OOLAGAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation has agreed to buy the ranch where Will Rogers was born from the Oklahoma Historical Society.
The Cherokee Nation signed a purchase agreement Wednesday and promised to make needed repairs, restorations and preservation efforts immediately. The society has operated the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch as a museum, but has been short on funds in recent years.
"It's a special place for the Cherokee Nation and for the state of Oklahoma," Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. "But we can make it even more special."
The museum shows what life was like on a late 19th-century ranch in what was known as Indian Territory and provides details on Rogers' Cherokee lineage.
Rogers, one of the highest-paid Hollywood stars in the 1920s and 30s, was born at the ranch in Oolagah near Oolagah Lake in 1879. He also became one of the most widely read newspaper columnists in the U.S.
"He was one of the most influential people of the 20th century," Hoskin said, "and his impact is still with us today."
The 162-acre (65-hectare) property includes the historic ranch-style home, plus a caretaker's house and two outbuildings. It is 35 miles (55 kilometers) north of Tulsa in Rogers County.
Officials did not disclose the sale price, but Bob Blackburn, the executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, said "every penny earned" from the sale would be invested into the Will Rogers Memorial Museum, which is in Claremore, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Oolagah.
"Together, we will make sure the world will always remember the life and legacy of this famous Cherokee cowboy," Blackburn said.