Joe Thomas pulled the approximately five- to six-inch rock out of his pocket and traced the hand chiseled letters, “WR” with his finger.

“I don’t know if this is a story or not,” he said. “My brother and I found this up on the lake about six months ago. We’ve been trying to decide what to do with it.”

Joe said he and brother Floyd, both now retirees, found the water worn rock with the roughed-in initials on June 29, 2006, while fishing off the bank near the original homesite of Will Rogers.

Joe says they like to go fishing on Oologah Lake. They usually catch something, but whether or not the fish are biting is really irrelevant. They apparently treasure time spent together.

The sons of Frank and Mae Thomas grew up about three miles up the road from the Rogers family’s original homesite, but they don’t claim any particular knowledge of the world famous man.

In fact, this was the first time they had been to this part of the lake since what was once home to them and at one time the Dog Iron Ranch was covered with water. Both found their way back to Rogers County after careers in the military and living and raising families in California and Kansas.

So on this summer day they saw for the first time “the original foundation (of Will Rogers birthplace) part in the water and part out,” Joe said. Today the birthplace house sets just northeast of Oologah and serves as a living museum.

“We had pulled in there off the bank and tied up,” he said, explaining how they like to get out of the boat and fish off the bank.

He can’t remember if they caught any thing, but he does know their biggest catch was pulled in out of the water just as they started to push off the bank.

“I saw the rock with W.R. scratched in it,” Joe said. “No telling how long it had been there.”

Now the sandstone catch is a part of the miscellaneous memorabilia on display at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch near Oologah.

Steve Gragert, director of the Will Rogers Museum, said he was “proud” to have the rock among the world class collection which denotes the life and times of the Broadway star, political humorist and the one-time Rogers County boy.

“I talked to some of the people here at the Memorial and we thought the appropriate place to display it would be at the Birthplace Ranch,” Gragert said.

The Thomas brothers are making no claim to its authenticity or who might have carved the initials. Just the coincidence of the find near Will Rogers’ birthplace is enough.

They debated long and hard what to do with their find.

“Some people even suggested we put it on e-Bay,” Joe said.

In the end they decided to give it to the Memorial.

Now it’s another part of county history and lore.