Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

September 18, 2012

Little burgs have legendary names

TAHLEQUAH — Did you ever wonder how Lost City got its name? After all, if it’s an organized community within a particular geographic region that can be located on a map, how can it be “lost”?

History demonstrates there are a number of ways towns, states and even countries come to be named.

Oklahoma, or “red people,” is derived from the Choctaw words “okla,” meaning “people,” and “humma” or “homm,a” meaning “red.” According to the book “Oklahoma Place Names,” the name would be used to refer to what had been known as Indian Territory in the Choctaw-Chickasaw Treaty of 1866.

Many Oklahoma communities have names reflecting their Indian connections, said Northeastern State University History Professor Dr. Brad Agnew.

“Although the origin of Tahlequah is not clear, it is definitely a Cherokee word,” he said. “It probably was named after an old Cherokee town in the tribe’s homeland, but I prefer the story that claims only two of the three tribal members sent out to select the site for the nation’s western capital city reached the area west of the Illinois River. They decided the rolling area north of Park Hill was an excellent location and proclaimed ‘Tahlequah,’ which some claim means ‘two are enough.’”

In Cherokee County, many communities were named for early habitants or occupants of an area, merchants or postmasters, said Agnew.

The community of Scraper, for example, was named for Captain Archibald Scraper, who was with the 2nd Regiment of the Indian Home Guard. The Indian Home Guard was made of volunteer-infantry regiments recruited from the Five Civilized Tribes of Indian Territory to back the Union efforts during the Civil War.

According to a July 10, 1937, interview between a field worker named Gus Hummingbird and William Scraper, presented in The University of Oklahoma Indian-Pioneer Papers oral history collection, Arch Scraper was not his actual name – though that’s what he was called.

“According to the records kept by Buster Scraper, Arch Scraper’s real name was Scraper Sixkiller,” said William Scraper. “That was his name before he left North Carolina. He came to the Indian Territory when he was 17 years old and settled in the hollow that now bears his name, Scraper Hollow.”

Social prominence and celebrity of an individual or family often determine a community or town’s name. Scraper, who enlisted in the Southern Army before joining the Union’s efforts, was a noted leader among the Cherokee people, according to the Indian-Pioneer Paper interview conducted 75 years ago.

“He was sent to Washington several times as a delegate for the Cherokee people,” said William Scraper. “On one of these missions, he had his picture taken with Abraham Lincoln, and this picture is now kept by Mrs. Josie Hendricks at Christie, Okla.”

And like Abraham Lincoln, Arch Scraper was a man of integrity and looked to practice altruistic principles whenever possible, said William Scraper.

“The customs of the Cherokee people have changed a lot since those times. In those days, everybody was honest,” he said. “The people loaned anything they had to their neighbors without charge. Money was easily borrowed at that time. Everybody had a little money to loan. There was not much to buy with money.  Arch Scraper always loaned money to his neighbors without any security. The people did not know what a Note was then. A man’s word was his bond. If his word was no good, he was not, either.”


To see the complete version of this article, subscribe to the Daily Press e-edition by following the link below.

Click here to get the entire Tahlequah Daily Press delivered every day to your home or office.

Click here to get a free trial or to subscribe to the Tahlequah Daily Press electronic edition. It's the ENTIRE newspaper (without the paper) for your computer, iPad or e-reader.

Text Only
Local News
  • ts-marching-MAIN.jpg Marching in step

    Tahlequah High School Orange Express Marching Band kicks off 2014 season with summer drills.

    The Tahlequah High School Orange Express Marching Band has added 30-35 freshmen to its roster this year, and drills began for the newest members last Thursday.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • studie-roberta.jpg Woman accused of stealing cash, taking it to casino

    A 35-year-old Tahlequah woman is free on bond after she allegedly took $1,200 from a man who had been jailed for old warrants.
    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies said they spoke with Jason Jones last week after Jones was arrested by park rangers for the outstanding warrants. Jones said he came to Oklahoma to see family, and when he was arrested, he left his wallet and cash with one of his daughters.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • svw-Hepatitis.jpg Hepatitis vaccinations important today

    The phrase “back to school” may be disdained by kids for many reasons, including a trip to the doctor’s office to update immunizations.
    But hepatitis cases in Oklahoma provide a good example of why these vaccinations are important.
    “There was a time when Hepatitis A was just crazy in Oklahoma. The state was actually known for it,” said Becky Coffman, an epidemiologist with the Oklahoma Health Department’s Acute Disease Service.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • hood-raymond.jpg One man caught, another sought after foot chase

    Two people tried to escape sheriff’s deputies, and one was successful, after a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 62 last weekend.
    Deputy Bryan Qualls was on the highway when he noticed a red Chevrolet Avalanche matching the description of a truck that had been spotted at the scene of a recent burglary.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Detectives investigate deaths of two elderly residents

    Incident may be murder-suicide

    Tahlequah police detectives believe the deaths of two elderly Cherokee County residents are part of a murder-suicide that took place July 24-25.

    July 29, 2014

  • ts-Tax-free-main.jpg Shopper's delight

    Tax-free weekend coming up Aug. 1-3, just in time for back-to-school savings

    Attention, shoppers: Oklahoma’s Tax-Free Weekend is coming up, beginning at 12:01 a.m., Friday, Aug. 1.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • ballard-amanda.jpg Woman pleads no contest to molestation

    A Tahlequah woman accused of having more than 20 sexual encounters with a 13-year-old boy has pleaded no contest in exchange for a 15-year prison sentence, though 10 years have been suspended.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • svw-arch-society.jpg Archaeologist: Spiro Mounds may have been ancient music haven

    People gathered from across the country at the “center of the universe,” bringing with them different styles of music and instruments, each thought to have its own power and importance.
    This could be the description of a modern music festival, but to Jim Rees, it is a picture of the Spiro Mounds 1,000 years before Columbus came to the Americas.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Two headed for trial for conspiracy to kill judge and others

    Two of the four people accused of conspiring to kill a Cherokee County judge and several other targets were bound over for trial Friday following a preliminary hearing in Tahlequah.

    July 28, 2014

  • Woman accused in embezzlement sought for arrest

    Court officials have issued a bench warrant for a woman who previously pleaded to embezzling more than $40,000 while she worked for Tahlequah attorney Park Medearis.

    July 28, 2014


Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating