Original Vinita, Craig County, Oklahoma

“Originally there were thirteen streets and nine avenues. The streets were named for prominent Cherokee families as Vann, Wilson, Scraper, etc. The avenues were named for the districts or counties into which the Cherokee Nation was divided, Sequoyah, Delaware, Canadian, etc. As a pioneer frontier town, Vinita was not long a `wild and woolley’ west,. town, but early in its history became a school and church town, populated for the most part by law abiding people who laid the foundations for the present splendid little city. With the exception of the Cherokee public schools, to the Congregationalists belongs the credit for the first high school, the old Worcester Academy, which owned and occupied the block where the present high school building stands. The Congregationalists planted a church also with the school. The Methodists and Presbyterians were also pioneers in church building, and afterwards came the Baptists, Catholics and Christian churches.

“A generation ago the Indian Territory embraced all of what is now Oklahoma and was the finest stock country on the habitable globe. Vinita was the headquarters of cattlemen from all over the Indian Territory. Vast herds roamed at will over the unsettled prairies and long horned Texas steers by tens of thousands were turned loose upon the unlimited range. Wild game was plentiful and this country was a hunter’s paradise. But with the railroads came the death knell of Tribal government and the council fires of the fullblood Indian went out on the mountain side and the inevitable march of civilization transformed the wild, unsettled: country into farms. and homes. The unsettled prairie became the shady lane, the cozy farm house, the bustling village and the throbbing, restless city. The first residents of Vinita were for the most part splendid people, nature’s noblemen. Vinita may never be a large city but it is, and always has been a good place in which to live.

“For ten years there was a slow, gradual growth. A few hundred people had settled here at the crossing of the railroads, few town lots had been sold, and property was not in demand-at least the kind of property embodied in a town lot. Ten years later, however, the city of Vinita became, for the time being, the base of supplies and added some hundreds to its population. A steady though not rapid, growth set in then that has continued to the present. In some portions of the town thickly built and populated now, hay was cut in the summer a few years back.

“At an elevation above the sea level of from seven to eight hundred feet, and its proximity to the great Western plains, once styled the American Desert, assures an abundant supply of pure dry air in summer, and a protection against the sultry nights in summer which prevail in Arkansas and Missouri and farther south. Our winters are neither long nor severe, generally speaking, being so blended with the prolonged and delightful autumns and early spring that their identity is almost lost, save for an occasional blizzard which has almost spent its force in Nebraska and Kansas before reaching Oklahoma.”

Vinita has never been a boom town, but from a small beginning in 1872, it has steadily grown, keeping pace with the development of the surrounding country, until now it is a flourishing city of more than five thousand people. It has an excellent high school which maintains a full four years’ course and good grade schools. Thirty-six teachers are employed and a normal training department is maintained for young teachers. The departmental system of teaching is in force in all classes above the fifth grade. A parent teachers’ association has also been organized through which the parents become acquainted with the teachers and work in harmony with them.

Several years ago the State Legislature located the Eastern Oklahoma Hospital for the Insane at Vinita, and brick buildings were erected with sufficient capacity for taking care of 1000 patients. This institution is under the control of a competent board and superintendent and no serious complaints have ever been made against its management.

The sidewalks and lawns of Vinita are amply furnished with shade trees and three little parks have been donated to the public. A large share of the credit for these improvements is due to the efforts of the public-spirited women who have striven to beautify the city.

Vinita boasts of having a superior quality of water, much of it coming from flowing artesian wells. In 1920 the tax payers voted bonds to the amount of $460,000 with which to install a complete system of waterworks for the city. Natural gas has been piped to Vinita from the Bartlesville district and the homes, stores and shops are provided with this convenient fuel.

Several years ago the well known Sinclair Company located one of its oil refineries just outside the western suburbs of Vinita, which has the capacity of handling 10,000 barrels of oil per day, and its operations have added about twenty thousand dollars per month to the labor pay roll of the city.

Source: Benedict, John D. Muskogee and northeastern Oklahoma, including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. 3 v. illus., ports., facsims. 28 cm. Chicago, S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.

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