Local History

Historical Tidbits About Muskogee

(or things they never taught you in school)

Slavery, Freedmen, and the Trail of Tears

  • The Five Tribes (Native American) were forcibly relocated from the Southeastern United States to Oklahoma in the 1830s and 1840s. The “Trail of Tears” march ended in Indian Territory at the Dawes Commission in what is now Muskogee.
  • The Five Tribes also had African slaves who made the difficult journey with their owners.
  • By 1861, eight to ten thousand slaves had traveled with the Five Tribes to Oklahoma
  • In 1862 the federal government issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all of the African slaves in the United States. In 1863, first the Cherokees, and later, the other tribes also emancipated their African slaves giving each one full rights as citizens of that sovereign nation.
  • African slaves who were freed by their tribes are referred to as “freedmen” and “freedwomen.”

The Lone Ranger

Although it cannot be proven, it is likely that the popular radio program of the 1930s, and the later television show of the 1950s was based upon the true stories of an African-American lawman, the first black US Marshall, Bass Reeves. When the television show was planned, Hollywood couldn’t deal with the idea of a black protagonist, so the TV character was white.

In 2023, an eight-episode television series was released titled, “Lawman: Bass Reeves” featuring David Oyelowo playing Reeves. Sometimes referred to as the “baddest lawman of the old west,” Reeves operated between Texas, Ft. Smith Arkansas, and Muskogee Oklahoma.

Locals in Muskogee have told this writer that Reeves is buried in an unmarked grave at the St. Peter’s Chapel (AME church) cemetery a half mile from the winery on Fern Mountain Road. He had enough enemies in life that a marked grave would have been desecrated.

Port Muskogee

The McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System is one of the most inland, ice-free seaports in the United States. A significant part of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product travels up and down the waterway. Designed to mitigate flooding, the expanded acreage of lakes and rivers on the waterway has increased average rainfall in eastern Oklahoma. Instead of a 1930s “Dust Bowl,” Muskogee and neighboring counties are now called “Green Country.”

Agricultural Economics

Muskogee County raises wheat, soybeans, cotton and cows.

Pecan Creek Winery has planted about 10 acres of commercial winegrapes.

If you have land, and you are considering what to do with it, consider the following figures:

Cropyield per acreprice$/acre
Wheat28 bushels $            5.44 $              152.32
Soybeans28 bushels $          13.82 $              386.96
Cotton800 pounds $            1.00 $              800.00
Cattle1 cow $    1,700.00 $           1,700.00
Winegrapes2-4 tons $2,000/ton$4,000 to $8,000