Early Baptist Missionaries
in Oklahoma Among the Indians
By J. M. Gaskin, 1953
Section 1 - With The Creeks
History is made by men. The story of any great cause centers around some great person, or persons. It is impossible to separate the story of Oklahoma Baptist history from the lives of the men and women who made that history. A few of these trail blazers will now be introduced to the reader, and certainly it is fitting to begin with the man whose labors more than any other mark the real beginning.
Isaac McCoy was born in Fayette, Pennsylvania, June 13, 1784, the son of William McCoy, a pioneer Baptist preacher in Kentucky.
He was baptized March 6, 1801, by Rev. Joshua Morris. October 6, 1803, he was married to Miss Christiana Polke. The next year they moved to Clarke County, Indiana, and united with the Silver Creek Baptist Church, the oldest Baptist church in that area. He was licensed to preach by this church August 13, 1808, and October 13, 1810, was ordained by the Maria Creek Church, with his father and Rev. George Waller as the presbytery.
McCoy served the Maria Creek Church as pastor for several years. Then in 1817 he was elected missionary to the Indians for a term of twelve months, at a salary of $500.00 per year. His work was to be in Indiana and Illinois, and early in 1818 he began work among the Weas, Miamis, and Kickapoos in the heart of the wilderness of Indiana. He set out at once to open a school for the Indians, and made trips out among them to secure pupils. Many nights he slept out in the woods, with bark he had pulled from the trees serving as his bed.
In 1820, McCoy moved to Fort Wayne and opened a school with ten English pupils, six French, eight Indians and one Negro. By the end of the year he had thirty-two Indians, all living in his own home as members of his family. A year later he reported forty-two pupils. In 1822, a church was organized at Fort Wayne, and June 12, 1822, he organized a temperance society.
In January, 1822, Isaac McCoy made his first trip to Washington in the interest of the Indians. For many years he served under federal appointment in one way or another, as a commissioner, surveyor, or teacher, among the Indians.
In October, 1822, McCoy located a mission station at Carey, Michigan, among the Pottawatomies, and in January, 1823, he opened a school with thirty pupils. He baptized the first converts, two white men, in Lake Michigan, November 6, 1824. In January, 1825, he baptized several Indians. October 9, 1825, he preached the first Baptist sermon ever heard in Chicago.
In 1828, the government made an appropriation for an exploration of the new territory to the West, and McCoy, with Captain George Kennerly of St. Louis, was appointed to make the trip. July 2, 1828, he left on that trip. While waiting in St. Louis for a party of Choctaws and Chickasaws who were to accompany them, he made a tour to the West, reaching the Kansas-Missouri line, and selected the town of Fayette, Missouri, as the temporary home of his family until they could be established in the Territory.
They left St. Louis October 12, 1828. They came by way of the Harmony and Union Missions, in the Territory, and camped at the junction of the Verdigris and Arkansas rivers. They remained here November 26-December 22. On their return they reached St. Louis, December 24, 1828.
He made a quick trip to Washington, to report on the exploration. On this trip he also met with the Mission Board in Boston. In June of that year he had received a report from the Board concerning a plea for mission work in Burma, Africa, and other places, but no plea was made in behalf of the Indians. Many did not sympathize with McCoy's interest in the Indians, for they felt that the Indians would soon die out and there would be no use to do mission work among them.
July 27, 1829, they left for Fayette, Missouri. A brief exploration was made, and in November, McCoy made another trip to Washington.
August 16, 1830, he set out to survey the land of the Delawares. On this, he was gone 103 days, and 96 nights in succession he spent without a roof over his head.
In 1831, he made another trip and was accompanied by his family. They camped on the Grand River. Late this year he was visited by Joseph Meeker, with whom he planned to establish a printing press among the Cherokees, but failed because of the "apathy of the Baptist denomination."
In May, 1832, while on a trip to Washington, he attended the Triennial Convention. After his return, he visited the Creek Nation, and was present for the organization of the first Baptist church on Oklahoma soil, at Ebenezer Station, September 9, 1832.
The McCoys finally settled near Kansas City, until 1842, at which time they moved to Louisville, Kentucky, in October of that year, when the American Indian Mission Association was organized and Isaac McCoy was chosen as its secretary.
He labored faithfully in the work with the Indian Mission Association four years. On a return trip from Jeffersonville, Indiana, he was exposed to severe weather, and a serious illness resulted which caused his death June 21, 1846.
In an old cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky, known as the "Western Cemetery", now in the heart of the city, Isaac McCoy was laid to rest. At the head of his grave was placed a slab bearing this inscription:
Rev. Isaac McCoy
Born June 13, 1784
Died June 21, 1836*
* This date should be 1846.
For near thirty years his entire time and energies were devoted to the civil and religious improvement of the aboriginal tribes of this country. He projected and founded the plan of their colonization, their only hope, and the imperishable monument of his wisdom and benevolence.
The Indian's friend-for them he toiled through life;
For them in death he breathed his final prayer.
Now from his toil he rests-the care, the strife.
He waits in heaven, his works to follow there.
Isaac McCoy died with his face toward the Indian country. His ruling idea was supreme in death. Forgetting his sufferings, with the object for which he had devoted his manhood and sacrificed his all still dominant in his soul, he passed from this life to the world beyond with this message on his lips: "Tell the brethren to never let the Indian mission decline."
Thirteen children were born to the McCoys, but only three of them survived their father. Seven of them died while he was away from home, at work in the interest of the Indians. The American Indian never had a better friend than Isaac McCoy. Lindquist says of him, "The establishment of most of the missions among the tribes which were later moved to the northeastern Indian Territory was due to the work of this devoted man, and his name is held in great reverence among the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who first heard of Christianity through his teachings."
When the Creeks came West, to settle in the Indian Territory, Joseph Islands was among them. As a boy back in Georgia, he had been permitted to live with a Baptist white man, who took him to Sunday school and taught him the English language. According to Mary E. Wright, the experience that set Joseph Islands to thinking about his spiritual condition was something like this: One night in a drunken brawl his best friend was killed. Though having had contact with religious influences previously, in manhood Islands had become a leader in wild revelry. The next day after his friend was killed, in loneliness and sorrow he sought the place where his friend was to be buried. Old Billy, a Christian Negro, who was digging the grave, saw Islands' distress and began talking to him of death, the great beyond, Jesus and the Resurrection. The arrows of conviction began to sink deeply into his soul, and later in Old Billy's cabin he learned more and more of the way of life until light began to dawn upon his darkness. Then, it seems, according to E. C. Routh, he was later approached by a "seeker", and through his efforts to explain the plan of salvation to another, he himself came to know Christ in a glorious conversion experience.
At old North Fork Town, where the North and South Canadian Rivers meet, near what is now Eufaula, Oklahoma, there was no pastor, so Joseph took the Bible which the white man in Georgia had given him, and went from house to house spreading the "Good News" as best he could. He carried on this work for about two years, and in 1845 was ordained to the gospel ministry by Ramsey Potts and Joseph Smedley, missionaries in the Choctaw Nation. At that time converts to Christianity were being sorely persecuted among the Creeks, and missionaries who made converts baptized them on the Choctaw side of the South Canadian River, which was the northern boundary of the Choctaw Nation.
It is said that in 1845, a chief made a long speech at a Creek Council meeting, in which he denounced praying. He said, "When God made all things He made white people and black people to pray but He never required the Indian to pray to Him." This chief was later baptized by Rev. H. F. Buckner.
The American Indian Mission Association offered Islands at one time $50 for his services, but he refused, feeling that it might prejudice some of the unsaved Indians against him. He is reported to have left his own home, to live in a humble log cabin, that his larger and better house might be used as a place of worship. This was the first house of worship in the Creek Nation. This was somewhere near what is now Eufaula, Oklahoma.
Joseph Islands went on with his work, in spite of the fact that all about him Indians were being persecuted for accepting the Christian faith, and he was threatened. The penalty administered to those found guilty of engaging in Christian worship was thirty-nine stripes, for it was about this time that the severe prohibitions were enacted against Christianity by the Creek Council. In this connection, Mary E. Wright wrote, "Islands and Billy communed together in secret for many days, but they could not long resist the desire to give others the good tidings. They talked to their friends and soon gathered a little company, who met at a secret spot for religious worship. As one after another accepted Christ his name was placed upon the roll of disciples until they numbered thirty. Meanwhile the authorities awoke to the spread of Christianity, and the mounted police were urged to greater vigilance in the execution of the law. A spy who lay in the woods one night near their place of worship heard Islands praying for his people, his persecutors, the police, and the spies who were watching, calling the man by name and asking the Great Spirit to defeat his evil purposes and change his heart. A sense of guilt such as he had never known took possession of the spy. As the service continued he heard of Christ's love for sinful men and was lost in wonder. How long he lay there in an agony of fear and penitence, he never knew, but when the disciples met again he stood in their midst and told how the great Spirit had protected them and convicted him. Before the meeting closed he found his Lord, and with great joy saw his name enrolled among those of the disciples.
"The Christians were not always so fortunate. One night the light horse surrounded their place of worship, and one by one, they were led forth to receive the penalty of the law. They accepted their punishment, but as the executioners laid on the cruel thong they stopped short, unable to withstand the influence of the radiant faces before them. The captain tried to shame them for what he considered cowardly weakness, but when the women stood unflinchingly before the fearful ordeal he too was overwhelmed with a sense of awe. Feebly they finished their task. The next day the captain and several of his men surrendered their positions, saying they could not whip these people for praying to and loving Jesus. Others more savage and determined were sought to fill their places, but their hands were paralyzed by the meek submission of their victims, and they too came to the chief, saying, 'God's Spirit claims these people; we must let them alone.' "
Islands served about three years as pastor of the North Fork Church,* and made a lasting contribution among the Creeks. Largely through his influence a great revival swept the Creek nation. After a rather brief but very influential ministry, he laid his burden down, and fell asleep in the Lord on March 8, 1848.
Albert McClellan once wrote concerning him, "Joseph Islands passed to his eternal reward after a short six-year ministry that flashed across early Oklahoma gloomy spiritual skies like Halley's comet across the heavens."
Before his death, Joseph Islands had requested the American Indian Mission Association to send someone to work among the Creeks. He said, "Send some man who is not afraid to die for Christ's sake." Some sources report that in response to this
* This church was organized by Sidney Dyer in 1844, with fourteen Creeks and twelve Negroes as charter members. Joseph Islands was its first pastor.
request H. F. Buckner was sent. However, according to an account in the INDIAN ADVOCATE, August, 1848, it was not Buckner, but A. L. Hay who was sent.
A. L. Hay
Americus L. Hay was educated at Georgetown college, and in 1847 was appointed by the Indian Mission Association to work as a missionary among the Choctaw and Creek Indians. He was ordained that year at Nashville, and in a letter to Sidney Dyer, dated December 17, 1847, and printed in the INDIAN ADVOCATE, January, 1848, he mentions his trip to the Territory: "After a long and tedious journey, I am now near my destination. Nearly a month has passed since I left Louisville. Now that I am near home, I am anticipating a speedy termination to my journey."
The INDIAN ADVOCATE of August, 1848, gives an account of the beginnings of Hay's work with the North Fork church. Joseph Islands was the first pastor of this church, and when [Joseph] Islands' health began to fail and it was obvious that he would not be able to continue with the work due to a case of tuberculosis, he made a trip East in an attempt to secure someone to come and take his place. The result of this effort was that A. L. Hay was sent. Hay wrote in the ADVOCATE, "At the close of the meeting (Monday), Brother [Joseph] Islands, the father of the missionary, who was the first pastor of the church, placed me before the congregation, and said, 'That he loved his son, their late pastor, tenderly, devotedly. His son knew that he could not live long, and he went to the states to obtain a minister to take his place. He returned with that minister, and he now stood before them. He now adopted him as his son, and would love him as such, and would sustain, and comfort him in sickness'. At no time in life have I possessed such feelings. Happy is the missionary, the pastor of a church of 210 devoted members, adopted as the son of a great chief."
December 31, 1848, Brother Hay was united in marriage to Miss Margaret Babe, of Louisville, Ken-tucky, in the Second Baptist Church of that city. At the same time, Mrs. Hay was set apart to work as a missionary with her husband, and was given appointment to that work. January 4, 1849, Mr. and Mrs. Hay started on their return trip to the Territory.
In a letter to the INDIAN ADVOCATE, August, 1848, A. L. Hay tells of the conversion of Chilly McIntosh. A four-day meeting was in progress at North Fork, having begun July 7th. About 1000 Indians were present, from the Five Civilized Tribes. Services were held at sunrise, 11:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m. and at night. Mr. Hay wrote, "General Chilly McIntosh united with the North Fork church. He is the most talented Chief in the Nation and universally beloved. He joined before preaching on Sabbath morning. He spoke of his conviction and sorrow for sin. He made known that his remaining days would be devoted to the service of God."
General Mclntosh's conversion had a far-reaching influence among the Indians since he was well known and held in high esteem. Mr. Hay also wrote, "I have just returned from places where some are opposed to religion. But General McIntosh's profession has produced the greatest concern. Great good will result from his conversion."
In a letter to the ADVOCATE, January, 1851, H. F. Buckner tells of the ordination of Chilly McIntosh, a short time before. He said, "We proceeded on Saturday, according to previous request by the church, to examine General Chilly McIntosh, in regard to his Christian experience, call to the ministry and doctrinal views; and upon his giving entire satisfaction in regard to these things, we ordained him to the Gospel ministry in usual form.
"The ceremonies were unusually solemn and imposing. Brother McIntosh enjoys the entire confidence and esteem of his people. He has long given evidence of a stable character, and a sound understanding, and from his knowledge of Scripture, practical good sense, and untiring zeal, we have reason to believe that he will be very useful as a native preacher. . . . On Sunday, after preaching, Brother McIntosh baptized seven converts." For some time after that Brother McIntosh was supported by the Tuskegee Association, Alabama.
H. F. Buckner
Henry Frieland Buckner was born at Newport, Tennessee, December 18, 1818. In 1832 he was baptized into the Madisonville Baptist Church, which his father, Daniel Buckner, had organized in 1828.
In 1836, Daniel Buckner moved to Big Spring, and Henry Frieland was put in the Maryville Seminary, which was an old school Presbyterian Seminary. There was not then a Baptist high school in the state. Daniel Buckner accepted appointment from the Tennessee Baptist Convention to labor as a missionary. But he found anti-missionary influences strong about him, and the church of which he was a member excluded him from its membership on the charge that he was too missionary-minded. His wife asked to be excluded too, but the church refused to exclude her on the ground that, "We have no charge against you." Her reply was, "If I were a man, I would preach missions just as my husband has done, and as I hope and pray my sons may do."
After they had been excluded, the Buckners went to another church, presented themselves for membership, giving a copy of the charges that had been brought against them, and they were received by statement.
In 1838, Henry Frieland went to Alabama to teach, and in 1839 was licensed to preach. He preached to rural churches while a student in the University of Alabama, and November 22, 1842, he was married to Miss Lucy Ann Dogan.
In 1846, Buckner was appointed missionary by the Baptist General Association of Kentucky, to labor among the mountain people, and after having labored nearly three years in this work at a salary of $500 per year, he was appointed by the Indian Mission Association to serve in the Creek Nation as a missionary to the Indians. His father was not willing for him to go, and his wife's relatives agreed to his going only on the condition that he would just remain two years. But Buckner's mother said, "Go, my son, and the Lord be with you always. Our Savior says, 'Go ye into all the world', and it is as much my duty to give up my son as it is any other mother. I thank God that I have a son to go to the Indians."
In 1848, the Buckners started West, and at Nashville, Buckner suffered an attack of pneumonia. After recovery, they resumed their journey, and reaching Little Rock, they were broke. There was no Baptist church in Little Rock, but Buckner received financial aid from a brother Mason. From Napoleon to Little Rock he had earned their passage on the boat by carrying wood aboard at thie landings.
Finally they reached Fort Smith; there were no Baptists there either, except some slaves. On March 7, 1849, they reached a place on the Verdigris above Fort Gibson, and he gave a Negro slave fifty cents to tell the other Negroes he had come to help them. He bought a horse for $4.10, gave his note for $40 for a cabin where a man had been killed, and a merchant gave him credit until he received his first quarter's salary, which was $100. He wrote: "The first thing Mrs. Buckner had to do after walking four miles from the steamboat landing, leading our little son, was to scour the blood of a murdered man from the puncheon of our little Indian cabin."
Buckner came to the Creeks as a preacher and not as a teacher, hence it was necessary for him to secure a permit to preach. The Creek Council debated three days whether to allow him to preach. When he was called in and advised of their decision, he was told that by their old customs he could not preach, for his religion was contrary to the customs of their ancestors; but by their new and less strenuous laws, he could preach. Therefore, they had been debating which was more binding, their customs or their laws, and they had finally reached a conclusion and decided that he could preach. So they gave him a permit to preach.
In 1860, the Board of Domestic and Indian Missions, then located at Marion, Alabama, published three books by Buckner. They were the Gospel of John in Creek, a Creek hymn book, and a Creek grammar.
After the Civil War began, Buckner's work was interrupted and he moved for a time to Texas, where he was pastor at Linden and Independence. During his stay in Texas he received the doctor of divinity degree from Baylor University. In a letter dated November 5, 1869, in acknowledging receipt of the degree, he wrote, "I will endeavor to accept the title with profound humility, never sporting it before the gaze of a censorious world, nor acting in such a way as to make my friends repent of their kindness."
In 1870, he made a visit to Georgia in the interest of Indian work, and July 25, 1870, he arrived at North Fork, in the Creek nation, to resume his labors with the Indians. He was at that time the only Baptist Missionary in the Creek Nation, and there was only one other of any denomination, a Presbyterian.
At the beginning of the Civil war, before removal to Texas, Buckner lost his wife and child, and a year later married the daughter of a missionary, Rev. A. E. Vandiver.
H. F. Buckner was largely influential in establishing the Levering Mission School, for Creeks, near Wetumka. The institution was not established until after Buckner's death in 1882, but it was primarily an outgrowth of his efforts.
Buckner and his family joined the West Eufaula Baptist Church, February 5, 1871, on letter from the church at Linden, Texas. Here in this area he labored until his death, in 1882. He was buried near Eufaula, and on the tombstone at the head of his grave there is this inscription: "My husband Rev. H. F. Buckner, D. D., December 18, 1818-December 3, 1882, a missionary among the Creek Indians for 33 years from Pulaski Co., Ky. 'Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there shall come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.' Eternal life I have." His last words were, "Eternal life, eternal life, eternal life I have."
J. S. Murrow
Joseph Samuel Murrow was born in Richmond County, Georgia, June 7, 1835, the son of John Murrow, a Baptist preacher. When he was nineteen years of age, he united with the Green Fork Baptist church, in Middle Association, and was baptized by his oldest brother, who also was a Baptist preacher.
In his diary, December 17, 1854, he wrote: "Attended church this day. Enjoyed the blessed privilege of taking communion today for the first time in my life."
September 16, 1857, he was ordained to the gospel ministry by the First Baptist Church, Macon, Georgia. While attending Mercer College, Murrow became interested in Indian Mission work, and resolved to give his life to that work. This he did in response to an appeal that H. F. Buckner had made with the president of Mercer, asking for some young man to come and assist him in his work among the Creeks.
Soon after his ordination, without finishing his college course, he set out on the journey West, and in Mississippi he was married October 8, 1857, to Miss Elizabeth Tatom. He and his young bride then continued their journey by boat from Memphis to the mouth of the Arkansas River, and then on to Little Rock and Fort Smith.
December 10, 1857*, they arrived at Buckner's home, at North Fork Town (Micco), about two and one-half miles northeast of the present town of Eufaula, Oklahoma. Shortly after his arrival he baptized his first Indian convert.
Murrow was supported in his work among the Indians by the Rehoboth Association, of Georgia. He carried on correspondence with the papers in Georgia and Mississippi, and wrote that Indians sang and prayed in the Spirit, and that "an Indian is never known to refuse to pray when called upon."
* This date given by E. C. Routh, "Story of Oklahoma Baptists," p. 41. W. A. Carlton in "Not You But You" gives the date November 14, 1857, as the time of Murrow's arrival at Buckner's home. The next Sunday Murrow preached to the Indians for the first time, using for a text, "I Seek Not Yours but You" (2 Corinthians 12:14).
In June, 1858, Murrow wrote that in the Creek, Cherokee and Choctaw Nations there were 40,000 Indians, and that there was not a Southern Baptist Missionary among the Seminole or Chickasaws. Early in January, 1860, he moved from Micco about sixty miles west into the Seminole Nation, and started work among the Seminole. That year he organized the first Baptist church among the Seminole, the Ash Creek Church, near what is now Sasakwa, Oklahoma. This church had seven charter members.
August 18, 1858, Mrs. Murrow died, and October 27, 1859, he was married to Miss Clara Burns, daughter of Rev. Willis Burns, a missionary to the Choctaws.
Murrow was appointed by the Confederate Government to serve as agent to the Seminole, under Gen. Albert Pike. This enabled him to work among them as a missionary, and he continued his work uninterrupted during the Civil War, baptizing more than two hundred Indians in the camps, and missing only one Sunday service during the War.
About 1865, he moved to Linden, Texas, and in the fall of 1867, he moved with his family back to Indian Territory, settling among the Choctaws, on Middle Boggy, near the present town of Atoka. In 1872, when the M. K. and T. Railroad was built, the town of Atoka was established, and Murrow moved there where he remained until his death in 1929.
While in Texas he was made a Master Mason, and in October, 1911, he received the honorary 33rd degree of Scottish Rite Masonry, which is the highest distinction any man can attain in Masonry.
The Atoka Baptist Church was organized in May, 1869, and Murrow served as its pastor for twenty-three years. He led in the revival of many of the Choctaw churches, and organized the Choctaw-Chickasaw Association in 1872. When the Atoka Church was organized May 5, 1869, it was named the "Rehoboth Mission Baptist Church," because the Rehoboth Association back in Georgia had supported Murrow from the first in his missionary work in the Territory. April 1, 1876, the name of this church was changed to the "Atoka Baptist Church."
In the seventies, Murrow's interest was turned to the Plains Indians, and he was instrumental in starting work among them. In 1874, John McIntosh was sent to work among them. In 1885 the Home Mission Society appointed Murrow superintendent of the Indian mission work in the Territory. In June, 1888, he was married to Miss Kate L. Ellett, who had come to the Territory in 1882 to work among the Indians under the American Baptist Home Mission Society. She died in January, 1915, and in 1921 he was married to Mrs. Jennie Ragle, who labored with him as a faithful companion until his death in 1929.
Murrow kept a diary every year from the time of his conversion until a short time before his death. Many of these have been lost; those that remain in existence are kept at Bacone College.
He also served as an editor. From 1887-1891, he edited the INDIAN MISSIONARY, publication issued in the interest of the Indian Mission work; a file of these is kept at Bacone College.
E. C. Routh wrote, "On Sunday, September 18, 1929, at the age of ninety-four years, three months and one day, Father Murrow fell asleep and was at home with his Lord. He had given more than seventy years of his life to the building of the West. He had led a mighty host into fellowship with his Savior and Lord. The Indians justly claim him as a great benefactor."
W. P. Blake
In 1883, after the death of H. F. Buckner, W. P. Blake became his successor in the Creek work. This work was of short duration, as he left to serve a church in Kansas. However, he was soon recalled to the Indian mission work to superintend the Emahaka Academy, a mission school among the Seminole near Wewoka.
William McCombs was for many years interpreter for H. F. Buckner. He was for thirty years moderator of the Creek Baptist Association. He was largely responsible for securing from the Creek Council the present land site of 160 acres for Bacone College. For many years he was a respected member of the old North Fork church, at Eufaula. He was especially influential in securing gifts that made possible the endowment of Bacone College.
Peter Ewing was born near Eufaula, I[ndian]. T[errritory]., December 17, 1860. His father's name was Jowastaye Micco (English name Daniel Roberts), but when he entered school at the old Asbury Mission near Eufaula, the teacher could not understand the name which he gave him, so said, "I will give you my own name," which was Ewing.
December 22, 1899, he married Susie A. McCombs, at Eufaula. Miss McCombs was the daughter of William McCombs.
His record of service - religious, civic, and educational - stands as a worthy contribution to his people. In 1897 he was elected general superintendent of all Creek national schools. Following this, he served as a member of the House of Warriors; superintendent of Eufaula Boarding School, Creek National Council; chairman of the Creek Representative Committee, and was appointed chief of the Creeks by President Hoover. He was a 32nd degree Mason and a life-long pioneer of the Baptist work. He was ordained to the gospel ministry October 4, 1911, and served as pastor of the West Eufaula Church 1918-1932. He died December 19, 1932.
A fitting conclusion of this section is a discus-sion of the life and labors of one of the greatest men who ever blazed a trail for our work among the Indians. He was John McIntosh, born August 11, 1833, baptized in 1866, and ordained to the ministry in 1868.*
* These dates supplied by a son of John McIntosh, Rev. Jobe McIntosh, present-day missionary among the Indians in Arizona. He was unable to supply adequate documentary sources to positively verify these dates, but gave them as fairly substantial.
Brother McIntosh was an influential citizen among his people as a civic leader, and their every interest commanded his attention. But primary in his life's purpose was to plant the seeds of the gospel everywhere he could among the Indians. He carried the message for the first time to the Plains Indians. Today a monument stands on the grounds of the Rock Springs church, four miles north of Anadarko, erected in memory of him and what he did for the Plains Indians. This church was organized shortly after Brother McIntosh made his second visit to these Indians, in company with A. J. Holt.
Brother Jobe McIntosh supplied the writer with this testimony "Yes, God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform. The hand of God can be seen in the life of my father, Rev. John McIntosh. It takes a lot of ordinary people to produce one great outstanding person. In the shadowy background of the great deliverers are those who had greatness enough to follow the leadership of Christ. We have the wrong idea if we think life is supposed to be filled with music and sunshine only. For each of us there is some suffering. Let us pray to have faith so anchored that we can ride out the storms of life, and grant that we may remember Christ carried a cross, and there is a cross for each of us."
Some of the hardships of the pioneer are depicted in these stories supplied by Brother Jobe McIntosh concerning his father's experiences. He said once on a mission tour he suffered for water all day; the creeks were dry, and nowhere could he find water, for himself or his horse. Nightfall came, and he found a place to camp for the night where grass was good for his horse. He used a large flat rock for a bed, with his saddle for a pillow, and his saddle blanket for bedding. He lay down, but could not sleep for his thirst. About midnight he made his way down the dry creek bed, until he came to a place it seemed the sand was damp. He dug down about ten inches, but found no water. He went on, but later came back to this spot and the little hole he had dug had water in it. He drank, then went back to camp, thanking God for this life-saver.
On another of his mission tours, Brother McIntosh gave this as his own experience: "Coming back from the Wichita tribe I had a sad experience, and camped for the night. I tied my horse out, but in the night something frightened him so that he broke the rope and ran away. I was worried, for there I was miles from home, with my saddle to carry, not enough food to last long, and all I could think of was the long burning plains ahead of me. Then I got down on my knees and left all things in the hands of One that had always cared for me. Soon I felt better, then went to bed and listened to the wolves and owls. Toward morning I awoke and heard a horse snort. I arose and went down the hill to see the good Lord had brought my horse back, and again I had joy in my heart and thanked God."
This noble trail blazer finished his course and went to be with the Lord on Christmas day, 1906. His final words were: "I am now ready and willing to go to my Lord. I know that my work for my Master will not be in vain. I have preached to the Baptist churches in the Creek and Seminole Nations. Have taken the word to the wild tribes of the West. My Master has my reward ready and waiting for me.
"Follow the teachings of the Bible - trust in Jesus and we will meet in a better world. I received many letters from churches to preach to them. I desired to get well and go, but I resigned my will to the Lord's will and I am ready to go."
Section 2 - Among the Cherokees
A. C. Bacone
Almon C. Bacone was born in Scott, Courtland County, New York, April 25, 1830. His boyhood days were spent on the farm. He early longed for an education, which his father could not give him. After his father died, he set about to work his way through school. He went to Courtland Academy, supporting himself in any way he could find employment, and frequently he was forced to live on molasses and corn meal mush.
When he completed his work at the Academy, Bacone borrowed ten dollars one day from a man on a downtown street, and started within an hour, on foot, to Rochester, New York, to enter the University of Rochester. He graduated from this university in 1858.
When just a lad, Bacone was converted and baptized into the fellowship of a country Baptist church near his home. For some time, in early life, he considered entering the ministry, but decided to teach. He taught school some years in the East, then in 1878 was called to Tahlequah, I.T., to take charge of the Cherokee Male Seminary, and he conducted this work for two years.
Bacone felt that the government schools were not doing for the Indians what ought to be done, so he set about making plans to organize a Christian school. He resigned his position with the Seminary, and obtained permission to open a school in the Baptist Mission house at Tahlequah. This school opened February 9, 1880, with three students. The school was first chartered Indian University, and continued as such until Bacone's death.
November 27, 1886, Mr. Bacone led in the organization of the Indian University Baptist Church, and Rev. David Crosby was its first pastor. As yet there had been no Baptist church organized in Muskogee; in 1890, this church was moved to Muskogee, and became the First Baptist Church of that city.
For sixteen years, Mr. Bacone was active as one of the outstanding leaders in Baptist affairs in the Indian Territory. He assisted in the organization of the Baptist Territorial Convention, and for many years was an officer of the organization. He gave himself wholeheartedly to the educational interests of all the Indians.
April 22, 1896, after sixteen years as president of Indian University, A. C. Bacone died. After his death, the institution was named Bacone College, in honor of its founder.
This noble pioneer was laid to rest in the little cemetery on the campus of the college named for him. On the tomb at the head of his grave the following inscriptions appear:
"In Memory of ALMON C. BACONE, President and Founder of Indian University, Indian Territory, born April 25, 1830-died April 22, 1896. Erected by his wife, children, pupils and friends.
"No man in Indian Territory was more greatly esteemed and loved than President Bacone, who rests from his labors but his works follow him. 'Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like His.' Numbers 23:10.
"'A Christian school, planted in the midst of a people, becomes one of the most powerful agencies in the work of civilization.'*
"Hundreds of Indian youths were inspired to a higher life by him, who was actuated by the above and like principles."
Daniel Rogers was born April 13, 1844, at Pittsfield, N. H. His home was on a farm, and the little boy trudged to school in winter, often through deep snow and temperatures of thirty to fifty degrees below zero. Later he attended Derby Academy, Derby, Vermont, working his way through. When he later decided to go to college he found that it would be impossible for his father to help him much, but Daniel worked with a will, and at the close of the summer he had saved $250. This, with all he could earn along the way, took him through Colgate College, Hamilton, New York.
Daniel had been converted when just a small boy. Then when out of college he felt a strong urge
* This inscription was a quotation from Bacone himself.
to do mission work, and in 1874 was called to work with the Cherokees in Indian Territory. He was supported by the Home Mission Society.
He married Miss Harriet Jones, of Northampton, Mass., the daughter of a Baptist minister. Together they came to Indian Territory. They found conditions most difficult. They lived in a log cabin. Daniel traveled all through the Cherokee Nation, on a horse or by horse and buggy, sleeping at night on the ground, many times with wild animals roaming about through the woods. He would ford streams wherever he could as there were no bridges.
They lived at Tahlequah, near the place where the mission house was later built. Only about a year after their coming, Harriet passed away, and Daniel labored alone, under the most difficult conditions, for some time. But by his kindly, patient and loving ways he won the hearts of the Cherokees. They called him "Danel Sogee" - and when that name was mentioned Cherokee faces would lovingly light up.
After a few years, Mr. Rogers returned to Massachusetts and married Julia, the sister of Harriet. They returned and labored many years among the Cherokees.
Three men were closely associated with Daniel Rogers in his work, viz., J. S. Murrow, William McCombs and A. C. Bacone. He labored faithfully through the years with the Five Civilized Tribes, but especially with the Cherokees. He built the first Baptist church in Tahlequah, near the present First Baptist Church of that city. He trained many young Cherokee preachers. In 1900 he retired from Indian work, but later returned to work in the Baptist church at Atoka. In 1900 he moved to Granville, Ohio, to send his children to college. He served several churches in Ohio. He died January 30, 1933.
In the Cherokee Nation today there are still Indian faces that brighten up when they hear the words, "Danel Sogee." He loved and served most faithfully his fellowmen, and truly was a faithful steward.
Section 3 - Choctaws and Chickasaws
Many were the eminent Baptist trail blazers among the Choctaws and Chickasaws. It is fitting to begin this brief biographical study with the man who was the first Choctaw convert and the first native preacher ordained in the Choctaw Nation.
J. S. Murrow wrote of him, "It is impossible to write an acceptable report of the life and labors of Peter Folsom. His life was so interwoven and he filled so prominent and important a part in the history of Baptists in the Choctaw Nation from the very beginning. He was the first Choctaw Baptist convert. His life and labors would fill a good sized volume. He was baptized, as he once quaintly stated, 'since 1829 years ago,' at Johnson's Choctaw Academy in Kentucky.* Between 1830 and 1840 he welcomed Mr. Smedley, the first missionary to the Eastern part of the Nation. He took part in the organization of the first church in that region and was ordained the first native preacher in the Nation. He was instrumental in organizing five or six strong churches and ordained pastors for the same, to wit: Reverends Lewis, Wm. Cass, Shonubby, Simon Hancock and Alexander Pope. He was a very eloquent and effective preacher in his own language, full of the Holy Spirit and zeal, and possessing the entire confidence of the people. Converts were multiplied wherever he preached. He was a close student of the Word of God and sound in the faith and in doctrine. His churches were built on the Solid Rock, Jesus Christ, and His word. He was instrumental in getting the Indian Missionary Association transferred to the Convention (about 1850 made a trip to Memphis, with H. F. Buckner).
"In physical appearance, Brother Folsom was tall and commanding. He was a born leader. He had a sweet and gentle disposition, extremely hospitable and often imposed upon. His character in every regard is unimpeached and unimpeachable. The Nation, the Church, and the world have lost few better or more useful men than Peter Folsom.
"He died at his home in Sans Bois County,
* This was near Georgetown, Kentucky. It is said he and sixteen other Indian children were baptized the same time, into the Great Crossings Church, in Scott County. But when Peter Folsom returned to the Indian Territory his interest in religion waned, until one night he was on a journey with the chief, who waa his uncle, and another leading Choctaw. They spent the night in the woods, and Peter wrapped himself in his blanket and lay down to sleep. The other two men remained about the fire and talked, supposing him asleep. Conversation turned to the Christian religion - one asked the other what he thought about it. The chief said he had thought about it, but concluded there was nothing to it - for he understood the young man once was a Christian but he never mentioned it. Then Peter felt the rebuke of his negligence, for he was listening; he arose, apologized, and determined no more to betray his Lord by silence. From that night he became a great preacher. E. C. Routh said of him, "He probably organized more churches, preached more sermons and helped ordain more preachers than any other man in the Choctaw Nation."
February 9th (1885), in, as well as the writer can find out, about the 76th year of his age."Servant of God, well done
Rest from thy loved employ.
The battle fought, the victory won,
Enter thy Master's joy."*
Any research of Oklahoma Baptist history will show the name of Joseph Smedley appearing in prominence with such men as Ramsey Potts and H. F. Buckner in the middle of the nineteenth century.
Mr. Smedley was born in 1792 in the county of Westmoreland, England. December 26, 1820, he was married to Mary Ann Ratcliff, in the parish and town of Manchester, England.
In 1829 Mr. Smedley came to America. He first lived in Philadelphia, where he was a member of the Fifth Baptist Church. The pastor was Dr. I. L. Dagg.
Smedley was first employed by the United States government in 1835 as a teacher and missionary to the Choctaw Indians. His work was to range along the Arkansas and Canadian rivers from Ft. Smith west, some eighty miles into the Indian Territory, to the south fork of the Canadian.
In 1836 he lost his wife, leaving seven children, which increased his hardships as he came West. When he landed in Ft. Smith, he found a small garrison, one boarding house, one store, and no church.
* Annual minutes of the Choctaw-Chickasaw Association, 1885.
He said there were no religious families on either side of the river except Major Armstrong's family, and he said, "A noble man was the Major."
Brother Smedley traveled five to six hundred miles quarterly on horse back and foot. Due to shifting sands in the Canadian river, he often had to swim. He said though, being a good swimmer, he took many chances.
His salary was $500 per year. He preached mostly to the Choctaws until 1844, when he was appointed by the Indian Mission Association to serve as a general missionary to the Indians. After some time, he moved into Arkansas, about thirty miles south of Ft. Smith. He had sixteen preaching stations, twelve with the Choctaws, two with the Creeks and two with the Cherokees. His work was uphill most of the time, but he did not encounter much trouble with the red men. His regular missionary work lasted until 1855, when at his own request the Mission Board appointed seven of their own race to assist him in his work with the Indians. He continued his work mostly in the five churches he had helped organize in the Territory and state. He wrote many poems, some of which he gave to mission boards to be published in the interest of the Indian work.
Brother Smedley established his first church on the Canadian river, and said that he had very little confusion, and had good cooperation among the Indians. He said the attendance was good. He established the first colored Baptist church in Ft. Smith in 1856, and he said the first white Baptist church was founded by E. L. Compere.
In a letter dated September 14, 1847, Smedley tells of baptizing 15 persons in the Arkansas River near Webbers Falls, and that a church was constituted there with 32 members. He said, "I preached on love - both on the banks of the river and previous to organizing the church, and love appeared to warm and unite all arid even enraptured a good many. The noble Arkansas provided the liquid grave for these 15 disciples of Immanuel."
The work was interrupted by the Civil War, but Brother Smedley continued to make monthly visits to his old stations, and to the five churches he had helped organize and build. His last years were spent with his youngest and only surviving daughter, Mrs. Columbus E. Goddard. He died about 1877, at 85 years of age, and was buried at Shiloh, near Mansfield, Arkansas.
R. J. Hague
R. J. Hogue was born in Georgia, March 8, 1820. When eighteen years of age he was converted and baptized into the fellowship of the LaGrange Baptist Church, by Rev. Otis Smith.
October 12, 1843, he was married to Miss Clarissa Jenkins. Nine children were born to this union. May 21, 1902, in the home of his daughter, Mrs. Thomas Inge, where his beloved wife had died, Brother Hogue passed away at eighty-six years of age.
In October of 1850, Brother Hogue was ordained to the ministry. For a time he attended Mercer University, and in 1857 he was appointed by the Bethel Association in Georgia to come as a missionary under the Domestic and Indian Mission Board to the Choctaw Indians. He left Georgia in February, 1858, and the last of March arrived with his family, settling at Armstrong Academy in Blue county. It took them 56 days to make the trip. He took charge of the Philadelphia and Ephesus churches. In 1858, he organized the first church in the Chickasaw Nation, in Panola county, but it perished during the Civil War. In 1860, Brother Hogue, with Willis Burns, organized the Ramsey Association at Philadelphia.
In 1872, Brother Hogue moved to Boggy Depot, Choctaw Nation, and was pastor of the church there and at Caddo for many years.
In 1862, R. J. Hogue baptized the daughter of Rev. and Mrs. Israel Folsom into the fellowship of the Philadelphia Church (located about eight miles east of Durant, Oklahoma). This daughter married Dr. T. J. Bond, of Atoka. She proved to be an excellent interpreter and assisted Rev. J. S. Murrow extensively in his work.
In 1906, Rev. J. S. Murrow wrote of Brother Hogue, "He was a strong preacher. His sermons were always carefully studied. They were didactic and logical and abounded in Scriptural proofs. He was not a very active man but he was great in goodness. He was a fine conversationalist, abounding in wit and humor. Everybody loved him. His Christian deportment was such that all classes of society honored and respected him. A gentleman looking upon his lifeless body after his death remarked: 'There lies the body of the best man I ever knew.' This was the sentiment of all who knew Brother Hogue."
Alfred W. Fulsom
Alfred W. Fulsom was born in 1854, and died July 12, 1912. He united with the Zion Baptist Church July 16, 1885. August 26, 1891, he was made a deacon, and in July, 1893, he was ordained to the ministry, with Rev. J. M. Bland and Jackson Kampalubby, Choctaw, officiating. Brother Fulsom was a very active worker among his people, a constant student of the Bible, sound in the faith and an able preacher. J. S. Murrow said of him, "His sermons were instructive and edifying. They were argumentative and logical, based upon and backed up by Scripture proof texts."
At the time of his death Brother Fulsom was missionary of the Choctaw Association. Shortly before his death he and his wife made an extensive preaching tour among the Choctaws and reaching out into the Chickasaw Nation. He did not have the money to bear his expenses adequately on this tour, and thus encountered many hardships. He returned home weary and worn out from the trip, took sick and went to bed. He lived just one week and passed away. After his death Brother Murrow wrote concerning him, "Each one of us, brethren, may well say, 'May I die the death of the righteous and may my last end be like his'."
Mrs. Czarina Robb (Mrs. T. J. Bond)
Mrs. Czarina Robb, daughter of Rev. Israel and Sophie Folsom, was born March 5, 1833. She received an excellent education at the Wheelock Academy, and in 1862, she was converted and baptized into the Philadelphia Baptist church, by R. J. Hogue. She was later married to Dr. T. J. Bond, a Choctaw, and in 1872 they moved to Atoka, where both united with the Atoka church by letter.
In 1876, Dr. Bond died, and in 1878, Mrs. Bond married D. N. Robb, a white man, and an earnest Christian, but not a Baptist.
For thirty years Mrs. Robb was actively engaged in Christian work. She understood and spoke the Choctaw language perfectly, and served very effectively as interpreter for J. S. Murrow in his work among the Indians.
In 1876, the Choctaw-Chickasaw Baptist Association met with the High Hill (Nunny Chaha) church, near McAlester, and Mrs. Blackall of Chicago, organized the women of this Association for missionary work. Mrs. Bond (as her name was then) was elected corresponding secretary. Thus she held the distinction of being the first woman elected to such a position in the United States.
Mrs. Robb died at her home in Atoka, October 7, 1906, at the age of 73. Brother Murrow wrote of her, "Good-bye, dear sister in Christ. You helped me to preach the gospel through the native preachers of your own blood for over thirty years and doubtless hundreds of Choctaws who preceded you to that Glorious Land meet you with shouts of joy and gratitude."
Again, Brother Murrow wrote, "With Sister Robb's assistance as interpreter these Indians were constantly instructed in the teachings of God's word, in the plan of salvation by grace, in Gospel order and Baptist New Testament principles. Certain it is that scores of native preachers were helped to feed the flocks of the Master's sheep and lambs to whom they ministered by the intelligent and scriptural teachings of this good woman."
J. B. Rounds
J. B. Rounds was born March 9, 1876, at Drumbo, Ontario, Canada. His father was a saloon keeper. At fourteen he was converted, and a year later was baptized into a Baptist church.
In 1894 he felt the call to preach. Somehow he came into the possession of some literature from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and determined to go there to school. He did not know how, for he was limited financially, but he remembered Matthew 6:33, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all of these things shall be added unto you." So with that as his motto he went to Louisville, and graduated in May, 1897.
In May, 1898, he attended a meeting at the First Baptist Church, Detroit, Michigan, where he heard Dr. N. B. Rairden, Western Secretary of the Home Mission Society, who was there with a group of Indians enroute to the Northern Baptist convention. This quickened his interest in Indian missions and that summer he wrote Daniel Rogers, Indian Territory, about the Indian mission work. Mr. Rogers invited him to the Territory, advising the church at Tahlequah needed a pastor. He came, arriving with just $10, to find the Tahlequah church already had a pastor! But again he remembered Matthew 6:33. And soon he became pastor at the Caney Valley church, near Bartlesville. That church ordained him January 1, 1899. At once he wrote Louise Damm, his bride-to-be, and she met him in Coffeyville, Kansas, where they were mar-ried February 16, 1899.
In 1901, Dr. Rounds attended an associational meeting at Atoka, where he met Lewis Hancock, a Choctaw interpreter. This rekindled his interest in Indian work, and August 1, that year, he became missionary to the Choctaws and Chickasaws, supported jointly by the Home Mission Society, Home Mission Board and the Baptist Convention of Indian Territory at a salary of $600 per year. He moved to Wilburton to begin his work in this field.
In all, Dr. Rounds gave fifty years to Baptist work in Oklahoma, serving as missionary on several fields, state secretary from 1922 to 1933, and sec-retary of the Indian work for the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board from 1943 to April 1, 1951, at which time he was succeeded in that work by Dr. B. Frank Belvin, who still holds that position.
Section 4 - The Seminole
In a previous chapter the story has already been told of the beginning of Baptist work among the Seminole. And with that story vital facts were related concerning the first trail blazers in that work. However, the writer would like to relate here a moving account given in THE INDIAN MISSIONARY, July, 1886, by Daniel Rogers, Editor, relative to one of the very first trail blazers among the Seminole.
Editor Rogers said, "During the time of opposition of the Creek Indians, there was a colored Baptist minister named Mundy Durant. He was a large, strong man, of fine physical proportions. He readily spoke the Creek language, and commenced preaching to the Indians when a young man. At one time, a drunken Indian came to his house, while he was at dinner, armed with a knife about a foot long. Mundy arose and closed the door and fastened it. The Indian, attempting to force an entrance, slipped and fell, dropping the knife in the fall. Mundy stepped out, secured the knife and laid it away. He then seized the Indian, who had risen to his feet, threw him down and took him by the throat. Then he thought 'this will not do for me, a Christian. It is not right to hurt the man.' So he took him in his arms, despite the struggles of the Indian to extricate himself, and carefully put him over the yard fence and told him to go home. The Indian arose, and with a surprised look, said, 'I thought you Christian people were weak, but you are too strong for us.'
"At another time, while Mundy was praying at a meeting, the same Indian came along and struck him on the head. Mundy arose from his knees, seized the Indian, threw him down and tied him, but did not hurt him, as he felt it would be wrong. He only wanted to keep him from hurting others while he was drunk. Afterwards, this same Indian became an earnest seeker. The Band Chief told Mundy to go on and help his people if he could, for he did not know anything else that would keep them from doing bad things.
"Through Uncle Mundy's influence, many of the Indians were converted. Before his death, which occurred only about two years ago (1884), he witnessed great changes among the Creek Indians. The strong opposition to Christianity that was manifested in his early life, passed away, and now (1886) the Creeks are a peaceable people. There are many churches among them and many faithful, consistent Christians."
The reader should remember that originally the Creek and Seminole Indians were one, and also that when the Seminole were removed West they were ceded lands in the western part of the Creek Nation. Hence there is constant evidence of overlapping in the early history of Baptist work among them, as in the case of Mundy Durant, who obviously made his influence felt among both tribes, but stands out as one of the very first trail blazers among the Seminole.
A. J. Holt
A. J. Holt is placed with the Seminole because it was to this tribe that he first came as a missionary, though later he labored more extensively among the Plains Indians.
Adoniram Judson Holt was born in Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky, December 1, 1847. As a mere lad he served in the Confederate Army of the Civil War, and after the War attended school in Texas. Then came school teaching in Louisiana, where he was converted in the summer of 1868, and September 14, of that year, was licensed to preach by the Ebenezer church, in Louisiana. In 1869 he went to Texas where he combined preaching and school teaching for several years.
In 1867 he had married Alice Markham in Louisiana. She died in 1873, and in 1874 he arranged for his mother to care for his children while he attended the seminary at Greenville, South Carolina. But before he left for Greenville, he found himself engaged to Miss Emma Black, whom he married June 16, 1875.
After a brief stay at the seminary, and then a short period as a field agent for the school, he was sent as a missionary to the Seminole Indians in Indian Territory. This was in 1876. He came to Eufaula, and stopped at the home of his uncle, H. F. Buckner, who made a tour with him into the Seminole Nation. At the end of this short stay he wired his wife to come. Their work among the Seminole began with close association with James Factor, with whom they stayed and from whom Holt learned the language.
The work among the Seminole was very difficult, for the first winter was most severe and many hardships were encountered. But the labors were not without reward, for many turned to Christ through his labors. In his autobiography Holt told of these experiences and hardships in detail. He related how that he made a trip with John Mclntosh to the Plains Indians, and returned to find his little boy, Willie, seriously ill. The child died because there were no medical facilities available, and he was buried in John Jumper's grave yard.
Holt was once attacked by a panther, and barely escaped alive. Another time an Indian attempted to assassinate him, and he barely escaped.
After a rather brief period with the Seminole, Holt took up the work among the Plains Indians. During their first winter at the Wichita Agency among the Plains Indians, their son, Robert Buckner, was born. He was the first white child born in what became Oklahoma Territory.
In 1879, Holt left the Plains Indian work and was succeeded by Wesley Smith, a Creek. But soon he gave up in despair, and the Plains Indian work was abandoned by the Home Board, and work from then on for many years was carried on by the Home Mission Society (North).
After leaving the Indian work, Holt spent twelve years in Texas, as missionary and secretary of missions. Then he spent nine years in Tennessee, as secretary, and after that labored in Texas and one year as pastor at Chickasha, Oklahoma, and a brief time was editor of the BAPTIST OKLAHOMAN. His last years were spent in Florida, where he served several years as pastor at Kissimee and Arcadia.
Though his stay in Indian Territory was rather brief, and though he labored altogether but a few years in the Indian work, a history of Oklahoma Baptists' trail blazers could not be complete without paying him a tribute as one of the most devoted and influential of our first pioneers.
John F. Brown
This section closes with a brief word about one of the most illustrous figures in the history of the Seminole, Gov. John F. Brown, who was born October 23, 1842, near Ft. Gibson, I.T. He served with the Confederacy during the Civil War, then settled near Sasakwa, where for many years he rendered outstanding service in the civic, educational and religious interests of his people. He was for a long time governor of the Seminole Nation.
He was baptized by J. S. Murrow, and September 2, 1894, was ordained to the ministry in the Indian Spring (Baptist) church, at Sasakwa. This church was built on his own land, and supported largely out of his own funds. He was its pastor from his ordination until his death October 21, 1919.
Thoborn and Wright wrote of him, "He endeavored to give the young Seminole every advantage of education so that they might better meet the trials of life which he knew were coming with the advent of the white man and his ways." He never preached in English and never prayed in the Indian tongue. When he died his people gathered and for two days and nights sang, prayed and talked in their native tongue. A leading newspaper of that day said editorially of him, "His life was an inspiration; let his memory be a benediction. He was a great and good man, he lived a good life. May he rest in peace from the afflictions of this life."
Section 5 - The Plains Indians
Mary P. Jayne
Mary Prosser Jayne was born at Durant, Iowa, in 1867. As a child she read about the Indians, and had an interest created in her heart for them. She was converted at fourteen in a Methodist revival. Her parents were Methodists, but she said she could not be. In 1881 she went to Western Nebraska to teach school. In 1884, a Baptist church was organized near her school, and she joined by baptism. She taught school there eight years and returned to Iowa to finish school at Western Normal College. Then in the fall of 1893, she entered the Training School at Chicago. Upon graduation, she came to Oklahoma to work as a missionary among the Indians under the Home Mission Society. She served first among the Cheyennes and Arapahoes near Watonga.
Her work took her on many difficult tours. Once on a trip to the Panhandle on a special mission, which took her nearly three hundred miles, one of her horses died on the return trip. She took her ax, went into the nearest thicket, cut some poles which she used for shafts, and continued with one horse to her wagon. This kind of hardship was characteristic of what the early trail blazers had to face.
In 1914, she resigned, but after but a short rest she returned to work among the Pawnees under the Home Mission Board. While here, she opened work among the Otoes. In 1924, she resigned this work, and after a year's rest went to Bacone college, where she served until 1933. She then went to California, with the intention of staying there in retirement, but she was not happy. She wrote, "I had rather return to Oklahoma and live with the Indians one year than to live ten years in California." So she came back to Bacone, built a little cottage near the school, and lived there until her death in January, 1937. To those around her in the hour of death, she said, "I know the Lord's laid his hand on me." Her funeral was held in the college chapel, with President B. D. Weeks in charge. She was buried in the college cemetery, and she was carried to her last resting place by six Indian men, three of whom were faculty members of the college. Two were Cheyennes and one an Arapaho. On the granite tomb that marks her final resting place one may read this simple inscription: "Mary Prosser Jayne, 1867-1937. Thirty-six years a missionary to the Indians of Oklahoma. FAITH - SERVICE - IMMORTALITY."
"In Jesus' Name" and "For His Sake" were the dominating motives of her life. Miss Jayne did as much as almost any other woman for the early development of organized denominational life among the Baptist women of Oklahoma.
G. Lee Phelps
General Lee Phelps was born in a log cabin, January 1, 1864, in Osage County, Missouri. As a boy he "Played preacher", and when nine years of age he said he stood on a stump one day in the back of the lot, "playing preacher" and felt a peculiar conviction grip his soul. He knew nothing of Christian teachings as a child. His mother died when he was twelve, and he set adrift in life. Soon he put his few belongings together in a satchel, and with what savings he had he bought a ticket and set out for Indian Territory. He did not get work in Indian Territory, so went to Kansas for a time, and then back to Indian Territory. In 1888, he returned to Missouri for a visit. He met Susie J. Branson, whom he married March 20, 1889. March 2, 1889, while on the train returning to Missouri to marry, a newsboy dropped a book in his lap. It was a book of sermons by Sam Jones; he opened the book and read, "Oh,, record, record, how shall I meet thee at judgment?" This brought conviction and misery which did not end until June 9, 1890, while plowing in the field near Miami, Oklahoma, he was saved. He said he prayed, "Oh, Jesus, help me or I die." In that good hour he was saved.
At once he began making appointments for neighbors to have prayer meetings in their homes. At one of these he was called on to make a talk, and soon he was talking regularly, and the people called him "preacher." This he resented at first. By reading his Bible, he became a Baptist, and was ordained to the ministry. Soon came a call from the Dixon Baptist Association in Missouri for him to serve thirty days as missionary at $1 per day. He went, and the work proved to be satisfactory, and he continued seven years.
After that, there came the call from W. P. Blake to return to Indian Territory as missionary to the Creek Indians at $50 per month. So March 7, 1902, he arrived at Okmulgee to take up that work. His first sermon to the Creeks was at a camp meeting; he preached from Mark 4:38, "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" When the invitation was given, five Indians came forward and were received.
January 1, 1909, he was appointed by the Home Mission Society to work among the Cheyennes and Arapahoes at Darlington. May 15, 1910, a Baptist church was organized with eight charter members at the "Greasy Leggings" camp of Arapahoes about twenty miles south of El Reno.
August 11, 1911, Phelps and Robert Hamilton were sent among the Sac and Fox Indians near Stroud, to investigate the prospects of opening a mission among them. They met with a cold reception, but in April, 1912, Phelps moved to Stroud to take up this work. In less than a year a church was organized with twenty-five charter members. It was named, "The Only Way Church."
In 1917, he became general missionary to the Indians under the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, and served until 1933, at which time the Indian work in Oklahoma was taken over by the Home Mission Board. Phelps was then retained and continued in that work until his death in 1938.
Not long before his death, Mr. Phelps was asked by a friend what he would do if he had his life to live over. His answer was, "Knowing what I know now, if I had a hundred lives to live I would want to give them all to Baptist Indian Missions."
F. L. King
Frank Lincoln King was born June 12, 1867, in Library, Pennsylvania. At the age of ten he was converted and united with the Peters Creek Baptist Church, of Library. Soon he felt that he should give himself for service in mission work. He at-tended primary school and academy at Library, and did his college work at Denison University, Granville, Ohio.
While at Granville, he married Miss Mary Pearce, and soon after leaving the University they came to Hennessey, Oklahoma, where he was pastor of the Baptist church for a year. During this time he learned of the great needs of the Arapahoe Indians, and offered himself for mission work among them. He was sent by the Home Mission Society to work with this tribe, and gave twenty-five years of sacrificial service in this work. After twenty years his wife died, and in 1918 he was married to Miss Harriet Rogers, daughter of Daniel Rogers.
In 1920, the Kings went to work with the Kiowa Indians at Rainy Mountain Mission, near Mountain View, and for seventeen years they lived with these Indians, loved them, and tried to help them know and follow in "The Jesus Road." Mr. King was well acquainted with the Indian sign language, having learned it from the Arapahoes, and he led many of the Kiowas to follow Jesus.
In 1937, he reached retirement age, and it was time to leave the Indian service. He had longed to preach to and win some of his own race, and so he was called as pastor of the church at Valliant, Oklahoma, where he served for two years.
In 1939, he retired from the pastorate, and the Kings moved to Tahlequah, the girlhood home of Mrs. King. But he continued preaching, going out at every opportunity and telling the "Old, Old, Story." (His favorite hymn was, "I Love to Tell the Story.") Then in 1944, in July, after a brief illness, he went away to the "scenes of glory," to be with the Lord, where he is still singing "The Old, Old Story." He lives on today in the lives of the many whom he helped to find and walk in "The Jesus Road."
And so the name of F. L. King goes down in Oklahoma Baptist history as another immortal trail blazer. His name is the very epitome of courage and determination. The first seven years he labored among the Arapahoes he did not have a convert. For a graphic description of these years of tireless labors, here are the words of Mrs. King: "For seven long years after coming to the Arapahoes, there was no response from them. Difficult and heart-breaking were those days and years - riding on horseback or in a hack or covered wagon, over the prairies and through the woods, visiting in the Indian camps, pleading, yearning, praying - and still not one of the tribe accepted 'The Jesus Road'.
"At last, one wonderful summer day, when the Association was held in the Arapaho country, the break with the old heathen worship came. Together with Old Chief Left-Hand, seventeen Arapahoes started on 'The Jesus Road.' Afterwards, each time Mr. King told this thrilling story, his voice would break with the joy of the miracle.
"The work of seven long years, the prayers, the heart-breaks, were all gloriously rewarded. It was like the story of Adoniram Judson in India."
H. H. Treat
Harry H. Treat was born in Mirabile, Missouri, April 5, 1874. In 1886 he moved with his widowed mother to Adrian, Michigan, where he graduated from high school in 1892. He graduated from Kalamazoo College in 1901, and some years of service as a pastor followed. He married Miss Winifred Whitney, and when her health failed they went to New Mexico, where he was pastor of the church at Las Vegas 1904-1906. Then he returned to the East, and graduated from Rochester Theological Seminary in 1907. Again they came West for Mrs. Treat's health, this time to work among the Indians in Oklahoma. But she died in 1908. Brother and Mrs. Treat had at first felt the call to foreign mission work, but this was impossible because of her health, and then they came to work with the Indians.
Brother Treat worked among the Kiowa, Apache, and Comanche Indians of the Oklahoma Plains for more than thirty years. He never learned their language, but preached through an interpreter. He conducted educational and benevolent work along with his evangelistic efforts. He did much to organize the educational phases of church life among the Indians. In 1913 he organized a day school in the Red Stone Mission community. He told the writer, "In 1916, the old Association of Blanket Indian Churches was getting so large that it was difficult to find churches who could entertain for the yearly meetings. So there was a division and the churches west of the Rock Island Railroad, sponsored by the Home Mission Society, organized into the Western Oklahoma Indian Baptist Association. I was clerk and treasurer of this Association until 1938."
A few years after the death of Mrs. Treat in 1908, he married Miss Katherine Ellis, a missionary among the Kiowas. In 1929 she died, and in 1932 he married Miss Nora Swenson, who also had served some years as a missionary among the Kiowas.
In 1941, Brother Treat retired from mission work and moved to Adrian, Michigan. But he continued to give himself in service to various fields, that had marked his long years of service with the Indians.
W. A. Wilkin
William Arthur Wilkin was born in Highland County, Ohio, June 13, 1864. He graduated from Denison University in 1893, and graduated from the divinity school of Chicago University in 1896. The same year he was ordained to the ministry in the New Market Baptist Church, Hillsboro, Ohio. It was here he was converted and baptized February 12, 1879.
His first pastorate was the Baptist church at Western, Nebraska, in 1896. Two years later he married Mary Winter, a member of the Western church, and the same year, 1898, moved to Bancroft, Nebraska, to pastor the church there.
In 1900, he resigned this work, and made a trip to Oklahoma Territory. He went before the church at Norman in view of a call, and was invited to come before the church again the next Lord's day. But he said, "I did not go as I felt the Lord did not want me at Norman. However, before leaving the Territory I visited my old friend and schoolmate, F. L. King, missionary to the Arapahoe Indians. It was this visit that interested me in the Indian mission work." Then after his return to the North, to become pastor of a church in Minnesota, he applied to the Home Mission Society and received appointment in 1904 to the Indian work. He moved to Anadarko, Oklahoma, and took charge of the mission there December 1, 1904, and continued in that work until his retirement in 1934.
During those thirty years, he had almost complete charge of the religious work in the Riverside Indian school. He had a part in organizing the Wichita Mission Church, April 18, 1908. W. A. Wilkin led many to Christ among the Plains Indians during his eventful ministry in that field. His retirement years after 1943 saw him still busy about the Master's business, serving as supply pastor of various churches as far as his health would permit.
E. C. Deyo
E. C. Deyo was a pioneer Baptist missionary among the Comanches. He was born in western New York, and at an early age felt the call to preach. He entered the University of Rochester in 1888, and in 1893 graduated from the Colgate Theological Seminary. While in school he heard a lady speak on Home Mission work, who quoted an old Indian warrior: "If the white man knew about Jesus so long, why did he not tell Indian sooner?" This excited Deyo's interest in Indian missions, so he applied for appointment with the Home Mission Society and was sent with his young wife to work among the Comanches, receiving their appointment in October, 1893.
George Hicks was a pioneer Baptist missionary among the Wichitas near Anadarko. He was a Cherokee Indian, a graduate of Bacone and Rochester Theological Seminary. In 1892 he was appointed by the Home Mission Society to open the work among the Wichitas. He also devoted some time to other allied Plains tribes, including the Kiowas, Comanches, and Caddos.
H. H. Clouse
In 1895, J. S. Murrow was making a tour in the north in an effort to stimulate interest in the mission work in Indian Territory. He addressed a group in Iowa, and said he prayed someone in that audience would feel impressed to give himself to the Indian mission work. Someone arose, and jokingly made a motion that they send Howard H. Clouse, pastor of a church in Cedar Rapids. Mr. Clouse was himself somewhat a humorist, and the joke went around, but none took it seriously except Clouse. The fact was, he had been deeply moved by the address and appeal, and after the meeting sought a conference with Murrow. The result was that Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Clouse offered themselves for mission work among the Kiowas at Rainy Mountain Mission, near Mountain View, Oklahoma.
They arrived at the Wichita Mission, near Anadarko, March 29, 1896. Next day they proceeded on their way by wagon to the Kiowa Mission, forty miles to the west, to take up a work in which they invested twenty-seven years of their lives. In 1922, Rev. Clouse left the mission work to take a position teaching Bible at Bacone College.
In 1892 Miss Isabel Crawford, a graduate of Woman's Missionary Training School, Chicago, went into the heart of the Wichita Mountains and opened a work about seventeen miles from the Rainy Mountain Mission where about 250 Kiowas lived. She de-scribed her welcome to this new field as follows: "It was an event in the lives of those Indians when your missionary appeared among them alone. The news spread like wildfire and for weeks they rode in from all directions to see if it were really true. They said, 'A White Jesus man never sat down with us - one white Jesus woman come - all alone - and no scared. This is good. The Great Father talked to your heart - we will listen to all that he tells you to tell us and think about it over and over. We will call you no more white woman, but sister.'" After she had successfully established this work she went to take up work among a tribe of Indians in New York state.
[From J. M. Gaskin, Trail Blazers of Sooner Baptists, 1953, pp. 117-169. The title of this document has been changed. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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