Ada, Oklahoma

Last updated
Ada, Oklahoma
Ada City Hall, Ada, Oklahoma.jpg
Ada City Hall
Location in the state of Oklahoma
Coordinates: 34°45′49″N96°40′6″W / 34.76361°N 96.66833°W / 34.76361; -96.66833 Coordinates: 34°45′49″N96°40′6″W / 34.76361°N 96.66833°W / 34.76361; -96.66833
Country United States
State Oklahoma
County Pontotoc
Post Office1891
  TypeCity Council
   Mayor Tre' Landrum, D.O.
  Total19.81 sq mi (51.31 km2)
  Land19.75 sq mi (51.16 km2)
  Water0.06 sq mi (0.15 km2)  0%
1,010 ft (308 m)
(2019) [2]
  Density872.48/sq mi (336.86/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
  Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 580
FIPS code 40-00200 [3]
GNIS feature ID1089523 [4]

Ada is a city in and the county seat of Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, United States. [5] The population was 16,810 at the 2010 census, an increase of 7.1 percent from the figure of 15,691 in 2000. [6] The city was named for Ada Reed, the daughter of an early settler, and was incorporated in 1901. [7] Ada is home to East Central University, and is the headquarters of the Chickasaw Nation.


Ada is an Oklahoma Main Street City, an Oklahoma Certified City, and a Tree City USA member. [7]


Pontotoc County Courthouse in Ada PontCoCH.jpg
Pontotoc County Courthouse in Ada

In the late 1880s, the Daggs family (by way of Texas) became the first white family to settle what is now known as Ada, which was formerly known as Daggs Prairie. In April 1889, Jeff Reed (a native Texan and relative of the Daggs family) was appointed to carry the mail from Stonewall to Center (which was later combined with Pickett), two small communities in then Indian Territory. With his family and his stock, he sought a place for a home on a prairie midway between the two points, where he constructed a log house and started Reed's Store. Other settlers soon built homes nearby. In 1891, a post office was established and named after Reed's oldest daughter, Ada. [8] Ada incorporated as a city in 1901 and grew rapidly with the arrival of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway line. Within a decade the Santa Fe Railroad and the Oklahoma Central Railway also served the town. [9]

Ada was originally a sundown town, where African Americans were not allowed to live. In the 1900s, the town was opened up to African Americans so that black witnesses could stay while testifying in district court. Despite a violent episode in 1904, the town remained open to African Americans to provide labor for a local cotton compress. [10] [11] [12]

In 1909, the women of Ada organized an effort to build a normal school in their city. It resulted in the founding of East Central College (now East Central University). [9]

On April 19, 1909, an organized mob hanged four men, among whom was American outlaw Deacon Jim Miller, who was set to be tried for the murder of a former U.S. marshal and member of the local freemason lodge. [13] The town had a population of about 5,000 at the time, and 38 murders a year at the time of the lynching. [13] The Daily Ardmoreite reported that the four lynched men were "one of the bloodiest band of murderers in the state of Oklahoma and an organization of professional assassins, that for a record of blood crimes, probably has no equal in the annals of criminal history in the entire southwest." [14]

The first manufacturing company in Ada, the Portland Cement Company, installed the first cement clinker in Oklahoma in 1910. American Glass Casket Company began manufacturing glass caskets in 1916, but the business failed. Hazel Atlas Glass bought the plant in 1928 and produced glass products until 1991. [9]

National Register of Historic Places

The following sites in Ada are listed on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma: [15]


Ada is located in the rolling hills of southeastern Oklahoma. Ada is 88 miles (142 km) from Oklahoma City, 122 mi (196 km) from Tulsa, and 133 mi (214 km) from Dallas, Texas. [7]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.8 square miles (40.9 km2), of which 15.7 square miles (40.7 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km2) (0.44%) is water.


Climate data for Ada, Oklahoma
Record high °F (°C)84
Average high °F (°C)51
Average low °F (°C)30
Record low °F (°C)−10
Average precipitation inches (mm)2.1
Average snowfall inches (cm)2.7
Source: Weatherbase [16]


Chickasaw language stop sign, with Chickasaw word "Hika" ("stop"), in Ada, Oklahoma. Chickasaw stop.jpg
Chickasaw language stop sign, with Chickasaw word "Hika" ("stop"), in Ada, Oklahoma.
Picture taken on Broadway of the former Stout family residence with one of the city's water towers behind it. Broadway - Watertower.jpg
Picture taken on Broadway of the former Stout family residence with one of the city's water towers behind it.
Historical population
1910 4,349
1920 8,01284.2%
1930 11,26140.6%
1940 15,14334.5%
1950 15,9955.6%
1960 14,347−10.3%
1970 14,8593.6%
1980 15,9027.0%
1990 15,820−0.5%
2000 15,691−0.8%
2010 16,8107.1%
2019 (est.)17,235 [2] 2.5%
Sources: [3] [17] [18] [19]
Language offerings for audio tours at the Chickasaw Cultural Center, including Chickasaw, English, and Spanish. Chickasawlanguageaudiotour.jpg
Language offerings for audio tours at the Chickasaw Cultural Center, including Chickasaw, English, and Spanish.

As of the 2010 census, Ada's 16,810 residents consisted of 6,697 households and 3,803 families. The population density was 999.3 people per square mile (385.9/km2). The 7,862 housing units were dispersed at an average density of 475.9 per square mile (183.8/km2). Ada's 2006 racial makeup was 73.81% White, 3.54% African American, 15.10% Native American, 0.83% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.89% from other races, and 5.81% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 2.89% of the population.

Of Ada's 6,697 households, 25.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.6% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.2% were non-families. The 15.8% of those 65 years or older living alone made up a substantial portion of the 37.1% single-person households. Average household size was 2.20 persons; average family size was 2.91.

The age breakdown in 2006 was 22.3% under the age of 18, 17.5% from 18 to 24, 24.4% from 25 to 44, 18.9% from 45 to 64, and 17.0% aged 65 or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females aged 18 or over, there were 84.5 males, while for all ages, there were 100 females for every 88.4 males.

Median household income was $22,977, while median family income was $31,805. Males had a median income of $25,223 versus $17,688 for females. Ada's per capita income was $14,666. Some 14.8% of families and 21.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.8% of those under 18 and 11.4% of those 65 or over.

An estimated 2,000-3,000 residents speak the Chickasaw language. [20]


The economy of Ada is diversified. In the mid and late 20th century, the town was a manufacturing center, producing products such as Wrangler jeans, auto parts, cement and concrete, plasticware, and other products. Since the start of the 21st century, manufacturers have made major investments in expansions and new technology. [21] [22] [23]

In 1975, the Chickasaw Nation opened its headquarters in Ada. [24] [9] Revenues for the Nation were over 12 billion dollars in 2011, most of which is funneled through Ada. [25] The Robert S. Kerr Environmental Research Center, a large water research lab staffed by the Environmental Protection Agency, opened in 1966. [9] LegalShield, a multi-level marketing provider of pre-paid legal services, is headquartered in the city. Oil and natural gas are still very much a part of the regional economy.

The largest employers in the region are the following: [26]


ECU's Honor Plaza ECUTiger.jpg
ECU's Honor Plaza

Higher education

East Central University, located in Ada, is a public four-year institution that has been in operation since 1909. ECU serves roughly 4,500 students and is perhaps best known internationally for its cartography program, as only a few such programs exist. ECU is also home to an Environmental Health Science Program, one of only 30 programs nationally accredited by the National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council (EHAC). [27]

Primary and secondary

Ada Public Schools has six primary and secondary schools.

Latta Public Schools has one high school in Ada: Latta High School

Technical school

Pontotoc Technology Center (formerly Pontotoc Area Vo-Tech) is located in Ada.



Major highways are:


Rail Freight is serviced by BNSF


The Ada Regional Airport (FAA Identifier: ADH), owned and operated by the City of Ada, is located two miles north of downtown, and is home to two major aeronautical industries—General Aviation Modifications, Inc. and Tornado Alley Turbo. [28] From the early 1950s well into the 1960s, the airport was served by Central Airlines. [29] [30]

Notable people

Because of its short, palindromic spelling with frequently used letters, Ada is a very common crossword puzzle answer. Associated clues often include "Oklahoma city", "Oklahoma palindrome", and "Sooner State city." [51]

In 2006, a true crime book by author John Grisham brought Ada into the national spotlight by relating various false convictions and imprisonments resulting from two unconnected murder trials. Two men had been tried and convicted of the murder of Debra Sue "Debbie" Carter. After twelve years on death row, DNA evidence proved the men's innocence and established the guilt of the prosecution's main witness. Similar problems surrounded the trials of the two men convicted for the murder of Denice Haraway. Two of the books examining these cases are The Dreams of Ada (1987) by Robert Mayer and The Innocent Man , Grisham's first non-fiction book. Accounts from both books suggest major flaws, irregularities, and outright miscarriages of justice including forced and made-up confessions by the police and prosecutors. Prosecutor Bill Peterson has self-published his disagreements with Grisham's version of events. [52] [53] [54]

Related Research Articles

Pontotoc County, Oklahoma U.S. county in Oklahoma

Pontotoc County is in the south central part of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 37,492. Its county seat is Ada. The county was created at statehood from part of the Chickasaw Nation in Indian Territory. It was named for a historic Chickasaw tribal area in Mississippi. According to the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, Pontotoc is usually translated "cattail prairie" or "land of hanging grapes."

Murray County, Oklahoma U.S. county in Oklahoma

Murray County is a county located in the southern part of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 13,488. This is a 6.9 percent increase from 12,623 at the 2000 census. The county seat is Sulphur. The county was named for William H. Murray, a member and president of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention and later a Governor of Oklahoma.

Pontotoc, Mississippi City in Mississippi, United States

Pontotoc is a city in, and the county seat of, Pontotoc County, Mississippi, located to the west of the much larger city of Tupelo. The population was 5,625 at the 2010 census. Pontotoc is a Chickasaw word that means, “Land of the Hanging Grapes.”

Ardmore, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Ardmore is the county seat of Carter County, Oklahoma, United States. According to the 2010 census, the city had a population of 24,283, with an estimated population of 24,698 in 2019. The Ardmore micropolitan statistical area had an estimated population of 48,491 in 2013. Ardmore is 90 miles (140 km) from both Oklahoma City and Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, at the junction of Interstate 35 and U.S. Highway 70, and is generally considered the hub of the 13-county region of South Central Oklahoma, also known by state tourism pamphlets as "Chickasaw Country" and previously "Lake and Trail Country". It is also a part of the Texoma region. Ardmore is situated about 9 miles (14 km) south of the Arbuckle Mountains and is located at the eastern margin of the Healdton Basin, one of the most oil-rich regions of the United States.

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Pauls Valley is a city in and the county seat of Garvin County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 6,187 at the 2010 census, a decline of 1.1 percent from the figure of 6,256 in 2000. It was settled by and named for Smith Paul, a North Carolina native who married a Chickasaw woman and became a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation before the Civil War. The town economy is largely based on agriculture and oil production.

Chickasha, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Chickasha is a city in and the county seat of Grady County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 16,036 at the 2010 census. Chickasha is home to the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. The city is named for and strongly connected to Native American heritage, as "Chickasha" (Chikashsha) is the Choctaw word for Chickasaw.

Tishomingo, Oklahoma city in Oklahoma

Tishomingo is the largest city in, and the county seat of, Johnston County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 3,034 at the 2010 census, a decline of 4.1 percent from the figure of 3,162 in 2000. It was the first capital of the Chickasaw Nation, from 1856 until Oklahoma statehood in 1907. The city is home to Murray State College, a community college with an annual enrollment of 3,015 students. Tishomingo is part of the Texoma region.

Sulphur, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Sulphur is a city in and county seat of Murray County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 4,929 at the 2010 census, a 3.4 percent gain over the figure of 4,794 in 2000. The area around Sulphur has been noted for its mineral springs, since well before the city was founded late in the 19th century. The city received its name from the presence of sulfur in the water.

Stonewall, Oklahoma Town in Oklahoma, United States

Stonewall is a town in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, United States. Named for Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, the settlement's post office was established in December, 1874.

Asher, Oklahoma Town in Oklahoma, United States

Asher is a town in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma. The population was 393 at the 2010 census, a decline of 6.2 percent from the figure of 419 in 2000.

Duncan, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Duncan is a city and county seat of Stephens County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 23,431 at the 2010 census. Its main claim to fame is as the birthplace of the Halliburton Corporation. Erle P. Halliburton established the New Method Oil Well Cementing Company in 1919. Halliburton maintains seven different complexes in Duncan plus an employee recreational park, but the corporate offices relocated first to Dallas and later to Houston.

Purcell, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Purcell is a city in and the county seat of McClain County, Oklahoma, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 5,884. The 2020 population is listed as 6,420, which has grown to the 67th largest Oklahoma municipality. Founded in 1887, Purcell was a railroad town named after Edward B. Purcell, who was an official with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

Allen, Oklahoma Town in Oklahoma, United States

Allen is a town in Hughes and Pontotoc counties in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The population was 932 at the 2010 census.

East Central University

East Central University is a public university in Ada, Oklahoma. It is part of Oklahoma's Regional University System. Beyond its flagship campus in Ada, the university has courses available in McAlester, Shawnee, and Durant, as well as online courses. Founded as East Central State Normal School in 1909, its present name was adopted in 1985. Some of its more prominent alumni include former Microsoft COO B. Kevin Turner, Modernist painter Leon Polk Smith, former NFL player Mark Gastineau, past governors Robert S. Kerr and George Nigh, former U.S. Representative Lyle Boren, Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Tom Colbert, and U.S. Army General James D. Thurman.

Chickasaw Nation Federally recognized Native American nation

The Chickasaw Nation is a federally recognized Native American nation, with its headquarters located in Ada, Oklahoma in the United States. They are indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands. Currently, the nation's jurisdictional territory includes about 7,648 square miles of south-central Oklahoma, including the Bryan, Carter, Coal, Garvin, Grady, Jefferson, Johnston, Love, McClain, Marshall, Murray, Pontotoc, and Stephens counties. These counties are separated into four districts – the Pontotoc, Pickens, Tishomingo, and Panola – to ensure a relatively equal population within each county. It is estimated that their population today stands around 38,000, with the majority of Chickasaw population currently residing in the state of Oklahoma. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, European Americans knew the Chickasaw as one of the historic Five Civilized Tribes, due to later adoption of a number of practices of the European settlers, including the adoption of centralized governments with written constitutions, intermarriages with the white settlers, literacy, Christianity, market participation, and slaveholding. Today, the Chickasaw Nation is the thirteenth largest federally recognized tribe in the United States.

The Chickasaw Turnpike is a short toll road in the rural south central region of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. A two-lane freeway, it stretches for 13.3 miles (21.4 km) from north of Sulphur to just south of Ada. The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) owns, maintains, and collects tolls on the turnpike. The first section of the Chickasaw Turnpike opened on September 1, 1991.

Bill Anoatubby

Bill Anoatubby is the Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, a position he has held since 1987. From 1979 to 1987, Anoatubby served two terms as Lieutenant Governor of the Chickasaw Nation in the administration of Governor Overton James, after being popularly elected to office.

<i>The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town</i>

The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town is a 2006 true crime book by John Grisham, his only nonfiction title as of 2020. The book tells the story of Ronald 'Ron' Keith Williamson of Ada, Oklahoma, a former minor league baseball player who was wrongly convicted in 1988 of the rape and murder of Debra Sue Carter in Ada and was sentenced to death. After serving 11 years on death row, he was exonerated by DNA evidence and other material introduced by the Innocence Project and was released in 1999.

South Central Oklahoma

South Central Oklahoma is an amorphous region in the state of Oklahoma, perhaps encompassing 10 counties. It is centered on the Arbuckle Mountains, an ancient, eroded range traversing some 70 miles (110 km) across the region, and surrounded by rivers and lakes, notably Lake Texoma, Lake Murray and Lake of the Arbuckles. For tourism purposes, the Oklahoma Department of Tourism has more narrowly defined South Central Oklahoma, which they refer to as Chickasaw Country, as being a seven-county region including Pontotoc, Johnston, Marshall, Garvin, Murray, Carter, and Love counties. A ten-county definition might also include Coal, Atoka, and Bryan counties, although the Department of Tourism includes those in Choctaw Country. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma covers the eastern third of the region. Its headquarters is in Durant, and its capitol building, now a museum, is in Tuskahoma. The Chickasaw Nation lies within the region, with the tribal capitol building located at Tishomingo and its headquarters in Ada. The Chickasaw Nation, which runs ""., promotes the idea of Chickasaw Country as the 13 south-central Oklahoma counties that comprise the Chickasaw Nation, being the Tourism Department’s seven counties plus Coal, Bryan, Jefferson, Stephens, Grady, and McClain counties.

KADA-FM Radio station in Ada, Oklahoma

KADA-FM is a radio station licensed to serve Ada, Oklahoma, US. The station, established in 1980, is currently owned by the Chickasaw Nation.


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