This story appeared in the June 28, 1953 Claremore Progress by R. H. Fowler.
Different versions as told by researching local and state historians of Claremore’s name and beginning, it seems the story ceases to die. Destined to be a byword from time it was first used, the name CLAREMORE has a unique historical back ground from which little known facts have been discovered.
Its origin is an Osage name Grah-moh, Gra-moi or Grahmoie, meaning arrow going home or hitting the mark and pronounced Gla-mo. One of the many Indian customs among various tribes was to name a male newborn a worthy name and whoever the first Grah-moh was, he must have been an outstanding warrior to have had his name perpetuated in ensuing generations.
Early French traders recorded the name, Grah-moh as they pronounced it Clamo, Clermo and later altered to Clairmont, Clarmont, or Clamore. The English corrupted it to Claremore. Records show that Claremore was known as Clermont’s Village, Clermont’s Mounds, Claremont, and finally Claremore.
Historical accounts concerning this area reveal the name of not one Chief Clermont, but three: father, son and grandson, all excelling in their own rights as head of the Grah-moh band. The town of Claremore was named for the father who was called “the builder of towns.” He died a natural death in 1828 and not in the battle of Claremore Mound which to this day is relived and exaggerated as a wonderful story to both young and old natives of Rogers County.
There was said to be three villages located not very far apart, being occupied by an Osage tribe divided, and numbering some 5,000, known as Clermont’s Village, Black Dog’s Village and White Hair’s Village. Posona, Pasuga and Pahuska were undoubtedly the first names used by the Osages themselves. Pasuga (Claremont’s Village) was situated on the east side of the Persimmon River (later charted “Verdigris” by mapping French traders so-named when very low) near the rugged, rocky Claremore Mound and Posona (Black Dog’s Village) on Dog Creek, was east of the present site of Claremore. Concerning the location of the third village, Pahuska (White Hair’s Village), records have little to say but strange as it seems, history repeated thrice in the site of Claremore was indeed coincidental: the three related Grah-moh Osages, the three villages, the three Claremore sites under three Indians-Chief Clermont, the Osage; John Bullette, the Delaware and Teesey Chambers, the Cherokee.
During his 1832-1839 sojourns among the tribes of Indians in North America, George Catlin, historian artist perpetuated the striking illustration of the third Clermont, head chief of the Osages, the son of the distinguished chief, the second. Painted full length in a beautiful dress, his leggings fringed with scalp-locks, and in his hand his favorite and valued war-club, the original (recently at Philbrook-Tulsa) hangs in the Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology in Washington, D. C.
Claremore has indeed come a long way since its incorporated September 24, 1896. First figures accounted for, it was said to be a small village of some 250 residents in 1895. The first official census given in 1900 records 855. The following figures denote the steady growth throughout the years: 1907- 2064; 1910-2866; 1950-5949, and slowly the “arrow going home” seems to aim straight and true since its evolution from the Indian village to a modern small town.
Many celebrities have credited their home towns but none have the distinction that belongs to Claremore. In the role played by the beloved Will Rogers on the board stage of life, he made Claremore’s name a byword consistently through numerous channels.
Proclaiming Claremore as his home town “for nobody but an Indian could pronounce Oologah” (his actual birthplace), his daily newspaper, books, public and radio appearances, his first talking picture in the role of “Pike Peters of Claremore” in “They Had to See Paris”—all contributed to Claremore’s fame. Wherever he roamed on the four corners of the earth, he purposely continued putting Claremore on the map for hotel registers showed “Will Rogers of Claremore, Oklahoma.”
His efforts are immortalized for today; the ranch-styled Memorial overlooking the town is a mute tribute to Claremore. Probably the only one of its type, the Memorial is viewed by thousands daily. His birthdate, November 4th, is a holiday legalized by the 21st State Legislature and continues to draw crowds of thousands from everywhere.
Still, Claremore is fortunate with untold publicity in its favor through various media such as literature, art, radio, television, screen and stage.
Literary contributors who have emblazoned Claremore’s name on the pages of time are: Emmett Starr, who presented invaluable historical data of the Cherokees in and out of Claremore to the world; Rachel Caroline Eaton’s historical data were noteworthy, especially her account of “The Legend of the Battle of Claremore Mound”, Paul Thompson, recognized in the world of poetry, was a feature writer; Myron Hurd whose features “Old-timers of the Will Rogers Country” appears in the “Ranchman”; Noel Kaho who penned “The Will Rogers Country” and “Willie’s Dad” and other writers living near and far.
Under the title, “Paintings from the Will Rogers Country”, an art exhibition depicting Claremore and surrounding points of interest appeared in several Oklahoma cities. This new manner of advertising did much for Claremore and plaudits are due Noel Kaho for his untiring efforts to promote Claremore in the world of art through the pens and brushes of Ray Piercey, Joseph Cochran, Gibson Byrd, Benita Springer, Robert Howard and others.
The radio in its early stages had its day in the 30’s when a small broadcasting studio (through KVOO) ensconced in a local hotel heralded the merits of Claremore’s mineral waters. Literary advertisements by the thousands were sent out and after their first trip, visitors were more than pleased since the healing waters provided beneficial. 1947 was the year the Pepsodent radio program presented Bob Hope and company from Claremore the night of November 4th. Through remote control, KOLS was installed, broadcasting from Claremore also.
Clara Ann Fowler, better known as the “the Singing Rage”-Miss Patti Page, is Claremore’s contribution to television and radio since she first saw the light of day in 1928 from 1st and Chickasaw Streets. “The Man of a Thousand Voices,” Walter Craig, appeared in his first dramatic production at Claremore High School in 1941 as Walter Woods and is spot announcer for KOTV, Tulsa.
The newsreels have publicized Claremore, but the screen rightfully belongs to Oklahoma Military Academy, who exploited this angle to acquaint the movie public with a short feature of its advantages in higher education, especially military tactics. Designed honor rating since 1932 by the U. S. War Department, Oklahoma Military Academy played a vital part in World War II and naturally the name of Claremore figured in the lives of those associated with the school in such a way that it could never be forgotten.
But, unknown to all, the outstanding recognition given Claremore, which was likened a jewel, was cast in a new setting March 14, 1943, when the curtain arose on “Oklahoma!” This fabulously gay musical was taken from “Green Grow the Lilacs” penned by a native son, Rolla Lynn Riggs. In each performance of “Oklahoma!” Claremore is mentioned seven times by locally-inspired characters, Laurey Williams; Aunt Eller Murphy; Curley McLain; Ali Hakim and Andrew Carnes. Performing in its tenth year to capacity houses on two continents, Claremore is being made known again and again, but no other town has the honor of living up to its name as if in perpetual flight as “arrow going home.”