Talihina’s Lost History: The First Church of Talihina

Talihina’s Lost History: The First Church of Talihina

After months of looking through Talihina papers and research, we have discovered a lot of history of this old pioneer church.

Likely built some time in the 1880s, the building was headed by local pastor, Charles W Burke, who held services on the 3rd Sunday each month at 11 am and 7:30 pm. During the mid 1890s the church saw many changes, becoming a hotspot for local lodges and a schoolhouse for over 75 students. 

In April of 1894, under the direction of H. P. Mabry, it became home of the Talihina Graded School and would begin molding the very bright futures of many famous Talihina children. The feelings of community and collective around the school can be summarized by this excerpt from Mabry following the New Years program of 1894: 

“The entertainment given by the students of the Talihina Graded School on New Year’s night under the management of the teacher was, despite all opposition, a great success. The snowstorm was almost blinding and the weather too inclement for hardy men to venture abroad, yet the Presbyterian Church, which is used as a school house, with fair ladies and brave men and many children to listen to the various dialogues and various other selections on the program for the evening’s performance. Said program was well arranged from beginning to end and was thoroughly appreciated and warmly applauded. The entertainment lasted from 7:30 to 10 o’clock p.m. It is too tedious to give an account of the many participants but suffice it to say that the smallest tot as well as the more mature performed his part to the satisfaction of all and clearly showed that Talihina has a fine theatrical talent as any place in our country, and that the present faculty possesses the ability to make the most out of the ones entrusted to their care for training. The recitations were of the choicest kind. Each dialogue contained a useful lesson and left a moral worthy to be remembered. The stage was beautifully decorated with evergreens, curtains and pictures. We are glad to know that at the close of the present term we are to be related to another which promises to excel anything ever witnessed in Talihina. 


Here is one of the first available honor rolls, which were monthly publications in the Talihina News along with a detailed write-up of Talihina Cemetery Decoration Day.

Many of the family names listed in this honor roll are shared with our streets both old and new. Several are the children of founders of Talihina and other nearby towns.

As a church it saw many pastors (as was common at the time) including some very famous names like: Rev. Peter Hudson, the Superintendent of Tuskahoma Female Academy and Rev. W. R. King who would preach for the dedication of a new building for parsonage finished in 1895. King is of note as he founded the Henry Kendall College which would later become the University of Tulsa which still stands today. 

Peter James Hudson

As a community pillar, it became home to the following orders, some of which would later relocate: Knights of Pythias, International Order of Odd Fellows, Ancient Order of United Workmen, Ladies Aid Society and Ladies Federated Club. The second floor was specially remodeled at the time of it’s roof-renewal in 1895 to allow for the increased traffic for both the school and many orders that called this magnificent church home.

What is believed to be the Knights of Pythias, in front of the Presbyterian Church

Share this post

Leave a Reply