Newkirk, Oklahoma 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.

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Newkirk is a city in Kay County, Oklahoma and is the county seat of Kay County. Located in Kay County, Newkirk is situated on U.S. Highway 77, eight miles south of the Kansas-Oklahoma border.Newkirk was also the name of the town in the movie Twister where the drive in movie scene took place. Even though it wasn't filmed in Newkirk, but in Guthrie OK, the directors took the name from this town.

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Newkirk, Oklahoma was platted by the U.S. Government as the county seat of "K" County as one of the seven counties in the Cherokee Outlet which was opened to homesteaders by a land run on September 16, 1893. The townsite was first named Lamoreaux after Silas W. Lamoreaux who was Commissioner of the General Land Office at the time. Unhappy with the name, one of the first acts by the citizens was to choose a different name.

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For political reasons, on September 18, 1893, the citizens voted for the name Santa Fe to entice the railroad to build a depot here. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe tracks ran the length of the townsite on the east side. Two versions exist to explain why the name was once again changed. One version insists that the post office vetoed the name Santa Fe. The other suggests the railroad itself rejected the name. The railroad still was influential in naming the community, however, because it had a cattle shipping point named Kirk on its line two miles north. On November 8, 1893 an election was held to change the name with Newkirk receiving three hundred ten votes. The town of Old Kirk was two miles to the north, and was a small hay station on the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad.

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Newkirk is one of the smallest communities in Kay County. The original site chosen by the government for the county seat was approximately six miles southeast, at the location of Kildare. However, Cherokee allotments awarded in the Cherokee Outlet were chosen with townsite development in mind, causing the government to move county seat sites and to keep their location secret until the land opening.[2]

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A wood framed courthouse was built in 1894, but burned in March of 1897, then in 1901 a disatrous fire destroyed an entire block on the east side of Newkirk's Main Street.

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The first edition of the Newkirk Republican, which appeared on November 24, 1893, listed twenty-seven professionals and businesses, including tworestaurants, four saloons, two meat markets, a lumberyard, and three banks. Within two months the community boasted 247 businesses. By 1901 the downtown area had twenty imposing stone structures, mostof them built of native limestone quarried east of the community.[2] By 1910 most of the downtown area had been rebuilt in the native limestone. The third and current Courthouse was finished in 1926 as the second courthouse was sold for $750.[1] Newkirk continued its slow, steady growth as an agricultural center until the opening of Kay County's rich oil and gas deposits. As the county seat, Newkirk was the center of leasing activity and a Mecca for oil scouts and promoters flocking to the strikes.[1] The beautiful Kay County Courthouse, built with oil money in 1925/1926, is the only courthouse in Oklahoma paid for before  it was constructed.  Two magnificent sculptures grace the courthouse lawn – the Kay County War Memorial and the Land of Hope statute.[3]

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In the center of town, with pillars and arched entryways was the First National Bank of Newkirk, which was originally organized as the Kay County State Bank on October 12, 1893 by P. W. Smith, and it was the oldest bank in the community. The Bank of Sata Fe was started by E. B. Eastman on October 3, 1893, which later became Eastman National Bank by federal charter in 1908 and absorbed The Farmers National Bank on the west side of Main Street in 1936. The cut limestone building with its distinctive windows was built by Neimah Tubbs who fell from the roof as he was completing the building and broke both of his legs.[1]

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Newkirk's entire business district was placed on the National Register in 1984 as an historic district. Newkirk has one of the most intactstreetscapes in Oklahoma. Many of the lovely, turn-of-the-century buildings are constructed of native limestone which was quarried a few miles east of Newkirk. The predominant architecture of these buildings isknown as Plains Romanesque. Newkirk has the largest number of cut limestone buildings in the state, and it was fortunate that the area around Newkirk was one of two places in Oklahoma Territory that contained construction quality limestone.[1] 

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The later buildings constructed in the 1920s and 1930s are of brick with the architecture being Plains Commercial. As a result of Newkirk's beautiful buildings, the community qualified in 1992 to become one of the first small towns in the Main Street program under the direction of the Oklahoma Department ofCommerce.


Places of Interest:


© Lord Gazmuth 2012