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MILLERTON

The gateway to Wheelock Church, which may be Oklahoma's oldest church building, Millerton is located between Idabel and Valliant in McCurtain County on U.S. Highway 70. Millerton was one of Oklahoma's first hardwood-sawmill towns. Situated where there was once an abundance of pine, oak, cottonwood, and cypress, the town is located on the south side of the old military trace, the first road cut through the timberland wilderness of McCurtain County. The trace was cleared for use as a wagon trail in the 1820s to connect Fort Towson to other military forts in Arkansas. Another important reason for Millerton's existence as a town was the 1902 completion of the Arkansas and Choctaw Railway (later the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, Frisco).

Platted and formed in 1907, the town was located in the quarter-mile space between the old military trace and the railroad, both running parallel along an east-west route through the site, which is present-day Millerton. Caddo first occupied the area of Millerton, and later the Choctaw transplanted here after their removal from their ancestral homelands in Mississippi and Alabama. This land was owned by an individual for the first time when it was allotted to Susan Parsons on September 2, 1903. Prior to that time the land was held in common by the Choctaw.

Millerton is located on land that was originally known as Chula (which means "fox" in the Choctaw language). Chula had a post office until 1904, when the new town of Parsons (now Millterton), Indian Territory, was established by W. S. Parsons, who acquired the land through marriage to Susan Gardner. His store had been in operation since 1895, and the Parsons, I.T., post office was established December 15, 1902. The settlement was also known locally as Parsonsville.

Benedict and Mary Miller came to Parsonsville on October 30, 1906. They purchased 155.29 acres of land from W. S. and Susan Parsons. Millerton is located on this land, which was subdivided into lots, streets, and alleys. By 1908 the Miller Lumber Company, with an employment of seventy-five men, had shipped more than 250 cars of finished lumber from the railroad side track in Millerton. The town grew through the 1920s to include a hotel, a drug store, and a bank. Following more than twenty years of growth and prosperity, the town declined during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century Millerton was a small, progressive town managed by a proactive local government. With a 2000 population of 352 residents, the town had a modern facility infrastructure to support the town's businesses and homeowners. Millerton provided water and fire-protection support to nearby Wheelock Academy (listed as a National Historic Landmark, NL 66000949). Wheelock Church (NR 72001464) was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

SEE ALSO: MILL TOWNS, SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: William Arthur Carter, McCurtain County and Southeast Oklahoma (Fort Worth, Tex.: Tribune Publishing Co., 1923). Len Green, "Dierks Brothers Shift Interest to County," McCurtain (Oklahoma) Sunday Gazette and Broken Bow News, 2 April 1978. McCurtain County: A Pictorial History, Vol. 2 (N.p.: McCurtain County Historical Society, 1982).

Buck Irwin

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