Zoraya, Oklahoma

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Zoraya, pronounced “Zoray”, is a community in western Pushmataha County, Oklahoma, west of Miller, Oklahoma.

A United States Post Office opened at Zoraya, Indian Territory on April 22, 1905, and closed on October 31, 1919.

Zoraya’s post office was established by J.A. Kirksey, a white school teacher. He was succeeded as postmaster by only two others: Culberson J. Hudson, a Choctaw Indian minister, and rancher]Benjamin W. Shearon, who managed Warren’s Store, the general store at Miller serving the Impson Valley, as the area was then known.[1]

Originally a Choctaw Indian settlement, Zoraya was host to Pleasant Cove Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which had a Choctaw congregation. At Zoraya’s height approximately 19 families lived there, and their members are buried in the former church yard. The families lived along a lane, with houses lining either side. By the late 1930s the church was inactive but the settlement was still inhabited. By the 1950s the settlement was mostly empty. At this writing Zoraya is no longer a settlement, and no remains of its former habitations exists.[2]

Zoraya, at the foot of Long Mountain, was considered a good place to live because of the excellent hunting nearby, plus its proximity to three well-watered local streams which offered excellent fishing: Little Davenport, Pine and Ten Mile Creeks. Blue Hole, a deep and never-dry pool of water on Little Davenport Creek, is located nearby and furnished an excellent source of water. It is 100 feet (30 m) long by 20 feet (6.1 m) wide and its water is a deep blue, giving the pool its name.[3]

During the days of the Indian Territory the United States Government set aside 1-acre (4,000 m2) of land for use by the church and a community school, which taught both white and Choctaw students. Accounts also suggest the Government recruited and furnished the teachers and their salaries.

Circa 1900, Pleasant Cove merged with another Cumberland Presbyterian Church congregation about eight miles (13 km) away, at Yellow Spring, or “Kulli Lakna” in the Choctaw language. The new congregation was based at Pleasant Cove, and reenergized and enlarged the church.

According to historical accounts Pleasant Cove, or Zoraya, was an important regional political center in the Choctaw Nation. Political party conventions were held here, as were political campaigns. It also served as an Impson Valley polling station for the Choctaw Nation. During territorial days Zoraya was located in Jack’s Fork County of the Choctaw Nation.[4]

More information on Zoraya may be found in the Pushmataha County Historical Society.

The only remnant of Zoraya extant is the Zoraya Cemetery, located at 34°19′52″N 95°46′15″W / 34.33111°N 95.77083°W / 34.33111; -95.77083 (Zoraya Cemetery)Coordinates: 34°19′52″N 95°46′15″W / 34.33111°N 95.77083°W / 34.33111; -95.77083 (Zoraya Cemetery).

References[edit]

  1. ^ George H. Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names, p. 228.
  2. ^ Interview with Fred E. Reed, who lived in Zoraya for a time during the 1940s and 1950s.
  3. ^ “Blue Hole”, Indian-Pioneer Papers, Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries; Google Maps.
  4. ^ “Pleasant Cove Indian Church”, Indian-Pioneer Papers, Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries.