Leading Towns of the Cherokee and Creek Nation

This thriving Cherokee town is located at the junction of the Missouri Pacific Railroad and the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad, 210 miles from Denison, Tex., and 28 miles from Chetopa, Kas. It has a population of 1,500 people and three church buildings, viz.: Presbyterian, Methodist, and Congregational; besides two church organizations, the Baptist and Christian. Vinita has two planing mills, and a flour mills with a capacity of one hundred barrels per day, four hotels—The Hotel Cobb being the principal of these, and one of the finest and best equipped in the Indian Territory. Vinita can also boast of two institutions of learning, the Willie Halsell Institute and the Worchester Academy, an engraving of which will be found elsewhere in this work. There are fifteen general mercantile houses, three hardware and two drug stores in Vinita, besides a commissioners’ court, an opera house, five or six blacksmith shops, two lumber yards, several carpenter and barber shops, and other of minor importance. There are some very handsome residences in town, besides a bank, established in 1891, with a capital of $50,000. Vinita is an incorporated town, being the second corporation established in the Indian Territory. Its present mayor is J. J. Thompson. The town is situated on a fertile prairie about 3,000 feet above the level of sea. Being located in the forks of Big and Little Cabin Creek, Vinita is plentifully supplied with excellent water, and is considered a very healthy town.

Tahlequah, the capitol of the Cherokee Nation, is located on the grounds where the Cherokees first assembled in council after their removal West. In 1846 an act was passed by the council to lay off the Tahlequah council ground into town lots, and to dispose of the same. From that time the town has been rapidly growing, till its population, according to the printed city ordinances of 1890, has reached two thousand souls. Tahlequah was incorporated in 1890, and the town ordinances compiled by W. P. and E. C. Boudinot. The present mayor, Jeff Roberson, and the members of the town council were elected December 7, 1891. Tahlequah is twenty-two miles from Fort Gibson, the nearest railroad point, and has a large country trade. It has seven general mercantile stores, two drug stores, three hotels, four churches, and a bank building recently completed and opened about December 15, 1891. Tahlequah is also furnished with a fine flour and grist mill, two livery stables, court-house, rock jail, lumber yard, opera house (one of the largest in the territory), blacksmith, carpenter and barber shops, and lunch stands. There are four weeklies (and a daily issued during council) published in Tahlequah. The Advocate is the national organ of the Cherokees, but the Tahlequah Telephone appears to have the largest circulation in the nation. The Indian Arrow and the Indian Sentinel are also well patronized. Tahlequah is the great center of national education. The Cherokee male and female seminaries are located close to the capitol, and few States in the Union can boast of more beautiful structures or better conducted institutions. The insane asylum is also located close to Tahlequah, and there are also Presbyterian and Baptist mission schools and a Moravian church in the suburbs. Few towns of its population can boast of prettier residences or a more enlightened class of people than Tahlequah. It is located in a dry, healthy spot, and well supplied with excellent water.

Claremore is situated at the junction of the Kansas and Arkansas Valley, and St. Louis and San Francisco railroads, thirty-eight miles from Vinita and forty-three from Muskogee. It contains a population of 300 inhabitants, has five general mercantile stores, one drug store, with a second in course of erection, one saddle and harness shop, three blacksmith shops, one shoe shop, two saloons, two lumber yards, three hotels, two livery stables, two depots and a district court-house. For many miles around Claremore the land is in a good state of cultivation, and fruitful in the growth of corn and small grain. There is a good grist and corn mill situated on the borders of town. Claremore has two subscription schools and one church belonging to the Presbyterians, but used by three other denominations on successive Sundays. The town is incorporated, and its mayor is John M. Taylor, a prominent politician in his district.

Fort Gibson:
Fort Gibson, the first incorporated town in the Indian Territory, is situated on the Kansas and Arkansas Valley Railroad, eight miles from Muskogee and twenty-two from Tahlequah. It has a population of about 300, and was at one time the United States garrison point for the Indian Territory. The post buildings are still in good condition and in possession of the government, together with a land tract comprising eight miles, which, according to treaty was to revert to the Cherokees after its abandonment by the troops, but the government has not yet made the transfer. Fort Gibson is beautifully situated on the east banks of Grand River, near its junction with Arkansas and Verdigris, and is one of the most picturesque little towns in the United States. It was at one time the home of Jefferson Davis, General Zach Taylor, and other prominent leaders. Fort Gibson contains four general mercantile stores, three drug stores, mills, gins, lunch stands, two hotels, churches, schools, etc. It was incorporated November 27, 1873.

This progressive and lively little business town is located on the Canadian River, within a few miles of the northern line of the Choctaw Nation. Its population is variously estimated at from 450 to 550. Eufaula has four churches, two white and two colored, representing the Methodist and Baptist communities. It has four general mercantile houses — an engraving of one of them, that of Messrs. Patterson & Foley, will be seen elsewhere. There is also one drug store, one hardware store, two cotton gins, one grist mill, two blacksmiths’ shops, two butchers’ shops, three hotels and one livery stable. Eufaula, being located within easy access to the Choctaw Nation, and her business houses offering superior accommodation, a large proportion of the trade from the southern side of the Canadian is transacted there. The Canadian bottoms are remarkably fertile, while the high prairie stretching west from Eufaula to Okmulgee, the capital, is perhaps the richest high prairie tract in the Indian Territory. As an agricultural center Eufaula stands at the top of the list, and perhaps no town in the Southwest of equal population can boast of such a large annual shipment of cotton.

Muskogee, one of the most progressive and best located towns in the Indian Territory, is situated on the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad, in the Creek Nation. It has a population of over 2,000, which is constantly augmented and increased. It is surrounded by a beautiful and fertile country, and is a great trading center. Its buildings greatly surpass those of any in the territory, while its business houses carry larger and more varied stocks of goods. Muskogee has six general mercantile houses, three large drug stores, one wholesale and retail queensware, hardware and carpet establishment, two jewelry stores, two newspapers, a planing mill and wood factory, one roller flour mill, two gins, two livery stables, five hotels, one of which is the largest in the Indian Territory. It has also a bank, an Indian agency, United States court house, three institutions of learning, comprising the Indian University, the Harrell Institute and the Minerva Home. Muskogee is looked upon as the central point of religious and educational institutions, so that almost every church is represented. The private buildings are far above the average in towns of the same population, and the society is refined and cultured. A more desirable place to live in can hardly be found in the Southwest than Muskogee, and it will, no doubt, before many years become a thriving city.

Okmulgee, the capital of the Creek Nation, is situated thirty-five miles west of Eufaula, the nearest railroad town except Muskogee, which is about the same distance. It contains a population of about 250, except during council, which draws a great crowd annually. The council house is erected in the center of the town square, and is a fine rock structure. There are two general mercantile houses, one drug store, two hotels, blacksmith and barber shops, mill and gin, and a church and school-house. Okmulgee is situated on one of the finest tracts of high prairie in the Indian Territory, capable of producing the largest crops of cotton, corn and small grain.

Wagoner is situated at the junction of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad and the Kansas and Arkansas Valley Railroad, the town being established in 1878. Its population has been estimated at 400 — 250 of that number being United States citizens. Wagoner is sixteen miles north of Muskogee and forty-nine miles south of Vinita, being located in a prairie country remarkable for its richness. It has five general mercantile stores, two drug stores, a cotton gin, grist mill, two blacksmiths’ shops, one livery stable, one newspaper, one church-house with Presbyterian and Methodist organizations; four hotels, the principal of which are the Valley Hotel and Bernard Hotel. The town is rapidly growing, several fine brick buildings being in contemplation which will be erected in the near future. The town is well located; the water is good, and the soil of the surrounding country is fertile, being adapted to small grain as well as corn and cotton. One farmer last year raised 1100 bushels of wheat, averaging thirty bushels to the acre. The society of Wagoner for a town of its years is remarkably good, and the merchants and business men are deeply interested in its progress and welfare.

Index of Tribes or Nations

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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