Muskogee County, Oklahoma History

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley

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What is now Muskogee County received its first public mention in 1805 when then President Thomas Jefferson addressed Congress seconding the recommendation of Meriwether Lewis that a trading post be established in this locality. French fur traders had trafficked in the area for some time and Joseph Bogy is reputed to have established a trading post in the Three Forks area in 1806, but the first real settlement was established in 1817 at Three Forks on the south bank of the Verdigris River at the lower falls opposite the town of Coretta (now called Okay). 
Three Forks was so named because it was the junction of  the Arkansas, Verdigris and Grand rivers. This property was acquired in 1819 by Bozier and Pryor, who had accompanied Lewis and Clark on their expedition. Colonel August Pierre Chouteau acquired it in 1825, establishing an Osage Agency and in 1829, approximately 1,200 Creeks were located nearby, but when it was found that they were occupying property of the Cherokee Nation, they removed west into the Choska Bottoms.
See Three Rivers Museum 


Muskogee, Indian Territory

Prior to the statehood of Oklahoma in 1907, what is now Muskogee County was part of the Creek and Cherokee Nations. The Muskogee County Clerk has some indexes, such as a general index to mortgages and liens, day books (chronological listing of all instruments filed, such as deeds and mortgages), that date from about 1901. It also has separate indexes to Cherokee and Creek allotment and homestead deeds that date from ca 1901 to 1912. 
Genealogical records for some ancestors who lived in this area before 1907 may be found in records of the Five Civilized Tribes Agency at Muskogee, the Oklahoma Historical Society in Oklahoma City and the federal archives in Fort Worth, Texas. Some of these records have been microfilmed and some can be found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  The Muskogee Public Library has a fine collection of local history and genealogical material pertaining to the area and its residents.
In 1889 a federal court was established at the city of Muskogee. These records are held partly in the National Archives in Fort Worth and at Oklahoma Historical Society. The 26 recording districts of the federal court accepted land records, marriages and other legal proceedings. It was not until 1898 that a non-citizen of Indian Territory, generally a white person, could legally own land in this area. It was at time that town sites were laid out and sold. Upon statehood, most of these land records were retained by the local county governments. Early court records for what is now Muskogee County will be found at Muskogee County Courthouse, Oklahoma Historical Society or the National Archives in Fort Worth. The U.S. federal court, which once included most of Indian Territory, later was divided into four districts and 26 substations with the Central District, established in 1895, covering the area of the Creek and Seminole Nations and Muskogee was its court seat.

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