African Towns and Settlements
of Indian and Oklahoma Territories
AFRICAN AMERICAN GHOST TOWNS
AFRICAN TOWNS TODAY
ARCADIA---Established in 1890, this town is the most recently incorporated of the historically black towns. It was incorporated in 1987--almost 1900 years after the post office was established in the town.
BOLEY---Located in the western part of Okfuskee County this historically black town was established in 1903. The town of Boley is also the site of the noted attempted bank robbery that was foiled when Black townsmen prevented the Pretty Boy Floyd gang from robbing the town's only bank. Now a much smaller town of about 750 residents, this was the at one time most vibrant black towns in all of Indian Territory. In addition each year the town hosts one of the most famous events of the state-----the Boley Black Rodeo. Horsemen from throughout the region participate in this annual event each year during Memorial Day weekend. Many of the structures are on the National Register of Historic Places. During the early 1900?s Boley was considered to be the largest black town in the United States. During the days when Boley was at its peak more than 4000 blacks lived in the town. Several restaurants, hotels and businesses were a part of this city's legacy.
LANGSTON---This city was named for the noted educator and abolitionist John Mercer Langston. It was founded in 1891, and is home to Langston University the farthest west of the Historically Black Colleges & Universities. The town was founded during the heart of the campaign to establish and all black state initiated by Edwin P. McCabe from Kansas.
RED BIRD--- In the Creek Nation, this town lies only a few miles from Coweta Oklahoma. it was officially established in 1902 though it existed as a settlement before that time. It was always a rural community and was home to many Creek Freedmen as well as State Blacks who relocated to the Twin Territories in the late 19th century. Red Bird served as a market center for many rural black farmers, providing a market exchange for the black farmers of the region. The population of the town peaked out at about 400 in the 1920’s.
RENTIESVILLE---Now only a bed-room community, this town hosts the often tri-annual reenactment of the famous Battle of Honey Springs. In the heart of the Creek Nation and only a few miles south of Muskogee this town lies on the banks of Elk Creek. The Civil War battle was won, interestingly by black soldiers many from the Creek Nation, who had served in two units------the 1st Kansas Colored and the Indian Home Guards. The well written about Texas Road runs right through the heart of Rentiesville.
TAFT---Originally known as Twine, I.T. this Creek Nation black town was established in 1903. Like neighboring Red Bird, it was a market for rural farmers mostly black. Many Creek Freedmen lived in or near Taft. The city council still exists today and is one of the few black towns remaining that has a town council still in operation. The town of Taft is now home to the Creek Freedmen Shrine and African American landmark built by Napoleon Davis a memorial to the history of the 5000 Africans who lived in the Creek Nation.
TULLAHASSEE---The history of this town pre-dates Oklahoma statehood by 57 years. Established as a mission for the Creeks in 1850, Tullahassee became the site of the famous Creek Academy--the Tullahassee Mission School. It later was abandoned by the Creek Indians who left it as a school for their former African slaves. The Tullahassee Mission school then became a boarding school for the next two decades for Creek and Seminole Freedmen, under the leadership of Fisk and Hampton trained teachers and under the financial leadership of Sugar T. George, African Town King and leader from North Fork.
VERNON---The town of Vernon was founded by Edwin P. McCabe the Kansas auditor who launched the all black town movement. It was established in 1895, and still exists today.
WEWOKA---Established by African Seminole leader John Horse, in the 1840?s this particular town is now mostly white, though a sizable black community still survives in this area. The town is the county seat of Seminole County. Founder John Horse left Indian Territory in 1848 taking several hundred Africans with him to northern Mexico, attempting to escape raids from the Creek Nation, and efforts to force them back into slavery. The town had notable African Seminoles among its residents at one time---Negro Abraham, Caesar Bruner, Dorsar Barkus, Cudjoe and others. ( The Seminole nation today now has two African bands both led by African American women tribal leaders.)