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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History


The Ponca City Information website is not affiliated nor associated with the City of Ponca City, the website is provided by Kay County Media LLC as an information website for Ponca City, Oklahoma.

1893 — In August, President Grover Cleveland made a proclamation, pursuant to an Act of Congress, that the Cherokee Outlet would be opened for settlement at high noon on Sept. 16, 1893. The President and Secretary of Interior H.R. Smith set several new regulations and guidelines, hoping to avoid the troubles and confusion that accompanied the 1889 land rush into Oklahoma Territory.

Many people who made the famous land run became famous in their own right as they helped build Ponca City.

J.W. Lynch staked his land claim on the southwest quarter of what would become Ponca City.

Afterwards, he went back to his native Texas to settle some business affairs. When he returned to Ponca a few weeks later, Lynch discovered his claim had been laid off into town lots that were dotted with tents, houses, and even some business buildings. Instead of opposing those who had settled on his claim, Lynch set about to complete his title to the land and then transferred the whole quarter section of the claim to the Ponca City Land and Development Company to be deeded to the settlers at the bare costs of securing titles to their lots. Jim Lynch named his section of deeded land "Lynchville."

William H. Vanselous came from Kansas, and originally staked a claim near Enid, but sold it to his brother Tom for a horse. On his way back to Kansas, he found a claim south of Blackwell, liked it and bought it. His first year, he planted thirty acres of onions while others were mostly planting corn. He made very good profits, selling his onions all over the area. Bill and his wife, Viola, had four children: Beulah, Grace, Kay (named after Kay County), and Okla., born in 1907, the year Oklahoma became a state.

Robert Maxwell and Lee McCord started a small flourmill in 1893. This mill was one of the main anchors of early-day Ponca City. The original facility consisted of a small wooden shanty with minimum equipment and only five employees. Upon its completion, a celebration was held for the townspeople. A long rope was tied to the whistle atop the mill, and the citizens lined up to take turns blowing the whistle. The first sack of flour was ground on April 4, 1894, and that night, the merchants of Ponca City held a banquet in honor of the mill owners. The first sack of flour was put up for auction and was purchased by Mayor B.S. Barnes for $150.

Oscar F. Keck left his wife in Colorado and came to Arkansas City for the land run. He boarded a train in Arkansas City, and jumped off at the present site of Ponca City while the train was traveling 25 miles per hour. He soon staked his claim and, since there was no one else around, Keck held the title of "Ponca City's first citizen." When the Ponca Townsite Company held the drawing for city lots, Oscar Keck drew the lot now known as 210 North Sixth Street. He built a small two-room structure, the first house built in town.

Keck opened a carpenter shop in a tent and was soon hired by the Townsite Company to build a school building. The early days in Ponca City were very wild and dangerous. Cowboys would get drunk and start shooting up the town. When they rode past Keck's "tent shop," the workmen had to hide under their work tables to protect themselves from the flying bullets.

Richard Hudson came to the opening of the Cherokee Outlet with a group of citizens from Michigan.

After the run, he received a business lot and two town lots. He opened the Midway Saloon, which apparently did a thriving business. Located on the corner of Third Street and Grand Avenue, it was referred to as a "Lallapoloosa" style of architecture. Hudson built it himself out of tropical plants and pitch pine.