Oklahoma Adventure – Oldest Known Grave in Oklahoma

If you are ever in far southeastern Oklahoma, say around Tom (you know where Tom, Oklahoma is at, right? No? Idabel? Go to Idabel and keep going) be sure and stop by and see the oldest known grave in Oklahoma at the Garland Cemetery. It is a rural, very remote cemetery that requires driving down a gravel driveway to find, but when you get there you can see the oldest known birthdate on a gravestone in Oklahoma. Below is the inscription from the Oklahoma Historical Society marker:

Small cemetery nearby contains graves of Choctaw chief Samuel Garland (1862 – 64) and family members including his mother-in-law, Sophie Pitchlynn. Peter Pitchlynn, son of Sophie and John Pitchlynn, was chief 1864 — 66. Garland migrated from Mississippi during Choctaw removal in 1830s, opened and operated large plantation in vicinity with black slave labor. Cemetery is the only remaining evidence of Garland occupation. Headstone of Sophie Pitchlynn bears birthdate of December 27, 1773, believed to be earliest in Oklahoma.

To get there you plug these GPS coordinates into your system or click the download link below the map:

GPS Coordinates for Garland Cemetery: 33.747340, -94.498117

Sophie Pitchlynn lived to be nearly 98 years old and was born before the United States declared independence from Britain!

The graveyard is about 13/4 mile north of Highway 3 on N4815 graveled county road – one mile west of the OK/AR state line. You will see a long driveway going west back into the woods. Follow it about 200 yards and you will see the graveyard. Any bike can make the trip, even a heavily loaded street bike, as long as you don’t mind just a bit of hard packed gravel.

Garland Cemetary is home to the oldest known gravestone in Oklahoma.

Garland Cemetary is home to the oldest known gravestone in Oklahoma.

The grave of Sophia Pitchlynn is the oldest known gravestone in Oklahoma. She was born in 1773, well before American declared independence from Britain.

The grave of Sophia Pitchlynn is the oldest known gravestone in Oklahoma. She was born in 1773, well before American declared independence from Britain.

Garland Family Cemetery

Garland Family Cemetery

Garland Family Cemetery

Garland Family Cemetery

Garland Family Cemetery

Garland Family Cemetery

About James Pratt

I am an Oklahoma based writer, photographer, videographer and adventurer. I love telling stories about people. A motorcycle is my preferred means of travel, and I have over 5,000 hours piloting small airplanes.

Comments

  1. Judy Fields says:

    Our grandfather died in the Tom area around 1932. Is Garland the only cemetery? I have been looking for a record of where he is buried, but can’t find anything.

    • I don’t know all that much about the area, but the guy that knows ALL about McCurtain County is Kenny Sivard with the McCurtain County Historical Society. I will email you his contact information. He is a young guy but a history buff, and he especially knows the history of SE Oklahoma.

  2. Jesse Chisholm’s grave is two years older 1869.

    • Correction…1868!

    • Judy Hamilton says:

      My great grandfather died in the Tom area in about December 1932. I have been trying to find his grave or some information on him with no luck. My family was Choctaw descent and very poor and I wonder if they were allowed at that time to bury people without records being kept? I plan to come to the Tom area this summer. Do you know of any historians in the area that I might talk to in order to finish off some of our ancestry search. Ancestry.com and Family Search are not turning up anything.

      Thanks. Wish I was there. Judy Hamilton

      • Contact Kenny Sivard in Idabel. He is head of the McCurtain County Historical Society and a wealth of knowledge about that area. Sorry, don’t have his number but should be able to find him through Facebook or the Historical Society.

  3. james garland says:

    this is the grave of my great great great grandfather.

  4. Tommy Garrett says:

    Oaklawn cemtery in Wynnewood Oklahoma has a Confederate soldier buried in 1863

  5. I am a descendant of the Garlands Buried here. My Grandfather was TA Garland II. a descendant of the Pitchlynn / Garland clan of Choctaw.
    Very cool to come across this. We were there a couple summers ago.

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