Notable residents of the city include many musical and literary artists, as well as several professional athletes.The land that is present-day Oklahoma was first settled by prehistoric American Indians including the Clovis 11500 BCE, Folsom 10600 BCE and Plainview 10000 BCE cultures.Attrition and skirmishes by the US Army finally forced the return of the tribes back to Indian Territory in June 1875.In 1891, the United States Congress appointed a commission to meet with the tribal leaders and come to an agreement allowing white settlement.Historic indigenous peoples who inhabited the region included the Wichita and Caddo peoples.In the 16th century, Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado visited in 1541, beginning European contact.Years of controversy and legal maneuvering ensued before President William Mc Kinley issued a proclamation on July 4, 1901, that gave the federal government control over 2,000,000 acres (8,100 km Under other legislation, the United States through the Dawes Commission allotted communal lands as plots to individual households of tribal members, selling off what remained as "surplus." These actions extinguished the tribal claims to communal lands, a condition needed for the admission of Oklahoma as a state in 1907.After these changes, the legislature of the new state began to organize counties. Bailey Turnpike was completed, connecting Lawton directly to Oklahoma City, the capital.
In the postwar period, Lawton underwent tremendous growth during the late 1940s and 1950s, leading city officials to seek additional water sources to supplement existing water from Lake Lawtonka. Lake Ellsworth, named for a former Lawton mayor, soft-drink bottler C. Lawton is located approximately 84 mi (135 km) southwest of Oklahoma City.
The city's proximity to Fort Sill Military Reservation gave Lawton economic and population stability throughout the 20th century.
The city's government is run by a council-manager government consisting of a city manager and a city council headed by a mayor.
Built on former reservation lands of Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache Indians, Lawton was founded on August 6, 1901, and was named after Major General Henry Ware Lawton, a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient killed in action in the Philippine–American War.
Lawton's landscape is typical of the Great Plains, with flat topography and gently rolling hills, while the area north of the city is marked by the Wichita Mountains.