Claremore Daily Progress

Community News

September 6, 2012

The story of ‘Oowala’ in Cooweescoowee District

CLAREMORE — Oowala is the name of a community and the name of a Claremore street, but behind the name is the story of a family and a pioneer of the area which now comprises Rogers County.  The following history of the name “Oowala” was written by W. R. Harper and appeared in the November 11, 1930 and the June 28, 1953 editions of the Claremore Progress.  

The story of Oowala is in reality the life story of a man who had much to do with the progress and education of the Cherokee people and the result of his work is now seen in various parts of the country.  
About the time America gained her independence from the British crown a man named Casper Lipe settled in the Mohawk Valley in the state of New York.  The family consisted of his wife and one son, John, who united in marriage with the daughter of another pioneer family and in due time became the father of a male child who he called Oliver.
Oliver Lipe, the original Oowala, started west about 1835 and in due time found employment with a contracting firm at Boonesville, Missouri.  The nature of his employment took him first to Atlanta, Georgia, and later to Athens, Tennessee, from which place he rode on horseback to Tahlequah, Indian Territory, where he was employed as a carpenter on the first capitol building of the Cherokee Nation.
Here he met and in 1839 married a half blood Cherokee girl name Katherine Gunter, who had attended Mission schools in Tennessee and Georgia and had been converted to Christianity under the preaching of a man named John B. McFerrin, later a Methodist Bishop.
In those days a white man who married an Indian girl with the approval of older members of the tribe was formally adopted and given an Indian name…and an Indian name usually “means something.”

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