Mayes County, Oklahoma History

From the time that Columbus discovered America, in 1492, up to the year 1541-2 or about fifty years after the discovery of America, the Territory comprising Mayes County had very little if any mention historically, probably the first white people to lay foot on Mayes County soil was in 1541 when De Soto the Spanish explorer and his expedition passed through what was then the Province of Mayes County to be. Other Spanish explorers and French explorers, explored this part of the country the following century and a half, the Spanish explorers seeking gold and the French a fur trade. The Bernard De La Harpe expedition of 1721 is probably responsible for so many of the streams and some of the towns having French names.

In 1802 before. Napoleon Bonaparte compelled the Kingdom of Spain to return the Province of Louisiana to France (and before the Thomas Jefferson administration acquired the Province in 1804) the first white settlement was made in the Province of Louisiana which comprises Oklahoma. This was a trade post which was established by the Chouteau brothers (Frenchmen) of St. Louis. It was located on the east bank of Grand River in what is now Mayes County upon the site of the present Town of Salina.

In 1820 the first mission in Oklahoma for the purpose of educating the Indians and converting them to the Christian religion was established near the mouth of Chouteau Creek which is in Mayes County. This was some eighteen years before the Cherokee were transferred to this part of the country. At that time the principal inhabitants were the Osage Indians.

Grand Saline (or what is now known as the old Saltwells), is located in Mayes County and is only one of the many historical spots of the county. Here is where salt was manufactured and sold to the Indians at fifty cents a bushel. Ox teams came from hundreds of miles and salt was hauled away by the wagon loads. The huge salt kettles used, came from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and were transported down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and up the Arkansas and Grand rivers to a ford near where the Salina bridge, east of Pryor, is now located.

The country now comprising Mayes County furnished no less than four Chiefs for the Cherokee and many of the Councilmen and Senators.

Source: Benedict, John D. Muskogee and northeastern Oklahoma, including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. 3 v. illus., ports., facsims. 28 cm. Chicago, S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.

1 thought on “Mayes County, Oklahoma History”

  1. Hello, I was wondering if you might know any information about Brush Creek that’s in the surrounding area? I was raised there, yet I never can find any information about it. This area & lands was occupied by many blacks before I was born (my grandfather time of settlement early -mid 1900’s). My grandfather came to Oklahoma (from S. Carolina) and live by the river until they were able to buy the house and 374 acres we own today. All but two black families kept their lands. Only my family (Ray family) still owns our lands outright as of today. I was told that the other black people that lived there lost their lands because they didn’t pay their land taxes. The other family are the Keys (which still live there, yet no longer own the land), are in Oklahoma history for their family being one of the oldest black families that were slaves to free people. Brushy Creek Baptist Church is one of the oldest black churches in Oklahoma, yet it’s not mentioned in any of Oklahoma black history. I would really appreciate any additional information you have or can find on Brushy Creek located outside of Chouteau, Ok. in Mayes County. Thank you, and I hope to see your reply.

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