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Ada, Oklahoma

Ada, Oklahoma
Pontotoc County Courthouse in Ada
Pontotoc County Courthouse in Ada
Location in the state of Oklahoma
Location in the state of Oklahoma
Ada, Oklahoma is located in USA
Ada, Oklahoma
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Oklahoma
County Pontotoc
Post Office 1891
 • Type City Council
 • Mayor Barbara Young
 • Total 15.8 sq mi (40.8 km2)
 • Land 15.7 sq mi (40.7 km2)
 • Water .1 sq mi (.2 km2)  0%
Elevation 1,010 ft (308 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 17,140
 • Density 1,077.2/sq mi (417.1/km2)
 • Demonym Adan
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 74820-74821
Area code(s) 580
FIPS code 40-00200[1]
GNIS feature ID 1089523[2]

Ada is a city in and the county seat of Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, United States.[3] The population was 16,810 at the 2010 census, an increase of 7.1 percent from 15,691 at the 2000 census.[4] The city was named for Ada Reed, the daughter of an early settler, and was incorporated in 1901.[5] 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, a Tree City USA member[5]


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Climate 2.1
  • Demographics 3
  • Economy 4
  • Education 5
    • Higher education 5.1
    • Primary and secondary 5.2
    • Technical school 5.3
  • National Register of Historic Places 6
  • Notable people 7
  • Debbie Carter and Denice Haraway murders 8
  • Martian crater named Ada 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


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.[6] 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.[7]

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).[7]

On April 19, 1909, an organized mob hanged four men set to be tried for the murder of a former U.S. marshal and member of the local freemason lodge.[8] The town had a population of about 5,000 at the time, and 38 murders a year at the time of the lynching.[8] 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."[9]

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.[7]


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.[5]

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
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
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[10]


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.
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. The disparity between the number of males and the number of females seems to be decreasing: for every 100 females aged 18 or over, there were only 84.5 males, but when all females and males were taken into account, 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.

Perhaps 2,000-3,000 residents speak the Chickasaw language.[15]


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, however, most large manufacturing centers have left or have downsized considerably.

In 1975, the Chickasaw Nation opened its headquarters in Ada.[7] Revenues for the Nation were over 12 billion dollars in 2011, most of which is funneled through Ada.[16] Machspeed Technologies, one of the largest producers and sellers of tablet PCs and media players in the United States is headquartered in Ada. The Robert S. Kerr Environmental Research Center, a large water research lab staffed by the Environmental Protection Agency, opened in 1966 and is located just outside the city.[7] 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, but no large companies that provide significant employment exist in the city.

The largest employers in the region are the following:[17]

  • Ada City Schools
  • Chickasaw Nation
  • Chickasaw Enterprises
  • East Central University
  • IQor (Call Center for T-Mobile)
  • Pontotoc County Technology Center
  • Solo Cup
  • Flex-N-Gate (Auto Parts Manufacturing)
  • Holcim Inc. (Portland Cement)
  • LegalShield
  • Wal-mart
  • Kerr Lab
  • Edge Tech Corp (MachSpeed Technologies)
  • Mercy Hospital Ada
  • City of Ada


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 (

Primary and secondary

Ada Public Schools has six primary and secondary schools.

  • Glenwood Early Childhood Center
  • Hayes Grade Center
  • Washington Grade Center
  • Willard Grade Center
  • Ada Junior High School
  • Ada High School

Technical school

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

National Register of Historic Places

The following sites in Ada are listed on the National Register of Historic Places:[18]

Notable people

Debbie Carter and Denice Haraway murders

In 2006, a book by author John Grisham brought Ada into the national spotlight related to the false convictions and imprisonment of two individuals for the murder of Debra Sue "Debbie" Carter and two individuals convicted of the murder of Denice Haraway that the city officials were under pressure to solve. The cases were researched by a New York reporter and were the subject of the book The Dreams of Ada and eventually written about in 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.[37][38][39]

Martian crater named Ada

The name Ada has been assigned to a small crater on the planet Mars by the International Astronomical Union. Like all small Martian craters, it was named after a small town, without commemoration.[40]


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  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ CensusViewer:Ada, Oklahoma Population
  5. ^ a b c About Ada, City of Ada, OK (accessed February 23, 2007).
  6. ^ History of Ada, City of Ada, OK (accessed February 23, 2007).
  7. ^ a b c d e Floyd, Billie Fathree and Alberta Johnson Blackburn. "Ada". Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. Retrieved 2009-10-7.
  8. ^ a b "Ada, Oklahoma Lynching, 1909" at Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon (accessed April 1, 2010)
  9. ^ The Daily Ardmoreite. Ardmore, Oklahoma. Monday, 19 April 1909 (accessed January 1, 2008).
  10. ^ "Historical Weather for Ada, Oklahoma, United States". 
  11. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Number of Inhabitants: Oklahoma" (PDF). 18th Census of the United States. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  13. ^ "Oklahoma: Population and Housing Unit Counts" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  14. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  15. ^ Robins Hunter, Phoebe. "Language Extinction and the Status of North American Indian Languages". 
  16. ^ "Financial Reports of the Chickasaw". Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  17. ^ Oklahoma Department of Commerce (April 2011). "Southern WIA Economic Profile" (PDF). 
  18. ^ Pontotoc County, Oklahoma
  19. ^ 2011 Oklahoma Indian Nations Pocket Pictorial Directory. Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission. 2011: 8. (accessed July 26, 2013)
  20. ^ "Major General Vaughn A. Ary". Headquarters, United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 14 Oct 2013. 
  21. ^ "Nick Blackburn Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Harry Brecheen Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  23. ^ Dan Cody - Baltimore Ravens, Yahoo! Sports (accessed May 21, 2007).
  24. ^ Douglas Edwards Chronology, The Douglas Edwards Archives at St. Bonaventure University (accessed July 26, 2013)
  25. ^ Josh Fields Stats, Baseball Almanac (accessed July 26, 2013)
  26. ^ Mark Gastineau, Pro Football Reference. (accessed July 26, 2013)
  27. ^ Johny Hendrick, (accessed July 26, 2013)
  28. ^ Biography on
  29. ^ David Keirsey
  30. ^ Congressional biography of Robert S. Kerr (accessed July 26, 2013)
  31. ^ """Carolyn Roy, "Longtime KSLA anchor and news director Don Owen passes away.  
  32. ^ Louise S. Robbins - Oklahoma Library Legends, Oklahoma State University. (accessed July 26, 2013)
  33. ^ Oral Roberts, Tulsa World Special Projects Page (accessed July 26, 2013)
  34. ^ Blake Shelton, (accessed July 26, 2013)
  35. ^ Leon Polk Smith Scholarship, Art Department Scholarships, East Central University. (accessed July 26, 2013)
  36. ^ Dwyer, Jim. "Ronald Williamson, Freed From Death Row, Dies at 51," New York Times, December 9, 2004. (accessed July 26, 2013)
  37. ^ Frontline: burden of innocence (accessed November 13, 2008)
  38. ^ The Innocence Project (accessed November 13, 2008).
  39. ^ Grisham's Folly (accessed November 13, 2008).
  40. ^ Categories for Naming Features on Planets and Satellites, Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature, USGS Astrogeology Science Center, NASA

External links

  • City website
  • Ada Jobs Foundation website
  • Community website
  • Ada photos on Flickr (unofficial)
  • Oklahoma Main Street Community program
  • Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture - Ada
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