Harmon County has an area of 532 square miles, situated in the extreme southwestern section of Oklahoma. According to the 1970 census, the county had a population count of 5136 or 9.3 persons per square mile.
Hollis is located in the southwestern corner of the county intersecting U.S. Highways 62 and 30. It is the county seat of the county and has a Manager-Council type government. Its inhabitants are friendly and are proud of Hollis.
The city had its beginning in 1898, when the George W. Hollis family weathered a raging November blizzard to arrive and set up a campfire on the site where Hollis now stands. With lumber freighted from nearby Quanah, Texas, the family soon built a house on a quarter section of land on which filing rights had been purchased from Jess Watson for $600.00.
In the middle of the great prairie, early settlers rambled into town in their horse-drawn wagons to get a few supplies at the general merchandise store, which had been set up by the Hollises. The store, together with Jim Prock’s blacksmith shop, made up the business section.
Mail was received at Witt, 2 miles southwest of Hollis, which was established in 1892 and discontinued in 1903.
In 1900, Dr. J.E. Jones, the first doctor arrived in Hollis. His wife became the new postmistress of the first post office, opened their home, and the name of Hollis was assigned to it.
The first school on the townsite was built near the location of the Warren Grocery, at the intersection of the Highways 62 and 30, in 1901, with Miss Clara Belle Hudspeth being the first teacher.
The first newspaper came in 1903, followed by dry good and millinery, hardware, gins and drug stores.
By 1901 the city was launched. By selling half interest in 10 acres of land to N.N. DeLamar, who had just arrived and had prior experience in laying out a city in Whitney, Texas, real estate began popping. For the half interest in acreage, DeLamar had traded a wagon and team, the promise to open up a wagon yard and his services in laying out the town in lots, which he did with a 50-foot barbed wire.
The deal was made in 1902 with Rufus R. Connella to promote a townsite. For $1,600.00 and 75 acres of townsite land, a town would be promoted with Connella to build a 2 story hotel, a bank and general merchandise store. This he did and the town was on its way. The plat was not recorded until sold to Connella.
The Hollis Townsite Company, composed of W.L. Hollis, Dr. J.E. Jones, Dr. W.C. Pendergraft, and Rufus Connella, roughly drew the original plat of the town on a shoe box lid. Lots were sold off this plat before it was recorded in the then county seat at Mangum, Oklahoma Territory. In the course of events, the shoe box was lost and a suit was filed in the District Court cancelling the “Shoe Box Plat” and the deeds resulting from it. A new plat was then drawn up as of February 18, 1903 and duly filed in Mangum.
Harmon County was part of old Imperial Greer County, a disputed territory for many years. The Constitutional Convention divided Old Greer County into Greer, Jackson and Beckham Counties in 1907. An election in 1909 brought a proclamation by Governor C.N. Haskell, dividing Greer County into two counties, Greer and Harmon.
Harmon County was named in honor of Judson C. Harmon who was the United States Attorney General in charge of litigation between Texas and the United States.
In 1909, Hollis won the county seat election over Dryden, Looney and Vinson.
In 1910, the county reported its first U.S. Census. This enumeration indicated 11,328 residents. After World War I, the price of agricultural products rose so high that practically all-tillable land was plowed up and planted to crops. By 1930, the population had reached a peak of 13,834. Almost every 160-acre tract supported a family.
From the days of the early settlers, to the present time, cotton has been one of the principal crops. According to Clara Bell Hudspeth in a 1936 WPA Report, the jack rabbits, which inhabited the area in large numbers, liked to feed on the farmers’ crops. To protect their crops, farmers conducted rabbit drives, which ended in the animals being trapped in wire cages and slaughtered.
Agriculture began to flourish with the drilling of the first irrigation wells around 1950 and today, approximately 409 actual well logs are reported in Harmon County to the Oklahoma Water Resource Board.
According to the 2010 census, Harmon County population is at 2,922, or 5.5 persons per square mile.