Newkirk circa 1910
Kay County OK Genweb

Above: Ponca City street scene circa 1910. Photograph part of Library of Congress collection, donated by Charles M. Morgan (copyright expired).


The first white settlement in present day Oklahoma is generally considered
to be in Kay County at Ferdinandina, which was probably named after King
Ferdinand VI of Spain. Kay County is the also the location of the famed
101 Ranch, the "palace on the prairie" Marland Mansion, Pioneer Woman
, and Kaw Lake, as well as being part of the Cherokee Outlet which
was opened for white settlement on September 16, 1893, and portrayed in the
films Tumbleweeds (1925) and Far and Away (1992).
Prior to the Cherokee Outlet run, this land had been divided into seven
counties and assigned the letters K-Q as temporary names with Kay County
assigned the letter “K”. These initial counties became Kay, Grant, Woods,
Woodward, Garfield, Noble, and Pawnee after the run, when these
communities sprang into existence and had elections to rename the counties.
Entrants awaiting the signal to start the land run. Photo by Walter D.
Hutchison and part of the Library of Congress (copyright expired).
Prior to the land run and due to its alliance during the Civil War with the
Confederacy, the Cherokee, as part of the Reconstruction Treaties in 1866,
agreed to sell part of its land to allow the federal government to bring other
tribes to the outlet.
In 1873 the Kaw settled in northeastern Kay County. In 1877 the Ponca were
removed from Nebraska to the area. Two years later the Nez Perce were
brought from the Pacific Northwest to a reservation near present day Tonkawa.
The Nez Perce returned to their homeland in 1885 and the Tonkawa and
Lipan Apache then occupied the former's reservation. In 1884, the Chilocco
Indian School
, a boarding school established by the federal government,
opened. While at the Nez Perce Reservation, the tribe farmed and started
schools. Many died during this short period of residence in Kay County,
including the daughter of Chief Joseph.
Kay County includes two seventeenth and eighteenth century sites where the French and Spanish traded with the Wichita, bringing European goods to the area and moving meat, tallow, and hides of bison, deer, and bear to New
Orleans: the Bryson-Paddock Site and the Deer Creek Site, both in the general vicinity of Newkirk.
101 Ranch Poster
Advertisement by The Strobridge Litho Co., 1918 (copyright expired).
At the turn of the twentieth century, the 101 Ranch was one of the largest
diversified ranch in the United States boasting the 101 Ranch Wild West
Show, which began its national tours in 1907 and went abroad in 1908. Over
the course of the show's history, its cast included Lillian Smith, Bill Pickett,
Bessie Herberg, Bee Ho Gray, Tom Mix, Jack Hoxie, Mexican Joe, Ross Hettan, and Buffalo Bill.
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This page last updated 23 August 2015
Coordinator Todd Murray