Norman is a U.S. city in Oklahoma south of downtown Oklahoma City in its metropolitan area. Norman's 110,925 residents make it the third-largest city in Oklahoma by population, and the city serves as the county seat of Cleveland County.
Norman was settled during the Land Run of 1889, which opened the former Indian Territory and Unassigned Lands to American pioneer settlement. The city was named in honor of its first land surveyor, Abner Norman, and was formally incorporated on May 13, 1891. Economically the city has prominent higher education and related research industries including as the home to the University of Oklahoma, the largest university in the state with approximately 30,000 students enrolled. The university is well known for its sporting events, with over 80,000 people routinely attending football games. The university is also home to several museums including the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, which contains the largest collection of French Impressionist art ever given to an American university.
The National Weather Center, located in Norman, houses a unique collection of university, state, and federal organizations that work together to improve the understanding of events related to the Earth's atmosphere. Norman lies within Tornado Alley, a geographic region where tornadic activity is predominant. The Oklahoma City metropolitan area, including Norman, is the most tornado-prone area in the United States. In addition to this, the SPC or Storm Prediction Center, a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is in Norman due to its location. The facility is used for forecasting severe storm and tornado outbreaks in addition to housing various experimental weather radars.
The Oklahoma region became part of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Prior to the American Civil War the United States government began relocating the Five Civilized Tribes - the five Native American tribes that the United States officially recognized via treaty - to Oklahoma. Treaties of 1832 and 1833 assigned the area known today as Norman to the Creek Nation.
Following the Civil War, the Creeks were accused of aiding the Confederate States of America and as a result they ceded the region back to the United States in 1866. Shortly after this the Arbuckle Trail, a feeder route to the Chisholm Trail, was developed to hasten the transfer of cattle from Texas to the railroads in Kansas. A federal survey of the empty lands along the Arbuckle Trail was undertaken in the early 1870s, headed by 23-year-old Abner Norman. Norman’s work crew set up camp at what is today the corner of Classen and Lindsey streets; it was there that the men, perhaps jokingly, carved a sign on an elm tree that read "Norman’s Camp," in honor of their young surveyor. In 1887, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway began service to the area, which was later opened to settlement as part of the Land Run of April 1889; early settlers decided to keep the name "Norman."
On April 22, 1889, the Land Run saw the founding of Norman with at least 150 residents spending the night in makeshift campsites; by the next morning a downtown was already being constructed. Almost immediately two prominent Norman businessmen, former Purcell railroad freight agent Delbert Larsh and railroad station chief cashier Thomas Waggoner, began lobbying for the territorial government to locate its first university in Norman. The two were interested in growing the city and had reasoned that rather than trying to influence legislatures to locate the heavily contested territory capitol in Norman that it made sense to attempt to secure the state's first university instead (a move that would be far less controversial). On December 19, 1890, Larsh and Waggoner were successful with the passage of Council Bill 114, establishing the University of Oklahoma in Norman approximately 18 years before Oklahoma statehood.
In 1941, the University of Oklahoma and Norman city officials established Max Westheimer Field, a university airstrip, and then leased it to the US Navy as a Naval Flight Training Center in 1942. The training center was used for training combat pilots during World War II. A second training center, known as Naval Air Technical Training Center, and a naval hospital were later established to the south. In the years following World War II the airstrip was transferred back to the university's control. Today the airstrip is called the University of Oklahoma Westheimer Airport. Following the war the remaining military presence and post-war veterans who came to Norman to get an education again grew the city's population, which was 27,006 by 1950. The Navy again utilized the bases in a lesser capacity from 1952 to 1959 in support of the Korean War effort.
The Havenbrook Funeral Home has online obituaries and memorials from 2008 and 2009.