The history of Oklahoma State University (formerly Oklahoma A&M College) is a journey which officially began in Guthrie on Christmas Eve 1890 in the McKennon Opera House when Territorial Governor George W. Steele signed legislation providing for the establishment of an agricultural and mechanical college as well as an agricultural experiment station in Payne County, Oklahoma Territory, effective December 25, 1890.
Steele, who had served as a congressman in Indiana, was appointed to the governor’s post by President Benjamin Harrison, where he made good use of his background in the Army and political service to push for public schools and higher education in Oklahoma.
Steele served as territorial governor for only a year before returning to Indiana and resuming his political career. However, his time in Oklahoma was always considered a very important part of his legacy.
The first legislative assembly of Oklahoma Territory met earlier the same year and voted to place the future college in Payne County, but did not specify an exact location. Several towns campaigned for the institution before Stillwater got the nod.