Muskogee, Oklahoma

From Indian Territory Gazetteer 1901

In writing an industrial history of the Indian Territory no town will take up more of the annals than Muskogee. Situated on a crest of the prairies but four miles from the Arkansas river its commanding position not only gives it a beauty as far as its surroundings are concerned but one that is healthful, capable of fine drainage and with its level stretches an ideal spot for the large city it is destined to become. It is 117 miles south of Parsons and 157 miles north of Denison and is a division point on the M. K. & T. Ry which fact undoubtedly did much in its early days to further its growth, and which now helps greatly with the 75 or 100 families who are dependednt on the railroad for a livelihood.

The population is 4254. 900 votes being cast at the last city election, and scarcely a day passes without new faces being added, the building, of which we will refer later attesting to this fact. Hard, soft and spring water supplies the town in addition to a large reservoir for industrial purposes, but the wide awake citizens are figuring on a plant to take water from the Grand river and it will undoubtedly be built in the nest 12 months, giving it the best supply in the Indian territory of clear pure water. At present a large main connected with a powerful steam pump gives partial protection, seconded by an active fire department.

The chief articles of shipment are cattle, cotton, hay, corn, flour, oil cake, pecans, etc. A large number of heavy cattle raisers and buyers make Muskogee their home and cotton is cared for by two gins, one the round bale process. Large quantities of baled hay and corn are annually shipped and in the latter staple the increase will undoubtedly be steady as the country developes. In handling cotton seed the Muskogee Cotton Oil Co. have a capacity of 60 tons with arrangements for a heavy advance over that amount if needed. A roller flouring mill and a corn mill grind much of those grains for shipment. The Muskogee Ice & Power Co have a new ice plant equipped with the latest machinery and with a daily capacity of 15 tons.

The Muskogee National Telephone Co. operates a local system and its connections with Wagner, Eufaula, Checotah, Ft. Gibson, Tallequah and other points promote the growth of the city as a jobbing centre. The Union Depot Hotel is a hostlery that is in every way a credit to the town both from an architectural and business standpoint. Of newspapers ther are seven, the Muskogee Evening Times, daily and weekly. The Phoenix, weekly, being the principal, both presentable newsy sheets. But it is in her educational institutions that the chief pride of the young city lies and it must be said that their refining influences have done much, not only directly in the town but on the entire territory and it is but the beginning of their useful career. Fully 15 to 18 years ago the Rev. Theo F. Brewer of the M. E. Church south established Harrell Institute, recently destroyed by fire and is now succeeded by Spaulding Institute a very substantial structure. Henry Kendall College, Rev A. Grant Evans president, with a capacity of from 100 to 125 students occupies a commanding slope in the centre of about 30 acres of ground in what is now the extreme west of town but which promises before long to be entirely surrounded with the residences of the wealth of the city. The school is under the care of the Presbyterian board and the half-tone engravings of their new and stately buildings attest as to its worth and also its growth from one small building in the centre of the town. The Baptists are represented by Bacone University. Rev J. H. Scott is president and in point of age it comes next after the Spaulding. They have a large 3 story brick building about 3 miles north of the city in a beautiful location and when new additions under way are finished their capacity of 95 to 100 students will be greatly increased. The Catholics are in no ways behind the educational work of this section and this fact is attested by Nazareth Institute under the direction of the Sisters of St. Joseph, the cut of whose buildings are shown in this book. They have large grounds in the southwestern part of town and with the thorough work that always characterizes their order they are proving a large factor in the upbuilding of the moral and intellectual welfare of the Indian Territory and their usefulness will undoubtedly expand in the years to come. Tullahassee Mission, across the Arkansas river is of great historical interest, being one of the oldest schools in the Territory and the Pican Creek Mission, Colbred, and Orphan Home, colored, both directly tributary to the city can truthfully be classed as part of her educational system. The white public school has a capacity of 300 students and the colored children are equally well looked after in a large 2-story building in the northwest part of town. Altogether few places of double its size can boast of the chances for education possessed by the people of Muskogee.

In churches they are equally as well fortunate, the Presbyterians leading with a fine brick building costing $7,000 that is a model of beauty and convenience. The M. E. Church South have a very substantial stone building on the east side and are comfortably housed for some time to come. The Catholic, Episcopal and Baptist denominations have their own buildings while others are represented by organizations. In addition there are colored Baptist, M. E. and M. E. South church buildings all with good societies.

Muskogee has always been the seat of official life in the Indian Territory, the United States Indian Agency for the five tribes having been located there almost with the establishment of the town and continued to the present time. Within a few years a U S Court for northern district of the Indian Territory having jurisdiction over Creek, Seminole, Cherokee and the governments represented at the Quapaw agency was established, Jno R. Thomas being judge at the present time with Geo A Gill as district judge. Deputy clerks are found at Vinita, Tallequah, Miami, Wagoner and Wewoka. The U S Marshal, Leo E. Bennett has 25 deputies on his force while U S Attorney, Pliney L Soper needs two assistants, the whole comprising quite an army who help naturally in the prosperity of the place. At the jail 25 keepers are needed to look after and guard from 150 to 250 prisoners continually confined there. A U S Commissioner, T. A. Sanson has jurisdiction over certain misdemeanors and civil cases involving less than $300. The Indian Inspector with 23 subordinates and the Territory School Inspector with 10, the Town Appraisers with 10 add considerable to the population. The Dawes Commission, coomposed of Tams Bixby acting chairman, T. H. Needles and Clifton R. Breckinridge who are engaged in winding up to a great extent the affairs of the five tribes have their headquarters at Muskogee and employ a small army of clerks, fully 80 being on their rolls and it is expected their work will continue for a period of at least six years.

A more conservative business-like set of gentlemen than those who comprise the city government it would be hard to find, and as a consequence not only does the place show many improvements but they have what few cities can boast, a surplus in the treasury and no debts. Fully $250,000 worth of business blocks, manufactories and residences have been erected during the past year, many of them being fine stone or brick structures that would do credit to any town in the states.

Lodges are represented by the Masons, including a Commandery, the Knights of Phythias, Woodmen of the world, Odd Fellows, Elks, etc. Most of the fuel for domestic purposes is coal furnished by thin veins adjoining town and it is only a question of time until large mines are opened either at or within a very few miles of the business centre. Oil of a good quality is found near by which will also soon be developed and will become a great factor for the place. All summed up few cities in the west have the advantages and possibilities in a material and intellectual sense as have Muskogee.

Gazatteer and Business Directory of the Indian Territory (Buffalo, N.Y.: McMaster Publishing Co., 1901). p.165-167.

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©Sue Tolbert 2001-2003

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