Bill to rename lake named for Tulsa Klansman sinks

The legislation would have changed the name of Lake Hudson in Mayes County

Set on the Grand River in Mayes County, Lake Hudson is known as one of the best spots for bass fishing in the state. It’s also named for one of the founding members of the Ku Klux Klan in Oklahoma.

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained inaccurate information about the Grand River Dam Authority’s plans in respect to a possible name change for Lake Hudson. The GRDA has no plans to meet with residents from the Lake Hudson area about a name change.

A bill to rename an Oklahoma reservoir named for one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan in Tulsa will not move forward this legislative session.

Senate Bill 937 never got a committee hearing and appears dead for the time being. The deadline for Senate bills to emerge from committee was Feb. 28.

SB 937 would have changed the name of Lake Hudson in Mayes County to Lake Markham, in honor of a family that helped settle the area around the Grand River in the 1840s.

The Markhams ran a general store and opened a ferry service on the Grand River at what is now the southwest end of Lake Hudson.

Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, who authored SB 937, did not respond to multiple interview requests.

Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair

The lake is named for the late Wash E. Hudson, an early board member of the Grand River Dam Authority, prominent Tulsa attorney and state lawmaker. Hudson was also a founding member of the Ku Klux Klan in Tulsa in the 1920s.

The GRDA began investigating the possibility of renaming Lake Hudson last year after The Frontier inquired about about its namesake’s ties to the Tulsa Ku Klux Klan.

While the GRDA manages Lake Hudson, it has no power to rename the reservoir, said agency spokesman John Wiscaver.

The name has been codified in state law since the 1960s.

“Any renaming would have to be handled legislatively,” Wiscaver said.


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Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey grew up in Idaho. Oklahoma is her adopted home. Bailey has covered issues ranging from Oklahoma's strained child welfare system to the slow decline of Oklahoma's rural hospitals. She has walked all the way across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to south via Western Avenue and once via the old U.S. Route 66. Her hobbies are baking and crashing meetings she isn't invited to attend. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from The University of Oklahoma. Email her at