Mayes County, Oklahoma

     Mayes County, Oklahoma, located in the northeastern part of the state, was named in honor of Ex-chief Samuel Houston Mayes, who is now living in Pryor. All of the land comprising Mayes County was formerly a part of the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, with the exception of one township on the south, being a part of the Creek Nation. Mayes County enjoys a citizenship second to none in the state, for the reason that the Cherokee Nation played such an important part in the history making of Oklahoma, and that part of the Cherokee Nation that is now Mayes County furnished a liberal share of the history making of the Cherokee Nation.

History

     From the time that Columbus discovered America, in 1492, up to the year 1541-2 or about fifty years after the discovery of America, the Territory comprising Mayes County had very little if any mention historically, probably the first white people to lay foot on Mayes County soil was in 1541 when De Soto the Spanish explorer and his expedition passed through what was then the Province of Mayes County to be. Other Spanish explorers and French explorers, explored this part of the country the following century and a half, the Spanish explorers seeking gold and the French a fur trade. The Bernard De La Harpe expedition of 1721 is probably responsible for so many of the streams and some of the towns having French names.
     In 1802 before. Napoleon Bonaparte compelled the Kingdom of Spain to return the Province of Louisiana to France (and before the Thomas Jefferson administration acquired the Province in 1804) the first white settlement was made in the Province of Louisiana which comprises Oklahoma. This was a trade post which was established by the Chouteau brothers (Frenchmen) of St. Louis. It was located on the east bank of Grand River in what is now Mayes County upon the site of the present Town of Salina.
     In 1820 the first mission in Oklahoma for the purpose of educating the Indians and converting them to the Christian religion was established near the mouth of Chouteau Creek which is in Mayes County. This was some eighteen years before the Cherokee were transferred to this part of the country. At that time the principal inhabitants were the Osage Indians.
     Grand Saline (or what is now known as the old Saltwells), is located in Mayes County and is only one of the many historical spots of the county. Here is where salt was manufactured and sold to the Indians at fifty cents a bushel. Ox teams came from hundreds of miles and salt was hauled away by the wagon loads. The huge salt kettles used, came from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and were transported down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and up the Arkansas and Grand rivers to a ford near where the Salina bridge, east of Pryor, is now located.
     The country now comprising Mayes County furnished no less than four Chiefs for the Cherokee and many of the Councilmen and Senators.

Agriculture

     A ride over the county will reveal to the observer the same reliable crops of corn, wheat, oats, hay, cotton, alfalfa and potatoes thriving here much the same as in older grain and livestock states. The visitor will see the- rolling prairies, the rich creek and river bottoms and the timbered uplands. If it be the late summer or autumn, he will see wheat or oats stacked or straw piles in every direction. He will pass loaded wagons hauling the grain from steam thresher to elevator. Other teams are hauling baled hay, of which thousands of tons are shipped each year. He may be surprised to learn that wheat makes from ten to forty bushels; oats thirty to eighty bushels; corn twenty to seventy bushels, per acre ; alfalfa from three to five cuttings a season. He will pass fields of cowpeas, kafir, milo, feterita, peanuts, and other crops that may be new to him. An occasional field of cotton will be seen. Mayes County is on the northern limit of the cotton belt, and a few thousand acres of this valuable crop are grown here.
     Our visitor will learn that the winters are so mild and open that plows run every month, that oats are seeded in February, corn is planted in March, wheat is harvested in the first half of June, potatoes are maturing by June 10th, and a second crop can be grown from the culls of the first. Pastures. are green nine months of the year and stock feeds on the tall prairie grass throughout the winters.

From United States Department of Agriculture

     The following statements about Eastern Oklahoma are quoted from the United States Department of Agriculture, Weather Bureau, Section forty. Mayes County is a part of this section. "Nowhere else can be found more nutritious grasses and abundant water, and Eastern Oklahoma ranks high in the production of live stock. Eastern Oklahoma is agreeable for residence and exceptionally favorable for agricultural pursuits, so far as its climatic features are concerned. The harvesting of corn and cotton extends well into the winter months, and the soil is prepared in January, February and March for spring planting, with but little interruption on account of inclement weather. Stock needs little or no protection and the farmer may pursue his vocation throughout practically the entire year. The summers are long, with occasional periods of very high day temperatures ; abnormally high temperatures are almost invariably coincident with a dry atmosphere so that the heat is rarely oppressive. The nights are usually agreeably cool during the entire summer. Eastern Oklahoma is a distinctly agricultural country. The entire section is well watered; the rainfall is well distributed through the growing season and is ample for growing and maturing any of the staple crops ; the annual average is between forty and forty-five inches in the southern and eastern counties. Three-fourths of the annual precipitation occurs during the growing season, March 1, to October 31.
     The rains are general and abundant during the spring and early summer. Damaging floods occasionally occur in May and the early part of June, but seldom at other seasons of the year. July and August rains are local; showers and thunder storms usually occur at opportune intervals during these months and are ample for maturing staple crops. Good rains set in again in September and October, putting the soil in good condition for seeding and germinating wheat."
     The above quotations are a concise, authoritative statement about climate and rainfall in the section of which Mayes County is a part.

Source: Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma, 1922

 

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