Snake Creek Community

Area History

Snake Creek Community 2017-10-19T00:52:20-05:00

Snake Creek Community

About 1910, a community developed near Freedman allotted land south of Bixby. Among the first families to migrate to the Snake Creek area were the Harris and Pettie families from Texas. A Johnson family came from Texas via Seminole and Haskell, Oklahoma. The largest group of families came from Mississippi. They were the Tyson, Ratliff and a second Johnson family. Soon afterward, the Marshall family and Goff family moved to the area.

Most were large families. Gradually, those that were not already related to each other began to marry into one another’s family. This created a tight-knit community. Today families return from all over the country for funerals of community members.

A segregated school, Snake Creek School, was established on land donated by Mamie Buck. It was located on the banks of Snake Creek. At the peak of enrollment, the school had four to five teachers and over 150 students.

Almost immediately after settling in the area, families began to meet in homes on Sunday to hold church services. The community built two churches, the Macedonian Baptist Church and the Pettie Colored Methodist Episcopal Church. The churches were located on each side of the school. The C.M.E. church was named for the largest family in the area, James Pettie family.

Near the Baptist church was a little store built on stilts and run by Xenophon Jones and his mother, Martha. They sold pop, beer and candy. Most of the community did their shopping in Bixby. The economy of the community was based on farming. Many of the families were sharecroppers.

Rev. Walter Harris recalls living in Snake Creek in the early days, “People weren’t raised up. They were forced up. Life was hard.” People were poor and had limited access to transportation, schools, commerce and service.

The Snake Creek School burned in 1936. A new stone schoolhouse and bus barn were built by the WPA project. Many of the local men were hired to help with the construction. Eddie Johnson proposed that the new school be named W.T. Vernon school. The community and school district agreed. W.T. Vernon was a former bishop of the African Episcopal Church and the registrar of the U.S. Treasury during the administration of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

Hard economic times and a disasterous flood in 1940-41 thinned the community. Many of the families moved away from Snake Creek. Some had left earlier to work in WPA projects across the state. World War II opened more economic opportunities. Again, many of the young adult members of the community moved away from the area. However the nucleus of the community remained.

The community’s most important activities were at the school and at Pettie Chapel. The Macedonian Baptist Church closed. Another center of activity emerged, Champ’s Place. It was popular for its Sunday afternoon baseball games, Saturday drag races, barbecues and dances.