Courthouse History

     The Saline District Courthouse is the only remaining one of nine rural courthouses built in the 1880's by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. The original structure, built in 1884, was about half the size it is now. It was later added to and adapted to use as a country home. The courthouse sits on 14 acres along with a springhouse and the Teehee Cemetery. The Saline community consisted of a general store, blacksmith shop, grist mill, hotel and several homes.

The rural courthouses had jurisdiction over all criminal misdemeanor crimes, and civil suits under $100 dollars. Cases involving over $100 were heard at the Supreme Court in Tahlequah, OK. The most important offices were Clerk, Sheriff, Judge and Solicitor. All four were elected offices and played an essential role in the district.

When the US Congress passed the Curtis Act in 1898, the Saline District Courthouse closed it’s doors. The land was allotted to Felix Teehee and the courthouse sold for $75 to James Teehee. The site and buildings were later sold in 1912 to John M & Poca Phillips. The Phillips sold the property to their son John Riley Phillips (aka Coon Phillips) in 1917. Dr. SW Perkins (aka Doc Perkins & Grandpa Perkins) purchased the acreage and courthouse in 1933 and owned it until his death in the 1940s. Then Lee & Florine Ransom purchased the site in 1952 and sold it to the State of Oklahoma Industrial and Park Department in 1970. The State of Oklahoma returned the site to the Cherokee Nation in 1980's, under the administration of Wilma Mankiller.

The Saline Preservation Association, a non profit, was formed in 2003. Restoration of the site is currently underway.


Courthouse History for Sale

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The Saline Court House Massacre

by Omer L. Morgan

Reprinted with the Permission of the Oklahoma Historical Society.
Copy write 1955; Reprinted with Permission from The Chronicles of Oklahoma (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 1955)