By Muriel H. Wright
The first printing press in Oklahoma is said to have been a "Tufts Standing Press." It was originally set up at Union Mission in 1835, with John F. Wheeler as printer, under the superintendency of Reverend Samuel Austin Worcester. The same year the first book published in Oklahoma was printed on the press at Union Mission. It was a small primer in the Creek language, called The Child's Book, by Reverend John Fleming, a missionary by appointment of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions.1 The next year the printing press was moved from Union to its permanent location at Park Hill where it was operated in connection with the Park Hill Mission.
What became of the first printing press in Oklahoma has been a mystery. The question was raised during the One Hundredth Anniversary of Printing in Oklahoma and the dedication of the memorial marker on the historic site of Union Mission, Mayes County, in 1935, by the State Press Association.
The importance of the work done by this press may be estimated by the statement of the amount of printing up to 1860, issued by the Park Hill Publishing House just before the outbreak of the War between the States: a total of 14,084,100 printed pages for the Cherokees; 11,000,000 pages for the Choctaws, and a large amount for other Indian tribes. A handsome memorial tablet was erected on the site of the Park Hill Publishing House in the autumn of 1940, by the Oklahoma members of the Colonial Dames.
Personalities and their part in the life of a place make it memorable in history. Stories of the lives of many who made some of Oklahoma's outstanding historic sites worthy of remembrance still remain in obscurity. Mr. Herbert Worcester Hicks, of the Cherokee Nation and a grandson of Reverend Samuel A. Worcester, furnished the material for the following sketch of his
1Reverend John Fleming was a native of Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. He graduated from New Jersey College in 1829 and from Princeton in 1832. Soon afterward, he was appointed by the American Board as a missionary to the Creek Indians, with the special assignment to prepare a textbook in the Creek language. This work necessitated the preparation of manuscript by a direct study of the Creek spoken language which had not been reduced to regular written form. Mr. Fleming arrived among the Western Creeks in the Indian Territory, January 2, 1833. He made his headquarters at Union Mission, the most convenient residence location near the Creek settlements of that day. A number of Creek children attended the mission school, which further gave him opportunity of direct study of the native language in preparing the textbook. Since the manuscript was ready for publication when Doctor Worcester set up the "Tufts Standing Press" at Union, in 1835, Mr. Fleming's small volume, The Child's Book, illustrated with quaint scenes of farm life, was the first book published in Oklahoma.
mother's life, which mentions her work in connection with the printing house at Park Hill.2
Hannah Worcester, the third child of Samuel A. and Ann (Orr) Worcester, was born on January 29, 1834, at New Echota, Georgia.3
The Worcester family left Brainerd Mission, Tennessee, on April 8, 1835, for the Indian Territory, to make their new home and resume their missionary labors among the Cherokees west of the Mississippi River. They were fifty-one days on the way, arriving at Dwight Mission, Cherokee Nation West, on the 29th of May. Here they awaited the arrival of their household goods and the new printing press which had been shipped to the Indian Territory by water. They later settled at Union Mission where they lived until they moved to their permanent home at Park Hill, in 1836.
Hannah attended the Mission School at Park Hill though when a small child, during her free hours, she was generally found at the printing office where she loved to play. As the years passed, she devoted much of her time to helping her father in the work here, learning to sew and bind books. When she was old enough to leave home and go to school in the States like her older sisters, funds were not available to send her. Instead, she continued reading and home study, especially "constant study of Webster's Unabridged Dictionary," which together with the association with her scholarly father in his work and with the teachers at Park Hill furnished educational advantages that prepared her thoroughly to meet the demands of life in future years. At the same time, she became an efficient helper and proof reader in the printing office.
2Herbert Worcester Hicks is a member of the fourth generation of the Hicks family in the Cherokee Nation. Nathan Hicks, an English trader, settled among the Cherokees before the American Revolution. His wife was a Cherokee called "Nancy," a member of the Wolf Clan and a daughter of Chief Broom of Broom's Town. Nathan Hicks and his wife Nancy were living on the Hiwassee River, Cherokee Nation East, in 1767, when their eldest son, Charles, was born. Their other children were William and Elizabeth. Charles was one of the first prominent Cherokee leaders who had advantages of an English education. Both he and William were baptised members of the Moravian Church. Both, too, served as principal chiefs of the Cherokee Nation, William serving in this office after his brother Charles, in 1827-28, immediately preceding the election of John Ross as principal chief.
William Hicks married Sallie Foreman, a granddaughter of John Anthony Foreman, a Scotch trader, who had settled and married among the Cherokees about the time of the American Revolution. Abijah Hicks was the eighth child of William and Sallie (Foreman) Hicks. Herbert Worcester Hicks, the fifth and youngest child of Abijah and Hannah (Worcester) Hicks, married Rachel Cardwell in Washington County, Arkansas, on December 23, 1886. They are the parents of six children: Ethel Inez, Homer Wilton, Clifton A., Vera Clare, Ralph Conner, and Herbert Morris Hicks. Mr. and Mrs. Herbert W. Hicks are residents of Vinita, Oklahoma, where he is owner of the Vinita Book Store.
3The life of Rev. Samuel Austin Worcester is presented in the interesting volume Cherokee Messenger by Althea Bass (University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.)
In January, 1852, Hannah Worcester married Abijah Hicks, a young Cherokee who had come west during the main emigration of his people from Georgia. His Cherokee name "Cornplanter" was significant of his success as a progressive farmer and cattleman. The young couple established their first home at the foot of old Park Hill where they built a two-story frame house with fireplaces at both ends upstairs and down. Here Abijah cultivated a good farm and raised a large stock of cattle.
Some years afterward, Doctor Worcester was severely injured in an accident when a ladder broke with him as he was going down to clean out a well. He was an invalid for a long period during which Hannah and Abijah lived at the Mission to help care for him. Abijah opened up a store on the Mission grounds at this time.
After the death of Doctor Worcester in 1859, the American Board sent Reverend Charles Torrey to take charge and continue the work at the Park Hill Mission and Publishing House. Threats of war between the States over a year later brought the work to a close. When the Mission buildings and property, including the printing press, were offered for sale a short time later, Abijah and Hannah bought them and established their permanent home at the mission.
They were the parents of five children with the birth of their son, Herbert Worcester Hicks, in May, 1861, before they moved their home from their first residence to the mission. Though they were a prosperous and happy family with farms, live stock, merchandise, and money saved up for emergency, war in the South and the Cherokee Nation a year later brought tragedy for Hannah and her children.
Abijah set out for Van Buren, Arkansas, to purchase goods for his store, on July 4, 1862. The same day, he was waylaid on the road, by a company of "bushwhackers" who threatened to kill him if he did not join them. He refused their demand and said that they would find him at his home if they looked for him again. As he drove on down the road, he was shot in the back and died instantly.
The following extracts are quoted from Hannah's Diary for 1862:
"Oh! what a year to remember, will this year ever be to me, and to us all. We thought we had some trouble last year, but how happy was that compared with this. On the 4th of July, my beloved husband was murdered, killed away from home, and I could not even see him; so far from it— he had been buried twenty-four hours, before I even heard of it; buried without a coffin, all alone, forty miles from home.
"My house has been burned down, my horses taken, but I think nothing of that. How gladly would I have given up everything if only they had spared my husband. Oh! for an end to this War. May God in his mercy, speedily bring Peace. Today (19th) the soldiers went to the house where Mrs. Vann's things were and turned them up at a great rate; took what they could, and promised to come back for more.
"Five Cherokees were condemned for desertion and shot at Tahlequah. James Pritchett has been killed. Captain Benge was wounded last Sabbath.
"I begin to hear now that my poor husband was killed by the 'Pins' but through a mistake—they intended to kill another man—if it was a mistake, 'twas a terrible one for me. It is strange very strange anyway.
"This is the ninth Sabbath that I have been a widow; two sad weary months. How many times in days past have I wondered what my future would be; but Oh! I could not think it would be as it is: left a widow at twenty-eight, with five children growing up around me, and Oh! most dreadful of all, my dear husband murdered. God be mercyful to us and help us! He loved his children so: never a father better loved his children.
"This weary weary time of War! will the time of suspense never end? I know not what is to become of us: famine and pestilence seem to await us! On the morning of August First our house was burned down; that was the first great trial that my husband was not here to share with me but truly, I hardly felt it a trial, so very little did it seem when compared with what I suffered in losing him, in such a terrible way. I believe my heart is almost dead within me."
After a return trip to Fort Gibson, Mrs. Hicks again wrote in her Diary:
"Today (Sept. 10th, 1862) I went to the Printing Office. I did not know before, how completely it had been cleaned out: the Press, types, papers &c. all carried off or destroyed....We hear today that the 'Pins' are committing outrages on Hungry Mountain and in Flint, robbing, destroying property and killing. Last week some...men went and robbed the Ross place, up at the Mill, completely ruined them: alas, alas for this miserable people; destroying each other, as fast as they can: my heart cries out, O Lord, how long? Oh our God, send deliverance; make haste to help us, Oh God of our salvation.
"The Troops have mostly left Tahlequah for Maysville and Grand Saline: we have now only to wait as calmly as we may, to see what will happen next. Sabbath once more: I have worried through the day with my children, trying to keep them from evil, and to teach them some good; but oh how poorly do I succeed!
"Mr. James Ward has been murdered, and Mr. Bishop taken and carried off.4 William Spears was killed some weeks ago: his wife has been searching for him until yesterday she succeeded in finding a part of his bones and remanents of his clothing. It is said that they told him to Pray and that he did so, and was kneeling in prayer a second time when he was shot.
"We heard today that the Osages had taken six prisoners (Federal) and that they escaped last night, handcuffed. The Federal prisoners that escaped were five Texas deserters and one Pin; they have not been retaken.
"Rev. Stephen Foreman and family left their house and home, last Monday Sept. 15th, intending to go to North Fork, Creek Nation.5
"Nov. 17th. Today we have had experience in being robbed. As soon as it was light they came and began: They took many valuable things and overhauled every closet, trunk, box and drawer they could find. The most valuable things are gone for good and all. So many things the robbers took that I would regret so much if I felt that the loss of anything short of life itself, was worth regretting now. They took about three barrels of sugar, all my blankets, most of my quilts, sheets, pillow cases, towels, table cloths, my teaspoons, all but one, and oh, that large pretty white bed spread that Mrs. Ross had given me; so many little things that I most highly prized; ribbons, sewing silk, pins, needles, thread, buttons, boxes of letters, my mantilla, calicoes, woolen stuffs, white cloth that I was saving to
4For the story of James Ward and a brief history of the Moravian missions among the Cherokees, see Springplace, Moravian Mission, Cherokee Nation by Muriel H. Wright (Co-Operative Publishing Company, Guthrie, Oklahoma, 1940).
5Minta Ross Foreman, "Reverend Stephen Foreman," The Chronicles of Oklahoma, (September, 1940), XVIII, No. 1.
make up, part of my underclothes and stockings, with the childrens new shoes, their little shawls, &c.; from Mother they took some blankets, one shawl, her shears, mine also, her best shoes and all, some other things, the linen sheet and table cloth of my mother's weaving [Mrs. Ann Orr Worcester]. If the officers had not made them return some things, I and my children would have been left utterly destitute, for they bundled up all our clothing of every kind; (my knives, forks and large spoons were returned) they opened and overhauled the letter box which was under my bed, took some letters and some little things of Mrs. Vann's that I had put in to save. They tore the trimming off Susie's bonnett, broke open a chest which was locked, and took what they pleased. They drove off nearly all our cattle, but most of them got away and came back; one of the oxen was gone a week.
* * * *
"Hauling wheat and bolting flour this week; that wheat that Sarah, Nancy and I hauled from Mrs. Hoyt's in the hot sun was all taken out of the cribs by Marmaduke's men. Mr. Hoyt died last July.
"I went today to get a load of wood, which makes me remember my husband with renewed sadness as I think I know he would never consent, while he lived, that I should do such work. Oh! the sad sad changes that this year's course has brought to me and mine."
Members of the Worcester family were scattered in the midst of the War to different parts of the United States. Mrs. Hicks took her family of five small children to Fort Gibson for better protection, bereft as she was of husband and near relatives and having lost her home by fire and every vestige of property and live stock at the hands of plunderers. The Cherokee Nation was the border country during the War, scouting parties and detachments of regular troops of both the Union and the Confederate armies sweeping back and forth through the region during the four years of warfare. Further devastation of farm homes and livestock by bushwhackers and other guerilla bands literally wiped out former thriving communities in the Cherokee Nation. During this time the terms "Pins" and "Stand Watie's Men" were maledictions used by harassed citizens according to each one's sympathies in the War. There was no neutral ground, for the Cherokees themselves were hopelessly divided into two bitterly opposing lines. Thus, "Pins" applied to Union Cherokees and "Stand Watie's Men" to the Confederates became the two mysterious forces of evil in the legend of the war.6
Mrs. Hicks was married at Fort Gibson, after the War, to Doctor D. D. Hitchcock, physician and surgeon in the United
6The "Pins" or "Pin Indians" were Federal scouts, mostly fullblood Cherokees, members of the Cherokee secret society called "Keetoowha." They were called "Pins" from the fact that each member wore a badge consisting of two pins crossed on the lapel of his coat.
Stand Watie was well known as the leader of the anti-Ross faction in the Cherokee Nation. Sympathetic with, the cause of the Southern States, he was early aligned with the Confederacy and personally organized the first Confederate troops in the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokees of his command were noted during the War for their effective service as Confederate scouting parties. Stand Watie had the distinction of being the only Indian in the Confederate Army to attain the rank of brigadier-general.
States Army. They were the parents of one daughter. During an epidemic of cholera that swept Fort Gibson in 1867, Doctor Hitchcock worked day and night attending every case possible throughout the neighboring country. He himself was finally stricken with the disease and died in less than twenty-four hours. The infant daughter died later in the year.
Hannah W. (Hicks) Hitchcock lived to see her grandson, Homer Wilton Hicks, enlist in the Army for service in France during the World War. She died in 1917 and was buried by the side of her second husband and their daughter. Her grave is within the Officers' Circle in the old cemetery at Fort Gibson. Her son, Mr. Herbert W. Hicks, says that he thinks this one of the highest honors accorded a member of the Worcester family.
The following quotation from Mrs. Hitchcock's reminiscences describes some of the interests and scenes of her girlhood in the Cherokee Nation:
"'The Cherokee National Temperance Society' was organized by my father, Samuel Austin Worcester, or mainly through his efforts, in 1842. The Cherokee Council met at that time, in a large shed in the center of what is now the Capital Square of Tahlequah; and in that place the Temperance Society was organized and started. The Annual meetings were always held during the term of the National Council. Many of the members of the Society and officers were members of the Cherokee Council.
"The only qualification for membership in the Society was to sign the Society pledge as follows: 'We hereby solemnly pledge ourselves that we will neither use, nor buy, nor sell, nor give, nor receive, as a drink, any Whiskey, Brandy, Rum, Gin, Wine, Fermented Cider, Strong Beer, or any kind of intoxicating liquor.'
"Between annual meetings there were meetings held and Auxiliary Societies organized, in all parts of the Nation, the object being to have a live auxiliary society in every District.
"We went to many Temperance meetings in different parts of the Nation, some on the banks of the beautiful clear running streams, in the woods, or near some one of the many fine springs in the Nation. The people gathered from far and near; meat was barbecued so delicious as we never get these days—it seems to be a lost art—bread, cakes and pies were provided. At one time, I myself fried two bushels of doughnuts for one of the meetings.
"Through the courtesy of the Christian Commander of the Fort Gibson Post, Col Gustavous Loomis, my father was permitted to have at some of these meetings, the fine U. S. Army Band, then stationed at the Fort, and once a Choir of Nineteen soldier voices sang the Temperance songs. I never heard more delightful singing.7
"This fine Army Band was later ordered to the Mexican War and much to the regret of the community was never returned here."
7A biographical sketch, "Gustavus Loomis, Commandant Fort Gibson and Fort Towson," by Carolyn Thomas Foreman, appeared in The Chronicles of Oklahoma (September, 1940), XVIII, No. 1.
Interesting historical papers now in the collection of Mr. Herbert Worcester Hicks,8 of Vinita, Oklahoma, include the original notice of eviction served on Rev. Samuel A. Worcester, by the State of Georgia, February 15, 1834; the original Bill of Sale to the Park Hill Mission property including the Printing Office, Press, Types and papers, made to Abijah Hicks, by Rev. C. C. Torrey for the A. B. C. F. M. Board, February 18, 1861; and the address of Chief John Ross to the first graduating class of the Cherokee National Female Seminary, 1851.
8The reader will be interested in the following data furnished by Herbert Worcester Hicks: Ever since "Appreciation Week" Oct. 6-13, 1935; which was the Centennial Statewide Anniversary of the first Printing Press operation in the Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, honoring Dr. S. A. Worcester as the first printer, there has been a question, so far unanswered, as to what became of this first Printing Press.
Being a grandson of Dr. Worcester, I am very much an interested party, and will give herein the results of my endeavors, for the benefit of all inquirers and coming generations.
There are now located at old Dwight Mission, two presses, both claiming to be the original Dr. Worcester press operated at Union and Park Hill Missions, from 1835 to 1861. Dr. Worcester died in 1859.
The smaller of these two presses is known as the Schaub press; the larger one, as the Chamberlain press. The Schaub is too small to be considered as the Worcester press.
The larger Chamberlain press was purchased by some of the Chamberlain relatives in New York, and shipped to Vinita to Rev. A. N. Chamberlain, and first used by him in Cherokee and English printing for several years near Vinita. Later it was moved to the vicinity of Tahlequah, used there several years, and eventually found its way, to Dwight Mission, where it is now located.
After corresponding with Mr. S. W. Ross, and receiving a complete lineup on the first Cherokee Advocate press which was first used in 1844, at the same time the Worcester press was being used at Park Hill, we definitely removed all three of these presses from any possibility of identification as the Worcester press.
My next correspondence was with Mrs. Althea Bass, who wrote the life of Dr. Worcester entitled The Cherokee Messenger and had had access to practically all records of the A. B. C. F. M. of that period, now preserved in the Andover-Harvard Library. Quoting from her letters on the subject:
"I, too, have had a great desire to know what became of the 'Tufts Standing Press' set up at Park Hill. None of my reading in the files of the American Board, or elsewhere, brought me any information, as to the fate of the Printing Press. Of course you know that Dr. Charles Torrey succeeded Mr. Worcester at Park Hill in 1859, with the idea of continuing his work, but the Civil War broke up the undertaking in a short time, and Dr. Torrey went back East with his family. One of Torrey's daughters still lives, and has been greatly interested in the History of Park Hill. She does have some of her father's papers and books, and it is just possible that she may have some definite knowledge of the disposal of the Printing Press. If you write to her, address her as Miss Emily R. Torrey, 238 Williams St., Providence, R. I."
I quote from Miss Torrey:
"I am sorry that I cannot tell you definitely about the Mission Press. I have a recollection which I cannot vouch for, that I heard my father speak of the press as being destroyed by one of the raiding parties of either the Northern or Southern Army. You know of course that that section of country was swept over, first by one and then by the other Army, again and again, and everything destroyed that came in the path of the party in power; so it seems likely that my impression is correct."
"Today I went to the Printing Office. I did not know before, how completely it had been cleaned out.
As my mother, Mrs. Hannah Worcester Hicks, at that time was on the ground, was the owner of all property of the A. B. C. F. M. by purchase, I think we may safetly say she certainly knew what became of the Worcester Press, and that her notes as quoted above, definitely settled the Matter for all time.
On June 22nd, 1839, Elias Boudinot (brother of Stand Watie) was murdered, between the Mission buildings and a house being built by Elias for his permanent home; he at the time was living in one of the Mission buildings. Elias Boudinot was translator of the Cherokee for Dr. Worcester; his death was caused by his signing a Treaty with a small faction of the Nation to remove all to the West.
After arriving in the West by way of "the Trail of Tears" the two factions failed in coming to an agreement to smooth out their difficulties and bury the hatchet. The smaller faction were considered as traitors to their country, and the leaders were marked for death, on a certain date. Three of them were found at home and the mandate carried out, but Stand Watie being one of those included for killing was warned by his friends, and was not found, thus saving his life.
Dr. Worcester described the Elias Boudinot tragedy as,
"Mr. Boudinot was murdered. Mr. Boudinot was yet living in my house. On Saturday morning he went to his home which he was building, a quarter of a mile distant. There some Cherokee men came up inquiring for some medicine, and Mr. Boudinot set out with two of them, to come and get it. He walked but a few rods, when his shriek was heard by his hired men, who ran to his help, but before they could come up, the deed was done: a stab in the back with a knife, and seven gashes in the head with a hatchet (Tomahawk) did the work."
Watie continued living in the Cherokee Nation, and upon the breaking out of the Civil War, he raised a Regiment of Southern sympathizers, and joined the Southern Forces, eventually being made a General.