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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Situated approximately ten miles southeast of the county seat of Sayre, Carter is located at the intersection of State Highways 34 and 55 in southeastern Beckham County. In 1906 Pentecostals founded the town, which was initially named Beulah. Later the community became known as Carter, honoring William G. Carter, a prominent early-day resident. The town was originally located in southern Roger Mills County before Beckham County was created at 1907 statehood.

In 1909 two cotton gins, a blacksmith shop, and a general store served the surrounding agricultural area. The community continued to develop after the Wichita Falls and Northwestern Railway (later the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway) built its line through Carter, connecting it with Elk City and Frederick in 1910. Outbound shipments soon included grains and cotton. Nine years later Carter also had a grain elevator, a flour mill, and a bank. By 1919 the Baptist, Methodist, and Christian churches had been organized. That year George W. Cain was publishing the weekly newspaper, the Carter Express, which was printed between 1910 and 1935. By the 1930s the town supported four gins and two automobile garages. Residents attended six Protestant churches, two of which were Pentecostal Holiness. Fourteen teachers taught the children in a brick school building.

In 1910, three years after statehood, Carter had a population of 265. It climbed to 389 in 1920 and peaked at 642 in 1930. For the next four decades it gradually declined from 535 in 1940 to 311 in 1970. The population rose slightly to 367 in 1980, only to decline to 254 in 2000. It remained steady at 256 in 2010.

At the turn of the twenty-first century Carter served as a "bedroom" community for 96.2 percent of its workers who commuted to Sayre and Elk City for employment. The Edwards Archaeological Site (NR 73001554), located near Carter, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. In January 1977 Carter received widespread acclaim by stamp and souvenir collectors who wanted the town's post office cancellation on their memorabilia commemorating Pres. Jimmy Carter's inauguration. In September 2002 Carter public schools closed due to a reassignment of school district boundaries. Students transferred to schools in Sayre, Elk City, Merritt, Sentinel, and Lone Wolf. A gas station built of cobblestones in the early 1920s continued as a local point of interest.

Linda D. Wilson


"Beckham County—Carter," Vertical File, Oklahoma Room, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, Oklahoma City.

"Carter," Vertical File, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2003).

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Linda D. Wilson, “Carter,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=CA064.

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