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Le Flore County

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    In 1820 the Choctaw Nation signed the Treaty of Doak's Stand, losing some of their tribal land in the southeastern United States and acquiring a large tract in present southeastern Oklahoma. In 1830 the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek ceded the remainder of the Choctaws' eastern home and precipitated removal of the members that had not relocated. By 1832 the federal government erected a substantial building at the Choctaw Agency, approximately fifteen miles west of Fort Smith. Around the agency the important Choctaw settlement of Skullyville developed. This town not only housed the government Indian agents and dispensed annuity payments, but held a station on the Butterfield Overland Mail route, served for a time as the Choctaw capital, and hosted notables such as artist George Catlin, who painted some of the residents. It was also the home of prominent Choctaw Tandy Walker. Portions of present Le Flore County existed in the former Moshulatubbee and the Apukshunnubbee districts, and in Sugar Loaf, Skullyville, and Wade counties in the Choctaw Nation.
    In 1834 the U.S. Army established Fort Coffee on the southern bank of the Arkansas River a few miles north of the Choctaw Agency. In 1838 the fort closed, and the soldiers founded Fort Wayne in the Cherokee Nation. The Choctaw Nation then allowed the Methodist Episcopal Church to operate the Fort Coffee Academy for boys at the site. In 1845 the Methodists opened the New Hope Seminary for girls east of Skullyville. There were several early neighborhood schools for the Choctaw, with most operated by missionaries. In 1847 the Choctaw Agency burned, and it was relocated to Fort Washita in 1858. In 1854 the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) founded Lenox Mission in the southern Le Flore County.
    The schools and the mission closed during the Civil War, and in 1863 Union troops burned the Fort Coffee Academy, which had been used as barracks for Confederate troops. On September 1, 1863, federal forces under Maj. Gen. James Blunt defeated Brig. Gen. William Cabell at the Battle of Devil's Backbone Mountain, near present Pocola. A day earlier, these armies had skirmished near Skullyville. After the war New Hope Seminary reopened and operated until it burned in 1896. In December 1866 the Choctaw government passed legislation to again fund neighborhood schools. Education for the Choctaw Freedmen commenced, with the first school at Boggy Depot, and present Le Flore County hosting schools at Skullyville and Fort Coffee. In 1892 the Tushkalusa (black warriors) Freedmen Boarding school opened three miles southeast of Talihina.


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  • The Oklahoma Genealogical Society maintains a library and archives that the public is allowed to visit. The Library and Archives contains over 62,000 volumes with emphasis on Oklahoma, Native American, and western history. In addition to these materials -- many of which are rare and out-of-print -- the library also houses a number of special collections.

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