Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 16, No. 2
NOTES OF A MISSIONARY AMONG THE CHEROKEES
When the Cherokees removed from the present Pope County, Arkansas, to the Indian Territory in 1829, Dwight Mission was moved
also and located on Sallisaw Creek in the present Sequoyah County, Oklahoma. Two branches of the mission were removed, one
of them named "Forks of the Illinois," which later became Park Hill Mission. The other was located high up on Sallisaw Creek
near what was then called Flint but now Stilwell.
This mission, called Fairfield, was first directed by Dr. Marcus Palmer, missionary and physician of White Plains, New York,
who undertook to start a school there in 1830. Mr. Palmer proposed that he and his wife would board fifteen Indian children
for fifty cents each a week. But from a prevailing drought there was not sufficient water in the stream to run the little
mill required to make the meal essential to the support of the children expected to attend, and so opening of the school was
postponed. The Cherokee, Walter Webber, who lived near by was much interested in the education of the children and offered
to help. Conditions improved and by 1832 the school had thirty pupils. The following Christmas, as Palmer prepared a little
celebration for his Cherokee friends, Walter Webber sent word that he was going to have a Christmas party at his house and
had all the children and grown people in the neighborhood in attendance.
Palmer was aided by his wife and Jerusha Johnson, teacher, of Colchester, Conn., who arrived at Fairfield January 3, 1833.
In 1835 he had sixty pupils, but reported the sad news of the death of Walter Webber on April 4. Palmer's wife, Clarissa,
had been ill for two or three years and returned to her home at Granville, Ohio, where she died on September 8 of that same
year. A Baptist missionary named Samuel Aldridge who was in the country came to Fairfield to receive medical attention at
the hands of Dr. Palmer, and died there November 22, 1835. The next year on
February 7, Widower Palmer married his assistant, Jerusha Johnson. He served at Fairfield until about 1839 when he was succeeded
by Dr. Elizur Butler.
In December Mr. Butler reported to the Indian Agent, in reply to a circular issued by the department, that he had twenty-two
pupils, fourteen of whom were girls. The original buildings, he said, consisted of a double log cabin sixty feet by twenty-six,
a story and a half high with two stone chimneys, a school house twenty-two feet by twenty-six, with a stone chimney, and out-buildings,
all erected at the expense of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, except eight or nine hundred dollars
advanced by the Cherokee Nation. Since he arrived at the mission, he said, the dwelling house had been repaired with additions
and a meeting house and school room had been erected, both under one roof. The whole building was fifty by thirty feet in
size, having a movable partition. The labor of hewing, collecting materials, making shingles and putting them on this building
was nearly all done by Indian neighbors of the school, but the sawed lumber, nails, glass, and carpenter work was at the expense
of the mission board.
Reverend Mr. Butler went to the Cherokee Female Seminary about 1852 and the next year Rev. Edwin Telle was reported at Fairfield.
In 1855 the mission was served by Rev. Horace A. Wentz, missionary, Mr. and Mrs. James Orr, assistants, and Miss M. E. Denny,
Reverend Charles Cutler Torrey who had just graduated from the Theological Seminary at Andover, Mass., was married September
5, 1855. The young couple then left for Indian Territory and in the autumn took up their work and residence at Fairfield.
The following are extracts from the autobiography of Mr. Torrey kindly furnished by his daughter, Miss Emily R. Torrey, of
Providence, Rhode Island.
We rested at Fairfield until my horses' heels were healed. A——1 was much better after a little rest and took charge of the
school as there was no teacher. She stayed there all winter.
After a few days, I started out on horseback to ride the two hundred miles to the Choctaw Mission. Spending the first night
at Lee's Creek, I reached the Arkansas River early in the afternoon of the next day, but had to wait with several others until
nearly sundown for a scow to be bailed out to take us across. It was too late for me to go farther that night and I had a
very pleasant visit with Dr. Butler, my predecessor at Fairfield, who had a small church in Van Buren. From there, according
to his advice, I went to Lenox, Dr. Hobbes' Station, instead of keeping directly on to the more southern stations. I reached
there the day before Christmas. It was warm and sunny—so warm that I sat without a coat at an open window. But the next morning
it was fearfully cold, so that all the water in the house was frozen. It was one of the "Northers," as they are called, a
cold blast sweeping down from the Rocky Mountains. We had them in the Cherokee Country, but they are worse farther south.
Sheep are often killed by such sudden and violent cold. I preached the next day in the log church, a large building which
was impossible to heat. We had to make the services as short as possible for the few people who ventured out. Learning from
Dr. Hobbes the condition of things in the Mission with reference to the slavery question, I thought that I ought to hear from
the secretaries of the Board in Boston before deciding anything, so turned back toward the Cherokee Country.
On my way to Fairfield, I reached Lee's Creek about dinner time. My horse was tired, so Brother Ranney2 offered me his. I was late in starting, but he said that the horse was familiar with the road and would be sure to take me
to Palmer's Mill, only half a mile from the Mission. Mr. Copeland was at Lee's Creek, journeying toward Fairfield with a double
wagon and a Choctaw boy who was not well, and though I might have travelled with them, I chose to go on. I loaned them my
thick blanket and took Mr. Copeland's thin one, as they were to camp out, and I expected to
be in Fairfield before dark. However, I lost my way soon after I had started, and in turning back, met Mr. Copeland's wagon.
I remembered that I had no matches, and begged some from them, but they had only a few and gave me less than half a dozen.
It was the last day of 1855, and I had been so delayed that the light was soon gone. The night in that region falls at sunset
like the putting out of a candle, and I found myself suddenly in the dark. Soon after I found that my horse was out of the
road, I dismounted and tried to find it, but only wandered deeper into the woods. Feeling about, I found a fallen tree, and
tying my horse, I scraped together some dry stuff and lighted a fire. I took off my saddle and with that and the blanket fixed
a sleeping place where the tree trunk sheltered me from the wind, and after gathering fuel for the fire, I lay down for the
night. In the morning I awoke before light. There was a pale old moon rising behind the trees. I saddled and mounted my horse,
who whinnied as soon as I rose, and I supposed that being cold and hungry, he would start back toward Lee's Creek and so bring
me to the road. Without touching the reins, I told him to go on, but he refused to start off in any definite direction, and
I saw that he was as thoroughly lost as I was myself. I then started riding towards the moon, keeping it directly in front
of me, and watching for a trail. I soon came to a blazed path which lay across my course, and wishing to go north, I turned
to the left, followed the blazed trees, and came to the edge of a bluff. There I saw a cabin in the valley below. The negro
woman who lived there gave me feed for my horse and directed me to Fairfield, only about four miles away. I reached there
about nine o'clock and knocked at the door of the school. A small boy came to the door. I told him to tell the teacher3 I was there.
We remained at Fairfield during the winter, I doing missionary work and A—— teaching the school, awaiting further orders.
We had a very uncomfortable winter, boarding with Mr. and Mrs. Orr, lay missionaries, who gave us very poor food at uncertain
hours, and very poor lodgings in the upper half story of the log
house. I did not take possession as it was yet uncertain whether I should stay.
Early in March, 1856, I received orders from Mr. Treat in Boston to attend the meeting of the Presbytery and Mission at Bennington
Station among the Choctaws, a journey of three hundred miles and back. I found by this visit that the missionaries were about
to leave the American Board and put themselves under the protection of the Presbyterian Board. The Missionaries believed that
if they continued to depend on the American Board for their support, they would be ejected from the nation by the U. S. Agent
at the request of the Choctaw Council.4 I saw that if I remained with them I must leave the service of the American Board. This decided the question for me, and
resulted in my remaining with the Cherokees. You will see as my story proceeds that I had to meet the same prejudices in the
Before returning to Fairfield, I went to Wheelock Station to get our household goods which had been shipped by boat. The boat
conveying them up the Red River had been snagged and the goods badly injured. A whole box of books including my Greek and
Latin and Hebrew lexicons had been soaked to death. A's bureau which her brother made for her rested on end as the box lay
in the water and you may imagine the condition of its contents, soaked and mildewed. My letter written at the time says I
was obliged to split off the back of the bureau and to drive the drawers out with a hammer. Sheets, pillow cases, gowns, quilts,
handkerchiefs were soon piled around me in mournful array, mildewed, mouldy, spotted and spoiled. A clock was found with its
case soaked to pieces and the works spoiled. For four days I worked incessantly from dawn until dark to rescue what I could,
and though my friends protested that I ought to stop and rest, I
felt impelled to press on towards home. I thought that the change from working to riding would be a rest, and so it proved;
and I go on to say that leaving as I did, I escaped a long delay by passing certain streams just ahead of a flood which made
them impassable almost immediately after I had crossed. At the same time, by stopping over Sunday, there was time for other
floods ahead of me to run down.
I reached Dwight Station after a somewhat wearisome journey. There I found A—— whom I had left under the care of Mr. and Mrs.
Willey5 during my absence of almost six weeks. I was obliged to start off again at once to a Mission meeting at Lee's Creek, after
which we settled down at Fairfield for our permanent work. The condition was very discouraging. My predecessor had alienated
the people in various ways and they were unwilling to come to church or to the Mission premises. The feeling which prevailed
was curiously expressed in the name which they gave to little Mary when she came—"Te-is-tes-ki" which means, "Now I'll try."
We had a comfortable log house and out-buildings with about twelve acres of land and all the wood we chose to cut within easy
reach. The land was sown to corn and oats for our horses and cows. I had three horses, a herd of cows and young cattle that
supported themselves for the most part summer, and winter from the range. I also had many hogs who went through the year with
the help of a little corn, except six which we took up and fattened every fall, giving us twelve hams and shoulders and many
pounds of bacon. The hams and shoulders were pickled and the bacon was piled up in slabs with layers of salt, and when sufficiently
cured was hung up in the smoke house and smoked with hickory chips and corn cobs. It made very palatable meat, and kept surprisingly
well all summer. We needed it all, as we had to "use hospitality without grudging" and I used to sell or exchange some of
the bacon for venison which was very common. I milked nine cows, but had to keep the calves sucking all summer to entice the
cows home from the range. The milk obtained would be
considered a meager supply from two cows, at home. A——, with my help, made butter and cheese enough for our own use. Watermelons
grew there like pumpkins. I raised a quantity the first summer, and after church and Sunday-school invited the people to the
house and feasted them upon melons and pies, and in that way they were gradually won back to a proper interest in the church
and school. Indeed much of the time, both Sundays and other days, we had to keep open house, and sometimes in this way entertained
strangers who proved to be angels. We had a melodion and the people were fond of singing their Cherokee hymns, while A—— played
for them. They often came to the house for this purpose. We had two little Cherokee girls, Polly and Lizzie Glass, who lived
with us until we moved to Park Hill.
On August 20, 1856, Mary was born. Her mother was very sick, and the baby very feeble, and I had great reason to fear that
both would die. Dr. Butler of Van Buren had promised to come to us in case of need, but he was sick at the time and sent another
Van Buren doctor. He arrived after the child was born, stayed about an hour, got his breakfast, fed his horse, and charged
me forty dollars without doing a cent's worth of good to either mother or child. I then did what I should have done at first—sent
for Dr. Hitchcock,6 our missionary physician at Park Hill, who though both were in a critical condition, preserved their lives by his skill and
faithfulness. For a long time A—— was very weak, and Mary was a great sufferer. I walked the floor with her night after night
so that her mother could sleep. One of my letters written that year says that I had no unbroken night for six months. After
about a year Mary rallied and became a healthy child, and A—— grew better.
We were obliged to hire slaves from their owners, if we wished extra help, and always gave them some money for themselves
in addition to what we paid their masters. In July, 1856, we had in our employ a slave named David, a member of our church,
good man, and a good servant. He found that he was to be taken from us and hired out at another place to which he dreaded
to go. So he determined to run away. He asked for my horse to go to Park Hill, and without any suspicion of his real purpose,
I let him take the horse. He went to Park Hill, but instead of returning, struck out for Kansas—a foolish thing, for he was
sure to be called to account by the first white man or Indian he should meet. He was arrested and brought back and Mr. Worcester
and I were charged with instigating him to run away, and with furnishing him with money and a horse for the purpose. (My horse,
incidentally, was nearly ruined and died not long afterwards.) The affair stirred up a general excitement throughout the country.
It was taken up in the legislature, and certain parties tried to get an act to request my removal. I made an affidavit as
to the real facts in the case, showing that I knew nothing whatever of David's purpose. They tried to pass an act requiring
all missionaries to appear before the U. S. Agent and give an account of themselves, but this also failed. I had an opportunity
to do this later, of which I will tell you in the course of my story.
Our farming operations occupied a good deal of time. We used to keep the calves near the house and let the cows run at large
in the range through the day. Then they would come home to their calves every night and we would shut them up until morning.
We tied a calf to a stake and let his mother come to him and after he had got her to giving down her milk we drew the rest
into the pail. I rigged up a cheese press so that A—— could make small cheeses. We raised Irish and sweet potatoes and had
an abundance of fruit. Blackberries grew wild very large and sweet and not seedy as they often are here. They were as good
as the best varieties of cultivated berries.
All this farming was a hindrance to our missionary work, but it was important, for it stimulated the people who had been greatly
discouraged by their forced removal from the East. One man, when urged by a missionary to be more thrifty and industrious,
replied, "I worked hard once and got a good farm, and it was taken away from me, and I am not going to try again." The
people were naturally indolent and despised labor as is common in slave communities. A white man, a Methodist exhorter, found
me at work in the field one day, and exclaimed, "What! do you work?" "Of course I do when I choose to," I replied. "Well,"
said he, "you have a position and it will do for you, but it would never do for me." This I found to be true in the case of
a young Frenchman whom I hired to work for me. He was intelligent, had a good education, and was a very capable man, who had
been somehow stranded in that distant land. He worked for me very satisfactorily for several weeks and was paid good wages.
But he gave it up because even the Negroes despised him for having to work. All this was greatly changed by the war, both
in the Indian Territory and throughout the South.
A— took great pains with the children and with the women. Her women's prayer meeting created much interest. One woman walked
three miles to attend it, and was very constant; another who had a lifelong lameness walked a long way on crutches.
Once a month I went about twenty miles to Pea Vine, where was a school taught by Miss Esther Smith of Royalton, Vermont. She
knew Uncle Joseph in his ministry there and regarded him very highly. She was a very devoted Christian woman and had the confidence
of the Cherokees to an unusual degree. I went to the neighborhood of her school house and preached on Saturday evening, and
on Sunday forenoon I rode towards home with my interpreter about twelve miles to the house of John Agnew, a white man. There
I preached to his slaves and a number of others from the neighborhood. This was to me one of the most satisfactory of my meetings.
They all understood English and I could preach directly, and they listened eagerly and seemed to drink in the truth. Many
of them belonged to the Fairfield Church, and used to come eight miles to meeting as they had opportunity.
The spiritual results of my work at Fairfield seem very meager. There were few conversions. I made some improvements on the
place, but these were all swept away by the War. The two armies, Confederate and Union, swept back and forth over our missionary
fields, and from all I can learn, I think that our work there is largely effaced.
I had no difficulty in making my way about, for the Indians were apt in sign language. A deaf and dumb man called at Park
Hill while we were there and conversed with us by means of a small slate which he carried in his pocket. He told us that he
had no trouble in conversing with the Indians by signs for all needful purposes. I found it so in the Choctaw country. I was
advised to stop over night with a certain Choctaw family. Night came on before I reached the place and I stopped at a house
to inquire how much farther I had to go. They could neither talk nor understand English, so I simply gave the name of the
family, indicating that I wanted to reach them. In reply my informant placed his fingers in the shape of a roof and held up
one hand with the five fingers erect, indicataing that there were five houses more to pass, which I found to be true.
The Cherokee language is very difficult. A Cherokee child with equal opportunities to learn his own language or the English
will be almost sure to learn English first. I learned a few words of Choctaw much more quickly and readily than the same amount
of Cherokee. The languages of the different tribes are not at all alike, excepting the Choctaw and Chickasaw which resemble
each other very closely. To ask for water in Choctaw, one says, "Okasabuna." In Cherokee, "Amu aquituleha." But if you accent
the first syllable of amu, you will ask for salt.
The Indians at that time lived in very comfortable log cabins, many of them built of hewn logs with the interstices filled
with lime mortar. Some of them lived in frame houses. Their way of making their graves was by a little cabin about eight feet
long, three feet wide, and about three feet high. The better class used tombstones. They were inclined to imitate the missionaries
in their mode of living, and were superior in neatness and thrift to the white people along the border of Arkansas.
The war opened the old sores which had rankled more or less from the time of the forced removal of the people from their an-
cient home in the East. Mr. Ross and his party stood for the Union and Stand Watie and his party were for the South. The loyal
Indians called themselves "Pins" and were recognized by a common pin which they wore in a certain way in their dress. Those
who loved the missionaries followed Mr. Ross. My interpreter, Jesse Russel, or Gayasquani, wavered from one side to the other,
according to circumstances, and was finally taken to the woods and shot by some of the loyal Indians.
Mr. Ross remained in the country for a while but finally went north with his family and I think he never returned. He was
a very remarkable man and in many respects a savior of his people. His mother was a half Cherokee, and his father a Scotchman.
Like the present president of Mexico, he was elected and re-elected to the office of Principal Chief as long as he lived,
though there were many of the people who were bitterly opposed to him. Not long after the war began, his house was burned
with its contents—a very beautiful home, and for that country, finely furnished. His second wife was a refined and cultivated
lady—Miss Stapler from Philadelphia.
Fairfield was the birthplace of my two older children. Thinking that you would like to see where our family life began, and
where your father was born, I have drawn for you a plan of the house. It was one of the best in that region, built in the
usual style,—a double log cabin, and a space between, all under one roof. These houses were about twenty-five feet square
on the outside, built of hewn logs, the interstices filled with lime mortar so that there was a solid wall. The space between
was originally open, but afterwards was closed in and finished for a room. There was an ell running out to what was, when
we lived there, the road; but the house was evidently built to face the road on the other side. The ell was for kitchen, pantry,
etc. The well was on the back piazza of the ell. A little room about eight feet square was built out from the ell, and was
the private room of the teacher. There was a piazza in front and in back of the house, and a half-story was built above the
logs of the cabins, giving two unfinished chambers, in one of which we spent our first very uncom-
fortable winter. It was a fine plant for a successful mission, and all that was wanting was success. Our work there covered
about four years—1855 to 1859.
Let us turn now to Park Hill. This was the station of the veteran missionary, Samuel Worcester. He was with the Cherokees
in Georgia, their original home, and, with Dr. Butler of whom I have spoken, was imprisoned at hard labor for eighteen months
in the Penitentiary, because they refused to obey the unjust and unconstitutional laws of Georgia, enacted for the purpose
of driving the Cherokees from their home.
When I first visited Dr. Worcester at Park Hill, he seemed desirous of knowing whether I were familiar with the dead languages.
He asked me to write a sentence in Greek, which I did quite speedily and legibly, for it so happened that for some reason
I had recently written considerable Greek text. He was evidently pleased, and I have always thought that he was thinking of
who should be his succcessor. Both the other missionaries were college men, but not very scholarly, They had both been several
years in the work, and had had no occasion, like Mr. Worcester, to keep up their studies. Mr. Worcester took me to the printing
office and bindery and showed me the publications of the Mission press. They were all in 24to, a form that could be neither
convenient nor permanent if gathered and bound together. The different portions of Scripture were bound separately. (You have
seen my copy of the Gospel of John.) I asked him why he did not send them to the Bible House to be reprinted in a more convenient
and permanent form. He replied that they had no type. "They will cast a font of type if you ask them to," I said. He had supposed
the printing would be impossible unless under the superintendence of someone who knew Cherokee, but I told him I had no doubt
that was unnecessary. He seemed somewhat incredulous, but wrote to the secretaries. As a result, the Bible Society cast a
font of Cherokee type and the New Testament was carried through the press. Thus forty years of hard and costly labor was rescued
from destruction, which but for the Bible Society would have been wholly lost.
In 1859 Dr. Worcester's health began to fail, and he sent for me to come and stay with him and take up the work at Park Hill.
Leaving my family at Fairfield, I spent most of my time at Park Hill, preaching in the church there every Sunday without an
interpreter, as they all understood English. I left A—— and the children in care of Mr. Chamberlain, a son of one of the old
missionaries, who had married a Cherokee wife and lived near Fairfield Station. He moved into the house and relieved A—— of
household cares, except the care of the two babies, Mary and Temple.
Dr. Worcester (he received the degree of D.D. from Burlington about this time) unfolded to me his plans, which included the
revision of the Cherokee New Testament, whose translation was now nearing its completion. After I came to Park Hill we printed
a small edition of the translation, enough for a form and I sent it to New York to be printed and stereotyped, so that the
printers there could read from the printed page, rather than from Cherokee manuscript as our printer did. I also supervised
with Dr. Worcester's help, the Cherokee Almanack, and after his death prepared the last that was issued, it having been published
every year for many years. I think I gave a bound copy of the file to the Library of the University of Vermont. This almanac
contained, beside the astronomical matter (furnished from year to year by Dr. Greenleaf of Bradford Academy) the names of
all the principal officers of the Cherokee Government—judges, sheriffs, members of the two branches of the legislature—and
was filled in as compactly as possible with original matter relating to temperance and religion.
I remained at Park Hill except for occasional visits to Fairfield until Dr. Worcester's death. He was a very quiet and patient
sufferer. I was with him when he died, and he passed over as calmly as he ever fell asleep. He was "taken away from the evil
to come." He was so wedded to Cherokee ways, having lived with them for half a century, that he would never have enjoyed living
elsewhere and to have stayed at Park Hill would have been impossible. It would have broken his heart to have seen and ex-
perienced the desolations of War. He would have been robbed and maltreated and seen the destruction of the printing office,
the death of his daughter's husband by unknown hands, the ruin of his beautiful brick church and the scattering of its membership.
Everything at Park Hill, church, printing office and bindery, the station with all of its buildings, was swept with the besom
of destruction. I believe the cemetery has now grown up into a thicket.
I will not draw a plan of the Park Hill house. It was a frame building of two stories, clapboarded, but lathed and plastered.
It was quite convenient and pleasant in good weather, being well shaded with trees, but it was almost impossible to warm in
those "northers" of which I have spoken. But they were of short duration and the winters were mild. The ground never froze.
We had a deep well with pure and very cold water, the curb being on the piazza.
Dr. Hitchcock's house was only a few rods away, which was very fortunate for us on several occasions. A—— used to ride to
church on horseback, a distance of half or three-quarters of a mile. I would put her on her horse and walk myself. One Sunday
on reaching home I found her seated in the saddle unable to dismount. She had a severe attack of pleurisy and could not stir
without great pain. I helped her into the house and sent for the doctor who had just got home. She could neither lie nor sit,
but stood supported by the mantle-piece, leaning her head on her hands. He cupped her on each shoulder, drawing quite a little
blood, which seemed to give immediate relief. She was very sick for several days. Had she been thus attacked at Fairfield,
twenty-four miles from the the nearest doctor, I think she would not have recovered. This is only one of several instances
when she found great relief in having the doctor so near.
Cousin Mary has sent us some of your grandmother's letters written to her from the Cherokee country, among others one dated
Park Hill, November 18, 1859, which says "Mary has nearly learned her letters and Temple can walk by pushing a chair before
At Park Hill I had no need of an interpreter as all understood English, and many did not read Cherokee at all. The people
were attentive and interested. Dr. Hitchcock told me that one of his patients wanted to get over an attack of illness before
Sunday that he might not miss the next sermon on the Ten Commandments, on which I was preaching a series at that time.
Park Hill was five miles from Tahlequah, the capital. I used to preach there every Thursday evening in a Masonic hall. I had
very large and attentive audiences, and I hope I did some good. I used to take tea at the house of Mr. Stapler, a merchant,
brother of Mrs. John Ross. He had married a niece of Mr. Ross, a refined and cultivated lady who was educated at the North.
I valued their friendship very highly. John Ross himself lived within two miles of us. He was a noble man. He kept the Cherokees
from going over in a body to the South. He told me that the Southern leaders were trying by every means to compel him to join
A niece of Mr. Stapler's came out from Philadelphia to teach Mr. Ross's children. Her name was Mary F. Stapler—nineteen years
of age and a very lovely Christian. She had been there only eleven weeks when she was suddenly removed by death. Sitting by
an open wood fire, a spark set fire to her clothing, she ran out into the yard for help, and was enveloped in flames and fatally
burned. She passed peacefully away, saying, "I shall soon be with my Saviour. He is waiting for me." She had shown great interest
in the spiritual welfare of others, and would, to human view, have been an invaluable blessing to the people of the neighborhood.
She was very beautiful in face and character, and winning in her ways. I felt her death like a personal bereavement. Only
the day before she had read with Anne Ross the story of the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace.
About the time that my family came to Park Hill, Mr. Willey went away from Dwight on a vacation, and I had, in a way, the
supervision of the three stations. It was about thirty miles from Park Hill directly to Dwight, eighteen from Dwight to Fairfield,
and from there twenty-four miles to Park Hill.
Some months later as I was on my rounds again and near Fairfield, I was met by Jesse, Dr. Hitchcock's colored servant, who
gave me a note saying that A—— was very sick and about to give premature birth to a child. The Chamberlin family were now
back in their own house which was more convenient to me then than Fairfield. I rode to the door and Mrs. Chamberlin came out.
I asked her for a piece of bread. She begged me to get down and have supper, but I told her how it was. So I rode on munching
my bread. I was really too anxious to eat, but forced myself to do so, as I had had nothing since breakfast. We reached Park
Hill about two a. m. and found faithful Dr. Hitchcock in attendance and the smallest baby I ever saw waiting for her papa.
That baby was your Aunt Sadie. I found that a mob of disorderly men had besieged the house and demanded that I should come
out to them. They could hardly be persuaded that I was not there in concealment. It seems that some negro in the neighborhood
had been cruelly whipped and I was reported as having made some inflammatory remark about it. A—— had not fully recovered
from a shock caused by striking her head in the dark against the edge of a door and this excitement about me brought things
to a focus and the baby came to see what was the matter. Again, as at other times, we were thankful to have so good a doctor
close at hand. Otherwise I should not have left home.
The next Thursday evening, though warned by some of the neighbors against going, I went to Tahlequah for my regular preaching
appointment. I felt it my duty to go at all hazards, and I had no fear, for I was confident that no one would dare to do me
violence. I was under U. S. protection, and people knew it. Accordingly, I appeared at the usual time at the hall, and as
I expected, found it locked. I went for the key and Jesse Wolf, the janitor, said that they did not wish me to have any further
use of the hall. I asked why. He said because of things I had been saying against slavery. I replied that I had said nothing,
and that I could not have said the things I was charged with, because I was more than twenty miles away and had not heard
of any cruelty to negroes. Meantime quite a crowd had gathered in the street. I
refused to talk with them, saying that all sorts of reports would be given of what I had said and therefore I would say nothing.
But if they would open the hall and sit down in good order, I said I would tell them publicly how those who sustained me stood
in regard to slavery. No, they would not open the hall, but I might present the case to the U. S. Agent when he came. This
I told them I was ready to do. Their legislators had tried to pass a bill requiring the missionaries to appear before the
Agent, but it could not be carried, and if they had passed it, Mr. Ross would have vetoed it. I was glad therefore, to do
of my own free will what I should perhaps have refused to do by compulsion.
Accordingly, when the time came, I went to Tahlequah, hunted up Jesse Wolf, the janitor, and asked him to take me to the Agent.
He seemed surprised, and said, "I did not suppose you would come." I replied that I never promised what I did not intend to
do. Quite a large number gathered to hear what I had to say. I told the Agent that we thoroughly disliked and disapproved
of the system of slavery, but that we had come there not as abolitionists, not to make the blacks discontented, or to stir
up strife, but to preach the Gospel of Christ, and to proclaim the Golden Rule, believing that wherever the Spirit of Christ
took possession there would be loving kindness and tender mercy. I have no doubt the Agent was a pro-slavery man, but he seemed
satisfied with my statement, and I think he was pleased that I was willing to come to him, as he knew it was an act of freewill
on my part. Mr. Ross was away at the time, or the disturbance would not have occurred. I called on him when he returned, and
he said he was sorry I took any notice of the matter. But I think it was the better way.
As time went on, and state after state went out of the Union, the Board felt that some action must be taken about our situation.
They had felt for some time from our reports that the Cherokees could no longer be regarded as a heathen people, and therefore
subjects for foreign missions. This was true. Their constitution, modeled after the State Constitutions, recognized Christianity
in requiring the administering of the oath to witnesses in court and
the government officers, and the people were all more or less directly identified with the Christian religion. Accordingly,
I was directed to take measures for closing up our connections with the Board. At another time we might have sought to continue
our work under some Home Missionary board. But with the absolute certainty of war, and war which would be sure to involve
the very ground on which our missions stood, it seemed best simply to give up the field. I provided myself with the means
of publishing the Cherokee Testament, having completed the revision with full notes under Mr. Foreman, our translator. My
notes were made in two bound volumes, interleaved, of the Testament in 24to, as printed in our office. If you should ever
wish to see them, they are in the Congregational Library in Boston. Mr. Ranney of Lee's Creek and myself believed that it
was folly to attempt to hold our ground. Mr. Willey insisted on remaining, at an untold cost of suffering to himself and his
family, which, to all appearance, was utterly useless. The property on the stations was soon hopelessly destroyed, the beautiful
brick church burned, our printing house wrecked and its contents destroyed, and the mission premises so completely obliterated
that it was with great difficulty that the site could be found and identified by the well of which I have spoken.
So on February 9, 1861, we of Park Hill turned our faces homeward. We had gathered our few belongings and sent them forward
to Van Buren, a town on the Arkansas River, by an ox-team, which we followed and passed in a two-horse farm wagon. The man
who drove the oxen was a son-in-law of Dr. Worcester, a half-breed Cherokee and an intelligent Christian man whom Hannah,
his oldest daughter had married with the father's reluctant consent. He was to see that the horses and wagon were returned
to the Mission. We spent the night at Lee's Creek with Brother Ranney. Addie was very feeble and became much exhausted by
the journey. Sadie was five months old, Mary four and a half, and Temple just two. To reach a railroad would have required
a long and toilsome ride over rough roads, through a country that was involved in the Kansas troubles. Therefore our escape
must be by water. But only two weeks before I had crossed the Ar-
kansas River without wetting my saddle skirts. We could only wait. But soon word came that the river had risen and boats had
come up to Van Buren. This was our opportunity, and we reached Van Buren early in the forenoon of February 20th.
I took A—— to a hotel and had her lie down for a rest while I took the children and went to the levee to secure a passage
on the steamer which was there. The captain said he should leave at noon sharp, as the river was falling and the boat might
get left. He could not wait for our baggage which had not arrived. Twelve o'clock came, but no baggage. I went with the children
to see the boat leave, not knowing what I should do when it was gone, as there was small prospect of another boat and we should
have been obliged to go back to Park Hill and start again. To my surprise, the boat was still there. A flue had burst in one
of the pipes as they were getting up steam, and they were riveting in a new one. I hastened back to the hotel and got my wife
and we all went aboard, knowing that if the baggage did not come we must disembark. But God was very gracious to us. Just
as the last rivet was hammered to its place our trunks were tumbled aboard and we had begun our homeward voyage.7
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