Ponca City Information
Where Oklahoma Began
The Ponca City Information website is not affiliated nor associated with the City of Ponca City, the website is provided by the Ponca City Publishing Company, Inc. as an information website for Ponca City, Oklahoma.
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Ponca City was created in true Oklahoma fashion during the land runs of the late 1800's. On September 16, 1893, homesteaders lined up for a race to claim one of the 160-acre farm sites in the area surrounding what became Ponca City. Early in the spring of 1893, B.S. Barnes, having heard that the Cherokee Strip was to be opened for settlement, headed for Arkansas City with the hope of building a new city in this frontier area. Barnes had sold his furniture manufacturing plant in Adrian, Michigan, desiring to make his fortune on "The Strip."
After driving for many days, with a team and buggy, over what is now referred to as the counties of Kay, Grant, Garfield, and Noble, he observed a wagon road in Kay County, that ran from Arkansas City southward and crossed the Arkansas river at a point one mile south of the present Arkansas river bridge near Ponca City. The B&M ford was located at this point, and had been used for years as a buggy and wagon crossing. About a mile northeast of the ford on the same wagon road, was a spring.
The fact that the spring was a good water source and was located on the main road to the Osage Country, caused Barnes to decide that near this point was the logical site for his contemplated city. Barnes went back to Arkansas City to announce the location of the new city and to organize the Ponca Townsite Company. On September 21st, four days after the Oklahoma Land Run, surveyors completed surveying the selected section of land into streets and lots, and the lot drawing began. And such was the beginning of Ponca City! Certificates for lots in Ponca City were sold by the Ponca Townsite Company for $2 each and each certificate was good for either one business lot or one residential lot. Over 2,300 certificates were sold. A little girl drew the cards from a box placed on Grand Avenue between 3rd and 4th streets. From these drawings attendants recorded the certificate owners' names and lot selections in large bound books. This is believed to be the first instance of a new city being started with a town lot drawing. It took two days to complete the drawings and Ponca City was born. (Adapted in part from "The Last Run", written by the Ponca City Chapter of the DAR.)
Even though Ponca City began with the 1893 land run, it was the '20s when the city came alive. Outlandish parties, wild new music, the '20s was an era of gay abandon and roaring good fun.
Another roaring was that of the oil wells and with that sound came money. Money that left its indelible mark on our community -- beautiful golf courses, posh hotels, lavish homes, rich gardens, a grand theater -- an elegant legacy upon which our citizens today continue to build.
Oil millionaires E. W. Marland and Lew Wentz helped Ponca City come alive.
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