Petersburg

Jefferson County, Oklahoma    

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Petersburg, OK

  Approximately 15 miles south of Ringling in extreme S.E. Jefferson County lies the small farming community of Petersburg. This community has a colorful history in its own right, but long before the town ever existed, this area was already populated by a rich culture. During the mid 1700's when Oklahoma was part of Louisiana, the Taovayas (A tribe of Wichita Indians) made their home here along both sides of the Red River. Heavy trade was made with the French who made their way to this area along the Red River from Louisiana. Near present day Menard, Texas, a mission was built by the Spanish and a fort was to be erected under the orders of Diego Ortiz Parrila as protection. In response to sporadic attacks on the mission and fort, Parrila and 500 soldiers marched from San Antonio to the Taovayas village on the Red River in 1759. The Wichita warriors attacked and forced the Spanish and their Apache allies to flee. The Spanish left behind two cannons, which proved too difficult to maneuver in the sandy soil along the south bank of the river.   Accounts of the battle with the Taovayas village have been translated in the original Spanish documents. In a location along the north side of the Red River, (Present day Jefferson County, OK.) the Taovayas had built a circular stockade protected by an earthen rampart and moat. According to the Spanish, the stockade had underground tunnels in which people sheltered during an attack. Round, grass-thatch houses made up the Taovayas village outside the stockade. A Comanche camp of tall teepees along with the village of another band of Wichita were reported in the immediate area. The Wichita and their allies had many horses and were well-armed. The Spanish reported extensive corn fields near the villages.  

Metal ornament

Brass gun ornament from the site south of Ringling.
 

In 1965-1966, excavations at a site about 15 miles south of Ringling, revealed the Taovayas village detailed in the Spanish records of the Parrilla expedition. The site covered an area of 35-40 acres. Situated above the Red River on a broad terrace, the site is protected from flooding by its elevation. Circular depressions with posthole patterns, trash mounds, storage pits and many European (mostly French) trade items along with traditional Wichita artifacts as well as skeletal remains, were recovered in the excavations. The discovery in aerial photos of a large circular stain in the soil similar to those known for other archeological sites in Oklahoma led to further excavations at this site. Archeologists concluded the circular stain represented evidence of the log stockade constructed by the Wichita to protect their village.   Today, the only reminder of this thriving village is a roadside marker that sits along Hwy. 89. The original historic site sits on private property and is not open to the public.    

SAN BERNARDO marker
(click to enlarge) Marker reads: SAN BERNARDO SITE IN IMMEDIATE VICINITY WEST 'OKLAHOMA'S OLDEST TOWN ON RED RIVER' THE GREAT VILLAGE OF THE WICHITA INDIANS WITH A FRENCH TRADING POST HERE WAS NAMED IN HONOR OF GOV. BERNARDO DE GALVEZ, IN 1778 WHEN OKLAHOMA WAS A PART OF LOUISIANA.
OKLAHOMA HISTORICAL SOCIETY, 1950
 
Area looking west toward ancient Taovayas Indian Village
(click to enlarge)
Area looking west toward ancient Taovayas Indian Village  

wichita house  
  Information submitted by: Richard Wooley
~~~~~~~~~~  
Here is more information about the
 Taovayas Indians:

http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/TT/bmt17.html

Spanish Fort, Texas, a ghost town in Montague County.

  Oklahoma Univ. site re:  Jefferson Co. past: http://www.ou.edu/cas/archsur/counties/jefferson.htm

National Register of Historic Places site:
http://www.nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/OK/Jefferson/state.html

San Bernardo ** (added 1982 - Site - #82003685)
Also known as Taovayas Village; Longest Site (JF-1); Spanish Fort Sites

Address Restricted, Ringling

Historic Significance: Information Potential
Area of Significance: Historic - Aboriginal
Cultural Affiliation: Wichita, Taovayas
Period of Significance: 1750-1799, 1800-1824
Owner: Private
Historic Function: Domestic
Historic Sub-function: Village Site
Current Function: Agriculture/Subsistence
Current Sub-function: Agricultural Fields

 

Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 6, No. 2
June, 1928
SPANISH EXPLORATION OF OKLAHOMA 1599-1792

BY A. B. THOMAS, PH. D. UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/Chronicles/v006/v006p186.html

     

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