Established in 1889
Chelsea Oklahoma was named after Chelsea, England by Charles Peach who was a railroad official that was a native of that city.
In 1881, Chelsea began as a stop on the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad.
A Chelsea post office was established in November 1882, and the town was incorporated under the law of the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, in 1889. The United States Townsite Commission surveyed and platted Chelsea in 1902.
The Bank of Chelsea, the first state bank in Indian Territory, began operation in March 1896 and is still around today as the Bank of Commerce is located down Chelsea's main street.
The town economy began with farming and ranching. Important farm products were oats, corn, wheat, and pecans. Chelsea thrived as a community due to this and main street began to take shape. During the early 1900s brick streets were laid in the shape of a spoked wheel, with downtown Chelsea as the hub and are still there today.
The first oil well in Oklahoma is in Chelsea and was discovered southwest of the city in 1889.
Today Chelsea has a population of 1,964 residents. Chelsea High School is a 2A school with Grades K-12. In 1998 the Chelsea High School boys track team won the state championship. In 2007 the Chelsea High School Varsity cheerleading squad won the state championship. Also in 2007, the Chelsea High School Softball team won the state championship. In 2013, the Chelsea Academic team won the 3A State Championship. Chelsea is also known for its FFA organization.
Local properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places
Hogue House (NR 82001498) -The Hogue House was built in 1912 and is the first Sears & Roebuck home to be constructed in Oklahoma, the first one to be built west of the Mississippi River, and one of the best examples of Sears Modern Home Number 146. It has remained in the Hogue family for almost 70 years. It was placed on the NRHP in 1982.
Chelsea Motel (NR 04000525) - The Chelsea Motor Inn is on the NE corner of Route 66 (Walnut Ave.) and E 1st. St., Chelsea, OK. This motel opened sometime between 1936 and 1939. It was a mom-and-pop motel that changed hands occasionally during its 30-year lifespan. It has a simple rectangular building 75 feet long and 16 ft. wide, with six units, built with wood. The first owner, Palen sold the land along to Nellie Bly Parker in 1939. After WWII, she sold it to Ted and Mildred Noland. They added the neon sign in 1947 and sold the property in 1952. Its last owner was Billy J. Owen. It closed for good in 1976.
Pryor Creek Bridge - This 123-foot, steel-truss bridge was part of the original Route 66 alignment. It carried Mother Road traffic from 1926 to 1932. It’s the only unaltered bridge with its particular structure — known as the Pratt through truss design — left in Oklahoma. It’s no longer open to traffic, but you can walk across.
Chelsea is a great place to call home just like these Famous Names
Gene Autry famously met Will Rogers while working as a telegraph operator at the railroad depot in Chelsea. After hearing Gene sing and strum his guitar, Rogers told him he was good enough to play on the radio. This chance meeting inspired Gene Autry to pursue a career in music. While the railroad depot is no longer there, this stop will drive you through the town of Chelsea, crossing over the railroad tracks that gave Autry one of his first jobs.
Ralph Terry grew up in Chelsea, Oklahoma, and was recruited to play football at Oklahoma State University but opted instead to play baseball for the 1954 New York Yankees. In the off-season, Terry attended Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College during the years of 1953-56 where he played basketball for the Golden Norsemen routinely. Ralph spent twelve years in the major leagues playing professional baseball for the Yankees, Athletics, Indians, and Mets. He played on seven pennant-winning teams and won three World Series Championships. He was named MVP of the 1962 World Series after winning two games for the Yankees.
Today, Ralph and his wife Tanya live in Larned, Kansa where the former Golden Norseman and retired baseball player is a professional golfer on the senior PGA Tour.
Admiral Joseph James "JOCKO" Clark was born near Chelsea in Indian Territory, in 1893. In 1913, Clark received an appointment to and was the first Native American to graduate from the United States Naval Academy. His military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Cross, Silver Star, and the Legion of Merit. Clark’s career lasted more than forty years. Clark was made honorary chief of both the Sioux and Cherokee nations. He was also honored in 1969 by the National Aeronautic Association with the Elder Statesman of Aviation Award. Clark died on July 13, 1971, at the Naval Hospital in St. Albans, New York. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. In honor of Admiral J. J. Clark, the Navy named a guided-missile frigate the U.S.S. Clark (FFG-11) in 1980, a ship nicknamed the “Determined Warrior.”
Bob Wills, First Steer Roping Victory 1910
Clem McSpadden was born on a ranch near the small town of Bushyhead in Rogers County, Oklahoma. He grew up on a ranch owned by Will Rogers in nearby Oologah. He was first elected to public office in November 1954 when he won a seat in the Oklahoma Senate. He served in that body until 1972, including leading it for two sessions as President pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate. He was elected to the Ninety-third Congress in November 1972 and he chose to run for Governor of Oklahoma in 1974 rather than seek reelection for a second congressional term. McSpadden was involved in rodeos throughout North America as a broadcaster, including the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Calgary Stampede, and the Canadian Finals Rodeo. In 1974, he hired a then-unknown Reba McEntire to sing the National Anthem at the National Rodeo Finals. He was quoted by the Tulsa World as observing "an amazing correlation" between politics and the rodeo profession, "in that there's bull in each profession." He is also known, especially through the rodeo community, for his authorship of "A Cowboy's Prayer. A portion of Oklahoma State Highway 66 between Claremore and Bushyhead was designated Clem McSpadden Highway in 1985. The post office in Chelsea, Oklahoma, where he made his home, was renamed the "Clem Rogers McSpadden Post Office Building" in his honor in January 2008.
Jesse Bartley (J.B.) Milam was born on March 10, 1884, in Ellis County, Texas. He is one of nine children of William and Sarah Ellen Milam. Young Milam spent his youth in Chelsea, in the Cooweescoowee District of the Cherokee Nation, later Rogers County, Oklahoma. He graduated from Cherokee National Male Seminary in Tahlequah. In April 1904 he married Elizabeth P. McSpadden, also of Chelsea, and Mildred, Stuart, and Mary were born of their union. Milam worked in the hardware business and later entered banking, becoming president of Claremore's Rogers County Bank, and he also pursued ventures in the oil business. Born into the Long Hair Clan, Milam was elected in 1938 as principal chief and presided after the Cherokee Nation's federal recognition in 1941. Milam served as a model Cherokee leader and businessman in twentieth-century America. His character attributes of adaptation and resilience mirrored the character and spirit of the Cherokee Nation during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Jerry Douglas, known by his family and friends as Chief, was born in Winganon on September 10, 1939. He was raised in the Chelsea area and graduated from Chelsea High School in 1958. Jerry honorably served his country in the United States Air Force. Jerry spent working for Southwestern Computing services as a computer programmer. He returned to Chelsea and helped to care for his mother in her final years. It was then that he became involved in the Delaware Indian tribal affairs. He began serving on many boards for the Delaware tribe such as, the housing authority, the Boys and Girls Club of Chelsea, the Tribal Council, and the Delaware Trust Board. The role progressed into serving as the assistant chief, and ultimately, he was elected Chief of the Delaware Tribe in 2005 till 2010. Under his administration, the Delaware Tribe regained their federal recognition.