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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Cornish is an incorporated town located in eastern Jefferson County, Oklahoma. It is situated south of the junction of U.S. Highway 70 and State Highway 89, twenty-five miles east of Waurika and twenty-seven miles west of Ardmore. Cornish originated in the late 1880s as a community of Pickens County in the Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory, and was named for local rancher John Cornish.

A post office opened at Cornish in July 1891, and businesses, churches, and a school were soon established. Cotton and cotton gins were important to the local economy. Construction work on the Cornish Orphans Home began in 1907. Founded by Moses E. Harris in 1903, the facility cared for some fifteen hundred children in nearly forty years of operation. The home was funded by appropriations from the Oklahoma Legislature and the donations of charitable Oklahomans. The Orphans' Home Journal was its publication.

Cornish's population climbed from 469 in 1907 to 489 in 1910. In August 1913 oil was discovered in the Healdton Field some eight miles northeast of town. The subsequent oil boom stopped the westward construction of the Oklahoma, New Mexico and Pacific Railway one mile north of Cornish. There the town of Ringling was founded in June 1914. Cornish citizens and business leaders moved to Ringling to be near the railroad and to share in the prosperity of the petroleum industry. The Cornish post office closed in March 1918. The town's two newspapers, the Cornish Reasoner and the Cornish Herald, are no longer printed.

Cornish had 186 residents in 1930 and 90 in 1970. No businesses remained by the mid-1970s. Presently many Cornish locals work in Ardmore. The town's population was 172 in 2000, its highest total since 1940, but the number dropped to 163 in 2010.

Jon D. May


"Cornish," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Jim M. Dyer, History of Jefferson County, Oklahoma (N.p.: N.p., 1957).

John W. Morris, Ghost Towns of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977).

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Jon D. May, “Cornish,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=CO061.

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