By Muriel H. Wright
The stories of the historic spots in the vicinity of Tuskahoma, Pushmataha County, particularly those included within Township two north, Range nineteen east, may be traced from the ancient myths of the Choctaws on up through the real records of history in Oklahoma. Today, when one drives south along State Highway No. 10, over the Winding Stair Mountains toward Talihina and on to Tuskahoma, the peaks of the Potato Hills stand in strangely serrated rows, hazy blue in the Southwest, as if guarding the entrance to the valley of the Kiamichi River that flows through the southern part of this township. One of the earliest records containing a description of the Potato Hills is the "Journal" of Thomas Nuttall, the noted English botanist, in which he told of his journey through the vicinity to the Red River in 1819.
With the establishment of Fort Towson in the Red River region, the first trail leading from Fort Smith to the new post, said to have been marked out in 1826, wound dimly through the country now included in the southeastern corner of the township, crossing the Kiamichi River a few miles above the present site of Tuskahoma.l However, with the abandonment of Fort Towson in 1829, this trail fell into disuse. With the beginning of the main immigration of the Choctaws in the fall and winter of 1831-2, and the re-establishment of Fort Towson, a new road was opened up for the increased amount of travel between the Choctaw Agency, fifteen miles west of Fort Smith, and the settlements on Red River. This road was first marked out in the spring of 1832 by Robert Bean, a well known woodsman living on the frontier of Arkansas, who acted under an order authorized by Major Francis W. Armstrong, the Choctaw agent. Construction work along the most difficult portions of the trail was immediately begun by a detachment of U. S. soldiers under the
1The accepted spelling of the name of the present town of Tuskahoma is a corruption of the original Choctaw "Tushkahoma."
command of Captain John Stuart, of the 7th Infantry.2 A portion of this trail crossed the western part of what is now Township two north, Range nineteen east, being long known in that part of the country as "the old Military Road to Fort Smith." However, after a few years, this road was generally avoided by travelers who came down a new route surveyed in 1838 over the first trail from Fort Smith.
Although the whole region south of the Arkansas and
Canadian rivers in what is now Oklahoma, was assigned the Choctaws of Mississippi, according to the Treaty of Doak's Stand, yet few of them came west to live until ten years later, after the signing of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, on September 27, 1830. From that time, the whole history of the Choctaw Nation, during the three-quarters of a century of its existence as a republic in the Indian Territory, was closely connected—may almost be said to have centered—in the country now included in Townshop two north, Range
2Report of Captain John Stuart on the Construction of the Road from Fort Smith to Horse Prairie on Red River, with notes by Carolyn Thomas Foreman—Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. V, No. 3, pp. 333-347.
nineteen east. Because it was centrally located to the three organized districts of the Nation, the first and last capitals, Nanih Waya and Tushkahoma, respectively, were established within this region. Nearly two-thirds of all the Choctaw national councils held in the Indian Territory, met within its borders. A large percentage of all the laws contained in four published codes of the Choctaw Nation, besides most of the laws printed annually in pamphlet form, were enacted by those sessions of the General Council. Every prominent citizen of the Choctaw Nation, West, who lived during the period between 1834 and 1907, at some one time—some of them many times—visited the country within the limits of the township. Many leading Chickasaws attended council in the region, as representatives of their people who were counted citizens of the Choctaw Nation before they established their own government. It was also visited by most of the missionaries who spent their best years among the people of the two nations, in addition to the U. S. agents for the Choctaws, and other persons who took an active part in the history of Eastern Oklahoma during the same period.
By coincidence, the country included in the township, ever since the first organization of political units, under the constitution of the Choctaw Nation, has been operated under a Choctaw name. It was first a part of Oklafaya District, named for one of the leading clans in the Nation. In 1838, the name of the district was changed to Apuckshennubbee, in honor of the noted chief who was said to have been of the Oklafalaya clan and who died on his way to Washington, in 1824. At the time of the first organization of counties in the Choctaw Nation, in 1850, this region was included within the limits of Wade County, Apuckshenubbee District. It may be pointed out that "Wade" was the one exception to its Choctaw names, although even then it was that of a prominent citizen, Alfred Wade, who was elected the first "governor" of the Choctaw Nation, under the Skullyville constitution of 1857.3
3The Skullyville Constitution provided that the executive power of the Choctaw Nation should be vested in a "governor." Under the new constitution adopted in 1860, the chief executive of the Nation was called "the principal chief." However, the custom of addressing the principal chief as "governor," in general conversation, was continued as a courtesy title.
When the Constitutional Convention met in 1906-7, in preparation for the organization of the State, Township Two North, Range Nineteen East, was included within the limits of Pushmataha County, named in honor of the famous Choctaw chief who died in Washington, D.C., in 1824, and was buried in the Congressional Cemetery. Since the admission of the forty-sixth state of the Federal Union the township has remained a part of Pushmataha County, Oklahoma, the latter in itself being a Choctaw name meaning "Red People."
The name of the first capital of the Choctaw Nation, West,—Nanih Waya—means "mountain that produces" (from nvnih meaning hill or mountain, and waya meaning to produce). The name of the last capital—Tushkahoma—means "red warrior" (from tushka meaning warrior, and homma meaning red). The sites of these two capitals are just off State Highway No. 10, which crosses the Winding Stair Mountains in LeFlore County—some of the most picturesque country in Oklahoma—and on into Pushmataha County through the southern part of the township.
There are three instances in the history of the Choctaws where the name "Nanih Waya" is an important one. The old time Choctaws revered the name for it was synonymous with their idea of "mother," or one who was cherished and greatly beloved.
According to the tribal creation myth, which was still told among the Choctaws of a century ago, the earth was a vast quagmire in its beginning. One day a Great Red Man came down from his home in the sky and began the erection of a mound, which finally arose as high as a mountain, in the middle of the wide, muddy plain. Upon its completion, he called it "Nanih Waya." Since he was all powerful, the Great Red Man called forth the Red People from the midst of the mountain. Afterward he proclaimed laws for them and instructed them how to live. Then the Red People went down into the plain around Nanih Waya. As the seasons passed, their gallant warriors grew old and white-haired, but they never wearied of telling the story of the creation to their young men, teaching them to love the beautiful mountain, "Nanih Waya," as a mother.
In another tribal legend, the Choctaws told how they and their kinsmen, the Chickasaws, migrated many centuries ago
from a country in the Far West. After traveling for years and years over the high mountains and great plains and through deep forests, they at last crossed the Mississippi River and arrived in a fine country on its east side. Delighted with their situation they decided to establish themselves as a nation there. Having brought with them the bones of every Choctaw who died on the long journey from the West, these sacred remains were all laid together in one pile which the men and women covered with bark and moss and earth until a huge mound had been erected over it. Then the miko, or chief, of the Choctaws proclaimed the laws to his people from the top of the mound. In the midst of a great ceremony of feasting and dancing and singing, which followed, the mound itself was named Nanih Waya in memory of the mountain in the Far West where the Red People were said to have first seen the light of day.
Although the story of the creation of all the Red People was a myth that was handed down among the Choctaws from time immemorial, yet the sacred mound of Nanih Waya, in Mississippi, is a matter of historical fact. It really did exist in what is now Winston County, near the Neshoba County line, Mississippi, though the circumstances having to do with its erection were known only through tribal tradition. The Choctaws lived for many centuries in the vicinity of the sacred mound; they reverenced it and loved the country around it. To them it seemed as if Nanih Waya embraced and protected the spirits of the departed Choctaws whose mortal remains were laid to rest at the foot of the mound. Thus, the mound itself became a symbol of that which was very dear to them. This idea became so deeply intrenched in the hearts of all the people that it furnished one of the main objections to the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, which provided that the whole nation emigrate from Mississippi to the country now included in Southern Oklahoma.
But with their arrival in the Indian Territory, the Choctaws did not forget Nanih Waya. At the end of the main immigration in 1834, they reorganized the government of their little republic under a written constitution. One of the first important measures to be decided by the General Council (or legislative department) was the selection of the site for the erection of the capitol in their new country. Under Ar-
ticle 20 of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, provision had been made for the erection of a national council-house, and, also, houses for each of the three district chiefs and a church in each of the districts at a total cost not exceeding $10,000.4
A year or so after the reorganization of the Choctaw government in the West, the members of the General Council and many other citizens are said to have gathered in a meeting on the banks of the Kiamichi, within the limits of what is now Township two north, Range nineteen east. During the session of this Council which gathered for its meeting in the shade of the forest, a special committee was appointed to select a location for the new council-house or capitol. A spot one and one half miles northwest of the present town of Tuskahoma, in Pushmataha County, was chosen as this site. The records show that in the last quarter of 1836, a man by the name of W. E. Woodruff was paid $52.00 for advertising for proposals "for building the council house, etc." In the
4The district chief's house in Apuckshunubee District (formerly Oklafalaya) was located about a mile off the highway northeast of the present site of Millerton, in McCurtain County. This is known as the old Thomas Le Flore place. He was district chief so long that people accepted the idea that the house belonged to him, though it had not been erected with such intentions. In Pushamataha District, the chief's house was located about two miles southeast of the present City of Hugo, in Choctaw County, in the vicinity of Horse Prairie. In Mosholatubbee District, the district chief's house is supposed to have been that known in more recent years as "Council House," at the present site of Latham, in Le Flore County. This location was on the Military Trail from Fort Smith to Horse Prairie, about two miles southwest of the crossing on Brazil Creek. The descriptions of the large, hewed log house that formerly stood on the site of Latham, as given by those who were familiar with its appearance, corresponds with descriptions of each of the chief's houses erected in the other two districts in the Nation. It is more than likely that the chief's house in Mosholatubbee District was the first erected of those buildings provided for in the Treaty of 1830, since it was located nearest the Choctaw Agency. While no record has been found up to the time of this writing to prove such was the case, yet it is presumed by old timers and those who have studied many of the records in Choctaw history that a session or two of the General Council must have been held in this house at sometime, probably before the completion of the national council-house later known as Nanih Waya. Hence the chief's house in Mosholatubbee District was known locally, especially to the people around the Agency and Skullyville, as "Council House."
fourth quarter of 1838, William Lowry was paid the sum of $8,400 for "Building churches, etc."5
The person who served in the capacity of head carpenter and who was directly responsible for the proper erection of the capitol was Thomas Oakes, a young man from North Carolina, who had come to the Indian Territory in the employ of the U. S. Government. He and one of his brothers had moved west during the time that main emigration of the Choctaws from Mississippi had taken place. His brother did not remain in this part of the West but went to one of the northern states where he settled and reared a family. But Thomas Oakes remained among the Choctaws and married Harriet Everidge, whose family was of Choctaw descent and prominent in the Nation. During a family reunion a few years ago at Soper, Oklahoma, the descendants of Thomas Oakes were referred to as the "Red Oakes" to distinguish them from the "White Oakes," the descendants of the brother who had settled in the North.6 Thomas and Harriet Everidge Oakes were the parents of a large family of children, among whom were the late Honorable Thomas E. Oakes, of Soper, and Lemuel Oakes, justice of the peace at Hugo, ever since statehood. Mrs. Thomas Oakes' brother, Judge Joel Everidge, was a man of high standing in his community and was well known for his integrity and trustworthiness. He was a judge of the supreme court of the Choctaw Nation for many, many years, having the distinction of serving in the capacity longer than any other citizen.
When the new capitol was completed in 1838, it was the best of its kind and presented the finest specimens of the workmanship of the skilled artisans who came to the Indian Territory in early days. Its appearance even elicited praise from persons from the East who had occasion to visit the Choctaw capitol and were competent judges of good workmanship. The building was a spacious one, erected from pine logs felled in the neighboring forest, all hand hewn with even facings of 12 by 6 inches. The doors and window frames and outside, wooden shutters with movable slats were hand
5W. E. Woodruff, the founder, was editor and publisher of the Arkansas Gazette at Little Rock. The Gazette was the first newspaper published in Arkansas.
6Personal information from the late Thomas E. Oakes, of Soper, and his daughter, Mrs. Howard Morris.
dressed. The two tall chimneys with large open fireplaces, were of dressed stone. On the inside of the building the walls were carefully covered with plaster and then painted white. Since the General Council was composed of only one body at first, there was one large hall provided for its meetings. A railing was placed around the seats for the council members, in the center of the room, to separate them from those for the spectators, as there were always many visitors during the sessions of the Council. In the center of the hall, stood a post, painted white, serving not only as a support to the ceiling but also as a "sound transmitter." At one end of the building were two small rooms used for meetings of special committees and of the supreme court. On the outside of the building, the dark green of the window shutters contrasted with the snow-white of the walls which had been whitewashed, according to the usual plan adopted by the Government in finishing up buildings of frame or hewn logs, erected under its supervision in early days. Some of the old-timers have said that the appearance of the first council-house of the Choctaws in the Indian Territory was "splendid and substantial."7
When the General Council met for its first session at the new capital, in the autumn of 1838, the snow-white council-house, in its fresh beauty, gleamed in the sun-light against the background of the dark forest that extended up for more than a mile from the banks of the Kiamichi River. In the throng that had gathered for the occasion, the captains of the Choctaw militia, dressed in the outfits furnished them under the terms of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, their hats gay with cockades and plumes, bore their swords proudly. Some of the members of the Council were typical representatives of their nation and of the frontier, in bright colored turbans and fringed hunting coats. Others, not less dignified, made a metropolitan appearance in regular citizens clothes, in styles then prevaling.
Major William Armstrong, acting superintendent in the West and Choctaw agent, was in attendance, since important changes were to be made in the constitution of the Choctaw
7Personal information from Mr. George Bell, formerly of Tuskahoma, and Mr. Joseph Dukes, of Talihina, in addition to various early record giving the location and a description of the national council-house of the Choctaws.
Nation in order to meet the requirements of the latest treaty between the Choctaws and the Chickasaws. Among the distinguished Choctaws present were the three district chiefs; namely, Nittakechi, of Pushmataha District, nephew of the noted Pushmataha; Thomas LeFlore of Oklafalaya District, cousin of Colonel Greenwood LeFlore of Mississippi; and Joseph Kincaid, of Musholatubbee District. All three signed the laws of the session—the fourth of the General Council since the coming of the nation to the Indian Territory.
The meeting proved to be a momentous one in the history of the Choctaws. According to the regular rules of the General Council, every propriety of legislative bodies was observed. After due deliberation on the part of a committee especially appointed to consider the matter, the climax of the occasion came when the Speaker of the Council arose and announced that the capital of the Nation was thenceforth to be known as Nanih Waya. One can imagine the sentiments that arose in the hearts of the staunch and patriotic Choctaws who filled the hall of the new council-house, at the mention of that name. To them, Nanih Waya—so reverenced in its original meaning—now linked their tribal myths and legends, their religion, their old love of home and country in Mississippi with the very foundation of their government in their new country in the West.
A volume could be written about the laws of the Choctaws that were enacted within the walls of Nanih Waya. In 1842, their constitution was changed, the General Council being increased to include two legislative bodies—a senate and a lower house. About that time, another building, known as the "House of Representatives," was erected a short distance from the original council-house. Nanih Waya remained the capital of the Nation until 1850 when it was located at Doaksville by a change in the constitution. There was serious objection to this change with the result that the next Council repealed the law and designated that its meeting place was still to be at Nanih Waya.
With the amendment of 1850, the location of the capital entered into politics, and there followed a long controversy over the question, covering a period of many years, during which the capital was moved several times. Under the Skullyville Constitution, adopted in 1857, Boggy Depot be-
came the temporary capital.8 So bitter was the feeling against the Skullyville Constitution that civil war almost arose in the Nation, the trouble finally ending in a vote of the people in favor of the adoption of a new constitution in 1860. Under the new constitution, Doaksville became the permanent capital. There was such dissatisfaction with this location that Armstrong Academy was made the capital in 1863, being officially known as Chahta Tamaha. This was the capital through the remainder of the war between the states and the period of reconstruction, nevertheless the Choctaw people were never seemingly reconciled to its location. The site of the first council-house, so centrally located near the banks of the Kiamichi, and the associations with Nanih Waya seemed to have a deep hold on the minds of the people.
Finally, in 1883, during the second term of Jack McCurtain as principal chief, provisions were made for the erection of a new capitol, by the General Council, under an amendment to the constitution which was in part as follows: "The seat of government shall be fixed at or about two and one-half miles east of old 'Nanih Waya,' and the first and all future sessions of the General Council shall commence on the first Monday of October, 1884, and each and every year thereafter and shall be held at 'Tushka Homma' aforesaid." So, again the country around the original capital had an important place in the Choctaw Nation. It is strange that after all the vicissitudes of fortune—the breaking away from the old customs and the bitter struggle for existence as a people—through which the Choctaws had passed that the ancient name "Nanih Waya" should still linger to be inscribed in a law of more modern times.
In reporting on "Tushka Homma—The Thriving Situation of the Choctaw Capital," in the fall of 1884, R. M. Roberts, editor of the "Indian Journal," at Muskogee, described his trip to the valley of the Kiamichi as follows: "Leaving Stringtown about one o'clock after going over a good sized hill
8After the abandonment of Nanih Waya as the seat of government in the Choctaw Nation, the buildings were purchased by Captain John Anderson, stepfather to Mr. George Bell, of Tuskahoma. The original hewed log council-house was used as a dwelling. The log building used by the House of Representatives was used as a neighborhood school. The photograph of the latter used in illustrating this story was obtained through the assistance of Judge R. L. Williams, of Muskogee. It was taken in 1884, very probably by Israel Stone.
the road to Tushka Homma leads up a natural valley, sometimes narrowed down to a quarter of a mile and again widening out to four or five, but always bounded by the towering hills—hills but almost mountains—covered with pines from top to bottom, a beautiful sight, and with the singing of the wind through the many branches reminds us of the boyhood home in Wisconsin. We reached Mr. Fisher's thirty-five miles east, in time for supper and a good sleep, for which our thanks to Mr. Fisher. The place is called Etna, and will soon boast of a good hotel run by Mr. Tate for the accommodation of travelers bound for the capital. Etna has besides a general merchandise store and a lumber yard owned by Mr. Fisher, who has also the best and neatest dwelling house in that part of the nation. The town supports besides a district school and a blacksmith shop.
"Pushing on early the next morning we traveled all day through a wilderness, but still in the valley, eating our dinner by the roadside, and about six o'clock we arrived at Tushka Homma, the new capital of the Choctaws. The town has a beautiful location, situated in the prairie-covered valley where the hills widen out to four or five miles, and to our eye is one of the prettiest spots in the beautiful Indian Territory. A year ago nothing marked the site of the town, but today we found a number of buildings, stores and hotels. The capitol building is the finest structure in the Territory and reflects great credit on the building committee and Mr. H. T. Jackman, the contractor. It is of brick, three stories with mansard roof, with ample room for the two branches of the Council, executive offices, supreme court room, offices of the different officials of the government and a committee, all furnished and curtained in an elegant manner, at a cost of over $25,000.00, and the work all finished since last council which passed the bill moving it from old Armstrong Academy."
The first meeting of the General Council at Tushkahoma in 1884, marked another milestone in the history of the Choctaws. The session witnessed the inauguration of Edmund McCurtain as principal chief. It also saw the completion of the second successful term of his brother, Jack McCurtain, as principal chief. In passing it is interestng to note that no other family in the history of the Choctaws, in the Indian Territory, has had the distinction of having four of its mem-
bers elected to the position of chief. Cornelius McCurtain, the father of Jack, Edmund, and Green, served a four year term as chief of Mosholatubbee District from 1850 to 1854. Jack McCurtain was appointed to fill out the unexpired term of Chief Garvin, who died early in 1880, and was afterward elected to the same office later in the year and again in 1882, thus serving continuously as principal chief for nearly two terms and a half. Edmund McCurtain served as principal chief from 1884-6. Green McCurtain was the last elected chief of the Choctaws. His first terms were from 1896 to 1900; his last terms from 1902 to the time of his death in 1910. Jack McCurtain died the year after the first meeting of the Council at Tushkahoma and was buried in the cemetery in front of the new council-house. During its October session in 1886, the General Council passed the following memorial: "The Hon. J. F. McCurtain was twice chosen Principal chief of this Nation by the suffrage of his people, the duties of which office were performed by him with honor and credit to himself and advantage to his country. He was a man of sterling integrity and of sound judgment and possessed executive ability to an eminent degree."
Among other prominent Choctaws who were in attendance at the meeting of the General Council in 1884, were Isaac Burris, C. W. Frazier, Thomas Byington, Gilbert W. Dukes, Samson Holson, McKee James, Robert Benton, Alex R. Durant, Ex-Principal Chief Basil LeFlore, Ex-Principal Chief Allen Wright, Charles Winston, Dr. E. N. Wright, James King, Jesse Yota, Green McCurtain, Thompson McKinney, John Hodges, John R. James, Charles LeFlore, Simon E. Lewis, Wilson Jones, William Roebuck, James Standley, Jacob Jackson, Joseph W. Everidge, and Thomas E. Oakes.
Never afterward was there such a large gathering of Choctaws and visitors in attendance at a session of the General Council. Each of the three hotels that had been erected during the year by their owners, D. B. Roebuck, C. T. Neely, and Wesley Anderson, respectively, were filled to capacity during the three weeks of the council session. H. T. Jackman and J. C. McCormick, each of whom had opened up well stocked stores, carried on a record trade. Israel Stone, a photographer who visited every gathering in the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations in early days, took hundreds of pic-
tures in his tent pitched a short distance from the capitol. John Hargrove, the barber, who held forth over the black-smith shop, was well patronized. From early morning until late evening the anvils of the village blacksmiths, J. W. Bruce and Son, clanged rhythmic measures in repairing wagons and shoeing the horses of the visitors whose camps filled the whole prairie around Tushkahoma.
During the session of the Council, many persons who heard of the old Nanih Waya council-house, visited its ruins. They wondered at the great pine logs of its walls that were standing and listened intently to the stories told them by some of the old time Choctaws who had also made the pilgrimage to Nanih Waya familiar to them as the meeting place of the General Council before the War.
When Thomas E. Oakes returned home from Tushkahoma that fall, he took with him a picture of the ruins of the first council-house of the Choctaws in the Indian Territory. Upon relating his experiences at Tushkahoma and describing the picture of the Nanih Waya council-house to his father, Thomas Oakes, Sr., now feeble and blind, the old man's face lighted with animation as he exclaimed, "I was the one who built that council-house nearly fifty years ago.!"9
The new town of Tushkahoma seemed destined to a struggle for its existence. When the St. Louis & San Francisco R. R. constructed its line between Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Paris, Texas, in 1887, the company demanded a large bonus from the Choctaw Council before it would locate a station at Tushkahoma. The Council refused to pay the bonus. Thereupon, the railroad station was located about two miles south of the new council-house and the town was forced to move to its present site.
This is only a brief sketch of the stories connected with historic Nanih Waya and Tushkahoma. It should be added, however, that in 1892 the Tushkahoma Female Institute (its official name) was opened that fall, the building having been completed at a cost of $22,000, under provisions made by the General Council. Mr. Peter J. Hudson, who had just recently graduated from an eastern college, was its first superintendent, serving succesfully in that capacity for six years dur-
9Personal information from the late Thomas E. Oakes, of Soper. Thomas Oakes, Sr., also built the chief's house in Pushamataha District.
ing which he established and maintained a spirit and character at Tushkahoma Academy that will long be remembered. A postoffice, known as "Lyceum," was opened up at the school with Miss Nellie Wakefield as postmistress. She was principal of the academy for eight years after its founding. The Tushkahoma Academy was in operation as a girls' school as late as 1925 when it was accidentally destroyed by fire.10
The only one of the historic buildings in the township that remains standing is the Tushkahoma Council-house
10Special acknowledgment is due Mr. Peter J. Hudson, in furnishing the exact locations of the historic sites shown on the map of Township two north, Range nineteen east, used in illustrating this article. Mr. Hudson is an old resident of Tuskahoma and is familiar with the locations of these places in its vicinity. The following notes with reference to the sites not mentioned in the body of the above story were furnished by Mr. Hudson:
At one time a controversy arose between the voters of Wade County and those of Jacks Fork County, Choctaw Nation, as to whether Wesley Anderson lived in the former or the latter county. The old Military Road to Fort Smith, marked out in 1832, was the original boundary line between the two counties and also was the boundary between Pushamataha and Apuckshunubbee districts, but it had not been used for many years before the time of the controversy, so there was some question as to its location. In order to settle the matter, the proper authorities in the Nation appointed a committee, the members of which spent considerable time and trouble in locating definitely the traces of this old road. That there might be no further doubt in the minds of the people concerning the disputed boundary line, the committee placed several large stones at intervals along its route in the vicinity of Wesley Anderson's house. When they had completed their task, it was evident that Anderson lived in Jacks Fork County, Pushamataha District. It may be added that he was a son of Captain John Anderson who lived in the old Nanih Waya council-house after it had been abandoned as the Choctaw capitol.
Another important historic spot whose story is closely connected with the history of Township two north, Range nineteen east, is that of Spring Station, the location of which is indicated on the plat accompanying this article, as lying about two miles east of Tuskahoma. Spring Station was an important stand on the road from Fort Smith to Fort Towson, that had been surveyed in about 1838. It was named after and operated by John Spring, an enterprising Choctaw, who had located at this point in early days. His wife, Sally Anderson, was the daughter of Captain John and Mary (Bohannon) Anderson. Old Daniel Anderson, the father of Captain Anderson, lived in the vicinity for some years. When he died, he was buried on "Dry Creek," near Spring Station. Daniel Anderson was a white man from Virginia, who had settled among the Choctaws in Mississippi early in the 19th Century. He married a Choctaw woman and came to the Indian Territory at the time of the main emigration of the Nation from Mississippi.
Phoebe Anderson, another daughter of Captain Anderson, and a sister of Wesley and Sally, lived for many years at old Spring Station.
She seems to have been a person of importance in the community, not only for her personal character and neighborliness but also for her executive ability. She was owner of considerable property which included a number of negro slaves. Her first husband was William J. Bohannon, Jr. Their son, Sam Bohannon, married Margaret Woods, who were the parents of Amanda Bohannon, the wife of Mr. Peter J. Hudson. Phoebe Anderson's second husband was Nicholas Hampton. They were the parents of two sons, namely, Julius and Ben. Ben Hampton was one of the commissioners who signed the Atoka Agreement in behalf of the Choctaw Nation in 1897. Phoebe Anderson died at old Spring Station and was buried at the Dry Creek cemetery. Another well known Choctaw whose grave is in the vicinity of old Spring Station was William Bryant, principal chief of the Choctaw Nation from 1870-4.
Many persons have inquired how McKinley Rock received its name. McKinley Rock is located in the Kiamichi Mountains about two miles and a half, on an air line, southeast of Tuskahoma. Before continuing this story, however, it is necessary to know something about Colonel Burgoyne, a white man who had settled in the valley of the Black Fork River, some miles southeast of Tuskahoma, a number of years before the Dawes Commission undertook the task of settling up the affairs of the Five Civilized Tribes in the Indian Territory. Colonel Burgoyne had brought his family from Fort Smith, where he had entered into business arrangements with Eli Mitchell, a well-to-do Choctaw, to open some farms in the Black Fork Valley. The Colonel was a personal friend of Joseph G. Cannon, a prominent member of Congress, the two having known each other as boys back in Illinois.
Just before allotment of lands in the Choctaw Nation, a field party consisting of J. George Wright and a clerk, from the Muskogee Office, together with Colonel Burgoyne set out to investigate certain tracts of lands in the mountains southeast of Tuskahoma and along Big Eagle Creek, which were thought to have been appraised too high. Colonel Burgoyne furnished the horses and Mr. Peter J. Hudson acted as guide. He led them the shortest route up to their destination, along an old Choctaw trailway over the high mountain just south of Tuskahoma and through a deep and inaccessible canyon to a second ridge in the mountains still further south. On this second ridge are three huge boulders, each one almost a mountain in itself. Arriving at the base of one of these, J. George Wright, Colonel Burgoyne, and Mr. Hudson all climbed to the top to get a view of the country. As they stood on its summit, gazing into the distance. Colonel Burgoyne suddenly said, "Mr. Hudson, offer a prayer, dedicating this great rock to President McKinley."
Mr. Hudson complied with the request. At the close of the prayer, Colonel Burgoyne jerked a flask of whiskey out of his hip pocket and smashed it against the side of the boulder.
At that, Mr. Wright, who had witnessed the abrupt manner in which the dedication ceremonies had been conducted by Burgoyne, remarked quietly, "Colonel, you will regret this."
which is fast falling to decay. All the Choctaws and many other persons interested in Oklahoma history are anxious to see this old council-house preserved, the Southeastern State Teachers' College having purchased the building and a small plot of ground around it with that end in view. There are
some persons who have wanted to tear down the old council-house and re-erect it on the College campus at Durant where it might be shown as a relic and house a historical museum. Most of the Choctaws, however, would unquestionably like to see it repaired where it stands since a part of the inspiration of visiting historic buildings is the experience of seeing them in their original setting. The establishment of a park around the Tushkahoma council-house to include the site of Nanih Waya has been suggested to the end that the legends and stories connected with those historic spots might be remembered and the ground marked for all time to come. The construction of highways and modern means of travel are making out-of-the-way places easy of access to students of history and visiting sightseers in Oklahoma. In fact, some states have made provisions for taking whole classes, even those from the secondary schools, on tours to historic sites many miles away that they may learn their subject first hand. If the Tushkahoma council-house were repaired and surrounded by a park, it could be used as a meeting place for the various religious denominations among the Choctaws, in their quarterly or annual meetings. It could be made a center for welfare work among some of the full-blood Choctaws who may need assistance for a time in adjusting themselves to modern ways. It could also be used as a meeting place for many state organizations interested in the history and the upbuilding of Oklahoma. In this way the council-house could be put to some use in the midst of the natural beauties of its native soil and still have a part in carrying on the spirit of its builders who strove for better things in life for their country.