In my continuing attempt to visit all of the all-African American towns which remain in Oklahoma, very early this morning I headed for Tullahassee, via country roads and not the Muskogee Turnpike, which is quicker but not as much fun. I left at sunrise so I could be home in time to tackle my to-do list for today, which is long. Once the blazing sun rose above my windshield and my vision improved, it was the perfect time to travel.
Although there is virtually nothing left of Tullahassee, it's history is one of the most interesting of the all-Black towns. For one thing, it's the oldest of the remaining ones. I hesitate to acknowledge that it's actually "remaining", although there are a few houses there that appear to be occupied. Once again, there is no sign of commerce in the town. The census recorded 106 citizens in 2000. I daresay there are considerably fewer now.
Larry O'Dell of the Oklahoma Historical Society wrote this about the town:
Tullahassee is considered the oldest of the surviving All-Black towns of Indian Territory. Located in Wagoner County five miles northwest of Muskogee, Tullahassee is one of more than fifty All-Black towns of Oklahoma and one of thirteen still existing. The roots of the community were planted in 1850 when the Creek Nation built a school along the ruts of the Texas Road. Near the school, the population of Creek freedmen increased while the population of Creeks declined. The council transferred the American Indian students to another school and gave Tullahassee to the freedmen on October 24, 1881. The town was incorporated in 1902 and platted in 1907. The post office was established in 1899, with a Professor Willis serving as the first postmaster. The Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railway line ran through the town, helping to attract settlers. Community growth was aided by the Tullahassee Town Site Company, which solicited residents throughout the South. A. J. Mason served as president and L. C. Hardridge as secretary.The only original building left in Tullahassee is one which was owned by the A.J. Mason Co. and which has been saved as a landmark on the National Historic Register. It was a general store built by the Mason brothers. They owned a cotton gin in the region and extensive farm land as well.
The AME church also established Flipper Davis College in the town in 1916, the only private institution for African American students in the state, but that's long gone. Also sadly no longer standing is the building occupied by the Tullahassee Manual Labor School. What a lovely campus building it was.
P.S. While reading the Tulsa newspaper at breakfast, I saw results of a poll of 500 Oklahomans of voting age. The question was "Would you say you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Woody Guthrie?" 41% either had never heard of Woody Guthrie or had no opinion of him. WHAT????? This is unbelievable! Woody Guthrie was one of our state's most well-known citizens! Of those who did have an opinion, 52% had a favorable opinion and 7% had an unfavorable opinion. But, I'm in shock about how many Oklahomans don't know Woody!