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Stillwater City

Payne County, Oklahoma

Stillwater City Hall is located at 723 South Lewis Street, Stillwater, OK 74074.
Phone: 405‑372‑0025.

Stillwater as described in 1941 [1]

Stillwater, seat of Payne County and site of Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College, was laid out, legally, immediately after the opening of the original Oklahoma Territory in 1889. Previously, however, the site was known to the "Boomers," those men who contended that this occupied Indian land could be homesteaded, and in January, 1885, a force of six hundred United States troops was sent to oust a settlement of five hundred that had been living in dugouts in "Prairie Dog Town," on the present-day Fair Grounds. Their leader, William L. Couch, defied the soldiers, who instead of firing on the entrenched intruders cut their lines of supply and starved them out.

The present city was located on Stillwater Creek by a group who made the Run together; the majority of them were from Cowley County, Kansas. A 240-acre tract was assembled from their 160-acre claims by five men in honor of whom Lewis, Duck, Husband, Lowry, and Duncan streets were named. The land thus donated, plus eighty acres which it was discovered had not been staked in the Run, was to constitute the townsite, but the man who was chosen to file on the unclaimed eighty and then turn it over to the town's promoters refused to give it up until the matter was settled at a hearing by land-office officials. In the beginning, $6.25 would pay for one business and two residential lots; and until after the passage of the Organic Act of 1890 government of the town was wholly voluntary, without formal authority. Money from the sale of lots went into the town's treasury and was spent for bridges, a well, and street improvements.

The main streets of most Oklahoma towns and cities are laid out east and west, but that of Stillwater runs north and south; and the explanation is an interesting illustration of the practical working of the pioneers' sense of fairness. When it was found that an east-west layout would unduly enhance the value of one man's holdings, its direction was changed. Eighteen months after Stillwater was laid out the first legislature awarded to it the new college of agriculture; and since then Stillwater's story and that of the college have developed together.

On a slight slope north of Stillwater Creek, bowered in trees, the city spreads up to, and beyond, the campus of Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College, familiarly known throughout the state as A. and M. A big small town in appearance, its business buildings are low, trim, and solid; its residences, set in big yards, large and comfortable.

The town's first boost came when it was designated as a registration point for the opening of the Cherokee Outlet in 1893; and the next big help was the coming of the railroad in 1899. Before that year, the outside world was reached by hack to Wharton (now Perry), twenty-five miles away.

Stillwater describes itself as a business and educational center, measuring up to the dreams of its founders in enterprise, culture, and hospitality. Its population is the familiar Oklahoma college-town mixture of retired farmers; those who serve the surrounding farm region by operating creameries, hatcheries, grain elevators, flour mills, and cotton gins; retail merchants who cater to the student body of A. and M.; the faculty and regular students; and the increasing number who come for short courses and summer sessions.

Under a commission form of government, Stillwater has levied no municipal taxes since 1931; the government is supported by revenues from its utilities. A roomy, modern municipal hospital, a municipal library, and a beautiful municipal building of modern design serve the city.

  1. Workers of the Federal Writers' Program, Works Progress Administration in the State of Oklahoma, Harold O. Hunter, Commissioner, Oklahoma: A Guide to the Sooner State, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK, 1941.