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NINNEKAH

Ninnekah, a community in central Grady County, adjoins Chickasha on the south in Township 5 North, Range 7 West, and is situated east of U.S. Highway 81, forty-two miles southwest of Oklahoma City. When the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway reached Chickasha in the Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory, in 1892, George R. Beeler, a Chickasaw by marriage, surveyed a townsite on his ranch. A post office was established there on July 28, 1892, and the settlement was named Ninnekah, a Choctaw word meaning "night" or "darkness."

George W. Thomas came to Ninnekah in February 1903. He farmed, ranched, and operated a store. His crops were corn, cotton, and wheat. The Thomas store was Ninnekah's first brick building. Popular items included rounds of yellow cheese that were measured with a knife and sold with a handful of crackers for five cents. Thomas also purchased locally produced chickens, eggs, and corn at his store. Across the street was Cy Weatherly's Ice Cream Parlor, which was a favorite gathering place. Saturdays, the men congregated around the blacksmith shop.

In 1908 George Thomas built a grain elevator to handle wheat and corn. He served in the Oklahoma State Legislature in 1928-30 and was the first Republican elected to a public office in Grady County. In 1935 Thomas gave 160 acres located seven miles west of Apache to the Black Beaver Council of Boy Scouts to use as a campground. Thousands of boys attended the camp yearly.

Ninnekah is located in an agricultural region, and farm equipment is manufactured in the community. Between 1909 and 1919 the community had an estimated population of 400. The first federal census for Ninnekah reported 1,941 residents in 1930. The town's population declined from 1,085 in 1980 to 994 in 2000. Ninnekah presently has an active senior citizens group, a store, two churches, a post office, and a public school system.

SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Gwen Jackson, Trails, Rails, and School Tales: A History of 125 Schools and Communities of Grady County (N.p.: N.p., 1995). "Ninnekah," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Gwen Jackson

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