Located in Mayes County, Adair is situated ten miles north of Pryor on U.S. Highway 69 at the intersection of State Highway 28. Adair's first settlers arrived soon after the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway (MK&T) was built in 1872. The town was established March 15, 1883, incorporated in 1897, and named to honor two prominent Cherokee brothers, William Penn Adair and Dr. Walter Thompson Adair. Both men had served in Confederate Gen. Stand Watie's First Regiment of Cherokee Mounted Volunteers. The town's water supply came from a six- hundred-foot-deep artesian well located on the north side of Main Street. The well provided drinking water for residents as well as livestock. The town's colorful history includes an 1892 train robbery by the Dalton gang, who absconded with several thousand dollars from an MK&T train. During their escape, the Daltons fired on bystanders, wounding a Dr. Goff, who later died from loss of blood.
Established on March 15, 1883, in the MK&T depot, Adair's post office has been moved several times. The 1900 census indicated 268 citizens. On September 10, 1902, W. E. McElree of the U.S. Department of the Interior made a survey of the town, which by 1903 was beginning to show signs of growth. A large, two-story, brick building was erected as well as several frame buildings. Board sidewalks furnished a walkway in front. At one time the town supported several general stores, a drug store, a lumber yard, a grain elevator, a cotton gin, a stable, stockyards, two banks, and a newspaper.
The first Cherokee school in Adair was built in the 1880s. Circa 1907 statehood it was opened to white students. At the turn of the twenty-first century the school system has greatly expanded to include kindergarten through twelfth grades. Seven large school buses are provided for rural students. In 1980 the enrollment existed of approximately eight hundred pupils taught by thirty-four educators.
By 2000 Adair's population had steadily increased to 704. In addition to the large school system, a new strip mall was located one mile east on State Highway 28. A drive-through exotic animal park is located four miles north of town on U.S. Highway 69.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Adair," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Historical Highlights of Mayes County (Pryor, Okla.: Mayes County Historical Society, 1977).
Betty Lou Harper Thomas
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