Missions among the Sac and Fox
MISSIONS OF THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS AMONG THE INDIAN TRIBES OF THE SAC AND FOX AGENCY
by Hobert D. Ragland
From The Chronicles of Oklahoma (notes omitted), 1955. For Oak Grove and Pleasant Ridge area, see the section called "The Iowa Missions."
Prior to the election of General U. S. Grant as president of the United States of America in 1868, considerable unrest was found among the western tribes of Indians. This unrest was caused by the removal of the tribes to reservations, the building of the Pacific Railroad, and the pressure from white gold-seekers and traders who were pushing westward. It was well recognized by the leaders in Indian affairs and even among military men that the use of military force alone in dealing with the Indian problem was not altogether successful. This led to the consideration of other means of dealing with the wards of the nation, especially the work of the Society of Friends (Quakers).
Since the time of William Penn, this religious body had been recognized for its ability to live peaceably with the Indians. the time of the election of President Grant efforts had been made frequently by various yearly meetings of Friends, both liberal and orthodox, to influence the National Government by memorials and other ways to safeguard more closely the material and moral welfare of the Indians. In January, 1868, four western yearly meetings drew up a memorial requesting that men of "unquestioned integrity and purity of character" be selected as officers and agents.
A year later, the Friends of Iowa, and representatives from the Baltimore, New York, New England, Ohio, Indiana, and Western yearly meetings (orthodox), held a conference at Baltimore to consider the problem. At this meeting, a memorial of great "concern" was drawn up and presented to the president-elect on January 25, 1869. The next day another memorial was presented to President Grant by the Friends of Philadelphia through a "committee for sufferings." This interest on the part of Friends prompted the President, on February 15, to direct the aide, Eli Samuel Parker, to write a letter to the various bodies of Friends, requesting these organizations to send a list of men suitable for the position of Indian agents. Also, the President expressed his support of their interest in the "improvement, education, and Christianization of the Indians." In his first message to Congress, the President stated that he had given the care of the wards of the nation into the hands of religious bodies.
The Liberal Friends were given charge of the Northern Superintendency, embracing the different tribes of Nebraska. The [p170] orthodox Friends were to have charge of the Central Superintendency, embracing the tribes of Kansas, and the Indian Territory. Enoch Hoag, a pioneer in the Indian concerns, was appointed as superintendent of the Central Superintendency, which included Western Indian Territory, and served effectively for a number of years.
The Friends, through their various yearly meetings, went for- ward with establishing organizations to cope with the responsibility placed upon them. In April, 1869, the Indian Aid Association was organized at Philadelphia and the Associated Executive Committee of Friends on Indian Affairs was organized at Damascus, Pennsylvania, two months later. In addition, women Friends formed Indian aid associations at Germantown and Philadelphia. These organizations assumed most of the responsibility for work of the Society of Friends in the Indian agencies, schools, and missions among the various tribes during the administration of President Grant.
The Sac and Fox Agency
True to his promise, the President appointed Quaker agents for the different agencies of the Northern and Central Superintendencies. On August 17, 1869, Thomas Miller of Ohio was appointed agent of the Sac and Fox tribe that had been assigned a new reservation in the original Creek session of the Indian Territory. Agent Miller accompanied the tribe to their new reservation in the winter of 1869 and was instrumental in helping select the site for their agency about five miles south of what is now Stroud, Oklahoma. This agency, at first, had charge of the Sac and Fox tribes and later extended over the Absentee Shawnee, Potawatomi, Mexican Kickapoo, and Iowa tribes.
The Sac and Fox Boarding School, often referred to as the "Mission School," was established on a site about one half of a mile northeast of the agency. This school was under the supervision of the Friends and United States Government but supported mostly by tribal funds. Most of the religious work of the Society of Friends was carried on with the Sac and Fox tribe at this school. It was among the other tribes of the agency, however, that most of the strictly mission work was done.
In addition to assisting the agents with religious instruction among the Indian tribes, the Friends appointed traveling missionaries to survey the mission territory, and there promote mission stations and churches. Soon after the Sac and Fox Agency was established,
Thomas H. Stanley made a visit to the Absentee Shawnees and laid plans for a school and mission among them. He selected a site on a hill about two miles south of what is now Shawnee, Oklahoma.
Joseph Newsom and his family, consisting of his wife Martha and children, Eldon, Ellsworth, M. Emma, and Lysias E. were immediately assigned to the field selected. The mission family assumed control of the work on May 1, 1872 and upon arriving in the field began the erection of a building. Lumber was transported from the Sac and Fox agency and a two-room frame structure was erected. The building was 14 feet by 28 feet and divided into two rooms, one of which was used as a living quarters for the missionary and his family, the other as a class room. In August, Newsom made his report to the agent. Fifteen pupils had been enrolled for a period of fifty- three days, with an average attendance of twelve. Three of the pupils were of Cherokee parents and could speak some of the English language. These had been in school before. The rest of the pupils were of Shawnee parents and could speak no English and had never been in school.
Most of the instruction of this early school was religious in nature. In his first report, the missionary said:
We have established as a custom the reading and interpretation of a portion of the Bible every Sabbath evening, having begun with the first of Genesis, during which exercises many queries and answers are elicited and a growing interest manifested. The mutual exchange of ideas and the harmony which marks these meetings are confirmatory of the fact that all men without regard to race are brethren by creation and should be by adoption on the terms of our heavenly Father's will.
He went on to point out that it was difficult to maintain perfect attendance in the school since many of the pupils lived several miles away. The Agent was requested to consider plans for establishing a boarding school for these pupils.
On March 13, 1873, John H. Pickering was appointed agent of the Sac and Fox agency. He was very much interested in the missionary and educational work among the tribes of the agency. In his 1873 report, the Agent requested an appropriation of $7,000 be made for building better quarters for housing the pupils at the Shawnee school. For some reason the Government did not come to his rescue. He was able, however, to report two years later that a new house for a boarding school had been built by the aid of civilization funds secured by Superintendent Hoag. He had also been able to furnish the school with funds secured by Dr. Nicholson from the Indiana Yearly Meeting.
That same year the government assumed control of the school but used Friends as teachers and employees for a time. Pending the change of the character of the school, the day school was being taught by Miss Eva Haskett, of Iowa, the Newsom family having gone back to their former home in Indiana. This temporary school was taught by Miss Haskett in a log cabin belonging to one of the United States licensed traders. It was located on a hill about 300 feet east of the old home of Joseph Elkins, which was situated just west of the present mission cemetery.
After the government had taken over the school and the new building had been erected, the Friends were relieved of a difficult task. They were able to turn attention to the strict missionary phase of the work. In 1877, a traveling missionary by the name of Elkana
Beard came to the mission field. He built a two-story log house for his family about a quarter of a mile south of the school. Here, he made his headquarters for the missionary effort among the Indians of the area. Regular religious services were held in the school building and attended by the pupils, employees of the school, and a few Indians. Beard and his wife continued the mission work until the latter part of 1879 when they were succeeded by Franklin Elliott and his family.
Elliott was very popular with the pupils and employees of the school. The agent said of him: "At Shawnee the Society of Friends have a gentleman of advanced ideas, who is working with a will in his efforts as a civilizer. Without being intrusive, he appears to be one among the few that understands that the schools of Indian agencies are under the immediate control and supervision of the agents."
In 1884, services were still held in the school house and in a grove near the missionary's home. A colored Baptist minister held services for Elliott when the latter was absent. Besides preaching among the Shawnees at Shawneetown, the missionary also held religious services twice a month up to April of that year at Wagoza.
The next year, Elliott built a frame church building, which with a few changes, still stands a few yards south of the present Government Indian Sanatorium. The original cost of the building was $958.00. The lumber was hauled from Independence and Coffeyville, Kansas. The big iron bell which still hangs in the belfry of the church was brought from Independence. The building was dedicated on September 27, 1885. At this time the membership of the church was fifty, consisting of whites, blacks, and Indians. Work had been very difficult during the year because of so many of the Indians moving to their allotments. The church, however, had faith in the future of this mission. The next year another home was built for the mission family at a cost of $800.00.
On April 28, 1884, the Shawneetown Monthly Meeting had been established. The organization took place in the home of Franklin Elliott since the church building had not been erected. This Monthly Meeting joined with the Iowa Monthly Meeting on February 10, 1900 in forming the Shawnee Quarterly Meeting with headquarters at Shawneetown. The headquarters was the center of the Central District and later became the seat of the General Superintendent of all the Friends' mission work in the Indian and Oklahoma Territories. It was under the care of the New York Meeting, at first, and later transferred to the care of the Associated Cornmittee.
In 1885, the Elliotts were succeeded by Dr. Charles Kirk and his wife, Rachel. They came to Shawneetown from the Wyandotte Government School in the Quapaw Agency region, in what is now northeastern Oklahoma. He had been in the mission work of his society since 1878. During Dr. Kirk's missionary effort, the membership of the church reached sixty-three, and remained about this number during the eight years of his pastorate. In September, 1893, the missionary passed from this life and was buried in the Mission Cemetery west of the mission. His wife continued the work, as superintendent, until the next year. She then assumed the position as teacher and missionary in different parts of the mission field in the Central District until her death in January, 1918. She, also, is buried in the Mission Cemetery. To her many close friends, the missionary was affectionately known as "Auntie Kirk. "
In October, 1894, George N. Hartley and wife, L.Ella Hartley, came to the mission field as Superintendent of the Friends Mission at Shawneetown, and carried on the work until 1904. The mission work at this time was at a low point. The Indians had taken their allotments and whites had filled the country. Children of the tribes were attending district schools and the government boarding schools. In spite of this, however, the Mission Church continued to serve as best it could. During the administration of Mr. Hartley, the church building was used as a class-room for pupils of the boarding school which had recently burned. It served this purpose until new quarters were built for the school.
In 1904, William P. Haworth and his wife were assigned to the mission field at Shawneetown, and remained until the year 1912 when they were succeeded by Clark Brown and his wife who served eight years. They were succeeded by Lawrence E. Lindley and his wife. By this time, the mission was forced to work with only a few settlers in the community. The Indian Boarding School had been abolished and the buildings converted into a hospital. In 1924, the mission church building was abandoned and the property was later sold to the Pottawatomie County Historical Society. Title to the property was transferred in 1938.
Mission Among the big Jim Band of Absentee Shawnees
During the year 1876, the Big Jim Band of the Absentee Shawnees left their reservation and moved up on Deep Fork near what is now Wellston, Oklahoma, where they established themselves and built homes. Ten years later, they were moved back to their reservation and placed on their allotments in a section of territory between what is now Tecumseh and Norman. This band was to some extent non-progressive and largely adverse to the Christian religion. In spite of this, however, the Friends established a work among them.
In 1897, the Maine Branch of the Women's National Indian Association established a mission under the leadership of Philander and Caroline Blackledge on a site about twelve miles west and four miles south of Tecumseh. Buildings were erected, an orchard planted, and several acres of land put under cultivation. In 1898 or 1899 the mission property was transferred to the Associated Executive Committee of Friends who continued to work under the leadership of John F. Mardock. This missionary was very popular among the people of the community and exerted much influence among members of the tribe.
In 1929, the Reverend Eber Hobson and his wife were in charge of the mission work. Night evangelistic meetings, group recreation, singing, Bible talks, and prayer were part of the regular mission pro- gram. In his report to the Associated Executive Committee, he ex- pressed hope that other missionaries would visit the mission during the berry picking season as this was an occasion to reach the Indians who were employed to harvest the crop. It was estimated that the berry crop would bring about $500.00. The pickers were paid on a cash basis or on shares and many of them camped at the mission during the season. The missionary reported that during the last season he had charge of picking and marketing, while his wife cared for the girls who stayed in the mission home and fed the Indians who had come from a distance. There were four girls who stayed through the season and helped with the work. Most of the other pickers came by families and camped out. Sometimes there were as many as seventeen people who ate with the missionary's family. The Reverend Hobson went on to point out that for the year 1929, the basement of the meeting-house would be used instead of the dwelling for caring for the people whereby they could prepare their own meals.
The Mission not only served in a religious capacity but also as a community center. In 1929, the Indian agent from the Shawnee agency held monthly farmers’ meetings and a farmers’ club was in operation attended by some thirty or thirty-five Indians. It was an aim of the mission to have the farm offer a good example of every industry in which the Indians could be interested, such as terracing, dairy cows, chickens) garden, and feed crops.
In spite of the interest of the Friends, the Big Jim Band continued to resist the missionary appeal. The church continued, how- ever, to work among the white people of the settlement until its abandonment a few years ago. The property was sold to a local farmer for $2,000, and the dwelling is used as a home by the owner. The church building is being used as a hay barn.
The Iowa Missions
In 1883, the Iowa Indians were assigned a reservation, by executive order, west of the Sac and Fox Reservation. This land included all the territory between the Cimarron and Deep Fork rivers and as far west as the Indian Meridian. The tribe at this time numbered about eighty-eight persons who lived in a village just north of what is now Fallis, Oklahoma.
In August, 1897, a missionary was sent among them and built a mission house, soon after arriving, at a cost of about $400.00. This building was 32 feet by 12 feet with a log addition 12 feet by 14 feet, one-story high. This mission home was located about three or four hundred yards east of the Iowa village. It was used as a board- ing house for a few Iowa children as well as a dwelling for the missionary. In October, the next year a frame church building was erected on a site west of the village at a cost of $700.00.
During the year 1890, a school was opened at the Iowa Mission with eighteen pupils enrolled and an average attendance of fifty per- cent. The next year the reservation was opened to white people and most of the Indians left the village and went to their allotments. Yet during the year sixteen pupils were enrolled for a period of eight months. John F. Mardock, who was stationed as missionary there at the time, saw that the only way to maintain a school was by boarding the pupils in the missionary's home. Eighteen students were therefore boarded by the missionary during a period of nine months in 1892.
Mardock was succeeded by the Reverend Charles Pearson that year. Pearson was at a loss to know what steps to take to maintain the mission and school. The editor of The Chandler News wrote: "Rev. Pearson, formerly of Ohio, has charge of the Home Mission lately vacated by Rev. Mardock. As the Indians are all away, the missionary expressed himself at a loss to know what policy to follow. Only one Indian remains where once the Iowa Village stood and a corn field occupies most of the site where the Indians had their bark houses and tepees."
The Reverend Pearson, however, boarded twenty-one pupils in 1893 for a period of five months. He saw that such a task was impossible to continue and the mission school closed that year.
The day school at the Iowa Village was taught at different times by Mary Sherman, Elizabeth Test, Rachel Kirk, and Lina B. Lunt. Charles W. Frazier was in charge of the mission station for a time. The school was supported by the Philadelphia Indian Aid Association.
A Friends church was organized at the mission in 1889, with three or four members. Four years later there were ninety-six members. Most of the additions were from the white people who lived in the vicinity. On June 1, 1893, the Iowa Monthly Meeting was organized consisting of Iowa, Oak Grove, and Kickapoo churches. Valley Queen Church was added later. Soon after the Indians moved to their allotments the church at the mission was abandoned and the work was moved north to the center of their community.
Even after the Iowas accepted their allotments, they leased much of the land out to the white settlers and lived off their annuities and lease money. Agent Lee Patrick reported in 1898 that they spent most of their time "visiting the Otoe Indians and drinking liquor." Such a state of affairs had caused the Friends to continue their missionary effort among them.
About 1894, under the leadership of George Hartley, who was Territorial Superintendent of the Friends work in the Indian and Oklahoma territories, a new mission was established about five miles southeast of Perkins, Oklahoma. A store building was purchased, moved to the mission site, and converted into a mission and dwelling for the missionary and his family. Among the early missionaries of the mission were Charles Pearson, John F. Mardock, Lewis McFarland, John M. Ratcliff and his wife, and Charles and Martha Wooten.
The mission was doing a good work until representatives of a sectarian denomination came into the community teaching that the Indians could not be Christians until they had received water baptism and had taken part in other ordinances. Nearly the whole band of Iowas were alienated from the influence of the Friends. The mission was forced to close in 1915. Two years later, however, at the re- quest of considerable number of Indians, including Chief Dave Tohee, who always remained loyal to the Friends, the Iowa Mission was reopened by the veteran workers, John F. and Mary Mardock and Lina B. Lunt. Mardock and his wife remained at the mission until it closed in the 1920's. The mission had been supported by the Friends of the Baltimore Monthly Meeting.
Though the work of the Friends closed among the Iowas, the Church did not cease to be effective. It continued its work with the Indian and white peoples of the neighborhoods. Through the efforts of the Iowa Monthly Meeting, Columbia Church was established about three miles south of Agra and the Union Church was established about six miles north of Chandler. Recently a group of Friends purchased the old Episcopal church building in Chandler and it now houses a very active church. These three churches are still active and doing much work in the communities. They are, at the present, a part of the Shawnee Quarterly Meeting of Friends.
The Kickapoo Mission
In the spring of 1874, the first group of Mexican Kickapoos were removed from Old Mexico to what is now Oklahoma. Others came later and by September 10, 1875 there were 426 men, women and children of this tribe living on lands west of the Sac and Fox Reservation. These mostly lived in a village northeast of present McLoud. These Indians were given rations and a station was built for the storage of the supplies. This station was located about five miles west of what is now Shawnee and is known in the records as "The Kickapoo Station."
As early as 1875 plans had been discussed for establishing a school among these Kickapoos. Agent Pickering, in September, reported that a school building was in process of being erected and arrangements had been made for establishing a manual labor school. This building was a frame structure and located about one-fourth of a mile northeast of the station. After the house was completed and funds made available for maintaining the school, not a single Kickapoo child could be persuaded to enroll. The building, therefore, was used for other purposes, especially that of a residence for some of the employees of the Kickapoo Station. W. J. P. De Lesdernier, superin- tendent of the station, lived in it with his family in the early l880’s.
During the early part of 1883, the station was abandoned and the employees, with the exception of a blacksmith and farmer, moved. Agent Carter had recommended to Commissioner Price that the school building be used for missionary and school purposes. Likewise, Commissioner Price in March, 1882, had written Special Agent Townsend that Dr. Jas. E. Rhodes of Philadelphia desired to send a missionary and his wife to the old station and establish a day school. The next year John Clinton and wife were sent to the field. Their task was a difficult one, and very little was accomplished. Some of the leading Kickapoos declared that if they took up the white man's learning and religion, the Great Spirit would kill them. In 1884 the famous missionary Jeremiah Hubbard visited the station and held services for Clinton, but did not give any favorable report of the work there.
The next year Miss Elizabeth Test came to the Shawnee Mission as a teacher. She had what the Quakers called a "religious concern" for the Indians. In 1866, she made her first effort to establish missionary work among the Kickapoos. She used the little school build- ing as a headquarters for her work. It also served as her dwelling for a time. Miss Test visited in the homes of the Indians and waited on their sick. Pa-pa-mea, mother of the chief, was a patient of hers. In spite of Miss Test's interest, however, she failed to accomplish much in the first years of her work. The missionary contracted sore eyes while in the homes of the Indians and was forced to return to the Shawnee Mission. Agent Neal reported that "She coaxed, petted, and fed them for six months without securing a single pupil and left in disgust minus a gold watch."
Soon after leaving the Kickapoos, Miss Test went to the Iowa Mission and taught a day school. In the meantime, John Mardock the missionary at Iowa Village was given permission to travel among the Kickapoos and was able to persuade them to allow Miss Test to return and start a day school. The school was opened in 1890 in a tent. There were nine pupils enrolled with an attendance of ninety-one percent. The term of instruction lasted one and one-half months.
Again, because of exposure to inclement weather and insects, she returned to the Shawnee Mission taking with her five Kickapoo girls. She was accompanied by Netta Haworth another missionary. Dr. Kirk had a little frame building erected just south of the Shawnee Mission to serve as their home.
In 1892, John Mardock left the Iowa Mission and again worked among the Kickapoos. He persuaded Chief Ah-que-mah-ku-the to donate land to Miss Test for a location of a permanent school. Hearing of this, "Teacher Test," as she was now commonly called, re- turned to the Kickapoo Reservation and using $1,000 of her own savings, had a three-room frame house built for a school and living quarters two miles north of present McLoud, Oklahoma. With the assistance of John Mardock and his wife, Lina B. Lunt, and Nette Haworth, she opened a boarding school for the Kickapoo children and a meeting place for adults. Soon after this a small church building was erected near the living quarters. This building burned, and a new building was erected which still stands on the original
Very early the Quakers adopted the idea of a Field Matron among some of the Plains tribes. This idea was adopted about 1890 by the Government. The function of the field matron was to go into the homes of the members of the tribes and instruct the women and children in the arts of household economy as practiced by civilized people. So far as known, Miss Test was the first and only field matron among the Kickapoos. She began her services in this capacity on April 15, 1892. By August of that year, she had visited nearly every Kickapoo home, and a number of them many times, making in all, some 180 visits. She had also received at the mission over 800 visits from the Kickapoos.
In 1895, the agent reported that the field matron had kept a small school among the Kickapoos, and without expense to the government, and much good was being accomplished with the tribe. The same year Rachel Kirk, widow of the late Dr. Charles Kirk, came to the mission and was a faithful worker until her death on April 29, 1915. Following the death of Mrs. Kirk, Miss Test and Lina B. Lunt retired from the mission. Lina B. Lunt went to the Iowa Mission as a teacher. Miss Test, because of poor health, went to Wichita, Kansas and remained there until her death which occurred in 1920. After two years at the Iowa Mission, Lina B. Lunt also went to Wichita where she was a faithful attendant of Teacher Test until the latter's death.
In 1898 Elizabeth Test and her helpers adopted several girls and cared for others in their home. Two of the adopted daughters died of tuberculosis, but one of them, Myra Esther Frye, was to repay them for all their efforts. Given exceptional and careful training the Indian girl was prepared to go out carrying the story of her people to the rest of the world. She first traveled in lyceum work as a singer and later started Lawansa Tepee, a club center for Indians in Los Angeles, California.
The Friends Mission continued to operate among the Kickapoos after their reservation was opened in 1895, though under a different task. By 1925, it had become a community center among the peoples of the community, both Indian and white. Sunday school was held at the Mission each Sunday, attended by a small group of Kickapoos. The women came on Tuesdays to quilt. Indian families or individuals called frequently at the mission. Farm demonstrations were held each month at the Mission attended by about 35 to 50 Indians. There was an Indian women's vegetable garden club and much help was given on the raising of chickens. Even though most of the Kickapoos still lived in the native type house or wickiup, the Government was gradually replacing these with bungalow style houses, Education was often defeated by ridicule from the older Indians, or evaded by trips to Old Mexico. Peyote worship was practiced by about half of the tribe.
At the present time Arthur and Westine Shufelt are the mis. sionaries stationed at the Friends Mission among the Kickapooa The present mission program includes Sunday school and worship services each Sunday morning. The young people are organized into a Christian Endeavor. A club work is organized among the women. Annually boxes of used clothing received from Quaker organizations are distributed among the Indians. Nine children from the McLoud area have attended the Goodland Indian School at Hugo, Oklahoma. Two boys were sent to Wilmington College, Ohio, through the efforts of the missionaries.
Other missionaries who have served the Kickapoo Mission were Charles and Martha Wooten; Phillip and Susie Meek Frazier (Indians) ; William and Marian Byerly, and Armond and Mary Saegar.