Valliant is located in McCurtain County on U.S. Highway 70, seventeen miles northwest of Idabel. In 1902 the Choctaw Townsite Commission for the Arkansas and Choctaw Railroad, being constructed across what was then the Choctaw Nation, surveyed and platted the town. The community's name honored Frank W. Valliant, a railroad official. A post office was established June 23, 1902.
Valliant's early development occurred rapidly, as a cluster of wooden buildings near the railroad became a business district of brick structures that housed two banks and nineteen other business enterprises by the early 1920s. There were also three hotels and as many cafés. In 1905 a newspaper began publishing, and soon several professional people opened practices in the growing town.
Historically, Valliant's primary economic base has been agricultural, due to the abundance of arable soils, including the fertile land along the Red River to the south. Cotton, grain, and horticultural crops initially predominated. As cotton production declined in the 1930s, there was a gradual shift to pasture and forage production for cattle-feeding enterprises.
In 1970 the Weyerhaeuser Company, a major wood production and processing firm, built a large container board plant that became a major contributor to Valliant's economy. In addition to being served by the Kiamichi Railroad on the roadbed of the former Frisco Railway, the town is also the western terminus of the Texas, Oklahoma and Eastern Railroad, now owned by the Weyerhaeuser Company and utilized to serve the firm's interests within the county and into Arkansas.
Of special note is that the Alice Lee Elliott Memorial Academy, a boarding school for children of freed black slaves, operated adjacent to the town site beginning in 1886. Sponsored by the Presbyterian Board of Missions, this unique institution was the only one of its type in the Indian Territory. It closed in 1936. Nearby also are the ruins of a water mill on spring-fed Clear Creek from which Valliant obtained its water supply for many years. A gristmill operated on this site as early as 1819 when the area was part of old Miller County, Arkansas Territory.
Valliant's population numbers have varied through the years. From 656 residents in 1910 there was a significant increase to 809 in 1920. The trend was generally downward to 1960, reaching a low of 477. In 1970 the census recorded a dramatic increase of 840 citizens, primarily attributable to the construction of the Weyerhaeuser plant. In 1980 the count was 927 people and in 1990 a slight decrease to 873. At the turn of the twenty-first century Valliant had 771 citizens.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: William Arthur Carter, McCurtain County and Southeast Oklahoma (Fort Worth, Tex.: Tribune Publishing Co., 1923). McCurtain County: A Pictorial History, Vol. 2 (N.p.: McCurtain County Historical Society, 1982). George H. Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names (2d ed.; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1974). Joy McDougal Smith, "Alice Lee Elliott Memorial Academy: A School for Choctaw Freedmen," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 72 (Fall 1994). Rex W. Strickland, "Miller County, Arkansas Territory: The Frontier That Men Forgot," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 19 (March 1941). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service, Soil Survey of McCurtain County, Oklahoma (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1974). Valliant (Oklahoma) Tribune, 21 August 1914.
Joy McDougal Smith and Sharon McKeever
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