Friday, December 28, 2018

A Brief History of Hereford College (1)

"Hereford Will Soon Be the Educational Center of the Plains."

The headline of the local newspaper for July 19, 1901, captured some of the excitement. Community leaders in Hereford, a northwest Texas town named after a sturdy breed of beef cattle, were nothing if not ambitious. Now they had a new ally.

As the paper explained, Randolph Clark had recently visited Hereford at the invitation of G. R. "Rat" Jowell, a prominent local rancher, the Deaf Smith Count surveyor, and a founding member of the local Christian Church. Clark, a graduate of Bethany College and a long-time educator and preacher among the Christian churches, had changed his mind about Hereford. Before his visit, "the idea of a college at this point or in this section of the country" never entered his mind. He considered the region nothing more than "a waste desert and wholly unfit for anything save cattle raising." But now, said the paper, Clark recognized
the health-giving properties of this dry atmosphere, the excellence of our water and the ease and little cost of obtaining it, the vigorous growth of trees, shrubbery, flowers and all kinds of garden produce and grain, the thriftyness [sic] and high moral standard of our citizens, the excellent drainage of Hereford and the easy access to it from all parts of the country.[1] 
The "easy access" to Hereford had come just two years earlier, in 1899, when the Pecos and Northern Texas Railway completed track running southwest through the town all the way to Farwell at the New Mexico border. As a result, Hereford enjoyed a railroad connection to Amarillo and, from there, to other parts of the U.S.[2]

It was an exciting place at an exciting time. When Clark made his first visit to Hereford, the town was only three years old. But it was already home to more than one general store, a grocery store, a meat market, drug store, restaurant, confectionery, hotel, saloon, furniture store, and feed yard. Hereford had a barber, a blacksmith, and a postmaster.[3] Something else would soon be added. In the summer of 1901, a front-page story announced, "We Will Have a College."[4]


[1] Editorial, Hereford Reporter, July 19, 1901. The URL for this issue is as follows:, accessed April 15, 2019. For G. R. Jowell as an active, successful rancher in Deaf Smith County, see, for example, notices in the Hereford Reporter, August 6, 1901, p. 5.  For Jowell as the county surveyor, see "A New Firm," Hereford Reporter, August 6, 1901, p. 6 For Jowell as a founding member of the Christian Church at Hereford, see The Fiftieth Anniversary of the First Christian Church, Hereford, Texas (Hereford, TX: First Christian Church, 1949), 5. G. R. Jowell's middle name was Ratliff, which appears to be a variation of an old family name, Radcliff. Apparently, somebody once called George Ratliff Jowell by the name "Rat," and it stayed with him.

[2] Handbook of Texas Online, H. Allen Anderson, "HEREFORD, TX," accessed December 28, 2018,; H. Allen Anderson, "PECOS AND NORTHERN TEXAS RAILWAY," accessed December 28, 2018, For Amarillo's railroad connections to other parts of the U.S., see Paul H. Carlson, Empire Builder in the Texas Panhandle: William Henry Bush (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1996), 85-86.

[3] Bessie Chambers Patterson, "Hereford: From Cow Town to Capitol [sic] of Farming Empire,1898-1952," 4. This manuscript is housed in the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, TX.

[4] Hereford Reporter, July 19, 1901.

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.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

James J. Trott: Missionary to the Cherokees, 3

In the spring of 1837, having spent most of the previous fourteen years in Georgia, J. J. Trott moved back to Tennessee. It must have been a bittersweet time in his life. More than twenty years earlier, in 1815, his family had come to Tennessee from North Carolina, when Trott was still a teenager. It was there in the Volunteer State that he had placed his faith in Christ, joined the Methodist Church, and become one of their circuit-riding preachers.[1] Now, having spent so many years away, he was returning to his old home, to his family of origin and long-time friends.

Trott had first moved to Georgia in 1823. By then, his ability and dedication were obvious to Methodist leaders who made him a missionary to the Cherokees. In early 1828, he married a Cherokee woman in Georgia named Sallie Adair. Not long afterward, he was arrested, persecuted, and imprisoned as one of several missionaries to the Cherokees who refused to take an oath of loyalty to Georgia, an oath which effectively denied the land rights of all Indians within the state's supposed borders. It was also during these years that he happened upon the writings of Alexander Campbell, pursued a fresh study of the Bible, was immersed into Christ. A short time later, Sally died, but not before she was immersed by her husband. She left behind a young son and daughter.[2]

In spite of these hardships, Trott remained in Georgia during the early 1830s. He married another Cherokee woman, Rachel Pounds Adair (who was not a sister to the first wife) and pursued his goal of preaching what he called "the primitive gospel" among the Indians.[3] Although he had separated from the Methodist Church by this point, it seems that his early experience as a circuit rider had become a part of him. He was never content to preach in just one place. For example, an 1836 issue of the Millennial Harbinger places him in Louisiana preaching among the Cherokees there.[4]

In 1837, Trott could see that the Cherokees still in Georgia were destined to be removed by the federal government to the region west of Arkansas, Indian Territory. Rather than face that prospect, he chose to move his young family to Tennessee instead.

From 1837 to 1859, Trott resided in Tennessee. According to Tolbert Fanning, much of that time, Trott was a member of the church of Christ at Franklin College, Tennessee. He was also, according to Fanning, a regional missionary, surpassed by no one as a "self-sacrificing, independent, earnest, humble and faithful teacher" of the Christian faith.[5]


[1] Tolbert Fanning, "James J. Trott: Messenger of the Church of Christ at Franklin College, Tennessee, to the Cherokee Nation," Gospel Advocate 11 (March 25, 1869), 271-74; Joseph R. Bennett, II, "God's Gift to the Nation: The Biography of James Jenkins Trott, 1800-1868,"

[2] James J. Trott, "To the Editor of the Millennial Harbinger," Millennial Harbinger (February 6, 1832), 85; Bennett, "God's Gift to the Nation." Regarding Trott's marriage to Sallie Adair, Bennett cites the February 1828 edition of the Cherokee Phoenix, the first American Indian newspaper. Concerning Trott's marriage to Sallie Adair and, later, to Rachel Pounds Adair, see Emmet Starr, History of the Cherokee Indians and Their Legends and Folk Lore, 404. Starr first published his work in 1921. It has since been reprinted many times.

[3] Bennett, "God's Gift to the Nation." Trott's reference to "the primitive gospel" is found in his letter "To the Editor of the Millennial Harbinger."

[4] J. J. Trott, "Query." [Response by Robert Richardson] Millennial Harbinger (May 1836), 233. According to Russell Thornton, a Cherokee-American anthropologist, in the early 1780s, "Cherokees who had fought on the British side in the Revolutionary War asked permission of the Spanish governor at New Orleans to relocate west of the Mississippi River to what was then Spanish territory." Their request was granted by Don Esteban Miro, governor of the Louisiana territory. See Thornton, The Cherokees: A Population History (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990), 44.

[5] Fanning, "James J. Trott."

Saturday, November 24, 2018

James J. Trott: Missionary to the Cherokees, 2

In the fall of 1830, James J. Trott, a Methodist missionary to the Cherokee Indians in Georgia, was immersed into Christ at Overall's Creek, four miles from Murfreesboro, Tennessee.[1] Upon hearing the news of Trott's baptism, Methodist leaders set out to diminish his influence. By that time, he had served among their clergy for nearly a decade. Yet, the next published minutes of the regional Methodist conference included the following note: "James J. Trott, without an appointment." No reason was given.[2]

Trott soon realized that his separation from the Methodists was inevitable. Not only were they refusing to employ him anymore, more importantly, his disagreements with the denomination extended far beyond questions about the proper subject and mode of baptism. In the spring of 1832, he wrote a letter to a Mr. McLeod, Methodist Superintendent of Cherokee Missions. Trott stated that in addition to the practice of sprinkling infants, he had come to reject the authority of all human creeds and the denominational habit of treating human opinions as though they were matters of revealed faith. In particular, he renounced the notion, spelled out in the Methodist book of discipline, that the Lord expected him to adhere to John Wesley's creeds as his standard for teaching. He also rejected the polity of the Methodist Church with its four orders of bishops and five types of tribunals. He concluded his letter by describing his predicament and announcing his decision:
Thus, you see, I am compelled to refrain from preaching what I believe to be the truth, to preach what I cannot believe, to suffer expulsion, or to withdraw. I prefer the latter.[3]
From then on, Trott considered himself a mere Christian and associated with the movement that Alexander Campbell called "the present reformation."

But this change did not dampen his commitment to making disciples among the Cherokee Indians. As noted in the previous post, in the early 1830s, the State of Georgia had brutally persecuted Trott, along with dozens of other missionaries, because he refused to take an oath of loyalty to the state which denied all Indian land claims. Still, according to the Cherokee Census Roll of 1835, he was then still residing in Georgia. According to the census, he lived near Oothcaloga Creek where he owned a mill. The record further indicates that Trott, whose first wife died in 1830, had since remarried, and that the two children from the first marriage were also living with him.[4]


[1] Tolbert Fanning, "James J. Trott: Messenger of the Church of Christ at Franklin College, Tenn., to the Cherokee Nation," Gospel Advocate 11 (March 25, 1869), 271-73.

[2] James J. Trott, Letter to Alexander Campbell, Millennial Harbinger 3, no. 8 (August 6, 1832), 389.

[3] Ibid., 389-90.

[4] Copies of Manuscripts in the Office of the Superintendent for the Five Civilized Tribes, Muskogee, Oklahoma: Cherokee Census Roll of 1835, Compiled from Original Record selected by Grant Foreman, 14: 224. The entire entry for James J. Trott reads as follows: "Three Cherokees, 1 white marriage; 2 readers of English, they owned a mill; one weaver, 1 spinster, 2 descendants of reservees."

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-riding preachers. His career with the Methodist "travelling connexion" soon took him to Georgia where for several years he worked among the Indians. But his devotion and commitment to the Cherokees eventually 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. Taking this oath implied a repudiation of the Indians' legal claim to any territory in Georgia. Dozens of missionaries then working among Native Americans refused to take such an oath. They had only two alternatives: leave the state or face arrest.[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 a 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. His "heart's desire and prayer to God" was that the "primitive gospel" would triumph among the Indians. By quoting Romans 10:1 in this way, Trott compared his devotion to the Cherokees to the Apostle Paul's concern for his fellow Jews.[3] He underscored the wholehearted character of his mission when he signed his letter simply, "Cherokee."[4]

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

In that article, Campbell railed against any state that would seize a person's land and banish the owner "because he is red, or yellow, or some other unfashionable color." Quoting the abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison, founding editor of The Liberator, 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 powerful 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 true goal of education was a knowledge of God which, in addition to its eternal benefits, would lead to a morally-sound, well-ordered society, one that would promote human flourishing. 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]

For example, 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] In an 1856 address, Campbell indicated the significance he assigned to teachers:
I have come to the conclusion that no class of men, in any department of society, have more of the good or evil destiny of the world in their hands and under their influence than the teachers of our schools and colleges."[4]
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.[5] As one might guess, this experiment lasted for only a few years (1818-1823). But it must have provided several practical lessons that Campbell was able to put to good use when, in 1840 and '41, he planned and opened Bethany College. Sometimes called the mother of all Disciple colleges, nearly 180 years old, Bethany College is still there.

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 a 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 1911.

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 the wilderness of the western frontier. They were the white settlers of the backcountry, especially the lands that became the the American South [6] 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.[7]

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."[8]

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; M. Norvel Young, A History of Colleges Established and Controlled by Members of the Churches of Christ (Kansas City, MO: Old Paths Book Club, 1949), 25-33. Significantly, Young's entire section on the "Attitude of the Movement toward Education" is an overview of the attitudes of Alexander Campbell. For more on this topic, see also the fine essay by Thomas H. Olbricht, "Alexander Campbell as an Educator," in Lectures in Honor of the Alexander Campbell Bicentennial, 1788-1988 (Nashville: Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1988), 79-100.

[2] Morrison, "Education."

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

[4] Alexander Campbell, "Address on Education," in Popular Lectures and Addresses (Philadelphia: James Challen & Son, 1863), 245.

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

[6]  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.

[7] 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.

[8] 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 Guthrie moved to Pampa, his father, Charlie, broken by tragedy, moved 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 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:

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.


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.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Schools among the Chickasaws in Indian Territory: The Civil War and Its Aftermath (2)

Chickasaw leaders of the post-Civil War period emphasized the importance of schooling. For example, by 1870, all parents of Chickasaw students who attended school received a stipend that included the approximate cost of boarding as well as tuition. Perhaps officials found it hard to determine if a student lived far enough away from school to justify a separate, additional stipend for room and board. At any rate, the Chickasaw Nation provided every citizen household with school-aged children the same per-child stipend, whether a student lived at school or at home. The household of every student who attended school received money to help offset the cost of room and board as well as tuition.[1]

Again, although the Chickasaws had roughly one quarter the population of the Choctaws, the Chickasaws spent more than twice as much on education. In at least one year, 1891, the Chickasaw government spent all of the interest from its funds held by the federal government for education, which amounted to $95,000, roughly $2.5 million in 2018 values.[2]

Still, the tribe struggled with the task of getting their school system running again after the war. New facilities were built in a rush, and were often small and rickety. Most of the better schools were those that used established facilities, which were nonetheless damaged or dilapidated. As late as 1897, one teacher complained, "The reason that writing has been omitted is that there is no desk or thing that can be used for desks."[3]


[1] Caroline Davis, "Education of the Chickasaws, 1856-1907," Chronicles of Oklahoma 15, no. 4 (1937): 420.

[2] Wendy St. Jean, Remaining Chickasaw in Indian Territory, 1830s--1907 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2011), 99.

[3] As quoted in Davis, "Education of the Chickasaws," 420.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Schools among the Chickasaws in Indian Territory: The Civil War and Its Aftermath (1)

At the outbreak of war in the spring of 1861, the federal government abandoned Indian Territory. The fate of Fort Washita just north of the Red River epitomizes this moment in Oklahoma history. On May 1, four U.S. Army companies posted at the fort fled north with hundreds of Texas Confederates in close pursuit. The remainder of the federal troops in Indian Territory joined them and the entire group made its way to Kansas. Not only did the Confederate Army commandeer Fort Washita, it was never again occupied by the United States.[1]

In addition, many upper-class Chickasaws owned slaves. Given the prejudices within the tribe, and with Arkansas and Texas as neighbors, it was only natural for the leaders of the Chickasaw Nation to renounce their allegiance to the Union and side with the Confederacy. This meant, of course, that the Chickasaws forfeited their status vis-a-vis the government of the United States.

Meanwhile, the war halted the growth and destroyed the development of the previous three decades. From 1861 to 1865, schools and churches in the Chickasaw Nation were closed. Many homes were lost and destroyed.[2]

By the end of the war, Christian missionaries had long since left Indian Territory. During the years of conflict, schools and academies ceased operation and school buildings served the Confederate cause as barracks and hospitals.[3] What remained of those buildings now served as the physical foundation for the post-war educational system. The first priority was to rehabilitate those facilities. By 1867, federal appropriations of money to the Chickasaw Nation resumed. These funds provided for the new beginnings of the school system.

G. D. James served as the first Chickasaw Superintendent of Public Instruction. In  1869, James reported to George T. Olmstead, U.S. Indian agent stationed at Boggy Depot, that eleven neighborhood schools were operating, with a total of eleven instructors and four assistants. Two thirds of these educators were white and were, in James's opinion, of low caliber. But he expected the quality of instruction would only increase over time.[4]


[1] W. B. Morrison, "Fort Washita," Chronicles of Oklahoma 5, no. 2 (June 1927): 257. See also Caroline Davis, "Education of the Chickasaws, 1856-1907," Chronicles of Oklahoma 15, no. 4 (1937): 416. According to a pamphlet titled "Fort Washita: Walking Tour Guide," which the author acquired, U.S. forces fled on April 16, contrary to the date of May 1, reported by Morrison.

[2] Davis, "Education of the Chickasaws," 416.

[3] Arrell M. Gibson, The Chickasaws (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971), 271.

[4] Davis, "Education of the Chickasaws," 418-19.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Schools among the Chickasaws in Indian Territory: Independence and Its Immediate Aftermath

1856 marked a major turning point in Chickasaw history. In that year a new treaty took effect and finally gave the tribe political separation from the Choctaws.

The 1837 Treaty of Doaksville had essentially made the Chickasaws a mere part of the Choctaw Nation. In the years that followed, the Chickasaws determined to distinguish themselves politically. Their argument for independence included four points.

First, against the protests of the Choctaw Nation, the Chickasaws insisted that the $530,000 paid to the Choctaws as part of the 1837 Treaty of Doaksville provided for a separate Chickasaw district. Second, a twenty-mile wide strip starting at the Canadian River in the north and running to the Red River in the south had served as a boundary between the Choctaws and Chickasaws from the time they arrived in Indian Territory. The existence of that boundary supported the first claim; if no real distinction existed between the two, then why was there ever a boundary? Third, the Chickasaws complained that they did not have adequate representation in the Choctaw government. Fourth, propagandists among the Chickasaws threatened that trouble would break out between them and the Choctaws if Chickasaw demands were not finally satisfied. The federal government responded with support for Chickasaw independence.[1]

Upon gaining their new independence, the Chickasaws set out to establish for themselves a solid educational system. Among other provisions, the tribal leadership set aside monies for additional schools and established the elected office of superintendent of public instruction.[2]


[1] Arrell M. Gibson, The Chickasaws (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971), 250-51.

[2] Ibid., 255; Caroline Davis, "Education of the Chickasaws, 1856-1907," Chronicles of Oklahoma 15, no. 4 (1937): 415.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Indian Removal and the Treaty of Doaksville

The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830. The legislation authorized the U.S. president to provide American Indians with lands west of the Mississippi River in exchange for the ancestral homelands the tribes were forced to abandon.[1]

As a result of the new law, in the early 1830s Chickasaw leaders traveled west and began their search for a new homeland. But several expeditions failed to identify a suitable place. The site selection was delayed. As historian Arrell M. Gibson notes, one group of Chickasaw leaders spent most of 1835 searching. Another group continued the task until late 1836.
Finally on January 17, 1837, at Doaksville in the Choctaw Nation, Chickasaw leaders concluded an agreement with Choctaw spokesmen. By the Treaty of Doaksville the Chickasaws agreed to pay the Choctaws $530,000 for the central and western portion of the tribe's vast grant. At last the Chickasaws had a western home.[2]

[1] For a narrative description of this episode, see A. J. Langguth, Driven West: Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears to the Civil War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010), 138-67. See also N. Bruce Duthu, American Indians and the Law (New York: Viking Penguin, 2008), 8-10.

[2] Gibson, The Chickasaws, 178.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Education among the Chickasaws in Indian Territory: Early Beginnings to 1855

Before 1850, public education hardly existed among the Chickasaws in Indian Territory. The tribe received appropriations from the federal government, and part of that money was spent to support students who were attending schools in the Choctaw District, where most Chickasaws lived at the time. But students were few. For example, in 1843 the tribal agent noted that there were not more than seven or eight Chickasaws attending Choctaw schools.

At least some of the brightest Chickasaws were sent to the Choctaw Academy, founded by the Baptist Mission Society at Great Crossings, Kentucky, in 1818. In time, the federal subsidy that provided for those students expired. Afterward, a few attended Plainfield Academy in eastern Connecticut, a school established mainly to prepare young men for future study at Yale College.[1]

The scene changed when Christian missionaries arrived in Indian Territory. Baptists, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, and, above all, Methodists made up this group. Prior to Chickasaw removal from the southeastern United States, by far the most successful Christian missions among the Chickasaws were conducted by Presbyterians.[2] But during the 1840s and '50s, the most productive missionaries among them were Methodists. Part of their success resulted from a willingness to follow the Indians as they left their settlements in the Choctaw District and moved further west into what would become the territory of the Chickasaw Nation. In 1844, Methodist missionary E. B. Duncan planted a church at Pleasant Grove near Fort Washita. The settlement served as a base of operations for Duncan's circuit-riding mission among the Chickasaws. At the same time, Duncan's wife began a day school where she taught as many as forty children.[3]

Mrs. Duncan's school exemplified a strong tendency among Methodist missionaries to bring education as well as religion to Indian Territory. Early on, Methodist officials began negotiating with Chickasaw leaders regarding the educational needs of the tribe. Their collaboration led to the establishment of a system of schools for both elementary and upper-level students in the Chickasaw District. According to the agreement, the Indians contributed over 80 percent of the cost for these schools; the denominations contributed only a small fraction.

The first school in the district was the Chickasaw Manual Labor Academy. An impressive two-story stone building was completed in 1851. The school admitted both girls and boys, with 140 students as early as 1857. Instructors taught a wide variety of subjects, including English, Latin, arithmetic, geometry, music, and religion. They segregated part of the curriculum according to sex: boys learned to perform "agricultural and mechanical arts," while girls learned "house-wifery, needle-work, domestic industry, and child care."[4] 

Presbyterian missionaries established an academy among the Chickasaws in 1851, Wapanucka Female Manual Labor School. In 1854 the Methodists added Bloomfield Academy, a school for girls, and Colbert Institute. In 1857 the Chickasaw council approved legislation for the construction of a fifth school in their district, the Burney Academy near Lebanon.

From the Chickasaw perspective, antebellum missionary schools in Indian Territory focused on literacy mainly for the sake of Bible reading and conversion to Christianity. To the Indians, those educational goals did not serve the best interests of the tribe. Most Chickasaw leaders understood that schooling was vital to the future of their nation, but they wanted their schools to provide a broad academic foundation. That is, they wanted teachers who would teach, not preach.[5]

Cultural differences between missionary teachers and Chickasaw students created another concern. The differences often resulted in harsh judgments and cruel discipline based on stereotypes. For example, in 1855 at Wapanucka Academy, one schoolmaster publicly whipped a group of girls. He offered the justification that,
These little rogues need something more than mere kindness to manage them. They are full of evil from the crown of their head to the sole of their feet."
Children sometimes ran away from school and did everything they could to keep from being sent back.[6]

Trouble between students and teachers is, of course, an age-old problem. Yet, in many instances white teachers in the Chickasaw Nation interpreted the friction as the result of racial differences. One nonnative principal surmised that stubbornness was "a fundamental characteristic" of especially full-blooded Chickasaws. According to his stereotype, there was also a benefit to being a full-blood: "the higher the percentage of Indian blood the better artists they were."[7]


[1] Arrell M. Gibson, The Chickasaws (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971), 231-32. Regarding the Choctaw Academy, see Clara Sue Kidwell, "Choctaw Academy," in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, ed. John E. Kleber (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1992), 184. For more about the Plainfield Academy, see Orwin Bradford Griffin, The Evolution of the Connecticut State School System (New York: Teachers College, Columbia University, 1928), esp. 28, 48, 176-81. See also the following URL:

[2] Gibson, The Chickasaws, 106-09.

[3] Ibid., 233-34. Gibson cites the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1845, 524-26.

[4] Gibson, The Chickasaws, 235.

[5] Wendy St. Jean, Remaining Chickasaw in Indian Territory, 1830s-1907 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2011), 92. A very similar tension between Indians and Euro-Americans cropped up at other times and places. See, for example, Linford D. Fisher's discussion of evangelization in eighteenth-century southern New England in The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures of Early America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), ch. 2.

[6] St. Jean, Remaining Chickasaw in Indian Territory, 91.

[7] Ibid., 95.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Incomparable Jesse Chisholm (c. 1805-1868)

On their way north to railheads in Kansas, trail bosses followed a path through Indian Territory that was blazed by one of the most important traders and negotiators the West has ever known. Jesse Chisholm was a mixed-blood Cherokee Indian born in Tennessee around 1805. When he was still a young man, his family, personal interests, and natural talents combined with American expansion to move him west.

His father was Ignatius Chisholm, an adventurer of Scottish heritage. His mother was Martha Rogers, the daughter of a Cherokee leader. The couple became part of the Cherokee westward movement after the tribe was pressured to give up their lands in Tennessee in exchange for new lands in Arkansas. By 1816, the family lived along the Spadra River in northwestern Arkansas.

Once the federal government began relocating Indian tribes to the territory west of Fort Smith, Arkansas, Jesse Chisholm established several trading posts in that region. At one time, his extended family operated a store at Three Forks, Indian Territory, called the Wigwam Neosho. The store once belonged to Sam Houston and his Cherokee wife, Diana, Jesse Chisholm's great aunt, whom Houston abandoned on his way to Texas in 1833. Because Chisholm could speak a dozen or more languages, including those of the Kiowas and Comanches, officials stationed at Fort Smith and Fort Gibson sometimes used him as an interpreter in their treaty negotiations.

He also served as a mediator for Sam Houston following the Council House Massacre at San Antonio in March 1840. As historian Vernon R. Maddux tells the story, thirty-five Comanche women, warriors, and chiefs came to San Antonio under a flag of truce. But the Indians "were surrounded by a troop of heavily armed Texas soldiers, who . . . killed all the warriors and some women." For the next seven years, in sporadic waves of terror, Comanche raiders took vengeance. At Houston's request, it was Jesse Chisholm who accepted "the dangerous mission of seeking out the remote Comanche bands and trying to persuade them to come in and sign a peace agreement." After seven years of tireless effort, on December 10, 1850, Chisholm signed and witnessed the treaty at San Saba Mission, which was also signed by representatives of the Peneteka Comanches.

During the Civil War, Chisholm operated a ranch and trading post near present-day Wichita, Kansas. It was after the war that he blazed his trail along the 98th meridian, from his post in Kansas all the way to the Red River. This was the path that would eventually become the cattle highway connecting ranches in Texas to the railroad in Kansas. Chisholm died in 1868 and thus never witnessed what became of his trail. He lies buried at the old site that was known as Left Hand Spring, named for a Southern Arapaho leader, in present-day Blaine County, Oklahoma, about six miles northeast of Geary.


Gibson, Arrell M. "Chisholm, Jesse (1805-68)." In The New Encyclopedia of the American West, ed. Howard R. Lamar (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998), 208-09. A brief entry.

Maddux, Vernon R. "Chisholm, Jesse (1805-4 Apr. 1868)." In American National Biography, ed. John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 4:820-22. A much longer article than the one by Gibson.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Chisholm Trail, 1867-1890

Of the great American cattle trails, the most famous and most significant was the one named for Jesse Chisholm. During its peaks years, from 1867 to 1884, the Chisholm Trail began with feeder trails south of San Antonio, traveled north to Fort Worth and Waco, crossed the Red River into present-day Oklahoma, and continued on into Kansas. The destination of the trail was a railroad terminal, first at Abilene, later Newton, and then Wichita, Kansas. More than eight hundred miles long, it was considered by people at the time "one of the wonders of the western world."[1]

Along the Chisholm Trail near Deanville, Texas
How did the Chisholm Trail get its start? Shortly after the Civil War, Texas cattlemen first drove their herds north and east along what they called the old Texas Road, and then into Indian Territory following the Shawnee Trail on their way to either Kansas City or Sedalia, Missouri. But the hills and woods that dotted the trail, not to mention Indians who demanded a fee for crossing their land as well as outright bandits, rendered this route virtually impossible. Because of these impediments, markets in the east as well as Texas suppliers of beef were missing an opportunity.

In 1867, Joseph G. McCoy, an Illinois farmer, recognized the problem. Beef markets in the eastern U.S. were under-supplied. Realizing the tremendous potential, McCoy bought an entire township along the Kansas Pacific Railroad and named the site Abilene. He then hired a team of promoters to travel through Texas with the news about a railhead in south-central Kansas, ready to load up Longhorns and ship them to Kansas City and beyond.[2]

Several factors conspired to bring the great cattle drives out of Texas to an end. First, railroad construction in Texas eliminated some of the need to drive cattle to Kansas. Second, ranching operations in the northern Great Plains expanded, creating new competition for Texas ranches. Finally, in 1884 Kansas legislators imposed a quarantine on cattle entering the state. As historian John R. Lovett noted, by 1890, the day of the cattle drives across Oklahoma was over.[3]


[1] Steven D. Dortch, "Chisholm Trail," The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, (accessed February 15, 2018). See also T. R. Fehrenbach, Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans. Updated ed. (New York: Tess Press, 2000), 557-58.

[2] John R. Lovett, "Major Cattle Trails, 1866-1889," in Historical Atlas of Oklahoma, 4th ed., Charles Robert Goins and Danney Goble, eds. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2006), 116.

[3] Ibid. See also Edward Everett Dale, "Chisholm Trail," in Dictionary of American History, 3rd ed. Stanley I Kutler, ed. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003), 2:158