The year 1845, Reverend W. H. Goode visited the Chickasaw council and entered into an agreement with them to build a mission school for the education of the Chickasaw youth. This school was to be a manual labor school, under the direction of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
It was first called the McKendree Manual Labor School, but was soon changed to Chickasaw Manual Labor School. Reverend Wesley Browning, who transferred from the Missouri conference to the Indian Mission conference the year 1845 was placed in charge as superintendent, which carried with the appointment the responsibility of erecting suitable buildings.
The site selected for the building was a location on Sandy Creek, about four miles southeast of Tishomingo. This location is now on the road leading from Tishomingo to the Chapman farm, on the Washita River, which is one of the largest and most wonderful farms in the state of Oklahoma.
The farm opened up for the Manual Labor School was on the creek mentioned above; on this creek was built a saw mill, a grist mill and a flour mill, which served the Mission and the community. Reverend J. C. Robinson followed Wesley Browning as superintendent, remaining for a period of about twenty years.
One of the interesting items connected with this old school is the fact that two annual conferences were held in the old building, but at neither time was there a bishop pressent; that was unfortunate for it would lend romance and interest to the spot on which the school stood if at least one time a Methodist Bishop had presided over an annual conference held within its walls.
The first annual conference held in the borders of the Chicasaw Nation was held at this old school the year 1856, October 23, W. L. McAlester was elected to preside, and John Harrell was elected secretary; the second one was held October 10, 1861, John Harrell was elected president, and J. H. Carr was secretary; the third one held in the Chickasaw Nation was held September 23, 1864, at Eastmans School House.
Thomas Bertholf was elected president, and John H. Carr was secretary.
In 1866, Bishop E. M. Marvin held the fourth session of the conference held in Chickasaw Nation, at Bloomfield Academy. John H. Carr was elected secretary at this time. There were no more sessions of the Indian Mission conference held in the bounds of the Chickasaw Nation until the year 1884, this one was held at White Bead Hill, Bishop Hargrove presided, and E. R. Shappard was secretary.
During Territory days there were two localities known as Boiling Springs one in the Choctaw Nation, and one in the Chickasaw Nation. The one in the Choctaw Nation is located in what is now Latimer County, Oklahoma, about six miles west of Wilburton, the county seat of Latimer. This was an important place in the early days, for the Indians often held religious services there. The writer’s father used to hold quarterly conferences at Boiling Springs, Choctaw Nation, when he was presiding elder in the early seventies. His mode of conveyance was a two horse wagon, with camp outfit, consisting of provisions, bedding and feed for the team. In company with his interpreter, Rev. Willis Folsom, they would often visit this place, with others on the District, necessitating an absence from home for a period of from one to three or more weeks. One peculiarity of the Choctaw Boiling Springs, is that one can set it on fire, if you take a stick and press it down in the mud for six or eight inches, then remove it and light a match and hold over the hole, it will blaze up in proportion to the depth of the hole.
The Chickasaw Boiling Springs has the distinction of having had a session of the Chickasaw council held on its banks in the fall of 1842. Another distinction is that in 1877 W. B. Lowrance moved to the springs and built a home, having married a Chickasaw widow, Mrs. Mary E. Cummins.
It is interesting to note that Mr. Lowrance moved into the Indian Territory in 1876, with a team consisting of an old gray mule and an ox harnessed together and hitched to a wagon. This was necessary because, as Mr. Lowrance stated, the wild Indians had stolen all the horses but this old gray mule, which was too old to serve their purpose.
Mr. Lowrance first moved to the Chunn ranch, southeast of McAlester, then to (Cherokee) John Rogers’ place, on the old military road leading from Ft. Smith to Stringtown and on to Boggy Depot and other places west and south. It is interesting to note that Mr. Lowrarrce served with General Cooper during the war between the states; and the Impression of the writer is that during the war he, (Mr. Lowrance) had occasion to pass through the country in the locality of Boiling Springs and being attracted by it and the country adjacent, decided to make it his home, which he did until the date of his death, which was Sunday, August 27, 1916, giving him a residence of thirty-nine years at Boiling Springs, where all of his children were born. His son, Oscar Lowrance, representative from Murray County, lives on the old home place where he still raises cattle and fish, for he has trout in the fish hatchery as long as a man’s arm.
In 1890 the place was known as Buckhorn, and at that time a post office was established, and Charles W. Reid was appointed postmaster, this was before Sulphur was made a post office.
In connection with this article we are inserting some pictures which will contrast early day school buildings with those of to-day.
You will see on the insert with three buildings the different types of buildings in which school was held in the Boiling Springs, or Buckhorn neighborhood; the old log building shown in the upper left is the school house in which Oscar Lowrance, the present representative of Murray County first attended school, the upper right the second. The lower and center is the present school building in that community.
Mr. W. B. Lowrance was a great church man, belonging to the Cumberland Presbyterian church for many years. During the Summer months, the period for camp meetings during those early days, Mr. Lowrance would kill a beef and furnish bread when necessary for all who attended the meetings.
The first home of the Lowrance family was a little log building, with two or possibly three rooms. In after years they built a modern residence with possibly eight to a dozen rooms. The lumber for the new home was hauled from Atoka, no doubt some of it from Stringtown.
Cherokee Town, east of Pauls Valley, and on the north side of the Washita river, has some interesting history connected with early days in Indian Territory. The name Cherokee Town came about this way: During the war between the states, some of the Cherokee Indians refugeed to that locality and built some homes, set up a blacksmith shop, and at this place lots of work was done for the stage coaches and stage horses passing over the road leading from Gainesville, Texas, to Pauls Valley and other points west. It became quite a metropolis of a large section of country, a commercial and religious center of some renown. A post office was established there, August 17, 1874, with John Shirley as postmaster.
At an early day the Presbyterians built a church and school house which was used for many years for church and school purposes. The masonic lodge met in the upper story of this old building.
Mr. Noah Leal, an old settler of that community, still living on his farm, where he has grown rich, used to drive the stage coach from Gainesville, Texas, and Caddo, Indian Territory, throught Cherokee Town, Pauls Valley, White Bead Hill and on to Fort Sill, he says until they got to using two horse stages, instead of four and he quit. He operated a blacksmith shop in old Cherokee Town for several years.
J. Y. Bryce.