Tulsa History

Native Americans (1836-1907)

The first significant settlements in Tulsa and the surrounding area were made by the Creek and Cherokee Tribes in 1836. The Creeks and Cherokees, along with the Seminoles, Choctaws and Chickasaws (known collectively as the Five Civilized Tribes) were forced to migrate west during the Indian removal of the 1830s. The Creeks, who settled the area in and around Tulsa, were part of the Lochapokas Band of the Creek Indian Tribe, who had made their home in Alabama prior to the Indian removal.

The boundaries of Tulsa included the northern border of Creek Tribal Land and the southern border of Cherokee Tribal Land. Immediately adjacent on Tulsa’s western boundary was Osage Tribal Land. Originally, Tulsa was to be located one-and-one-half miles from its current downtown area in Cherokee Tribal Lands. It was moved when whites settling Tulsa determined that Creek law was more liberal than Cherokee law in allowing non-Indians into the tribal community. Prior to its incorporation, Tulsa was located in the Coweta Area, the northeastern-most district of the Creek Tribal Lands.

Many of the first families in Tulsa were mixed-blood Creek Indians. One of the most prominent families was the Perryman family. Members of the family included Legus C. Perryman, George B. Perryman and Josiah C. Perryman, who each held the office of Principal Chief of the Creek Nation at one time or another. A descendent of the Perryman family, Lilah Lindsey, was the second teacher at the Presbyterian Mission Day School. She also has the distinction of being one of the first Creek women to earn a college degree.

Occupations represented in the Perryman family included merchants, ranchers, civic leaders, and postmen. In 1878, the first post office in Tulsa was located on the Perryman ranch, knows by early Tulsans as the “White House.” The White House was located near what is now 38th Street and Trenton Avenue in the southern part of Tulsa. The Perryman Ranch was the largest in the area, and spread from 21st to 71st streets and from the Arkansas River to Lynn Lane in Broken Arrow. George Perryman later moved to a “fanciful two-story house with a cupola,” which he built on “High Hill” in the block now occupied by the Tulsa County Courthouse in downtown Tulsa.

Most of the land in Tulsa was owned by just a few Creek families including the Perryman, Owen, Davis, Crowell and Childer families. The Ed Crowell farm was just east of Boston Avenue. In 1882, Robert Childers, a Creek judge of the Coweta Area, moved to Tulsa and built one of the first new homes on Cheyenne Avenue between Archer and Brady Streets. Jeff Archer, a mixed-blood Cherokee, built one of the first stores in Tulsa. It was completed in December of 1882 and described as “a box shack twelve by fourteen feet in size, of rough lumber, with a tent roof.”

The Bullette Addition was platted on the farm of George Bullette, a mixed-blood Delaware who arrived in Tulsa in 1882. Bullette was an early Tulsa merchant who built a home on North Norfolk Avenue around 1894. The log house home of William Burgess, a Cherokee Indian, was built south of Standpipe Hill, on the Cherokee side of the line. Chauncey Owen, a white man who married a Creek Indian woman and lived on her allotment just west of downtown Tulsa, sold the city its first park, Owen Park. He arrived in Tulsa in 1874 and is also credited with building the first hotel in Tulsa.

The names of some of the streets and additions located in Tulsa are related to these Indian families, including Owen, Archer, Bullette, and Burgess.