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National Register of Historic Places
in Chouteau, Oklahoma
Farmers and Merchants Bank
Territorial Commercial District of Chouteau, Main Street
History of Chouteau
Cattle, Trains, Amish, Transportation & Industry
Chouteau is located in the old Cooweescoowee District of the Cherokee Nation in southern Mayes County. It has an altitude of 627 feet. Chouteau is a gateway to the eastern Oklahoma lake area, featuring Fort Gibson Lake, Upper and Lower Spavinaw Lakes, the Lake of the Cherokees (Grand Lake), and the Lake Hudson Recreational Area. State Highway 412 (Cherokee Turnpike) and U.S Highway 69 intersect just south of town.
In 1871, when the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway built its line across Indian Territory, Chouteau became a terminus. Riley W. Lindsey, the first agent, was also the first settler. Chouteau grew into a thriving cattle town, and residents built a fence around its limits to keep the herds out of the streets. Gates were conveniently located, and parents escorted their children safely to and from downtown. Many of the early citizens lived in tents, and they too built fences to keep out cattle.
The town had to be rebuilt after a fire in 1891, and in 1985 much of the business district was again destroyed by fire. Businesses moved to the east side of Highway 69. In 1880 Lindsey provided the land and financed Chouteau's first school, a subscription school, housed in a one-room building. In later years the school was razed, and a larger, two-story, wood-frame building was erected on the same site, sheltering another subscription school. Several denominations used these facilities for church services, and citizens used them for various town meetings. Today the Chouteau-Mazie School District comprises kindergarten through grade twelve and operates with a staff of fifty-eight teachers and administrators.
Chouteau is home to the largest Amish settlement in Oklahoma with roots going back as far as Oklahoma statehood. The original Amish settlement was established in Mazie, OK around 1910 (just 5 miles away from Chouteau). However, an epidemic forced the small Amish community to uproot and move north to Chouteau. Since settling into the Chouteau area, this eastern Oklahoma Amish community has thrived, growing over the last century to four church districts with around 600 people. The strong Amish influence can be seen both in daily life, local Amish businesses, and the positive impact on the economy. Click to learn more about Amish in Chouteau.
The Town of Chouteau's population has varied, ranging from 483 in 1900 and 541 in 1920 to a twentieth-century low of 400 in 1940. The number of inhabitants rebounded to 1,046 in 1970 in large part with the creation of the MidAmerica Industrial Park just 4 miles away in 1960. The Town of Chouteau grew to 1,771 in 1990 and by 2000 the town had reached a population of 1,931. By the 2010 census, the Town of Chouteau reported 2,097 inhabitants. Recent years are showing even more growth with continued expansion at the MidAmerica Industrial Park and new housing development within and near Chouteau city limits.
Chouteau has supported twelve churches of various denominations. The United Methodist is the oldest congregation, and the First Presbyterian the oldest church building, dedicated on July 10, 1898. Click here to see current Chouteau churches, businesses and more.
The Farmers and Merchants Bank (NR 83002091) and the Territorial Commercial District of Chouteau, Main Street, (NR 83002093) are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Virginia Lindsey Hastings, “Chouteau,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=CH055.
Mayes County Highlights (Pryor, Okla.: Mayes County Historical Society, 1977).
George H. Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names (2d ed.; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1974).
© Oklahoma Historical Society.