Hughes county is located in eastern Oklahoma east-southeast of Oklahoma City with Holdenville serving as the county seat.
One of the first settlements in the area was built up around the Edward's trading post on the Little River and was called Fentress. As the railroads came through, however, the town gradually moved north and townspeople wanted to change the name to Holden in honor of the Auditor and Traffic Manager for the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad. Due to similarities with Holder, the name of Holdenville was accepted.
On its way through the county in a generally northeasterly direction, the Canadian River forms a part of the southwest county line with Pontotoc County as well as a portion of the northeast county line with Cherokee County. A section of the North Canadian River dips in and out of the northern part of the county just north of Wetumka.
The county population on July 1, 1999, was 14,064, an increase of 1,050 over the 1990 census.