The Choctaw Freedmen - and The Story of Oak Hill Industrial Academy
by Robert Elliott Flickinger
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The Choctaw Freedmen


On the southeastern slope, near the Academy, A pretty Oak, That strong and stalwart grows. With every changing wind that blows, is a beautiful emblem of the strength, beauty and eminent usefulness of an intelligent and noble man.

"He shall grow like a Cedar in Lebanon; like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season."

THE Choctaw Freedmen


The Story of OAK HILL INDUSTRIAL ACADEMY Valliant, McCurtain County OKLAHOMA


Including the early History of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indian Territory the Presbytery of Kiamichi, Synod of Canadian, and the Bible in the Free Schools of the American Colonies, but suppressed in France, previous to the American and French Revolutions

BY ROBERT ELLIOTT FLICKINGER A Recent Superintendent of the Academy and Pastor of the Oak Hill Church


Under the Auspices of the PRESBYTERIAN BOARD OF MISSIONS FOR FREEDMEN Pittsburgh, Pa.


Journal and Times Press, Fonda, Iowa


I. GENERAL FACTS Introduction—List of Portraits

I Indian Territory 7

II Indian Schools and Churches 15

III The Bible, An Important Factor in Civilization 31

IV The American Negro 39

V Problem of the Freedman 46

VI Voices From the Black Belt 59

VII Uplifting Influences 65

VIII The Presbyterian Church 84

IX The Freedmen's Board 90

X Special Benefactors 96


XI Native Oak Hill School and Church 101

XII Era of Eliza Hartford 107

XIII Early Reminiscences 114

XIV Early Times at Forest 124

XV Era of Supt. James F. McBride 131

XVI Era of Rev. Edward G. Haymaker 134

XVII Buds of Promise 146

XVIII Closed in 1904 154

XIX Reopening and Organization 155

XX Prospectus in 1912 162

XXI Obligation and Pledges 169

XXII Bible Study and Memory Work 173

XXIII Decision Days 183

XXIV The Self-Help Department 185

XXV Industrial Education 196

XXVI Permanent Improvements 202

XXVII Elliott Hall 210

XXVIII Unfavorable Circumstances 216

XXIX Building the Temple 227

XXX Success Maxims and Good Suggestions 241

XXXI Rules and Wall Mottoes 259

XXXII Savings and Investments 272

XXXIII Normals and Chautauquas 275

XXXIV Graces and Prayers 279

XXXV Presbyterial Meetings and Picnics 282

XXXVI Farmer's Institutes 287

XXXVII The Apiary, Health Hints 294

XXXVIII Oak Hill Aid Society 300

XXXIX Tributes to Workers 308

XL Closing Day, 1912 325


XLI Presbytery of Kiamichi 335

XLII Histories of Churches 345

XLIII Parson Stewart 351

XLIV Wiley Homer 360

XLV Other Ministers and Elders 370

XLVI Synod of Canadian 382


XLVII The Public School 391

XLVIII A Half Century of Bible Suppression in France 418


Alice Lee Elliott Frontispiece

Elliott Hall 11

Choctaw Church and Court House 14

Alexander Reid, John Edwards 15

Biddle and Lincoln Universities 70

Rev. E. P. Cowan, Rev. John Gaston, Mrs. V. P. Boggs 91

Eliza Hartford, Anna Campbell, Rev. E. G. and Priscilla G. Haymaker 108

Girls Hall, Old Log House 109

Carrie and Mrs. M. E. Crowe, Anna and Mattie Hunter 116

James McGuire and others 117

Wiley Homer, William Butler, Stewart, Jones 148

Buds of Promise 149

Rev. and Mrs. R. E. Flickinger, Claypool, Ahrens, Eaton 160

Reopening, 1915, Flower Gatherers 192

Mary I. Weimer, Lou K. Early, Jo Lu Wolcott 193

Rev. and Mrs. Carroll, Hall, Buchanan, Folsom 224

Closing Day, 1912; Dr. Baird 225

Approved Fruits 256

Planting Sweet Potatoes and Arch 257

Orchestra, Sweepers, Going to School 274

Miss Weimer, Celestine, Coming Home 275

The Apiary; Feeding the Calves 294

Log House Burning, Pulling Stumps 298

Oak Hill in 1902, 1903 299

The Hen House, Pigpen 295

The Presbytery, Grant Chapel 352

Bridges, Bethel, Starks, Meadows, Colbert, Crabtree 353

Crittenden, Folsom, Butler, Stewart, Perkins, Arnold, Shoals, Johnson 378

Teachers in 1899, Harris, Brown 379

Representative Homes of the Choctaw Freedmen 406

The Sweet Potato Field 407


"The pleasant books, that silently among Our household treasures take familiar places, Are to us, as if a living tongue Spake from the printed leaves, or pictured faces!"

The aim of the Author in preparing this volume has been to put in a form, convenient for preservation and future reference, a brief historical sketch of the work and workers connected with the founding and development of Oak Hill Industrial Academy, established for the benefit of the Freedmen of the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, by the Presbyterian church, U. S. A., in 1886, when Miss Eliza Hartford became the first white teacher, to the erection of Elliott Hall in 1910, and its dedication in 1912; when the name of the institution was changed to "The Alice Lee Elliott Memorial."

Some who rendered service at Oak Hill Academy, bestowed upon it their best work, while superintendent, James F. McBride and Matron, Adelia M. Eaton, brought to it a faithful service, that proved to be the crowning work of their lives.

The occasion of receiving a new name in 1912, is one that suggests the eminent propriety of a volume, that will commemorate the labors of those, whose self-denying pioneer work was associated with the former name of the institution.

Another aim has been, to place as much as possible of the character building work of the institution, in an attractive form for profitable perusal by the youth, in the homes of the pupils and patrons of the Academy. As an aid in effecting this result, the volume has been profusely illustrated with engravings of all the good photographs of groups of the students that have come to the hand of the author; and also of all the teachers of whom they could be obtained at this time. The portraits of the ministers and older elders of the neighboring churches have been added to these, to increase its general interest and value.

In as much as Oak Hill Industrial Academy was intended to supply the special educational needs of the young people in the circuit of churches ministered to by Parson Charles W. Stewart, the pioneer preacher of the Choctaw Freedmen, and faithful founder of most of the churches in the Presbytery of Kiamichi, a memorial sketch of this worthy soldier of the cross has been added, that the young people of the present and future generations may catch the inspiration of his heroic missionary spirit.

"All who labor wield a mighty power; The glorious privilege to do Is man's most noble dower."

The ministers of the neighboring churches, in recent years, have been so helpfully identified with the work of the Academy, as special lecturers and assistants on decision days, and on the first and last days of the school terms, they seem to have been members of the Oak Hill Family. The story of the Academy would not be complete, without a recognition of them and their good work. This recognition has been very gratefully accorded in a brief history of the Presbytery of Kiamichi and of the Synod of Canadian.

The period of service rendered by the author, as superintendent of the Academy from the beginning of 1905 to the end of 1912, eight years, was one of important transitions in the material development of Indian Territory.

The allotment of lands in severalty to the Indians and Freedmen was completed in 1905, and the Territorial government was transformed into one of statehood on Jan. 1, 1908. The progress of their civilization, that made it possible for the Indians in the Territory to become owners and occupants of their own homes, supporters of their own schools and churches and to be invested with all the powers and duties of citizenship, is briefly reviewed in the introductory chapters.

The author has endeavored to make this volume one easily read and understood by the Choctaw Freedmen, in whose homes it is expected to find a place, and be read with interest and profit many years.

He has done what he could to enable as many of you as possible to leave the impress of your personality on the world, when your feet no longer move, your hands no longer build and your lips no longer utter your sentiments.

The hope is indulged that every pupil of the Academy, whose portrait has been given an historic setting in this volume, will regard that courteous recognition, as a special call to make the Bible your guide in life and perform each daily duty nobly and faithfully, as though it were your last.

A life on service bent, A life for love laid down, A life for others spent, The Lord will surely crown.

Whilst other denominations have rendered conspicuous and highly commendable service in the effort to educate and evangelize the Indians and Freedmen, in this volume mention is made only of the work of the Presbyterian church. This is due to the fact the Presbyterian church, having begun missionary work among the Choctaws at a very early date, it was left to pursue it without a rival, in the particular section of country and early period of time included in the scope of this volume.

Such as it is, this volume is commended to him, whose blessing alone can make it useful, and make it to fulfil its mission of comfort and encouragement, to the children and youth of the Freedmen who are sincerely endeavoring to solve the problem of their present and future destiny.

Fonda, Iowa, March 15, 1914.

R. E. F.




"In history we meet the great personalities, who have crystallized in their own lives, the hopes and fears of nations and races. We meet the living God, as an actor, and discover in passing events, a consistent purpose, guiding the changing world to an unchanging end."—W. A. Brown.

"Four things a man must learn to do, If he would make his record true; To think without confusion, clearly; To act from honest motives purely; To love his fellowmen sincerely; To trust in God and heaven securely." —Vandyke.

"The study of history, as a means of cultivating the mind and for its immediate practical benefit, ever since the days of Moses, who wrote the pioneer history of Israel, and Herodotus, the father of profane history, has formed a necessary part of a liberal and thorough education."—History of Pocahontas County, Iowa.




"Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests and see whether we, also, in our day and generation may not perform something worthy to be remembered."—Daniel Webster.

Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, was a part of the public domain, that was reserved for several tribes of Indians whose native hunting grounds were principally in the Southern states. While they remained in their native valleys they proved a menace to the safety of the frontier settlers, and in times of war were sure to take sides against them. Thomas Jefferson in his day advised that they be located together on some general reservation. This was gradually effected during the earlier years of the last century.

The official act of congress constituting it an Indian Reservation did not occur until 1834, but a considerable number of the Choctaws, Chickasaws and of some other tribes were induced to migrate westward and locate there previous to that date. Other leading tribes that were transferred to special reservations in Indian Territory were the Cherokees, Creeks and Seminoles.


The Choctaw Indians recently occupied lands in the states bordering on the Gulf of Mexico. In 1820 a considerable part of them, ceding their lands in Georgia, were located on a reservation in the Red River valley west of Arkansas. In 1830 they ceded the remainder of their lands in Alabama and Mississippi and all, together with their slaves, were then transferred to their new reservation in the southeastern part of Indian Territory.

The Chickasaws, who originally occupied the country on the east side of the Mississippi river, as early as 1800 began to migrate up the valley of the Arkansas. In 1805, 1816 and in 1818 they ceded more of their lands and more of them migrated westward, many of them going to the country allotted to the Choctaws. In 1834, when the last of their lands in the Gulf states were ceded, they were located on a reservation south of the Canadian river, west of the Choctaws. These two tribes lived under one tribal government until 1855, when they were granted a political separation.

The Cherokees, previous to 1830, occupied the upper valley of the Tennessee river, extending through the northern parts of Georgia and Alabama. In 1790 a part of the tribe migrated to Louisiana and they rendered important services in the army of Gen. Jackson at New Orleans in the war of 1812.

In 1817 they ceded a part of their native lands for others and the next year 3,000 of them were located in the northwestern part of Arkansas in the valleys of the Arkansas and White rivers. In 1835 the remainder of them were located just west of the first migration in the northeast part of Indian Territory.

The Creek Indians originally lived in the valleys of the Flint, Chattahoochee, Coosa and Alabama rivers and in the peninsula of Florida. About the year 1875, a part of them moved to Louisiana and later to Texas. In 1836 the remainder of the tribe was transferred to a reservation north of the Canadian river in Indian Territory.

The Seminoles were a nation of Florida Indians, that was composed chiefly of Creeks and the remnants of some other tribes. After the acquisition of Florida from Spain in 1819 many slaves in that section fled from their masters to the Seminoles. The government endeavored to recover them and to force the Seminoles to remove westward. These efforts were not immediately successful, Osceola, their wily and intrepid chief, defeating and capturing four of the generals sent against them, namely, Clinch, Gaines, Call and Winfield Scott. He was finally captured by his captors violating a flag of truce. In 1845 they were induced to move west of the Mississippi and in 1856, they were assigned lands west of the Creeks in the central part of Indian Territory.

These five tribes, the Choctaws, Chickasaws, Cherokees, Creeks and Seminoles, were the most powerful in numbers. After their settlement in Indian Territory, they made considerable progress in elementary education and agriculture, their farm work being principally done by their slaves previous to the time they were accorded their freedom in 1865. As a result of their progress in the arts of life, during the last half of the last century, these were often called "The Five Civilized Tribes, or Nations."

In 1900 when the last census was taken of them in their tribal form their numbers were as follows: Choctaw nation, 99,681; Chickasaw, 139,260; Cherokee, 101,754; Creek, 40,674; Seminole, 3,786.

The Osage Indians were early driven to the valley of the Arkansas river. They were conveyed to their reservation west of that river, in the north part of Indian Territory, in 1870. The supplies of oil and other minerals found upon their reservation have caused some of the members of this nation to be reputed as quite wealthy.

Other tribes that were located on small reservations in the northeast part of the Territory were the Modocs, Ottawas, Peorias, Quapaws, Senecas, Shawnees and Wyandottes.

During this early period the Union Indian agency established its headquarters at Muskogee, and it became and continued to be their principal city, during the period of their tribal government.


On April 22, 1889, 2,000,000 acres of the Creek and Seminole lands were opened to white settlers, and there occurred an ever memorable rush for lands and a race for homes. An area as large as the state of Maryland was settled in a day. On that first day the city of Guthrie was founded with a population of 8,000, a newspaper was issued and in a tent a bank was organized with a capital of $50,000. Oklahoma and other cities sprang up as if in a night.

On June 6, 1890, the west half of Indian Territory was created a new territory, called Oklahoma, with its capital at Guthrie, and with later additions it soon included 24,000,000 acres.

On June 16, 1906, President Roosevelt signed the enabling act, that admitted Oklahoma, including Oklahoma and Indian Territories, as a state, one year from that date. On November 6, 1906, occurred the election of members to the constitutional convention, that met at Guthrie January 1, 1907. The first legislature met there January 1, 1908. Two years later the capital was moved to Oklahoma City.

The growth, progress and advancement of the territory of Oklahoma during the sixteen years preceding statehood in 1907 has never been equaled in the history of the world, and in all probability will never be eclipsed. This was due to the mild and healthful climate of this region, and a previous knowledge of its great, but undeveloped agricultural and mineral resources. So great has been the flow of oil near Tulsa, in the north central part of the state, it has been necessary to store it there in an artificial lake or reservoir.


The surface of Oklahoma consists of a gently undulating plain, that gradually ascends from an altitude of 511 feet at Valliant in the southeast to 1197 feet at Oklahoma City, and 1893 at Woodward, the county seat of Woodward county, in the northwest. The principal mountains are the Kiamichi in the southern part of Laflore county, and the Wichita, a forest reserve in Comanche and Swanson counties.

Previous to statehood Indian Territory was divided into 31 recording districts for court purposes. In 1902 when Garvin was founded it became the residence of the judge of the southeastern judicial or recording district, and a small court house was built there for the transaction of the public business. In 1907, when McCurtain county was established, Idabel was chosen as the county seat. The location of Oak Hill Academy proved to be one and a half miles east of the west line of McCurtain county. In 1910 the population of McCurtain county was 20,681, of Oklahoma City 64,205; and of the state of Oklahoma, 1,657,155.


During the period immediately preceding the incoming of the Hope and Ardmore Railroad in 1902, the most important news and trading center, between Fort Towson and Wheelock, was called "Clear Creek." Clear Creek is a rustling, sparkling little stream of clear water that flows southward in a section of the country where most of the streams are sluggish and of a reddish hue. The Clear Creek post office was located in a little store building a short distance east of this stream and about three miles north of Red river.

A little log court house, for the administration of tribal justice among the Choctaws of that vicinity, a blacksmith shop and a Choctaw church were also located at this place. These varied interests gave to Clear Creek the importance of a miniature county seat until Valliant and Swink were founded.


During this early period the oak covered ridge, extending several miles east of Clear Creek, was known as Oak Hill and the settlement in its vicinity was called by the same name.

When the first church (1869) and school (1876) were established among the Freedmen in this settlement, the same name was naturally given to both of them. It has adhered to them, amid all the changes that have occurred, since the first meetings were held at the home of Henry Crittenden in 1868.


Valliant was founded in 1902, and was so named in honor of one of the surveyors of the Hope and Ardmore, a branch of the Frisco railway. It is located in the west end of McCurtain county eight miles north of Red river. It has now a population of 1,000 and a branch railroad running northward.

The country adjacent to the town consists of beautiful valleys and forests heavily set with timber, principally oak, walnut, ash and hickory, and with pine and cedar along the streams. The soil is a rich sandy loam, that is easily cultivated and gives promise of great agricultural and horticultural possibilities. It is in the center of the cotton belt and this staple is proving a very profitable one. The climate is healthful and the locality is unusually free from the prevalence of high winds.




"God, who hath made of one blood all nations of men and determined the bounds of their habitation, commandeth all men everywhere to repent."—Paul.

When Columbus landed on the shores of America, the Indians were the only people he found occupying this great continent. During the long period that has intervened, the Indian has furnished proof, that he possesses all the attributes which God has bestowed upon other members of the human family. He has shown that he has an intellect capable of development, that he is willing to receive instruction and that he is capable of performing any duty required of an American citizen.

Considerable patience however has had to be exercised both by the church in its effort to bring him under the saving influence of the gospel, and by the government in its effort to elevate him to the full standard of citizenship. Results are achieved slowly. His struggles have been many and difficult. He has needed counsel and encouragement at every advancing step.

In the former days, when the Indian supported his family by hunting, trapping and fishing, he moved about from place to place. This was finally checked in Indian Territory by the individual allotment of lands in 1904. He has thus been compelled by the force of circumstances, to change his mode of life. He has gradually discovered he can settle down on his own farm, improve it by the erection of good buildings, and either buy or make the implements he needs for cultivating the soil.

The great commission to the church to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature," will not be completed until the American Indian and the Freedmen, who were his former slaves, have been brought under its uplifting influence.

The Presbyterian church throughout all its history has been the friend and patron of learning and inasmuch as the evangelistic work among the Indians and Freedmen, has been largely dependent on school work for permanent results, it began to establish schools among the Indians at a very early date. The work among the five civilized tribes was begun many years before they were transported from the southern states to Indian Territory. Some of these missionaries migrated with them and continued both their school and church work in the Territory. Rev. Alfred Wright, who organized the Presbyterian church at Wheelock in December, 1832, and died there in 1853, after receiving 570 members into it, began his work as a missionary to the Choctaws in 1820.

The aim of the government in its educational work among the Indians, as elsewhere in the public schools of the country, has been mainly to make them intelligent citizens. The aim of the church, by making the Bible a daily textbook, is to make them happy and hopeful Christians, as well as citizens. In the early days there was great need for this educational work, and in the Presbyterian church it was carried forward by its foreign mission board, with wisdom, energy and success.

In 1861 the Presbyterian church had established and was maintaining six boarding schools with 800 pupils and six day schools among the Indians in the Territory. Two of these schools, Spencer and Wheelock Academies, were located in the southern part of the Choctaw Nation.

In 1840 the Presbytery of Indian was organized and in 1848 the Presbytery of the Creek Nation. In 1861 these included an enrollment of 16 churches with a communicant membership of 1,772.


At the outbreak of the civil war in 1861, all of these schools and churches were closed, and the next year the Presbyterian church became divided by the organization of the Southern Presbyterian church, under the corporate name, "The Presbyterian Church in the United States."

At the close of the war it was left to the Southern branch of the church to re-establish this school and church work in the Territory. It undertook to do this and carried parts of it alone for a number of years. The task however proved to be too great; the men and means were not available to re-open the boarding schools, and to supply the churches with ministers. The arrangement was accordingly made for the foreign mission board of the Presbyterian church, to resume its former work as fast as workers could be obtained.

In 1879, four ministers returned and opened six churches among the Choctaws, Creeks and Cherokees.

In 1882 Spencer Academy was re-opened at Nelson, by Rev. Oliver P. Starks, a native of Goshen, New York, who, for seventeen years previous to the Civil War, had been a missionary to the Choctaws, having his home at Goodland.

The Indian Mission school at Muskogee was also re-opened that year by Miss Rose Steed.

In the fall of 1883 the Presbytery of Indian Territory was re-established with a membership of 16 ministers, 11 churches, 385 communicants and 676 Sunday school scholars.

In 1884 Wheelock Academy was re-opened by Rev. John Edwards, who for a couple of years previous, had been located at Atoka. This was a return of Edwards to the educational work among the Choctaws. From 1851 to 1853 he served at Spencer Academy, north of Doaksville, and then from 1853 to 1861 had charge of Wheelock Academy, as the successor of Rev. Alfred Wright, its early founder.

In 1883 two teachers were sent, who opened a school among the Creek Freedmen at Muskogee, known as the "Pittsburgh Mission." A teacher was also sent to the Freedmen among the Seminoles.

After a few years the Pittsburgh Mission was transferred from Muskogee to Atoka, where it supplied a real want for a few years longer. In 1904 when adequate provision was first made for the Freedmen in the public schools of that town this mission was discontinued.


During this same year, 1884, the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen, Pittsburgh, Pa., received the voluntary transfer from the Southern church of all the work it had developed at that date among the Choctaw Freedmen. This transfer was made in good spirit. The motive that prompted it was the conviction and belief the Presbyterian church could carry it forward more conveniently, aggressively and successfully.

The work that was transferred at this date consisted of Rev. Charles W. Stewart, Doaksville, and the following churches then under his pastoral care, namely: Oak Hill, Beaver Dam, Hebron, New Hope and St. Paul (Eagletown).

Parson Stewart had been licensed about 1867 and ordained a few years later. With a true missionary spirit he had gone into these various settlements and effected the organization of these churches among his people. During the next two years he added to his circuit two more churches, Mount Gilead at Lukfata and Forest, south of Wheelock, and occasionally visited one or two other places.


About the year 1880 the social and moral condition of the Indians in Indian Territory was described as follows:

"About thirty different languages are spoken by the Indians now in the territory. The population of the territory, though principally Indians, includes a lot of white men and negroes, amongst whom intermarriages are frequent. The society ranges from an untutored Indian, with a blanket for his dress and paganism for his religion, to men of collegiate education, who are manifesting their christian culture and training by their earnest advocacy of the christian faith.

"The Cherokees were the first to be brought under direct christian influence and they were probably in the lead of all the Indians on the continent in civilization, or practice of the useful arts and enjoyment of the common comforts of life."

"In 1890, the year following the opening of the first land in the territory to white settlers, the mission work in the territory was described as "very interesting and unique." The Indian population represented every grade of civilization. One might see the several stages of progress from the ignorant and superstitious blanketed Indian on the western reservations to the representatives of our advanced American culture among the five civilized nations. Our missionaries have labored long and successfully and the education, degree of civilization and prosperity enjoyed by the Indians are due principally, if not solely, to the efforts of consecrated men and women, who devoted their lives to this special work. Although their names may not be familiarly known among the churches, none have deserved more honorable mention than these faithful servants of the Master, who selected this particular field of effort for their life work."

"Events are moving rapidly in Indian Territory. Many new lines of railroad have been surveyed, and when they have been built, every part of the Territory will be easily accessible."

"A new judicial system with a complete code of laws has recently been provided, and with liberal provision for Indian citizenship and settlement of the land question it is safe to predict a speedy end to tribal government."

"This means the opening of a vast region to settlement, the establishment of churches and the thorough organization of every form of christian work. For this we must prepare and there is no time to lose. Our churches and schools must be multiplied and our brethren of the ministry must be fully reinforced by competent educated men trained for christian work. What the future has in store for the whole Territory was illustrated by the marvelous rush into and settlement of Oklahoma Territory during the last year."

"A wonderful transformation has taken place. The unbroken prairie of one year ago has been changed to cultivated fields. The tents of boomers have given place to well built homes and substantial blocks of brick and stone. Unorganized communities have now become members of a legally constituted commonwealth. Here are found all the elements of great progress and general prosperity and the future of Oklahoma Territory is full of great promise."

"Here the Presbyterian church has shown itself capable of wrestling with critical social problems and stands today as the leading denomination in missionary enterprise. Every county has its minister and many churches have been organized. Others are underway. With more ministers and liberal aid for the erection of churches the Presbyterian church will do for Oklahoma what it has done for Kansas and the Dakotas."

In 1886 the mission school work among the Indians was transferred from the care of the foreign to the home mission board. Those in charge of the school work of Spencer Academy at Nelson resigned that work and the school was closed.

In 1895 the Mission school work at Wheelock Academy was undertaken and continued thereafter by the Indian Agency, as a school for orphan children of the Indians.


Wheelock Academy for nearly four-score years was the most attractive social, educational and religious center in the southeast part of the Choctaw nation. It was located on the main trails running east and west and north and south. But when the Frisco railway came in 1902, it passed two miles south of it, and a half dozen flourishing towns were founded along its line.

There remain to mark this place of early historic interest the two mission school buildings, a strongly built stone church 30 by 50 feet, a two story parsonage and cemetery. The church is of the Gothic style of architecture, tastefully decorated inside and furnished with good pews and pulpit furniture.


Among the many old inscriptions on the grave stones in the Wheelock cemetery, there may be seen the following beautiful record of the work of one, whose long and eminently useful life was devoted to the welfare of the Choctaw people:

SACRED to the memory of the REV. ALFRED WRIGHT who entered into his heavenly rest March 31, 1853, age 65 years. Born in Columbia, Connecticut, March 1, 1788. Appointed Missionary to the Choctaws 1820. Removed to this land October, 1832. Organized Wheelock Church December, 1832. Received to its fellowship 570 members. AS A MAN he was intelligent, firm in principle, prudent in counsel, gentle in spirit, kindness and gravity, and conscientious in the discharge of every relative and social duty. AS A CHRISTIAN he was uniform, constant, strong in faith, and in doctrine, constant and fervent in prayer, holy in life, filled with the spirit of Christ and peaceful in death. AS A PHYSICIAN he was skillful, attentive, ever ready to relieve and comfort the afflicted. AS A TRANSLATOR he was patient, investigating and diligent, giving to the Choctaws in their own tongue the New and part of the Old Testament, and various other books. AS A MINISTER his preaching was scriptural, earnest, practical, and rich in the full exhibition of Gospel truth. He was laborious, faithful and successful. Communion with God, faith in the Lord Jesus, and reliance upon the aid of the Holy Spirit, made all his labor sweet to his own soul and a blessing to others. In testimony of his worth, and their affection, his mourning friends erect this Tablet to his Memory. "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God."


Rev. John Edwards, the successor of Rev. Alfred Wright, was a native of Bath, New York. He graduated from the college at Princeton, New Jersey, in 1848, and from the theological seminary there in 1851. He was ordained by the Presbytery of Indian Territory December 11, 1853.

He became a teacher at Spencer Academy, north of Fort Towson, in 1851, and continued until 1853, when he became the successor of Rev. Alfred Wright as the stated supply of the Choctaw church and superintendent of the academy at Wheelock. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 he passed to California and after teaching two years in San Francisco, served as stated supply of various churches during the next twenty years, having his residence during the latter part of that period at Oakland.

In 1882 he returned and resumed work among the Choctaws, locating first at Atoka. In 1884 he re-opened the academy at Wheelock, and continued to serve as its superintendent until 1895, when it became a government school. He remained the next year in charge of the church. He then returned to California and died at San Jose, at 75, December 18, 1903.

In 1897, Rev. Evan B. Evans, supplied the Choctaw church at Wheelock one year. As its membership of 60 consisted principally of students living at a distance, and they were absent most of the year, the services were then discontinued. A few years later the services were resumed at the town of Garvin, where another stone church was built in 1910, during the efficient ministry of Rev. W. J. Willis.


Rev. Alexander Reid, principal of Spencer Academy, was a native of Scotland, and came to this country in his boyhood. He graduated from the college at Princeton, N. J., in 1845, and the theological seminary there, three years later. He was ordained by the Presbytery of New York in 1849 and accepting a commission to serve as a missionary to the Indians of the Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory, was immediately appointed superintendent of Spencer Academy, ten miles north of Fort Towson.

He was accompanied by Rev. Alexander J. Graham, a native of Newark, New Jersey, who served as a teacher in the academy. The latter was a roommate of Reid's at Princeton seminary, and his sister became Reid's wife. At the end of his first year of service he returned to Lebanon Springs, New York, for the recovery of his health, and died there July 23, 1850. Rev. John Edwards immediately became his successor as a teacher.

Alexander Reid while pursuing his studies, learned the tailor's trade at West Point and this proved a favorable introduction to his work among the Choctaws. They were surprised and greatly pleased on seeing that he had already learned the art of sitting on the ground "tailor fashion" according to their own custom.

The academy under Reid enjoyed a prosperous career of twelve years. In 1861, when the excitement of war absorbed the attention of everybody, the school work was abandoned. Reid, however, continued to serve as a gospel missionary among the Indians until 1869, when he took his family to Princeton, New Jersey, to provide for the education of his children.

While ministering to the spiritual needs of the Indians his sympathies and interest were awakened by the destitute and helpless condition of their former slaves. In 1878 he resumed work as a missionary to the Choctaws making his headquarters at or near Atoka and in 1882 he was appointed by the Foreign Mission Board, superintendent of mission work among the Freedmen in Indian Territory. In this capacity he aided in establishing neighborhood schools wherever teachers could be found. In order that a number of them might be fitted for teaching, he obtained permission of their parents to take a number of bright looking and promising young people to boarding schools, maintained by our Freedmen's Board in Texas, Mississippi and North Carolina. He thus became instrumental in preparing the way, and advised the development of the native Oak Hill School into an industrial and normal boarding school.

In 1884, owing to failing health, he went to the home of his son, Rev. John G. Reid (born at Spencer Academy in 1854), at Greeley, Colorado, and died at 72 at Cambridgeport, near Boston, July 30, 1890.

"He was a friend to truth, of soul sincere, of manners unaffected and of mind enlarged, he wished the good of all mankind."


Uncle Wallace and Aunt Minerva were two of the colored workers that were employed at Spencer Academy, before the war. They lived together in a little cabin near it. In the summer evenings they would often sit at the door of the cabin and sing their favorite plantation songs, learned in Mississippi in their early youth.

In 1871, when the Jubilee singers first visited Newark, New Jersey, Rev. Alexander Reid happened to be there and heard them. The work of the Jubilee singers was new in the North and attracted considerable and very favorable attention. But when Prof. White, who had charge of them, announced several concerts to be given in different churches of the city he added,

"We will have to repeat the Jubilee songs as we have no other."

When Mr. Reid was asked how he liked them he remarked, "Very well, but I have heard better ones."

When he had committed to writing a half dozen of the plantation songs he had heard "Wallace and Minerva" sing with so much delight at old Spencer Academy, he met Mr. White and his company in Brooklyn, New York, and spent an entire day rehearsing them. These new songs included,

"Steal away to Jesus." "The Angels are Coming," "I'm a Rolling," and "Swing Low."

"Steal Away to Jesus" became very popular and was sung before Queen Victoria.

The Hutchinson family later used several of them in their concerts, rendering "I'm a Rolling," with a trumpet accompaniment to the words:

"The trumpet sounds in my soul, I haint got long to stay here."

These songs have now been sung around the world.

When one thinks of the two old slaves singing happily together at the door of their humble cabin, amid the dreary solitudes of Indian Territory, and the widely extended results that followed, he cannot help perceiving in these incidents a practical illustration of the way in which our Heavenly Father uses "things that are weak," for the accomplishment of his gracious purposes. They also serve to show how little we know of the future use God will make of the lowly service any of us may now be rendering.

These two slaves giving expression to their devotional feelings in simple native songs, unconsciously exerted a happy influence, that was felt even in distant lands; an influence that served to attract attention and financial support to an important institution, established for the education of the Freedmen.


In the fall of 1881 the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions re-established Spencer Academy in a new location where the postoffice was called, Nelson, ten miles southwest of Antlers and twenty miles west of old Spencer, now called Spencerville.

Rev. Oliver P. Stark, the first superintendent of this institution, died there at the age of 61, March 2, 1884. He was a native of Goshen, New York, and a graduate of the college and Theological Seminary at Princeton, N. J. In 1851, he was ordained by the Presbytery of Indian which, as early as 1840, had been organized to include the missions of the American Board.

As early as 1849, while he was yet a licentiate, he was commissioned as a missionary to the Choctaws, and, locating at Goodland, remained in charge of the work in that section until 1866, a period of seventeen years. During the next thirteen years he served as principal of the Lamar Female Seminary at Paris, Texas. His next and last work was the development of the mission school for the Choctaws at Nelson, which had formed a part of his early and long pastorate.

Rev. Harvey R. Schermerhorn, became the immediate successor of Mr. Stark as superintendent of the new Spencer Academy and continued to serve in that capacity until 1890, when the mission work among the Indians was transferred from the Foreign to the care of the Home Mission Board. The school was then discontinued and he became pastor of the Presbyterian church at Macalester. After a long and very useful career he is now living in retirement at Hartshorne.

These incidents, relating to the work of the Presbyterian church among the Indians, especially the Choctaws, have been narrated, because the men who had charge of these two educational institutions at Wheelock and Spencer Academies, were very helpful in effecting the organization of Presbyterian churches, the establishment of Oak Hill Academy and a number of neighborhood schools among the Freedmen in the south part of the Choctaw Nation.


Rev. Cyrus Kingsbury, an early Presbyterian missionary to the Choctaws, was located at Doaksville near old Fort Towson. He secured the erection of an ample church building and rendered many years of faithful service. He died and was buried in the cemetery at that place in 1870.

Doaksville, though no longer entitled to a place on the map, is the name of an important pioneer Indian village. Here the once proud and powerful Choctaws established themselves during the later twenties, and were regarded as happy and prosperous before the Civil War.

Fort Towson was built by the government to protect them from incursions on the part of the wild Kiowas and Comanches, who still roamed over the plains of Texas. The name of Ulyses S. Grant was associated with it just before the Mexican war. The generous hospitality of Col. Garland, who died there after a long period of service, is still gratefully remembered.

During its most prosperous days, which were long before the Civil War, a considerable number of aristocratic Choctaws, claiming large plantations in the neighboring valleys, dwelt there near each other. Some were men of culture and university education, while others were ignorant and superstitious. Some had previously enjoyed the acquaintance and friendship of Andrew Jackson and Zachary Taylor, and greatly appreciated the privilege of manifesting their chivalrous spirit. Berthlett's store, now used as a stable, was a noted trading establishment and place of social resort. Its owner was a native of Canada, who had come to live among the Choctaws.

While living in this beautiful country, where they were paternally protected from poverty at home and the encroachments of enemies abroad it has been said they were so addicted to private quarrels and fatal combats, that there was scarcely a Choctaw family that did not have its tragedy of blood. These fatal tribal feuds, however, seldom occurred except on gala days, and the preparations therefor included a supply of "fire-water."

The old Doaksville cemetery occupies the slope of a hillside near a little stream skirted with timber. Some of the leading pioneers of the Choctaw nation were buried here. The marble tablets that mark their graves were brought by steam boat from New Orleans, up the Mississippi and Red rivers to a landing four miles south. Some of the graves are walled and covered with a marble slab, while others are marked by the erection over them of oddly shaped little houses. In the early days, the full-bloods were in the habit of burying with the body some favorite trinket or article of personal adornment. Many of the grave stones attest the fact that the deceased while living enjoyed a good hope of a blessed immortality through our Lord Jesus Christ.




"From a child thou hast known the HOLY SCRIPTURES, which are able to make thee Wise unto Salvation."

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for instruction; That the man of God may be perfect thoroughly furnished unto all good works."—Paul

Whilst our religious educational institutions where unsectarian instruction in the Bible is fundamental, have been producing good results of the highest order, those educational institutions where only secular instruction is given, have been contributing a very small proportion of the world's consecrated moral leaders. Of 1,600 home missionaries, 1,503 received their training in Christian educational institutions. Of 600 foreign missionaries, 551 received their training in Christian educational institutions.

It is not correct to say that one standard of education is as good as another. Fourteen American colleges, recently established in China by the Christian Missionaries, though only meagerly equipped, but manned by those of un-questioned Christian character, and teaching the plain saving truths of the Bible, have become educational centers, from which have gone out the leaders in a peaceful revolution that occurred there in 1912, that have brought the boon of civil and religious liberty to one-fourth of the population of the world. Under the beneficent influence of a few Christian leaders this ancient empire has been lifted off its hinges and a new life and spirit of progress have been infused into a civilization, hoary with centuries of stagnant heathenism. In this wonderful transformation, effected by trained Christian teachers, the church and the world have seen the fulfillment of the Bible prediction, "A nation shall be born in a day."

Training for a noble Christian life is many times better than training merely to make a living. The demand for good and true men, to serve as leaders in church and state was never greater than at present. The aim of the church is to supply the world with capable leaders that are "Christ-led and Bible-fed."

A right education knows no limit of breadth. It includes a knowledge of the Infinite as well as the finite. It recognizes the fact that finite things can not be rightly understood without knowing their relation to the Infinite. Our Lord Jesus, who came into the world to make known the will of the Father, "holds in his girdle the key to all the secrets of the universe, and no education can be thorough without the knowledge of Him."

Christian schools are established for the culture of souls. Their aim is to develop men and women as persons to the full extent of their powers for the sake of their contribution to the personal welfare and progress of society.


All things being equal the thorough Christian makes a better mechanic, a better farmer, a better housekeeper, teacher, doctor, lawyer or business man, than one who is not a Christian. It is the work of a Bible school of instruction to equip its graduates with the very best elements of character and progress, and send them forth tempered and polished for the conquest of the world.

The young have characters to be molded, ideals to be formed, capacities to be enlarged, an efficiency that may be increased, an energy to be centralized, and a hope and faith to be strengthened. The Bible, in the hands of the tactful and faithful Christian teacher accomplishes all of these results, by its precepts and interesting biographies.

The Bible, furnishes the young correct ideals of a noble and useful manhood. The common greed for money, position and outward appearance is weighed in the balance and found wanting.

The Bible is the fountain of all true character, and furnishes the means for the betterment of one's self. It furnished the principles and ideals that enabled Washington, Lincoln, Frances Willard, Queen Victoria, Gladstone and others, to achieve greatness as statesmen, rulers or national leaders; and enabled Gary, Judson, Moffat, Livingstone and others to invade dark, dangerous continents that they might become heralds of gospel light and liberty where they were most needed. "Buy the truth, sell it not, and the truth shall make you free," was the ringing message they proclaimed to men, women and children.


A tourist, visiting the famous cathedral at Milan, expressed his great surprise at the wonderful vision and perfect ideal of the man, who designed it. A guide remarked, that the mind of the architect, who wrought out the hundred striking features of the design, was greater than the magnificent cathedral. This led another to remark, "Only a mind inspired by Christ could have designed this wonderful building," How true! The love of Christ constrains his people to bring to his service and worship their noblest powers of mind and body.

When the tourist viewed the works of art, which included some of the world's most famous statuary and paintings, he found the master pieces of Michael Angelo, the sculptor, were Moses and David, both of them characters from the Bible; and the most wonderful paintings were those of the person of our Lord Jesus, the only Redeemer of the world.

Hayden and Handel, two of the world's most famous musical composers, were inspired to write their great choral masterpieces, the "Creation" and the "Messiah" as a result of their careful study of the sacred scriptures.

The best the world has produced in law, literature, poetry, music, art and architecture has been the embodiment of ideals, that have received their inspiration from reading God's Holy Word, and experiencing saving knowledge of the redeeming work of His blessed Son.

Abraham continues to be the "father of the faithful;" Moses, author of the Pentateuch, continues to be the world's greatest lawgiver and leader of men; Joshua effecting the conquest of Canaan on the principle, "Divide and Conquer," continues to be the inspirer of successful military strategists; David author of Psalms, continues to be the world's greatest poet; Joseph, Daniel and Isaiah, continue to be the best ideals for rulers and their counselors; Nehemiah, the best representative of a progressive and successful man of affairs; Peter and John, the most noted examples of loyalty to truth; Paul, the most zealous advocate of a great cause; and our Lord Jesus continues to be the ideal of the world's greatest teachers and benefactors.


"The Bible, the basis of moral instruction in the public school," was the interesting theme of an address it was the privilege of the author to deliver at a teachers' institute forty years ago, when engaged in teaching in central Pennsylvania. The conviction then became indelibly impressed, that the Bible is really the basis of the American public school system. The fact is now noted with a good deal of interest, that the legislature of Pennsylvania in 1913, enacted a law, distinctly recognizing this fact, and providing that at least ten verses from the Bible shall be read every school day, in the presence of the scholars in every public school within the bounds of the state. Every teacher refusing to comply with this law is subject to dismissal.

Every state in the Union should have a law of this kind. The Bible is not merely the book of books, it is the only one that has correct ideals for young people. It awakens the desire for more knowledge and inspires the courage to do right.


Ruskin, in "The Ethics of Dust", referring to the valley of diamonds, remarks that "many people go to real places and never see them; and many people pass through this valley of diamonds and never see it."

One great object to be attained in the education of the mind is to awaken an earnest desire for truth. All real life, whether it be in the school, shop or field, consists in using aright the true principles of life, that are found in the Word of God. Every human heart, that has been illuminated by this Word of Truth, finds that along the pathway that leads to God, there are hidden the gems and jewels of eternal truth, that prevail in every department of life. These gems are hidden only from the careless and indifferent. Those that make a diligent search are sure to find them. This longing desire for truth is not only the mark of a good student, but the assurance also that such a one, if circumstances are favorable will continue to make progress after school days have ended.

Many pupils, during their youthful school days, fail to perceive the real mission of their education. They do not then fully appreciate the real gold of truth, that cultivates in them "those general charities of heart, sincerities of thought, and graces of habit, which are likely to lead them, throughout life to prefer frankness to affectation, reality to shadows, and beauty to corruption." This enlightenment is pretty sure to come to them later, if the Bible has been their daily text book.


The acceptance of the Bible as the Word of God should be regarded as essential, on the part of all teachers of children and youth.

If the Bible is the great fountain of saving truth and the highest authority on human conduct, and it is to be used as a daily text book, then, it naturally follows, the teacher should be "a workman approved unto God, apt to teach and rightly dividing the word of truth." Persons who do not believe in the Bible do not care to teach it, and when they are required to do so, they are pretty sure to vaunt their unbelief. The influence of such teachers tends to establish unbelief instead of awakening a longing desire for more truth.

Emerson in one of his essays, after pressing the fact that the soul is the receiver and revealer of truth, states an undeniable fact, when he says:

"That which we are, we shall teach, not voluntarily but involuntarily. Thoughts go out of our minds through avenues, which we never voluntarily opened. Character teaches over our head. The infallible index of true progress is found in the tone the man takes. Neither his age, nor his breeding, nor his company, nor books, nor actions, nor talents, nor all together can hinder him from being deferential to a higher spirit than his own. If he has not found his home in God, his manners, his form of speech, the turn of his sentences, the build, shall I say of all his opinions, will involuntarily confess it, let him brave it out how he will."

The longings of the human heart are unsatisfied, until the soul finds its home in God, its creator and preserver. Teachers that ignore this fact, lack one thing that is vitally important. Our Lord Jesus, the great teacher, expressed its relative importance when he said: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you."


James J. Hill, a prominent railroad president recently made this important statement:

"We are making a mistake to train our young people in various lines of knowledge for undertaking the big tasks of life, without making sure also that those fundamental principles of right and wrong as taught in the Bible, have become a part of their equipment. There is a control of forces and motives, that is essential to the management of the vast affairs of our nation, which comes only through an educated conscience; and to fail to equip young men, who are to manage the great affairs of the future, with this control and direction, is a serious mistake of the age and bears with it a certain menace for the future."

In a recent issue of the Assembly Herald there appeared the following very pertinent paragraphs on this subject, credited to the Synod of Tennessee:

"In common with all good citizens, we rejoice in the progress of the cause of popular education in our land. The intelligence of our citizenship is a bulwark to the country. But unless the education of the future citizen is complete and symmetrical, the body politic becomes a body partly of iron and partly of potter's clay. The education of the head and the hand without the heart is not enough.

"The popular education has no place for the heart in all of its splendid equipment. This is not a reflection on the fine system. It is merely the statement of a melancholy fact. The average state school, high or low, is absolutely colorless as to religion. Even the morality that is taught is not the morality of the Christian religion, but of philosophical ethics that differ but little from the ethics of the pagan.

"Our state schools have no place for the God of the Bible, nor for the Bible of the only living and true God. The poetry of Homer and Horace are sufficiently honored, but the finer poetry of Moses, Job and David are unknown in the courses of study of our schools, except now and then as specimens of Oriental song. The wise sayings of Plato and Socrates are reckoned worthy of profound study, while the vastly greater sayings of our Lord Jesus and Paul are unknown. Cicero and Demosthenes are commended as great models of public address, while Isaiah and Ezekiel are seldom mentioned in the four years of college life, or in the longer years of the secondary schools.

"That education is incomplete and inadequate for life's best, which does not include the whole man, and put first things first. If the heart be not educated and the conscience be not enlightened, the best trained hand may strike in a wrong manner, and the best trained mind pronounce wrong judgments.... Our citizenship must be Christian if it is to promote a Christian civilization."




"All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee and glorify thy name." David.


In commendation of woman's loyalty and sense of obligation to our Lord Jesus, it has been said of her, "She was last at his cross and first at his grave, she staid longest there and was soonest here." In recognition of this fact when he rose from the dead he appeared first to one of them, Mary Magdalene.

To the credit of men of African descent, it may be said, that one of them performed the last act of kindness to our Lord Jesus, and the first individual conversion, of which we have an account in the book of Acts, relates to another one.

Simon, who assisted Jesus to bear his cross to the place of crucifixion, was a native of Cyrene in North Africa. The eastern church canonized him as Simon, the Black one, because his was the high and holy honor of bearing for the weary Christ, his cross of shame and pain. Our Lord Jesus was not long in the black man's debt. A few hours later, he paid it back by bearing for him all his weary burdens, on the very cross the African had borne for him. That was a good start for the Black man.

Philip, directed by an angel of the Lord to go south and join himself to the chariot occupied by the Eunuch, a man of great authority under the Queen of Ethiopia, found him reading the prophet Isaiah. Explaining the scriptures to him the eunuch confessed his faith in Jesus, was baptized with water found at the roadside and resumed his journey, homeward from Jerusalem, rejoicing. The record of this Black man's conversion is the first one of an individual in the book of Acts.

The religious trait of the American Negro has often been the subject of favorable comment. He has never, in all his history, been swayed by the false teachings of infidels, atheists or anarchists.

Dan Crawford, a Scotch missionary, the successor of Livingstone in the central part of the dark continent, recently stated he had discovered the fact, that the most ignorant and degraded natives of central Africa, have a religious instinct, that includes a belief in one God and the immortality of the soul.

Penetrating the jungles of the interior beyond the reach of a previous explorer, he found a tribe of nearly nude cannibals. He saw one of them eating human flesh. Meeting Ka la ma ta, their chief, the next day in the presence of several hundred of his tribe, he made special inquiry in regard to their knowledge of God. The result was an astounding surprise.

Kalamata, gave their name of God as Vi de Mu ku lu the Great King. When further questioned he said:

"We know there is a God for the same reason we know where the goats went on a wet night, when we see their deep foot-prints in the mud. We see the sun and the sun sees us. We see the wonderful mountains and the flowing streams, and both tell us there is a God. He is the one who sends the rain. No rain, nothing to eat; no God, no anything."

Concerning a future life he expressed the thought, the body is the cottage of the soul. The dead do not really die. When one dies they do not say, "he departed", but "he has arrived."

The American Negro, like his native ancestor, has always manifested this religious instinct.

Under the influence of a natural instinct the bee invariably builds its cell in the same form for the next brood and the storage of honey for it; the butterfly prepares the cradle and food for offspring it never sees, and the migratory birds follow the sun northward in the spring and southward on the approach of winter. All this is natural instinct.

Religious instinct is something very different from the natural instinct of any creature. It is a natural power possessed by man alone, and has its sphere in the human conscience. Paul, writing to the Romans in regard to the barbarians of his day, observed, "God is manifest in them, for the invisible things of God, even his eternal power and God-head, are clearly seen by the things that are made."


The Negro in America has always been loyal and patriotic. He has rendered a voluntary service in the army and navy of the United States that is worthy of special commendation. The records of the war department show that the number of colored soldiers, participating in the several wars of this country was as follows:

Revolutionary War, 1775-1781 3,000 War of 1812 2,500 Civil War, 1861-1865 178,975

In the war with Spain in Cuba in 1898 the first troops that were sent to the front were four regiments of colored soldiers, and the service they rendered was distinguished by bravery and courage.


In 1860 the number of Negroes that were in a state of slavery was 3,930,760. In 1910 their number in the southern states had increased to 9,000,000; and in the northern states to 1,078,000.

The Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln was issued January 1, 1863, but it was preceded by a preliminary one on September 22, 1862, that gave the public a notice of 100 days of the coming event.

The Act of Emancipation that severed the relation binding them to their masters, left them in a very forlorn and deplorable condition. They were homeless and penniless in a country, that had been rendered more or less desolate, by the ravages of war and bloodshed. No provision had ever been made for the spread of intelligence among them. It has been estimated that only about five per cent of them at that time could read and write. Their homeless and illiterate condition rendered them comparatively helpless and dependent.

In 1885 the number of voters enrolled among the Freedmen was 1,420,000 and of these as many as 1,065,000 were then unable to read and write. These illiterate voters then represented the balance of power in eight southern states and one sixth of the national electoral vote. This was a matter of vital importance to the nation as well as the states.

In 1900 the percentage of the Freedmen that could read and write had been increased to 55.5 per cent and in 1910 to 69.3 per cent.

At this latter date however only 56.3 per cent of their children, of a school age, were enrolled as attending school, which left more than one million yet to be provided for.


The first day school among the Freedmen was established at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, by the American Missionary Association on September 17, 1861. This school became the foundation of Hampton Institute, to which the ragged urchin wended his way on foot and slept the first night under a wooden pavement, that has since been known as Booker T. Washington.

In 1862 similar schools were established at Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Newport News, Virginia; Newbern and Roanoke Island, North Carolina, and Port Royal, South Carolina. In December of that year Gen. Grant assigned Col. John Eaton the supervision of the Freedmen in Arkansas, with instruction to establish schools where practical.

After the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, schools for the Negroes began to be established in those parts of the south occupied by the Federal armies, General Banks establishing the first ones in Louisiana.

In 1865 the Freedman's Bureau was established, and it made the maintenance of schools one of its objects until 1870, when it was discontinued. The work has since been left to the supervision of the several states, aided by the generosity of the friends of Christian education through the missionary agencies of their respective churches.

It is estimated that since 1870 the Freedmen, who constitute nearly one half the population of the southern states have received for the support of their schools, only one eighth of the public funds appropriated for the maintenance of common schools. In the rural districts teachers only are furnished, and these are supplied on the condition the Freedmen in the district build, furnish and maintain the school building, the same as they do their church buildings.

The number of free Negroes in the United States in 1860 was 487,970. The states having the greatest number of them were Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

A few of these had become graduates of colleges before the war and were thus fitted for intelligent leadership. The beginning and increase in number of these colored college graduates has been as follows; In 1829, 1; in 1849, 7; in 1859, 12; in 1869, 44; in 1879, 313; in 1899, 1,126; and in 1909, 1,613. About 700 of them have graduated from our northern colleges the largest number having attended Oberlin college at Oberlin, Ohio, and Lincoln University at Oxford, Pennsylvania. In 1910 the whole number that had graduated was 3,856.


The 50th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation was observed by a number of the states in September, 1913. In Pennsylvania it consisted of an exposition at the city of Philadelphia, that lasted one month. The exhibit, showing the progress of the negroes from their infantile condition of 50 years ago, was characterized as "wonderful", and the occasion, one for devout thanksgiving and encouragement on the part of those, who have labored patiently and faithfully for their civil, social, moral or religious development.

The Presbyterian was the only one of the white churches that attempted an exhibit of its work at this exposition. Its exhibit consisted of photographs of churches and schools, and accounts of the results of the work. It included specimens of industrial work done in the schools by the sewers, cabinet workers and other artisans. It was under the direction of Rev. John M. Gaston, field secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen.




"Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne; mercy and truth shall go before thy face."

"Righteousness exalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any people."

The "Problem of the Negro" is an old and familiar phrase. It relates to the fact, that, however many and great have been the benefits derived from his labor and loyalty, the best management of him has been a troublesome problem to the statesmen of this country, ever since the declaration of independence, and especially the Freedman, since his emancipation.

Like a prism or cube, this problem has several sides, but unlike these symbols, its various sides are unlike each other. The solution of it has always appeared to be different when viewed from different angles of vision. Observers in one part of our country unite in saying, "this is the best way to solve this problem," while others in another section insist, they know a better way. The statesman views it from one point of view, the labor leader from another and the Christian philanthropist from still another standpoint.

The first part of this problem, the one relating to the fact of his freedom, has already been solved. The solution of this introductory part of the problem caused preliminary struggles in Kansas and other places, including the Civil War. It served to bring out that which was noblest and best in Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederic Douglass, Henry Ward Beecher, Horace Greeley, Charles Summer, Abraham Lincoln and others.

The parts that remain to be solved relate to his uplift from ignorance, poverty and degradation, to the attainment of the ability to support himself, by a fair chance in the labor market, and the enjoyment of approved educational, religious and political privileges.

He has been accorded the right to own property, and is enjoying that right to the full extent of his ability to acquire and hold it.

He has been accorded limited educational and religious privileges, and has made a very commendable progress along both of these lines.

It is at this point we reach the difficult and unsolved part of the problem.

The intelligent and prosperous portion of them in the South, though native and loyal Americans, are discriminated against, and denied rights and recognitions, that are accorded other nationalities, though illiterate. The popular reason assigned, for locally withholding from all of them certain privileges of citizenship, is the fact that a great number of them continue to be illiterate.

In several of the states the Freedman is denied the privilege of enjoying the instruction of competent white teachers in their state and public schools, and in all of them he is prohibited from attending white schools, as in Pennsylvania and other northern states. The discriminations against them are so general, that it is almost impossible for any of them to acquire skill as workmen, or become fitted to serve their own people in the professions, except from those of their own number, or institutions of learning provided specially for them.


During the last forty years, the Freedmen have been counted as a part of the population, in apportioning the districts for the election of Representatives in the Congress of the United States. This inclusion of their number, in the arrangement of the districts, has enabled the states to which they belong, to have a considerable number of additional congressmen, that they would not have had, if the districts had been arranged according to the white population, which alone has been permitted to vote.

Since 1910 the additional number of Congressmen representing the suppressed vote of the Freedmen, has been 32 in a total of 82 members. These additional representatives, based on the population representing the suppressed vote of the Freedmen, have come from the different states as follows: Alabama, 5; Arkansas, 2; Florida, 1; Georgia, 6; Louisiana, 4; Mississippi, 5; North Carolina, 4; South Carolina, 4; Texas, 1. Total, 32.

This is an unexpected and a rather anomalous condition. It places the Freedmen in this country on a plane somewhat similar to that accorded the Philippines and Porto Ricans, as regards the matter of government and participation therein.

It also, however, suggests the goal towards which education, religion and consequent material prosperity are gradually uplifting the race. This goal is clearly expressed in the following amendments to the Constitution of the United States.


Article XIII. Section I. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.—(Ratified Dec. 18, 1865.)

Article XIV. Section I. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States, and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law, which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for president and vice-president of the United States, representatives in congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion, which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.—(Ratified July 28, 1868.)

Article XV. Section I. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2. The congress shall have power to enforce this article (or these articles) by appropriate legislation.—(Ratified March 30, 1870.)


As a result of these amendments two negroes, one free born, the other a Freedman were elected to the United States senate, namely, Hiram R. Revels, 1870-1871; and Blanche K. Bruce, 1875-1881, both from Mississippi.

Twenty others have enjoyed the privilege of serving as representatives in congress, during the thirty-two years intervening between 1869 and 1901. The first of these was Jefferson Long of Georgia, who served alone in 1869 and 1870. During the next four years 1871 to 1874, there were four representatives, representing Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and South Carolina, the last having two colored representatives during this entire period. Their number was then reduced to two representatives, and finally to none since 1901, save that there were three during the terms commencing 1877, 1881 and 1883. Their last representatives were George W. Murray of South Carolina, 1893 to 1897; and George H. White of North Carolina, 1897 to 1901.

Five of these twenty representatives were re-elected and served terms of four years; three served six years, and Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina enjoyed the unusual privilege of serving ten years, 1875 to 1885. Eight of them were from South Carolina, four from North Carolina, three from Alabama and one from Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia.


During the seventies and eighties the Freedmen were to a considerable extent disfranchised by means of "election devices, practices and intimidations."

Since 1890, when Mississippi took the lead, a number of the states have passed laws restricting the right of suffrage on their part to such tests as the payment of their annual taxes, previous to a certain date; ownership of a certain amount of land or personal property, the ability to read and write the constitution of the state or of the United States, and the "Grandfather Clause" which permits one unable to meet the educational or property tests to continue to vote, if he enjoyed that privilege, or is a lineal descendant of one that did so, previous to the date mentioned therein, usually 1867.

The following states have enacted laws containing the "Grandfather Clause:" South Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and in 1910, Oklahoma. This part of the Oklahoma statute reads as follows:

"But no person who was on January 1, 1866, or at any time prior thereto, entitled to vote under any form of government, or who at that time resided in some foreign nation, and no lineal descendant of such person shall be denied the right to register and vote because of his inability to so read and write such Constitution."


This historic record, of representation in the highest legislative council of the nation, is very suggestive. That the Freedmen should have been accorded the largest number of representatives just after the dawn of freedom, when their general condition has always been described as extremely deplorable, that this number should have been gradually diminished with the spread of intelligence among them; and that finally they should have no representative during the last thirteen years, when their progress in education and material prosperity has been, at their fiftieth anniversary, declared to be "wonderful," certainly does not seem to be in accordance with what one intuitively would expect to be the natural order of things.

It is quite natural the present order of things should awaken and develop a feeling of protest on the part of the Freedmen, for they appreciate rights and privileges as well as other races and nations.

Their segregation, enforced on all alike in cities, public places and conveyances results also in many disappointing and humiliating experiences to those who are leaders among them.

The existing order is, however, an expression of local public sentiment and of the wisest statesmanship of those, who claim to be the best friends of the Freedman, because they live nearest to him and know better than others how to provide for his needs, including rights and privileges.

He enjoys the privileges of public protection to life, property and the pursuit of happiness, but to a considerable extent is denied the privilege of representation in making laws and exercising the power of government.

These historic facts relating to the gradual curtailment of the privilege of representation in legislation and government have been noted, not merely because they form an important part in a full statement of the negro problem, but as a prelude to the following facts, and suggestions to the Freedmen.


The history of the negro in America has been one of providential leading and apparently to enable him to work out his own destiny. From the time the Dutch slave ship in 1619 landed the first importation, consisting of 20 slaves, at Jamestown, Virginia, to the present time, every important event or change in his condition has come to him from others, who without aid or suggestion from him have been moved to act for him.

The experience of Joseph, in passing through the pit and the prison, on the way to his real mission, the experience of Israel in Egypt from the death of Joseph until the time of their deliverance at the Red Sea, and the experience of Nehemiah and Daniel, captives at Babylon, who were there providentially led and prepared for the most signal services of their lives, seem like historic parallels flashing from inspired Bible story, their comforting and prophetic light on the servile and dark experiences of the negro in America.

In all of these instances the persons were subject to the control of others, the way seemed dark, trying and utterly disappointing, and the opportunities, that prepared the way for important transitions, came unsought and in ways wholly unexpected. The things that proved of greatest importance in every instance were the intelligence, integrity, patience and piety of the individual.

The God-fearing integrity of Joseph was expressed when he resisted a great temptation by saying, "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?"

Israel in Egypt submissively and obediently undertook to make the full tale of brick when unsympathetic taskmasters withheld the usual and necessary amount of straw.

Nehemiah, a captive cup-bearer of a heathen prince, won his confidence and when honorably permitted to return and rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, nobly answered his idle opposers, "I am doing a great work I cannot come down to you."

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