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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 12, No. 4
December, 1934
WAPANUCKA ACADEMY, CHICKASAW NATION

BY MURIEL H. WRIGHT

Page 402

The picturesque location of Wapanucka Academy was always an inspiration to those connected with that early day school among the Chickasaws. Its site is on the north side of a high ridge on the upper course of Delaware Creek, about five miles northwest of the town of Wapanucka, in Johnston County. Abandoned and falling in ruins, the limestone building, now gray with age, is like a forgotten manor house in the midst of a vast park, uncared for, yet beautiful in its natural setting. One is impressed with a feeling here is romance that hints at Old England when, standing at a deep set, open casement of this gray walled ruin, he views for the first time the sweeping panorama of the countryside before him. Immediately below at the foot of the ridge to the north are woods marking the course of Delaware Creek hidden in deep shadows. Just beyond to the west, hills sparsely covered with grass round up, snowy with limestone and dotted here and there with clumps of greenery. To the northeast, rolling prairies extend to the hazy blue of hills far away in the distance. Leaving the building for a vantage point on top of the ridge, one looks down to the west into a lovely valley, a continuation of what is now Wells Valley bordered by high wooded hills. It was these scenes that inspired the following letter by Cicero A. Skeen, Superintendent of Wapanucka Institute, dated May 27, 1890. The letter was printed in his former home newspaper, in Randolph County, North Carolina, and is presented for the permanent record of the State of Oklahoma, in connection with this historical sketch of one of the first boarding schools among the Chickasaws in the Indian Territory:1


1Cicero A. Skeen, son of J. C. Skeen, was born in Randolph County, North Carolina, in 1853. He graduated from Edinburgh Academy, South Carolina, where his uncle, R. H. Skeen, served as principal. Cicero Skeen went west to Texas in 1872. The following year he went to Atoka and some months later moved to Pontotoc County, Chickasaw Nation, where he taught school for several years,, including terms at Yellow Springs and Sandy Creek. During this time he married Cleopatra, daughter of J. B. Hearrell. (J. B. Hearrell and his second wife, Martha Walker Hearrell, were the parents of Mrs. Alice Hearrell Murray, wife of Governor Wm. H. Murray, of Oklahoma). After the death of his first wife, Mr. Skeen married Matilda Folsom in December, 1877, daughter of Colonel Sampson Folsom of the 1st Choctaw Regiment, Confederate Army. Soon after his second marriage, Mr. Skeen located a large farm and ranch on the headwaters of Blue River. As an, intermarried Indian citizen, he was elected representative to the Chickasaw Legislature in 1886, on the William Byrd ticket. A year later he was elected to the Chickasaw Senate. Resigning his position, he was appointed superintendent of Wapanucka Institute, under a five year contract from the Legislature, in 1888. He was awarded the contract for a second time in 1897. In 1907, he was elected to the First State Legislature of Oklahoma, as representative from Johnston County. From about 1901 to the time of his death in 1920, Mr. Skeen made his home at the town of Wapanucka, taking an active interest in public school affairs and in politics of that community.

Just this last spring, Mrs. Skeen died at the home-place in Wapanucka, at the age of nearly seventy-eight. She was born at Doaksville, Choctaw Nation on April 19, 1856, and died on April 29, 1934. She was of Chickasaw descent through her mother, Catherine Colbert, daughter of Colonel Pitman Colbert. Through her father, Colonel Sampson Folsom, she was of Choctaw descent. On account of his wife's connections, Colonel Folsom identified himself with affairs of the Chickasaw Nation before the War, serving as Chickasaw delegate to Washington during the making of the Treaty of 1855. Mrs. Skeen was a member of the Methodist Church, and of the orders of the Eastern Star and the Rebeccas for many years. Having lived for more than sixty years in the vicinity of Wapanucka, she was known as one of its oldest pioneer women, always independent in spirit yet a devoted Christian.

photo

Page 403

"Wapanucka Institute is located in the Chickasaw Nation, I. T. The Institute is an edifice that will stand for ages as a monument, pointing young minds to a higher standard of civilization. The building site is on a slope which elevates it high above the surrounding country eastward, while to the west, mountain peaks tower high above its dome. The view eastward, or to the front of the Institute, is picturesque with prairies, the broad acres of which widen and multiply far beyond the gaze of man's eye, like unto a vast wheat field, save the prairies' robe of green is interwoven with buttercups, daisies, violets, deer bells, Texas plumes, etc., while the air is fragrant with their odor. The Institute is of a capacity to accommodate one hundred and fifty pupils within its walls,—board, bed and teach.

"We now turn our eyes westward and notwithstanding we have gazed upon, such sights for seventeen long years, we this morning stand awe stricken, amazed, and heartless to think we have so long gazed upon these sights and have never been so deeply impressed with nature's works before, with mountain peaks towering heavenward, like index fingers pointing upward to nature's God, while sighing breezes are gathering from every bough thanks that are being wafted beyond the mountain's peak, caught into aerial heights and wafted heavenward; that again nature's God has painted the woodland green, and surrounding prairies are smiling in their newly woven 'frocks.' The aspect

Page 404

is sublime. Chasms which seemingly are dark, when explored are fragrant with spring's perfection. Down, down the deep, deep abyss come the waters of the Delaware rushing by, murmuring songs of praise to the Great Eternal, while the weeping willow seems to raise its grief-stricken head, and for the time, at least, enjoys its woe-begone fate. When once we have ascended the mountain heights, planted our feet upon a piece of masonry designed by nature's God, and gaze upon the grand structure for but one moment, we are forced to exclaim, how powerful is Omnipotence.

"We see to the westward plains which stretch far beyond the horizon, dotted with herds of lowing cattle. Hark! What beats upon my ear? A herd of wild horses dart from some secluded spot, closely followed by ranchmen who are swinging lassos in circles about their heads, but in vain, with flowing manes and bounding hoofs, the horses are soon but a distant speck.

"No fiends are here, unless the belated traveler may allow his fancy to shape these mountain spires, which are decorated with tresses of moss like hair which had silvered with age, into living ghosts; or to see the red deer breaking forth from their coverts and gazing in wild amazement from the crags; or to hear the breaking forth of the wild and ferocious howl of a wolf, startling the traveler from his better judgment.

"This masterpiece of nature's masonry is not metallic but shines with metallic luster; countless myriads of sparkling gems wrought into symmetry form the foundation of our earth.

"We pause, we reflect, we wonder how man after gazing on the beauties of nature for one moment can doubt the existence of an Eternal God. Elevated upon this lofty height, man feels his littleness and is forced to inquire who made these spires, and on whose arm do they swing? Thanks to heaven we feel that we have been bettered spiritually by leaving our monotonous routine of daily labor, where we see only the works of art and hear only the boasts, of human craft. There is an image of Jehovah's greatness impressed upon the outward face of nature which for a time will awaken and sustain the most solitary re-

Page 405

flections, breathing as it were a new life into the soul of the wayfarer. Man bids farewell to self, forgetting a thousand minor cares and towering above his voluptuous condition when he looks upon nature's world in these grander features and secluded scenes, irresistibly speaks in tender tones to his inner sense that God is omnipotent."

The academy was first officially called Wapanucka Female Manual Labour School; later it was called Wapanucka Institute, having been named after the creek upon which it was located. Wapanucka is from Wapanachki meaning "Eastern Land People," the name by which the Delaware Indians were known among other Algonquian tribes when they lived on the Atlantic coast.2 Sometime before the Civil War a band of Delawares erected their log cabin homes on the hills along the upper course of the creek, hence its name. Before the War and for years afterward, early day settlers in the region called it Wapanucka Creek, though the name Delaware gained in favor and is shown on maps today.

The academy was also known locally during its first years as Allen's Academy, after James S. Allen who superintended the planting of the institution in 1851-2. Its location was about twelve miles northwest of Boggy Depot, near the original route of the Texas Road or Leavenworth Trail, the eastern boundary of the Chickasaw District according to the terms of the Choctaw-Chickasaw Treaty of 1837. By the second treaty between the Chickasaws and the Choctaws, negotiated at Doaksville in 1854, this boundary was changed and defined as beginning at the mouth of Island Bayou on Red River, following the bayou to the source of its eastern prong, thence extending in a straight line due north to the Canadian River.3 Under the terms of the Treaty of 1855, providing for the separation of the Chickasaws from the Choctaws, this new line became the final boundary between the two nations. The second article of the latter treaty included the following statement.4







Page 406

"Provided, however, if the line running due north, from the eastern source of Island Bayou, to the main Canadian, shall not include Allen's or Wapanucka Academy within the Chickasaw District, then an offset shall be made from said line, so as to leave said Academy two miles. within the Chickasaw District, north, west and south from the lines of boundary."

When the line was surveyed, it was found that Allen's Academy was about two miles west of the Choctaw-Chickasaw boundary, making the offset unnecessary. About the time that the Dawes Commission began its work in Indian Territory, in the early 1890's, white settlers impressed with the imposing limestone school building on Delaware Creek called it Rock Academy, the name sometimes heard locally even today.

Wapanucka Academy was established by the terms of a contract between William Medill, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, in behalf of the Chickasaws, and Walter Lowrie on the part of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church United States (Old School), of which Mr. Lowrie was secretary. Planting the institution—erection of buildings, clearing grounds, and breaking land for cultivation, etc.,—was forwarded under the superintendence of James S. Allen, in 1851-2. A site for the main building was selected a few yards west of a fine spring. Stone was quarried for building purposes some yards further west down the ridge. Construction work was in charge of Charles Sparrow, a skilled stone and brick mason from England, who also erected other school buildings in the Indian Territory before the War. In October, 1851, the Chickasaw Council appropriated $6,000 out of tribal funds to complete the stone building at Wapanucka, as provided in the contract between Commissioner Medill and Mr. Lowrie.5



Page 407

October, 1852, is memorable in recounting the history of the academy. On the first Wednesday of the month, the school was opened with Reverend Hamilton Ballentine as superintendent, assisted by his wife and two young ladies as teachers and workers. Forty Chickasaw girls were soon in attendance as boarding pupils.6

Early in October, Mr. Lowrie personally visited the school, having come west on an inspection tour of the various mission interests of the Presbyterian Board in the Indian Territory. If the month of May aroused such sentiments as those described by Cicero Skeen writing from Wapanucka nearly forty years later, it must have been October, the most gorgeous month of the year in this section, that fired anew the enthusiasm, of Walter Lowrie already zealous in the beginnings of the project among the Chickasaws. No more beautiful nor lively scene could have been found anywhere than that at Wapanucka in the fall of 1852. There were the brilliant, autumn colorings of the foliage on the limestone hills and in the woods along the clear flowing Delaware. There were the rolling prairies stretching away into the hazy blue of the distance. There were the gleaming whiteness of the new, stone building and the fresh, bracing crispness of the fall air. In the midst of such a setting, were the happy faces of the Chickasaw girls, joyous in the opening of their school, and the beaming countenances of the teachers undertaking the work they loved. Under the spell of all this and after several conversations with Colonel Pitman Colbert,7





Page 408

also deeply interested in providing the best educational advantages for his people, Mr. Lowrie, in his exuberance at the moment, ordered the additional construction of two wings, one at each end of the main building, thus increasing its capacity to provide for one hundred pupils.

On October 19th, 1852, the Chickasaw Council appropriated the sum of $2,500 to be paid out of tribal funds annually for the maintenance of one hundred girls at Wapanucka.8 From the wording of the resolution appropriating this money, it is evident there was some misunderstanding on the part of the Council at the time, as to the amount to be allowed the Mission Board for maintenance of pupils. In drawing up the terms of their agreement for the Department at Washington and the Presbyterian Mission Board, Commissioner Medill and Mr. Lowrie had figured $75.00 as the necessary appropriation out of Chickasaw funds to care for each pupil in regular attendance at the academy during the school year, in addition to an amount donated by the Board. The Chickasaws would furnish three-fourths and the Board one-fourth of the maintenance fund, according to the usual contracts between tribal authorities and the various church boards operating schools in the nations of the Indian Territory. By agreement between Superintendent Ballentine and the local school trustees of the Chickasaws, forty pupils were to be enrolled and maintained temporarily during the first term at Wapanucka. A school year was divided into four terms of ten weeks each, usually beginning in October and ending in July. But Mr. Lowrie had gone ahead on his own accord, or at least without a definite written contract, and ordered additions to the stone building at Wapanucka, thus not only increasing the cost for its completion by several thousand dollars but also making larger appropriations necessary for the maintenance of one hundred pupils.



Page 409

Superintendent Ballentine's report for the third term gives an interesting account of life at Wapanueka Academy during the first school year. Such work as hauling, cutting wood, tending stock, washing, and the heavier duties about the kitchen was done by negro servants hired from the Chickasaw slave owners living in the vicinity. This report was as follows:

"Wapanuhka May 4th 1853"

"Walter Lowrie Esqr

     Dear Sir

"This day terminates the third quarter of our School year:—and, again it becomes my duty to furnish you with a few Statements as to the present condition of the School.—the progress we have made and the changes to which we have been subjected during the quarter. There are at present fifty girls here:—of this number thirteen have entered School Since my last quarterly report:—two of the girls left in the early part of the(term)—quarter—both with the consent of all concerned. The health of the children is generally good—excepting one girl who is not yet restored, fully from a violent attack of fever. This girl has been out of School five weeks, and has been under the influence of medicine, and required careful attention during the whole of this time. Another girl Similarly affected, was four weeks out of School, but is now perfectly restored There are a few other girls of delicate constitution, who are often kept out of School for a few days at a time; but in no case have their friends desired to take them home when Sick.—No girl has been home, or absent from the place during the quarter, and but a Single request to take home a child—has been made by a parent. The girls are Still divided into two Schools of twenty five each, and taught by Miss H. M. Greene and Miss F. R. Thomspon. Sewing-Knitting &c taught by Miss Maria Shallabarger, and Miss Mary Jane Burns, and dining hall, and kitchen work is done under the care of the Superintendent's wife Six hours are daily appropriated to Study—Saturdays—excepted, when part of the day is required for preparation for the Sabbath. Three hours are devoted to Sewing &c and the remainder of the day consumed in the dining hall, and Kitchen not forgetting to do, as every body does—give Some time for play.

Page 410

"The following view will exhibit the Several points at which the Children stand in the line of Study.

Miss Greene's School—

Reading

1st. Class. 2nd Reader & New Testament.

Elsie Gaines         Read &—Spell by heart
Emily Colbert also answer questions
Elizabeth Watkins on the lesson.—Spell
Malinda Tan-tubby         in McGuffey's S. Book.

2nd Class. 2nd Redder & New Testament.

Ellen Tan-tubby        
Mary Walton
Nancy McCoy Spell in the book and
Adelaide Johnson         by heart—Read, and
Delilah Pitchlynn Answer questions. Also
Elizabeth McLoughlin Spell from McGuffeys S. Book.

3rd Class. 1st Reader & New Testament.

Spell—in, and out of         Charlotte Lewis
the book, and read— Salina Edwards
—Also use McGs. S. Book.         Maria

4 " Class—1st Reader & New Testament

Susan Turnbull         Read, and Spell—in
Elzara Hote & out of the reader.
Lizzie Edwards
Sarah Watkins

5 " Class. 1st Reader & New Testament.

Malinda Bynum         Just beginning these Books.
Manerva McCoy

6 " Class. Primer

Rhoda
Sarah Jane McNight
Sallie
Epsie

Page 411

7 " Class. Primers

Elmina Parker
Philena

Arithmetic Primary

Elsie Gaines         Have made but little
Emily Colbert progress.
Elizabeth Watkins
Malinda Tan-tubby

Geography—Smith's—Small—

1st Class—

Elsie Gaines
Emily Colbert
Elizabeth Watkins
Malinda Tan-tubby.

2nd Class—

Ellen Tan-tubby         Just beginning
Mary Walton
Nancy McCoy
Adelaide Johnson
Delilah Pitchlynn
Elizabeth McLoughlin
Writing
Elizabeth Watkins
Elsie Gaines
Emily Colbert
Ellen Tan-tubby
Elizabeth McLoughlin
Adelaide Johnson
Delilah Pitchlynn
Malinda Tan-tubby
Mary Walton
Nancy McCoy

Page 412

MISS THOMPSON'S SCHOOL

1st Class 2nd Reader & New Testament

Amy Parker         Read—Spell by heart.
Chincie Patterson         and translate into Chickasaw.--
Have committed to memory the whole of the Introductory
catechism—and Matt. 5-7 chapters.

2nd Class—Lovell's 1st Reader & New Testament.

Maria Lansing         Read—Spell—in and out
of the book—and translate some.
Sarah Ann Have committed half the Intro.
Jane Allan Catechism
Betsey Wight Both these classes also
Louisa Edwards Spell from McGuf Book.

3rd Class—McG.s 1st Reader & New Testament

Amanda Pierson         Read Spell in and out of
the books and translate into the
native tongue
Fanny Q. Boyd
Delphe Blunt
Rachel Blunt
Rachel Norton
Caroline Hohliche

4th Class—McGufey's 1st Reader

Elsie Brown         Spell the words in the book—
read and then Spell out of the book
Malvina Cravat
Judie Parker

5th Class Primer

Caroline Pettigrove         Have made but little progress
Lina
Elizabeth Dales
Susan Leader

6th Class. Primer.

Martha Lewis
Mary Ann Alexander

Page 413

Rebecca Seeley
Rebecca Thompson
Susanna

Arithmetic Primary

Amy Parker Slow progress
Chincie Patterson         The whole amount accomplished
by these two girls is
very commendable indeed.

Writing

Amy Parker         All mere beginners
Chincie Patterson
Maria. Lansing
Sarah Ann
Jane Allan
Betsey Wight
Louisa Edwards
Caroline Hohliche
Rachel Norton
Rachel Blunt
Delphe Blunt
Fanny Q. Boyd

"Nothing has occurred during the quarter calling for further remark. The children are upon the whole easily managed, and have made such progress as is calculated to encourage those acquainted with the training of Indian children.

"Respectfully Submitted
H. Balentine
Superintendent"

In July, 1855, Reverend Ballentine resigned his position at Wapanucka on account of ill health in his family, Reverend Charles H. Wilson, of South Carolina, being appointed to succeed him. In the report for the school dated June 8, 1859, Superintendent Wilson listed the names of the staff, their duties, and their native state, as J. C. McCarter, farmer, South Carolina; Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. McCarter, boarding department,

Page 414

South Carolina; Theodore Jones, gardner, Kentucky; Mrs. Jones, Miss Eddy, Miss Barber, teachers, New York; Miss Stanilaus, teacher, Canada; Miss Mathers and Miss Lee, teachers, Pennsylvania. Salaries for married men were $200 in cash per year, board for self and family, and $25 additional for each child.

Salaries for unmarried teachers were $100 in cash per year and board. Seven negro servants were hired "to wagon, to cut wood, to wash, and to cook" at the usual prices. There were a good stock of cattle, a team, farm implements, and several outbuildings in good repair. All the produce raised from two good gardens, an acre each, and from a field of ten acres was used by the school.

According to the same report, pupils were divided into three schools: the primary with an enrollment of forty-seven girls, the middle with an enrollment of thirty-five, and the third with an enrollment of twenty-five. Texts studied included the Bible, Child's Catechism, the Assembly's Catechism, McGuffey's readers and spellers, Smith's First Book in Geography, Smith's Inductive Oral Arithmetic, Smith's Quarto Geography, Tower's Grammar, and Ray's Arithmetic. Statements as to the general plan of operating the schools and the deportment of the girls were as follows:9

"Each of these schools is in charge of a separate lady. But apart from this division of the school, and having no reference to it, there is another division into families. In each family there is a proportionate number of large and small girls. Each family is, also, under the charge of a separate lady. Here they are taught domestic work, sewing, washing, ironing, and housekeeping generally. I give the report of one of the ladies engaged in this department of labor:

" 'The girls have been so obedient and kind, have manifested so great a desire to keep the rules of the school and improve, that I cannot hand in my report without a few words on their general deportment. In sewing they have been very industrious, and some of them excel in the use of the needle. Several of the smaller ones can, and have made any article of clothing neatly.



Page 415

In housekeeping they have made great improvement in tidiness and order. The number of articles made, altered, and mended, show their industry. They have appeared during the whole term contented and happy.

'On the Sabbath their conduct has been particularly good, making that day the most pleasant of all.

'There has been much labor and much accomplished, but their readiness to learn, their obedience, their desire to keep themselves neat, their rooms in order, and their respectful kind manner, have lightened the work much, making the term pass off rapidly.

'Their uninterrupted health has been a source of great thankfulness. Whilst in temporal things they have done well, we must rejoice that in spiritual things God has not been unmindfull of them. Some have already united with the church, and others are asking an interest in the prayers of God's people'."

In the meantime, since the opening of the Academy in 1852, a difference of opinion had arisen between the Mission Board and the Chickasaw Council and school trustees over two matters in regard to finances. First, Mr. Lowrie on the part of the Board held that the Chickasaws should pay the annual sum of $75.00 each for one hundred pupils whether that number were in attendance or not. Second, he contended that tribal appropriation should also be made for the extra expense, amounting to several thousand dollars, incurred in erecting the two wings added to the stone building in the fall of 1852. The Council held that the Chickasaws were only obligated to pay $75.00 for each pupil in actual attendance, according to the terms of the original contract. It also refused to pay the whole extra expense for the additions to the building, ordered by Mr. Lowrie on his own accord, $6,000 having been appropriated out of tribal funds to complete the building in 1851, according to the wording of the resolution in October of that year. On October 5, 1854, the Council repealed its resolution of October 19, 1852, appropriating only $2,500 annually for the maintenance of one hundred pupils, and made new provisions allowing the full amount of $75.00 for

Page 416

each pupil in actual attendance at Wapanucka.10 Matters stood thus from year to year, with Mr. Lowrie as secretary of the Board pressing his views before the Indian Department at Washington. In 1857, he addressed the following letter to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, interesting not only for his resume of the financial affairs of Wapanucka Academy, but also for his description of the building at the time of his visit in 1852.

"Mission House

New York Jan. 1st 1857"

"Geo. W. Manypenny Esq.

   Commissioner of Indian Affairs

     Sir,

"It is on record in the Office of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, that a contract was entered into, between Col. Medill one of your predecessors, and the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, for a female Boarding School for the Chickasaw Indians. This School went into operation at the commencement of the fourth quarter of 1852, and has continued in operation to the present time. Some difficulties however have arisen between the Board and the Chickasaw Trustees, and Council, which unless adjusted, must terminate our connection with that Institution. Hence the Board have directed that these difficulties be laid before you, in the hope that by your good offices, this female Seminary, so rich in blessings, and so rich in promise to the Chickasaw Nation may be continued.

"1st When the original contract was made with Mr. Medill, he insisted that payment should only be made for the number of children actually in the school, although the contract gave the selection of the scholars to Trustees appointed by the Council. When they failed to fill up the number mentioned in the contract, the Board had no power even to fill vacancies. We objected strongly to this provision, alledging that as we were bound to have on hand a full supply of teachers and assistants on the ground, and a full supply of food, clothing, medicine, school



Page 417

books &c. for the whole number, if only one half or two thirds of the whole number were paid for, it would be impossible to sustain the school. Mr. Medill however, insisted on the experiment being tried, stating at the same time, that if any loss were incurred, or difficulty should arise in carrying it out, the Department would always be disposed to do full justice in the premises. On this assurance the Board yielded. But by the treaty of 1852 with the Chickasaws, their treaty funds were placed at their own disposal, and besides the assurance was only verbal, and as might have been foreseen amounts to nothing.

"Our experience in other boarding schools, as well as in this, has convinced us, that we cannot conduct these expensive Institutions with such a principle, in the contract. Hence in the late contracts with the Department, for schools for the Iowas, Sacs, Omahas, Ottoes and Kickapoos, a specific sum for a definite number of scholars is agreed to be paid, whether the number named in the contract be in the school or not.

"The resolution of the Chickasaw Council provides payment only for those who may be in the school, and though frequently requested, have hitherto declined to change this provision. It is however of such vital importance, in the judgment of the Board, that they have decided, if this provision be insisted on, to give up the school, and withdraw these Missionaries and teachers from all further care of the Institution. The Board have no objections to its being known that they will adopt this course with great reluctance. They took charge of the building, and the care of this Institution, with the single desire to do the Chickasaw people good. They have spared no pains to secure the services of a Superintendent, and provide teachers, eminently qualified to confer the rich blessings of education on the female youth of the Chickasaw Nation. We are pledged to receive, provide for, and instruct 100 girls, but if the trustees fail to place that number in the school, we shall claim the allowance of $75. each scholar, for the 100 we have agreed to receive. This provision to commence on the 1st of January 1856.

"2nd The other difference of opinion between the Board and the Council, relates to the expense of erecting the buildings. Here let me state that the building is a permanent and expensive struc-

Page 418

ture. It was the expressed wish of a number of the leading men of the Nation, that it should be an attractive and commodious building. It is of stone, 125 feet in length, 34 feet wide, three stories high. The front is 12 inch range work, hammer dressed. Two wings at the ends, 18 by 20 feet, two, stories high, and a kitchen two stories high, with a large cellar under the dining room. As an evidence of the care which the Agent of the Board took in its erection, every lintel for the doors and windows is of the Osage orange, a wood almost as solid and permanent as the stone. The eave of the roof in front is made of solid pitch pine timber, one foot square, so as to correspond with the course of stone in front. The roof is framed in the strongest and best manner, and the shingles most carefully put on. Such a building, put up, so far from supplies, with the cost of mechanics and laborers, could not be otherwise than expensive. It was however most distinctly our understanding at the time, that the Council were prepared to furnish the funds for such a building. When I visited the Nation in 1852, in an interview with Col. [Pitman] Colbert, he assured me this was their intention. They were pleased, he said with the building and indeed were justly proud of it. At this time two buildings of hewed logs had been erected for out-houses, But to give the building finish, and afford more rooms for the school, I directed when on the ground, that the stone wings should be built, which added much to the whole cost. Now while we do not claim that Col. Colbert could pledge the Council for anything, every one who knew him, will admit that he was a competent witness of the intentions of his people. Had he lived it was his intention also, to bring forward propositions for a grist and Saw Mills, and an orchard.

"Our claim for additional allowance for the building, made to the Council, was submitted by them to the school Trustees. The Trustees submitted a proposition that the Board should pay 1/6 of the expense, and they would pay the balance. To this the Board agreed and the balance found due from the Trustees was $6437.76. But the Trustees objected to paying this sum unless $1700. were deducted. This item of $1700. was the claim of the Board made to the Department, for the full allowance for 100 scholars, for the first year, of the school. It was referred by the Department to the Chickasaw Council with the suggestion

Page 419

that the claim would seem to be an equitable one, inasmuch as the Board had the teachers and supplies for 100 scholars; but it was rejected by the Council. The settlement Commenced afterwards was placed on the basis that the Board should pay the 1/6 of the whole expense. It was therefore unjust to reject an item which the Council had refused to pay. If the Council had paid that item, then it ought to be rejected But they refused to allow it, and the Trustees contended that it must be deducted from the balance remaining, after the 1/6 paid by the Board was taken out of the whole expense. Being anxious to close our accounts with the Council we agreed to waive this item also, and deduct the $1700 from the balance found due $6437.76, leaving the sum of $4737.76, and Mr. Wilson was instructed to close the claim, on the payment of this latter sum. But another meeting of the Council, and another meeting of the Trustees have taken place, and the whole business is still further postponed.

"Now in reference to this balance, reduced as it has been, we submit the following final proposal. That the Council appropriate the sum of $4737.76 one half of it to be used to finish the inside of the building, and to planting an orchard, under the direction of the Agent of the government, and the Superintendent of the school. The other half of the said sum to be for the use of the Board.

"The proposal for the full payment annually for the 100 scholars is definite and final. If it be rejected we cannot in justice to our other schools, sustain this school on an uncertain allowance, and will therefore withdraw from it.

"The claim for the $4737.76 to be expended in the manner now proposed, we submit to the justice of the Chickasaw Council. We should be rather unwilling to give up a flourishing School, for that amount of money, however justly it may be due to us. It is due to candor however to state, that even this item may lead to a separation at no distant day. A good deal of work is yet wanting to make the inside of the building perfectly comfortable, and the Board must decline expending any more of their own funds in finishing a building which does not belong to them, but to the Chickasaw Nation. Nor are they willing to continue

Page 420

the School, unless the Superintendent, the teachers, and the Scholars be made perfectly comfortable.

"In view of these existing difficulties between the Board and the Council, I have to ask respectfully such interposition of the Department, by recommendation advice, or otherwise as to your judgment may appear proper.

"I am Sir respectfully,

Your Obt. Servant
Walter Lowrie
Sec.ty"

Under provisions of the treaty between the United States and the Chickasaws in 1852, the Council had control of such tribal funds as were necessary to establish schools, mills, and blacksmith shops in their country, and such other amounts necessary for education in general. The political situation in the United States that finally resulted in the war between the States had its effect upon affairs among the Chickasaws. There were the changes in the personnel of the Indian Department at Washington. There was the growing division between the North and the South in regard to negro slavery. While there was no mention of the subject in the correspondence concerning Wapanucka Academy, available in writing this historical sketch, yet northern church boards in general were opposed to the hiring of negro slaves by those in charge of the mission schools in the Indian Territory. In view of these conditions, and the controversy with the Presbyterian Mission Board over finances at Wapanucka, the Chickasaw school trustees finally advocated that the Council take over the school and plan for its management under private contract, as an experiment for taking charge of all the schools in their nation. In a letter to the Mission Board, written from Wapanucka on March 8, 1858, Superintendent Charles H. Wilson made the following remarks:

"I have not the slightest reason to believe that the parents are dissatisfied— With them, our schools seems to be in higher favor than ever. Our number is now full, and one or two over. Our scholars seem better contented, have run away less, and

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make better progress in study than ever before. Yet if these men [school trustees] say the school must be given up, the people would blindly follow them. Nay more, they have the power to keep from use our claims, and the people will never understand the true merits of the case. Now I would say at once 'Let them try the experiment, and if they succeed, well— if not, then we may come back with a better appreciation on their part of the value of our help.'

* * * * * * * * *

"According to the terms of our contract, the Chickasaws could not lay claims to any property which is here, except the buildings and improvements. But I know from what they have told me of the so-called dishonesty of some other Boards, that they consider everything as theirs, stock, utensils, provisions left over, furniture and all. It may be that you may see proper to give up a portion of this to them, or you may order it all sold. If you should decide to give up the school at the end of this term, and intend to claim any thing for the property here, it might be well to obtain the written opinion of the Commissioner, Attorney General, or some one in authority, as to their rights and ours in the premises."

The suggestions for changing the management of Wapanucka Institute did not materialize, the school remaining in charge of the Mission Board with a full quota of pupils until the summer of 1860. In December, 1859, Superintendent Wilson resigned, Reverend Ballentine returning to take his position. In a statement of its account, written June 6, 1860, the Board had expended on the building $10,555.25 more than it had received from the Chickasaws. From 1852 to the close of 1857, it had laid out for expenses $9,440 more than the appropriations by the Council, besides an additional $5,000 since the latter date. These amounts totaled about $25,000 from the Board, laid out on the building and expenses in less than ten years.11

In a letter dated July 6, 1860, Superintendent Ballentine informed Colonel Douglas D. H. Cooper, U. S. Agent for the Choctaws and Chickasaws, of the Mission Board's final decision to dis-



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continue the school. The furniture, horses, wagons, cattle, and the goods and provisions recently sent out by the Board, were to be sold at once. Superintendent Ballentine further wrote,

"I saw Col. Kemp and Capt Alexander this week, and suggested to them the importance of purchasing the furniture in case they think of carrying on the school themselves.

"I also stated to them that I would give up the buildings to them as early as possible, if such be their wish. This will, however, be subject to your direction as I suppose— Mean time I will take every care of the buildings in my power."

Records as to the disposition of the moveable property at this point are unavailable. However, the academy was closed for eight years. During the War, the stone building was used as a Confederate hospital, some of the rooms at one time being barricaded for a guard house or prison.

In 1868, schools in the Chickasaw Nation were in operation under the private contract plan advocated by the trustees. The report of the U. S. Agent for the Choctaws and Chickasaws, of that year, included the following statement:

"The schools among these Indians, which have for a number of years been under their own management, were almost entirely destroyed by the war, are once more in a propserous condition, and are as largely attended as the generality of public schools in the most enlightened States."

On September 24, 1870, John F. Turnbull, chairman of the school committee, of the Chickasaw Nation, filed a report with the Council, listing the names of the schools in operation in the nation and the names of the teachers and other workers in charge, together with salaries and wages paid each. The statement of Wapanucka Academy as a part of this report in the native language was as follows (English translation by the writer in parentheses):12



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Wapanahki Holisso Apisa

(Wapanucka Academy)

Miss Mary Chiffee, Holisso pisachi ———$1,446.60
(School teacher)
"   "   " , Holisso Apisa iti ulhti— 20.00
(fire wood for school house)
Harris Greenwood, Holisso pisa impvchi —1,124.33
  (boarding pupils)
Lafayette Mosely, "  "  " —61.95
Mrs. E. Colbert, "  "  " —84.00
Booker James, "  "  " —770.00
Shvki Duke, "  "  " —81.20
Shummil Underwood, "  "  " —294.40
Booker James, Holisso Apisa Atoni —25.00
(Watchman for school house)
—————
$3,907.48

Miss. Mary Chiffee was a full-blood Chickasaw, who had attended school in the nation before the War and finished her education in the States. The other names listed were those of Chickasaws living in the vicinity of Wapanucka.13 They had charge of or furnished supplies to the boarding department. While there is no record at hand in regard to the matter, the writer has been informed in conversation with old timers that both boys and girls attended Wapanucka when the School was opened after the War.



Page 424

By an act of the Chickasaw Legislature, approved September 18, 1872 by Cyrus Harris, Governor, twenty-five hundred dollars was appropriated to repair the academies in the different counties of the nation. On September 21, another act of the same Legislature, signed by Governor Harris, established a "First Class Boarding School at Wahpanucka." Sections one to five of this act were as follows:14

"Sec. 1st. Be it enacted by the Legislature of the Chickasaw Nation, That there shall be established a first class Boarding School for Female Chickasaw Children at the Wahpanucka Institute, to be composed of the best scholars after the Bloomfield Seminary shall have received its number of scholars. Forty-five Females between the ages of Fourteen and eight years old shall be selected for this School, the first Session and to be increased according to funds to carry on the school, students to remain not longer than four years at this School then to be transferred to the High School there to complete a thorough english course of studies.

"Sec. 2d. Be it further enacted &c, That the Scholars shall be selected as follows: 8 from Ponotoc, 8 from Panola County, 6 from Pickens County, 7 from Tishomingo County, 8 from the southern portion of the Choctaw Nation taking Boggy Depot for the dividing line and running due east as near as possible, and 8 from the northern portion of the Choctaw Nation.

"Sec. 3rd. Be it further enacted, That the party or parties agreeing to and contracting to carry on this school shall furnish Tuition, good Board, Bedding, washing, mending of clothes, medi-



photo

Page 425

cine and medical attention, also to furnish all, the modern apparatus, Books and Stationery for successfully carrying on a first class Boarding School.

"Sec. 4th. Be it further enacted &e., That the contracting parties for carrying on this school shall be paid at the rate of not exceeding one Hundred and seventy five dollars per Scholar for their services., for a scholastic year of ten months, the said amount to be paid semiannually, the first payment to be made at the expiration of the first five months service, and the second payment to be made at the close of each fiscal year."

Contracts for operating the school, under the terms of the above act, were for five year periods. During the 'Seventies and 'Eighties, Wapanucka Institute continued in session with an average of forty-five pupils.15 By an Act of the Chickasaw Legislature, approved by Governor Wm. L. Byrd, on September 6th, 1890, Wapanucka Academy was changed to a boys school, to be run on the same plan as the old Chickasaw Manual Labor School. The girls in attendance at Wapanucka were transferred to Collins Institute, near Stonewall, in Pontotoc County. At the same time the boys at Collins were moved to their new quarters at Wapanucka.16

In 1901, Wapanucka Academy was closed, the stone building having been condemned as unsafe. Two years later, it was repaired at a cost of $4,000 and the school reopened with an assignment of sixty boys, Dr. J. L. Thomas, superintendent and contractor. The report of the school for 1907 gave an enrollment of forty-three, an average attendance of 24, and annual cost for operation $5,231.30. The academy was finally closed, the stone





Page 426

building and the land upon which it was located being sold at public auction by the Indian Office, July 11, 1911, to Robert Galbreath, of Tulsa.

While Wapanucka Academy accomplished much in the education of the youth of the Chickasaw Nation, as a national school, after 1868, yet its record as mission institute before the War will go down in history for its high ideals and beneficent spirit. Its first superintendent, Reverend Hamilton Ballentine, wrote the following statement in July, 1852, prophetic of the influence of Wapanucka:

"The moral and religious training of our children is conducted with reference to their usefulness; and their happiness, in time, and in eternity: and the means employed to secure the ends in view is the Bible; from which we instruct them in the relative duties of life, and the duties that they owe to God their Maker. Our Success in this branch of our labors,— if any,— will be revealed in the future history of our pupils; and peradventure may be read on the pages of eternity."

In 1903, George Beck, School Supervisor for the Chickasaw Nation, made the following statement in his report for Wapanucka Academy

"The mission schools, of which these academies are the direct successors, left a very strong impression for good upon those who attended them, and it is not uncommon to hear men of middle age and past eulogize them in high terms, on account of the personal character and qualifications of those in charge of them, and of the superior instruction and training which they afforded."

Today, other than the gray walled ruins, there is only one visible reminder of those who consecrated their lives in the service at Wapanucka Academy before the War. About four hundred yards southwest of the building, on the opposite side of a slight draw and near the top of the ridge, is a group of unmarked

photo

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graves. At one of these, is a broken marble tombstone bearing the inscription,

In memory
of
MARY C. GREENLEAF
born Newburyport, Mass
January 3, 1800
died June 26, 1857.

For only one year was she permitted
to labour as a missionary among the
Chickasaws but her labour was not
in vain.

Time passed and Mary Greenleaf was forgotten. During the years since the abandonment of the academy, visitors to that historic spot have come away wondering about the words engraved on the marble tombstone on the lonely hillside—"For only one year was she permitted to labour among the Chickasaws—."17

Like many another large, abandoned ruin in a wooded hill country filled with caves and deep chasms, all of which stir the imagination, many stories were told about the old academy. There were stories of buried treasure, of the gold and silver loot hidden somewhere in the region by a gang of outlaws who had their rendezvous in those hills many years ago. Finally, people came for miles seeking the treasure, dug into the graves, especially the one with the marble marker. Disappointed in not finding the object of their search, they half heartedly replaced the earth and buried away to dig again for riches elsewhere. Legends began floating around in the vicinity of Wapanucka about the lonely missionary buried at the old academy. Wanting to learn the real history of Mary Greenleaf, the writer, after correspondence with persons at Newburyport, Massachusetts, and other places in New England, in 1928, learned the story of her life.



Page 428

Mary Coombs, Greenleaf was the daughter of Ebenezer and Jane Coombs Greenleaf. Her mother was the daughter of Captain William Coombs, an American sailor during the Revolution and a prominent citizen of Newburyport, Massachusetts. Her father, Ebenezer Greenleaf, was the son of a soldier of the Revolution and a member of the family whose name distinguished in American history.18 The name is thought to be of French origin (Huguenot), from the name Feuillevert. There was Simon Greenleaf, born in Newburyport in 1783, the great American


18The following notes in regard to Mary C. Greenleaf were secured through the efforts of Mrs. M. F. Manville, a member of the Ada Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. They form a part of Mr. J. H. Snyder's compilation of material in regard to Wapanucka Academy. Since these notes are of especial interest concerning the genealogy of Mary C. Greenleaf they are added here.

"Mary C. Greenleaf, for information concerning whom M. F. M. has written, was the daughter of Ebenezer and Jane Coombs Greenleaf of Newburyport, whose residence, said to have been built in 1799, is the house now numbered 87 High Street in that city. According to the Greenleaf Genealogy she was born January 31 (not January 3) 1800; but the only record in the city archives is that of her baptism May 12, 1800 at the Old South (Presbyterian) Church, where the remains of the evangelist George Whitefield repose. Her brother, William Coombs Greenleaf, was a Presbyterian clergyman who died in Springfield, Illinois, July 22, 1851. Furthermore, the writer has been told (by one who has read it) of a printed tract, commemorating the Christian virtues of Jane Coombs Greenleaf, Mary Greenleaf's mother. It would seem, therefore, that for her chosen work, Mary Greenleaf could scarcely have had a fitting heredity or helpful environment.

That she was the daughter of a soldier of the Revolution, however, seems unlikely from the following facts. Ebenezer Greenleaf, Junior, her father, was born October 4, 1763. The only record of war service by an Ebenezer Greenleaf is that of a private in Capt. John Bayley's Company, Col. Michael Jackson's Regiment, who enlisted April 1, 1777 and was discharged May 26, 1777, at a time when Ebenezer Greenleaf, Junior, was not yet fourteen years of age. This record would appear to apply more probably to Ebenezer Greenleaf, Senior, her grandfather, and though there is at least one other available of that name, the Greenleaf Genealogy lends support by assigning this service to the above, as well as service in the previous war.

On her mother's side, Mary Greenleaf was most certainly a granddaughter of a sailor of the Revolution, as her mother, Jane Coombs, was the daughter of Capt. William Coombs, distinguished citizen of Newburyport until his death in 1814. In June 1777, Capt. Coombs rendered an account against the Board of War for three months wage allowance from Dec. 4, 1776—Mar. 4, 1777 and for the value of the schooner Boston which had been taken. Later, he was Masters Mate on the ship Vengeance, Capt. Thomas Thomas, Commander, which sailed from Newburyport in the summer of 1779 on the ill-fated Penobscot Expedition that resulted in the loss of the ship and the return of those on board by foot through the wilderness.

In conclusion, it is plain that the remains of Mary Coombs Greenleaf are entitled to all marks of consideration and respect which should come to a faithful Christian worker and to a granddaughter of Massachusetts veterans of the war of the Revolution and of the earlier Colonial Wars."

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jurist, whose Treatise on the Law of Evidence is an authoritative work for students of law. New England's noted poet bore the name—John Greenleaf Whittier; both he and Daniel Webster could trace their ancestry, to a common ancestor.

The old records at Newburyport show that Mary Greenleaf was baptised in the Presbyterian Church there, on May 12, 1800. So it wasp the spirit of the Church that fostered her life from the beginning. Educational advantages for girls were limited in the early part of the 19th Century, but Mary Greenleaf drew depths of knowledge from thorough study of the Bible and other books like that written by Watts and Doddridge. By her inheritance she was gifted as a writer. Through her work as a student, she was said to have "acquired a natural turn of thought and happy mode of expression." Early in the 1850's, she wrote the Memoirs of Mary Greenleaf, dedicated to her mother, which were published and widely read in religious circles of that day.

From girlhood, her one ambition was to enter the foreign mission service. Duty at home interfered with her purpose for thirty-four years, for her mother suffered total blindness while Mary was still a young woman. Besides caring for her mother and keeping the home, she taught a primary school, devoted herself to church work, taught a Sunday School class, and befriended the poor in trouble and sickness. Her pastor wrote the following estimate of her personality:

"She was a lone woman, untitled, without riches, and there was naught else in her circumstances or even her character, to obtain for her wide influence, an influence above others her equals or superiors in most respects, save her religion, the grace of God that was within her. * * * She was absolutely unafraid of bodily harm by day or night. She was strong, simple, buoyant, fearless and serene. * * * In her tongue was the law of Christian kindness— I would not eulogize her beyond measure— I know that sometimes her manner, her directness, tinged even her kindness with a shadow. Yet in such instances, it was manifest that no malice or uncharitableness moved her tongue— those who felt the temporary grievance, upon reflection paid respect to the intention that could be easily and cordially forgiven. "

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After the death of her mother in 1855, Miss Greenleaf was free to undertake the work she had long contemplated. Yet there was another obstacle in the way. The Presbyterian Mission Board usually selected its workers from young applicants. Strong in faith, she made the trip to New York to interview the authorities of the Board, and to her joy, received an appointment. In 1856, she came to the Indian Territory and was stationed at Wapanucka Academy. Happy in her work and charmed by the beautiful location of the school, she wrote back to her friends in the East, describing the flowers and birds, the hills and prairies of the surrounding country. She told about the Indian children for whom she had a deep affection and, especially, about the little Chickasaw girl whom she named Jane Greenleaf after her mother.

Early in the summer of 1857, an epidemic of dysentery broke out in the school. Experienced as a nurse, Miss Greenleaf devoted herself to caring for the sick children. Despite her devoted attention, some of them died. At last, she herself was stricken with the disease and died.

When word of her death and burial at Wapanucka reached Newburyport, a memorial service was held in the Old South Presbyterian Church of the city, attended by the friends who had known and loved Mary Greenleaf. The memorial sermon was delivered by the pastor, Reverend A. G. Vermilye, the concluding words of which were in the form of a personal tribute:

"But it was the love of Christ constrained thee; and therefore we will not deplore thee. Thy memorial is made; thou art resting from thy labours; thou art with Christ forever. And for thy body, we are content with its grave— there beside the limestone dwelling, the scene of its latest toils— there by the prairies' verge, with Indian girls to strew flowers upon it, and to water it with their tears— there where the martins have their home and the robin sings— there where the golden coreopsis blooms and passion flowers grow, fit emblem of devotion like them. There shall it lie undisturbed— where thy companions and pupils lam it— to 'sleep the years away' till the Savior shall come and gather it and fashion it 'like unto His glorious body.' We leave thy honored dust in hope— while for ourselves we will

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ponder and remember thy Christian life and tranquil death—we will speak often in memorial of thee—and pray that all thy prayers, thy life and death, may be sanctified; that we may learn to follow thy faith to the land of vision and of bliss."

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