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Checotah, Oklahoma facts for kids

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Checotah, Oklahoma
Kniseley and Long Building
Kniseley and Long Building
Steer Wrestling Capital of the World, Gem of the prairie
Location of Checotah, Oklahoma
Location of Checotah, Oklahoma
Country United States
State Oklahoma
County McIntosh
 • Total 9.02 sq mi (23.36 km2)
 • Land 8.96 sq mi (23.19 km2)
 • Water 0.06 sq mi (0.17 km2)
650 ft (198 m)
 • Total 3,335
 • Estimate 
 • Density 345.62/sq mi (133.44/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 539/918
FIPS code 40-13650
GNIS feature ID 1091227

Checotah is a town in McIntosh County, Oklahoma, United States. It was named for Samuel Checote, the first chief of the Creek Nation elected after the Civil War. The population was 3,481 at the 2000 census. According to Census 2010, the population has decreased to 3,335; a 4.19% loss.

Checotah is home to numerous antique malls, a Civil War battle site and a downtown historic district. Checotah claims to be the steer wrestling capital of the world. Early boosters called Checotah "The Gem of the Prairie".


Checotah Oklahoma Circa 1900
A street scene in Checotah around 1900.

The Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad (also known as the MKT or Katy) established a railhead on the old Texas Road in 1872 that would become the site of present-day Checotah. Although it was named Checote Switch for Samuel Checote, a later mapmaker spelled the name as Checotah. The town was chartered by the Creek Nation in 1893. The Dawes Commission held its first meeting here.

Between 1907 and 1909, the people of Checotah were involved in a dispute with nearby Eufaula known as the McIntosh County Seat War. After Checotah was designated as the new county seat, the people of Eufaula refused to hand over the county records. Soon after, a group of heavily armed men from Chectotah attempted to seize the records from the courthouse in Eufaula, but were beaten back and forced to surrender during the gunfight that followed. Eufaula was designated as the permanent seat of McIntosh County one year later.


Checotah is located at an elevation of 652 feet (199 m) at the intersection of I-40 and U.S. Route 69. Nearby is Eufaula Lake, the largest-capacity lake in the state of Oklahoma.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.0 sq mi (23 km2). 8.9 square miles (23 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (0.67%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 805
1910 1,683 109.1%
1920 2,390 42.0%
1930 2,110 −11.7%
1940 2,126 0.8%
1950 2,638 24.1%
1960 2,614 −0.9%
1970 3,074 17.6%
1980 3,454 12.4%
1990 3,290 −4.7%
2000 3,481 5.8%
2010 3,335 −4.2%
2019 (est.) 3,095 −7.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 3,481 people, 1,389 households, and 912 families residing in the city. The population density was 389.3 per square mile (150.3/km2). There were 1,576 housing units at an average density of 176.3 per square mile (68.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 67.91% White, 6.92% African American, 15.91% Native American, 0.23% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 0.40% from other races, and 8.53% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.29% of the population.

There were 1,389 households, out of which 31.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.9% were married couples living together, 17.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.3% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 26.1% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 23.7% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 21.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 77.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 72.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $22,029, and the median income for a family was $30,741. Males had a median income of $26,094 versus $17,298 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,921. About 16.1% of families and 20.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.4% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those age 65 or over. The median house value is $50,500.

Popular culture

  • American Idol Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood wrote a song on her album Some Hearts called "I Ain't in Checotah Anymore". It includes references to the local high school team (Wildcats), Highways 69 and 40, the Okra Fest, and Eufaula Lake.

Notable people

  • Mel McDaniel, country musician
  • Paul H. Carr, Silver Star recipient
  • Woody Crumbo, Native American artist, lived and worked in Checotah during the later part of his career.
  • Merle Haggard's parents James Francis Haggard and Flossie Mae Harp
  • Jim G. Lucas (1914–1970), Journalist and war correspondent, winner of Pulitzer Prize in Journalism and two-time winner of Ernie Pyle Journalism award
  • Tracy Scroggins, NFL linebacker
  • Carrie Underwood, Grammy Award winning country musician and American Idol season four Fox winner and Country Music's reigning Queen
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