Publishing, 1985).

Hoyt Burns, "Washington," in McClain County, Oklahoma: History and Heritage, ed. Joyce Rex, Vol. 1 (Purcell, Okla.: McClain County Historical and Genealogical Society, 1986).

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Hoyt Burns, “Washington,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=WA033.

Published January 15, 2010
Last updated March 29, 2024

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