Will Rogers is about as Oklahoman as you can get. Part Cherokee, Oklahoma born, a state and national treasure. I grew up knowing about Will Rogers, visiting the memorial in Claremore several times. Later I worked in Claremore for a short time and visited it whenever I could. I even worked with some of Will’s descendants, many still living in the area. I had also been to his birthplace and have read several biographies, the best ones, in my opinion, being “Our Will Rogers,” by Homer Croy, an old friend, and “Will Rogers,” by Betty Rogers, his wife. In California, I visited his home with the polo fields and the comfortable house that I’d seen in photos.

Yesterday, I happened to be in Oologah and stopped by his birthplace for a random visit. The house was moved from its original location when Lake Oologah was developed, flooding the original 60,000 acre ranch owned by the Rogers family. Today, it is a beautiful 400 acre location high on the shores of the lake and lovingly cared for. It’s so unassuming for something so special. You barely see the sign on Hwy 169 in Oologah that tells you to turn and cross the railroad tracks, heading down a country road. The entrance to the Dog Iron Ranch is simple.



The house was called The White House of the Verdigris, the river that became the lake. It stood proud on the prairie, a testament to the hard work of Clem Rogers and his wife, Mary.


When you read the biographies, you know that Will lived a wonderful life in that home. Standing by the room where he was born, peeking into the parlor where his parents entertained visiting politicians, family friends and the young people of the area as his mother played the piano and they sang in front of the fireplace, I could feel them all. I pictured the dances in the dining room when they rolled up the rug or pulled taffy in front of the stove. It was as good a life as you could have in those times. Hard work, clean living, loving family, fun times together.

Listening to the love in the video narrated by Will Rogers, Jr., you have to feel proud of this family who contributed so much to our state and to the youngest child, the son who became the pride of a nation.

This happened to be a beautiful fall day, gorgeous to walk and enjoy the fall colors around the grounds and the lake. The barn was built in 1960 by Amish carpenters who used the techniques of the original barn. There were horses saddled and ready to ride, chickens running around and a couple of longhorn steers in the corrals. There are only fifty of them now rather than the 10,000 that Will worked with in his cowboy days on the ranch.





The guestbook recorded visitors from around the world who know of Will Rogers and came to see where he had his beginnings. Oklahomans continue to visit, remembering his life into the next generations. That was comforting to me, because it would be a sad world that didn’t remember the wisdom of this man who touched so many. In the end, it was a lovely stop on a gorgeous day.





Well worth a stop if you’re ever near Oolgah, Oklahoma. Here’s a favorite Will Rogers quote for today…

“Do the best you can and don’t take life too serious.”