Jay, Oklahoma

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Jay is a city in Delaware County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 2,482 at the 2000 census with almost 40% Native American. Rich in Cherokee history, Jay is home to numerous Cherokee tribal offices and a health clinic for the Delaware Disctict of the Cherokee Nation and is the county seat of Delaware County, Oklahoma.[3] Jay's most famous son is Tommy Morrison, former world heavyweight boxing champion and grandnephew of actor John Wayne. The city is celebrated as the Huckleberry Capital of the World and has been host to the annual Huckleberry Festival each July 4th weekend for over 40 years.



Jay is located at 36°25′26″N 94°47′52″W / 36.42389°N 94.79778°W / 36.42389; -94.79778 (36.423906, -94.797831).[4] and is located in the beautiful oak and hickory forests of the Ozark Plateau. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.2 square miles (8.4 km²), all of it land. The Cherokee name for Jay is Dlaygvi (Bluejay Place).

Jay is atypical in Oklahoma history because the townsite and layout were located and platted, specifically for its purpose as a county seat. It is not located on a river, major road or railway line as were most Oklahoma towns of the late 1800's and early 1900s.

Around 1908 the Delaware County Improvement Association hired a survey team to pinpoint the exact location of the center of the county. They pinpointed allotment land belonging to Thomas Oochaleta, a full-blood Cherokee. Since acquiring title to a full-blood's allotment would require a lengthy federal legal procedure, the committee shifted their attention to the allotment adjoining Oochaleta's on the east, a parcel belonging to committee member Claude L. "Jay" Washbourne. As a mixed-blood Cherokee, Washbourne was exempt from the federal policy restricting the sale or transfer of his land. He gave ten acres on which to construct a town. The town was designed, reserving a central block for a courthouse. The committee quickly constructed a frame building and then applied to the U.S. Postal Service for a post office, submitting the required three town names for consideration. The names submitted were "Center," "Jay," and "Washbourne." Postal authorities chose Jay for its brevity.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 2,482 people, 954 households, and 609 families residing in the city. The population density was 767.2 people per square mile (296.7/km²). There were 1,051 housing units at an average density of 324.9/sq mi (125.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 54.43% White, 0.56% African American, 36.50% Native American, 0.04% Asian, 1.89% from other races, and 6.57% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.55% of the population.

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