A Brief History of Watts Public School
Long before the town of Watts ever existed, in the spring of 1832, Capt. Nathan Boone, the youngest son of the famous trailblazer, Daniel Boone, helped survey the area for a military road near the confluence of the Illinois River and Ballard Creek, Williams Creek at the time. The U.S. Army established Fort Wayne in 1838 in Indian Territory but it only existed in this area for a few years. Named for the Revolutionary War hero, General "Mad" Anthony Wayne, it was intended as a link in the great line of forts protecting the American West. The army abandoned the fort in 1842 due to the high incidence of malaria suffered by soldiers assigned there and turned it over to the Cherokee Nation. At the beginning of the Civil War, Confederate General Stand Watie took over the fort site, where he organized the Cherokee Mounted Rifles. The Union met the Confederates near here in 1862 for the Battle of Old Fort Wayne. Nothing remains of the fort and the exact location is not known. There was, however, a small community to the south that established a post office with John B. Morris as the postmaster in 1896. The post office showed no growth and was finally closed in 1916.
In 1912, the engineers at the Kansas City Southern Railway Company needed a place for a new division point midway between terminals at Pittsburg, Kansas, and Heavener, Oklahoma. The division point was agreed upon to be 26 miles north of Stilwell, Oklahoma. The new town of Watts, named for John Watts (aka Young Tassel) who had been a chief of the Chickamauga Cherokees. From the very beginning, the town of Watts had very close ties to the town of Stilwell. Many railroad men and their families plus teachers, business men and professionals moved from Stilwell to get a fresh start in the new railroad 'boom town' of Watts. A post office was soon established with the first postmaster being Mrs. L. J. Anderson. The first bank, the Guarantee Bank was soon established and many other businesses followed.
The first Watts Public School was a in a three-story schoolhouse built in 1913. In 1924, the old schoolhouse was razed and the bricks were used to construct a new schoolhouse. At the end of the twentieth century it served as part of a campus that had expanded and spread up the hill to the present football field. Some of the early teachers were J. B. Johnson, the first Adair County school superintendent, and J. Burl Cox, who was also a postmaster in Stilwell and Tahlequah. Watts Public School has always been the center of the Watts community and many of their social events take place there.
Watts was a very successful town for many years and had many businesses but it would not last. With the coming of the new diesel train engines, the town's fate was sealed. These engines could pull a greater number of freight cars straight on through from Pittsburg, Kansas, to Heavener, Oklahoma, without having to stop to be serviced in Watts. The railroad terminals were place farther apart and even the Watts Depot was torn down.
One legacy of the railroad has remained however. The mascot for Watts Public School is the engineer. Watts School is the only school in the state of Oklahoma to have an engineer as their mascot. Our school colors are black and orange and we take a great sense of pride in our small school. In 2013, Watts School celebrated it's centennial with a year-long celebration of Engineer Pride. There were many events throught the school year. Watts School even established a Guinness World Record by having the most people blow on a wooden train whistle for the longest time simultaneously. To culmimate our centennial year, the Kansas City Southern Railroad brought their famous 'Holiday Train' to Watts so that all our community might enjoy the lights and festivities for Christmas 2013.
The future is wide open for the Watts Engineers. We look forward to many more great things to happen!