Posted by: an acre of oklahoma | February 18, 2007

Nowata, where the origin of it’s name has many stories!

When I decided to act on my idea of a blog of Nowata and the surrounding communities, I thought that I should start with a bit of the history.  The best place to start was the Nowata Historical Museum. I knew I would find much of the history, but I did not expect to find the two very nice and informative women, Estelle Dugger and Betty Nunnallee, who waited to greet me inside. These ladies volunteer many of their afternoons to keep the museum open for visitors to Nowata. I had walked in on a discussion about their husbands leaving from the train depot for World War II, along with 47 other young men from Nowata. However, that story will be for another entry.

Nowata (city) is the county seat of Nowata County, Oklahoma. It was formed in 1907 at Oklahoma Statehood from the Cooweescoowee District of the Cherokee Nation West, Indian Territory. I guess there are many different tales about where the name, Nowata, got it’s beginning. The Nowata Area Chamber Guide gives two accounts for the name. The first being that two railroad surveyors took the suggestion of an educated Delaware Indian woman that Nowata meant welcome. Another says a Georgian exploring the area found no water at some springs and posted a sign “No Wata” to inform other travelers. Where ever the town’s name came from, Nowata has a very rich history, which I am looking forward to seeking out and sharing.

The earliest evidence of humans here is the prehistoric Indians living in this area such as the Ozark Bluff Dwellers and the Lower Mound Builders. The Osage Indians were living in this area in the 1700’s -early 1800’s. The Cherokee Indians became the titled owners ofmost of Northeastern Oklahoma from 1817 to 1830, which included all of Nowata County.

Founded by Fred Metzner, who built the first general merchandise store. Metzner, was appointed Postmaster and the post office received it’s first mail, February 2, 1891. The mail route ran from Coffeyville to Claremore. This information was published in the Nowata Star Newspaper, 1909.

In 1904, oil and gas was discovered which made Nowata County the world’s largest shallow oil field. Nowata County today is mostly agricultural, with cattle accounting for half of the farm income. Wheat is the second revenue for farms. The Nowata County Courthouse is an historical site.

Childers, Delaware, Elliott (new one for me), Lenapah, New Alluwe, South Coffeyville and Watova are the other towns/communities in Nowata County. Each has their own story to tell and their own people to share that story.

One of the interesting facts about Nowata is that many of the streets in Nowata are still the original brick. There were mulitple brick plants in the area during the early 1900’s. When you drive on the brick streets you feel the bricks under the tires and see all the unique characteristics of each road, which brings visions of another time.

 Brick curves

Brick road with the evening sun

Many more stories and interesting facts to come!



  1. Hi, this is a comment.
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  2. Suzan,

    Thank you for starting a blog about Nowata. I enjoyed reading about the town and people. I would love to read about the EARLY history of the area. While researching my Cherokee ancestry, I discovered that I’ve had relatives in Nowata and nearby areas, such as Lenapah, New Alluwe, South Coffeyville, Talala, Ramona, and Chelsea. My Aunt has lived in Grove, OK since her husband retired. Several years ago we went together to the Fair View Cemetery in Talala where many of our relatives are buried. She has limited knowledge of the area, but also knew we once had family in Nowata. I don’t know if we have anyone there at this time.

    Surnames: Achey, Bible, Boone, Brooking, Clemmens, Gunter, Harer, Heindselman, Nicholson

  3. I was looking at the 1900 Indian Territory census that my great grandfather’s family is on. It lists the township as 25N Range 16E, which seems to land right at Nowata. I am interested in what life would have been like for them at that time. He said he grew up in Bluejacket which is many miles to the East, though. I am also curious if anything from around 1900 like bills of sale, etc. would indicate their existence there. Also, they may have buried a couple of children there. The name was Sparks and the kids were born between 1884 and 1909.

    I went and checked Bluejacket, but didn’t find anything. The Craig County Courthouse said they only had records from statehood on. So I couldn’t find birth certificates, death certificates etc. I am having to see if anything like that exists in some type of repository somewhere like a historical society or museum in the area.

  4. Hi, I,m trying to find Cabin Creek area in Ok. I think it is Indian property, and near OOlogah Lake… I would like to live near there, can someone send me some info please, Thank You.
    I love your site

  5. Hello,

    My mother just mentioned to me about “Nowata” this morning, as I had questions about some of our family history and to my surprise when I googled my great grandfather’s name “Fred Metzner”, and found that he was the founder of Nowata and The Postmaster. My mother only remembers that he owned a general merchandise and maybe pool hall.

    It would be interesting to hear anymore information you may have.

    Thank you for your time and consideration .

    Sincerely, Cindy

  6. I appreciate reading more about the town/county of Nowata as well as the other comments above. My birth certificate says I was born there; however, I was later adopted and my birth certificate was altered to my adoted name and my date of birth was altered as well. In the 1970’s I was given the privilege of meeting my Birthmother and she had done a considerable amount of geneology work regarding relatives several generations back. She commented once that my birthday was not what was on my birth certificate and it had been changed by my adoptive parents. She was going to look in her old papers to see if she could find my original birth certificate but passed away before that could be accomplished. I didn’t think much more about this but as I have grown older, somehow I would really like to know when my real birth was. My younger Brother was also adopted and his birthday on his birth certificate is 3 days after my adoptive parents anniversary. Mine is 3 days before my adoptive Father’s birthday. I strongly suspect my Brother’s date of birth was changed as well to keep us from being able to go back and find our birth family. My younger brother has passed away now too and this issue just continues to be a factor that I would like to resolve. My name at birth was Claudia Patterson and assuming the year, at least, is correct, it was 1951. My Oklahoma Birth Certificate and the State Records have been legally altered so the only way I can think I would be able to find this information is through newspaper archives. Is anyone aware of whether the newspaper has copies of their newspapers back to 1950 or 51?

    My adoptive family were distant relatives which I only found out at age 21 when my Grandmother, who would have been my Great-great Aunt by birth decided, “You need to know who you are.” She was born in 1882 and she married she married my Grandpa, John Watt Adair and they had one son, my adoptive Father, Walter Roger Adair. That’s how I ended up with the last name of Adair which is one of those odd coincidences that doesn’t seem like a coincidence since Nowata is in Adair County. Grandma told me a story about how the town of Adair was named. She said Grandpa’s Uncle Joe was the only physician in the area and when the railroad came through, all the workers came down with the Flu or some type of ailment. When Uncle Joe helped them recover, they named that railroad switch after him and that’s how the town was later named and then the County as well. One of Grandpa’s “cousins” was William Penn Adair Rogers who Grandpa went to seminary with. My Brother asked Grandpa to tell us about Will Rogers when we were young. Grandpa was Cherokee and he didn’t really talk that much. He also didn’t care for our adoptive mother much and she was present. All Grandpa would say was that he was just one of the people like everybody else. Nobody thought about whether he would be famous or not back then. It was also interesting that I graduated from Will Roger’s Highschool in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Somehow my path in life has been sprinkled with the history of Oklahoma and I am grateful for all of it, even the unknown parts. Maybe I need to set out to take on this discovery of the truth of my life and the parallels it has had with NE Oklahoma.

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