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Located in Pottawatomie County, Wanette is approximately thirty miles south of Shawnee and one mile south of State Highway 39 on State Highway 102. In 1868 Joe and Katy Burjon Melot moved from Kansas and established one of the first homes in the area, a two-story cabin about one and one-half miles from the present townsite. In 2003 the cabin still existed. In 1876 the Potawatomi gave some of their reservation lands to the Benedictine Order of the Roman Catholic Church, and Father Isidore Robot established the Sacred Heart Mission nearby. The town went through several name changes and moves before the name Wanette was established when the post office opened on March 19, 1894. During the territorial era, outlaws Belle Starr (Myra Maybelle Shirley Starr) and Cole Younger frequented the area. In 1903 the town moved one mile north when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway built a line from Newkirk to Pauls Valley.

In the early 1900s several newspapers including the Wanette Winner and the Wanette Times competed for readership. Three cotton gins, a brick kiln, several wagonyards, a livery, and a harness shop were among the early establishments. Two banks existed before 1907 statehood. In 1907 the population stood at 739. Initially cotton, and then oil, provided the bases for the local economy. In 1920, when the population peaked at 783, ten thousand bales of cotton were shipped from Wanette. During the 1930s the Wanette-Asher oil field boosted the economy. The local agricultural region also produced pecans, oats, corn, alfalfa, and hay. At the turn of the twenty-first century Wanette was an agricultural support center and a "bedroom" community for Moore, Norman, and Oklahoma City. The town had 402 residents.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: John Forston, Pott County and What Has Come of It: A History of Pottawatomie County (Shawnee, Okla.: Pottawatomie County Historical Society, 1936). Charles W. Mooney, Localized History of Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, to 1907 (Midwest City, Okla: Thunderbird Industries, 1971). Pottawatomie County History Book Committee, comp. and ed., Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma History (Claremore, Okla.: Country Lane Press, 1987). "Wanette," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Beverly Mosman

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