County Facts


By Sooter


The location of the County is the 100th Meridian. On the West which is Oklahoma-Texas State boundary line. North side of the County boundary is South Canadian River. The Washita River runs East and West through the middle of the County.

First records indicate that Spanish explorer, Coronado, killed antelope for meat in Roger Mills County in 1541. The next record of white people in the County was 1601 by Spaniard Onote.

Lasalle claimed the territory for France in 1682. Area granted to Spain in 1762. Territory granted back to France in 1800. The Territory was purchased from France in 1803. In 1804 the Territory was set aside as Indian Territory. In 1830 this area was set aside for Indian tribes moved out of the East United States. In 1858 this area mostly used by Commanches and Plains Indians. Area then granted to Choctaw Indians. After the Civil War this Territory was given to Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians and known as Cheyenne Arapaho Country.

First road survey across the County was in 1849. The trail survey entered the County near Moorewood and traversed West, by three corner, Roll, Crawford, Antelope Hills and into Texas.

Some gold hunters were in the County in 1847 and 1848. First White man-Indian warfare was by some Texans and Indians near Antelope Hills in 1858. The last Indian and White warfare was in 1868 near Cheyenne by General Custer and Cheyenne-Arapaho Indians.

Early trails mostly obliterated around 1902 when fencing law was passed and abolished open range in this area. The cattlemen moved out and land was fenced and broke out. In 1870 area used mostly as cattle range. The Indian Tribes leased land to cattlemen on a yearly basis. Vegetation consisted of Bluestem, Sagebrush, and Shin Oak. Game in the area consisted of Buffalo, Deer, Antelope, Turkey, and Prairie Chicken.

The first land survey in this territory was in 1875 when the area was surveyed in sections. This area was first known as County F. In 1889 the Indians filed claims on some land in this territory and sold balance to U. S. Government for 1 ½ million dollars. The government reserved sections 16 and 36 for school revenue. This land now under Administration of Oklahoma Commission of Land Office. This area known as Cheyenne-Arapaho country was opened for settlement April 19, 1892. A homestead claim was 160 acres. To get a patented deed one had to hold claim for 5 years and live on the claim 6 months each year and farm 25% of the land. Money was scarce and about three-fourths of the original claims were abandoned before the title was cleared. This complicated later claims. Most of the farms were mortgaged as soon as land title was obtained to get cash to pay debts and build houses.

The population of Cheyenne in 1892 was around 50 and first paper in County was 1892. First Church 1894. First Bank 1898. First cotton planted in the County in 1894. Most banks in the County failed. Most early-day roads ran along ridges to eliminate stream crossings. There were about 4 main river crossings across South Canadian River. One North of Leedy. One at area a mile East of present Packsaddle Bridge. One East of Antelope Hills and one Northwest of Durham.

The County was named Roger Mills in 1893 by an Election. Most of the men making claims in the area were from Texas and wanted area for grazing and they named the County for a Texas Congressman by name of Roger Mills. The original County boundary was area North of North Fork of Red River, and North to an East-West line 8 miles North of Cheyenne. Area North of this line was known as Day County. When this area became a state in 1907, the County area was changed to the present South line and extended North to the South Canadian River. Day County was abolished at the time of Statehood. Sayre and Elk City was in Old Roger Mills County.

The first County road was in 1894 from Cheyenne to Grand. Most of the traveled areas were trails until 1911 when some roads were built. The first County Engineer came to the County in 1916. In 1908 a railroad bed was constructed from Doxey to Berlin but the company went broke and no rail was laid. In 1910 a railroad was built through east side of County running through Carpenter and Hammon. In 1912 a railroad was built up Washita through Hammon, Herring and to area called Snakey-Bend (North of present site of Strong City), and was known as C.O.W. railroad as was owned by a Company known as Clinton-Oklahoma-and Western. Cheyenne built a railroad to Strong City in 1913 to connect with railroad there. In 1928 the railroad extended from Cheyenne to Pampa Texas. Present site of Hammon founded in 1910. Strong City 1911, Reydon 1928, Old Rankin, which was south of present site of Reydon, moved to Reydon. Cheyenne was incorporated in 1896. Cheyenne was named for Indian Tribe, “Cheyenne”. Pack Saddle Bridge across South Canadian River built 1930.

First Soil Survey completed in Roger Mills County in 1914 by USDA, Bureau of Soils. H. H. Bennett was the Southern Region Soils Inspector for the County Survey. Detailed Soil Survey by Soil Conservation Service started in Roger Mills County in 1938. Standard Soil Survey began in Summer of 1957.

The Upper Washita Soil Conservation District (which includes all of Roger Mills County) organized and started operations in 1938. The USDA Soil conservation Service through Land Utilization Division purchased 30528 acres of land in Roger Mills County during years of 1930 to 1942. All the cropland has been established to permanent grass. Farmers and Ranchers in the County use the land for livestock grazing. This land was turned to U.S. Forest Service in 1952 for administration.

The early schools were financed by subscription and operated 3 to 6 months per year. The County school system changed with the change of population and modern roads and transportation. A hundred school houses were in the County around 1910 to 1930. In 1959 there are 6 schools in Roger Mills County. Part of the changes of population in our schools is due to drouths, blizards, over grazed ranges, weak cattle and no feed , and too small farm units resulted in low income and a lot of people moved out of County.

Most of the land permanently settled and broke out during the year 1905 to 1909 which were years of good rainfall. Size of Farm Units had increased some by then. The Agriculture is the principle means of income in the County.





1910 – 12861

1910 – 159074

1910 – 2952

1892 – 160

1920 – 10500

1929 – 251036

1930 – 2335

1910 – 217

1930 – 14164

1934 – 252556

1935 – 2326

1930 – 278

1940 – 10736

1939 – 229375

1940 – 1819

1935 – 292

1950 – 7395

1949 – 218768

1945 – 1512

1940 – 383

1959 – 6900

1954 – 194457

1950 – 1275

1945 – 483

1959 – 174000

1954 – 1158

1950 – 563

1954 – 591



Yr. Ac. Yr. Ac. Yr. Ac. Yr. Ac.

1910 – 77000 1910 – 25880 1910 – 4987 1910 – 19348

1929 – 36275 1929 – 53008 1934 – 838 1949 – 8907

1934 – 5628 1934 – 71893 1939 – 505 1954 – 8971

1939 – 5704 1939 – 74180 1944 – 1588

1944 – 5249 1944 – 90155 1949 – 4428

1949 – 1948 1949 – 36613 1954 – 5230

1954 – 453 1954 – 52135


1910 – 15743 1910 – 4875 1910 – 6056

1934 – 42714 1949 – 1234 1939 – 1027

1939 – 31210 1954 – 555 1944 – 44420

1944 – 17361 1949 – 71433

1949 – 22763 1954 – 38023

1954 – 25333



Yr. No. Yr. No. Yr. No.

1910 – 14000 1910 – 19000 1910 – 27000

1930 – 9857 1930 – 18545 1930 – 9922

1935 – 8744 1935 – 24078 1935 – 7028

1940 – 6009 1940 – 19190 1945 – 8545

1945 – 4525 1945 – 57223 1950 – 5006

1950 – 2350 1954 – 46847

Most of the population in the County in the early period of settlement lived on the farms. Approximately half of the County population of people now live in the towns.

Considerable wind and water erosion of soil took place in the County after land was broke out for crops. This was due to drouth leaving the land bare, type of crop, type of farming implements, lack of cover crops, and bare sectionized country roads. Most of the first terraced cropland fields (1922-1938) were on steep eroded soils. First land terraced by H. E. McGuire ½ mile west and 1 mile north of Grimes Oklahoma. The lines were run by McPheters, OSU Specialist in Extension. These terraces were constructed in 1921. J. I. French was County Agent of Roger Mills County then. A majority of these fields have been retired to permanent pasture. The corn acreage went down as cropland fertility went down and hog population went down as corn acres decreased. Machine age was the principle reason for decrease of horses and mules. They were used for tilling crops, hauling crop products, and for transportation. Some land has been put back to permanent pasture as the farm sizes increased. Some land broke out along the years for cropland while eroded land was put back to pasture. The reason for some land breaking was heavy brush and poor grass and need of cropland for cash crops on small farms. Considerable acres of land broke out during world war I and the boom period following the war, for producing high price cash crops.

Average proper carrying capacity of the County has been around 35000 head of stock. During favorable seasons carrying capacity was 50% more than average on good range pasture. Corn, cotton and broomcorn have been principle cash crops in the County. Sweet clover the most used for soil improving crop. Rye is main cover crop. Vetch for cover crop and soil improvement has been erratic due to dry fall and winter periods. Small grain for fall and winter pasture provides adequate grazing about 1 year in 4.

Present trend in agriculture in the County is toward beef and dairy business and less cropland farming. More than 50% of the land in the County now has adequate conservation measures on the land to conserve soil and water. Up-stream flood control structures are now being installed in the Washita River Watershed.

This “History” of Roger Mills County was written by Matthew Sooter. Mr. Sooter was employed by the Soil Conservation Service and began his career in 1935. He moved to Cheyenne in 1940 or 1941 and assembled the information for this ‘History’ in 1959. It has been retyped exactly as the original piece was written with the addition of a few handwritten notes by Mr. Sooter.

An interesting side note concerning the railroad spur built by the city of Cheyenne to Strong City was relayed to me by Fred Peterson son of Judge Giles Peterson. According to Fred the ‘Founding Fathers’ of Cheyenne submitted a bond proposal to install a city water system in Cheyenne. This was passed by a vote of the people and monies were collected. However, these ‘Fathers’ used that money to build the spur to Strong City and then sold it to C.O.W. (Clinton-Oklahoma-Western) railroad. They then took that money and installed a water system in Cheyenne.

Jerry Swartwood