County History

Delaware County was created in 1907 from Cherokee County. named for Delaware district of the old Cherokee Nation. Delaware District took its name from Delaware Town which was located in the Spavinaw Hills in the early part the 19th century. It was occupied by a band of Delaware Indians who left the United States and settled in Louisiana Province, then Spanish Territory, shortly after the close of the American Revolution.

When Oklahoma became a state on November 7, 1907, Grove was named as the county seat, and the courthouse was located on the second floor of the Jones-Hampton General Store. Many residents of the county believed the county seat should be more centrally located. They petitioned the courts and an election was held on November 8, 1908 to decide the location of the county seat. Grove lost by nineteen votes. Grove protested, but eventually lost. The 1910-1911 Legislature made Grove a county court town, and provided for two court terms each year. On June 27, 1911 the Supreme Court of Oklahoma ruled in favor of Jay and on January 5, 1912 the county commissioners ordered the records to be moved to Jay. On May 10, 1913 the courthouse in Jay burned destroying most of the county records. (Source: Grove Sun Newspaper, Court Records, Heritage of the Hills Delaware County History)

In the fall of 1866 the main body of the Delaware sold their lands in Northeastern Kansas and during the next year, they moved to the Indian Territory, settling among the Cherokee, with which tribe they have ever since been affiliated. Note Added: A small branch of the Delaware has been living with the Wichita and affiliated tribes for a great number of years. A part of these joined the tribes of the Washita at the time of the main body of Delaware moved to the Cherokee country, but others had already been living among the Wichita for many years. (Source: History of Oklahoma by Joseph B. Thoburn and Isaac M. Holcomb, Doub & Company, San Francisco, 1908, pg. 109)

The town of Jay, named for Jay Washburn, a nephew of Stand Watie. Jay, 29.6 m. (1,035 alt., 791 pop.) is in the eastern part of Delaware County, having won that distinction from Grove in a special county seat election on December 8, 1908. The removal of the county seat to Jay was followed by a comic opera war between two factions of the little towns' promoters, each of whom strove to have the county records stored in its own courthouse. From their sketchy entrenchments, the forces of old and new, Jay and Grove faced each other for several days, some wild firing was done (the only casualty a stray mule), and then the war was called off.

Built on land cleared of forest growth, the town is supported by the trade of farmers, and fruit and berry growers. Undeveloped deposits of lead, zinc, and iron are believed to exist nearby; and gray limestone is quarried. There are several churches and a Cherokee Indian Community House. Jay is one of the three county seat towns in Oklahoma which has never been served by a railroad. (Source The WPA Guide to 1930's Oklahoma, Restored essay by Angie Debs, New introduction by Ann Hodges Morgan. University Press Kansas, c 1941 by University of Oklahoma, forward a 1986 by University of Kansas Press)

Current Information on Delaware Co.

Located on the Oklahoma-Arkansas Boarder, Delaware county takes pride in its lakes and recreation area. Grove, situated on the Northern edge of the Old Cherokee Nation, is a resort area just south of Grove, has all types of water sports, and excellent crappie fishing. Jay, the county seat of Delaware County, was named for Jay Washburn, the grandson of an early-day missionary. The principal industry is the raising and processing of chickens. Green beans and soybeans are raised throughout the area as well as cattle. East of Jay is the Oak Hill Indian Center, where Cherokees weave blankets and other articles on hand looms.

Beck's Mill also known as Hildebrand Mill, northeast of the town of Kansas, supplied meal for whites and Indians, and was built in 1835. It was once used as a Union prison camp.

Annual events in Delaware County include the Pelican Festival held in Grove every autumn, and the Huckleberry Festival located in Jay during July.


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