Home |  PublicationsEncyclopedia |  Sugden

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Sugden's hotel, circa 1905
(12145, Muriel Teel Cooter Collection, OHS).


Sugden is an incorporated community located in southwestern Jefferson County, Oklahoma. It is situated west of U.S. Highway 81 and Beaver Creek, one mile east and five miles south of Waurika on County Roads E2020/N2810. Sugden was named for Joseph D. "Ikard" and Eli Calvin "Cal" Sugg, brothers who established a ranch circa 1874 along Beaver and Cow creeks in the Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory. Their acreage encompassed the present Waurika and Sugden townsites. Homesteaders were attracted to the region, and a general store was constructed beside Beaver Creek in the early 1890s. The business house was called "Sugg's Den," and a settlement developed nearby. A post office was added to the site in November 1893, and the village was designated Sugden.

Early Sugden was an agricultural town. Local farmers and ranchers shipped cattle, hogs, wheat, cotton, and corn via the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway. Businesses in 1900 included a cotton gin, a hotel, a bank, and two general stores. Residents perused the Sugden Leader and Sugden Signal for news.

Several factors contributed to Sugden's decline. Town officials failed twice to have Sugden declared the seat of Jefferson County. The first attempt came at the 1906 Oklahoma Constitutional Convention, and Ryan was chosen, and the second ended when county voters selected Waurika in March 1912. Approached by way of a low-water crossing, Sugden was often isolated by the floodwaters of Beaver Creek. Efforts to construct a bridge over the stream were unsuccessful, and local businesses suffered. Town development was also hindered by an inadequate fresh water supply.

The Great Depression and drought reduced Sugden to a ghost town. The community had 321 residents in 1910 and 171 in 1940. That number fell to 54 in 1970 and was 59 in 2000 and 43 in 2010. The Sugden post office closed in November 1955. By the mid-1970s no school or businesses remained.

Jon D. May


Shelby Lynn Barnes, "Problems of Access Often Hurt Sugden," The Cotton Electric Current (Walters, Oklahoma), 14 February 2000.

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).

Browse By Topic

Urban Development




The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Jon D. May, “Sugden,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=SU003.

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and part or in whole.