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Wildcat Junction

Sherriff Robert Thierry of Grayson's Wildcat Junction The Black Town In circa early1900's Okmulgee County, Oklahoma Where A White Man Couldn't Go After Sundown! The Black Town Racists feared!

Sherriff Robert Thierry of Wildcat Junction circa1880s


The name of this eastern Oklahoma fork in the road traces back to the dangerous felines of the wild (Oklahoma is home to two different but equally elusive species of wild cat: the bobcat and the mountain lion)., illegal liquor, other vices, and racism. The actual reason for the name is that it was the place the Creek/Black Seminoles stayed after the Trail of Tears, before the bulk of them who had fought the US Army to a stalemate went to Mexico at the behest of the Mexican government to help Mexicans fight the Texas Rangers who were committing acts of genocide against the Mexican landowners of the Texas Mexico border. It was named after the Creek Chief Wildcat also known as Coacoochee or Cowacoochee (c. 1807/1810–1857) was a leading Seminole chieftain during the later stages of the Second Seminole War. In Mexico the Black Seminoles descendants of Africans and Indigenous black skinned Upper Creek and Red Stick Creek who opposed slavery (known there as Mascogos) worked as border guards protecting their adopted country from attacks by slave raiders.

Dennis Treesh, who owns the Wildcat Junction General Store, thinks it may be because of bobcats in the surrounding countryside. He points to a stuffed one, killed nearly 20 years ago, crouched high above his shelves of goods. But he would be wrong it actually traces back to the historically Black Town of the 1800's wild west where a wildcat was hung over the sign with the towns name as a warning to those who entered that this town didn't warrant any foolishness and you could end up easily stuffed on a sign like the wildcat the town was originally named for.

Treesh, a native of Indiana who took over the store about a year ago, went on to say it may have something to do with the nearby track where horses race on Sundays Wildcat Junction Downs, Inc. but there are more earthy origins. In the 1920's"They used to fight like wildcats, that's why. They used to have goat ropin's and all kinds of things over there," Pete Burney, a frequent visitor to the adjoining restaurant, says as he nods toward the racetrack, a weathered rodeo arena, the rock remains of a schoolhouse and the scattering of houses across State Highway 52.

Virginia Keys interrupts waitress and kitchen chores for her guess: "People used to call it "Cat.' You can use your imagination. The place of 100 or so black residents in southeastern Okmulgee County is now officially called Grayson. But it was and still is to many people Wildcat. The business Treesh operates at the corner of State Highway 52 and U.S. 266 is called Wildcat Junction the original name of the town. State historians say a Wildcat post office wasn't established in 1897, probably because no whites were welcomed in Wildcat except the bootlegger until the 1900's as its name was changed to Grayson in 1902. At that time the community thrived for a time because of active coal mining in the area.

The post office closed in 1929."Burney agrees the name may have a connection with the plentiful homemade corn liquor and beer once produced in the community. "Every other house sold Wildcat Whiskey during prohibition. I remember there's one old house, and I've seen my dad, C.P. Burney, go there and get drunk on rotgut a million times," said Burney, 47, a carpet layer who lives at nearby Hoffman.

She remembers the senior Burney, accompanied by son Pete, used to regularly come to her home and drink the homemade spirits and eat gumbo, while watching her late husband, Bill, entertain with tap dancing. But she disagrees all that had anything to do with the name Wildcat.

"My dad was one white man that could go over there (safely), drivin' a wagon and team, and get drunk and nobody'd bother 'im if he passed out they'd bring 'im home, but wouldn't bother 'im," Burney said of his father, now deceased. Burney said he doesn't remember any racial violence, however "except for just drunks and a few cuttin's." Maude Tucker, 83, who says she has lived in Wildcat proper since coming to the area with her parents from Louisiana, also sold whiskey.

"I know how it got its name," she says. "Henryetta (a white town six miles away) used to have a sign "Nigger, don't let the sun set on you.' "So the people here, they put a wildcat up on a pole, and put a sign that said, "White man, don't let the sun set on you here.' " The exception, apparently, was C.P. Burney.

The signs are gone now but once they were a part of America's roadside culture, posted along the highway at the town or county line, a blunt reminder of brutal racism. "Most read 'Nigger, Don't Let the Sun Set on You in -- ,' " says James Loewen, the Washington-based author of a controversial new book called "Sundown Towns." But sometimes, he adds, the sign makers tried to get clever. "Some came in a series, like the old Burma Shave signs, saying, ' . . . If You Can Read . . . You'd Better Run . . . If You Can't Read . . . You'd Better Run Anyway.' " Most of the signs were posted in the first half of the 20th century, Loewen says, but some lingered on long afterward. They were not a Southern phenomenon, he stresses. They were found all over the United States with local variations: In Colorado: "No Mexicans After Night." In Connecticut: "Whites Only Within City Limits After Dark." There was a fear in many white only towns of blacks coming into their towns and doing to them what the Klan did to so-called negro towns burning, raping and killing.

After the Civil War, newly freed slaves migrated all over America. In 1890, African Americans lived in all but 119 of America's thousands of counties. But by 1930, 235 American counties had no black residents and 694 other counties has fewer than 10 black residents. Sometimes, the triggering event was violence: In Henryetta, Okla., in 1907, a black man was accused of killing a white man in a dispute. A white mob lynched the suspect, then drove the rest of the town's black residents away.

At the turn of the century Oklahoma had more all-black towns than any other state. The towns began forming after the Civil War. Most of Oklahoma's all-black towns formed in what was then Indian Territory, settled by freedmen who were once slaves for the Indians many of whom arrived on the trail of tears and fought against the white man with the Red Stick Creek and many were part of the Choctaw and Black Seminoles. Wildcat Junction was located within the area that became McIntosh County at statehood. It was renamed for a Muscogee chief, George W. Grayson. The name changed when Grayson's post office was established February 10, 1902, although the legal town name remained as Wildcat into the 1960s. Until the Okmulgee and McIntosh county boundaries were changed in 1918, the town lay within McIntosh County.

Prior to becoming Grayson all law enforcement in Wildcat was handled by a Lone Sherriff the most famous of Grayson's Sheriffs was Sheriff Robert Thierry. Robert Thierry's "Office of the Sheriff" was independent and not responsible to other agencies except in the matter of an operating budget. The state Constitution defined the Sheriff as the "Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the County." In Grayson County, Robert Thierry was responsible for being the responding law enforcement agency for approximately one-third of the County’s population including the unincorporated areas and three small towns, which did not have police departments.

His duties required him to be proficient with a gun and either operate a jail or arrange with another county to house prisoners. Wildcat Junction's Sheriff, in addition to enforcing laws, performs such varied duties as enforcing estray laws, collecting fines and court costs, conducting court-ordered sales of real estate and, providing security of the district and county courts, serving civil and criminal process such as subpoenas, warrants, capias and various writs.

The County was formed in 1846 from Fannin County. Today, the county is growing older in terms of population. While farming and ranching remain important parts of the county’s economy, industrial plants play an increasing role in the economy. Grayson County contains approximately 940 square miles of land and water, including Lake Texoma, one of the largest manmade lakes in Texas. The current population is approximately 120,000 swells to about 150,000 on three major long weekend holidays in May, July and September. But gone are the days when a tough Black Sherriff Robert Thierry kept a Black bootlegging Town Wild but safe and to this day those people still have their land!

Addendum: The State of Louisiana House Resolution N0. 63 in the year 2005... A Resolution to commend the Thierry Family spanning more than two centuries...Whereas the first person of color to carry the name of Thierry was Louis Thierry the son of a slave named Marie, Louis was born in 1770 in what is now Landry Parrish, was a mulatto who became a free man of color, but how he obtained his freedom is unknown. And Whereas Louis Thierry married Julie Meillon Giroir, in the last decade of the eighteenth century and from that union came 13 children. Louis Jr. Marie Louise, Marie Celeste, Augustine, Francois, Alexandre, Joseph, Muelon, Lastie, Antoine, Sydonia, Adele, and Caroline. Whereas Louis Thierry completed several legal transactions and triumphed to become a very prosperous man owning land ,slaves, livestock and: Whereas Louis Thierry was a wealthy landowner and wanted each one of his 13 children to to be educated and have a trade and understand the value of education, Whereas most of the children had children of their own to continue the long lineage of the Thierry Family and Whereas when Louis Thierry died in 1834 and his wife followed in 1839 the couple left a sizeable estate that was sold at public auction. However the Thierry home was kept in the Family. and whereas due to damaged crop in 1910 the descendants of Louis Thierry took advantage of free land being parceled in Oklahoma and moved there for a better life and Whereas members of the Thierry family moved to the small town of Wildcat Junction now called Grayson on Okmulgee County Oklahoma where Robert Thierry became Sherriff, and Whereas life in Oklahoma proved harder than it had been in Louisiana in 1915 Elois Thierry moved his family to Illinois and other family members later settled in Kansas, and Whereas Louis Thierry was the patriarch of a family consisting of thirteen children and from the ten generations since his death thousands of descendants have been born and Whereas in the Thierry family there are numerous Doctors, Lawyers, Politicians, Educators, Journalists, Social Workers, Artists, Engineers,...The Thierry Family merits recognition and congratulations. Let it be resolved that the House of Representatives of the State of Louisiana does hereby commend the Thierry Family upon the celebrated occasion their family reunion (of over 230 years in the Americas) and does hereby extend wishes of continued happiness and success to all members of this remarkable family in all future endeavors! Be it further resolves that a suitable copy of this resolution be transmitted to the Thierry family!


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