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Fort Arbuckle in the Mountains

Chimney remain at the former site of Fort Arbuckle, 1851-1870, in Garvin County, Oklahoma. Photograph was taken by John Littleton in 1953. Oklahoma Historical Society.

A photographic progression of Fort Arbuckle's (Garvin County, Oklahoma) deterioration shows graphically how important preservation efforts are.

The photo of an intact barrack was taken by Grant Foreman, Oklahoma's lead historian, in 1930. I'm not sure if the second photo is of the same building, but the photographer, John Littleton, demonstrated in 1953 that all that was left of this very important fort were the chimneys. Lastly, the Oklahoma Historical Society documented what was left of a chimney at the fort's site in 1979. (All photos stem from the Oklahoma Historical Society's archive).

Fort Arbuckle's last site was founded by Randolph B. Marcy in 1851 as a Chickasaw Nation garrison. It was ideally situated on a hill at the foot of the Arbuckle mountains, bordered by two creeks, Wildhorse and the aptly-named Garrison creek. The installation is a definitive part of Oklahoma history, as Marcy's establishment of the "Indian Meridian" (98th) became the "initial point" for all of the surveys in Indian Territory. A newspaper article explained that in Oklahoma, "all land titles read east or west of the Indian Meridian."

The fort initially opened closer to today's Paul's Valley, but was removed to a new location further west as the "frontier moved west, too. It closed in 1870 when Fort Sill began guarding the "frontier" instead.

Photo of a barrack at Fort Arbuckle (Garvin County, OK) by Grant Foreman, 1930. Oklahoma Historical Society.
Remains of a chimney base at the abandoned site of Fort Arbuckle, Garvin County, Oklahoma, in 1979. Photographer is not known, but the photo seems to have been taken for documentation by the Oklahoma Historical Society.
A German map from 1872 shows Fort Arbuckle in its relocated site. There are lso a number of of Shawnee Towns, small settlements comprised mostly of Shawnees from Ohio, who were pushed out of their homelands after the War of 1812 and in subsequent years. You can also see Kickapoo Town, the Seminole Agency, and even Jesse Chisholm's ranch. One spot on this map leaves me puzzled. Just to the west of Fort Arbuckle is Cramp's Settlement and a dot labeled "Mrs. Wilkins." Was this a store? A farm? A restaurant? A brothel? I've done a cursory search and have not found anything about this mysterious woman who has been immortalized in a German atlas.

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