Some of the information that follows is from memory, some is from an Internet site, and some is from “Henryetta Area Historical Highlights – From the 1836 Trail of Tears compiled and written by Lois Baird Rodriquez.  That book is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the founding and early days of Henryetta.  At one time, it could be purchased at the Henryetta Territorial Museum located, and that might still be possible.  Most of the information about Nacogdoches, Texas and “The Old Stone Fort” is from material obtained from files at the Nacogdoches public library while visiting there.  While this story contains some historical information about Hugh Henry and his life before arriving in Henryetta,  its main thrust is to address questions about his effect on the founding and naming of Henryetta.
Hugh Henry
HUGHMost who grew up in Henryetta long ago (the 1930s and 40s for me) thought the town was named for Hugh Henry and his wife, Etta.  That was just how it was and we didn’t question or wonder about it.  We all recognized the big “Henry House” at the top of the hill north of town where Easter egg hunts were held when we were children in the 1930s, and knew Hugh Henry was the first resident and founder of the town.  So we just accepted the idea that the town was named for him and his wife, Etta.  But Hugh Henry never had a wife named Etta.
Hugh Henry was born January 13, 1848 in the “Old Stone Fort” at Nacogdoches, Texas.  He was the third son of W. D. Henry, a Georgian, and Levisa Hutton, a half-breed Creek (so Hugh was a quarter-blood), who moved to Texas in 1832.  
Nacogdoches, the oldest town or city in Texas, is the home of today’s Stephen F. Austin State University, and is located near the Sabine River.  Back when the Sabine was the border between French territory in Louisiana to the east and Spanish territory to the west, Nacogdoches was established at the eastern edge of the Spanish territory as an outpost to attempt to prevent French intrusion.
stone fortThe “Old Stone Fort,” a two story building which was about and 30 X 80 feet,  was built in 1779 as the stone house of  Don Antonio Gil Y’Barbaro, the Provincial Governor, in a town square that later became part of downtown Nacogdoches.  The square was private property, but because of Y’Barbaro’s civil and military authority, the stone house took on a public nature.
It was on El Camino Real, one of the oldest roads in North America, -  the Spanish laid it out in 1715 on a trail  that had already existed for over 30 years. 
Nacogdoches was the capital of Spanish and Mexican Texas, and The “Old Stone Fort” served at one time as the capital or headquarters of the territory.  It later housed Sam Houston’s law office when he first arrived in the area.  The building had several owners through the years and was known as the “Old Stone House” until the middle 1800s when its owners began to call it the “Old Stone Fort Saloon” – later shortened to the “Old Stone Fort.” 
Some people named Perkins bought it in 1901 with the intention of demolishing it, even though it was supposedly the oldest stone structure in Texas.  After a local historical group was unsuccessful in stopping the demolition, the group bought its stones when it was demolished in 1902 and placed them in storage in another downtown square.  Some were later used in building a public school and then, during the 1936 centennial celebration of the founding of the Republic of Texas, the remaining original stones were used to build a replica of the “Old Stone Fort” that is now a museum on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University.
Hugh Henry’s mother died in 1852 and he remained in Eastern Texas with his grandmother for about eleven years.  (I don’t know what happened to Hugh’s father or the circumstances that led to Hugh’s being born in the “Old Stone Fort.” Jack Gibson, a long-time, well-known Henryettan, might have known, since he married Hugh’s youngest daughter, Tchiniinia, - but Jack died in 2000.  (Jack did the public address announcing for every Henryetta Hen home sporting event from 1937 through 1993 and started the announcing of each event by shouting a loud “Hello-o-o-o-  Everybody”)
When quite young, Hugh became a cowboy, a member of the Hart Brothers' cow camp until 1863, when he joined a Texas Regiment commanded by General Terry of the Confederate army.  But he served just eight months, leaving well before   the Civil War ended.   Then he became a frontiersman in earnest, and was engaged in driving stock between San Antonio and St. Louis.  He then went to the buffalo range to hunt for hides, but with buffalo becoming scarce, he drove some cattle north in the fall of 1867 and stopped at the Canadian River in Indian Territory.  
There, he joined in the cattle business with his uncle, Watt Grayson of Eufaula and cousins Sam and Wash Grayson, and worked with them until 1891.  While in business with the Graysons, Hugh married Malinda Ann Dickerson, a Texas white girl, in 1871.  She died in 1883, leaving him two small children.  In 1885, he married a Missouri girl, Arminta Jane Exon, also white,1 in Eufaula.  They relocated to the northwest and built a little house next to Coal Creek, near an outcropping of coal about six miles east of what is now Henryetta – probably near the later location of Hoffman or Grayson.  Jack Gibson said many years later old hugh henry houseHugh told Arminta, “This is where we will live, because where there is coal, a railroad will surely come.”  
Soon after Hugh and Arminta located near Coal Creek, railroad surveyors mapping routes in Indian Territory reached Deep Fork River south of Okmulgee and lost their food supply in the river.  A nearby rancher told them a Creek Indian named Hugh Henry lived about six miles to the east, and he would have a supply of food.  While they are at Hugh’s he showed them a vein of coal through which the creek flowed.  That trip by surveyors to Hugh Henry’s resulted in that the Frisco and the Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf (later Kansas, Oklahoma & Gulf) were both built through Henryetta.  The first train reached Henryetta in September 1900.  
Hugh was awarded a government Creek Indian allotment of 160 acres in 1890,  and first built a house near Coal Creek on what is today’s Lake Road just east of today’s downtown Henryetta and then a house at a spot believed to have been between today’s Fifth and Sixth Streets on Moore Street.  He and Arminta were the first permanent residents within the limits of today’s Henryetta.henry house today
Three pioneers, Henry Beard, George Clark and Lake Moore, formed a town-site company in early 1900 and made arrangements with Hugh Henry to apportion his allotment into town lots that would be sold.  But under the law that applied to his allotment, he could not sell legal title to the land.  So he traded his land back to the government in exchange for 160 acres north of town.  (The “Henry House that still stands at the top of the hill north of Henryetta was built on that land beginning in 1902.)  The land he traded back to the government became a government-recognized town-site.
The town was first known as Henry City.  A post office had been established at a nearby location called Sonora in the 1890s and mail to the new town was originally addressed to Henry City, Senora, Indian Territory.  A Muskogee man named Means built its first store in early 1900 near today’s Sixth and Main and a tent city sprang up.  The first post office under the official name of “Henryetta” opened August 28, 1900.  The Frisco and K. O. & G. tracks arrived in September of that year, mainly because of the coal deposits.
In about 1929, Olin Meacham, Henryetta’s first mayor, and Lake Moore, one of the organizers of the original town-site, explained how the town came to be named “Henryetta.”  They said postal authorities rejected the proposed “Henry City” because there were already too many territorial towns with “City” in their names.  The name of “Hughhenry” was also rejected.  According to Meacham and Moore, the two of them were discussing other possible names one evening in the spring of 1900 when Henry Beard, another of the town-site organizers, walked into the tent with his wife, Etta.  One of them (it isn’t known which) said “Here is the name of our post office.  Let’s name it after Henry and Etta Beard.”  So the town was named Henryetta.
George Riley Hall, who founded the Free-Lance in 1902, always contended the town name was a variation of “Henrietta,” the feminine form of “Henry.  But since the town was named before Hall arrived there, I consider his contention as less credible than that of Meacham and Moore.  Nevertheless, Hall always insisted the town was named after Hugh Henry.  Hugh Henry was much better known around town than Henry Beard, and was known longer, too.  So as time passed, people tended to believe the “Henry” part came from Hugh and that his wife’s name inspired the “etta”.
arminta and Wynemah henrySo there it is.  I believe Etta Beard was the inspiration for the “etta.”  Everyone can decide for themselves as to whether Hugh Henry or Henry Beard was the inspiration for the “Henry.”  Those who like the “and his wife, Etta” phrase should probably attribute it to Henry Beard.  Those who prefer to recognize that Hugh Henry built the first house on the land, that the town was first known as “Henry City,” and that even “Hughhenry” had been proposed as the town name, should probably attribute at least the Henry part t to Hugh Henry.  I grew up liking the idea that it was named for Hugh Henry, and without meaning to show a lack of respect to the memory of Henry Beard, I still cling to that idea, even though I must acknowledge that “etta” came from Henry Beard’s wife.  Naming it for two people who are not related might not make sense to others, but I’m satisfied.
As mentioned earlier, Jack Gibson married Hugh Henry’s youngest daughter, Tchininia.  Hugh Henry had twelve children, two by Melinda Dickerson and ten by Arminta Exon. 
henry familyIt is believed that Tchininia is the second child from the left in this picture.  Jack Gibson and Tchininia (“Chinky” or “Nina”) were married in 1923.  Hugh Henry died in about 1918.  His wife, Arminta, died in the early 1930s after a period of illness at the home of her Henryetta daughter, Mrs. Steve Gilliam near the old, and long since abandoned, Coal Creek bridge near what would be 2nd Street, on Corporation Street.  During that illness, she was cared for by Mrs. Rodriquez, the future mother-in-law of Lois Rodriquez Baird, who later compiled and published a book about the early days of Henryetta.  
There’s another Hugh Henry connection to mention.  Hugh’s daughter, Hettie, whose mother, Malinda, died when she was a small child, married Edward Nolan Burgess, a full-blood Creek born in 1890 near Schulter. 
(Hettie was the grown lady to the right in the above picture, while Arminta, her step mother is the other adult.) 
Edward Nolan Burgess became the World Champion steer Roper, but was killed in 1923 while performing in the Cheyenne rodeo.  Edward and Hettie’s son, also Edward Nolan Burgess, was born in 1913 and was raised primarily by his grandmother, Yannah Burgess.  When he was a child, he began to look for snakes and developed a liking to capture, handle, and play with them.  As an adult, he gained national attention as Buck Burgess, or Chief Lone Eagle, who performed his famous snake dance at rodeos and functions throughout the country and for famous people, including Dwight Eisenhower, with two to four black snakes dangling from their heads inside Buck’s mouth.2  
buck burgessI knew Buck Burgess when I was small.  He was a 1931 or 1932 graduate of HHS and my mother had been his second grade teacher at Irving school in 1921-22.  She delighted in telling my sisters and me of the day he came to school and whispered to her that he was late because there was a new baby sister at his house.  Buck Burgess was the subject of an earlier one of these stories, and readers might want to look back at that story to refresh their knowledge of Buck, his wife Wanza, his daughter, Edwana, and his son, Eddie. 
2 Many people thought Buck was a full- blood Creek.  But he was just nine-sixteenths.  Hugh Henry was a quarter, so his daughter Hettie, who had a white mother, was an eighth.  So one-sixteenth of Buck’s  blood was from Hettie,, and eight-sixteenths was from his full-blood father, Edwatd, who was killed in the 1924 Cheyenne rodeo.   So Buck’s Creek blood was nine-sixtenths.