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Ada, Oklahoma

Coordinates: 34°45′49″N 96°40′06″W / 34.76361°N 96.66833°W / 34.76361; -96.66833
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Ada, Oklahoma
Ada City Hall
Ada City Hall
Location in the state of Oklahoma
Location in the state of Oklahoma
Coordinates: 34°45′49″N 96°40′06″W / 34.76361°N 96.66833°W / 34.76361; -96.66833
CountryUnited States
Post Office1891
 • TypeCity Council
 • MayorTre' Landrum, D.O.
 • Total20.20 sq mi (52.32 km2)
 • Land20.14 sq mi (52.17 km2)
 • Water0.06 sq mi (0.15 km2)  0%
Elevation1,011 ft (308 m)
 • Total16,481
 • Density818.20/sq mi (315.90/km2)
 • Demonym
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code580
FIPS code40-00200 [3]
GNIS feature ID2409660[2]

Ada is a city in and the county seat of Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, United States.[4] The population was 16,481 at the 2020 United States Census. 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 capital of the Chickasaw Nation. Ada is an Oklahoma Main Street City, an Oklahoma Certified City, and a Tree City USA member.[5]


Pontotoc County Courthouse in Ada

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 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]

Ada was originally a sundown town, where African Americans were not allowed to live. In the 1900s, the town was opened up to African Americans so that black witnesses could stay while testifying in district court. Despite a violent episode in 1904, the town remained open to African Americans to provide labor for a local cotton compress.[8][9][10]

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, among whom was American outlaw Deacon Jim Miller, who was set to be tried for the murder of a former U.S. marshal and member of the local freemason lodge.[11] The town had a population of about 5,000 at the time, and 38 murders a year at the time of the lynching.[11] 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".[12]

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]

National Register of Historic Places[edit]

The following sites in Ada are listed on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma:[13]



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
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 51
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 30
Record low °F (°C) −10
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.1
Average snowfall inches (cm) 2.7
Source: Weatherbase[14]


Picture taken on Broadway of the former Stout family residence with one of the city's water towers behind it.
Historical population

2020 census[edit]

Ada Racial Composition[18]
Race Num. Perc.
White 8,942 54.26%
Black or African American 696 4.22%
Native American 2,777 16.85%
Asian 301 1.83%
Pacific Islander 8 0.05%
Other/Mixed 2,476 15.02%
Hispanic or Latino 1,281 7.77%

As of the 2020 United States Census, there were 16,481 people, 6,611 households, and 3,552 families residing in the city.

Language offerings for audio tours at the Chickasaw Cultural Center, including Chickasaw, English, and Spanish.

2010 census[edit]

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 inhabitants per square mile (385.8/km2). The 7,862 housing units were dispersed at an average density of 475.9 per square mile (183.7/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. For every 100 females aged 18 or over, there were 84.5 males, while for all ages, 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.

An estimated 2,000-3,000 residents speak the Chickasaw language.[19]


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, manufacturers have made major investments in expansions and new technology.[20][21][22]

In 1975, the Chickasaw Nation opened its headquarters in Ada.[23][7] Revenues for the Nation were over 12 billion dollars in 2011, most of which is funneled through Ada.[24] The Robert S. Kerr Environmental Research Center, a large water research lab staffed by the Environmental Protection Agency, opened in 1966.[7] LegalShield, a multi-level marketing provider of pre-paid legal services, is headquartered in the city. Oil and natural gas remain a part of the regional economy.

The largest employers in the region are:[25]

  • Ada City Schools
  • Chickasaw Nation
  • East Central University
  • iQor (call center for Sprint)
  • Pontotoc County Technology Center
  • Dart Container (formerly Solo Cup)
  • Flex-N-Gate (auto parts manufacturer)
  • Holcim Inc. (Portland cement)
  • LegalShield
  • Power Lift Foundation Repair
  • State of Oklahoma
  • Walmart
  • Kerr Lab
  • Mercy Hospital Ada
  • City of Ada


Higher education[edit]

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 is known internationally for its cartography program, as only a few such programs exist.[citation needed] 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 (EHAC).[26]

Primary and secondary[edit]

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

Latta Public Schools has one high school in Ada: Latta High School

Technical school[edit]

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



Major highways are:


Rail Freight is serviced by BNSF and a Union Pacific shoreline.


The Ada Regional Airport (FAA Identifier: ADH), owned and operated by the City of Ada, is located two miles north of downtown, and is home to two major aeronautical industries—General Aviation Modifications, Inc. and Tornado Alley Turbo.[27] From the early 1950s well into the 1960s, the airport was served by Central Airlines.[28][29]




  • KADA/1230: rock “Pirate Radio” (simulcasts on FM translator K272FW).


  • KAJT/88.7: religion “Son Life Radio”.
  • KAKO/91.3: religion (American Family Radio).
  • KOUA/91.9: public radio (NPR affiliate).
  • KADA-FM/99.3: oldies “Cool 99.3”.
FM translators[edit]
  • K212FZ/90.3: religion “K-Love”
  • K250AU/97.9: public radio (relays KOUA)
  • K272FW/102.3: rock (relays KADA (AM)).
  • K286BB/105.1: religion “The Gospel Station”.

Notable people[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

Because of its short, palindromic spelling with frequently used letters, Ada is a very common crossword puzzle answer. Associated clues often include "Oklahoma city", "Oklahoma palindrome", and "Sooner State city."[50]


In 1987, journalist Robert Mayer published The Dreams of Ada exploring major flaws, irregularities, forced confessions, and possible miscarriages of justice in Ada in the convictions of Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot for the rape and murder of Denice Haraway, who died in 1984.

In 2006, John Grisham brought Ada into the national spotlight in his nonfiction work The Innocent Man, relating a similar story in the convictions of Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz for the murder of Debra Sue Carter. After 12 years on death row, DNA evidence proved the men's innocence and established the guilt of the prosecution's main witness. Similar problems surrounded the trials of the two men convicted for the murder of Denice Haraway. Prosecutor Bill Peterson has self-published his disagreements with Grisham's version of events.[51][52][53]

In 2018, Grisham's book was adapted into a Netflix series, also titled The Innocent Man, combining and extending the cases outlined in his and Mayer's books.


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  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Ada, Oklahoma
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
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  6. ^ City of Ada, OK (accessed February 23, 2007).
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  8. ^ "After Negroes in Ada, I.T." Arkansas City Daily Traveler. Arkansas City, Kansas. March 30, 1904. p. 1 – via Newspapers.com. Until recently the people of Ada, a town of 300, have refused to allow negroes to reside within the corporation. As district court is held there it became necessary to secure some place where negro witnesses might stay during the session. Judge Townsend induced the people to allow a negro restaurant to be established. Following this barber shops, stores and hotels were put up by negroes. Notices were served on these people by unknown parties that unless they left the town immediately they must suffer the consequences. They refused to leave and last night a negro restaurant was blown up by dynamite and an occupant of the building seriously injured. ... As a cotton compress is to begin operations here next fall considerable negro labor will be required, and most citizens now believe negroes should be allowed to live there.
  9. ^ "Used Dynamite". Alexandria Daily Town Talk. Alexandria, Louisiana. March 31, 1904. p. 7 – via Newspapers.com. Unknown parties dynamited the house of Lum Williams, seriously injuring one negro and demolishing the building. The negroes occupying the house had been warned several times not to let the sun go down on them in Ada. The card of warning was signed 'Old Danger.' Heretofore negroes were not allowed to live in Ada, and these were only allowed to stay to accommodate the negroes attending court. After court they refused to leave.
  10. ^ "Considers Conspiracy Law". The Wagoner Echo. Wagoner, Indian Territory. November 19, 1904. p. 5 – via Newspapers.com. Now in Durant and other towns in the Central District, and for that matter, in Holdenville, Ada and other towns in the territory notices had been posted for the Negroes not to let the sun go down on them in said towns.
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External links[edit]