Joseph Casaver, who is still an active business man in Wagoner, is one of its pioneer citizens. He arrived there soon after the junction of the two railroads was completed and served both companies as telegraph manager. A few years later he established a drug store which he continued to manage for several years, at the same time being interested in the ice business. He was elected mayor of the city a few years after it was incorporated. He was also interested in the livery business in those days antedating the arrival of the automobile, when the pony teams were very much in demand.
The Cumberland Presbyterians were the first religious organization to locate in Wagoner, although the other leading denominations soon followed, the Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Christians and Catholics being now well represented.
Wagoner was one of the first towns in Indian Territory to establish public schools. In 1898, before any funds could, be raised by taxation, the citizens contributed liberally toward the construction of a private school building which was called Central College. This school afforded educational facilities for the pupils of that vicinity until the law provided for the formation of school districts and taxation for the maintenance of schools. Soon after the school district was organized, the Board of Education bought the Central College building and it has since been converted into a public high school. The public school system has kept pace with the growth of the city, and at this time, twenty-eight teachers are regularly employed in the city school system, which includes all the grades from the primary, up to and including, a good high school course.
Wagoner now has, in addition to the M., K. & T. and the Iron Mountain railroads, the Kansas, Oklahoma & Gulf line, built several years ago to connect Wagoner and Muskogee on the south with Miami and its rich lead and zinc mines on the north. These three railroads give Wagoner excellent railroad advantages, connecting the city with the leading towns in almost every direction. It is one of the stations of the famous Jefferson Highway which extends from Canada to Texas and one of the East and West highways will probably pass this way. A lively interest is being aroused upon the subject of permanent road building and most of the townships have already voted bonds for this purpose.
The city has built and owns a good system of electric lights and a system of water works of which the citizens are proud. The streets are unusually wide and the principal ones are paved. The homes, business houses and shops are all heated with natural gas which is found in abundance in the nearby fields. The gradual development of the oil industry of the county is encouraged and assisted by the business men and in return, the oil business adds materially to the business of the city. Oil is obtained at a much shallower depth in this vicinity than in most other fields, and while the output of the wells is not as great as in some other localities, the comparatively small cost of drilling a well renders the business both attractive and profitable.
Some years ago it was discovered that certain portions of the water found in Wagoner possessed valuable medicinal qualities, a sanitarium was built and many cures, especially of rheumatic and skin diseases, have been effected. The city has two banks, a national and a state bank, which have taken care of the financial needs of the city and community for many years past.
The First National Bank has on deposit, at this time, about six hundred thousand dollars, while the First State Bank’s deposits are about three hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The city also has three flour mills and elevators, a large brick manufacturing plant, three cotton gins, one cotton oil mill, two good newspapers, a number of good general stores, shops and small factories, and the usual number of secret societies, social and literary clubs.
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.