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TUSHKA

Tushka is located on U.S. Highway 69/75 five miles southeast of Atoka in Atoka County. Prior to development the area provided a hunting ground for the Choctaw. By 1872 the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway (MK&T) began building tracks five miles south of Atoka, and a settlement by the name of Peck Switch began. The town has existed under four names. The first was Peck, Indian Territory, where the first post office was established in 1903. By 1905 it was changed to Lewis, named for Charles Lewis, the first postmaster. In 1909 the town's name switched to Dayton. Later that same year, the present designation, Tushka, a Choctaw word for warrior, replaced Dayton.

The first public structure was a small one-room combination school and church. Citizens donated the funds to construct it. Jim Butler provided the land for the community cemetery. By 1907 the town was surveyed and platted. In 1908 the first telephone system was installed. The short-lived Lewis Agitator served as the local newspaper. By 1913 there were three churches and twelve businesses, including a hardware store, grocery, dry goods, implement store, cafés, barbershop, bank, lumberyard, blacksmith shop, theater, telephone office, drug store, courthouse, and two doctors.

Tushka's first incorporation came in 1915 and lasted for twelve years. The 1920 census registered 248 residents. During the Great Depression, a faltering economy and fires that burned most of the businesses almost destroyed the town. Because of World War II many of the residents left for work in California and never returned. Tushka reincorporated in 1968. The 1970 population stood at 230, rising to 358 in 1980. At the beginning of the twenty-first century the town had a pre-kindergarten-through-twelfth-grade school system, many businesses along Highway 69/75, a Baptist Church, a police department, a volunteer fire department, and a community building. In 2000 the population stood at 345.

SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Gearl Dean Hall, "The History of the Town of Tushka," in Tales of Atoka County Heritage ([Atoka, Okla.]: Atoka County Historical Society, 1982-83). George H. Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names (2d ed.; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1974). William H. Underwood, "A History of Atoka County" (M.A. thesis, University of Oklahoma, 1931).

Dean Hall and Dovie Walker

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