Doaksville: Historic Ruin
Along the a stone fence in the northeastern side of the cemetery in Fort Towson (Choctaw County, Oklahoma) stands a strange set of
stairs. You go up the steps, then down them, and then you find yourself on a well-worn path that leads into the woods. And as you walk
along the path, you walk right into historic territory.

The town of Doaksville - now an archaeological site - lies at the end of the trail. The few stone ruins of a cellar, hotel, tavern, and jail belie
how busy this town once was, as during the 19th century, it was the main trading center in the early years of the Choctaw Nation after its
rebirth in Indian Territory.

Josiah Doak, a white trader from Mississippi, was considered a trustworthy ally of the Choctaws. It was at his store in the Choctaws'
original homelands that the Treaty of Doak's Stand in 1820 was signed, which negotiated the first wave of
Choctaw removal into Indian
Territory. Josiah and his brother moved to the new territory to set up shop and distribute the rations procured during negotiations
between the Choctaws, people from
southwestern Arkansas, and the U.S. government. Thus, when the first Choctaws arrived at nearby
Fort Towson in 1824, they found a safe and good place to settle.
Doaksville was not the first settlement that the Choctaws encountered as they entered Indian Territory, but compared to Eagletown, it was
well situated and much safer, as white settlers did not view the new town as a threat to their existence. Doaksville sat near the Kiamichi
River along Gates Creek, just a few miles north of its confluence with the Red River. This gave the town the ability to receive paddle
wheel traffic and shipments without worrying about the unpredictable Red River floods. It was also just a day's ride from the
Wheelock
Academy, the Choctaw Nation's first school in its new homelands; Armstrong Academy, the Nation's premier educational facility; and
Jonesborough, a large river port and ferry crossing into Texas. Fairly quickly, Doaksville became a trading center not just for the
Choctaws, but for Texans, Shawnees, Caddos, and other people who lived along the Red River in the ante-bellum period. From 1850 to
1863, it even served as a the seat of the Choctaw Nation until the papers were moved to Armstrong Academy.

After the Civil War, Doaksville kept on trucking until the fateful decision of the San Francisco and St. Louis Railway (Frisco), which placed
its tracks a few miles to the south of the town site as it built its line in the early years of the 20th century.
Doaksville was one happening town in the 1850s (University of Oklahoma).
Doaksville after the Civil War (Oklahoma Historical Society).
Doaksville-ians began to leave the town to set up shop along the tracks in the newly formed town of Fort Towson (named, of course, for
the historic fort). By and by, the old town diminished until nothing was left but ruins, which then sediment and random trees covered up.

The town site, though abandoned, remained not just in the hearts, but in the minds of Oklahomans as well: it was acquired by the
Oklahoma Historical Society in 1960. In the 1990s, the historical society - along with the University of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma
Anthropological Society field schools - began excavating the old town. They painstakingly uncovered the locations of several structures
that had rested on solid limestone foundations, including the old jail, hotel, and tavern. Above ground cisterns helped to pinpoint where
they should dig, and what appeared was a good outline of what the town once featured.

Though many of the structures were simple clapboard constructions that left few traces, Doaksville's status as an archaeological site has
made this former town a wonderful place to explore. The Oklahoma Historical Society has placed several interpretive signs all around the
paths to guide the visitor and explain what they're seeing. Nearby, another archaeological site -
the Wreck on the Red River - further
places historic Doaksville into context.  
The excavated fireplace (one of two) of Doaksville's former, two-story hotel, lies among overgrowth and dirt paths.
Near this cistern, the last Confederate General, Stand Waite (Cherokee) surrendered in 1865.
The remains of Doaksville's jail hint that the town needed more than just one cell.
This 1898 map of Indian Territory from the Library of Congress still shows Doaksville as a viable town.
It still retained a post office until 1903, when the railroad bypassed it.
The entrance to Doaksville is located where you see the red circle. Of course, in real life, that circle won't be there, so here are the directions:
From Fort Townson (Choctaw County, Oklahoma), go north to the cemetery on Red Road. Drive through the cemetery to the northeastern side of
the stone wall and find the stairs that will lead you to Doaksville. To find out where exactly Fort Towson is, click on this link:
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com