WILL ROGERS BIRTHPLACE RANCH
Experience a unique glimpse into the life of vaudeville performer, famous actor, Cherokee Cowboy and American humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935) at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch, with its historic Greek Revival house and 162-acre working ranch. Here, visitors can enjoy the lovely view over Oologah Lake and picnic with friends and family.
The log-walled, two-story home where Rogers was born was built in 1875 within the Cooweescoowee district of Cherokee Nation. The home was designed in the vernacular Greek Revival style of architecture that was popular throughout the South at this time. In fact, a house almost identical to Rogers' boyhood home can be found on the outskirts of Guntersville, Alabama. The Oologah home, nicknamed "The White House on the Verdigris," is a rare surviving example of buildings on the former Indian Territory frontier.
Rogers' mother and father were Cherokees, and Rogers was proud of his heritage. During vaudeville performances, Will often joked, "My ancestors didn't come over from the Mayflower, but they met the boat." His mother, Mary America Rogers, was born into the Paint clan. His father, Clement Vann Rogers, was a Cherokee statesman and judge who would later help draft the constitution for the state of Oklahoma.
Will Rogers grew up on his father's ranch, which at its height was nearly 60,000 acres. There, he learned his love of cowboying from the ranch hands, including roping from Cherokee freedman Dan Walker. He rode the range and joined the long, dusty cattle drives from Texas to the Kansas rail heads. His physical prowess in precisely and expertly flipping heavy rope coils demonstrated his training, fitness and strength. Using that same deft touch with a lasso, Rogers later created a top vaudeville and cinema persona, "The Cherokee Kid." For a brief period from 1899 to 1902, after his father had moved into Claremore, Will Rogers operated the ranch himself, renaming it the Dog-Iron Ranch after his cattle brand.
Today, the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch features a historically accurate barn with a climate-controlled classroom and a historical video program. The working ranch is home to Texas Longhorn cattle and other livestock.
Wednesday – Sunday
10 AM – 5 PM