Blackwell was named for Colonel Andrew Jackson Blackwell, who became the first mayor and justice of the peace. Colonel A.J. Blackwell was a shrewd businessman with an iron will. During the 1880s Colonel Blackwell entered the Cherokee Outlet area of now northern Oklahoma. As United States government officials began to prepare the Cherokee Outlet for new settlement, Colonel Blackwell had already surveyed a beautiful area on a crossing of the Chickaskia River that he labeled Blackwell Rock.
Indian tribes in the area included Cherokee, Sac and Fox, Kanza, Otoe-Missouri, Tonkawa, and Ponca.
On September 16th, 1893 the greatest land run of all time occurred when the Cherokee Outlet was opened for settlement. With the firing of a cannon shot, over 50,000 people raced across the Kansas-Oklahoma border by horse, mule and wagon to claim a share of six million acres of land on the first day.
The City of Blackwell was founded overnight. Within weeks, Blackwell had a population of several thousand. Within the next two years, a thriving Main Street business district existed with stagecoach lines and rail service connecting Blackwell to the rest of the country.
Blackwell continued to grow and prosper through the 20th-century. The community has a long tradition of building outstanding public facilities such as the Electric Park Pavilion. During the era between 1930 and 1960, Blackwell ranked just behind Oklahoma City and Tulsa with jobs in the industrial and manufacturing sectors. Major industries included the Blackwell Zinc Smelter, Blackwell Milling & Elevator Co., Ice Company, Cheese Company, Consolidated Gas Co., Hazel-Atlas Glass Plant, the Blackwell Oil Fields, and the hospital.