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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Located in Choctaw County, Boswell lies at the intersection of State Highway 109 and U.S. Highway 70, twenty miles west of Hugo. In the vicinity, approximately two miles north, the region's early Choctaws established Mayhew after their removal to Indian Territory. In 1839 the Presbyterians established a church and mission school there. Noah Wall had built a tavern at this location, which lay on a road between Fort Towson and Boggy Depot and Fort Towson and Fort Washita. In 1841 Charles F. Stewart married Wall's daughter, Tryphena, and the next year opened a trading post. In 1845 the U.S. Postal Service designated a Mayhew post office, which sporadically remained in existence through the nineteenth century. The community grew in importance as the Choctaw Nation's Pushmataha District Capital and court grounds. As the federal government, through the Curtis Act (1898), abolished the Five Tribes' governments, Mayhew's relevance dwindled. By 1901 the town had an estimated population of twenty-nine, one cotton gin, and one general store.

In 1902 the Arkansas and Choctaw Railway, which became the St. Louis, San Francisco and New Orleans Railroad, and later the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, laid tracks through the area. Mayhew businesses and residents moved south to the tracks, developing a new town. In September 1902 the postal designation changed to Boswell, in honor of Amity V. Boswell, who surveyed the railroad right-of-way. In 1903 the village incorporated through the Central District Court of Indian Territory at Durant. By 1907 statehood the community's population registered 836 residents. In 1911 the town had two banks, a telephone connection, a cotton gin, two hotels, and several retail outlets. Farming and ranching anchored the economy, with cotton, corn, and fruits shipped from the railroad depot. The 1920 population stood at 1,212, but declined to 934 in 1930. In 1932 three cotton gins operated there. The Boswell Citizen, the Submarine, the Boswell News, and the Boswell Times have reported local occurrences.

In 1940 the population was 962. African Americans attended the Dunjee Separate School, named for Oklahoma City's Roscoe Dunjee. After the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision (1954), the school became part of the Boswell school district, but the students did not actually attend with white students until Dunjee school closed in 1965. The town remained a viable agricultural community through the end of the twentieth century, with a population of 753 in 1960 and 702 in 1980. In 1937 an annual Boswell homecoming and old settlers celebration commenced and continued into the twenty-first century. The 2000 population stood at 703. That year 422 students enrolled in the prekindergarten-through-twelfth-grade consolidated school district. In 2010 the population rose to 709.

Larry O'Dell


"Boswell," Hugo (Oklahoma) Daily News, 1 July 1977.

Boswell (Oklahoma) News, 27 June 1952.

"Old-Time Choctaw Court Grounds at Mayhew Now is Only Memory," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 20 March 1927.

Muriel H. Wright, "Tryphena," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 9 (June 1931).

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Larry O'Dell, “Boswell,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=BO023.

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