Welcome to Rentiesville!
In 1903, the black town of Rentiesville was started when William Rentie and Phoebe McIntosh gave 20 acres each. J.J Hudson became the first postmaster on May 11, 1904, when the post office opened. B.C. Franklin, who would later witness the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, became the second postmaster. Resident F.P. Brinson became the first mayor of the town. The businesses in the town included a lumber store, cotton gin, general store, and mercantile company. A church and school were built immediately. William Rentie was the town’s lawman. There’s a few cases in which the founders of black towns became the keepers of the law. L.B. Tatums was a U.S. Deputy Marshal in his town Tatums. Rentie was also a U.S. Deputy Marshal of his town. He was killed in 1908 by Garfield Walker, a drunken man he had once arrested for disorderly conduct. The town had several hundred residents before declining to 66 in 1990. Only 128 people lived in the town in 2010 with about that many remaining today. The notable historian John Hope Franklin, son of Buck Colbert Franklin, is a native of the town. B.C. Franklin was born in the all-Black town of Homer in the Chickasaw Nation, just 23 years after the abolishment of slavery in Indian Territory. He attended college in Atlanta and Nashville before moving to Rentiesville. He struggled in his law practice before becoming a successful lawyer with an office on Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. B.C. is most known for defending victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre against a proposed fire ordinance revision that was systematically being put in place to make the rebuilding of Black Wall Street impossible. With B.C.’s leadership and representation, many victims were able to rebuild their homes through successful insurance claims. John Hope was a highly decorated American historian with over 100 honorary degrees. He has been recognized throughout the world and was given numerous awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995. John attended college at Fisk and Harvard universities, served as professor emeritus at Duke University and chair of President Bill Clinton’s advisory panel for race relations. His book From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans has sold over 3.5 million copies.
Famed blues musician D. C. Minner, an Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Famer, is also from Rentiesville. Before his passing, D.C. along with his wife and band mate, Selby Minner, ran the Down Home Blues Club. This is a famous hole in the wall juke joint frequented as a stop on the Chitlin Circuit, a spot where some of the finest black musicians have played. The home slash club was once a corn whiskey hub, a successful business run by D.C.’s grandmother who raised him and said, “This boy is gonna be Somebody,” which is the title of his biography. Every Labor Day weekend the nationally known Dusk Til Dawn Blues Festival commences there averaging 30 blues acts coming from all across the nation. Rentiesville is also the site of the Honey Springs Battlefield and visitors center. The Battle of Honey Springs was the most diverse battle in the history of the Civil War. The battle is often called the “Gettysburg of the West.” A win for the north gave the Union Army control over Indian Territory when Indian soldiers along with the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry of black soldiers defeated the Confederate Army made up of Indian soldiers of the 5 tribes fighting alongside whites for the south. This was the first time black soldiers got any real action during the Civil War and was a testament to the strength, heart, and hope black soldiers possessed against the prevailing sentiments of black men being inferior and incapable of matching the abilities and bravery of white men. Rentiesville is located about 70 miles Southeast of Tulsa and is the nucleus conjoining the 3 legs of the 13 Black Towns Tour.