Blog Oklahoma Podcast 062: Greer County

In this long overdue episode we take another look back into Oklahoma History.with the fascinating tale of Greer County … Texas.

Welcome to Blog Oklahoma

Here in home office in Elk City, Oklahoma I'm approximately 28 miles east of the Texas state line. If history had changed in one court decision I would be a mere 16 miles away from Texas.

To explain this we have to look back to when Spain and France still held these lands.

The Kingdom of France held the lands from present day Louisiana all the way up the Mississippi river to the most southern tips of Alberta Canada, and as far west as the eastern parts of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and the Texas Panhandle. Spain controlled everything west of there to the Pacific coast.

In 1803.France sold this land to the United States known as the Louisiana Purchase.

In 1819 The United States and Spain signed the Adams–Onís Treaty that ceded Florida to the United States and defined the boundary between the U.S. and Spain. For the purposes of our tale, this boundary line ran along the Red River west to the 100th Meridian, and then north to the Arkansas river.

When this treaty was signed they used a map that showed the Red River as one continuous river to the 100th meridian. Little did they know the Red River actually forks many miles east of the 100th meridian.

In 1852, Capts. Randolph B. Marcy and George B. McClellan were sent to explore the Red and Canadian rivers. Captain McClellan used astronomical observations to establish the 100th Meridian. However, he made a mistake and placed the meridian one degree east of its actual location. This made the meridian intersect the north fork of the Red River. This lead Capt. Marcy to believe the north fork was the main channel of the Red River.

Thus began years of confusion regarding the Red River and the Texas border. Texas claimed the land south of the North Fork and the United States claimed the land north of the South Fork.

On February 9, 1860, Texas created Greer County, named in honor of John A. Greer, a former lieutenant governor of Texas, in the area between the north and south forks of the Red River. They started allocating land, setting up post offices, and named Mangum as the county seat.

Many years went by without a resolution to the conflict between the United States and Texas about this area.

On May 2, 1890, U.S. Congress passed the Organic Act that created the Territory of Oklahoma. One section of this act required that the attorney general of the United States file a suit to the U.S. Supreme Court to officially settle the disputed boundary.

On March 16, 1896, the Court ruled that the southern branch of the Red River was the true Red River of the 1819 treaty. Thus Greer County became part of Oklahoma Territory.

In 1906 during the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention Greer County was divided up into Beckham, Jackson, and Greer counties. After statehood in 1909, Harmon County was created out of a part of southwestern Greer County.

And thus ends the tale of old Greer County, Texas.

You can see historical markers to Old Greer County in front of the Greer County Courthouse in Mangum and the Harmon County courthouse in Hollis.

If you would like to learn more about Greer County Texas I've provided links to all my reference material in the show notes at blogoklahoma.net.

This episode's writing suggestion

is to share your adventures in Old Greer County.

Links from this episode

This episode's bonus interesting articles

This episode's bonus musical selection

You can listen To the Blog Oklahoma Bonus playlist on Spotify. Enjoy.

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