kids encyclopedia robot

Alfalfa County, Oklahoma facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Alfalfa County
Alfalfa County Courthouse in Cherokee (2007)
Alfalfa County Courthouse in Cherokee (2007)
Map of Oklahoma highlighting Alfalfa County
Location within the U.S. state of Oklahoma
Map of the United States highlighting Oklahoma
Oklahoma's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Oklahoma
Founded 1907
Named for William H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray
Seat Cherokee
Largest city Cherokee
 • Total 881 sq mi (2,280 km2)
 • Land 866 sq mi (2,240 km2)
 • Water 15 sq mi (40 km2)  1.7%%
 • Total 5,642
 • Estimate 
 • Density 6.5/sq mi (2.5/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 3rd

Alfalfa County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 5,642. The county seat is Cherokee.

Alfalfa County was formed at statehood in 1907 from Woods County. The county is named after William H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray, the president of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention and ninth governor of Oklahoma. He was instrumental creating the county from the original, much larger Woods county.


Early history

Indigenous peoples inhabited and hunted in this area for thousands of years. By 1750, the Osage had become a dominant tribe in the area. About one third belonged to the band led by Chief Black Dog (Manka - Chonka). Before 1800 they made the Black Dog Trail starting east of Baxter Springs, Kansas and heading southwest to their summer hunting grounds at the Great Salt Plains in present-day Alfalfa County. The Osage stopped at the springs for its healing properties on their way to hunting at the plains, which attracted migratory birds and varieties of wildlife. The Osage name for this fork of the Arkansas River was Nescatunga (big salt water), what European-Americans later called the Salt Fork. The Osage cleared the trail of brush and large rocks, and made ramps at the fords. Wide enough for eight men riding horses abreast, the trail was the first improved road in Kansas and Oklahoma.


The treaties of 1828 and 1835 placed what would later become Alfalfa County within the Cherokee Outlet, which was owned by the Cherokee Nation. Ranching became the primary economic activity from 1870 to 1890 as cattle companies which were part of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association leased grazing land from the Cherokee. Prominent rancher, Major Andrew Drumm operated the "U Ranch" here as early as 1870. Its headquarters were southeast of Driftwood on the Medicine Lodge and Salt Fork rivers.

Cherokee Outlet 1885
The Cherokee Outlet (1885)
Oklahoma Land Rush
An Oklahoma Land Rush (1889)

Alfalfa County was originally part of the much larger Woods County, which was created in September 1893 with the opening of the Cherokee Outlet with the Cherokee Strip Land Run. Alfalfa County itself was created in 1907, as part of statehood. The county was named after William H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray, who served as the president of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention and would later be elected as the ninth governor of Oklahoma.

Statehood years onward

The city of Cherokee, became the county seat through an election held in January 1909. Other towns receiving votes for the honor were Carmen, Ingersoll, and Jet.

Alfalfa County's population was primarily of European origins. European immigrants and their children were numerous in early 1900s. Germans from Russia (ethnic Germans who immigrated to American from Russia), many of whom were Mennonites, settled near Ingersoll, Driftwood, Cherokee, and Goltry. Early censuses also reveal a considerable number of Bohemians (also Germans). At the turn of the twenty-first century nearly 17 percent of county residents claimed German ancestry. One Mennonite church (in Goltry) remained as of 2006.

Early railroad construction, from the Choctaw Northern line (1901), the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient (1901), the Arkansas Valley and Western (1904), and the Denver, Enid and Gulf Railroad Company (1904), contributed greatly to the county's early prosperity and caused many small towns to flourish. They would compete as wheat-shipping points and agribusiness centers for many years thereafter. However, by 2000 only one rail line, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, served the county.

Petroleum exploration and production has been an contributor to Alfalfa County's economy since the time of statehood. Agricultural pursuits, including wheat farming and livestock raising were major contributors to Alfalfa County's economy during the twentieth century. Small-scale agriculture in its early years made possible dozens of towns and dispersed rural communities, many of which no longer exist. Towns bypassed by rail service, such as Carroll, Carwile, Keith, and Timberlake, did not long prosper. Others, Ingersoll and Driftwood for example, remained incorporated for decades, but after the abandoning of their rail lines, saw a declining population which made it difficult to sustain educational and city services. Ingersoll (founded 1901) peaked in 1910 with 253 inhabitants and Driftwood (founded 1898) in 1930 with 71. By 1980, neither of these towns were still incorporated. Aline, Amorita, Burlington, Byron, Carmen, Cherokee, Goltry, Helena, Jet, and Lambert remained incorporated as of 2000.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 881 square miles (2,280 km2), of which 866 square miles (2,240 km2) is land and 15 square miles (39 km2) (1.7%) is water. The Great Salt Plains Lake, as well as the associated Great Salt Plains State Park and Great Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge lie within the county, approximately 12 miles east of Cherokee. The major waterways in the county are the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River and the Medicine Lodge River.

USACE Great Salt Plains Dam
Aerial view to the northwest of the Great Salt Plains Lake Dam on the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River in Alfalfa County, OK. The dam was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

It is part of the Red Bed plains.

Major highways

  • US 64.svg U.S. Highway 64
  • Oklahoma State Highway 8.svg State Highway 8
  • Oklahoma State Highway 8B.svg State Highway 8B
  • Oklahoma State Highway 11.svg State Highway 11
  • Oklahoma State Highway 38.svg State Highway 38
  • Oklahoma State Highway 45.svg State Highway 45
  • Oklahoma State Highway 58.svg State Highway 58

Adjacent counties

National protected area

State Park


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 18,138
1920 16,253 −10.4%
1930 15,228 −6.3%
1940 14,129 −7.2%
1950 10,699 −24.3%
1960 8,445 −21.1%
1970 7,224 −14.5%
1980 7,077 −2.0%
1990 6,416 −9.3%
2000 6,105 −4.8%
2010 5,642 −7.6%
2020 5,699 1.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2019
USA Alfalfa County, Oklahoma age pyramid
Age pyramid for Alfalfa County, Oklahoma, based on census 2000 data.

As of the 2010 census, Alfalfa County had a population of 5,642 people, down from 6,105 people in 2000. Most of the population (89.1%) self-identified as white. Black or African American individuals made up 4.7% of the population and Native Americans made up 2.9% of the population. Less than 1% of the population was Asian.

The median age of the population was 46 years and 18% of the county's population was under the age of 18. Individuals 65 years of age or older accounted for 20.2% of the population.

There were a total of 2,022 households and 1,333 families in the county in 2010. There were 2,763 housing units. Of the 2,022 households, 23.4 percent included children under the age of 18 and slightly more than half (56.3%) included married couples living together. Non-family households accounted for 34.1% of households. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.81.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,730, and the median income for a family was $56,444. The per capita income for the county was $24,080. About 7 percent of families and 11 percent of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.4 percent of those age 65 or over.




Census-designated place

Other unincorporated places

NRHP sites

The following sites in Alfalfa County are listed on the National Register of Historic Places:

  • Alfalfa County Courthouse, Cherokee
  • Aline IOOF Lodge No. 263, Aline
  • Carmen IOOF Home, Carmen
  • Carmen IOOF Lodge No. 84, Carmen
  • Cherokee Armory, Cherokee
  • Cherokee Friends Church, Cherokee
  • Cherokee IOOF Lodge No. 219, Cherokee
  • Farmers' Exchange Elevator, Goltry
  • Farmers' Federation Elevator, Cherokee
  • Hotel Cherokee, Cherokee
  • Ingersoll Tile Elevator, Ingersoll
  • Sod House, Cleo Springs


The largely rural economy is based on agricultural and energy production. Agriculture has altered to be based in industrial-scale farms and production. The county is the second-largest producer of winter wheat in Oklahoma. The USDA estimated the county's winter wheat production at 5,957,000 bushels for 2015. The USDA also listed the county as the state's seventh-largest producer of sorghum in 2015, at 702,000 bushels.

Alfalfa County remains a major producer of petroleum and natural gas. In 2012, it was second (surpassed only by neighboring Woods County) in production of natural gas for Oklahoma counties, with an output of 419,606,514 Mcf (thousand cubic feet). It is also a major producer of crude oil, with total output of 3,395,396 barrels in 2012, which was fifth among Oklahoma counties.

Notable people born in Alfalfa County

  • R. Orin Cornett (1913 – 2002), physicist, was born in Driftwood. He earned a doctorate of physics and applied mathematics from the University of Texas in 1940, and invented the communication system for the hearing impaired known as Cued Speech. He taught at Oklahoma Baptist University, Penn State, and Harvard University. He also served as a vice president at Oklahoma Baptist and as the Vice President of Long Range Planning for Gallaudet University.
  • Beryl Clark (1917 – 2000), born in Cherokee. Clark was a football player with the Oklahoma Sooners who was selected as a second-team halfback on the 1939 College Football All-America Team. Clark was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals in the 1940 NFL Draft and played for the Cardinals during the 1940 NFL season.
  • Harold Keith (1903 – 1998), born in Lambert. He earned a master's degree in history and became the University of Oklahoma's first sports publicist from 1930 to 1969. He was awarded the 1958 Newbery Medal for his historical novel Rifles for Watie, which is based on the interviews he did for his Master's thesis. Keith was a 1987 inductee into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame (now a part of the Jim Thorpe Association).
  • Harold G. Kiner (1924 – 1944), was born in Aline. As a private in the US Army during World War II, he received the U. S. military's highest decoration — the Medal of Honor — for his heroic actions.
  • Wallace "Wally" Parks (1913 – 2007) was born in Goltry. Parks was founder in 1951, chairman and president of the National Hot Rod Association, better known as NHRA. It helped establish drag racing as a legitimate amateur and professional motorsport. In 1948, he was named editor of Hot Rod magazine. Parks was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1993.
Black History Month on Kiddle
Famous African-American Civil Rights Activists:
Myrlie Evers-Williams
Aaron Henry
T. R. M. Howard
Jesse Jackson
kids search engine
Alfalfa County, Oklahoma Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.