African Towns and Settlements of Indian and Oklahoma Territories

 

AFRICAN GHOST TOWNS

AFRICAN TOWNS TODAY

AFRICAN GHOST TOWNS

ARKANSAS COLORED TOWN----From 1895 onward, this small black settlement existed in the southern part of the Chickasaw Nation. A post office operated in this town from 1895 to 1912. Not much more has even been written about the town, nor the Freedmen who resided within its limits. No trace exists of the settlement today.

BOOKERTEE----Three miles northeast of Weleetka in Okfuskee County the settlement of Bookertee used to lie. The town was named after Booker T. Washington, and was at its peak around 1920. No remnants nor written history of this settlement exists.

CANADIAN COLORED---About 10 miles south and west of the town of Eufaula the black settlement known as Canadian Colored Town existed. Nearby was the Civil War point known as Canadian Depot, which was a supply point during the Civil War. Since there were already places with the name of ?Canadian? elsewhere in the region and since this particular settlement had a large black settlement it became known as the Canadian Colored Town and with time it was simply referred to as Canadian Colored.

CHASE---Established in 1903, this town was 8 miles southwest of Muskogee. In 1908, the name of the town was changed to Beland. Neither names exist today.

FERGUSON---In 1901 this settlement on the Canadian River North in Blaine County O.T. was established. It was 12 miles directly north of the town of Watonga Oklahoma. No longer in existence.

LINCOLN CITY---Established in 1889 during the Oklahoma Land Rush, this town was a legacy to the All Black town movement of Edwin P. McCabe. It was located outside of Indian Territory and further west in Oklahoma Territory in Kingfisher County. Nothing remains today.

MARSHALL TOWN---As far back as the 1870?s Marshall Town was known as a black settlement. The town was on a spot between the Arkansas River, and the Verdigris River. Between 1878 and 1885, many of the Creek Lighthorsemen were black, and there were constant clashes between Cherokee cattlemen, and the African Creek Lighthorse Police. Many of these clashes were fatal between the African Creeks and the Cherokee cattlemen. Some researchers indicated that a state that closely resembled a racial war continued for several years in the area around Marshall Town. In 1876 one of the African Lighthorsemen was killed, and in 1879 one of the Cherokee cattlemen, John Vann, was killed. It was believed that the death of the Cherokee was in revenge of the death of the African Lighthorseman. The conflicts continued for several years, and did not quiet down till the mid 1880?s.

NORTH FORK TOWN---Originally a Creek Settlement, by the 1850?s this town had a considerable number of Africans residing in the town. By 1862 the town in the early part of the Civil War, the town was raided by Confederates and many of the African citizens lost personal property and were forced to flee the town for some time. The Claims of the Loyal Creeks were made in 1867 whereby several hundred Black Creeks spoke of their lives and property in North Fork Town. (These claims can be read at the National Archives.) By the turn of the century it was an exclusively African town, with Sugar T. George serving as the most widely respected Town King in the Creek Nation.

OLD VINITA---This was a primarily black settlement in the Cherokee Nation, and was home to mostly Cherokee Freedmen. Many Freedmen eventually left and settled in Coffeyville Kansas, for job opportunities. This black settlement has been absorbed into the current city of Vinita Oklahoma.

WYBARK---Established in 1890, though settled a bit earlier, Wybark was 4 miles north of Muskogee. The town operated a post office from 1890 to 1940. It is believed to have absorbed some of the old settlement of North Fork though no remains of that town are noted. The town faded in the 1940?s.

AFRICAN TOWNS TODAY

ARCADIA---Established in 1890, this town is the most recently incorporated of the historically black towns. It was incorporated in 1987--almost 1900 years after the post office was established in the town.

BOLEY---Located in the western part of Okfuskee County this historically black town was established in 1903. The town of Boley is also the site of the noted attempted bank robbery that was foiled when Black townsmen prevented the Pretty Boy Floyd gang from robbing the town's only bank. Now a much smaller town of about 750 residents, this was the at one time most vibrant black towns in all of Indian Territory. In addition each year the town hosts one of the most famous events of the state-----the Boley Black Rodeo. Horsemen from throughout the region participate in this annual event each year during Memorial Day weekend. Many of the structures are on the National Register of Historic Places. During the early 1900?s Boley was considered to be the largest black town in the United States. During the days when Boley was at its peak more than 4000 blacks lived in the town. Several restaurants, hotels and businesses were a part of this city's legacy.

LANGSTON---This city was named for the noted educator and abolitionist John Mercer Langston. It was founded in 1891, and is home to Langston University the farthest west of the Historically Black Colleges & Universities. The town was founded during the heart of the campaign to establish and all black state initiated by Edwin P. McCabe from Kansas.

RED BIRD--- In the Creek Nation, this town lies only a few miles from Coweta Oklahoma. it was officially established in 1902 though it existed as a settlement before that time. It was always a rural community and was home to many Creek Freedmen as well as State Blacks who relocated to the Twin Territories in the late 19th century. Red Bird served as a market center for many rural black farmers, providing a market exchange for the black farmers of the region. The population of the town peaked out at about 400 in the 1920?s.

RENTIESVILLE---Now only a bed-room community, this town hosts the often tri-annual reenactment of the famous Battle of Honey Springs. In the heart of the Creek Nation and only a few miles south of Muskogee this town lies on the banks of Elk Creek. The Civil War battle was won, interestingly by black soldiers many from the Creek Nation, who had served in two units------the 1st Kansas Colored and the Indian Home Guards. The well written about Texas Road runs right through the heart of Rentiesville.

TAFT---Originally known as Twine, I.T. this Creek Nation black town was established in 1903. Like neighboring Red Bird, it was a market for rural farmers mostly black. Many Creek Freedmen lived in or near Taft. The city council still exists today and is one of the few black towns remaining that has a town council still in operation. The town of Taft is now home to the Creek Freedmen Shrine and African American landmark built by Napoleon Davis a memorial to the history of the 5000 Africans who lived in the Creek Nation.

TULLAHASSEE---The history of this town pre-dates Oklahoma statehood by 57 years. Established as a mission for the Creeks in 1850, Tullahassee became the site of the famous Creek Academy--the Tullahassee Mission School. It later was abandoned by the Creek Indians who left it as a school for their former African slaves. The Tullahassee Mission school then became a boarding school for the next two decades for Creek and Seminole Freedmen, under the leadership of Fisk and Hampton trained teachers and under the financial leadership of Sugar T. George, African Town King and leader from North Fork.

VERNON---The town of Vernon was founded by Edwin P. McCabe the Kansas auditor who launched the all black town movement. It was established in 1895, and still exists today.

WEWOKA---Established by African Seminole leader John Horse, in the 1840?s this particular town is now mostly white, though a sizable black community still survives in this area. The town is the county seat of Seminole County. Founder John Horse left Indian Territory in 1848 taking several hundred Africans with him to northern Mexico, attempting to escape raids from the Creek Nation, and efforts to force them back into slavery. The town had notable African Seminoles among its residents at one time---Negro Abraham, Caesar Bruner, Dorsar Barkus, Cudjoe and others. ( The Seminole nation today now has two African bands both led by African American women tribal leaders.)

Back to Main Page