NAMES ALONG THE LINE-The Katy Flyer June 2000
No matter how large or small, virtually every town along the Katy Railroad has had an interesting, if not truly fascinating, story behind it. For example, when did it come into being? How did it get its name? Has it prospered clear to today or become a ghost town? What was its actual significance to the railroad? Today's Atoka, Oklahoma is certainly a typical case in point with quite a bit of rich history associated with it. This is the story.
Shortly after it was first settled, Atoka pronounced "A-tok-a", was assigned as the Record Town for Recording District No. 23 of the then Indian Territory of today's southeastern Oklahoma. The town was named for Captain Atoka, a local Choctaw Indian ball-player, with the Atoka spelling being a derivation of the Choctaw word "hitoka" or "hetoka", meaning "ballground." The first U.S. Post Office at Atoka was established on January 23, 1868. This was actually a few years before the first arrival of the MK&T in the fall of 1872. When the Katy tracks did reach Atoka, the residents seven miles to the southwest at Boggy Depot, were quick to take note. It didn't take long before the majority of them packed up and moved to the new MK&T railhead. Boggy Depot had been an old Indian settlement on the Texas Trail, and the initial capital of the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes. But the coming of the railroad changed all that. The Indian Agency was quickly transferred to Atoka and literally overnight, the town was suddenly on the map as a busy and prospering little settlement.