Stillwater, Okla. History


"This information was gathered from various sites throughout the Internet. The numbers behind the sentences correspond to the web page I got the information from during my research. It is a conglomeration of information that has it's resources on the corresponding webpages. Please visit those web pages as the people there have done hard work in making history more available to all of us."

Paul Reeves

At the bottom of the page are 'Places of Interest' where I have captured some of the history of the local area.

Stillwater is a city in and the county seat of Payne County, Oklahoma. Founded December 12, 1884 it was the first settlement in the Unassigned Lands. Located at the junction of State Highways 51 and 177, sixty-five miles northeast of Oklahoma City and sixty-four miles west of Tulsa, Stillwater is the seat of Payne County.

Payne County was opened to settlement in the Oklahoma land run of 1889, and the land was populated overnight.

Town and county history formally began with the Boomer movement. On December 8, 1884, Capt. William L. Couch led a caravan of Boomers across the Cherokee Outlet to a stream just inside the future Oklahoma Territory. As they settled in dugouts and tents, they called the stream the Still Water and their settlement Stillwater. Surrounded by the U.S. Cavalry and cut off from supplies, the Boomers returned to Kansas.[1]

Stillwater was settled officially during the run into the Unassigned Lands of central Oklahoma on April 22, 1889, and its name became official when a post office was established on May 28, 1889. Robert A. Lowry donated eighty acres of his claim and two other pioneers, David Husband and Sanford Duncan, each donated forty acres to meet the requirements for a town site.[1]

Businesses sprang up, schools and churches were built, and farmers planted crops.Community life centered on Amon Swope's two-story building at Ninth and Main streets. His Bank of Stillwater and a grocery store were on the first floor. The first Sunday schools, church services, and town meetings were held upstairs. On September 30, 1889, thirty children climbed the outside stairs and the first school began. In 1891 the city erected a two-room, frame school on Lewis Street. As eighty Main Street buildings were completed by August 1889, citizens celebrated by erecting a flagpole seventy-six feet high. Attached to it were a huge flag and lantern to guide travelers to Stillwater.[1]

After a city government was established on June 11, 1889, a group of young men who called themselves the Vigilantes decided to seek advantages that would make Stillwater a thriving city years later. After bitter disputes with Payne   Center and Perkins, Stillwater won the county seat when Congress passed the Organic Act on May 2, 1890. To mollify Payne Center, Stillwater leaders agreed to name the county Payne for David L. Payne, the Boomer leader. Another success came when the territorial legislature approved Stillwater as the land-grant college site in December 1890. When the Arkansas Valley Telephone Company established a telephone system in Stillwater in August 1899, one phone was installed to serve Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University). Pres. Angelo C. Scott said the college needed two phones, one for his office and one for faculty and staff. Manager Paul Boone agreed, climbed a pole, and installed a second line. The entire college then was located in Old Central.[1] In December of 1890, the state's land-grant university, Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University), was established at Stillwater, the county seat. The Oklahoma State University is located in Stillwater, Oklahoma and is a flagship land grant institution that began as the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College on December 25th 1890.  In the beginning when students started their classes there were no books, no curriculum and no buildings.  Clearly, OSU has come a long way from those days and have experienced a lot of changes like in 1957 when the name of the school changed from the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College to the present day name, The Oklahoma State University.

The first city water system was setup in 1892 as a dam was built across Boomer Creek, after which the city purchased a new horse-drawn fire wagon and borrowed a team from Myers's livery when fires occurred.[1]

The Stillwater Gazette estimated that seven hundred citizens turned out on Sunday morning, March 25, 1900, as the Eastern Oklahoma Railway brought the first train to Stillwater. Cotton was the major county crop, and soon two cotton gins were operating near the tracks. Nearby, William W. Abercrombie established the town's first electric power plant. An outside steam engine served as a generator. The plant could light up Main Street only for a short time. In 1905 the city established its own power plant.[1]

Kappa Kappa Psi was founded at Oklahoma A&M College, now Oklahoma State University, in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on November 27, 1919. The fraternity has maintained its national headquarters in Stillwater, Oklahoma, to this day. Legendary Band Director Bohumil Makovsky was the guiding spirit behind the founding of the group. Makovsky personally selected the 10 students who are recognized as the founders of Kappa Kappa Psi. For many years, Makovsky was the moving force behind the growth and refinement of the fraternity. For his dedicated and tireless work, he was officially recognized as “The Guiding Spirit of Kappa Kappa Psi.”

Not all the activity in early Payne County centered around education, business, and farming. Eastern Payne County and the rough country along the Cimarron River provided a haven for outlaws like Bill Doolin, Bitter Creek Newcomb, and Arkansas Tom. The gunfight at Ingalls, between the Doolin-Dalton gang and U.S. marshals in 1893, resulted in the deaths of three lawmen and two bystanders. Today, a monument in Ingalls honors the slain lawmen.

Places of Interest:

Old School Bagels 002

 Old School Bagel Cafe is a very good place to eat in Stillwater Oklahoma, and is on Main Street just before you reach Hall Of Fame Boulevard. Come on in and enjoy their wonderful selection of Bagels and Sandwiches, and remember to say 'HI' to Bill and all the crew!

© Lord Gazmuth 2012