Tuesday, December 11, 2018

J. J. Trott: Missionary to the Cherokees, 4

On March 6, 1856, J. J. Trott sent a letter from his home in Franklin College, Tennessee, to the Gospel Advocate magazine in Nashville. He explained that he had just returned home from a three thousand mile trip through Arkansas, Missouri, and the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, in what is now northeastern Oklahoma. Wisely, he had avoided the deadly chaos over slavery in what came to be known as Bleeding Kansas.

The trip, which took up the previous November through February had Trott traveling in frigid conditions "by steamboat, railroads, stage, horseback, and sometimes on foot." He was disappointed that although he had been authorized by the American Christian Missionary Society to solicit funding for his proposed Indian mission, he had managed to collect only $166.
The churches had contributed their thousands to Bethany College and Christian University, and their hundreds for Revision, and therefore came to the sage conclusion, that a few dimes or dollars was all that they could and ought to do for the conversion of the children of Shem![1]
(If you happen to serve as a missionary, or you work with a large, multi-staff church, it might be some consolation to know that your never-ending competition for resources is not a new one).

In spite of the cold weather, Trott enjoyed his time in Indian Territory. While in the Cherokee Nation, he "preached at several important points" and visited with many old acquaintances and friends he had first met in Georgia over twenty years before, prior to the removal of the Cherokee people to the West.

A man of his day, Trott noted with satisfaction that the Cherokees had advanced in all of the ways regarded by Euro-Americans as marks of civilization: large-scale agriculture, animal husbandry, frame and brick home construction, and high rates of literacy resulting from a modern school system. "Thus," he wrote, "we see that the Cherokees have all the means of improvement. All they need in a religious point of view is more missionaries to them in applying the means." He observed that the Moravians, Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists already had "missionaries, mission schools, and churches among the Cherokees." Would the Christian churches in the United States continue to do less?[2]


[1] J. J. Trott, "The Indian Mission," Gospel Advocate (April 1856), 110. Christian University was the original name of the school that came to be known in 1917 as Culver-Stockton College. See George R. Lee, "Culver-Stockton College," Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, 258.

[2] Trott, "The Indian Mission," 111.

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