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African American Lives 2 -- Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
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Sharing Stories: One Family's Story
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STORYTELLER LOCATION YEAR TOOK PLACE TELLER'S PLACE OF ORIGIN HOW YOU HEARD
Grandmother, Father McIntosh County (Eufaula, Huttonville), Oklahoma 1890s Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Traditional story

Today we call it eminent domain. During the landrun of 1889, the Burkhalter Family from the Lamar Co, TX (along the Red River Oklahoma/Texas Border) settled in McIntosh Co. (known as Creek Nation). They secured nearly 300 acres of land in eastern Oklahoma. Under the late President Teddy Roosevelt, the Army Corps of Engineers were sent to develop a water body, what is now called Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, OK.

Due to economics and increasing the longevity of a people, Lake Eufaula and other water bodies were constructed throughout the 1900s in Oklahoma. Known for its dusty, arid plains, Oklahoma is the only state with over a 100 man-made bodies of water.

The Burkhalters sold a vast amount of their land to the federal government. By law, the government has to gain the best value. Therefore, the Burkhalters received little financial compensation for their land. Today this day Burkhalter family has several remaining acres in the McIntosh Co. with some lakeside property.

The legend states the lake was developed mostly on areas settled by Creek Freedmen and other black settlers, taking well over thousand acres of land. The legend of the descendants from this area state due to racial prejudice, the land of blacks were chosen by the governmeent to develop the lake. Why? Oklahoma was seen as the land of opportunity and a new promise for many people -- white and black. Oklahoma represented the largest amount of all-black towns than any other state in the United States of America. For instance the defunct town of Huttonville, which was started by Joesph Hutton, Sr. was an all-black town in the early 1900s in McIntosh Co. Some Huttons married into the Burkhalter family and now are located in Oklahoma and California.

Given the Dust Bowl area, many Okies, known as migrant workers, went further West to California to have a better life. Consequently, economics and racism motivated the enactment of policies that lessened the progress of the black people. Thus areas like Greenwood District, known as the Black Wall Street, were burned.

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Major corporate funding for African American Lives 2 and its outreach initiatives is provided by The Coca-Cola Company and Johnson & Johnson. Additional corporate funding is provided by Buick.
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KUNHARDT Thirteen/WNET New York