Stratford, the county seat of Sherman County, is on U.S. highways 54 and 287 in the western part of the county. The site was settled around 1885, when Aaron Norton bought 100 sections of land from the railroads, and was named by Walter Colton, Norton's hired manager, after Stratford, Virginia, the boyhood home of Robert E. Lee. Colton, a native of Kentucky, had been an admirer of Lee. In 1900 the site that Colton and his associates platted became a shipping point and post office on the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway. An election resulted in Stratford's replacing Coldwater as county seat in July 1901. During the following decade small businessmen and homesteaders were attracted to the vicinity by the advertisements of the Standard Land Company, a Rock Island immigration agency based in Kansas City, which established a branch office in Stratford. George M. Kerr began a new county newspaper, the Stratford Star, in 1901, replacing the Sherman County Banner of Coldwater. By 1910 Stratford had three churches, a school, two banks, and a population of 600. The town grew more in 1928, when the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railway arrived. During the 1930s Stratford became noted for its high school band program. Although the Dust Bowl posed a threat to the local economy, programs of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration and the Work Projects Administration, and later the introduction of irrigation wells, enabled Stratford to continue as a center of Panhandle agriculture. In the 1980s, in addition to several large feedlots and feed-production plants, the town had a tannery, a steel-fabrication plant, a bank, a library, an airport, seven churches, enlarged public schools, an exhibit and livestock-show barn, and a nursing home with updated facilities. Stratford was incorporated before 1940, when it reported a population of 877. In 1950 the population was 1,376. It was 2,139 in 1970, 1,917 in 1980, and 1,781 in 1990. In 2000 the population was 1,991.