Discover Oklahoma: Fort Towson vicinity boasts rich history

BY MAX NICHOLS Published: September 27, 2009
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The Trail of Tears in 1839, Civil War battles of the 1860s, land runs of 1889 and the 1890s, and statehood in 1907 come to mind quickly when Oklahoma’s history is being considered, but before all those events came one of Oklahoma’s first entrepreneurs.

His name was Josiah Doaks, and he established a trading post in 1821 near the Red River, about six miles east of what is now Hugo in Choctaw County. Doaksville began to grow with the establishment of Fort Towson six miles away in 1824. The fort was rebuilt in 1831, when the Choctaw people were being moved from southeastern states to Indian Territory. Doaksville acquired a post office in 1831.

With the signing of the Treaties of Dancing Rabbit Creek and Doaks Stand, Doaksville became the largest Indian Territory town in 1850 when it became the capitol and political center of the Choctaw Nation as well the commercial center.

Steamboats brought goods up the Red River in exchange for cotton from nearby plantations. Doaksville merchants displayed English blankets to French silks, German hose, Swiss silk umbrellas, books and stationery. They also advertised groceries, hats, saddles, tin, cough drops, syrups and medicine in the Choctaw Intelligencer newspaper. At its height during the 1840s and 1850s, Doaksville boasted more than 30 buildings, including stores, a jail, a school, a hotel and two newspapers.

This peak commercial era of Doaksville will be featured during candlelight tours starting at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 2-3. The walking tours will be organized by John Davis of the Oklahoma Historical Society’s Fort Towson staff, which operates the Doaksville and Fort Towson sites. Reservations for the tours are available at (580) 873-2634.

"Re-enactors will present scenes from the 1840s-50s commercial era at the interpreted archeological site of what was once Doaksville,” said Bob Blackburn, director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. "This will be a special opportunity for visitors to see this remarkable site, which was developed by Historical Society archeological investigations from 1995-97. These investigations revealed limestone foundations of numerous structures and more than 100,000 artifacts.”

The commerce of Doaksville started growing with the establishment of roads to supply Fort Towson, said a Historical Society report. Know It: Travel


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