Bluejacket

"The Story of Craig County, Its People and Places"
by Ennis Winfrey and others

The town of Bluejacket was established as a result of the MKT railroad pushing south from Kansas through the Cherokee Nation in 1871.  "Uncle" Charley Bluejacket, a Methodist minister, and  "Shawnee Tom" Bluejacket brought their families from Johnson County, Kansas, and settled in the area where the railroad built a spur.  The first depot was established in 187 1. A railroad tent town had begun a settlement there.  Some of the people were railroad workers, others were persons who followed the building of the tracks looking for land to buy along the right-of-way, and others were white people who were termed "intruders" because they had no legal right to be in the Cherokee Nation.

In 1871, the two Bluejacket men began working to improve the tent town, and it was named in their honor.

Many of the settlers were of the Shawnee Indian tribe who had signed treaties with the government, were given full rights in the Cherokee Nation, sold their land in Kansas to the government, and immigrated to Indian Territory.

The post office at Bluejacket was established March 3, 1882.  Rev.  Charles Bluejacket was the first postmaster.  There have been eleven other postmasters, including Everett L. Johnson in 1975.

Some of the early day leaders in Bluejacket included Johathan Gore, an adopted member of the Shawnee tribe, attorney, and farmer; Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Davis who were founding members of the Bluejacket Baptist Church; W.S. Maloney, D.A. Wilson, W.W. Hailey, and Billy Field, merchants; C.C. Jenkins, druggist, G.I. Hopson, telegraph operator; H,A. Henley, grain and hay buyer; Clark Hill, hay man; Dr. R.N. Miller, physician and postmaster; I.N. Bunch, broom factory operator; James Allen, teacher; Bill Chapman, the conductor on the first MKT passenger train which ran from Parsons, Labette Co, Kansas to Vinita; R.N. Dudle, section foreman for the Katy for over 50 years; Joe Howe and Mr. Fincannon who ran a flour mill.  A Mrs. Faught owned one of Bluejacket's first hotels.  Another hotel owner was a black man named Berry Thompson.  He was the only Negro in Bluejacket, and his cooking was considered the best.  John Christy operated the pool hall.  Sam Bradford was an early-day livery stable operator who left to help establish the town of Centralia in 1898.

Cattle, hay and grain were shipped on the MKT railroad from the earliest days in Bluejacket.  Agriculture has continued to be the main source of income of the people in that area.

An act was passed by the National Council of the Cherokee Nation about the year 1889 incorporating the town of Bluejacket.  J.W. Dick was Clerk of the town council and Bud Jones was Speaker of the council; the Cherokee Nation Senate concurred with the incorporation November 14, 1894.

An ordinance adopting the rules and regulations for the government of the town of Bluejacket, Indian Territory was passed and approved the 6th day of January 1902.  N.M. Miller was chairman, Glen R. Smith, recorder of the council.  Other city officers of the early years were S.W. Hall, M.B. Spangler, B.F. Dingman, A.P. Funk, C.C. Jenkins, John Gideon, W.S. Maloney, C.S. Pearson, J.E. Wingfield, B.F. Brookshire, I.M. Bunch, L. Holden, Geo. Fincannon, R.P. Hawkins, and H.W. Hicks.

Three newspapers were published in the early years in Bluejacket: the Bluejacket Reporter in 1894, Bluejacket News in 1902, and the Craig County Gazette which began publication in 1911.

First church services in Bluejacket were held in the school, a union church.  Denominations which were early in the town included the Quakers, Presbyterians, Catholics, and Methodist.  The latter congregation built the first church in 1898.  Rev. Orlando Shay was the first pastor although Charles Bluejacket was himself a Methodist minister.  By the 1980s, churches included the Baptist, Assembly of God, and Church of God Holiness.

For many years, the town's activities have centered around the churches and the school.  There was an early school for the Indian children, with the federal government furnishing books for those children.  White children paid tuition and bought their own books.  The first school located near the present water tower was replaced by a two-room frame building, then a brick consolidated school building.  A WPA project built a native stone gymnasium and a large native stone administration building in 1939.

The frame KATY depot was demolished by a tornado and a boxcar was used in its place for several months.  Then in 1943, a modern depot was built at a cost of $4000.

Bluejacket residents got their water from 1400 foot well, The population peaked in 1907 at about 800 people.  In 1980, there were 247 residents.

A movement toward renewal of town pride took place in the 1970s and several businesses opened a grocery store, youth recreation hall.

A post office continues to serve the town.
An act of Congress in 1870 approved sale and was ratified by the council of the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, of five acres of land for the Bluejacket cemetery for the sum of $40.00. Then on August 29, 1959, a parcel of land consisting of 2.76 acres was purchased from Paul and Deloris Ayres and added to the original five acres.

An article in the Vinita Journal June, 1978 about the Bluejacket Alumni reunion tells of early school students and teachers.  Mr. and Mrs. Fred Holden were in attendance, both having attended school in 1918 before Blue-jacket had twelve grades.  Lorina (Wallis) Bump of Miami and Lavaughn Sivers of Tulsa represented the high school class of 1926; Hazel (Wallis) Bump of Miami the class of 1930; the 1931 class was represented by Bessie (Bishop) Davis of El Paso, Texas; the 1932 class represented by Agnes (Davis) Hudson of Bluejacket.  From the 1935 class were Francis (Humphrey) Smith, Bluejacket; Alice (Bates) Barnett, Pryor; and Roscoe Clarkson of Bluejacket.  Special recognition was given to former teachers who were present: Grace Davis, Bessie MeNelis, Leona Holden, James E. Sooter, and Katherine Thompson.

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