Coming to Chickasha, Oklahoma


The little town of Chickasha, in Grady County Oklahoma, located on rolling Oklahoma prairie land, was once inhabited by Indian tribes and buffalo herds.  The name "Chickasha" presumably comes from an Indian word meaning 'rebel.'  The location was once a part of the "Swing Ring" cattle ranch owned by James L. Speed, a white man, and his Chickasaw Indian wife, Annie. They sold their allotment to a town company and also became stockholders in the company.  Before there was a real town, there was a small settlement of shacks in 1892 when the  Rock Island Railroad stopped its tracks there for several months.  In the census of 1900, while still a Territory, Chickasha was recorded as having 878 occupied residences, and a population of over four thousand.  It was, even at that early date, a prosperous little town with many businesses including a flour mill and a cotton seed oil mill.  In 1901 it opened to white settlement, the Kiowa-Comanche reservation, which adjoined the former Chickasaw Nation on the west.

In 1902, ten years after its founding, Chickasha had a population of over six thousand.  Until Statehood in 1907, the area was divided into Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory.  By then, two more railroads had arrived: the St. Louis and San Francisco, and the Santa Fe Railroad, at first called the Oklahoma Central. Chickasha was destined to be a regional market hub. Grady County was created out of Pontotoc and Pickens counties, in Indian Territory, and a five mile strip along the west border from Caddo and Comanche counties in Oklahoma Territory. Chickasha was named the County seat.  In 1907, streets were paved and large brick and frame homes were built.  The First Oklahoma Legislature named Chickasha as the home for an institution founded in 1908 called the Industrial Institute and College for Girls, which would, in turn, become the Oklahoma College for Women in 1916,  (now the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.)

It was not until 1926 that the Charles J. Fritscher family arrived in Chickasha and began farming and raising their five children.  After Charles and Dora married in Pilot Point, Texas, they had moved their family several times, but once they arrived in Chickasha, they knew they had found a permanent home.  They raised their family in Chickasha and the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church located there.  All of the children married and remained in or near Chickasha, and several of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren remain nearby even today.

The following was extracted from an article on April 2, 1946, in the Daily Ardmorite, the newspaper of Ardmore, Carter County, Oklahoma.  Like Chickasha, Ardmore was once a part of the Chickasaw Indian Nation. 

"Chickasha--It doesn't take much imagination to know that Chickasha derived its name from Chickasaw, the Indian tribe--but there are a number of interesting factors in the name. First Chickasha was named by the Rock Island, when the westward expanding railroad crossed the Washita river, its further most rail reaching the point at which the town of Chickasha is located. Second, Chickasha was one of the few towns on the Rock Island road which at that time was given the name of a tribe in this territory. Most of the railroad points were named for northern Indian tribes. Third, commonly the name Chickasha is interpreted as meaning "rebel", but here's the full story: There is an Indian legend that powerful Indian tribes were migrating from the setting to the rising sun, in obedience to instructions from the great spirit, and prophets. Every night a pole was set up and the next morning the journey was resumed in the direction in which the pole was leaning. After a long journey they came to a country abounding in game, fish, and fruit, and here the pole remained erect. A council was called and the majority decided that this was the promised land, but one of the leaders of the clans took issue with the council circle, declaring "all those who believe the promised land is farther toward the rising sun, follow me." His entire clan gathered around him, where upon the warriors of the tribe took up their spears, tomahawks, and bows and arrows, and prepared to force obedience to the decision of the council, but the principal chief of the tribe arose, and stretching his hands above his head, with palms out, exclaimed, "Hamonockma, ikia, ahhiska Chickasha!" translated, this Indian sentence means, "Halt, follow them not, they are rebels". Time and tribal usage developed the word "Chickasaw" in reference to the tribe from which Chickasha derives its name. The Rock Island railroad extended to Chickasha in 1892 and when the line reached this point, and temporarily stopped, tents were pitched, businesses began to be opened, and the building of the town was underway. Chickasha started out as a tent town and it's one of several towns in Oklahoma that has never claimed to boom. The first buildings began to go up that year. There was no "opening" for Chickasha. The original townsite was on land owned by JAMES L. SPEED and his Indian wife. The land was obtained under "possessor rights" a term to become familiar in early Chickasha history. The main street of Chickasha was built on land which once was a creek bed. There, business buildings were constructed on stilts, and during rainy seasons, oldtimers tell stories of parking their boats under the store buildings. Despite the fact that Chickasha isn't a boom town, the "Queen of the Washita" has had a colorful history. Oldtimers recall the ratification of the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations of the now famous Atoka Agreement on August 24, 1894, which gave citizens "possessory right" in purchasing one business lot and one residence lot on which the citizens had made improvements. Soil conservation maps reveal the approximate route of a branch of the CHISHOLM trail just to the east of Chickasha, and there are stories concerning at least two gun battles between Grady citizens and Texas cattlemen."