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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Located on State Highway 85 in the southeastern corner of Craig County, Ketchum is one mile north of the Mayes County line and one-half mile west of the Delaware County line. Ketchum was originally established in 1899 in present Mayes County, slightly more than a mile south-southwest of its present location, on the banks of Grand River along a wagon trail. The town was named for a Methodist minister, James Ketchum, a Delaware Indian, who relocated to Indian Territory in 1867 from Wyandotte County, Kansas. The Post Office Department established the post office on September 15, 1899, at the original townsite. By 1902 residents supported four general stores, one blacksmith shop, and a school. This first site is now under the waters of Grand Lake O' the Cherokees, but the town moved long before the lake's development.

In 1912 the Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad, which became the Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway in 1919, was being constructed from southeastern Kansas south through Miami, Pensacola, and toward Texas. At that time Ealum and Minnie Belle (Lynch) Gregory sold forty acres of her Delaware Indian allotment to promoters of a new townsite near the railroad. New Ketchum was platted in late 1912. By 1920 many businesses had begun at or had been relocated to the new site. The first school in New Ketchum was a one-room building across the road from Gregory's land. The school land was part of Lena Ward's Indian allotment and was given or sold by her father, William Henry "H" Ward. In 1914 the first New Ketchum public school term began. Later, a three-story schoolhouse was built. The Ketchum Telegram and the Ketchum News reported to the town in the early twentieth century. The 1940 population of 611 declined to 254 in 1950.

The First State Bank was organized in March 1913. Its original, two-story building was used until 1969. Bandits robbed the bank in 1923, killing cashier Frank Pitts. In 1934 robbers murdered bank president Ealum Gregory. After unsuccessful robberies in 1960 and 1961, the bank constructed a new building one-half block south of the original, which later housed a restaurant and a daycare center.

Agriculture, particularly corn and other grains and cotton, supplied the area's financial base until the Grand River Dam was built between 1937 and 1939. Since the creation of Grand Lake, tourism and lake-related businesses have dominated the economy. In 1980 the census reported 326 residents. At the end of the twentieth century businesses located in or near Ketchum included Arrowhead Yacht Club and Marina, Snug Harbor Marina, Port Carlos, Paradise Cove Marine Resort, Pelican Landing, and Cherokee Yacht Club, as well as restaurants, motels, service stations, and convenience stores. One new enterprise was Kannon Motorcycles Incorporated, builders of custom-made V-8 and V-6 motorcycles. A vineyard operates at the south end of town. Ketchum schools accommodated nearly 450 students and comprised the second largest school system in the county. In 1974 a city hall was built, and a new post office was completed in 1984. The population stood at 286 in 2000 and rose to 442 in 2010. The April 2020 census reported 501 residents.

Craig County Genealogical Society

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The Heritage of Craig County and Cooweescoowee and Delaware Districts, Indian Territory, Vol. 3 (Vinita, Okla.: Craig County Genealogical Society, 2000).

The Story of Craig County: Its People and Places, 2 vols. (Vinita, Okla.: Craig County Heritage Association, 1984–1991).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Craig County Genealogical Society, “Ketchum,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=KE013.

Published January 15, 2010
Last updated March 25, 2024

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