The Last Run
Early in the spring of 1893, B.S. Barnes, having heard that the Cherokee Strip was to be opened for settlement, headed for Arkansas City with the hope of building a new city in this frontier area. Barnes had sold his furniture manufacturing plant in Adriane, Michigan, desiring to make his fortune on “The Strip.”
After driving for many days, with a team and buggy, over what is now referred to as the counties of Kay, Grant Garfield, and Noble, he observed a wagon road in Kay County that ran from Arkansas City southward and crossed the Arkansas River at a point one mile south of the present Arkansas River Bridge near Ponca City. The B&M Ford was located at this point, and had been used for years as a buggy and wagon crossing. About a mile northeast of the ford on the same wagon road, was a spring.
The fact that the spring was a good water source and was located on the main road to the Osage Country caused Barnes to decide that near this point was the logical site for his contemplated city. Barnes went back to Arkansas City to announce the location of the new city and to organize the Ponca Townsite Company.
Certificates for lots were sold by the Ponca Townsite Company for $2 each, and it was understood that each certificate would be good for one business lot or two residence lots, the location to be determined by a “drawing.” The certificates were to give the holder a prior claim to the lots and after proper title had been vested in the claimants of the quarter sections of the new city, deeds were to be issued at a reasonable cost.
Mr. Barnes interested people in this program and in so doing banded them together to help build the new City of Ponca. This is believed to be the first instance of a new city being started with a town lot drawing. On September 21 four days after the Oklahoma Land Run, surveyors completed surveying the selected section of land into streets and lots, and the lot drawing began. And such was the beginning of Ponca City!