In December 2012, Real Estate and Leasing Services of the Division of Capital Assets Management published a real property inventory report that captured the rich and diverse asset history of the State of Oklahoma through self-reporting by the agencies, boards, commissions and public trusts having the state as a beneficiary. The report revealed Fort Towson in Choctaw County to have the earliest constructed state-owned buildings recorded.
Fort Towson was established in 1824 in response to a need to quell conflicts between lawless elements, Native American peoples and settlers claiming the area as part of Arkansas Territory. The fort also served as an outpost on the border between the United States and Texas, which at that time was part of Mexico.
Connected to the East by road, Fort Towson served as a gateway for settlers bound for Texas during the 1830s. Those passing through the area included Sam Houston, Davy Crockett and Stephen F. Austin. When the Choctaw and Chickasaw peoples were displaced from their lands in the Southeastern United States, the fort served as a point of dispersal upon their arrival in the west. The fort was also an important staging area for U.S. forces during the Mexican War of 1846.
Fort Towson was abandoned in 1856 when the frontier moved west. During the Civil War, however, it served for a time as headquarters for Confederate forces operating in Indian Territory. In 1865 General Stand Watie surrendered his command near the fort to become the last Confederate general to lay down arms. (Oklahoma Historical Society – (www.okhistory.org)
Fort Towson was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in July 1970. The site is administered by the Oklahoma Historical Society and admission is free to the public.
All photos courtesy John Davis, Fort Towson Historic Site.