Checotah, a flourishing city of 3,000 people, is located on the M. K. & T. Railroad, in the northern part of McIntosh County. It is the first town of importance south of Muskogee and was founded in 1872, soon after the new railroad reached that vicinity. It was named in honor of Samuel Checote, who was serving as
chief of the Creek Nation at that time. The name was suggested by the
railroad authorities who located the station there, because of the
prominence which Chief Checote had just gained in suppressing an
insurrection of dissatisfied full-bloods under the leadership of a
simple-minded old Indian by the name of Sands.
Checotah is situated near the center of one of the best
agricultural sections of the state and for many years before it was
organized some of the largest and best cattle ranches were found in that
locality. The once famous ranch of Turner & Middleton, where thousands
of cattle and hundreds of horses were cared for, was located ten miles
toward the northwest. The Gentry Ranch and the Spaulding ranch also
furnished hundreds of beef cattle to the northern markets each year.
In those days, antedating the arrival of the railroads,
the cowpunchers drove the fat cattle across the country to St. Louis or
Kansas City, sometimes loading them on cars at some point in Kansas.
Cattle-raising, in those pioneer days of immense pastures, was very
profitable business, as the mild winters made it possible to keep
livestock on the grass, without extra feed, throughout almost the entire
year. The first white farmers who settled here came from the cotton
producing states and it was but natural that they devote their time and
energy to the production of that profitable crop, especially when they
found the soil and climate so well adapted to it. But as other farmers
came in, they found conditions equally adapted to raising wheat, barley,
oats, alfalfa, etc., so that there is much more diversification of crops
than in former times..
Several points of historic interest are found in this
part of the state. Near here the Creeks and Osage fought a severe battle
in the olden days in which the Osage were defeated with a loss of fifty
On Elk Creek, southeast of Checotah, one of the
decisive Indian Territory battles of the Civil war was fought between
regiments commanded by General Blount of the Northern army and Col.
Douglas Cooper of the Confederates.
Colonel Cooper retreated with a loss of 200 men, while about one hundred
of the Northern soldiers were killed or wounded.
H. G. Turner was chosen as Checotah's first
mayor after the town was incorporated, and he and his councilmen gave
the town their services without pay.
Mr. J. B. Morrow, Spaulding Mercantile Co., and
Lafayette Brothers were among the early settlers who helped to make
Checotah a real live city.
The Grand Lodge of Odd Fellows selected Checotah some
years ago as the location of its State Orphan Home, and just outside the
northern limits of the city, a large brick building was erected. The
grounds around the building have been beautified, making it a very
comfortable and attractive home for their orphan boys and girls.
Source: Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma, 1922
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