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PERRYMAN, JOSIAH CHOUTEAU (1840-1889)

The first postmaster and an early-day merchant in Tulsa, Josiah Chouteau Perryman was born on April 25, 1840, in Big Springtown, Indian Territory, to Lewis and Ellen Winslett Perryman. The Perryman children also included Legus C., China, Henry W., George B., and Lydia. Their grandfather was Benjamin Perryman (Steek-cha-ko-me-co), who had been an important tribal town chief of the Lower Creeks in Alabama and follower of Chief William McIntosh. In 1828, following the assassination of McIntosh in Georgia, the Perrymans had emigrated with the Porter, Winslett, and McIntosh families to Indian Territory. Lewis Perryman sent many of his children to the Tullahassee Presbyterian Mission School. Josiah Perryman enrolled there in 1850 and remained for eight years, studying subjects as diverse as English, mathematics, etiquette, and manual arts.

The outbreak of the Civil War splintered the Creek Nation, and Perryman and his brothers enlisted in the Confederate Army. On August 9, 1861, he mustered into Company H of the First Creek Mounted Volunteers. On December 9, 1861, his company saw action at Bird Creek in the Chusto-Talasah engagement, fighting against other Creeks loyal to the Union. Later in the war the Perryman brothers reconsidered their alliance with the Confederacy and on December 7, 1862, enlisted with the Union army. Josiah Perryman served the rest of the war in Company I, First Regiment, Indian Home Guards, Kansas Infantry. He fought at the Battle of Webbers Falls on April 24, 1863, and at Honey Springs on July 17, 1863.

Perryman returned to Tulsa after the war and quickly rebuilt the Perryman holdings in partnership with his brother George. In 1885 he married Martha "Mattie" Ellen Jack, a Tulsa resident. They had one child, Hamer Coleman Perryman. Josiah Perryman owned a large ranch south and east of Tulsa on Joe's Creek (named for Josiah). George Perryman built a large, white, frame house that became a popular meeting place and stopover for residents and travelers through the area. In 1878 the "White House," located on a well-traveled trail, was designated as Tulsa's official post office. In 1879 Josiah Perryman was appointed Tulsa's first postmaster. The post office received mail on Star Route Number 32024, a thousand-mile route from Vinita to Las Vegas, New Mexico.

In 1882 Perryman formed a partnership with "Has" Reede to take advantage of the arrival of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway. They opened a mercantile store on the southwest corner of First and Main streets. In 1883 the post office moved to the store to provide better mail service. Perryman was an elder of the Presbyterian Church and a valued community leader, often serving as an arbitrator between settlers and Creek tribal members when disagreements emerged. In 1885 James M. Hall succeeded Perryman as postmaster. Perryman continued to operate the store until his death on March 3, 1889. Josiah Perryman is buried in the Perryman Cemetery at Tulsa.

SEE ALSO: CHUSTO–TALASAH BATTLE OF, CIVIL WAR ERA, HONEY SPRINGS–BATTLE OF, TULSA.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Nina Lane Dunn, Tulsa's Magic Roots (Tulsa, Okla.: N. L. D. Corp., 1979). James M. Hall, The Beginning of Tulsa (Tulsa, Okla.: N. p., 1933). John Bartlett Meserve, "The Perrymans," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 15 (June 1937). Louise Morse Whithan, "Green Yeargain and Star Route 32024," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 44 (Summer 1966).

Heath C. Henry

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