PREHISTORIC PEOPLE OF THE ARBUCKLES
We recently came into possession of the following unpublished paper written by Lionel "Red" Taylor of Sulphur, OK. Red spent many years exploring the Arbuckles and Murray County searching for primitive artifacts and studying ancient people of the area. Here is his paper.
Murray County, because of its many springs, clear streams, game animals and fish seems to have been a near perfect place to live for our prehistoric people. History and the present day residents agree this still holds true.
I have spent fifteen years of hobby time as an armature archaeologist in surveying sites and collecting artifacts of our prehistoric people in Murray County and surrounding areas. I will try to give the series of occupations of Murray County as near as I can interpret them at this time.
The first people to live in Murray County were early Archaic People. These people were hunters and followed the game herds. They did not camp in place very long and consequently they left us very little to identify them, however, they left us enough to say they were definitely here.
These people made dart points of flint, types known as Plainview and Meserve. These people lived from around 7000 B.C. to 2,000 B.C. No radio carbon dating have been made from the site of the Early Archaic in Murray County, but from dates of other sites, quality of workmanship and size of the dart points, I believe these people lived in Murray County about 5,000 B.C. until 2,000 B.C.
These people who lived in the next period were much like the Early Archaic people, they were also hunters, however, there were changes in that they also gathered wild seeds and ground them up in stone milling basins and ate more wild vegetables. The dart points also made radical changes. There were more of them and they stayed in one place longer.
There is evidence of these people on every site in Murray County that I know of. These people lived here from 2,000 B.C. until 1,000 A.D. or until they were absorbed into the next residents, the Woodland People. Where the early Archaic People and Archaic People were Plains People, who came from the east and were Mississippian Valley People, and with their appearance came many big changes in life in Murray County. They brought pottery, bone tools, arrow points, and agriculture.
A large village site known as the "Pruitt Site", which now inundated by Lake of the Arbuckles was professionally excavated in 1965 and classified as Late Woodland. Therefore we have more firsthand knowledge of these people than any other in Murray County. Beside the above-mentioned changes, they lived the year round on one site building log houses and dug storage pits to store corn. Radiocarbon dates were taken on samples and a date of 1270 years ago were obtained. A large amount of artifacts were recovered from the excavation. These people lived a simple life with all artifacts a functional purpose in killing and preservation of game or the raising of crops.
These people lived here until about 800 years ago when the Washita Period started. The take over of the Washita People was a gradual change from about 1100 years ago to historic times.
They differed very little from the Woodland People other than their arrow points changed shape and bison came into Murray County about this time, 1100 years ago and the Washita People's main source of meat. They made a very good grade of shell-tempered pottery. Their corn was larger and their agricultural tools appear to be more efficient.
In summation, I have collected artifacts from 61 villages and hunting sites in Murray County and there are certainly more that have not as of yet been discovered. I have found the study of prehistoric residents very interesting and found them to have been very intelligent people who made good use of the resources at hand.
To those of you who wish to pursue this further and in more detail, I would recommend "The Pruitt Site" a late Plains Woodland manifestation in Murray County, OK by Thomas P. Boar.
Much more work will have to be done in Murray County before we have full knowledge of the life of these people.
This is a very brief summery of the Prehistoric Occupation of Murray County. I leave it for some one with the knowledge of these people in historic times to bring us up to date in later chapters.
Submitted by Dennis Muncrief - October - 2006