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 during 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 60,000 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, more than all others, seemed to embrace many of the cultural patterns of Euro-Americans. As historian Andrew K. Frank explains, this included the adoption of agriculture, as opposed to subsistence gardening, the adoption of various expressions of 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. In short, they were Indians of the Plains, nomadic buffalo hunters who lived in tee-pees.

So, Euro-Americans had reasons for singling out what they called the Five Civilized Tribes. Still, at least some of that distinction was arbitrary, not to mention that the word civilized has always been prejudicial.[3] As scholar Michael D. Green states:
The problem with using such ethnocentric terminology is that it perpetuates the idea that there is only one civilization--that of Anglo-America--that those societies that do not embrace Anglo-American culture are therefore not civilized."[4]
However, even when judging cultures by Western standards, no one who has considered the structures at Mesa Verde, Colorado, or Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, would conclude that the former residents of these 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 have 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.[5] 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.[6]

By contrast, in 1990, Oklahoma historian W. David Baird authored an important, responsive article he titled, ""Are the Five Tribes of Oklahoma 'Real' Indians?"[7] 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.

More recently, Baird and co-author Danney Goble have defended the old expression. They explain that although the expression is thought "to demean other Indian peoples in Oklahoma," it can be justified as "a historical term rather than a judgmental one."[8]

[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] Michael D. Green, "The Five Tribes of the Southeastern United States," in Historical Atlas of Oklahoma, 4th ed., ed. Charles Robert Goins and Danney Goble (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2006), 52.

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

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

[7] For example, W. David Baird, "Are the Five Tribes of Oklahoma 'Real' Indians?" Western Historical Quarterly 21 (February 1990): 4-18. Yet, note the title in the similar 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.

[8] W. David Baird and Danney Goble, Oklahoma: A History (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008), 74.

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: