Checoth, McIntosh County, Oklahoma Churches, Banks and Schools



     As Checotah began to assume the appearance of a real town it turned its attention to the building of churches and schools. The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was the first to organize a church. In 1889 Rev. James A. Trickey started the first church of that denomination in a little schoolhouse. After remaining two years, he was succeeded by Rev. W. M. Baldwin, who had the misfortune of seeing the little church house, which he had just completed, carried away by a wind storm. This misfortune did not seem to dishearten the parishioners, however, for they soon got busy and erected a better and more commodious building.
    The Christian denomination was the next to organize a church. Rev. J. W. Towry came to Checotah in 1896 and at the close of a series of meetings, gathered a little flock of converts together and established the Christian Church. The little congregation grew and prospered and within three years had erected and paid for a substantial church building.
     The Baptist denomination soon afterward determined to organize a church. Rev. D. S. Cromer, a Baptist minister visited Checotah in 1898 and found five members of his denomination in the village. The use of the Christian Church was kindly tendered to him temporarily. Two years later Rev. Charles S. Leonard was called as pastor of this church, and with a membership of twenty-five, encouraged by his energy and earnestness, another very creditable church building was soon erected.
     Later on the Presbyterians, Episcopalians and other denominations organized churches, and it may be well said that the religious welfare of the inhabitants of Checotah and vicinity has not been neglected.


     Checotah, like every other Indian Territory town which was established prior to 1898, was hindered and delayed in the matter of organizing a good school system, but a school was started as soon as the town began to grow and for several years was maintained by subscription or voluntary taxation. Soon after Congress passed the law permitting towns to tax themselves for public purposes, a school district was organized, good teachers secured, modern buildings erected, and today Checotah has a first class school system, with an accredited high school.
     As soon as Checotah began to contemplate the building of a real town, a wide awake commercial club was organized for the purpose of promoting the town's interests, with J. B. Morrow as president, K. W. Whitmore as secretary and R. B. Hutchinson as treasurer.
     Among the pioneers of Checotah, the name, of Mr. R. Y. Audd is worthy of mention. He came to this neighborhood from Kentucky about forty years ago, and taught school for a while at the old Asbury Mission School. He married a niece of the noted Cherokee chief, John Ross, and became so fascinated with the agricultural possibilities of this section of the country that he began to develop a farm near Checotah. He moved into Checotah soon after the town started, but continued his farming operations. He became interested in fruit culture and was soon the proprietor of the largest peach orchard in this part of the country. He built several houses in Checotah and in other ways demonstrated his interest in the growth of the town.
Mr. H. D. Knisely was the first druggist to locate in Checotah. From a small beginning his business gradually increased, until he became recognized as one of the leading druggists of the Indian Territory.


     The First National Bank of Checotah was its first substantial financial institution. It was organized in 1898, Mr. J. S. Todd being its first president and R. D. Martin, cashier. This bank has paid its stockholders good dividends from the date of its organization, and its officers have been closely identified with the growth of the city.
    William E. Gentry has, perhaps, done as much for Checotah as any other man. He is a Creek by birth and had possession of a fine body of land in this vicinity prior to the individual allotment of lauds. His cattle ranch, for many years, was one of the prominent institutions of the neighborhood. He interested himself in various ways in the development of the town and from its beginning, has been recognized as one of Checotah's most useful citizens.

McIntosh County

Source: Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma, 1922

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