Located in southern Craig County on U.S. Highway 69, Big Cabin is five miles southwest of Vinita, two miles north of the Mayes County line, and immediately south of the Big Cabin exit on the Will Rogers Turnpike. The Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway named a switch "Big Cabin" after it built through the Cherokee Nation in 1871 and 1872. The name referred to a large plank cabin used by local American Indians about one and one-half miles northwest of the tracks. In 1888 entrepreneurs constructed a cattle stockyard with barn and scales. In 1892 the first two-story, frame building was constructed, a school for non-Indians began in 1895. In 1903 the railroad established a train depot. By the early 1900s residents supported four grocery stores, a hotel, a hardware store/undertaker, a cotton gin, and an elevator, among other businesses. In the early twentieth century the Indian Headlight, the Big Cabin Sun, the Big Cabin Sentinel, and the Big Cabin Monitor reported news and announcements. In 1904 the Cherokee Nation platted the town.
In 1926 community leaders started the incorporation process but did not complete it until 1958. As early as 1871 the area's first post office was in operation, with S. T. Rogers as postmaster. In 1892 the Post Office Department assigned a postal designation to Big Cabin. The Jefferson Highway, a route from Winnipeg, Canada, to New Orleans, Louisiana, ran east to west through town, and west of town the road turned south to Adair. Later realigned north and south, the route became U.S. Highway 69. The Big Cabin region has been a major hay-producing and shipping area. In 1942 a local farmer claimed more hay had been shipped from Big Cabin between 1883 and 1910 than any other town in the United States, and he dubbed the village "the Hay Capital of the World." Big Cabin's population has remained relatively stable, with 271 in 1930 and 228 in 1960. In 1980 the census reported 252 residents.
At the end of the twentieth century local businesses included the Big Cabin Truck Stop, Okie Dokie Convenience Store, Joyce's Beauty Shop, Yeoman's Parts Store, Atlas Telephone Company, REMO Ambulance, International Trucking Consultants, Express Service Inc., a motel, a mini-storage, and Cabin Diesel. After the town's school system closed in 1992, the Shawnee tribe moved offices into the vacated building. Professional baseball pitcher Ralph Terry, Rear Adm. Bernard N. Stream, Col. Walter Renfro, and artist Sylvia Wilson all hail from Big Cabin. The 2000 population stood at 293.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: The Heritage of Craig County and Cooweescoowee and Delaware Districts, Indian Territory, Vol. 3 (Vinita, Okla.: Craig County Genealogical Society, 2000). The Story of Craig County: Its People and Places, 2 vols. (Vinita, Okla.: Craig County Heritage Association, 1984-1991), Vol. 2 (Vinita, Okla.: Craig County Heritage Association, 1991).
Craig County Genealogical Society
© Oklahoma Historical Society