Checotah, McIntosh, Oklahoma History

 

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 warriors.
     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.

After Incorporation

     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.

Additional Resources

Checotah Churches, Schools and Banks
Checotah History

McIntosh County

Source: Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma, 1922

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