A Little History of the Tenkiller Lake Area

Tenkiller Lake Central

Tenkiller is inseparably linked with the history of the Native American Indian. This area, before 1800, was the ancestral home and territorial hunting domain of first, the Caddo and then the Osage Indians.

About 1800, an Indian trader named Lovely made a purchase agreement with the Osage for a 100 mile square of land which became known as "Lovely's Purchase". He built a courthouse which was the seat of governmental affairs. It was located at a site first known as "Kildron" and later, after the Cherokees arrived, as Dwight Mission.

The first known white man to bring his family and settle here was Captain Mark Bean, in 1803. He built a farm on the bank of the Illinois River encompassing the area of the Lake Tenkiller Dam.

The Treaty of 1817 between the US Government and a portion of the Cherokee Nation, started the Cherokee migration to the Oklahoma Territory.

When the Eastern Cherokee Nation was driven from their homeland, on the "Trail of Tears" in 1838-1839, the two nations were reunited and the capital was re-established at Tahlequah. Captain Mark Bean and numerous other white pioneer settlers were forced to move from this area by the US Government in 1829, because the land was decreed "Cherokee Land".

The "Lake Tenkiller Ferry Dam" is named for the Tenkillers, a prominent Cherokee family from whom the land and ferry were obtained to build the dam. It is said the Cherokee warrior was given his name by the white soldiers and pioneers at Ft. Gibson, because of the ten notches on this bow.

Tenkiller Lake Central