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February 11, 2014

Final resting place of Gov. Colbert still a question

Ada — The exact burial place of the second governor of the Chickasaw Nation, Governor Daugherty (Winchester) Colbert, is somewhat of a mystery.

Former Gov. Winchester Colbert served the Chickasaw Nation for three terms - 1858-1860, 1862-1864 and 1864-1866. He led the tribe through tumultuous times that included the runup to Civil War and the actual War Between the States.  

While his leadership during this difficult time is certain, there appears to be some question about the precise burial place of the distinguished governor, whose appearance and fashion is often compared to Abraham Lincoln.

A 1940 biography of Winchester Colbert tells how the former Governor in 1866 sold his home near Oil Springs in the Chickasaw Nation and moved to Atoka County, Choctaw Nation. 

Gov. Colbert and his wife, Annica (Kemp) Colbert, later returned to the Chickasaw Nation and made their home with their son Humphrey Colbert on property located about 2 miles west of “the present town of Frisco, Johnston County.”

The article, written by John Bartlett Meserve, went on to say when the Governor died in 1880, he was buried in a family cemetery in a crudely marked grave on the property near Frisco.

His widow, Annica, returned to the home in Oil Springs. She died in 1884 and was buried in the family graveyard at Oil Springs.

Information about Colbert Cemetery published by the Pontotoc County Historical and Genealogical Society fixes the grave of son Humphrey Colbert. The account includes a story of the son who asked to be buried next to his father, and of his father’s grave being subsequently bulldozed and covered with cement.  

Other accounts on geology websites, such as deancrocker.com, lists Gov. Colbert’s place of death as Atoka County.

Pontotoc County Connection

Other evidence suggests Gov. Colbert’s grave was actually located in Pontotoc County, Okla.

Writing about the first oil produced in Oklahoma, historian and Choctaw Muriel H. Wright (1889-1975) describes an 1872 meeting at Gov. Colbert’s home.  Excerpts of the 1926 article describe a meeting among certain citizens of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations at Gov. Colbert’s home in old Pontotoc County, Chickasaw Nation, in February 1872.

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