Outlaws, Stolen County Seat, And The Circus; Kenton Is Incredible
With the right set of eyes, you can always find a good story. I once read a story about a town in Oklahoma that operates on mountain time, even though it isn't in that timezone.
So what does P.T. Barnum's circus, an outlaw fort, mountain time, and a stolen county seat have in common? Kenton, Oklahoma.
No Man's Land And A Band Of Outlaws
Back before the panhandle of Oklahoma was a part of the state, it was referred to as "No Man's Land." As you can imagine, it was a hotbed for all kinds of illicit frontier living since it wasn't under anyone's jurisdiction.
During this time "Captain" William Coe and his band of robbers set up shop in what would be the western portion of the Oklahoma panhandle. They robbed pretty much anyone and everyone passing through.
He had a "fort" of sorts where he and his robber pals would hide out. Eventually they met the wrong end of a vigilante mob after robbing a ranch in New Mexico.
At least, that's how the stories go.
Towns Started To Spring Up
It wouldn't take long before that area would start to be settled by ranchers. Two towns popped up. One named, Mineral. The other, Corrizo.
The towns did alright for themselves pre-statehood. Corrizo got moved to the east by its postmaster. The nephew of P.T. Barnum, Fairchild B. Drew, moved the post office and changed the name to Kenton.
Then came the great county seat steal of Cimarron county, at least according to the legends.
Statehood And A Stolen County Seat
Oklahoma achieved statehood and the little town of Kenton was named the temporary county seat of Cimarron County. Soon, a vote was held by the citizens to determine the county seat.
According to the lore, the citizens voted to move the county seat to Boise City.
This is where things get interesting. Votes were cast and the decision was made. So why would the county seat be stolen?
Legend has it that a group from Boise City, who must have decided they were sick of waiting through the 30-day waiting period, went and took the necessary papers from Kenton.
Supposedly, this started rumors that the county seat had been stolen. I think what they meant to say was "moved ahead of schedule."
Livin' On Mountain Time
Kenton isn't much to look at today. It's a tiny, tiny town in the western part of a sparsely populated panhandle. Still, it has its unique charms.
One of the more unique aspects of Kenton is that they do things according to mountain time, despite being in Oklahoma. Supposedly it's because the town is close to New Mexico and Colorado.
Today, the town of Kenton is still home to some. As of 2010, there were 17 people who called Kenton home.