Monday, September 21, 2015

Fit For A (Confederate) King

Without doubt, one of the most unique private 
residences in the South is the Captain Reynolds' Castle 
in the small community of Cameron, Oklahoma.
Cameron is located in LeFlore County, between the cities 
of Fort Smith, Arkansas and Poteau, Oklahoma.

Constructed in 1890 of natural stone mined 
from a nearby quarry, the castle was built by 
Captain J.E. Reynolds for his wife, Felicity 
Turnbull Reynolds, who listed among her 
ancestors the prominent Mississippi Choctaw
Chief Greenwood LeFlore.

A Confederate veteran who had been 
wounded in Tennessee, Captain Reynolds 
came to LeFlore County after the Civil War 
and established his family just outside of 
Fort Smith where the community of Arkhoma 
exists today. Reynolds prospered in the 
Indian Territory and became a successful 
merchant and rancher. He was heavily 
involved in the development of coal mines in 
the region.

The Reynolds family, which grew to include a 
number of children, lived in their Arkoma 
home for more than twenty years until the 
Frisco Railroad was built southwest from 
Fort Smith to Paris, Texas, in 1886. Two 
years later a post office was established in 
the new railroad town of Cameron and in 
1890 Mrs. Reynolds secured title to a parcel 
of land there. Construction of the castle 
began a short time later.

Built of native stone mined from a quarry on 
the nearby hillside, the castle was built with 
two octagonal towers, thick stone walls and 
coal-burning fireplaces.

Captain Reynolds dedicated one room to 
preserving mementos of the Civil War, 
including flag-draped portraits of Southern 
generals. Late in life he wrote that he was 
"still an unreconstructed Confederate," 
explaining to a niece that he "surrendered 
(his) individuality" when Southern soldiers 
stacked their arms and surrendered.

In an interesting footnote to his life, the captain 
contacted another former Confederate officer, 
Virginia's "Gray Ghost" John Mosby, at the 
outbreak of World War I and offered to join 
him in forming a unit of former Confederates 
to fight in Europe.

Captain and Mrs. Reynolds lived in the castle 
at Cameron until around 1911 when he 
became involved in the development of the 
modern community of Arkoma. They built a 
new home there at about that time. Both died 
in 1920 and are buried in Fort Smith's 
historic Oak Cemetery, where their graves 
are marked by the statues of two women 
helping a wounded Confederate soldier. He 
had been rescued from a battlefield at New 
Hope, Georgia by the two daughters of his 
commanding officer.

Although the Captain's Castle is a private 
residence, it can be seen from Castle Street 
in Cameron. One of the few castles ever built 
in the South, it is listed on the National 
Register of Historic Places.

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