September 16, 1893
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| In 1811 the first American to explore the area was George C. Sibley, who visited the saline north of present Freedom on the Cimarron River. Sibley then followed the Mountain Fork of the Arkansas River southeast to the Great Salt Plains east of Cherokee. Later, Nathan Boone explored western Woods County in 1843. Boone kept the Cimarron River on his right as he moved toward the southeast. He spent July 4 near the source of Eagle Chief Creek west of Avard and camped the night of July 5 near Galena in the southeastern corner of the county. The next day he crossed the Cimarron and left the area. Cattle ranching was important in this part of the Cherokee Outlet, which became a pathway for Texas drovers. Beginning at Dover, the Dodge City and Red Fork Trail, a branch of the Chisholm Trail, paralleled the north bank of the Cimarron. Following a northwesterly course, the trail crossed the southern and western sides of the county.|
The lands acquired by the congressional acts of March 2, 1889, March 3, 1891, and March 3, 1893, were divided into counties by the secretary of the interior, as required by section 10 of the March 1893 act before opening them to settlement. Thus, officials in the nation's capital formed Woods County as M County prior to the opening of the Cherokee Outlet. M County's name was changed to Woods by popular vote on November 6, 1894. The Democrats submitted the name "Banner," claiming that it was the banner county of the territory. The Republicans proposed "Flynn" to honor the territory's Congressional Delegate Dennis T. Flynn. The Populists advocated "Wood" to honor Sam Wood, a renowned Kansas Populist. However, Wood's name appeared as Woods on the ballot, and the secretary of the election committee misidentified Wood as Woods in his election report. The full committee also failed to notice the error before the report was published, and meeting later they "decided to keep the s for euphony sake."
Alva was designated as the county seat for M County by the secretary of the interior and also was designated as one of the four district land offices for the Outlet. The town remained the county seat despite numerous efforts to secure a more, centralized county seat during the territorial period.
Woods County E-mail List on Rootsweb
Woods County Query Board on Rootsweb
Woods County Query Board on Genforum
Woods County Cemetery Listings on Interment.net
Woods County Cemetery Listings on OKcemeteries.net
Woods County Cemetery Listings on Find A Grave
Woods County Courthouse
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