The early history of Osogbo is essentially the legendary account of the spirit-world; it is the history of the early people whom we call the spirits and fairies. This is in line with Yoruba traditions, which use mythical stories to explain the origins of the ruling families of an early Yoruba state.
Osogbo according to Yoruba oral history, had been founded as early as Oduduwa period. Oso-igbo, the goddess of Osun River, was the Queen and original founder of Osogbo. She was credited with many important achievements, which helped to establish the settlement.
She lived in a beautiful surrounding and possessed magical powers, which inspired her people and frightened their enemies. Traditions acclaim her the goddess of fertility, protection and blessings. She possessed the ability to give children (through birth) to barren women and power to heal the sick and the afflicted by means of her medicinal water from the river.
The Kingship history of Osogbo dates back to the 1670s. Owa Laage was the 6th Owaroki of Ipole-Omu. He gave birth to three children who were Lajomo (the eldest), Larooye and Sogbodede (the youngest). Lajomo succeeded his father as the 7th Owaroki of Ipole Omu. When he died, Larooye, his younger brother succeeded him as the 8th Owaroki of Ipole Omu.
During the reign of Larooye, the town experienced drought which lasted for a long period. A hunter from Oyo (Olutimehin) who was an acquaintance of Larooye on one of his hunting expeditions on instruction of his friend, discovered a stream and immediately rushed down to Ipole Omu to inform Larooye of his discovery. When he was told, Larooye immediately proceeded to the stream with him which is now popularly called Osun River in the present day Osogbo and confirmed Olutimehin’s discovery.
Larooye made series of consultations and divinations and when the results/revelations favoured the migration of his kingdom to the newly discovered site. He moved to Osogbo with his younger brother Sogbodee while the descendant of Lajomo refused to move with Larooye to Osogbo.
Larooye built his new palace at the present day Idi-Osun while Olutimehin built the ogun shrine now know as Idi-Ogun; Since then Osogbo has maintained her central location and remained as centre for economic activities. At Osogbo, Larooye ruled as the first Oba with the title of Ataoja (a contraction of A-Tewo- Gbeja).
During the migration of Larooye from Ipole-Omu during the famine which led to the discovery of Osun River, the descendants of Lajomo refused to migrate with the two other brothers. This is why none of the descendant of Lajomo has ever become the Ataoja of Osogbo because their father never ruled in Osogbo.
Hence, Larooye also an hunter became the first traditional ruler (1st Ataoja of Osogbo) assuming the royal title of the town’s kingship in 1670 and ruled for a period of 90 years until his death in 1760. He had no son but only begot a daughter called Abogbe who married an Offa man called Oyejin Lokuso and they gave birth to Matanmi.
Tradition claims many people fleeing the Fulani Advancement settled at Osogbo following the fall of old Oyo which as a result, made Osogbo to increase in population largely due to migration from other Yoruba towns and villages.