Before Oklahoma was admitted as a state to the union in 1907, the Choctaw Nation was divided into three districts: Apukshunnubbee, Moshulatubbee, and Pushmataha. They were all named for renowned leaders, spokesman and chiefs. Each had an administrative center where business, laws, punishments and economic activity was held by the Nation. These were all administered by The Choctaw Nation and had been since their forced removal from the southeast United States in the early 1800's.
- Apukshunnubbee District included areas known today as the counties of Haskell, Hughes, Latimer, Le Flore, and Pittsburg.
- Moshuatubbee District covered original Choctaw counties of Gaines, Sans Bois, Skullyville, Sugar Loaf, and Tobucksy. It's court house was north east of modern McAlester.
- Pushmataha District covered the areas known today as Atoka, Bryan, Choctaw, and Pushmataha counties.
Many of the Native Americans who made that forced March to the area of present day Oklahoma had been converted to Methodism in their home territories in the southeast. The pastors and religious leaders - both European American and Native American - of these Native American Methodists made the march alongside their spiritual brothers and sisters.
According to Bryce's History of Methodism: The Story of the Indian Mission Conference of the Methodist Episcopal South, there are listings for ministry assignments into all of these districts going back to 1844 or the date of the first Methodist conference in the region of Oklahoma.
A list of the names of the persons sent to work in "Moshulatubee" [sic] in Bryce's work begin in 1844 and end in about 1893. It is unclear if the work faded or was subsumed by other works and appeared under a different designation. Research into the boundaries and labeling for these early works is ongoing. The ministers were often assigned in teams and in this district they were re-assigned periodically. The names provide a starting place for further and more detailed work into these early periods of church work.
L.F. Collins and John Page
E.B. Duncan and D.W. Lewis
A list of the persons sent to what was labeled the "Canadian" begins 1849 and goes to 1856 when it is called the "Canadian School". Then, in 1870 it is labeled once more "Canadian" until 1884 when it is labeled "Canadian District" (with a Presiding Elder designated indicating it was an ecclesiastical district) until 1888 when it is labeled the "Canadian Circuit" until 1889. That year there is listed both a "South Canadian" and a Canadian District. The District is identified once more with a Presiding Elder until1890 when it is just a name without a designation. That same year again the South Canadian designation is used. In 1891 there is the "Canadian Circuit", in 1893 there is the "South Canadian", in 1895 both a "South Canadian" and a Canadian Circuit, in 1897 a Canadian District and a Canadian (Circuit is assumed).
The names associated with these groups are as follows. Since overlap is unclear they will be listed by the group classification used by Bryce.
John F. Boot (1849-1852)
Walter Carey (1853)
Henry Butler (1870)
John Sevier (1871)
S.P. Hicks (1872)
J.G. Forrester (1895)
Frank Naylor, J.F. Wagman (18896)
James Essex (1856)
C.W. Myatt, Presiding Elder (1885)
W.B. Austin, PE (1889)
G.W. Atkins (1890)
W.P. Pipkin (1891)
C.M. Coppedge, PE (1892)
J.J. Lovett, PE (1896, 1897)
G.S. Yarbourgh (1884)
A.C. Pickens (1887)
S.J. Oslin (?)
With the entry of the regions of the twin territories of Indian and Oklahoma in the union as the state of Oklahoma in 1907 all of these early Choctaw Nation designations were abandoned as new designations replaced them. Areas once in one county, suddenly found themselves in brand new geographical regions with new names, county seats of government and more. As the saying goes, there is always "more to the story" and failing to look deeper and wider can mean a loss of historical vision. This was made apparent to this author in investigating the history of the Atwood Church and realizing that there was a vast Methodist work in the larger region going back to a far earlier date than the accepted beginnings designated in some historical volumes.