Maud, OK is best known as the birthplace of Wanda Jackson, the queen of rockabilly. The town is located at the intersection of State Highways 59 and 9A, with its western half of the town located in Pottawatomie County and its eastern half in Seminole County. The town was established along the dividing line between Oklahoma and Indian territories and in 1890 a barbed-wire fence was built from the North Canadian River to the Canadian River through the middle of town to keep Indians out of Oklahoma Territory. However, the fence did not deter the illegal distribution of alcohol to the Indians.
On April 16, 1896, a post office was established and the town named after Maud Sterns, a sister to the wives of the two owners of the first general store. Astronaut Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr. was the grandson of Philip Cooper and his wife Cora Sterns who were one of the owners of the store. A railroad depot built in 1903 serviced four passenger and eight freight trains daily on the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway (in 1923 the Oklahoma City, Ada and Atoka Railway). In a short time one general store, three dry good stores, two drug stores, one blacksmith, three cotton gins, and one funeral parlor were built. The first newspaper, the “Maud Monitor”, was published in February 1904. Maud was incorporated on July 21, 1905. By 1910 the population had reached 503.
In the early 1920’s, due to the discovery of oil, Maud became a boomtown with an estimated population of 10,000, and its business district doubled. However, by 1930 Maud’s population dwindled to 4,326. At the turn of the twenty-first century the Maud Historical Museum was located on East Main in the old Irby Drugstore, and the town had a population of 1,136.
Wanda Jean Jackson
In 1937 Wanda Jean Jackson was born in Maud. Her father Tom played piano in bar bands and worked whatever odd jobs he could find during the Depression. In 1941 he loaded up the family and headed for California and a better way of life. The family settled in Bakersfield.
Wanda first learned to sing in a church gospel choir. Her father bought her her first guitar, gave her lessons, and encouraged her to play piano as well. In addition, he took her to see such acts as Tex Williams, Spade Cooley, and Bob Wills, which left a lasting impression on her young mind. Tom moved the family back to Oklahoma City when Wanda was 12 years old.
While attending high school in 1952, Wanda won a talent show at a local radio station. Her prize was a daily fifteen-minute radio program on KLPR. The program, soon upped to 30 minutes, lasted throughout Jackson’s high school years. Jackson began her professional career while still attending Capitol Hill High School in Oklahoma City after being discovered by Hank Thompson in 1954, who heard her singing on local station KLPR-AM and invited her to perform with his band, the Brazos Valley Boys.
After graduating from high school, Jackson began to tour with her father as manager and chaperon. She often shared the bill with Elvis Presley, who encouraged Jackson to sing rockabilly. She was a cast member of ABC-TV’s Ozark Jubilee in Springfield, Missouri from 1955–1960, and in 1956 she signed with Capitol, recording a number of singles mixing country with rock and roll. “I Gotta Know” was released in 1956 & peaked at No. 15.
Special thanks goes to Sue Peters at the Maud Historical Museum for her assistance in research.
Museum hours are from 2:00 to 4:00 pm Saturday’s & Sunday’s or call (405)-374-2880 to make an appointment.
For more info on Wanda Jackson visit.