According to Oklahoma Place Names Doaksville was "An important early-day settlement in Choctaw County, adjoining Fort Towson post office operated under the name Doaksville from November 11, 1847 to June 12, 1903. Named for Josiah Doak, prominent early-day resident" (Shirk, 71).
I went looking for Ft. Towson Cemetery. I did not realize that Doaksville was "hiding" right behind it. This is one of the most interesting places that I've visited in Oklahoma, in the couple of years that I've been working on my page. I certainly did not expect to find another archaeological park, filled with ruins of a 19th century Choctaw settlement.
My Daughter, who was the reluctant traveler on my journey that day. Was not pleased to be taken on a quest to run around south eastern Oklahoma. She would have been pleased to be home with her laptop and wifi. But, when we found this cemetery and read the historical marker that you could access this place hidden behind the cemetery only by climbing the wall; she was in for the adventure. She immediately found the way to old Doaksville through the back of the cemetery.
One of the reasons I created this page was as an Oklahoma History teacher I realized that I didn't quite have the awareness of Oklahoma and its places to be comfortable teaching it. The text book I taught out of was just boring and couldn't hold my attention, how could I be expected to be an effective teacher without knowing Oklahoma. So I decided to learn it. I quit teaching, but I'm still learning.
In 1831, according to Angie Debo in The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic, it was estimated that the population of the Choctaw Nation in Mississippi was 19,554 (Debo, 69). Rougly 18,000 emigrated during the trail of tears but the number does not recognize the amount of deaths on the walks. By 1843 the population was estimated to be at 12,000, ion case you were wondering why it was called the "Trail of Tears." (70). Not only did the Choctaws sign the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in which they were ceded all of this land (don't forget the land that they were given were already occupied by other people - the Kiowas- The Comanches- squatters who'd moved in already) - they were almost immediately expected to give up a portion of the land to the closely related tribe of the Chickasaws.
The Choctaws signed the Treaty of Doaksville in 1837, which the Choctaws were paid a half a million dollars to cede half of their recently gained territory to the Chickasaw tribe. Who also suffered horribly during their own forced removal.
I did not know this: "The Choctaw capital was changed back and forth several times from Nainih Waya to Doaksville, Skullyville, Fort Towson, and Boggy Depot" (Debo 76). Doaksville located a mile from Ft. Towson was the largest town in the Choctaw Nation in its early history, by 1832 it had a post office. By 1850 it was the Capitol of the Choctaw Nation.
Doaksville is also written about here: Digital Library at OSU- Doaksville
It seems telling to me that the Government of the State of Oklahoma, chose to build a huge visitors center by the ruins of the old Fort Towson, yet this great addition to our state's tribal history is hidden behind a cemetery wall. In some ways I believe this is better than having it be trampled through. In another sense I feel like tribal history is not told while the military history is glorified.
A few weeks ago I was on a quest, actually it was a totally unplanned quest- but it happened. I was halfway across the state when an appointment got canceled and decided to explore. I decided to go exploring without a map. How on earth did I get in my car and not have an Oklahoma map in it? I had a map of DFW metro area, Arkansas, Kansas and Nebraska, but no Oklahoma map. Which is crazy, afterall this page is "Expedition Oklahoma." Yes, I have maps on my phone but those are only for specific navigational instructions and they often get me turned around in the wrong direction. That is why you have the very brief "Swink" posting- I was going in the opposite direction. It doesn't help that the maps on the iPhone are horrible.
Why did I go to a cemetery? Well this cemetery is of particular importance because it is where my Great-Grandfather Willie Willis is buried in an unmarked grave. It was once marked with Indian Pottery. He died as a young man in 1904, before my Grandfather was born in 1905. He was a full blood Choctaw and we only have one image of him. I look into his face to see something of myself. I wonder what kind of personality he had. We know he liked to play baseball. We know he had family who owned their own general stores. We know he was a very young man when he was struck and killed while expecting a new child who he would never meet. He was born in 1878. He died in Antlers, Indian Territory. His father was Marcus and his Grandfather was "Ste-Me-Liche-Be" according the the data that the family has. They lived in Alikchi. Willie Died August 15, 1904. Sam (my Grandfather) was born January 11, 1905.
This is from a letter my Step-Grandfather wrote to my Mother about the family history: Willie's (pictured above) Mother died in 1882 (when he was four - how heartbreaking), a couple took him and his brother to Paris Texas to raise him. After his father died he came back to take over the store he had owned with his brother. He sold his interest and moved to Ringgold with his wife Gracie. My Mom has compiled copies of all of the historical documents of her Grandfather for me.
I don't know where he is buried in this cemetery. My daughter (who is also named Grace) immediately went to a section of people with the surname of Willis (which seems common in Choctaw country).
I didn't take a lot of time in the cemetery. We did not realize that you could get to the historic ghost town of Doaksville through passing through the back of the cemetery. My daugher was on a quest to find the entrance.
It is the people who are in the unmarked graves who are forgotten, those in the unmarked cemeteries. Whereever we are still laying our dead to rest someone might look them up and remember or say their name.
My thesis is focusing on the ancient Choctaw people. This is actually helping me focus, working on photos within the Choctaw nation. It helps me continue my research while getting my "hobby" of posting on my page out of my system.
These are all dated and difficult to read. But, clearly building a visitors center for Fort Towson is getting a lot of funding. Afterall..military Forts trump towns of the indigenous people who were forced to relocate to this area at the hands of greedy white southerners. Not that those weren't my ancestors too.
I seek out the oldest graves in a cemetery, because it fascinates me to think of what kind of lives these people must have led out west in Indian Territory. Know I can envision the place where Willie was laid to rest.
How this post happened. Late last night I was reading a journal article for a class and there was mention of a cemetery in my county which had fallen victim to looting of Native American graves, so I called my sister to ask her about it. She runs a county Genealogy page and spends alot of time documenting cemeteries and obituaries. So I ran across a cemetery near where I live and my husband lived near it as a child, so he took me out to it. It is an old abandoned cemetery pretty much.
A hundred years ago this was a well maintained cemetery, I imagine. A hundred and ten years ago people were being laid to rest here. Many of the graves date from the 1890s and first decade of the 1900s. They are forgotten, they may be your ancestors.
I tripped while walking over to try to get a photo of the engraving. After I read that it was a 17 year old who was put to rest in this spot, I imagined I may have been tripped. It must be nice to get visitors when you've been abandoned. Even if the spirits are not here, I would think the idea that occasionally some stranger wonders through and utters your name, which has not passed anyones lips in many decades is a nice idea.
This is a better view of this grave. Cemeteries such as this aren't "spooky" or "Scary" to me, they do make me wish they were cared for, because as a human being the idea of abandoned loved ones is sad.
Hugo has been on my list of places to visit for a long time now. Why? Because I'd heard of Mt. Olivet Cemetery and it's unique monuments which are placed in recognition of the larger than life personalities who were laid to rest here. This cemetery is "the circus cemetery." It features the resting places of "The Showman's Rest" - the area of the cemetery filled with circus performers who have passed away.
These graceful elephants mark the portion of the cemetery dedicated to the performers. Hugo, which gained its name from Victor Hugo; is known as Circus City, USA and was (is) the winter home for the Carson and Barnes Circus and the Kelly-Miller Circus.
What struck me is the artistry on the stones; perhaps homage should be paid to the craftsman who created such unique tributes to those who have passed on to the other world.
Here is another posting I found about this cemetery for you to read: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/10433
Another short posting on Mt Olivet http://www.examiner.com/article/mt-olivet-cemetery-hugo-is-final-resting-place-for-many-circus-performers
Some more information on Lane Frost The Challenge of Champions: The Story of Lane Frost & Red Rock
I enjoy (probably more than most events) going to the rodeo to watch the bull riders and the adventure and action of the rodeo. It's adrenalin and excitement, but to watch the tributes to this Man who lost his life doing what he loved is moving. We go to watch, but we don't want to see this tragedy happen in front of us. http://www.lanefrost.com/8seconds.htm Here is the official Lane Frost website and what it says about the movie 8 Seconds, which has documentary elements but is also fictionalized to some degree.
This made me think of the video for one of my favorite songs...
This is a very interesting place to visit, dedicated to individuals who lived to entertain.
My Great-Great Grandfather Harrington is buried in a small cemetery outside of Oolagah Oklahoma. Oolagah is located north of Tulsa and is also the hometown of Will Rogers, if he were alive today I bet there wouldn't be a website he wouldn't like (well, perhaps not).
"When you're through learning, you're through." ~Will Rogers, and with that quote I will transition into a couple of cemetery photos from Wann Cemetery where my Harrington Ancestors are buried. I never knew any of my Harrington ancestors, so I did get to see where they are resting.
Sometimes I'm drawn to stop and photograph the graves at cemeteries. I stopped at this little cemetery on my way home from a photo shoot in Sulphur on Tuesday and I pulled into this little cemetery outside of Hennipen Oklahoma. Here is a link to the 5 Mile Cemetery
This cemetery is near Hennipen Oklahoma, here is a little history. http://www.okgenweb.org/~okgarvin/miketower/hennepinhistory.html , the area has been settled since the 1850s. This is really interesting. I'm trying to read more of the local history of the area.
General History of Garvin County: http://www.okgenweb.org/~okgarvin/garvin.htm
One more shot of this field, this one is from the Cemetery
And again I stopped, this time the giant orb of the sun was setting in a beautiful array of colors and I couldn't find a field or clearing for the trees. I sidetracked down a county road in hopes for a field, but no luck. The sun set without its image being burned onto my memory card. This was the best I could do.
Sunday my Mom and I went and visited the "Old Cruce Cemetery." Walking back through a pasture onto private property into a grove of trees. Cruce is located in Stephens county and had a Post Office from June 13, 1910 to Augut 15, 1932. No buildings are around for this settlement. The lay of the land and groves of trees suggest that there were once more houses in the area.
Walking past the gate into a pasture back to where I knew there was a cemetery only because my Mom had told me about it. I knew it was there she has told me about it for a few years now..I wondered where it was. What kind of place could it be where people at one time laid their loved ones to rest has now become forgotten and overgrown.
Do you see the cemetery? Its there.... I couldn't see it either, were it not for my Mom who had been there I would have walked right by it. Sad isn't it? 100 years ago people were placing their loved ones to rest here.
Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me.
The Carriage held but just ourselves
I enjoy great works of literature written by authors who have long since met the fate that we all will meet someday. In literature you find the emotion and the heartache of those who once lived. The same emotion that you find in our own hearts and souls. So when you look at these graves just think about the person lying beneath. The person who left this earth nearly 100 years ago, leaving behind all those dreams and ambitions for the future. Their future was different, but I imagine their emotions were the same. I wonder if they thought that someday this little cemetery would be buried in brambles and brush, while the perennial flowers still peek above the ground showing us that at one time people wanted to make this place of rest beautiful.
Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life. ~John Muir
Everyone is at rest perhaps more peacefully at this cemetery. Where the coyote ran from us as we approached and the raccoon scampered away, unused to people being out here in the daytime (or they were rabid). But they left quickly upon our approach.
as we left the cemetery on the long walk back to the car, I spent some time photographing the flowers on this warm May day. I imagine we don't ever think that the places that we lay our loved ones to rest will be overgrown and forgotten, but sooner or later everyone will just become a forgotten memory, or a story in a book.
I'm listening to "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" by Oklahoma's Toby Keith. When I heard the news about Osama Bin Laden's death, I was struck not by the mass jubilation I was seeing on my social networking websites. I felt lump in my throat and the tears welling in my eyes, as I thought about this grave that I saw at Ft. Sill National Cemetery. This man, not two years younger than myself. This Soldier who lost his life in battle barely a month ago. The still red roses resting next to the grave stood out to me. All evening I was torn between the excitement that the mastermind of the evil attacks on the United States had finally been brought to justice and a profound sadness for the many men who lost their lives. Since September 11, 2001 there have been over 50,000 casualties and over 5,000 deaths in this war. These men and women who make the decision to be a part of our Nation's Military are courageous, they are heroes because they sign up of their own free will.
The roses that sit at the side of the grave of this American Soldier who gave his life for the United States in Afghanistan. These are the ones who get the credit, these are the heroes, our soldiers who were not drafted, not conscripted. These are the ones who gave all on their own free will. These are the people that come in and help clean up from natural disasters. These are the ones that come in when we are afraid, when we aren't courageous or brave. They get the credit, not the politicians who are quick to rush in and take the credit, not the political leaders who made the call, these are the "boots on the ground" who did the work. I think if we sit back and think of that day on September 11, 2001, we will remember why we had this mission overseas. We, as a nation could not sit back and allow it.
So, you can believe what you like about politicians, politics and the war. You can cry out for political correctness and respect for an enemy who live in a society where women are second class citizens. These women who reside in nations where women are stoned to death for adultery. Where veils cover the faces of their second class citizens. I choose to embrace my freedom. I choose to have pride in my nation and the idealism that it supports. I have deep respect for these men and women who have signed up to fight for this nation. No, I do not agree with all Governmental policies, I am a pacifist, I'm not someone who cries out for war or foreign intervention. But, I stood at that grave on Friday and I watched the news on Sunday and I cried for this soldier who gave his life in Afghanistan, who did not get to live to see this day that he was waiting for.
Friday morning we drove through Elgin on the way to Medicine Park and stopped at the Fort Sill National Cemetery. This Cemetery has was dedicated in 2001. Below are some of the images that I shot while there.
I was amazed at the symmetry of the cemetery. Something striking about how no matter which way you looked the lines were straight. I never imagined that a national cemetery would be beautiful with all the headstones the same, but it is.
The real differences around the world today are not between Jews and Arabs; Protestants and Catholics; Muslims, Croats, and Serbs. The real differences are between those who embrace peace and those who would destroy it; between those who look to the future and those who cling to the past; between those who open their arms and those who are determined to clench their fists. ~William J. Clinton, 1997