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Porum, located thirty miles south of Muskogee on State Highway 2 in Muskogee County, was named for John Porum Davis, a rancher, Civil War veteran, and Cherokee Nation councilman from the Canadian District in Indian Territory. The federal government established a post office on March 25, 1890. Walter R. Eaton platted the townsite in 1903 upon arrival of the Midland Valley Railroad. In 1905 the small communities of Porum Gap and Starvilla were consolidated and incorporated as Porum. Porum Gap, a natural pass through the mountain immediately west of Porum, provided cattlemen access to the Sedalia Trail from Sedalia, Missouri, through Fort Smith and south to Texas.

The Porum Press, the first newspaper, published weekly from 1906 to about 1910. Other weekly publications included the Porum Journal (1910-24) and the Porum Leader (1924-40). Porum became infamous for a range war that began in 1906 and lasted several years. The feud between the Hester and Davis families also included numerous other local families and resulted in killings all over Muskogee County. Well-known Oklahomans who have lived in the area include Belle Star, at Younger's Bend between Porum and Briar town, Capt. John West, a Cherokee Nation sheriff (1894-96) and U.S. deputy marshal of Judge Isaac Parker's court at Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Capt. William Dutch (Tahchee), a Cherokee Nation councilman from the Canadian District, who was known as the last Cherokee war chief.

In the town's early years local citizens organized the Bank of Commerce and a National Bank, which were later combined into the American State Bank. The first general store was Cole & Matthews. In 1922 there were public schools, two churches, four general stores, two cotton gins, two drug stores, two hardware stores, and several small stores and shops. In 1931 outgoing railroad shipments consisted of cotton, corn, coal, hogs, and cattle. The town had 150 telephones, an airplane landing field, two churches, a public school, and a library. The U.S. Census indicated a population of 393 in 1907, 533 in 1920, 471 in 1931, 851 in 1990, and 725 in 2000.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: John Downing Benedict, Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma, Including the Counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa, Vol. 1 (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1922). Muskogee (Oklahoma) Daily Phoenix, 11 September 1906-18 May 1912. George H. Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1965). C. W. "Dub" West, Persons and Places in Indian Territory (Muskogee, Okla.: Muscogee Publishing Co., 1974).

Ellen Collins Johnson

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