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Washita County, Oklahoma

Cordell, Oklahoma

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cthouse1.jpg (19001 bytes)

cordell-sq.jpg (12590 bytes)

Courthouse 1999

Cordell Square



Courthouse 1913

Cordell Aerial View

LINKS: Cordell Academy 1906-1912 | Cordell Memories
Cordell Parade 1924 | Historic Cordell | Courthouse Controversy

Cordell was platted in 1901, by A. J. Johnson and James C. Harrel. In 1894 Harrell bought out a squatter's rights, by trading him 3 horses for his claim (southwest quarter of section 34, township 10, range 17). Improvements at that time consisted of a dug-out, a well, and eight acres of breaking.

Harrel continued to teach school and improve his farm, until he succeeded in getting fifty acres broken. He married in 1895 to Miss Eva Petty, and kept on farming his land.

In 1897 Harrel and Johnson, who owned adjoining quarter sections, arranged to plat their land into a townsite. The section line became main street of the new townsite. The beginning of New Cordell.

The Cordell post office had been established October 12, 1892, a mile and a half to the east before Johnson and Harrel's townsite plat. When the new townsite was platted the first house was moved over from Texas, and the postmistress brought the mail over from the old town in her apron. The postmistress kept a small lodging house. Cordell was named for Wayne W. Cordell, long time employee of the Post Office Department.

Each man managed the sale and distribution of his own lots, each donating land for the courthouse square. The seat of government was located at Cordell in 1901, by a vote of the people. Mr. Harrel, as one of the founders of the town of Cordell, refused to sell a lot for the use of a saloon.

Soon the old town was all moved over, and stores and shops were soon provided in the new place. During the first years of the town's history, Mr. Harrel erected a twenty-five hundred dollar school building, assisted by other citizens. Mr. Harrel continued to dwell within his humble dug-out all this time, and was the teacher of this pioneer school.

The town increased to a population of more than twenty-five hundred and included a graded school and two academies, churches, shops, banks, etc. all to do with a thriving town.

When the Frisco railroad was heading toward Cordell, donations and local support was sought by Dr. J. E. Farber. He was active in securing the line, and with other local men organized the Cordell Improvement Company, of which he was made president. They purchased the required land and gave it to the railroad company, which induced the company to build into the town. He also assisted in organizing the Otter Creek Irrigation Company, with a million dollars capital, with a plant near Mountain Park, Oklahoma, on the Frisco line of railway.

Cordell continues to be a thriving town.

imageThe original Tower Clock in the Washita County Courthouse was installed in 1914. In 1954 the clock works was removed in the tower and an electric clock was put together, piece by piece. The caretaker for the clock is retired Washita County Commissioner Alfred H. Miller. Alfred lives just outside Cordell, Oklahoma.

Alfred said the clock is a monstrosity of a contraption, but keeps excellent time. There is no stairway leading up into the dome, so the caretaker must use a lineman's harness and ropes to ascend into the tower.

Contributed by Marti Graham, August 2003. Information posted as courtesy to researchers. The contributor is not related to nor researching any of the families mentioned.


  1. Bridges, Butch. Washita County Courthouse Clock. 25 Oct 1996. 21 Aug 2003 <http://www.brightok.net/chickasaw/ardmore/county/cordell.html>.

  2. Hill, Luther. A History of the State of Oklahoma, Volume II. New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1908, 1908, 527-528 (James C. Harrel).

  3. Hill, Luther. A History of the State of Oklahoma, Volume II. New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1908, 530-531 (J. E. Farber).

  4. Nikkel, Lorin & Billie (Neeley) of Texas contributed Courthouse, Cordell Square and Cordell Aerial photos, May 1999.

  5. Shirk, George H. Oklahoma Place Names. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1965.

  6. "Counties and Township Maps for Oklahoma." OKGenWeb. 2003. OKGenWeb. 18 Aug 2003 <http://www.okgenweb.net/okprojects/maps-dot.html>.


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