J. Y. Bryce
In accordance with the action of Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Historical Society authorizing some research work in the eastern part of the state, the writer, accompanied by Mrs. Bryce and Miss Muriel H. Wright headed south, July 8, 1930, crossing the South Canadian River at Purcell and the Washita at Pauls Valley, where we spent the night. The roads were good, except the detours between Wayne and Pauls Valley, they were very, very bad. But we had a good driver and made the trip in good shape.
July 9. Drove West to White Bead Hill, a location made famous by the Caddo tribe of Indians, who at an early day made their home at this place. The chief was named White Bead, hence the origin of the name. There is a difference of opinion as to the sex of the chief, some contend that the chief was a man, others that the chief was of the feminine gender. We failed to determine who of the contenders were correct and leave this matter to your own conjecture. In this vicinity we located two springs, one of which is north of the present town of White Bead, and is said to be the location of the first store and post office of that community. the post office was established in 1877, James Rennie, post master. Prior to establishment of the post office there had been a store. or trading post. operated by Aaron Harlan. Here was also a stage stand, established at an early day, traces of the old road were much in evidence. and pictures of same were taken. We found an old lady, Mrs. Harmon. who has lived in that community for half a century, from whom we gathered quite a lot of information, which will be given in the story covering this section by Miss Wright.
In 1884 the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, held a session of Annual Conference at White Bead Hill and established a church school, known as Pierce Institute. named for the distinguished Bishop Pierce. who held more sessions of the annual conference in what is now the state of Oklahoma than any other man, a total of nine sessions. The buildings are gone, but we located the site and paced markers there and at the Caddo Springs.
We had dinner at Pauls Valley and headed East for
Cherokee Town. crossing the Washita River near where the first bridge across that stream was built This bridge went down early in the seventies, just as Mrs. Aaron Harlan, who was a very familiar character, rode off the west end with two of her children. The bridge was never rebuilt. We located the site of Cherokee Town, and placed a marker giving the facts concerning the locality. It was an old stage stand and very prominent in an early day. Near the beginning of the Civil War, General Pike called the Plains Indians to meet him at Cherokee Town for consultation, the purpose was to get them to enlist. or espouse the cause of the Confederacy. the meeting was not as successful as had been hoped. Mr. Noah Leal was a very prominent character of this locality, and we had hoped to see him for information, but he was buried the afternoon of July 8th, the day before we had expected to see him. Mr. Leal drove the stage through that section of the country for several years, and later operated a blacksmith shop at Cherokee Town. At the time of his death it was said of him that he was the wealthiest man in Garvin County. We spent the night in Turner Falls. The mosquitoes were very bad.
July 10. We drove by Fort Arbuckle and the Initial Point, both of which have been written up and published in Chronicles of Oklahoma. South to Ardmore and East to Madill, then south to Chickasaw Orphan Home, where we placed marker. Spent the night in Kingston.
July 11. Drove to Willis community, on Red River in Marshall County; thence through Woodville to Preston Bend, Texas, where California Trail crossed into Texas, from Texas side, took picture of Rock Bluff Ferry, near mouth of Washita River. Just west of the mouth of the Washita is the site of Leavenworth Camp. From this camp Catlin took some of his most famous Indian pictures. From here we returned to Kingston and on to Aylesworth, where we located the grave of Governor Burney, of the Chickasaw Nation, his grave is marked with a stone, bearing necessary dates, so did not place marker. Spent the night in Durant.
July 12. Drove west about five miles on highway, then south three quarters of a mile to Carriage Point, site of stage stand on the California Trail. This is an historic point on the California Southern route, which started at Memphis, Tenn. converging with a branch from St. Louis, Missouri, at Little Rock, Ark., thence to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where it
entered the Choctaw Nation, passing through Choctaw Nation, entering Chickasaw District at Brushy Creek, where there was a stage stand and a black-smith shop, provided for the benefit of the Chickasaw Nation by the U. S. Government. This old road enters the Chickasaw Nation at a point about three hundred yards west of Carriage Point; this being the line provided by a survey running directly North from the head of Island Bayou, which is about three miles south of Carriage Point. At these places we placed markers, with facts of history concerning them. At Carriage Point the road forks, one branch passing to the southeast, crossing Red River at the Colbert ferry, entering Texas. The other one to the southwest, entering Texas at Preston Bend and on by Ft. Belknap, Texas. At this point we took pictures of the old traces, as well as a picture of the site of the stage stand.
July 13. We drove to Rock Creek Falls and Finchville. south of Mead, Bryan County. We found traces of the old trail and placed a marker reciting some of the interesting facts connected with those early days. In this vicinity Captain Dean located Camp Washita, prior to the location of the present site of the Fort.
July 14. Drove to Coffee Bend, east side of the Washita at its confluence with Red River, Bryan County. This Bend is rich bottom land, and was one of the prosperous sections of Chickasaw Nation in an early day. Members of the Love family were early settlers in this locality. In the year 1849, some Mormons passed through the country on their way to Salt Lake, stopped long enough to build a two story double log house for Mr. Tyson. Mr. Tyson died a few years after the building was completed, and was buried near by. We found his grave, which is enclosed in a brick wall. We took a picture of the old home place, and put up a marker giving important dates. At this old home, our distinguished citizen, Mrs. Jesse E. Moore was born. There is a wonderful history connected with the places mentioned in these notes, which Miss M. H. Wright will give later.
July 15. Drove to Armstrong Academy, which is now a mass of ruins. If these brick walls could tell us the history they represent, how it would thrill with romance. From there we drove to Ft. McCollough, a Confederate Fort, erected during the Civil War by General Pike. This location is on the Blue River, near the Jonathan Nail crossing, at which
place the California Trail crossed and teeming thousands of emigrants crossed on their way to Texas. We secured pictures of the site of the Fort and the old bridge site. The bridge was built by Jonathan Nail in 1866. We also located James Creek, across which John James was granted the privilege of constructing a bridge in 1867. We failed to locate the crossing, but hope to do so soon, and erect a marker. It is interesting to note that all these old stage stands, school buildings, and forts were located near one or more big spring. It is also interesting to note that these places are now in secluded spots, usually in a field or pasture, requiring some diligence to locate them.
July. 16. Visited a Chickasaw annuity ground, which is mentioned in Methodist history as Chickasaw Agency; here James Duncan, a Methodist minister, taught the first school for the Chickasaws after their removal to the West. In 1856, the M. E. Church, South held a session of Annual Conference on these grounds, no bishop being present, Reverend W. L. McAlester presided. This location is just west of Emit about one quarter of a mile. We put up a marker stating all these facts as above mentioned. Afternoon, drove to site of McKindree Manual Labor Academy, afterwards known as Chickasaw Manual Labor Academy. The contract for the erection of the buildings for this school was in 1845, but the buildings were not completed until 1850. Wesley Browning was first in charge, but he remained only a short time, and Reverend J. C. Robinson was assigned the task. Mr. Robinson remained a number of years, so long that the school was generally spoken of as the Robinson school. In 1861 the M. E. Church, South, held a session of Annual Conference in the building, no bishop being present, Reverend John Harrell presided. This location is southeast of Tishomingo, Johnston County. A suitable marker, temporary, was placed here stating the facts as given above.
July 22. Left for the eastern part of the state, via Okemah, Henryetta and Checotah. Spent the night in a tourist camp at the latter place.
July 23. Drove east, passing through vast areas covered with remains of an ancient people, known as "Mound Builders." These ruins are much in evidence, and are silent monitors of a prehistoric civilization. These old mounds are in the locality west, south and east of Warner, in the Cherokee
Nation. 8 a. m. arrived in Webbers Falls, placed a marker at site of Andrew-Marvin Institute (Methodist Institution) established 1886. Bishop Pierce held a session of Methodist Annual Conference at this place in 1883. Marker placed at this historic spot, mentioned dates and some facts connected with locality. Took pictures of ancient homes of the Mound Builders, Webbers Fall in Arkansas River and site of Andrew-Marvin Institute, which also represents the place where the conference was held in 1883. 9:30 a. m. Left for Spiro via Ft. Smith. Near Spiro, we placed markers at Choctaw Agency, designating site of Oak Lodge Church, where three sessions of Annual Conference were held, giving names and dates as follows: Annual Conference held by N. M. Talbott. 1850, Bishop. John Early, October 7,1858. Bishop John C. Granberry, September 17, 1885. Took pictures of Agency building and some graves of prominent characters buried in the cemetery near by. Placed marker at site of New Hope Seminary, a Choctaw school for Indian girls, located in the vicinity of the Agency. This school was provided for in 1845, but built at a later date. Reverend W. L. McAlester was the first superintendent and Reverend F. M. Payne was the last one prior to the Civil War, and Reverend James Y. Bryce the first after the close of the war. Spent the night at a tourist camp at Spiro.
July 24. Drove south to Shady Point, where we located Double Springs, just east and across the railroad track from the town. Here Bishop Pierce held a session of Annual Conference September 7, 1879. We talked with a man who attended the conference at this place, his father and mother camped on the grounds during the conference. Took pictures of Double Springs and camp grounds. 3:30 p. m. East to Kully-cha-ha, former home of our Judge Phil D. Brewer. This location was an important commercial center in an early day. Judge Brewer sold goods for a number of years in that locality and was conversant with the men and history attached thereto. A number of tragedies were experienced by the pioneers of that section. The Sugar Loaf Mountain stands as a mighty sentinel keeping watch over the site of Kullu-cha-ha. Spent the night in Poteau.
July 25. Drove south to home of Peter Conser. Mr. Conser is a very prominent citizen of the Choctaw Nation, is quite old but active, knows a lot of important history connected
with this country. Took pictures of himself, home and family burying ground. Drove west to Summerfield, then south over Winding Stair Mountain to site of Lennox Mission School. This school was established in 1854, built by the Choctaw people and under the control of the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Simon Hobbs was superintendent. Mr. and Mrs. Hobbs are buried in the old cemetery near that place. Took pictures of cemetery and ruins of buildings. There is a wonderful lot of history connected with this old Mission, which will appear later. Placed temporary marker giving dates and names. Spent night in Talahina.
July 26. Drove north to Narrows, near old home place of Jack McCurtain. In 1867 the Choctaw Council granted Jack McCurtain the privilege to turn pike and erect a toll gate at the Narrows, on the road leading from Ft. Smith, Ark. to Boggy Depot, Choctaw Nation. This road is identical with the Overland Mail Route (Southern Route), known as the Butterfield Route, contract let September 15, 1856, services began 1857. Took pictures and placed marker giving data.
This road had two places of beginning, one at St. Louis, Missouri, the other Memphis, Tenn., converging at Little Rock, Arkansas, entering the Indian Territory at Ft. Smith, Arkansas, and passing through the Choctaw Nation via Skullyville. (Choctaw Agency) Holloway Station, Red Oak, Riddle Station, Mountain Station, Wilson and Johnson, to Brushy Creek, the line of the Chickasaw District, crossing here into the Chickasaw country at Isaac Colbert's place. Placed marker at Riddle Station, Latimer County, July 27. Here we left the old trace and headed for Oklahoma City, via Rock Creek Mountain, in Pittsburg County. Rock Creek Mountain is the hill south of Crowder, west of the Blue Cut on the Katy Railroad, distance about one-half mile. In 1867, the Choctaw legislature granted Allen W. Carney the privilege of constructing a toll gate, this road being designated as the Ft. Gibson and Boggy Depot road. We placed marker with data on top of hill near mail route, leading from Crowder south, then west. North to Eufaula where we spent the night.
July 28. Placed marker at site of Asbury Manual Labor Academy, established 1846. Bishop Pierce held Annual Conference here in 1855. Located North Fork Town, east of
Eufaula about one and one-half mile. Here we placed marker stating Bishop H. H. Kavanaugh held session of Annual Conference there in 1874. Took picture of site of North Fork Town and of old burial ground. Left Oklahoma City Aug. 4, 1930. Spent night in Kiowa. Drove south to North Boggy, placed marker showing site of ford, used by Overland Mail stage, Butterfield Route, took pictures of ford. Drove north to Stringtown, placed marker showing site of stage stand, E. H. Culbertson home and blacksmith shop, on Butterfield route. North to intersection of military road from Ft. Smith and Ft. Gilson, north of Stringtown about one and one-half miles, placed marker. North to Limestone Gap. Placed marker locating site of bridge built by Greenwood Thompson 1866. He built bridge and turnpiked road leading from Ft. Gibson to Boggy Depot. North to Peryville, marked site of Colbert Institute, established 1852. Methodist control, W. E. Couch, Superintendent. Later moved to near Stonewall, and known as Collins Institute. Placed marker at Perryville Creek, Jim son bridge. Built in early sixties.
Aug. 6. Drove to Isaac Colbert's place on Brushy, placed marker showing site of stage stand and blacksmith shop erected and maintained by the U. S. Government for the Chickasaw Indians. This was also the line designating the Chickasaw leased district, East line. The Colbert place was a stage stand on the Butter-field route from Memphis, Tenn., via Ft. Smith to California through the Choctaw Nation to Ft. Belknap, Texas. South to Rogers station where we placed marker showing facts as above stated and placed marker on branch of McGee Creek, showing location of bridge built by John Penn Rogers in the early sixties. This was a toll bridge and used by the Butterfield company on their California trips.
Aug. 7. Drove east to Buffalo Station, where we placed marker locating site of toll mountain and stage stand. Still east of Mountain Station and placed similar marker. These two localities were stage stands on the Overland Mail Route. At Mountain Station, Olarsechubbee was granted the privilege to turnpike and build a toll gate in 1867. At Buffalo Station Wade N. Hampton was granted a similar privilege.
Aug. 8. Drove west to near Arpelar, Pittsburg County and placed marker at Shawnee Springs.
Aug. 19. Placed marker at site of Riley's Chapel, Cherokee County, near Tahlequah. Here in 1844 the Indian Mission An-
nual Conference was organized, Bishop Morrison presiding.
August 27. Set marker at site of Iron Bridge, built across Little River about one hundred years ago. This was built by contract with the U. S. Government, and was known as the Star Mail Route. The route was from Ft. Smith via Eufaula, Fort Holmes and other points west in Indian Territory, leading into Texas. The contractors reported the route completed, and were paid. The fact is it was never completed, the U. S. Government was defrauded out of several thousands of dollars. The records concerning this mail route have been destroyed by order of Congress, so the writer has been informed by the First Assistant Post Master General, at Washington, D. C. This location is in Hughes County.
Placed marker at site of Fort Holmes, located in what is now Hughes County, about six miles south on Rock Island Railroad, and just across the railroad, east, in view of passing train. Mr. Bilby has nice residence on old site of Fort. In 1835 the plains Indians and members of Cherokee and Creek tribes held session of Council with U. S. Officials at Fort Holmes.
Placed marker at site of Seminole Mission School, located in Hughes County, eight miles out on the road leading from Holdenville to Calvin, and two miles west. This Mission was the first school established for the Seminoles West of the Mississippi River. It was established in 1849, under the supervision of the Presbyterian Church, with Reverend John Lilley in charge. This school was built before the Seminoles were located on their allotment, which is now Seminole County, consequently the school was built in the Creek country. It was afterwards moved to location north of Wewoka, about two miles distance.
August 19.—Took pictures of Sequoyah Oklahoma Training School, located near Tahlequah.
Took pictures of Riley's Chapel, and home of Dick Wolfe, quaint building. erected about seventy-five years ago; all the woodwork was hand carved. Also took pictures of old hotel used in Going Snake District, this is located on Bread Creek, Cherokee County, so called because rations were issued there in an early day to Cherokee Indians. The hotel building is said to be one hundred years old. It is a two story structure, quite commodious, and served as an important center.
We were told that twelve men had been killed in the building, and one woman, and that quite a number of killings had been reported on the old court grounds in that vicinity. These old buildings are of a type not often seen, and their kind will soon be a thing of the past, as a consequence these pictures will grow in interest as the days come and go.
J. Y. BRYCE