Colonel A.D. Orcutt and his family arrived in what is now Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 19, 1874. He established a large stock ranch 6 miles south of what would become the town of Tulsa, making them one of the first white settlers in this part of Oklahoma. Although there are many accounts of how Tulsa was named, in the book “A History of the State of Oklahoma” written in 1910, Colonel Orcutt is reputed to have been the one who suggested the name of Tulsa for the new town, in honor of an old Indian family of that name. He sold general merchandise, hauling all of his goods from Coffeyville as well as hauling the supplies for the civil engineer and staff who lay the route of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad from Vinita to Tulsa and Red Fork. And, with assistance from the aforementioned engineer, Orcutt made the survey of the first street in the town of Tulsa.
Orcutt’s cattle interests increased until he was classed among the largest dealers in the territory. It was his custom to bring large herds from Texas, pasture them on Oklahoma land, and then ship them to the northern market.
His first wife, Mary Jack, died at the age of 33 leaving 6 children behind. Orcutt married Adalene Hodge in 1886. I’ll tell her fascinating story another time. Colonel Orcutt also founded the town of Coweta where he resided until his death in 1912.
Of the 6 children from Orcutt’s first wife, the eldest, Samuel is probably the most known to Tulsa history lovers.
In 1905 a group of developers, led by Orcutt’s son Sam, purchased 25 acres of the ranch land and began to build an amusement park. They turned a natural watering hole that had been used to water cattle (click on photos to enlarge): into a small lake that provided boating, fishing and swimming. There was a cafe, concession stands, an enclosed dance pavilion (which you can see in the photo above), a hand carved wooden carousel and a roller coaster that cost an unheard of $7,600. The pavilion showcased lecturers, vaudeville, circus acts and on Sunday morning evangelists. After twilight stage performances wrapped up, movies were occasionally shown.
A trolly ran from downtown "all the way out" to Orcutt Park:
Over 10,000 people attended the 4th of July celebration at the park in 1910.The main entrance to Orcutt Park, 1910. This photo looks east from 18th & St. Louis:
By 1917 Orcutt Lake Amusement Park had become a residential area and was named Swan Lake.
photos courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society