The town of Wann is located in northwestern Nowata County, approximately sixty miles north of Tulsa and along the Washington County line. Early in Wann's history there was interest in having the town annexed into Washington County, but the effort failed. Covering less than one square mile, Wann is situated on State Highway 10, which is the town's major public transportation route.
Wann's beginning can be traced to both Eastern Delaware and Cherokee heritages. When the site's post office was established on July 26, 1895, the town was called Coon, after nearby Coon Creek, which was named for a Delaware family. On October 13, 1899, the designation was changed to Wann in honor of Robert F. Wann, a local Cherokee.
During the town's early years Wann was a station on the stage route between Bartlesville, Indian Territory, and Coffeyville, Kansas. When the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway (Katy) built tracks just northwest of Wann in 1902, residents moved the town's location to the railroad. As a result, the Katy constructed a depot at Wann the following year. Oil, which was found in present Nowata County soon after, also impacted Wann. That included the discovery of the Wann Oil Pool, which, by 1912, was known for its high production. During much of the 1910s and 1920s Wann was a boomtown, which led to a population increase and new businesses, including the Wann Progress newspaper and three refineries. When the oil boom faded, the town's population declined, and by the 1930s Wann was largely a farming community.
Wann's tradition of being a railroad town, with freight and passenger service, also changed at the end of the twentieth century. Following the breakup of the Katy railroad in the late 1980s, the ownership of the track that ran from South Coffeyville through Wann to Dewey and Bartlesville, transferred to the short line Southeast Kansas Railroad. That transfer was short lived, however, and by the turn of the twenty-first century the track had been abandoned. Wann's economy is largely dependent upon farming and cattle ranching.
Wann's first census was taken at 1907 statehood, and the town's population was 201. By 1910 that number had risen to 286 and to 404 by 1920. Reflecting the decline in the oil boom, however, by 1930 the population had fallen to 168. Between 1940 and 2000 the population changed little, with a low of 93 recorded in 1950 and a high of 157 in 1960. Wann had 132 residents in 2000 and maintained a mayor and city council form of government.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Ruby Cranor, Caney Valley Ghost Towns and Settlements (Bartlesville, Okla.: Blackman Printing, 1985). Mark Daugherty, "Wann," in Small Towns, Ghost Memories of Oklahoma: A Photographic Narrative of Hamlets and Villages throughout Oklahoma's Seventy-Seven Counties (Virginia Beach, Va.: Donning Company Publishers, 2004). Robert W. DeMoss, A Look at the History of Nowata, Oklahoma, and Vicinity (Rev. ed.; [Nowata, Okla.]: N.p., n.d.). Margaret Withers Teague, History of Washington County and Surrounding Area, Vol. 1 (Bartlesville, Okla.: Bartlesville Historical Commission, 1967). "Wann," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.
Gary L. Cheatham
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