Located approximately four miles south and west of present McAlester in Pittsburgh County, Perryville was an important settlement in the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory. Named for its founder, James Perry, a Choctaw-Chickasaw mixed-blood, the town was situated along the Texas and California roads. Perry opened a trading post there around 1840.
Perryville's traffic and commerce increased during the California gold rush of 1849 and the Colorado gold rush of 1859. The town also benefitted from the construction of Fort Washita in 1842 and Fort Arbuckle in 1852. Troops and supplies passed through Perryville as they traveled between those posts and Fort Gibson and Fort Smith. Local businesses included a post office, a blacksmith, an inn, and a stage stand that operated until 1872.
The Colbert Institute, a Methodist boarding school for Chickasaw children, was founded at Perryville in 1854. It was relocated after the establishment of the Chickasaw Nation in 1855. Perryville was subsequently designated the seat of Tobucksy County in the Choctaw Nation's Moshulatubbee District. Its courthouse also served as a school and church.
Confederate forces held Perryville during the Civil War. The Battle of Perryville was fought on August 25, 1863, after which Union troops burned the town. The Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway bypassed Perryville in 1872, prompting residents to move to McAlester and elsewhere. The community of Chambers now occupies the original Perryville townsite, of which nothing remains.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Y. Bryce, "Perryville, At One Time a Regular Military Post," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 4 (June 1926). William Gailey, "Perryville," in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma: People and Places (Wolfe City, Tex.: Henington Industries, 1997). "Perryville," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Muriel H. Wright, "Additional Notes on Perryville, Choctaw Nation," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 8 (June 1930). Muriel H. Wright and LeRoy H. Fischer, "Civil War Sites in Oklahoma," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 44 (Summer 1966).
Jon D. May
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