NAME: Cherokee Town
COUNTY: Garvin
CLIMATE: hotter'n hell in summer; cold as a mother in law's heart in winter
COMMENTS: Nothing remains to mark the location and the last known resident residing in an original structure left in the 1890's. It originally lay along the ridge between the iron bridge 4 miles north of Wynnewood, Ok. and the Washita River to the east.
Cherokee TownIt’s odd for a town located in one Indian nation, to be named for another Indian nation. No one really knows how Cherokee Town, a community, at the site of a rock bottomed river crossing over the Washita River three miles east of Pauls Valley, came to be so named. Oral history explains the name as coming from a band of Cherokee who settled along Cherokee Sandy Creek before the Civil War but doesn’t specify if they were a part of the Texas Cherokee driven out of Texas in 1838-39 or a part of the bunch ‘invited’ to leave Texas in 1855, but the former is the most likely. The earliest description of Cherokee Town comes from Col. Charles DeMorse who, in April, 1862, attended a peace conference between the Confederate government and the Plains Indians at the site. Between 1862 and 1869, various elements of the Osage, Caddo, Shawnee, Delaware, Cherokee, Comanche, and Wichita took refuge at Cherokee Town to avoid the ravages of war in their home territories. After the war, a good part of the Caddo continued to refuge in the Middle Washita between Cherokee Crossing and White Bead Hill. Dr. John Shirley ventured to the community in 1864 to open a trading store and afterwards old timers report seeing as many as 500 Comanche at a time riding into Cherokee Town to trade. As time went on, Dr. Shirley built a ferry at the crossing, and then, in 1870, when Shirley got the contract to blast a government road from Caddo on the MK&T Railroad to Fort Sill the wily Irishman led the road right by his store and over to the crossing where his brother had constructed a bridge. Since government roads from Fort Arbuckle and Fort Sill to Fort Smith forked at Cherokee Town, and a branch of the Shawnee Cattle Trail came by, the village was the most important community in the area for many years. In its zenith, Cherokee Town with a population of about 200, boasted a hotel, store, post office, government warehouse, stage depot, blacksmith, several dwellings and the only all weather river crossing of the Washita River north of Colbert Station. Business in the cross roads community was brisk. From 1871 to 1887, stage, freight, and migrant traffic moved through night and day. The crack of the driver’s whip mingled with the constant lowing of oxen in the twenty yoke teams hauling freight and stage passenger’s groans mixed with the excited yelps of mover’s children and bull whacker’s curses. A post office was established in August, 1874 At times, Cherokee Town was the location where the government beef allotment was parceled out to the Comanche and Kiowa, a task accomplished by simply turning the Indians loose on the herd and standing back while they slaughtered the beef and butchered them on the spot. One old timer complained the constant din at Cherokee Town was sufficient to cause hens to lay flat eggs and pronounced his intention to move to a quieter place--say, Chicago or Kansas City. When Dr. Shirley died in 1875, his widow sold out to Dr. William Walner, an intermarried Choctaw citizen, who turned management of the property over to his son, John. Cherokee Town’s history as a community ended when the railroad by-passed it in 1887. Though some of the buildings continued in use as private homes on location for a few years, most business were hauled south to the new depot of Walner while one or two building were removed to the new depot of Paul’s Valley. Submitted by: Mike Tower