The first white man to come to Lafayette County as a settler was named John Covenant. He was an explorer, adventurer and what we know as a frontiersman today. He crossed into this territory along the Indian Trail known as the Natchez Trace, made friends with the Chickasaw Indians near Pontotoc and continued westward until he reached the beautiful and untouched forest around Oxford and the Tallahatchie River bottoms.
He found a land of plenty. Game was plentiful, the Indians peaceful and friendly, and trapping along the River and it’s tributaries was excellent. He built a cabin on the edge of the creek close to where the Oxford Library is today and set up camp. The Indian village was almost a days ride North and he kept his privacy except for the occasional Indian or white traveler. At that time there were two trails that came across the area. The trail west from Pontotoc and the main trail that started somewhere near Mobile, wound up through Mississippi, came into the area where the communities of Toccopola and Yocona are east of Oxford and they met right in front of his camp.
Over a year he became almost part of the tribe as he was such a novelty to the Indians with his strange skin and strange ways. He learned much from the Chickasaw and in turn taught them about his way of life. He would have moved further west within a year or two, if not for one small thing. He fell in love with a beautiful young Indian girl.
This was not any Indian girl. This was Hoka, the daughter of Chief Tobo Tubby, Chief of all the Chickasaw tribe and the cost to win her was not easy. Covenant worked another year gathering furs, building canoes, trading for horses and bartering for gifts before he was allowed to marry the young woman in the Indian tradition. Hoka was also the sister of Toby Tubby.
Covenant and Hoka set up house at his cabin and it did not take long until it had evolved into a trading post. Hoka was bright and quickly learned about trading and the white mans desire for money and gold. She worked hard to get the help of the Indians in the area for trade and the establishment of business in dealing with the white men. Toby Tubby became their closest friend and learned everything he could about trade and the value of money.
Supplies came up the river and for a fee in barter or cash, the supplies were loaded and brought to his little trading post. The suppliers were paid, the Indians received a transport fee and everyone was happy.
Soon white settlers arrived and Covenant and his wife managed to figure a way to rent lots to them for homes and as several businesses sprang up along the top of the hill above them. The land still belonged to the Indians, Covenant leased the land and received a fee from Chief Tobo. This went well for several years as white settlers continued to pour into the land, until during a hard winter the great Chief became ill and died.
Toby Tubby became Chief of the tribe and opened up even more opportunities for the Indians. He began to operate a ferry to handle people crossing the river. He leased rich bottomland for crops that fed the Indians and whites alike. He allowed timber to be cut, roads to be built, several towns such as College Hill and Wyatte began to be laid out and settled, businesses flourished and the money earned enriched his tribe in a different way of life.
Although the Indian people adjusted to the new lifestyle of the white settlers, many left and the push of the whites seemed never ending. Chief Toby Tubby realized that the white men were there to stay and that he and his tribes days were numbered, even as they changed their way of life to embrace the whites.
John Covenant died soon after that time and Hoka was left handling the trading post, the white settlers, and much of the business of the tribe. She began to be respectfully known to the new towns people as Princess Hoka and was the friend of all, but times were changing.
In 1832 the Treaty of Pontotoc was signed. This ceded all Indian Lands to the United States Government. Chief Toby Tubby, as chief of the tribe handled the money paid to his tribe but was allowed to keep many sections to sell as he wanted or to divide it up to give to his family. Princess Hoka, as his sister, received 160 acres where the town of Oxford stands today.
In 1836 Princess Hoka let it be known that she wished to sell her parcel of land and join many of the Indians that had already left for Oklahoma. She was approached by three growing landowners and businessmen that had high hopes to have the new town named as the county seat. These men are shown on the deed that she signed with an X as John Chisolm, John Martin, and John Craig. The deed was witnessed by the new local Indian Agent and the deal was struck. She received $800 in cash, sold her trading post for another $300, packed her things and went west. In the Lafayette County deed book it says Hoka “bargained, sold, deeded, and conveyed” the land for a “consideration…of Eight Hundred Dollars,”
She was never seen again.
The town of Oxford was founded on August 9, 1837