Located in southwestern Haskell County at the intersection of State Highways 2 and 31, Kinta is forty miles east of McAlester and fifty-six miles south of Muskogee. In 1901 Kinta, whose name in Choctaw means "beaver," was named for nearby Beaver Creek by its founder George W. Scott. The enterprising son-in-law of Greenwood McCurtain, the last principal chief of the Choctaw Nation prior to statehood, Scott moved his mercantile business from Sans Bois town, the seat of the Choctaw national government of the time, to the present site of Kinta to take advantage of its location on the Fort Smith and Western Railroad, which had bypassed San Bois. Scott wasted no time getting his town on the map. By 1902 he had established a post office and a year later built the town's first permanent structure to house his store. That building, bearing the name "Scott" and the date, "1903," still stands in Kinta and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NR 80003264).
In the early years of the twentieth century Kinta averaged around four hundred residents. Early, short-lived newspapers that reported to the town were the Kinta Enterprise and the Kinta Journal. In 1911 Kinta supported a bank, a drugstore, three grocers, a blacksmith, a hotel, a cotton gin, a telephone exchange, a lumberyard, and a general store. In 1920 the population stood at 393 residents, declining to 259 in 1930. This town, like others in the area, managed to survive as long as they had a railroad. In the late 1930s when the railroad could no longer profit from the declining coal and timber operations in the area, it disappeared, and Kinta almost followed. The 1940 population was 221.
In 1960 the population stood at 233, rebounding to 303 by 1980. At the beginning of the twenty-first century the Kinta Public School System, the schools serving southwestern Haskell County, was the town's major source of employment. National Register of Historic Places properties include the Scott Store (NR80003264), the Kinta High School (NR 88001383), and the Cotton Storage House (NR 80003263). Northeast of town, the Edmund McCurtain House (NR 80003265) and the Green McCurtain House (NR 71000661) are also listed. In 2000 the U.S. Census reported a population of 243.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: John R. Gilday and Mark H. Salt, eds., Oklahoma History, South of the Canadian: Historical and Biographical (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1925). Haskell County History: Indian Territory to 1988 (N.p.: Haskell County Historical Society, 1989). George H. Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names (2d ed.; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1974).
Glenn O. Hyder
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