Tonkawa, Oklahoma
Tonkawa is a city in Kay County
Kay County, Oklahoma
Kay County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of 2000, the population was 48,080. Its county seat is Newkirk. The largest city in Kay County is Ponca City.-19th century:...

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, along the Salt Fork Arkansas River
Salt Fork Arkansas River
The Salt Fork of the Arkansas River is a tributary of the Arkansas River in southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma in the United States. Via the Arkansas River, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River.-Course:...

. The population was 3,299 at the 2000 census
United States Census, 2000
The Twenty-second United States Census, known as Census 2000 and conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000, to be 281,421,906, an increase of 13.2% over the 248,709,873 persons enumerated during the 1990 Census...



Named after the Tonkawa
The Tickanwa•tic Tribe , better known as the Tonkawa , are a Native American people indigenous to present-day Oklahoma and Texas. They once spoke the now-extinct Tonkawa language believed to have been a language isolate not related to any other indigenous tongues...

 tribe, the city of Tonkawa was founded in March 1894, by Eli V. Blake and Wiley William Gregory. Blake and Gregory, originally from Kansas, claimed the land that would become Tonkawa in the Land Run of 1893
Land Run of 1893
The Land Run of 1893, also known as the Cherokee Strip Land Run, marked the opening of the Cherokee Outlet to the public. The run happened on September 16, 1893 at noon with more than 100,000 participants hoping to claim land. The land offices for the run were set up in Perry, Enid, Woodward, and...

. Prior to the land run, from 1879 to 1885, this area was home to the Nez Perce.

Camp Tonkawa

During World War II, Tonkawa was home to Camp Tonkawa, a Prisoner of War camp. Camp Tonkawa remained in operation from August 30, 1943 to September 1, 1945. Built between October and December 1942, the 160 acre (0.6474976 km²) site contained more than 180 wooden structures for 3,000 German POW's as well as 500 U.S. Army guard troops, service personnel and civilian employees. The first prisoners, consisting of German troops from the Afrika Corps arrived in August 1943. During their internment, prisoners labored at local farms and ranches. In November 1943, a prison riot caused the death of a German soldier, Johannes Kunze
Johannes Kunze
Johannes Kunze was a German World War II prisoner of war held at Camp Tonkawa, Oklahoma. He was a Gefreiter in the Afrika Korps. Following a trial before a kangaroo court on November 4, 1943, he was beaten to death by fellow POWs for being a traitor. There was very strong evidence that Kunze had...

. Eight prisoners briefly escaped, only to be recaptured.


Tonkawa is located at 36°40′49"N 97°18′33"W (36.680362, -97.309219). According to the United States Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data...

, the city has a total area of 5.6 square miles (14.5 km²), of which, 5.6 square miles (14.5 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square mile (0.1035995244 km²) of it (0.36%) is water.


As of the census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

of 2000, there were 3,299 people, 1,197 households, and 801 families residing in the city. The population density
Population density
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and particularly to humans...

 was 591.3 people per square mile (228.3/km²). There were 1,417 housing units at an average density of 254.0 per square mile (98.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 86.39% White, 0.85% African American, 5.55% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 3.06% from other races
Race (United States Census)
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...

, and 3.82% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.64% of the population.

There were 1,197 households out of which 32.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.8% were married couples
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 living together, 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.0% were non-families. 29.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 17.3% from 18 to 24, 23.6% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 15.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 98.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $29,387, and the median income for a family was $35,912. Males had a median income of $27,222 versus $20,114 for females. The per capita income
Per capita income
Per capita income or income per person is a measure of mean income within an economic aggregate, such as a country or city. It is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the aggregate and dividing it by the total population...

 for the city was $14,245. About 12.5% of families and 17.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.9% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.


Tonkawa is covered by the Tonkawa Public Schools district which includes Tonkawa Elementary, Tonkawa Middle School, and Tonkawa High School. Tonkawa is also home to Northern Oklahoma College
Northern Oklahoma College
Northern Oklahoma College is a community college located in Tonkawa, Oklahoma, with additional campuses located in Enid, Oklahoma and Stillwater, Oklahoma. Student enrollment is approximately 2,700.-History:...

 which provides Associates level education.


  • North Oklahoma Botanical Garden and Arboretum
    North Oklahoma Botanical Garden and Arboretum
    North Oklahoma Botanical Garden and Arboretum is a botanical garden and arboretum on the campus of Northern Oklahoma College, located at 1220 East Grand, Tonkawa, Oklahoma...

  • A. D. Buck Museum of Science and History
    A. D. Buck Museum of Science and History
    A. D Buck Museum of Science and History is a museum in Tonkawa, Oklahoma located on the campus of Northern Oklahoma College.-History:Originally called the Yellow Bull Museum after a Nez Perce chief, the museum was renamed in 1966 to honor its long-time director, A.D. Buck, who served from the 1930s...

  • Tonkawa Historical Museum
  • Tonkawa Tribal Museum
  • Eleanor Hays Art Gallery

NRHP sites

The following sites in Tonkawa are listed on the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

  • Mahoney House and Garage
  • First Presbyterian Church of Tonkawa
  • Nez Perce Reservation
  • Tonkawa Armory

Notable people

  • Henry Bellmon
    Henry Bellmon
    Henry Louis "Harry" Bellmon was an American Republican politician from Oklahoma. He was a member of the Oklahoma Legislature, the 18th and 23rd Governor of Oklahoma , and a two-term United States Senator.-Service in World War II:Bellmon was born in Tonkawa, Oklahoma and graduated from Billings...

    , first Republican Governor of Oklahoma (1963–1967, 1991–1995) and U.S. Senator (1969–1981)

External links

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