Muriel H. Wright
At the end of the main immigration of the Choctaws to the Indian Territory in 1834, they organized their government in the region now included in Southern Oklahoma, bounded on the north by the Arkansas and the Canadian rivers and on the south by the Red River. This tract of country had been conveyed to them in fee simple by the United States, under the second article of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, September 27, 1830. The govenment of the Choctaws was a republic in form and operated under the title of "The Choctaw Nation." By the terms of the Treaty of Doaksville, in 1837, an agreement was reached by the terms of which the Chickasaws purchased the right of forming a district in the Choctaw country, to be called "the Chickasaw District of the Choctaw Nation." This was an additional district in the nation, three politico-geographic divisions having been prevously organized by the Choctaws; namely, Mosholatubbee District, Apukshunnubbee District, and Pushamataha District.1
An explanation of what constituted the eastern boundary of the Chickasaw District from 1837 to 1854 is necessary if one is making a study of the first locations of the Chickasaws and the Choctaws within the limits of what is now Oklahoma. Article 2 of the Treaty of Doaksville defined the eastern boundary of the Chickasaw District as follows:2
Beginning on the north bank of Red River, at the mouth of Island Bayou, about eight or ten miles below the mouth of False Wachitta; thence running north along the main channel of said Bayou to its source; thence along the dividing ridge between the Wachitta and Low Blue Rivers to the road leading from Fort Gibson to Fort Wachitta; thence along said road to the line dividing Musha-la-tubbee and Push-meta-haw districts; thence eastwardly along said district line to the source of Brushy Creek; thence down said creek to where it flows into the Cana-
1These three districts were named in honor of the three noted Choctaw chiefs Amosholitvbbi, Apvkshvnnvtvbbi, and Pashimmvltaha, respectively. For further details with reference to the establishment of these three districts consult a "Brief Outline of the Choctaw and the Chickasaw Nations in the Indian Territory, 1820 to 1860," by M. H. Wright, assisted by Peter J. Hudson, appearing in the CHRONICLES OF OKLAHOMA, Vol. VII, No. 4, pp. 388-418.
2Treaty with the Choctaw and Chickasaw, 1837.—Kappler's Laws and Treaties (Indian Affairs)," Vol. II, pp. 486-88.
dian River, ten or twelve miles above the mouth of the south fork of the Canadian River; ***
Rightfully, the mouth of Island Bayou is about twenty-six miles below the mouth of the Washita River (i.e:, "False Wachitta). The discrepancy between "eight or ten miles below" the mouth of the Washita and twenty-six miles was due either to lack of information on the part of those who wrote the Treaty of Doaksville, or to an error in mistaking the name of "Allen's Bayou" which is shown on one old map as that of a small stream on the north bank of Red River, about eight miles below the mouth of the Washita.3 This discrepancy was the cause of a long continued dispute which was not settled until an agreement was drawn up between the Chickasaws and the Choctaws at Doaksville in 1854.4
From Article 2, quoted above, it will be noted that the eastern boundary of the Chickasaw District followed the divide between the Washita and the Blue River from the source of Island Bayou "to the road leading from Fort Gibson to Fort Wachitta." The "Fort Wachitta" mentioned here does not refer to what is known today as Fort Washita, the ruins of which are located near the Washita River about twenty miles above its mouth, in the western part of Bryan County. The site of the last mentioned fort was selected in 1842, stone buildings being subsequently erected, from which time it was well known on the frontier of the Indian Territory as a regularly garrisoned post until the period of the Civil War. It should be particularly noted that the Treaty of Doaksville, providing for the settlement of the Chickasaws in the Choctaw Nation, was drawn up in 1837, five years before the permanent site of Fort Washita was selected. The "Fort Wachitta" mentioned in the above article refers to Camp Washita, established near the mouth of the Washita River in 1834, by Captain James Dean, of the 3d Infantry, U. S. A. It was listed in the ordnance records of the War Department as a regular military encampment as late as 1836. At the time of its erection, it was visited by General Henry Leavenworth's expedition, en route to the Wichita Village
on the North Fork of Red River, during the summer of 1894.5 The road leading from Fort Gibson to "Fort Wachitta" in 1837, as mentioned in the Treaty of Doaksville, was that followed by General Leavenworth. This trail led in a general southwestern direction from the mouth of Little River on the Canadian to the mouth of the Washita River and corresponding with a portion of the eastern boundary of the Chickasaw District until 1854. In a study of the eastern boundary of the Chickasaw District, confusion is apt to occur at this point for the reason that when the first counties were created in the Choctaw Nation in 1850, the road from the new Fort Washita, leading through Boggy Depot and Perryville, in a northeast direction, was the regular road to Fort Gibson.
Another error in defining the eastern boundary of the Chickasaw District in the Treaty of Doaksville, in 1837, was made in the name of the stream then known as the "South Fork" of the Canadian, later called Gaines Creek. The wording of the treaty called for the line to follow Brushy Creek from its source "to where it flows into the Canadian River". As a matter of fact, Brushy Creek is only a branch of Gaines Creek which itself is a tributary of the Canadian River. (See explanation with reference to the name of Gaines Creek, given below.)
Both Choctaws and Chickasaws had the right to settle in any of the four districts and were eligible to vote and hold any office in the Choctaw Nation. The Chickasaws continued to live as citizens of the Choctaw Nation until 1856 when, by the terms of a new treaty negotiated the previous year, they separated from the Choctaws and established their own government which thenceforth operated under the title of "The Chickasaw Nation."
FIRST ORGANIZATION OF COUNTIES IN THE CHOCTAW NATION IN 1850
As the years passed the constitution of the Choctaw Nation was changed from time to time in order to meet the growing needs of the communities within its borders. Among a number of changes that were made in 1850, the principal
5Journal of the Campaign of the Regiment of the Dragoons for the Summer of 1834, T. B. Wheelock, 1st Lieutenant Dragoons.—American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. V, pp. 375-82.
one was that which had to do with the judicial system in the nation. The judiciary was reorganized and its power was vested in a national supreme court, district circuit courts, and county courts. In order to organize the latter, the nation was divided into nineteen counties. The names of these counties in English with the corresponding name of each in Choctaw, according to districts, were as follows:6
1. Skullyville County—Iskvlli Kaunti. The word iskvlli means a "small piece of money or coin," in Choctaw.7 Kaunti was adopted directly from the English, the spelling being nearest the Choctaw pronunciatoin of the word "county." The name referred to the fact that the United States agency for the Choctaws was located in that section of the country, about fifteen miles west of Fort Smith. The agency itself was established in 1832, by Captain David McClellan, the United States sub-agent for the Choctaws in the West. The name "Skullyville" was given the village that grew up around the agency, being a corruption and a combination of the word iskvlli and the English suffix ville, literally meaning "money town." All Government business relative to the Choctaws in the Indian Territory was transacted at the agency. The annuities due to the citizens of Mosholatubbee District were also paid there, the balance being paid at places designated in each of the other two districts. It is suggested that the Choctaws
6The material used in the compilation of this article represents research from time to time covering a number of years on the part of the writer. Every effort has been made to make the maps accompanying the article as accurate as possible. In only a few instances have some of the old landmarks remained obscure, but even then information was obtained to prove their location beyond reasonable doubt for the purpose of those who may be interested in historical accuracy. In no place have these materially affected any boundary line in making maps the size used for illustration in the article. Acknowledgement is due Dr. E. N. Wright, of Olney, Oklahoma, for his assistance in locating portions of the old trails and some of the historical landmarks in the Choctaw Nation. Special acknowledgement is also due Mr. Peter J. Hudson for similar assistance in the eastern part of the nation and in helping with some of the Choctaw names and the illustrative phrases in the Choctaw language. In listing the counties in 1850, an edition of the Constitution and Laws of the Choctaw Nation, published at Doaksville in 1852, was used. For a description of the boundaries of the four districts of the Choctaw Nation, see Appendix A.
7The letter v was adopted in the written language of the Choctaws to represent the modified sound of a, pronounced almost like u in the word sun.
themselves probably spoke of the agency as "Iskvlli ai ilhpita," meaning "the place where money is donated or presented." Ai means "the place where." The word ilhpita is the past participle of the verb ipeta which means "to donate or present."
2. Sugar Loaf County—Nvnih Chufvk Kaunti. The Choctaw word nvnih means "a mountain or high hill;" chufvk means "a pointed object, such as a fork, a nail, etc." Therefore, the name in its literal sense means "pointed hill." It referred to the mountain known as the "Sugar Loaf," formerly within the limits of Sugar Loaf County. This mountain is located in Lenore County, Oklahoma, a little south of east from Poteau. The eastern boundary of the Choctaws, as established in 1825, ran just east of the Sugar Loaf Mountain.
3. Sans Bois County—Sambai Kaunti. This county was named after the principal tributary of the Arkansas River, in that section, known as "Sans Bois Creek." Sambai (pronounced by the Choctaws, sambi) was an adaption of the French words sans bois meaning "without wood." This creek was first named by the French traders and trappers who started their operations along the rivers and creeks of Eastern Oklahoma, early in the 18th Century.
4. Gaines (or Gaines Creek) County—Kenis Kaunti. "Kenis" (e pronounced as in they) is an adaptation of the English into Choctaw. The county was named for Gaines Creek which constituted its western border.
For many years there was some confusion with reference to the identity of Gaines Creek, as it is known today. According to the earliest authentic map of the Indian erritory, drawn by Asa Hitchcock in 1834, what is now Gaines Creek was called the South Fork.8 On another map, published in 1888, the same stream was called the South Canadian River. The latter map gave the name of Gaines Creek to a branch of Long Town Creek, now called Piney.9 It is evident from the Choctaw law defining the boundary of Gaines County that
8The original map was drawn by Mr. Asa Hitchcock, of the Dwight Mission, for the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions. It is now a part of the collection of the Oklahoma Historical Society.
9See map of the Indian Territory published by Rand, McNally Company, in 1888, from records of the General Land Office and the Department of the Interior.
Gaines Creek corresponded to the stream as it appears on the map to-day in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma.
Sometime before 1850, the "South Fork" of the Canadian was renamed Gaines Creek, very probably in honor of Colonel George S. Gaines, who was for many years a licensed trader among the Choctaws in Mississippi. During the negotiations of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in September, 1830, Colonel Gaines proved that he had the confidence of many of the Choctaw chiefs and captains, and was appointed to accompany a party of Choctaws, who set out a few weeks later on an exploring expedition to their new country in the Indian Territory. At the same time, an expedition of Chickasaws with their agent, Benjamin Reynolds, also set out to explore the same country with the idea of selecting new homes for their people in the West. The two parties traveled separately from Mississippi but finally united on "the South Fork of the Canadian."10
Because of their high regard for Colonel Gaines, some of the Choctaw chiefs and captains requested that he be appointed by the Government to have charge of the tribal emigration from Mississippi. Subsequently, George Gibson, Commissary General Subsistance, appointed him as superintendent of the Choctaw removal east of the Mississippi, on August 13, 1831.11 He served in that position for one year, at the end of which time he resigned as emigrating agent.
1. Wade County—Wet Kaunti. "Wet" (e pronounced as in they) was an adaptation of the English name into Choctaw. This county was named after Alfred Wade, a prominent Choctaw of that section of the country, who was elected governor of the Choctaw Nation, in 1857, under the Skullyville Constitution.
10In the report on the expedition, rendered by Benjamin Reynolds and George S. Gaines to the Secretary of War John H. Eaton, dated January 29, 1831, appears the following statement: "The exploring expedition, under our respective guidance, united on the South Fork of the Canadian; and, having examined the lands on that stream, proceeded together to the main Canadian, with the intention of examining the lands on it as high up as the Cross Timbers; * *" From this statement it would seem the two parties met on the very stream in question, i. e., that now known as Gaines Creek. For a copy of this report see Senate Document 512, Correspondence on the Subject of the Removal of the Indians, Vol. II, pp. 401-3.
2. Wolf County—Nashoba Kaunti. The Choctaw word nashoba means "wolf." The English name of this county was rarely used. The county was named after Neshoba County, Mississippi, which partly included the old Western District of the Choctaw Nation, East. By agreement among some of the Choctaw chiefs just before the beginning of the main emigration from Mississippi, in 1831, the people of the Western District, of which Greenwood LeFlore was chief at that time, were to settle east of the Kiamichi River, upon their arrival in the Indian Territory.12 When Nashoba County was organized in the West, in 1850, many of its citizens had once lived in the country included in Neshoba County, Mississippi. All of Nashoba County was located in the mountainous section in the southeastern part of the Choctaw Nation.
3. Eagle County—Osi County. The Choctaw word osi means "eagle." This country was named after Eagletown, on the Mountain Fork, where a United States postoffice was established on July 1, 1834.13 The country north of Eagletown, is rough and hilly for about fifteen miles along the Mountain Fork to Hochatown where dense canebrakes were to be found in early days. At the time of the main immigration of the Choctaws in 1831-34, that section was teeming with game,—deer, bear, turkey, and other small game swarmed there in vast numbers. The military trail from Little Rock to Fort Towson crossed the Mountain Fork near Eagletown,14 a few hundred yards above the "Big Cypress Tree." This tree is
12Ibid, Vol. II, pp. 475-77. (The spelling of the name Neshoba as used in Mississippi, should be noted.)
13"Early Post Offices of Oklahoma," compiled under the Direction of Grant Foreman, published in the CHRONICLES OF OKLAHOMA, March, 1928, Vol. VI, No. I, p. 5.
14A small volume entitled "The Hive of 'The Bee-Hunter,'" by T. B. Thorpe (D. Appleton and Company, 1854) ,contains a number of quaint and amusing sketches describing the Southwest and some of the frontier characters living in that region in early days. In the sketch called "Large and Small Steamboats of the Mississippi" (p. 108), a man by the name of Zeb Marston was said to have been the first person to blaze a tree "in Eagle Town, on the Mountain Fork." while "The Hive of the Bee-Hunter" cannot be classed as a source for historical facts in the Southwest, yet its author, because of his accurate descriptions, seemed to have been acquainted with life in the region drained by the Lower Mississippi and its principal tributaries. In all probability Zeb Marston's name itself was a fictitious one, given some character among the white settlers who lived in Southeastern Oklahoma, when that region was included within the bounds of Miller County, Arkansas Territory, before 1828.
still one of the sights of McCurtain County, Oklahoma. Since the locality was the best camping grounds on the military trail west of the Arkansas boundary, being within reach of good water and plenty of game, thousands of Choctaws stopped there to rest after their long, wearisome journey from Mississippi to the Indian Territory. A Government ration station was also located in the vicinity during the immigration period. The country south of the crossing on the Mountain Fork was one of the richest sections in the nation, so that many Choctaws located there permanently and opened up large cotton plantations.
4. Red River County—Bok Humma (or Homma) Kaunti. The Choctaw word bok means "river;" humma means "red." The English name was the literal translation of the Choctaw in this instance. Apuckshunnubbee District (so named in 1838) was originally Oklafalaya District when the Choctaw government was first organized in the Indian Territory.15 During that time it was also called "Red River District." Red River County was in the extreme southeastern corner of the Choctaw Nation.
5. Bok Tuklo Kaunti—(No English name). The Choctaw name means "Two Creeks," from bok the word for "creek," and tuklo meaning "two." The fact that the two creeks Lukfata Creek and Yasho Bok, ran parallel to one another from north to south, clear across the county may have had some significance in naming the county "Bok Tuklo." There had been a village of Choctaws, with the same name, early in the 18th century.
6. Towson County—Tausin Kaunti. The Choctaw name was an adaptation, of the English name. Fort Towson was located within the limits of this county, the post itself having been named in honor of Colonel Nathan Towson, U. S. A., at the time of its establishment in 1824.
7. Cedar County—Chuahla Kaunti. The Choctaw word chuahla means "cedar." The country included within the boundaries of this county was rough and hilly, being noted for its large groves of cedar trees. Under a law of the General Council, passed in 1842, two academies for boys and five seminaries for girls were established in the Choctaw Nation.
15Oklafalya was the name of an important clan among the Choctaws in Mississippi. The name means "tall people," from the words okla meaning "people," and falaya meaning "long" or tall.
Among the latter, was "Chuwahla Female Seminary." The site of this school was near the Pine Ridge Mission which had been established about two miles north of Doaksville in 1835, under the auspices of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions (Congregational-Presbyterian),16 Rev. Cyrus Kingsbury, senior missionary of the American Board, among the Choctaws, was not only in charge of the mission station at Pine Ridge, but also acted as superintendent of Chuwahla (or Chuahla) Seminary, for many years.
1. Kiamichi County—Kiamichi Kaunti. This county was bounded on the east by the Kiamichi River, from which it received its name. The name of the river is from the French word kamichi meaning "a horned-screamer" a species of water bird to which cranes, rails and their allies belong. The name very probably referred to the "whooping cranes" that formerly migrated through this section of the Southwest but are now seldom seen. Undoubtedly, the Kiamichi was given its name by one of the parties of the French traders and trappers who ascended the valley of the Red River and some of its confluences early in the 18th Century.
2. Tiger Spring County—Koi Kulih Kaunti. The Choctaw word koi means "panther" (synonymous with the English word "tiger"); kvlih means "spring of water." The panther was the largest predatory animal to be found in early days throughout the wilder parts of the Indian Territory. Persons acquainted with the habits of the panther say that springs and pools of water along the streams—or wherever there were natural fords or drinking places of the deer, buffalo, and wild horses—were the special spots for its activities. It would lie on the limb of a tree or crouch near the water, waiting to leap upon its prey that came to drink. A number of stories have been told by early settlers of their fights with panthers, especially in the vicinities of springs, or on the traces leading through the deep forests to the streams. From these facts, it is not improbable that Tiger Spring County was named after a spring within its boundaries, where someone had had such an encounter.
16The mission school operated in connection with the Pine Ridge Station admitted small boys and girls from the time of its establishment in 1835, until the opening of Chuahla Seminary.
3. Jacks Fork County—Chak Fak Kaunti. Chak Fak is an adaptation of the English into Choctaw; the consonants j and r being absent in the Choctaw language, ch takes the place of the former and the sound of r is eliminated. Even before the Treaty of Doak's Stand, in 1820, this stream was called Jacks Fork, evidently after some white man (probably French) who had previously located in that vicinity. The name appears on the map of Arkansas Territory, drawn by Thomas Nuttal, the English botanist and scientist, who made an expedition from Fort Smith down the Poteau and Kiamichi rivers to Red River, in 1819.
4. Shappaway Kaunti—(No English name). The name "Shappaway" is evidently the corrupt spelling of the combination of the two Chickasaw, or Choctaw words shapah welih, which literally means "to hold up a flag to view;" from shapah, "a flag," and welih, "to hold up to view." The name Shappaway (in one instance spelled Shepoway) was that of a leading Chickasaw who immigrated to the Indian Territory with his people, not long after 1837.17 Shappaway County included the country in the extreme northwestern part of Pushmataha District.
1. Cotton County—Ponola Kaunti. This county was generally called Ponola, its English equivalent seldom, if ever, being used. The word ponola means "a filament or thread" in its original sense, but more recently it has come to mean "cotton," especially in the Choctaw language, the old name pokpo being obsolete. The Chickasaws still use the word ponola to mean "thread." They call "cotton" nampofvlli. The old time Chickasaws use the latter word, even though
17"Shepowway" was one of the signers of a letter dated August 28, 1842, and addressed to A. M. M. Upshaw, Chickasaw Agent. The letter was signed by twenty-five Chickasaws, including the Chickasaw Commissioners, Ishtehotopa, the King, and Isaac Albertson, Sloan Love, Jameo Gamble, and Joseph Colbert. Sincere approval was expressed on the part of a meeting of Chickasaws, held at Boiling Spring Council Ground, with regard to plans on the part of the Indian Bureau for the education of Chickasaw children. (In making the map of the counties in 1850, if the new road from Fort Washita, leading through Boggy Depot, northeast to Fort Gibson had been taken as the eastern boundary of the Chickasaw District, the southeastern boundary of Shappaway County would have coincided with it and there would have been no county!)
some of their people may have adopted the word ponola just as the Choctaws did. The following are illustrations of the differences in the names used by the Chickasaws, compared with those used by the Choctaws: The former say nampofvlli anihechi for "cotton gin," and nampofvlli nihi for "cotton seed;" the same names among the Choctaws are ponola anihechi and ponola nihi, respectively.
There is a county called Panola County within the bounds of the old Chickasaw country in the northwestern part of the state of Mississippi today.
With the organization of counties in the Choctaw Nation in 1850, the southeastern county of the Chickasaw District was named Ponola. It included the rich bottom lands west of the Island Bayou and up the lower part of the Washita River. Some of the largest plantations of the Red River region in the Indian Territory were opened up in this section of the country in the late 'forties, by several of the wealthier Chickasaw slave-holders. It was not long before a number of these planters purchased their own cotton gins and were baling hundreds of bales of cotton annually. Small river steamboats made trips up Red River as far as the mouth of the Washita, during the boating season (from December to July), and returned carrying cotton to markets at Shreveport and New Orleans.
2. Wichita County—Wichita Kaunti: This county included all the country between the Washita and Red rivers, in the southwestern part of the Chickasaw District. It was named for the Wichita Indians, some of whose villages had been located along Red River in the western part of the county.18
18The description of the boundary lines of Wichita County as given on page 74 of the Constitution and Laws of the Choctaw Nation, 1852, is as follows: Beginning at the mouth of False Washita, thence up said Washita to its source, thence due North to the Canadian, thence up said Canadian to the 100th Degree of west Longitude, thence south to Red River, thence down Red River to the beginning, shall form a county and be called the county of Wichita." It will be seen that an error, due to lack of information, occurred with reference to the source of the Washita, which lay west of the 100th Meridian. Since the above description particularly defines the western boundary as coinciding with the 100th Meridian (i. e., the western limits of the Choctaw Nation at that time), it is clear that it is impossible to show the line as called for, in preparing a map of the counties. The map attached to this article for the year 1850, shows the boundary of Wichita County running up the Washita River to the 100th Meridian.
3. Caddo County—Kvlolachi Kaunti. The Choctaws and the Chickasaws called the Caddo Indians Kalolachi, which is an adaptation of "Kadohadacho," the Caddo tribal name, meaning "real Caddo." In the Chickasaw and Choctaw language, the letter d is lacking, the letter t, or 1 in many instances, being used instead. Sometime previous to 1844, the General Council of the Choctaw Nation granted a band of Caddoes, known as the White Bead Caddoes, the right to remain within the limits of the nation.19 The principal settlements of the band lived in the country now included in Garvin and Murray counties, Oklahoma, its name being retained in that of White Bead Hill, some miles west of Pauls Valley. Kvlolachi County lay in the northwestern part of the Chickasaw District, north of the Washita River.
4. Perry County—Pali Kaunti. Pali is an adaptation of the English name "Perry," the letter l being substituted for the sound of r which is lacking in the Chickasaw and the Choctaw language. The county was named after a prominent Choctaw-Chickasaw family that settled in the northeastern part of the Chickasaw District at an early date. The founder of the family was a white man by the name of Hardy Perry, who located among the Choctaws in Mississippi in the latter part of the 18th century and married into the tribe. It was said that he was the first person to introduce "neat cattle" among the Choctaws. His two sons, James and Joseph, married Chickasaw wives and their children thus became identified as members of the Chickasaw Nation. James Perry was one of the commissioners in behalf of the Chickasaws, who signed the Treaty of Doaksvile, which was negotiated in 1837 and provided for the settlement of the Chickasaws in the Choctaw country east of the Mississippi. Edmund Perry, another member of the family, was one of the Chickasaw commissioners who signed the agreement between the Choctaws and Chickasaws, providing for a settlement of the dispute over the eastern boundary line of the Chickasaw District in 1884.
The village of Perryville was named for a member of the Perry family. It was located on the Texas Road, about three miles southwest of the site of McAlester.20
20In recounting the history of Perryville, Perry County, Chickasaw District (Choctaw Nation), it should not be confused with Perryville, Perry County, Arkansas. Since many of the early postoffices of, the Indian Territory were listed under the head of Arkansas Territory, before the Civil War, this confusion is apt to occur. Perryville, Perry County, Arkansas, is located northwest of Little Rock, south of the Arkansas River. Perry County adjoins Pulaski County on the northwest. It was organized by the Legislature of the state of Arkansas on December 18, 1840. (See reference, Josiah H. Shinn, A. M., "School History of Arkansas," p. 141.) Perryville was designated as the county seat. According to records in the Postoffice Department, the first postoffice was established at Perryville, Perry County, Arkansas, on February 24, 1841, with John L. Houston as the first postmaster. It is evident that this Perryville was not Perryville, Perry County, Chickasaw District (Choctaw Nation), since its postoffice was established nine years before the latter county was organized. According to personal information received recently from Mr. Dallas T. Herndon, Secretary of the Arkansas History Commission, Little Rock, John L. Houston was one of the first settlers at Perryville, Arkansas. J. L. Houston was treasurer of the County from 1840 to 1842; L. G. Houston was County Surveyor from 1844 to 1846; and William Houston was the first judge of the County Court from 1840 to 1842.
Mr. Grant Foreman in his compilation of "Early Post Offices of Oklahoma," appearing in CHRONICLES OF OKLAHOMA, VOL. VI, No. I, pp. 4-25, does not give the name of Perryville, Choctaw Nation, among the list of first postoffices in the state. It is quite possible that no postoffice was established at the latter village under the name of Perryville, at least before the Civil war, since it has been generally the rule of the Postoffice Department not to duplicate the names of offices previously established, in order to avoid confusion in the delivery of the mails.
ORGANIZATION OF COUNTIES IN THE CHICKASAW NATION
Under provisions made in the Treaty of 1855, the Chickasaws were to separate from the Choctaws and establish their own government in the region between the eastern boundary of the original Chickasaw District, as defined in the agreement of 1854, and the 98th Meridian. The Treaty of 1855 was confirmed by President Pierce on March 4, 1856. During August of the following summer, the Chickasaws held a convention at Tishomingo, when a constitution was drawn up, providing for the regular organization of legislative, executive, and judicial departments of the new government which was to operate under the style of "The Chickasaw Nation." In making provision for the apportionment of representatives for the legislature, the country was divided into four counties, the boundaries of which were definitely established under a resolution of the Chickasaw Senate, October 5, 1859. The names of the four counties were as follows:21
21Constitution, Laws and Treaties of the Chickasaws, published in 1860, pp. 3-23 and 141 to 143. (It is to be noted especially that the new eastern boundary of the Chickasaw District as agreed upon at Doaksville in 1854 and definitely established as the eastern boundary of the Chickasaw Nation by the Treaty of 1855, deviated very little from the general course of the Leavenworth Expedition of 1834. This new boundary was a line surveyed due north to the Canadian River from the source of the left "prong" of Island Bayou. The old dispute over the region west of the mouth of Island Bayou was also made a matter of compromise between the Chickasaws and the Choctaws in 1854, those rich lands becoming a part of the Chickasaw country in lieu of the eastern part of Perry County which thenceforth was included in the northwestern part of the Choctaw Nation.)
1. Panola County. The boundary lines of this county corresponded almost with those of the former Ponola County which was organized under the Choctaw laws in 1850.
2. Pickens County. This county lay in the southwestern part of the Chickasaw Nation between the Washita and the Red Rivers. It was named for Edmund Pickens, a prominent Chickasaw, who though lacking an English education, was recognized as a leader by his people because of his ability and trustworthiness. He was selected as one of the three commissioners in behalf of the Chickasaws, who succeeded in negotiating a treaty at Washington in 1852, in the settlement of affairs arising from the treaties of 1832 and 1834. He was one of the Chickasaw delegation of five members, who signed the agreement with the Choctaws at Doaksville in 1854. The following year, he was one of the two commissioners who proceeded to Washington where the treaty was negotiated, providing for the separation of the Chickasaws and the Choctaws. In 1856, he was a member of the constitutional convention at Tishomingo. He served as a member of the Chickasaw senate from 1857 to 1861. He was also one of the Chickasaw commissioners who signed the treaty of alliance with the Confederate States in 1861. At the end of the Civil War, he was again sent to Washington as one of the commissioners in behalf of his people, to negotiate the Treaty of 1866.
3. Tishomingo County. This county lay in the east central portion of the Chickasaw Nation. It was named in honor of Tishomingo (more correctly Tishu-miko), a noted chief and assistant to the Chickasaw king before the emigration of the nation from Mississippi. The name is from the Chickasaw words tishu meaning "servant (in the sense of an assistant)" and miko (corrupt form mingo) meaning "king." It literally meant "one who is servant of (or assist-
ant to) the king." Tishomingo was a leader of great influence among his people for many years. He was not only one of the principal signers of the treaties of 1816 and 1818 but also the Treaty of Pontotoc in 1832. Article XII of the Treaty of Pontotoc contained a tribute to Tishomingo, expressive of the special esteem of his people. This statement appeared in the following words:22
The Chickasaws feel grateful to their old chiefs, for their long and faithful services, in attending to the business of the nation. They believe it a duty, to keep them from want in their old and declining age—with those feelings, they have looked upon their old and beloved chief Tish-o-mingo, who is now grown old, and is poor and not able to live, in that comfort, which his valuable life and great merit deserve. It is therefore determined to give him out of the national funds, one hundred dollars a year during the balance of his life, and the nation request him to receive it, as a token of their kind feelings for him, on account of his long and valuable services.
Tishomingo died in about 1840, during the journey west at the time of the emigration of the Chickasaws from Mississippi, and was said to have been buried near Little Rock, Arkansas. His name is perpetuated in that of the town of Tishomingo, capital of the Chickasaw Nation from 1856 to 1906 and now the county seat of Johnston County, Oklahoma.
4. Pontotoc County. The name "Pontotoc" has an important place in the history of the Chickasaws. It was originally that of a creek in Northern Mississippi, near which the Chickasaw council-house was located. The well known Treaty of Pontotoc, providing for the sale of all the Chickasaw lands in the East, was negotiated at that point. The name itself is from the Chickasaw words panti meaning "cattail flag" and oktak meaning "prairie." It is suggested that the name may have referred to some well known place along its course where the creek flowed through a marshy prairie in which the cattail flag grew.
When provisions were made during the Constitutional Convention for the organization of counties in Oklahoma, in 1907, a portion of the former Pontotoc County, Chickasaw Nation, was designated as Pontotoc County, thus perpetuating the name in the state.
FURTHER ORGANIZATION OF COUNTIES IN THE CHOCTAW NATION
The agreement between the Choctaws and Chickasaws, providing for the settlement of the dispute over the eastern boundary of the Chickasaw District, was negotiated and signed at Doaksville on November 4, 1854. As Doaksville was the capital of the Choctaw Nation at that time, the General Council convened immediately afterward. One of the first legislative acts, approved on November 5, 1854, was that which changed the name of Tiger Spring County, to Blue County, after Blue River which was its principal stream and emptied into Red River at its southeastern corner23 The new name in the Choctaw language was Okchamali Kaunti, from the word okchamali meaning "blue."
About the same time that the name of Blue County was adopted, that of Shappaway County was changed to Atoka. This was the name of a well known Choctaw captain who lived in the county. Captain Atoka had been a signer of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830. He was a prominent leader in his community being especially notable for his prowess as a Choctaw ball player. Among the old time Choctaws, an expert in the ball play was synonymous with a great man, for he had to show physical strength and bravery and courage as well as keen intelligence. The name "Atoka" is a corruption of the Choctaw word hitoka or hetoka (e pronounced as in they) meaning "ball ground."
Captain Atoka was listed on Major Francis Armstrong's census of the Choctaws in Mississippi, in 1831, as one of the thirty captains from Chief Greenwood LeFlore's district. 24 His home was on the Yalobusha River, an eastern branch of the Yazoo. He was a nephew of Robert Cole, who became chief of the eastern District immediately after the death of the noted chief Apvkshvnnvtvbbi in 1824. Robert Cole was the father of Coleman Cole who was elected principal chief of the Choctaw Nation for two successive terms (1874-78). Thus Captain Atoka and Chief Coleman Cole were cousins.
24Senate Document 512, op. cit., Vol. III, pp. 26-149. (In the list of Choctaw captains, appearing on page 86 of this reference, Captain Atoka's name is given as "Toko." In the list of Choctaws owning farms in Mississippi, in 1831 [ibid., p. 107], his name appears as "Capt. Uttoka, or Toka.")
More than thirty years ago, Principal Chief Green McCurtain told a story which he had heard about Captain Atoka. It seemed that when the General Council took up the subject of renaming Shappaway County, Captain Atoka's name was suggested. Although this was proposed in good faith, yet it did not meet the Captain's approval. Thinking that the suggestion had been offered to make him the victim of a joke, Captain Atoka arose with great dignity and proceded to deliver a lengthy address vigorously protesting against naming the county for him. In spite of his action, however, the Council overruled his objection and named the county "Atoka."25 And that is not the end of our story, for when the Constitutional Convention met to organize the State of Oklahoma in 1906 and 1907, a portion of the old Choctaw county was designated as Atoka County, Oklahoma, thus perpetuating the Captain's name in the records of the State.
After the establishment of the Chickasaw Nation in 1855, the country which had been originally included in the eastern part of Perry County, Chickasaw District, became a part of Mosholatubbee District, Choctaw Nation. This necessitated further changes in Mosholatubbee District, five counties being organized under an act of the General Council, approved in November, 1855. These included the four original counties—i. e., Skullyville, Gaines, Sugar Loaf, and Sans Bois,—and one new county which was called Tobaksi, the Choctaw word meaning "coal."26 The name "Tobaksi Kaunti" (the Choctaw) referred to the fact that coal was known to exist in that part of the nation from the outcroppings of the mineral along some of the streams. The name of the county was rarely given its English interpretation, being generally called "Tobaksi." It may be said that Coal County, Oklahoma, perpetuates the name in English, even though the country included within its borders does not coincide with that of Tobaksi County, Choctaw Nation.
From 1855 to 1886, the Choctaw Nation was made up of sixteen counties. Under an act of the General Council, approved by Principal Chief Thompson McKinney on Oc-
26Laws of the Choctaw Nation, published in 1869. pp. 489-90. (Perryville [Mosholatubbee District] was designated as the place of holding county courts and elections in Tobaksi County, under an act enacted by the General Council in 1855.)
tober 21, 1886, another county was added, called Jackson County.27 It was organized from portions of Atoka, Blue, and Kiamichi counties, the Red River forming its southern boundary. The new county was named for Jacob Jackson, a prominent member of the Choctaw Senate at that time.
Due to the changes made effective by the provisions of the Treaty of 1855, all the country lying between the 98th and the 100th meridians was leased to the United States for the permanent settlement of the Wichitas and other Indian tribes, after which it was always known to the general public as, the "Leased District."28 Since the region was still a part of the Choctaw Nation, provisions were made in a new constitution adopted at Doaksville, in 1860, for its organization as "Hotubbee District."29 Although authoritative proofs are lacking at the time of preparing this article, it has been said that Hotubbee District was at one time organized by the General Council as Cooper County, being named in honor of Colonel Douglas H. Cooper, U. S. Agent for the Choctaws and the Chickasaws immediately preceding the Civil War. As a matter of fact, any attempt to organize Hotubbee District as a civil subdivision of the Choctaw Nation never went into effect, since it was too remote from the regularly organized portions of the nation. Although they had the legal right to
29Laws of the Choctaw Nation, published in 1869, pp. 7 and 13. ("Hotubbee" was a common name among the full-blood Choctaws. It was a contraction and corruption of Hoyotvbbi meaning "to hunt for and kill," from hoyo, "to hunt for," and vbbi, "to kill." A certain Choctaw by the name of Hotubbee migrated with his family to the Indian Territory in about 1835. He was the nephew of Robert Cole and a cousin of Coleman Cole and Captain Atoka. In the tribal census taken in 1855 a Choctaw by the name of Hotubbee was listed as the head of a family in Nashoba County. Whether the two parties were the same person is not known. The original name of the present Smithville, LeFlore County, was "Hatobi," when the first postoffice was established there on September 13, 1886, with Franklin L. Moore, as the first postmaster. "Hatobi" was a misspelling of a Choctaw by the name Hotubbee, an uncle of William McKinney. Hotubbee was a prominent man in his community, his home being located in the vicinity of "The Narrows," at the mouth of Big Eagle On the Mountain Fork.)
do so under the treaty stipulations, very few Choctaws or Chickasaws, if any, ever settled in Hotubbee District.
In preparing the maps that accompany this article, the writer wishes to express appreciation to Mr. Rex Strickland, of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for furnishing information with reference to the location of Beal's Ferry on Red River. Mr. Strickland's sketches on the "History of Fannin County" (Texas), appeared in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, VoL XXXIII, Nos. 4 and 5. (April and July, 1930).
MURIEL H. WRIGHT
For the convenience and good government of the people of the Choctaw Nation, we make and ordain and establish four Districts in this Nation to be known by the following names and boundaries, viz: Mosholatubbee District, Pushmataha District, Chickasaw District, and Apukshannubbee District.
The boundary line of Mosholatubbee District shall begin near Fort Smith, where the Arkansas boundary crosses the Arkansas river, thence up said river to the Canadian Fork, to where the Chickasaw District boundary strikes the same, thence along the said Chickasaw District boundary to where it strikes the Dividing Ridge, between the Canadian and Red rivers, thence eastwardly along said Dividing Ridge to the Western boundary of the State of Arkansas, thence along said Arkansas line to the beginning.
The boundary of Apukshasnubbee District shall begin on Red river, where the Arkansas State line strikes the same, running thence up said river to the mouth of Kiamishi, thence up said river to Jacks Fork, thence up said Jacks Fork to the military road, leading from Fort Smith to Horse Prairie, thence along said military road to the boundary line of Mosholatubbee District on the top of the Dividing Ridge between the Arkansas and Red rivers, thence Eastwardly along said District boundary to the Western boundary of the State of Arkansas to the beginning.
The boundary of Pushmataha District shall begin on Red river at the mouth of Kiamishi, thence running up said Red river to the mouth of Island Bayou to where the Chickasaw District boundary strikes said river, agreeably to the provisions of the Treaty made and concluded between the Choctaws and Chickasaws at Doaksville, in the year 1837.—Thence along said Chickasaw District boundary to the Dividing Ridge, to where the District line of Apukshannubbee District intersects Mosholatubbee District, thence South along said Apukshannubee District line to the beginning.
The Chickasaw District shall be bounded as follows, viz: Beginning on the North Bank of Red river at the mouth of Island Bayou about eight or ten miles below the mouth of False Washita, thence running North along the main channel of said bayou to its source, along the Dividing Ridge to the road leading from Fort Gibson to Fort Washita, thence along said road to the line dividing Mosholatubbee and Pushmataha Dis-
trict, thence Eastwardly along said District line to the source of Brushy creek, thence down said creek to where it flows into the Canadian, thence West along said Canadian river to its source, if in the limits of the United States, and thence due South to Red river and down Red river to the beginning.
The General Council shall have the power by law to subdivide the several Districts of this Nation into as many counties as may be deemed necessary for the convenience of holding County Courts, Elections and for other purposes.
—The Constitution and Laws of the Choctaw Nation, published in 1852, pp. 1-3.
(N. B. The spelling of the names of the districts as used in this article, follows that which appears in the Laws of the Choctaw Nation, published in 1869.)