Many people who have lived here their entire lives know this story, but for those who haven’t, this is how Ada came to be.
William Jefferson Reed and Joannah Floyd were married Jan. 4, 1885, in Clarksville, Texas. They became the parents of nine children, the oldest being their daughter, Ada, who was born Feb. 10, 1886.
Reed made a trip to Indian Territory with his brother-in-law to help him drive cattle from Red River County, Texas. He was “prospecting” on this cattle drive and was so impressed that he returned home, sold his interest in Red River County, loaded up the family in April 1890 and headed back to the territory, traveling in a covered wagon.
In the words of Joannah Reed, “We started looking for a place to put a house. Through the high grass we strolled until we came to a little blackjack grove. That is where we pitched our tent. It was on the north part of the present townsite in the 500 block of what became West Fourth Street. Our first house was built of logs with a log side room, without any floor or windows. We put homemade boards on the inside, and I pasted newspapers on the wall.”
About a year after their arrival in what is now Ada, Reed established a mercantile store.
The next need was for a post office. A prerequisite for a post office was a list of names of those promising to receive mail there. It took Reed several months to accomplish this, for he had to walk or ride his horse often as far as 15 miles to get a signature.
After the required number of signatures was obtained, the petition was sent to Washington, D.C., with the suggested name of “Sulphur Springs.” This was rejected because a town of that name already existed. “Reed’s Store” was the second name submitted, which was also rejected.
The story goes that one day, as Reed sat watching his daughter Ada playing in the yard, he decided that he would send the name “Ada” to Washington, D.C. That name was accepted, and on July 10, 1891, a post office called “Ada” was established in the Reed Store.
Katherine Howry is a member of the Pontotoc County Historical and Genealogical Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping local people discover more about their ancestry and grow their family trees. PCHGS, 221 W. 16th, has a wide range of genealogical and heritage materials covering Oklahoma and the United States and is open from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. For more information, contact Katherine Howry at 580-332-5528.