Graveyard Bluff Cemetery
Photo added by Kirt

Graveyard Bluff Cemetery

Love County , Oklahoma, USA

About

  • Get directions Lake Texoma
    Love County, Oklahoma, 73446 USA
  • Cemetery ID: 2177100

Graveyard Bluff is an island located in Lake Texoma in Love County, Oklahoma in Section 10, Township 7 South, Range 3 East. The island formed due to the construction of Denison Dam in 1944, which dammed the Red River and surrounded the area with water. Only the highest point remains dry as an island.

Following the forced removal of the Chickasaws from their lands in the East, the Edmund Pickens family settled the area known as Graveyard Bluff. The Pickens family established their home and farm in the Red River Valley. They buried their loved ones on a high bluff overlooking the Red River, which today is on the island in Lake Texoma.

In 1848, Edmund Pickens became the first elected Chief of the Chickasaw Nation and served in that capacity for eight years. Due to the creation of a new Chickasaw constitution in 1856, the Chickasaws replaced the leadership role of "chieftain" with that of "governor." Thus, Edmund Pickens was also the last chief of the Chickasaw Nation. Pickens family tradition states that Graveyard Bluff is the final resting place of Chief Edmund Pickens. One of the earliest graves in this cemetery is that of Johnson Pickens, the son of Edmund. In 1858, Johnson died as the result of a wound from a poisoned arrow he received during a battle with Comanche Indians.

In 1937, Jennie Selfridge, a field worker with the Works Progress Administration, surveyed this cemetery as part of the Indian-Pioneer Oral History Project. She recorded that the Pickens family founded the burial ground about the year 1850. Locals approximated the number of graves at fifty, but only ten graves contained tombstones by 1937. Selfridge also recorded that individuals seeking treasure "dug out all the Pickens graves and either covered up or carried away the headstones from the Edmund Pickens grave. All the Pickens's graves were lined with a brick and cement wall." In 1937, large cedar trees grew near the graves of the Pickens family. However Selfridge stated that in the winter of 1936-37, locals cut down the cedar trees for making fence posts. She added that locals abandoned the cemetery about the year 1895 because of its isolated location.

The condition of the cemetery suffered due to neglect. After the creation of Lake Texoma, local farmers used the island to raise hogs and cattle. Many grave stones disappeared during the twentieth century. In 2003, the Keel Cemetery Association received permission from the Corps of Engineers to remove the remaining headstones from the island and reset them in the Keel Cemetery in Marshall County, Oklahoma. No tombstones remain on the island today. Only depressions in the ground indicate the location of the graves. Scattered bricks, once part of grave coverings, litter the burial ground area. Few people today realize the significance of Graveyard Bluff and its association with one of the most influential families within the early Chickasaw Nation.

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  • Added: 22 May 2006
  • Find a Grave Cemetery ID: 2177100