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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 4, No. 3
September, 1926
AN EARLY DAY BAPTIST MISSIONARY

Baxter Taylor

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If pioneering in the early days of the Republic was in part the prime business of fighting, it was also the good work of preaching. Preaching and teaching in the task of state-building were of like meaning. He who preached also taught.

The axe, the plowshare, the old flintlock and the "cap and ball" rifle—simple implements of a crude life—yet glorious symbols of this good republic of ours. But they are not all. They merely symbolize things utilitarian. The blue-back speller and the Bible—these the sources of learning and of religion —emblematic of mental enlightenment and of spiritual life! The pioneer preacher laid the base-rock of America’s moral life. To him and to no other belonged the palm for the moral anal spiritual learning that built great and powerful our national foundations. Say what we may in this changing day and time, it was this beautiful and strong moral principle pervading New England that raised up good and great men whose names, for their good works, are now a common heritage. This same principle antedating Plymouth Rock planted a church and school on the virgin shores of old Virginia. Thus the Republic was cradled.

As part and parcel of the ever-widening caravan, "Westward Ho!" was this evangel of gospel truth. In every wilderness there was a John the Baptist. And as it was in the colonial days, so also it was in a later period. In the thirties when Washington Irving visited and explored parts of the Indian Territory, it was then "the far West," a land conveyed, dedicated and set apart for the Indian people in which the light of progress was slow in coming. A wilderness indeed and in truth; but the voice of the preacher was heard there. Into the Choctaw and Chickasaw country came J. S. Murrow, R. J. Hogue, John H. Carr, John C. Robertson, Jesse H. Walker, John Harrell and Young Ewing and in the Cherokee Country such men as J. Y. Bryce and L. B. Statler. It is of the Reverend R. J. Hogue that this sketch is written. His life is not different in the main from the lives of those other sainted men and women who taught and preaced in that far-off day. But verily he was one of the saints. A few days after I came to

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Atoka, then in the Indian Territory, October 10, 1906, this good man died. He was sincerely mourned. His name was respected. He was one of the Lord’s own.

Reverend Hogue came to the Indian Territory as a missionary in 1858. He came out from Americus, Georgia, having been sent and supported by the Indian Missionary Society of the Southern Baptist Board. He was then a young man thirty-eight years of age, having been born March 8, 1820. He was licensed to preach in 1847, in which year he married Miss Clarissa Jenkins. With a wife and three children he came into the locality of Armstrong Academy, now in Bryan County. Succeeding Reverend Moffit he served three or four Baptist churches. There he remained until late in the fall of 1865. The wavering fortunes and final fall of the Confederacy disrupted all mails and from sheer lack of means the Board was forced to discontinue its support. Accordingly Brother Hogue went to Texas and for eighteen months had employment in the county court house at Linden, Texas. He and Rev. J. S. Murrow, who had likewise been in Texas, returned to the Territory. That was in 1867 or ’68 and he resumed his charge in the Armstrong Academy vicinity, following his appointment by the Domestic and Indian Missionary Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

By reason of prevailing "hard times" in 1870, the Bethel Association called in its missionaries. At that time Brother Hogue was back in his native state of Georgia for improvement in health. Despite the action of the Association, he returned to his mission work among the Indian people and trusted to Providence for his support. Soon after, however, the Bethel Association resumed its mission activities and renewed its support of the faithful missionaries. In his work he organized many churches in the Territory. With increasing years and the influx of people along the new line of railway, (1872), which incurred new responsibilities his health began to decline, after long years of service, and in the withered and brown leaf of old age he could no longer meet the ceaseless calls of duty; so he moved into the town of Atoka to be near Mrs. Inge, a beloved daughter and there at "Sunset and even’ star" to put out to sea. He and his noble wife reared a family of nine children to an honorable manhood and womanhood. He labored for the church and for his Master’s

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cause. Verily he fought a good fight and he kept the faith. His is a part of the whole heritage left to us by the pioneer preacher—a heritage common to all and a blessing to all.

BAXTER TAYLOR.

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