Will Rogers

Oklahoma's Favorite Son: An American Icon & A Cherokee Legend

Will Rogers was an Oklahoma Indian, a cowboy, an entertainer, a movie and Broadway star, a writer, a speaker, a comedian, a philosopher and a world figure. Towering above all, Will Rogers was a good and decent man. Born in 1879 in Indian Territory, on a sprawling frontier ranch near what later would become Oologah, Oklahoma, Will Rogers' human nature, wisdom and humor were nurtured on the sprawling frontier governed by Cherokee Indians.
Will Rogers
By the time of his birth, the pain of civil war and the rigors of frontier conquest had dissolved into the challenge of carving civilization onto the rich and bountiful plains. Clement Vann Rogers, Will's father, was a Cherokee senator and a judge who helped write the Oklahoma Constitution. Successful in agriculture and banking, Clem founded a ranch fenced by rivers, spread across miles and home to thousands of Texas Longhorns.

Mary America Schrimsher Rogers, Will's mother, descended from a Cherokee chief, easily mastered modern society, music, literature, etiquette and good humor. A mother of 8, Mary Rogers understood righteousness under God's laws and performed countless charities. The Rogers family was loving, and close. 4 children died while 3 older sisters inspired young Will. Ranch families were eager to help a bright young boy become a sensitive adult and form a meaningful life.

When not learning on his mother's lap, Will Rogers was on the range as a hard-working cowboy. He never lost the lessons of a loving mother, the lonely frontier, the hard work of ranching or the community of sharing life's bounty. Taught by a freed slave how to use a lasso as a tool to work Texas Longhorn cattle on the family ranch, Will Rogers mastered the lariat for trick roping on stages of the world.

Will Rogers Memorial Museum

Overlooking Claremore, Oklahoma, the twenty acres comprising the Will Rogers museum, on a lofty hillside stands the twelve-gallery Will Rogers museum. In the foreground is the tomb of Will Rogers chiseled with his famous quotation: "I never met a man I didn't like." Built of native limestone, the regal museum hosts a dozen theaters or television kiosks; a famous saddle collection; fine art and artifacts depicting the life of one of America's most unusual humorist-philosophers, Will Rogers.

The priceless artifacts and art tell the enduring story of the life and legacy of Will Rogers, 1 of the most influential and best known figures in the first half of the 20th century. Visitors can view daily in the museum's theaters one of his 21 feature-length motion pictures or a documentary of his life. His diverse career in entertainment and communication, his humor and humanity, and his passion for both aviation and roping come vividly to life through numerous video and audio displays. The Children's Museum in the lower level features unique, interactive exhibits and educational activities.

The bodies of Will Rogers, 1879-1935, and his wife, Betty, 1879-1944, are interred in the crypt, along with 3 of their 4 children, Fred Stone Rogers, 1918-1920, Mary Amelia Rogers Brooks, 1913-1989, and James Blake (­Jim) Rogers, 1915-2000, as well as Jim's wife, Marguerite Astrea Kemmler Rogers, 1917-1987.


1720 West Will Rogers Boulevard,
Claremore, Oklahoma
Will Rogers Memorial

Birthplace Ranch

Built in 1875, The Oologah house is a comparatively rare surviving example of buildings on the former Indian Territory frontier. Clem Rogers added clapboard siding and the place was called “The White House on the Verdigris.” When Mary Rogers died in 1890, Clem Rogers moved to Claremore, but for 15 years, the house had been a seat of power and site of culture.


9501 East 380 Road,
Oologah, Oklahoma
Phone: 918-275-4201

Both the Will Rogers Memorial Museum, in Claremore, and Birthplace Ranch, in Oologah, are open 35 days a year from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch