Ponca City

Ponca City, Okla. History

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"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.

Ponca City, the place where I live and where I was raised, and it is a very nice community where the crime rate is low. One of the nice things about Ponca City is it is small and so things move at a slower pace, and you don't have to put up with all of the insanity of a large city.

Ponca City is located about 100 miles north of Oklahoma City (the State Capitol) and about 100 miles west of Tulsa, and about 80 miles south of Wichita Kansas, so you can see, if Ponca City doesn't have what you want, then it is not hard to drive just a couple of hours and be able to get whatever you want from a large city.

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Ponca City was founded in 1893 as New Ponca after the Cherokee Outlet was opened for settlement in the Cherokee Strip land run, the largest land run in United States history. The site for Ponca CIty was selected because of its proximity to the Arkansas River and a fresh water spring near the river. The city was founded by Burton Barnes who drew up the first survey of the city and sold certificates for the lots he had surveyed. After the drawing for lots in the city was completed, Barnes was elected as the city's first mayor.[1]

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Another city, Cross, vied with Ponca City to become the leading city in the area. The Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe Railroad had originally opened a station in Cross and it was assumed that it would not open another one in Ponca CIty because the two cities were too close together. New Ponca boosters eventually secured a station after offering the Sata Fe station agent two town lots and the free moving of his house from Cross. It is reported that Ponca CIty obtained its first boxcar station when some Ponca City supporters went to Cross one night and pulled that town's station to Ponca CIty. Cross eventually became nonexistant, and the city then officially changed its name from New Ponca to Ponca City in 1913.[1]

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Ponca City's history has been shaped for the most part by the ebb and flow of the petroleum industry. The Marland Oil Company, which once controlled approximately 10 percent of the world's oil reserves was founded by the eventual Oklahoma governor and U.S. congressman E. W. Marland, who founded the 101 Ranch Oil Company located on the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch and drilled his first successful oil well on land he leased from the Ponca Tribe of the American Indians in 1911.[1]

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Marland's luck and tenacity would fuel growth and wealth that were previously unimaginable on the Oklahoma prairie, and his company virtually built the city from the ground up. Mansions—including the Marland Mansion and Grand Home—were built by Marland and his associates. Because of this period of wealth and affluence, Ponca City has a high concentration of buildings that exemplify the popular Spanish revival architecture of the period, as well as art deco influenced buildings and homes.[1]

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After a takeover bid by J.P. Morgan Jr., son of financier J. P. Morgan, Marland Oil Co. eventually merged with Continental Oil Co. (Conoco) in the late 1920s, and would be known as Conoco for more than 70 years. The company maintained its headquarters in Ponca City during this time and continued to grow into a global corporation. During the oil boom years of the 1980s, Conoco was owned by the DuPont Corp., which took control of the company in 1981. After nearly two decades of ownership and an oil bust that crippled Oklahoma's economy in the late 1980's, DuPont sold off its Conoco assets in 1988. In 2002, Conoco merged with Phillips Petroleum (another major player with roots in northern Oklahoma) to become ConocoPhillips. And most recently, as of 2012, the Ponca City Refinery now carries the Phillips 66 name. Conoco and Phillips 66 was then and still are about the sixth largest publicly traded oil company in the world, third largest in the United States and maintains a significant presence in its historic home state.[1]

The Poncan Theatre[4]
Built in 1927, this atmospheric theatre was the grandest in town. Live performances and silent features were accompanied by a Wurlitzer organ, two pianos and the Poncan Orchestra. It was really an experience to visit the Poncan Theatre to see such superstars as Ethel Barrymore and Will Rogers. Today, the Poncan has been restored to its original glory and special events are scheduled regularly.[4]

Designed by the Boller Brothers of Kansas City, it was the fifth and grandest theatre in a town of 16,000 people. Several of the Boller Brothers' theatres, including the Poncan are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. When constructed, the Poncan cost $280,000. It is one of the few surviving atmospheric theatres in the country. The Poncan was Spanish Colonial Revival in style and the interior was created to simulate an outdoor Mediterranean courtyard.[4]

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Ponca City is named after the Ponca Tribe, part of which relocated from Nebraska to northern Oklahoma from 1877 to 1880. Like all of the forced American Indian removals of the 19th century, the Poncas' trek was arduous. A   number of Poncas who made the initial journey died from illness and exposure to the elements while following a group of leaders to northern Indian Territory (now northern Oklahoma)."Out of 700 Ponca who left the Nebraska reservation 158 Died in Oklahoma within two years." Part of the tribe was displeased with the living conditions on the land where they initially settled, and they were led on a journey toward their traditional home by Standing Bear in 1879. However, Standing Bear was arrested, and most of the tribal members who left eventually returned to the reservation in Oklahoma. The story of Standing Bear is perhaps best told by the memorial in his name, which stands at the intersection of Highway 60 and South Fourth Street in Ponca City.[1]

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Ponca City is home the Pioneer Woman Museum and the Pioneer Woman statue. The statue was erected to commemorate women pioneers. In the early 1920s, E. W. Marland decided to create a statue commemorating the Pioneer Woman. Marland was asked, "E. W., why don't you have ... a statue to the vanishing American, a Ponca, Otoe, or an Osage - a monument of great size?" Marland answered "the Indian is not the vanishing American - it's the pioneer woman."[1]

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In 1928, twelve miniature 3 feet (0.9 m) sculptures were submitted by U.S. and international sculptors (John Gregory, Maurice Sterne, Hermon Atkins MacNeil, Jame Earle Fraser, Alexander Stirling Calder, Wheeler Williams, Mario Korbel, F. Lynn Jenkins, Mahonri Young, Arthur Lee, Jo Davidson and Bryant Baker) and traveled to twelve cities where they were viewed by 750,000 people who cast votes for their favorite. The twelve original submissions have been on display at the museum at Woolaroc near Bartlesville, Oklahoma since the 1930s when Marland sold them to Frank Phillips after Marland lost control of the Marland Oil Company. The winning statue was produced by British-born American sculptor Bryant Baker and was unveiled in a public ceremony on April 22, 1930 when forty thousand guests came to hear Will Rogers pay tribute to Oklahoma's pioneers. The statue is 27 feet (8.2 m) high and weighs 12,000 pounds. A museum commemorating Oklahoma women was opened on September 16, 1958 on the 65th anniversary of the Cherokee Strip land run. Native American as well as European women are acknowledged for their leadership and stamina creating homes, raising children, and taking care of the daily business of sustaining life.[1]

Henry Grammer was born on July 20, 1883 in Falls County, Texas. He grew up in Texas, eventually becoming a cowboy on a ranch near Carrizo Springs, Texas. In 1901, he arrived in Osage County, Oklahoma Territory with a   trainload of Texas cattle. Grammer stayed in Osage County, finding work as a cowboy for Sylvester Soldani, a rancher and influential member of the Osage Tribe.[3]

In 1903, Grammer moved to Montana where he worked for the Circle Diamond Ranch under ranch foreman and Great Westerner inductee John Survant. While employed at the ranch, he shot and killed a man in a Malta, Montana saloon during an altercation. Henry Grammer spent his next three years in the Montana State Prison, Deer Lodge, Montana. Photocopied newspaper clippings and prison ledgers in the collection document this incident.[3]

Grammer was released from prison in May 1907 and boarded the train for Ponca City, Oklahoma Territory. In July 1907, he married Maggie Alexander, a quarter-blood Osage Indian. Later that year, he began his rodeo career when he engaged in a match roping contest against Texas roper, Buck Matthews. During the next year his rodeo career really took off when he worked for the 101 Ranch Wild West Show in Ponca City along with his brother Tom and Tom Mix; he and brother Tom participated in the Ride and Roping Contest in Dewey,   Oklahoma (later called the Dewey Roundup); and Henry toured South America with the IXL Wild West Show.[3]

Henry Grammer’s rodeo career continued, and in 1912 he found himself in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, a participant in the first Calgary Stampede. In the following years he toured England with the 101 Ranch Wild West Show, participated in the first East Coast rodeo to feature real cowboys in 1916, participated in Cheyenne Frontier Days in 1917, and won a match roping contest with Ben Johnson, Sr. at Fairfax, Oklahoma. He was also stabbed and nearly killed during an argument in Burbank, Oklahoma.[3]

In December 1919, Henry Grammer shot and wounded Harry Church in the Leland Hotel in Ponca City, Oklahoma. He posted a $3000 bond, and after the trial was postponed a number of times, Grammer was acquitted in November 1920. During 1920, he was active as a rodeo judge, helped the Miller brothers with the 101 Ranch roundup, participated in roping contests, and traveled with his wife and youngest son, Buster, to Hot Springs, Arkansas. He also got involved in another shooting, this time shooting and killing Jim Berry in an argument over a steer; because Berry sought out Grammer on Grammer’s ranch at night and shot at Grammer first, the shooting was judged to be in self-defense.[3]

In the early 1920s, in addition to his rodeo and ranching activities, Henry Grammer was also apparently involved in the moonshine whiskey business, servicing workmen during the Osage County oil boom. In early 1923, Grammer and another man confronted a bootlegger over an alleged hijacking; the bootlegger was shot and wounded by Grammer’s confederate. Three months later on June 14, shortly after a fight between Grammer and John Mayo and three other men, an automobile driven at high speeds by Mayo left the road near Shidler, Oklahoma killing Grammer, but throwing Mayo and his wife clear with minor injuries. Grammer had $10,500 in cash on his person at the time of his death. On June 17, Henry Grammer was laid to rest in the mausoleum at the IOOF Cemetery in Ponca City, Oklahoma. Best remembered for his rodeo career, Grammer is considered one of the greatest steer ropers of all time.[3]



Places of Interest:

Marland MansionThe grand Marland Estate Mansion, one of America's castles, is a showplace containing approximately 48,000 square feet spread over four floors -- complete with leather-lined elevator, twelve bathrooms, three kitchens, an elegant ballroom with 24-karat gold leaf-covered ceiling worth over $1.4 million, and seven fireplaces. The workmanship and beauty provide an aura of simplicity in grandeur, impossible to reproduce today. The Mansion is a National Historical Landmark.[4]

© Lord Gazmuth 2012