Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The mysterious Dunbar Townsite sign

On Highway 132 west of Hennessey, and south of Drummond, Oklahoma, is a road sign for Dunbar Townsite. I've driven past it hundreds of times. In March, I decided to go look. That lead me to a Mt. Zion Church and a building labeled Morrison Hall. It looks like the remnant of pioneer community, much like any other community in western Oklahoma.

Mt Zion Church and Morrison Hall
The brick pioneer monument sits in front of Morrison Hall on the left, and the Mt.
Zion Church is on the right.

Abraham Lincoln military grave marker
Soldier Abraham Lincoln, Co. E, 53 U.S.C.Inf.,
a member of the U.S. Colored Infantry
Down the road a bit is Morrison Cemetery. As I wandered through the cemetery, I noticed military markers for "U.S.C.Inf." or "USCC". Those were unfamiliar to me, so I searched online as I stood there. I was surprised to find those are the abbreviations for colored troops, U.S. Colored Infantry and U.S. Colored Cavalry. These are the troops commonly called "Buffalo soldiers" who played such an important role in Western Oklahoma's early history.

That's when I finally figured out that I was in a former "Black town" in Kingfisher County, Oklahoma. Oklahoma was home to a number of all-Black towns.  While there are lists of Oklahoma's All-Black towns, Dunbar or Morrison are not listed. In fact, I had trouble finding out much about it online. Dunbar was part of a cluster of All-Black towns in Kingfisher County, further west than most of the well-known communities. Looking at the Tulsa Library's map of Oklahoma's All-Black Towns, it was nearest the marker for Columbia. Update: You'll find another map linked from the All Black Towns of Oklahoma page at the Tulsa Historical Society. Dunbar was north of the marker for Lincoln.

The most substantive record online about Dunbar is at the Geochaching site, which includes this description of the town:
Dunbar was a Negro community for many years. This [geocache] is not really where the townsite was located, but is where the school was. The school was known for its agricultural program, particularly livestock, and students took many prizes in the shows. After intergration, the school was closed and the students, went to Lacey, Drummond and Hennessey. The building was sold and torn down.
From reading the pioneer monument between the church and Morrison Hall, it seems that a religious order  played a role in the community.

The cemetery is still in active use today, so I am sure that the families associated with it have more information about Dunbar and Morrison, but it's just not online.

Grave marker of Robert Tutt
From the grave stone of Robert Tutt:
"A man who, by his honesty and fair dealings,
earned the goodwill and respect of his
neighbors and has advanced the cause of
his race among all people."
More pictures at Flickr: Dunbar Townsite.

6 comments:

  1. That is some neat information. I am a geocacher so I am aware of the cache that is there, you would be amazed what history you can learn from geocaching. You might want to try it out some time. I go by Kashiree on the website feel free to contact me.
    Brandi

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  2. Thanks for this! We have Buffalo Soldiers buried in San Francisco National Cemetery, too. They fought in the Indian Wars in this state, also.

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  3. We live in Drummond and have done the same thing you did. We decided yesterday to search out the townsite marker. My husband has lived in Drummond all his life and thought the town was not East but had to be where the school was. I also took pictures of Morrison Hall & the Baptist Church listed there. Thanks for putting this info on-line. TexasOkie

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  4. Lol, same here. I finally had a chance as a passenger to search on my phone The Dunbar townsite sign. Your blog was the first to pop up. Thanks. I appreciate your time and pictures.

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