– The City of Atoka began as an Indian village, and evidence of Indian camps (including arrowheads and other Indian artifacts) have been excavated over the decades.
– The City of Atoka was named for Captain Atoka Oshlatubee, Chief of the Pushmataha district. He was born in 1792 and died sometime during the Civil War. His name was derived from the Choctaw “hitoka,” which means ball ground.
– The location of the town is on the summit of Colton Ridge, which extends from Egypt North to Rosemark.
– The Town of Atoka was incorporated first in the latter part of the 1800s. Between 1876 and 1877, the population was between 400-500.
– The early town contained a steam grist mill, cotton gin, two churches, two schools (segregated), several stores, a hotel, and ships produce.
– The first railroad tracks were laid from Memphis to Atoka in 1872; the name of the railroad at the time was Newport News and Mississippi Valley
– Atoka Academy started in about 1875.
– 1878: the yellow fever epidemic hit Memphis (this will be the subject of a future Fun Facts!)
– In 1894, Atoka had a Potato Grower’s Association.
– The Town’s charter lapsed sometime around the turn of the century and was not renewed until 1911.
– The first mayor was Dr. J.F. Benton.
– We have virtually no official records of this part of our town’s history, due to a fire that destroyed the Atoka Bank (which housed all Town documents).
– There aren’t many photos of this time (that we can affirmatively date) but enjoy some of the older shots of the town we were able to find!
[From Town of Atoka Facebook page, shared by Roma McDaniel Howard]
The City of Atoka was founded in 1872 along the newly constructed tracks of the Memphis and Paducah Railroad upon the lands of Hugh Thompson. The founders of the new town selected the Indian word “Atoka” meaning ball ground as the name of their village.
Located half-way between the towns of Mt. Zion and Portersville on the new railroad, Atoka soon became the shipping point for lumber and cotton from the surrounding area. As the retail establishments in the town multiplied, the population grew accordingly. By the late 1870’s the population of the little town had grown to around 500 inhabitants.
In 1895, the first Rural Free Delivery Routes were set-up by the United States Post Office and Atoka was selected as one of the first three American towns to participate in the program.–The town was first incorporated in the nineteenth century but the town leaders allowed the charter to lapse. Atoka was reincorporated in 1911 and the town continues to operate under that charter.
In 1928, tragedy struck. A tornado leveled the business district and much of the residential district. Many were injured and one resident was killed.
by David A. Gwinn, Tipton County Genealogist and Historian