Delaware County, Oklahoma

 

Delaware County is located in the northeastern part of the state adjoining Ottawa County on the south and the states of Missouri and Arkansas on the west. It contains about seven hundred-fifty square miles of land of variable quality ranging from fertile river bottom lands to rocky flint hills.

     This section of the state, although important from a historical standpoint, is somewhat isolated by reason of the fact that its county seat and its largest town have no railroad connections with the other towns of Oklahoma. In olden times Delaware district wielded a great influence in Cherokee affairs and some of the most prominent Indians established their homes there soon after their arrival from Georgia, eighty years ago.

     In 1838 a small military fort or garrison was established by the Federal Government in the eastern part of the present County of Delaware near the headquarters of Spavinaw Creek, and a son of Daniel Boone, the famous Kentucky scout, was detailed to take charge of it. It was called Fort Wayne in honor of General Anthony Wayne of Revolutionary war fame.

     On account of the difficulty of reaching it with supplies, it was abandoned within a few years and its army accoutrements were transferred to Fort Gibson. General Stand Watie, one of the famous Cherokees who fought on the Confederate side during the Civil war, had a house within the present boundaries of this county and soon after the war he settled on his farm, near Grand River again and lived there until his death, which occurred in September, 1871.

     John Ridge, the leader of the party which opposed Chief John Ross was attacked and killed by some Indian outlaws, supposed to be friends of Ross, in the vicinity of this historic old cemetery.

     He was buried in the Ridge (now called Poison) cemetery in the eastern part of Delaware County, with Masonic honors. His widow died in 1883 and was buried in the western part of Delaware County, near the Village of Bernice.
     Archaeologists and geologists have been specially interested in the study of Delaware County on account of the numerous gracefully sloping mounds which are so numerous throughout this section of the state. Some have declared them to be the products of nature, while others maintain that they were built by the inhabitants of some remote period of time. Quite a number of ancient relics have been unearthed at different times in the past, which lead some. scientists to believe that many hundreds of years ago, a race of people inhabited this section of the country that had made some considerable advancement in agriculture and civilization. The State Historical Society has made quite a collection of these relics and these mounds will doubtless be more thoroughly explored within the next few years.

     The missionaries followed the Cherokees to their new homes in this section of the country during the early forties, the Moravians being the first to establish mission schools and churches for the Indians. As early as 1842 a little band of Moravians came from Bethlehem, Penn., and erected some buildings near the present site of the little town of Oaks in the southern part of Delaware County, some of which are still standing. This old mission was located near the headwaters of Spring Creek, a beautiful stream of clear water which rises near the Ozark uplift, flows west and empties its sparkling waters into Grand River, the stream which furnishes the City of Muskogee with an unlimited supply of pure water. Soon after the Civil war was over -the Lutherans ventured into this remote neighborhood and established a mission in the southern part of Delaware County, which they have continued to maintain. and where they have built up a good church composed largely of full-bloods.

     Another historic reminder of the olden days which may still be seen in this county is the old Head Beck water mill, located on Flint Creek. It was built before the Civil war and the Indians for miles around carried their grists of corn to it, to be exchanged for corn meal. The old mill was a great blessing to the full-bloods of that community for many years, especially during the Civil war times when it was impossible for them to secure flour at any price. The old mill has outlived most of its former customers and on certain days of each month it continues its task of converting corn into meal.

     The agriculturist or home-seeker can find in Delaware County, as in many other counties of Eastern Oklahoma, any kind of land which he may desire. Stretching across the northern part of the county is a fertile belt of land, about twelve miles wide and twenty miles long, known as the Cow Skin Prairie, famous in the old cow-boy days for its rich pastures, and equally famous now for its productive corn and wheat fields. Many well-improved farms are now found in this portion of the county and the owner of a Cow Skin Prairie farm is justly proud of his possessions.

     The foothills of the Ozark mountains project across the border lines of Missouri and Arkansas into. the eastern part of Delaware County, making that section of the county rough, rocky and hilly. The little valleys furnish some fine tillable land and the rough, rocky tracts afford good pasture and excellent fruit land. Some beautiful scenery graces these hills and valleys which, as yet, is but slightly known-to the people of the state. One of the favorite resorts of the Indians is known as the Dripping Spring, located on the allotment of Jeff Carnes, a Cherokee, residing in the southern part of the county, where a stream of water falls down over the rocks for a distance of nearly sixty feet.

     The beautiful Grand River wends its way across the county in a southwesterly direction, its valley, together with the valleys of its numerous tributaries, Spavinaw Creek, Spring Creek, Saline Creek and others-being dotted with numerous fertile farms and some excellent timber.

     A railroad is now being constructed from the Town of Salina on the Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad into the southern part of this county, mainly for the purpose of marketing the virgin timber of that section.

The City of Tulsa, sixty miles away, is planning to connect with Spavinaw Creek by means of an immense water plant in order to furnish its residents with an ample supply of pure water. Grove, the largest town in Delaware County, is located in the northern part of the county and for many years bore the distinction of being the only railroad town, although its railroad did not reach any other section of the state. Many years ago a branch line was built from Southwest City, Mo., to Grove, a distance of about thirty miles and will doubtless be extended westward to either Afton or Vinita, sooner or later, in order to give Grove railroad connection with other parts of the state.

     Capt. T. S. Remsen, perhaps the oldest resident of Grove, was the first postmaster and established the first store in the village, about fifty years ago. He died at his home in Grove on January 16, 1922, at the ripe age of seventy-eight years.

     John H. Gibson, another pioneer, established the second store in Grove and founded the Weekly Sun, the only newspaper in Grove.

W. H. Dougherty, another old timer, built several of the first houses erected in the village and for many years has been one of the substantial citizens of the town.

     W. P. Mayes, an old time Cherokee, brother of Ex-Chief Samuel H. Mayes, was for many years the proprietor of the only hotel in Grove.

Ed Casey, a prominent Cherokee, still resides on his farm adjoining Grove, and although ninety-four years of age, is still in the enjoyment of good health.

     Ad V. Coppedge, a prominent attorney of Delaware County, has resided at Grove for many years.

     At present, Grove has a population of about one thousand. It maintains a good public school, including a high school, ten teachers being regularly employed.

     The Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists and Christians have good churches and Sunday schools.

     The town has a National bank and a State bank, and both are in a flourishing condition.

Delaware County Towns

Grove
Jay
Bernice

Source: Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma, 1922

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