Claremore’s history dates back long before statehood. While currently located in the heart of the Cherokee Nation and home to many Cherokee citizens, the city’s origin is more closely connected to Osage leader Chief Clermont. In April 1817, the Western Cherokees attacked the Osage in what is known as the Battle of Claremore Mound. The mound is located six miles north of Claremore on the banks of the Verdigris River.
While the Osage were not victorious in the battle, the founding fathers of Claremore wanted to name the town, established in 1893, after the famous chief. Due to a spelling error with the postal service, “Clermont” became “Claremore,” as it is still known today.
William Penn Adair “Will” Rogers was an American cowboy, vaudeville performer, humorist, newspaper columnist, social commentator, and stage and motion picture actor.
Known as Oklahoma’s Favorite Son, Rogers was born to a prominent Cherokee Nation family in Indian Territory (now part of Oklahoma). He traveled around the world three times, made 71 movies (50 silent films and 21 “talkies”), and wrote more than 4,000 nationally syndicated newspaper columns. By the mid-1930s, the American people adored Rogers. He was the leading political wit of his time, and was the highest-paid Hollywood movie star. Rogers died in 1935 with aviator Wiley Post when their small airplane crashed in northern Alaska.
Rogers’s vaudeville rope act led to success in the Ziegfeld Follies, which in turn led to the first of his many movie contracts. His 1920s syndicated newspaper column and his radio appearances increased his visibility and popularity. Rogers crusaded for aviation expansion, and provided Americans with firsthand accounts of his world travels.
More information is available at www.willrogers.com
Claremore is home to the Tulsa metropolitan area’s only four-year residential public university, Rogers State University, which opened in 1909 (as Eastern University Preparatory School), just two years after Oklahoma became a state. The school was founded to prepare the sons and daughters of Native Americans, farmers, and ranchers for entry into the colleges and universities of Oklahoma. Later it became Oklahoma Military Academy, and the young cadets were often spotted walking down the hill to downtown Claremore to take in a movie or a milkshake. After stints as Claremore Junior College and Rogers State College, RSU was granted accreditation as a four-year institution in 2000. Today, it is Oklahoma’s fastest-growing university.