Skiatook (Skī·ǎ·tōōk or Skī·ǎ·tǒǒk versus Skī·tōōk or Skī·tǒǒk) is a city in Osage and Tulsa counties in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Located in the northeastern part of the state, about twenty miles north and west of Tulsa, it is a suburb of Tulsa. The population was 7,397 at the 2010 census, an increase of 37.1 percent from 5,396 at the 2000 census.
William C. Rogers, last hereditary Chief of the Cherokees, founded Skiatook in 1872, when he established a trading post in the Cherokee Nation just to the south of Bird Creek where the stream was easily crossed. When a post office was established in Rogers' store in the 1880s, the place was named Ski-a-took. An Osage Indian, Skiatooka, was a frequent trader at the post, so it has been suggested this may be the connection which resulted in the town's name. 1892, the name was changed from Ski-a-took to its present form.
Historical records have conflicting data as to the origin of Skiatook's name. One story is that the town was founded on land which was the home of a prominent Osage Indian, Skiatooka, and the community around his home was called Skiatooka's Settlement.
Another story is that the name was Cherokee in origin meaning either "big injun me" or describing a large man or a vast tract of land.
Yet another story, told by local natives of Osage decent, is that after a tornado struck the settlement in its early years, while trying to describe to white settlers what had happened in broken English, natives used the phrase "sky-a-took". Literally meaning, the sky had taken the settlement. This story is at least four generations old - and in native tradition - handed down by word of mouth.
The first deed in town was granted to the Skiatook Bank, later known at the First National Bank, on December 18, 1904. Lumber was hauled in to build the bank building and in January 1905, the bank opened. Immediately after this day, despite the harsh winter, active construction began, and many buildings replaced shacks and tents.
Also in 1904, the Midland Valley Railroad was built through the area and weekly newspaper, The Skiatook Sentinel (now known as the Skiatook Journal), was first published. The town became incorporated during the summer of 1905, with A.E. Townsend as its first mayor. By the fall of 1906, the residents had the conveniences of natural gas and public telephones.
After Oklahoma Statehood in 1907, construction began on permanent roads and bridges. Several country schools had been scattered throughout the area, and Skiatook Schools began in 1905. The first church building constructed in Skiatook was the First Christian Church in 1907. Before this, congregations met in several places in town, including homes and businesses.
Cement sidewalks were constructed between 1909 and 1910, and in 1912 Skiatook received water, sewer and electric light improvements. The area experienced much growth in the oil, gas and farm industries. Increased traffic through town warranted better streets, and by the fall of 1919, Skiatook had 15 blocks of continuous cement paved streets. In 1920, Skiatook had 2,000 residents and around 50 businesses.
A road to Tulsa was paved in the early 1920s, and with good roads leading out in all directions, Skiatook became known as the "Gateway to all points North, South, East and West". In the 1930s, Skiatook began purchasing water from Spavinaw, but the completion of Skiatook Lake in 1984 gave Skiatook its own water source.
The Battle of Chustenahlah
The Battle of Chustenahlah was fought just west of Skiatook, on December 26, 1861, during the American Civil War. A band of 9,000 pro-Union Native Americans was forced to flee to Kansas in bitter cold and snow in what became known as the "Trail of Blood on the Ice." The victorious Confederates captured 160 women and children, 20 blacks, 30 wagons, 70 yoke of oxen, about 500 Indian horses, several hundred head of cattle, 100 sheep, and large quantities of supplies. Casualties were 9 killed and 40 wounded for the Confederates. Colonel McIntosh in his official report estimated the Indians' loss as 250. A historical marker commemorates the battle.