Wednesday, October 03, 2018

James J. Trott: Missionary to the Cherokees, 1

In early December 1831, James J. Trott, sent a letter to Alexander Campbell, editor of the Millennial Harbinger. Filled with notes of both hardship and joy, the letter relates a story of pilgrimage.

Trott was born in North Carolina in 1800. Around the year 1815, he moved with his family to Tennessee. There, in 1821, he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, and two years later became one of their circuit riders. His career with the Methodist "travelling connexion" soon took him to Georgia where for five years he worked among the Indians. His devotion and commitment to the Cherokees brought him into direct conflict with the government.[1]

As historian Tim Alan Garrison explains, beginning in the late 1820s, Georgia required all white people living in Creek or Cherokee lands within the state's putative borders to swear an oath of allegiance to the state. What few sources acknowledge is that taking this oath implied a repudiation of the Indians' legal claim to any territory in Georgia. Dozens of missionaries who worked among Native Americans refused to take such an oath. Their only alternative was to leave the state. Otherwise, they violated state law.[2]

This background helps to explain a remarkable passage in Trott's letter to Campbell:
This year I have had some difficulties with the Georgians. I have been arrested, chained, imprisoned, condemned, reprieved, and banished the territory of the state, because I refused to take, what I believe to be, an unconstitutional and impious oath!
Then, he revealed an even greater source of heartbreak and sorrow:
My affliction has been increased by the loss of a pious Cherokee wife, who died not long since, leaving behind her two little ones, Benjamin and Mary.
During his confinement in Georgia, Trott had somehow happened upon the published work of Campbell. This marked the beginning of a change. He expressed his gratitude to the Lord that "the ancient gospel, like the sun of a cloudless morning," had risen upon the eyes of his understanding. He reported that on recent trip to visit his family in Tennessee, he was "immersed into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Now, he had returned to the Cherokee Nation where he was "on a tour, proclaiming the glad tidings."

Trott closed his letter affirming that whatever the destiny of the Cherokees, he expected to live and die with them. He stated that his "heart's desire and prayer to God" was that the "primitive gospel" would triumph among the Indians. By echoing Romans 10:1 in this way, Trott compared his devotion to the Cherokees to the Apostle Paul's concern for his fellow Jews.[3] And, as if to underscore the wholehearted and incarnational character of his mission, he signed his letter simply, "Cherokee."[4]

In all likelihood, Trott knew that Campbell would be sympathetic to his position and plight. The missionary probably had read the very first issue of the Millennial Harbinger, published in January of 1830, which included an article by Campbell titled "The Cherokee Indians."

Quoting the abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison, Campbell stated that the forcible removal of the Cherokees from Georgia would "brand this country with eternal infamy, and expose it to the accumulated vengeance of Heaven." He concluded by expressing his hope that there was enough justice, truth, and faith in the hearts of the American people that they would not allow "an innocent and harmless nation" to be given up "to the cupidity of a few capitalists in Georgia or anywhere else."[5]

Tragically, the United States did not realize this hope. Many Americans of European descent refused to conceive of a national expansion that included Indians. To them, manifest destiny was the destiny of white Americans only.


[1] James J. Trott, "To the Editor of the Millennial Harbinger," Millennial Harbinger (February 6, 1832), 85.

[2] Tim Alan Garrison, The Legal Ideology of Removal: The Southern Judiciary and the Sovereignty of Native American Nations (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2002),  169-97.

[3] According to the King James Bible, in Romans 10:1, Paul writes: "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved."

[4] Trott, "To the Editor of the Millennial Harbinger," 85.

[5] Alexander Campbell, "The Cherokee Indians" Millennial Harbinger (January 4, 1830), 44-46.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Alexander Campbell, "Woman and Her Mission" (1856)

This post summarizes and makes a few observations about Alexander Campbell's address to the students at Henry Female Seminary in Newcastle, Kentucky, on May 30, 1856. The speech, "Woman and Her Mission," appears in Campbell's collection titled Familiar Lectures and Addresses. The full bibliographic entry appears below.

Given the time of year, this might have been a commencement address. However, the transcription does not include any of the typical references to graduates that one would expect if this were a graduation speech.

Many parts of Campbell's address have nothing to do directly with his topic. His remarks include some of the his favorite points and observations. For example, when commenting on the creation of woman, Campbell sets out to undermine philosophical materialism. He contends that there exists no proof, nor even a way to imagine, that matter somehow generated spirit.

Campbell also denies that the first two chapters of the Bible are separate creation accounts in conflict with one another. He describes them, instead, as a general creation account in Genesis 1, followed by an expansive sequel in Genesis 2. The second chapter focuses on the sixth day of creation, especially the making of the first two humans, the zenith of God's creative work.

The early part of the speech also includes what I see as one of many statements in the writings of Campbell that implicitly deny the charge that "Campbellism" was a system of water-and-works salvation, merely baptism followed by a life of good deeds:
It is essential to our redemption, that some supernatural interposition should have been originated and instituted, else our escape from this condition would have been, so far as our reason or resources are concerned, wholly impossible (214). 
He positively asserts that neither human reason, imagination, nor creativity could have ever brought salvation to humanity. "Revelation alone meets the present conditions of our being" (214).

After these and several other preliminary remarks, Campbell turns to the theme of his title. In speaking about "woman," he makes a case for different gender roles that is deeply rooted in the biblical doctrine of creation. Citing Genesis 2:18--"And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him"--Campbell observes that "woman was created to be a companion, perfectly suitable to man." But this raises the more specific question, "For what was woman created and made?" (219).

According to English translations of Genesis 3:20, Adam called his wife Eve, a name that is translated from the Hebrew term whose central idea is Life. From this Campbell elaborates, "But she is not only the mere life of humanity, in its literal import, but the life and the spirit of all true and genuine civilization" (219). For this very reason, says Campbell, a person can judge any society by finding out how women are treated among them.

From there, Campbell states that woman "is, or may be, the better half" of humanity. And this, he emphasizes, is where we must identify gender distinctions and roles. Woman is the "better half" of humanity "not in muscular power, not in physical strength, not in animal courage, not in intellectual rigor, but in delicacy of thought, in sensitiveness of feeling, in patient endurance, in constancy of affection, in moral courage and in soul-absorbing devotion" (222). He clarifies what this does and does not mean in terms of intellect. Directly addressing his female hearers, Campbell says:
You study physical science, physiology, pneumatology, and probably some of you have even encountered and vanquished metaphysics. Of one thing we are assured, that these studies are as much within your grasp as they are within that of half the young gentlemen of the present living age (224).
Women are as intellectually capable as men. If anything, perhaps even more so. But this is not the end of the matter, because what people learn should be based on the "special calling, or the special mission, of each individual" (225). The schooling of a woman "should be equal to her mission" (226). And what is that mission? "She was an extract of man, in order to form man; in order to develop, perfect, beautify, and beatify man" (226).

It certainly appears that Campbell is saying woman's highest calling is to the role of wife (a suitable helper) and mother; to make "the patriot, the philanthropist and the Christian" (227). To women has been conferred "the sovereignty of the human heart." This means that women do not stand "in the front rank of the battle-field" (228). To be more specific:
There is no necessity to mount the rostrum, to stand up in public assemblies, to address mixed auditories of both sexes, of all classes and of all orders of society, in order to fill up the duties of your mission (228).
The Christian woman is one "who is always in her proper sphere" (228).


Campbell, Alexander. "Woman and Her Mission. Delivered before the Henry Female Seminary, Newcastle, KY., May 30 1856." in Popular Lectures and Addresses (St. Louis: Christian Publishing Company, 1864), pp. 213-30.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Political Leaders of the Chickasaws, 1830s-1987

The map above is Indian Territory, 1885. (Click on the map for a much larger view). The Chickasaw Nation was located in what is now South-Central Oklahoma.

The following is a chronological list of the Chiefs and Governors of the Chickasaw Nation, followed by a brief discussion, with notes, and set of questions I still have. (The numbers in parentheses indicate pertinent collections in the Western History Collections at OU, according to the printed guide by Kristina Southwell). I welcome your comments and ideas:

Era of the Chiefs

??-1839    George Colbert, Chickasaw Chief
??-1840s   Ishtehotopa, "king" of the Chickasaw
1844-46   Isaac Alberson, Chickasaw Chief
1846-48   James McLaughlin, Chickasaw Chief
1848-50   Edmund Pickens, Chickasaw Chief
1850-56   Daugherty Colbert, Chickasaw Chief


1856-58   Cyrus Harris (635, 698)
1858-60   Daugherty Winchester Colbert (317)
1860-62   Cyrus Harris
1862-64   Daugherty Winchester Colbert
1864-66   Daugherty Winchester Colbert
1866-68   Cyrus Harris
1868-70   Cyrus Harris
1870-71   W. P. Brown
1871-72   Thomas J. Parker (1185)
1872-74   Cyrus Harris
1874-76   Benjamin Franklin Overton (1174)
1876-78   Benjamin Franklin Overton
1878-80   Benjamin Crooks Burney (200)
1880-82   Benjamin Franklin Overton
1881        Hickeyubbee, acting governor
1882-84   Benjamin Franklin Overton
1884-86   Jonas Wolf (1643)
1886-88   William M. Guy (604)
1888-90   William Leander Byrd (213)
1890-92   William Leander Byrd
1892-94   Jonas Wolf
1894        Tecumseh A. McClure, acting governor (959)
1894-96   Palmer Mosely (1054)
1896-98   Robert Maxwell Harris (639)
1898-00   Douglas Henry Johnston (698, 790, 898)
1900-02   Douglas Henry Johnston
1902-04   Palmer Mosely
1904-06   Douglas Henry Johnston
1906        Peter Maytubby (Though elected in 1906, he never took office)
1906-39   Douglas Henry Johnston
1939-63   Floyd Maytubby
1963        E. B. "Hugh" Maytubby
1963-87   Overton James


As Muriel H. Wright explains,
Though Ishtehotopa was the "king" of the Chickasaw until his death in the late eighteen forties, the treaty of Doaksville was signed by the Chickasaw chief, George Colbert, who served as such until his death in 1839. Under provisions of this treaty, Chickasaw district chiefs were elected, but were not always in regular attendance at the annual sessions of the Choctaw General Council.[1]
In 1855, the Chickasaws finally established a greater political separation from their brother tribe, the Choctaws. In the years that followed, early electoral contests among the Chickasaws did not feature political parties as such. However, according to Arrell M. Gibson, in the years that followed the Civil War, "two principle partisan associations" emerged. Eventually, these came to be called the National party, typically supported by "full bloods," and the Progressive party, typically supported by "mixed bloods."[2]

Prior to the 1880s, the two parties agreed that "preserving the Chickasaw way of life and protecting tribal property" were central goals.[3] The main differences between to the two parties revolved around questions of political and legal strategy. But, again according to Gibson, by the mid-1880s, that unity began to dissolve. As he explains,
The full bloods became aroused at the pervasive changes occurring in their nation--rapid economic development dominated by outsiders, growth of the non-Indian community, and appropriation of vast tracts of the tribal domain by mixed bloods and non-citizens to form towns, farms, and ranches. The full bloods reacted by committing their National party to a program of checking railroad expansion, turning back the tide of immigration, purging their government of "white" Indian (the intermarried citizen) influence, and generally preserving the surviving old ways.[4]
Thus, a political scene developed in which the tribal traditionalists of the National party advanced what they called a "pullback program," while members of the Progressive party advanced what looked like inevitable change, the "modernization" of the tribe.[5]

Strong feelings and radical action characterized the political battle that ensued. The tension came to a head in the governor's race of 1886. That year, William L. Byrd, a mixed blood who nonetheless supported the position of the full bloods, was the National party's candidate for governor. His opponent, the Progressive party candidate, was William M. Guy. Voting was so evenly divided, officials found it impossible to declare a winner. This required the legislature to decide the outcome. They were about as divided as their constituents. Guy prevailed by a single vote.

True to the Progressive platform, Governor Guy negotiated a plan that permitted the Santa Fe railway to construct a line through the Chickasaw Nation. To supporters of the National party, this amounted to sacrilege. In an attempt to gain control of the executive branch, in 1888, Byrd ran against Guy a second time. That election turned out to be even more contentious than the race two years before. Once the votes were tallied, officials declared Guy the victor. Dissatisfied, leaders of the National party challenged the count in certain precincts. After investigating the matter, the Chickasaw legislature rejected a significant number of ballots, and named Byrd the winner.

At that juncture, Sam Paul, head of the Chickasaw light horse police and a Guy supporter, marched his men on the capital and ordered the legislature to reconsider. That body retracted its verdict, Byrd and his supporters quietly departed Tishomingo, and Guy ostensibly became the accepted chief executive. But as soon as the light horse evacuated Tishomingo, the National party returned, took control of the government, and installed Byrd as governor.[6] "Reported Assassination of W. M. Guy," a newspaper story published on November 15, 1888, reveals just how serious these events were:
Chickasaw Troubles.--The reported assassination of Governor Guy in the Chickasaw nation is disputed, but the latest information is to the effect that the attempt so aroused his friends that over 300 of them, heavily armed, gathered at Tishomingo Monday to protect him. Bird [sic], with 200 armed men is also in camp near the capital, and unless the United States interfere it was thought a battle would occur Tuesday night. It is said Guy's forces would number 700, the non-citizens having espoused his case against the Byrd party.[7]
This episode set the tone for the remaining years of the Chickasaw Nation prior to Oklahoma statehood in 1907. Mistrust, rancor, and division ruled the last two decades.

A side note: As the list indicates, Peter Maytubby was elected governor in 1906, yet never took office. Muriel Wright explains that this was the case because "Congress, on April 26, 1906, provided for the continuance of the 'present tribal governments'." For this reason, Douglas H. Johnston remained in office.[8]


[1] Muriel H. Wright, A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951), 96.

[2] Arrell M. Gibson, The Chickasaws (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971), 298.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., 299.

[7] This article appeared in Indian Chieftain, published from Vinita, I. T., November 15, 1888. A typescript is located in the University of Oklahoma's Western History Collections, William M. Guy Collection, folder 9.

[8] Wright, A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma, 95.


What were the circumstances under which Hickeyubbee served as acting governor in 1881?

What were the circumstances under which T. A. McClure served as acting governor in 1894?

Additional Bibliography

"Past Governors"

Meserve, John Bartlett. "Governor William Leander Byrd." Chronicles of Oklahoma 12, no. 4 (December 1934): 432-33.

Friday, July 06, 2018

El Meta, Lockney, and Hereford: Comparing Three Christian Colleges

One idea I have is to compare the brief careers of three Christian colleges:

El Meta Christian College (later, El Meta Bond College, 1889-1920)
Lockney Christian College (1894-1918)
Hereford Christian College and Industrial School (1902-1912)

Why were these colleges established? How did they get their start? And, why did all they have such short lifespans? Three factors combine to make these schools good candidates for comparison.

Religious Connections

In the first place, all three were private institutions founded by Christians with strong ties to the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement. This movement, a strong impulse on the American religious scene growing out of the Second Great Awaking, eventually gave rise to the Disciples of Christ denomination, the independent Christian Churches, and the Churches of Christ.

Because of their connection to the Restoration Movement, the founders of these schools shared the same vision regarding the purpose and goals of formal education. They inherited this outlook from their religious ancestor Alexander Campbell. Far more than any other person in Restoration history, it was Campbell who shaped the movement's philosophy of education.[1]

For Campbell, education was not an end in itself. Rather, it was a means to an end: the knowledge of God which, in addition to its eternal benefits, would lead to a morally-sound, well-ordered society that would promote human flourishing and joy. According to Campbell's educational philosophy, a person's intellectual growth went hand in hand with his religious and moral development. Ideally, all of these accompanied and aided the other. Education was vital.[2]

Writing in the pages of The Millennial Harbinger in 1836, Campbell asserted that whatever a person's natural capacities might be, "without education neither intellectual greatness nor moral goodness can be attained." He went on to say that "it is the primary duty of all parents to educate their children." Naturally, Campbell assumed that parents themselves would serve as their child's first teachers. But, he added, "schools, primary and secondary, or schools and colleges, are the most ancient and useful inventions for this purpose."[3]

Campbell's commitment to formal education led him to establish Buffalo Seminary in 1818, the year he turned thirty. He conducted the boarding school in his house. Classes met on the ground floor. Students were housed upstairs. And Campbell and his growing family lived in the basement.[4] As one might guess, this experiment did not last many years. But it must have provided several practical lessons that Campbell was able to put to good use when, in 1840, he opened Bethany College. Sometimes called the mother of all Disciple colleges, nearly 180 years old, Bethany College is still in operation today.

Time Frame

Another reason why El Meta, Lockney, and Hereford can be compared is that all three operated at roughly the same time. The school known for many years as El Meta Christian College began at Silver City in the Chickasaw Nation in 1889. The next year, almost all of the tiny community of Silver City moved seven miles to the west to be near the railroad, the Chicago Rock, Island and Pacific, which was laying track, extending the line south out of Kansas. Meta Chestnutt and her schoolhouse made up part of of the migration and helped to start a new town they called Minco, which was home to the college until its closing in 1920.

Charles Walker Smith and St. Clair W. Smith, of no relation to one another, established Lockney Christian College in Lockney, Floyd County, Texas, in 1894. The school remained in operation until 1918.

Hereford Christian College and Industrial School in Hereford, Texas, opened its doors in 1902. Randolph Clark, the school's first president, was an eventual co-founder of what is now Texas Christian University. For a few years, the school at Hereford was known as Panhandle Christian College. After only a decade in operation, the college closed in 1912.

Regional Relations

A third factor that makes these three schools comparable is that they were located in what is essentially the same region. Whites who settled in Texas and Oklahoma were a nineteenth-century extension of a pattern of migration that began more than a century before. Around the year 1718, waves of migrants from northern Ireland and from the border regions of southern Scotland and the north of England began arriving at the ports of Newcastle, Delaware, and Philadelphia. Typically, these people, who represented a distinctive cultural type, moved past the cities of the American east coast to barren sections of the western frontier. Consequently, they were the white settlers of the backcountry, especially the lands that became the the American South [5] It would be hard to overestimate the significance of the size of this migration and its meaning for the future of the United States. For example, during the six decades leading up to the American Revolution, over 100,000 people from the province of Ulster in Northern Ireland alone had immigrated to British North America.[6]

Beyond the historic similarities between Texas and Oklahoma, one can say that far more than any other part of Texas, the Panhandle Plains region of the Lone Star state bears a close resemblance to Oklahoma. Historian Donald Worster takes note of this in his monumental study titled Dust Bowl. He observes that by the 1930s, especially in the area from Lubbock to Amarillo, "the cultural patterns were almost identical to those farther east." Worster mentions that this is not surprising because, for example,  in spite of the 100th meridian, the line dividing western Oklahoma from the Texas Panhandle, both sections were part of a regional cotton kingdom. He suggests that Woody Guthrie personifies this connection. Born in Okemah, Oklahoma in 1912, Woody "moved to Pampa, over in the Texas panhandle, in 1929 and remained there through the dust storms until he hitched a ride to California in 1937."[7]

Looking for links between Oklahoma and the high plains of Texas, students of Restoration history might point to R. W. Officer. At the turn of the twentieth century, Officer made his home in Atoka, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory. But sometime after he buried his wife, Lota Venable Officer, he moved west to what is now Turkey, Texas in Hall County. He died and was buried at Turkey in 1930, having lived to the age of 85.


[1] John L. Morrison, "Education, Philosophy of," in Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 292-94.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Alexander Campbell, "Remarks," Millennial Harbinger, 1836, 201.

[4] Leroy Garrett, "Campbell, Alexander," in Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, 120.

[5]  David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989). Fischer notes that the years 1718, 1729, 1741, 1755, 1767, and 1774 were peak periods. The decade from 1765 to 1775 witnessed two-thirds of the entire migration (605-08). For Texas and Oklahoma as two places where the descendants of these immigrants moved to during the nineteenth century, see 633-39.

[6] Patrick Griffin, The People with No Name: Ireland's Ulster Scots, America's Scots Irish, and the Creation of a British Atlantic World, 1689-1764 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001), 1-8.

[7] Donald Worster, Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 61. Worster might have also mentioned that even before Woody moved to Pampa, his father, Charlie, broken by tragedy, went there first.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Abraham Conn Huff at 101

The following article appeared in a Borger, Texas newspaper, August 4, 1964. I copied it from a transcript found in Planning the Route: Harmon County, Oklahoma (Hollis, OK: Harmon County Historical Association, 1980), p. 328:

Members of the Gateway Church of Christ were delighted Sunday with the visit of a guest minister from McLean, Tex., who is 101 years young. He was Preacher A. C. Huff who spoke for a full 45 minutes on the topic, "Proving the Resurrection of Christ."

Deacon Johnnie R. Back said the congregation marveled at the keen mind and activeness of Mr. Huff. "His daughter tried without success to hold her father's sermon down to 35 minutes, but he continued for the full 45 minutes," said Back.

Mr. Huff, showing no signs of fatigue, departed Borger Sunday night heading for a gospel meeting in Dallas.

The guest minister is the father of nine children, now residing all over the state of Texas. He makes his home in McLean with one of his daughters.

"Preacher Huff retired 25 years ago from a regular ministerial job. Yet he still keeps on the go, attending meetings all over the country and readily accepting invitations to preach at churches throughout Texas," said Back.

His wife passed away several years ago.

Mr. Huff has a son who is 80 years of age, and is currently a minister in Arkansas.

An estimated 400 persons were on hand Sunday for Mr. Huff's appearance at the local church.

Elders of the church extended the invitation to Huff to give Sunday's sermon. It was his first appearance in Borger.

"It's remarkable how well Huff knows his job. He doesn't have to read the Bible. He knows it all from memory," said Deacon Back.

The 101-year-old gentleman preached just one week ago at a church located in the South Plains of Texas.

Those hearing him on Sunday in Borger gave high praise to the elderly minister, saying he delivered "an interesting and good sermon."

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The "Five Civilized Tribes"

The expression Five Civilized Tribes emerged sometime in the mid-nineteenth century. It referred to the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole nations. All of these tribes resided in the southeastern United States prior to the Indian Removal Act of 1830. During the years that followed, the United States government forced approximately 60,00 Indians to migrate to Indian Territory, which in 1907 became the State of Oklahoma.[1]

The real distinctions between the so-called "civilized tribes" versus "wild Indians" were never so stark as those terms suggest. However, Americans came to speak of the Five Civilized Tribes because those tribes seemed to embrace many of the cultural norms of Euro-Americans. As historian Andrew K. Frank explains,
The term indicated the adoption of horticulture and other European cultural patterns and institutions, including widespread Christianity, written constitutions, centralized governments, intermarriage with white Americans, market participation, literacy, animal husbandry, patrilineal descent, and even slaveholding.[2]
After their removal to Indian Territory, these tribes became five small republics with shared borders, and with governments modeled on that of the United States. By contrast, "wild Indians" like Apaches, Kiowas, and Comanches maintained traditional ways, which included hunting in order to survive. So, Americans had good reasons for singling out what they called the Five Civilized Tribes. Still, at least some of the distinction was arbitrary, not to mention that the word civilized has always been prejudicial.[3] For example, no one who has considered the structures at Mesa Verde, Colorado, or Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, would conclude that the former residents of those places were uncivilized. Not to mention that Indians of the Southwest built the Taos Pueblo sometime before Christopher Columbus was born. It stands today as the oldest continuously-inhabited structure in North America.

Recognizing this, at least some writers abandoned the old expression, and began instead to refer to the Five Tribes, or the Five Tribes of Oklahoma. It appears that this change in terminology began to take place during the 1980s. For example, in an outstanding book titled The Southeastern Indians published in 1976, anthropologist Charles Hudson wrote about the Five Civilized Tribes.[4] Four years later, in 1980, one of Hudson's former students, Theda Perdue, published her book Nations Remembered: An Oral History of the Five Civilized Tribes, 1865-1907.[5]

By contrast, in 1990, Oklahoma historian W. David Baird authored an important, responsive article he titled, ""Are the Five Tribes of Oklahoma 'Real' Indians?"[6] And, in 1993, Perdue renamed her 1980 book. She deleted Five Civilized Tribes and added the names of each of the tribes. Thus, the new subtitle reads, An Oral History of the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles in Oklahoma, 1865-1907.


[1] The figure 60,000 is given by Grant Foreman, The Five Civilized Tribes (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1934), 7.

[2] Andrew K. Frank, "Five Civilized Tribes" Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 2009) 1:501.

[3] Theda Perdue, Nations Remembered: An Oral History of the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles in Oklahoma, 1865-1907 (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993), ix-x.

[4] Charles Hudson, The Southeastern Indians (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1976), 469-77.

[5] Theda Perdue, Nations Remembered: An Oral History of the Five Civilized Tribes, 1865-1907 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980).

[6] For example, W. David Baird, "Are the Five Tribes of Oklahoma 'Real' Indians?" Western Historical Quarterly 21 (February 1990): 4-18. But note the title in the reprint or companion piece: W. David Baird, "Are There 'Real' Indians in Oklahoma: Historical Perceptions of The Five Civilized Tribes" Chronicles of Oklahoma 68, No 1 (Spring, 1990): 4-23.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Silas E. and Charlcy Kennedy Family Plot, Greenhill Cemetery, Davis, Oklahoma

On Highway 77 in Davis
Back on June 2nd, Michele and I were traveling through Oklahoma on our way to Nashville, site of the annual Christian Scholars' Conference. Part of my plan was for us to make our way to the small town of Davis in south-central Oklahoma.

For many years Davis was home to Silas E. Kennedy, his wife, Charlcy, and their family. It appears that Silas was born and raised in Wetumpka, Alabama, not far from Montgomery. As a teenager, he served in the Confederate army. I'm interested in him because by the time he came to Indian Territory in the 1890s, Silas was a preacher among the Disciples of Christ. After coming to Indian Territory, he spent some time in Chickasha. Later, he and Charlcy moved to Davis, their adopted home for the rest of their lives.

Michele's got a snake phobia. She really doesn't like them. So she's not a fan of walking around in cemeteries either. Sure enough, she volunteered to stay in the rental car while I plodded around for nearly an hour through the Greenhill Cemetery. There were sign posts for the rows. But none of them had letters or numbers on them. Meanwhile, the antics of a large group of squirrels kept Michele entertained. I almost gave up, but finally happened upon the Kennedy family plot. Click on any of the photos for an enlarged view.

Below are two photos of the single headstone for Charlcy and Silas E. Kennedy. In the full shot, notice the name KENNEDY on the base. Also, the black metal piece near the ground is a C.S.A. marker. I have no information about when it was attached to the stone. According to Jay S. Hoar in his book Callow, Brave and True: A Gospel of Civil War Youth (Gettysburg, PA: Thomas Publications, 1999), p. 230, Silas E. Kennedy, from Alabama, was wounded at the Battle of Shiloh, southwestern Tennessee (April 6-7,1862). He was barely thirteen years old.

P.S. In his book Indian Territory (1901), D. C. Gideon provides a brief description of Davis and its early history. He notes that "citizens built a small school-house and Druggist W. F. Parker taught a subscription. Church services were held in this building each Sabbath by Rev. James A. Gibson, a Methodist Episcopal minister, and a Sunday-school was also organized. . . . Davis has four large church edifices,--Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Christian" (197).

In the photo above, you can see just below the names and dates a four-line inscription. It appears that the inscription was on the stone before Charlcy died, and that upon her death someone made a mess of it by making the words body and soul plural. Notice the clumsiness of the last two lines. It now reads as follows:

God in His wisdom has recalled
The boon his love had given
And though the bodys slumbers here
The souls is safe in Heaven

Below is a closer shot of the names and dates:

In addition to the gravestone for Silas E. and Charlcy Kennedy, the following markers and stones are in the family plot:

Monday, May 28, 2018

Steve Crowder's book on the Churches of Christ Mission to Canton

Passages like the Great Commission in Matthew and the Macedonian Call in Acts have long compelled members of the Churches of Christ to conduct missions. Taking the gospel to places where few if any have heard it always generates a series of victories and defeats, hardships and joys.

When historians capture these narratives, they bless the church. They present us with stories that not only inform and entertain, but also convict and inspire. That’s exactly what Stephen V. Crowder does in his new book, The Field is the World: A History of the Canton Mission (1929-1949) of the Churches of Christ.

Crowder tells the story of the Canton Mission as a series of four episodes. The 1920s was a time for dreaming and preparing. Two college students, George Benson and Lewis Oldham, learned that China, the most populous nation in the world, had no missionaries dedicated to “the restoration of New Testament Christianity.” They determined to change that. By the summer of 1925, George and Sallie Hockaday Benson, just weeks after their wedding, sailed for China. Oldham and his wife, the former Grace Narron, followed in 1927.

The years 1929 through 1937 marked a high point for the mission. The team decided to conduct their work in a major city, and settled on Canton (also called Guangzhou), in the south. Soon, newly-arrived missionaries and a few of the early converts joined the leadership. Together, they followed a strategy centered on Bible teaching, high-quality literature, and public evangelism--even street preaching.

Their work was never easy. The missionaries struggled to become fluent in Cantonese. Anti-missionary feelings sometimes came to the surface. In one village, a sermon was “drowned out by a noisy group of young people banging on pots and pans.” Still, by the mid-1930s, the Canton Bible School had a new two-story building, and the mission was conducting “a total of twelve evangelistic meetings each Sunday, with a combined attendance of around 450 people.” Beginning in 1937, the Japanese military occupation of China ended the momentum. Bombing raids forced nationals out of Canton and into villages. Reluctantly, the missionaries fled the city and eventually returned to the U.S.

The end of World War II signaled new opportunities. Lowell and Odessa Davis, who had served in Canton prior to war, returned to resume the work with a new emphasis on humanitarian aid. They discovered that the Chinese were more willing than before to accept the gospel. In December 1947, Lowell reported that 210 were baptized that year. But the Communist takeover of China in 1949 resulted in the deportation of missionaries and the sometimes-violent suppression of Christianity.

According to a recent estimate, China is now home to more than 60 million believers of Protestant persuasion. Observing that growth, George Benson in 1987 remarked, “What seemed for a long time to be years of wasted effort may prove yet to have been more productive than we ever imagined possible.”

The Field is the World chronicles the story of a handful of North American missionaries and their Chinese co-workers who proclaimed the message of salvation. The text, accompanied by dozens of illustrations, is a welcome addition to the missions historiography of the Churches of Christ.

Notes: The foregoing is a longer, unedited version of a brief review published in the May 2018 issue of The Christian Chronicle. The following are the publication facts for the book:

Stephen V. Crowder, The Field is the World: A History of the Canton Mission (1929-1949) of the Churches of Christ. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2018. 127 pages. $21.00.

The publisher's website for the book is as follows:

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Origin of the Dawes Commission

The treaty status of the Five Civilized Tribes and a few other tribal groups exempted them from the requirements of the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887. But the majority of whites in Indian Territory, committed to what they called progress, saw the effect of allotment in other places and wanted the same for I.T. They soon began to insist that their federal government not allow treaties with Indians to slow the march of civilization.

In 1893, Congress responded to this demand by approving what came to be known as the Dawes Commission. On November 1 of that year, President Grover Cleveland appointed Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts, who by that time had retired from the Senate, to head the commission. The president also appointed Meredith H. Kidd of Indiana, and Archibald S. McKennon of Arkansas to assist Dawes.

From their headquarters in Muskogee, I.T., the commissioners tried in vain to convince Indian leaders to adopt the scheme of allotment. They promised the leaders that as they abolished their governments, tribal members would receive allotments of land. The Indians flatly rejected all such proposals and actively promoted resistance. For example, on March 28, 1894, the Choctaw Council issued the following statement, which points to then standing treaties:
We cannot bring ourselves to believe that such a great, grand, and Christian Nation as the United States would so stultify itself in the eyes of the civilized world by disregarding treaties heretofore solemnly entered into, with a weak and dependent people, regardless of justice and equity, simply because she is numerically able to do so. 
Washington, D.C. did not welcome the news of resistance. By 1896, a frustrated Congress chose to apply more pressure. As historian Kent Carter relates, the federal legislature began to pass "a series of acts that increased the commission's powers and changed its character from a diplomatic mission to a judicial tribunal that decided who was eligible for tribal membership and what land they received."


Caroline Davis, "Education of the Chickasaws, 1856-1907," Chronicles of Oklahoma 15, no. 4 (1937): 435-6; Kent Carter, "Dawes Commission," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, (accessed April 18, 2018).

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Dawes Severalty Act of 1887

The Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 opened a tragic new chapter in the history of Native America. This federal legislation sought to end tribal land ownership and allot parcels of land to individuals. In the words of historian Wilcomb E. Washburn, the law was nothing short of "an assault on Indian tribalism."[1] It was named for U.S. Senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts, pictured at left, the champion of severalty for Indians. For this reason, the Dawes Act was sometimes called the General Allotment Act. Writers often use the two terms interchangeably.

The law was a central component of the federal government's plan to "detribalize" Indians, to "individualize" them. Ideally, each allotment of land would become a family farm or ranch. In essence, the Dawes Act sought to turn Native Americans into American homesteaders. As historian Robert M. Utley explains, many federal officials believed that "once the individual had broken free of the tribal heritage," he would then be free to "leap into the mainstream of American life." Eventually, "all Indians could be submerged in the body politic of America."[2] But a minority of leaders claimed that all such rhetoric was overly-optimistic at best, and cynical at worst. During congressional debates, Senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado noted that, according to the proposed legislation, all unassigned Indian lands would then be deemed surplus. "The real aim of this bill," he concluded, "is to get at the Indian lands and open them up for settlement."[3]

Meanwhile, Native Americans did not simply resist the allotment scheme. They found it difficult to understand the very concept of private ownership of land, or of land as capital. Much less did they appreciate these novel ideas. This had been the case, for example, in the struggles between English colonists and indigenous peoples of what became New England during the seventeenth century.[4]


[1] Wilcomb E. Washburn, The Assault on Indian Tribalism: The General Allotment Law (Dawes Act) of 1887 (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1975).

[2] Robert M. Utley, The Indian Frontier 1846-1890, rev. ed. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2003), 204-05.

[3] Roger L. Nichols, American Indians in U.S. History (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003), 164-67.

[4] William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England, rev. ed. (New York: Hill and Wang, 2003), ch. 4.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Schools among the Chickasaws in Indian Territory: The Civil War and Its Aftermath (4)

At the insistence of the federal government, the treaty of 1866 provided for railroads through Indian Territory, one running north and south, the other running east and west. With the coming of the railroads, immigration to Indian Territory was easier than ever.

The railroad finally entered the Chickasaw Nation in 1887, and the Chickasaw world was forever changed. By 1890, non-citizens in the nation outnumbered Indians by more than 10-to-1, with approximately 64,000 whites compared to 6,000 Indians. A 1900 census report indicated that while the number of Chickasaws stood at 6,000, as many as 150,000 whites resided in the Chickasaw Nation.[1] Who were these people? Historian Caroline Davis described them as follows:
Farm laborers and mechanics, under permit, made up the greater share of this number; the others, holding some sort of legal status within the Nation, were licensed traders, government employees, railroad employees, coal miners, and claimants to Indian citizenship; but there was yet another group made up of sojourners, prospectors, visitors, intruders, cattlemen, and squatters who had no lawful rights whatever within the Nation.[2]
The arrival of so many new people created a new set of issues related to pubic education. Chickasaw officials had always refused to allow Anglo children to attend government-sponsored schools. They now maintained that position. At the same time, Anglo parents were unwilling or unable to send their children to faraway boarding schools. Euro-Americans and their federal government began agitating for some sort of remedy.

The U.S. government suggested that "certain sections of land be given the non-citizens upon which they could erect schools and hire their own teachers. In some few cases, this last was acceded to by the Indians. Slowly, however, the more progressive people began to work out a system of subscription schools within the towns."[3]


[1] Arrell M. Gibson, The Chickasaws (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971), 285.

[2] Caroline Davis, "Education of the Chickasaws, 1856-1907," Chronicles of Oklahoma 15, no. 4 (1937): 434.

[3] Ibid., 435.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Schools among the Chickasaws in Indian Territory: The Civil War and Its Aftermath (3)

In the decade following the Civil War, Chickasaw students capable of high-school level work were sent to academies outside their homeland. The leadership of the Chickasaw Nation had long recognized the need to develop students who would be "competent to furnish their people with a full corps of qualified teachers and others able to fill important positions in the Nation." They provided for 60 of their best students to attend schools in the United States, and stipulated that the number was to be "equally divided between the sexes."[1]

In the meantime, the Chickasaws continued to rebuild. By 1876, a handful of schools were operating with some capacity to accommodate boarders. Bloomfield Academy, sometimes called "the Bryn Mawr of the West," housed 45 students. Wapanucka Academy, Chickasaw Male Academy, and the Orphans Home School at Lebanon could each accommodate 60 boarders.[2]

From the end of the Civil War until Oklahoma statehood, for over forty years, the Chickasaw Nation maintained control of its schools. The Chickasaws were devoted to education. By 1892, the nation owned and operated nineteen primary "neighborhood schools" and five secondary schools, including the Orphans Home School. In fact, the emphasis the Chickasaws gave to education outpaced the capacity of their schools to place students. Consequently, beginning in 1884, the C.N. passed legislation that provided for the Methodist Episcopal Church South to operate schools. In 1889, the nation contracted with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (South) to operate an academy to be named Reed's Seminary, for 40 to 60 orphan girls. And, by 1891, the Catholic Order of the Sisters of St. Francis was operating a school in the Canadian Valley.[3]


[1] Caroline Davis, "Education of the Chickasaws, 1856-1907," Chronicles of Oklahoma 15, no. 4 (1937): 421.

[2] Ibid., 421-22. Although the government shut down Chickasaw schools at Oklahoma statehood in 1907, Bloomfield Academy, though not under the control of the C.N., remained in operation until 1949. See Amanda J. Cobb, "Chickasaw Schools," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, (accessed April 13, 2018).

[3] Davis, "Education of the Chickasaws," 430-33. As Davis notes, there is some question whether Reed's Seminary ever opened. It appears to me that it did not.