Friday, December 26, 2008

Skullyville, Oklahoma

It seems as though I am stuck in Le Flore County, Oklahoma. I have one more place for you to check out if you go to look for the other treasure sites in this county. This spot is now a ghost town with no buildings left, but the town was named after money.

Skullyville, Oklahoma was established in 1831 by Major Francis Armstrong as the location of an Indian Agency responsible for paying annuities to the Choctaw Indians. Annuities that were always paid in gold! The name of the town was from the Choctaw word for money, “iskuli”.

The town site contained several springs and the Indian Agency building was built next to one of the largest springs located on a small hill. The Choctaw Indians that came to live in and around the town built log homes to live in, many of which lasted for more than 100 years. The Choctaws began arriving in the town in 1832, just after the town was established.

The gold coins used to pay the Indian annuities were shipped by boat to the town in kegs. It is said that the kegs of gold coins “were often left in the yard or on the front porch of the Agency, day and night without guard”. As more Indians moved into the area so did businesses, wanting to sell their wares to the newly paid Indians.

Sometime around 1845 a school for girls, Hope School, was established one mile east of town and a school for boys, Fort Coffee Academy, was established near the Arkansas River, also not far from the town. These schools closed down during the civil war but the girl’s school opened back up in 1871 but eventually closed again in 1896.

The route through Skullyville was used by the forty-niners to go to and from California and the Butterfield Overland Mail Route used the town as the first stage stop out of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

When the town was first established the post office was known as the Choctaw Agency and then the named changed to Skullyville in 1860 and then was renamed again in 1871 as Oak Lodge.

Once the Civil War came along the town was used as an outpost by the Confederate troops until the Union army showed up and captured the town. The Union forces burned many of the buildings and homes and the town never recovered.

The post office was closed in 1917 and nothing but the cemetery remains of the town now.

Because of the constant delivery and payout of gold coins to the Indians and the town’s involvement in the Civil War, not to mention being a stage stop, this location could prove to be a bonanza of relics and small personal caches.

The location of Skullyville/Oak Lodge is in Le Flore County, OK in Section 17, Township 9, Range 26 East or one mile north and 2 ½ miles east of Spiro. Look for Old Fort Coffee on a topographical map near the Arkansas River.

1 comment:

Isha M Covin said...

I'm hoping for Ring Plantation archaeological dig in and around that area near the Arkansas River. Freedmen forefathers of Indian Territory likely worked the plantation and probably assisted with the horses for the stagecoach. I understand the station after changing horses at Ring Prairie was Boggy Depot. My best guess during that time there will be some inferences to folk life before the Civil War. I assume since Armstrong and or Folsom were at seat of government along with Missionaries and tribal council those old courthouses may be in that vicinity. General Coffey would be a character belonging to the Civil War. There was a printer by the name of Wheeler before or after Samuel Worchester, I 'm not sure. I think the Butterfield Mail Stagecoach West of the State of Arkansas would start on Wheeler Avenue in Fort Smith, Arkansas.