Chronicles of Oklahoma

Skip Navigation

Electronic Publishing Center
Oklahoma Historical Society
Chronicles Homepage
Search all Volumes
Copyright 2001
Purchase an Issue

Table of Contents Index Volume List Search All Volumes Home

Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 9, No. 2
June, 1931
TRYPHENA

Muriel H. Wright

Page 180

One beautiful summer day a number of years ago, while on the way to visit Old Boggy Depot with a friend, Mrs. Mary Locke Archer, the conversation drifted to some of the historic sites in the former Choctaw country. Among those she had visited, Mrs. Archer mentioned the old cemetery at Doaksville and how she had been impressed with one of the marble tombstones bearing the simple inscription, "Tryphena's Grave." Since that memorable summer day, the writer, also, has visited old Doaksville and has heard several other persons speak of the silent marker standing in its midst. "Tryphena's Grave." What romance the lack of other words conveys! But in some way, the delicate sentiment implied by the inscription on the stone made the question, "Who was Tryphena?" seem blunt and harsh in any attempt to solve the mystery of the rare spirit that rested there. A kind Providence might consent to let us know her sometime in the future.

The seasons passed, then one day, two years ago this past spring, the writer was reading the school reports contained in the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1841. In a letter written by Rev. Cyrus Byington, missionary to the Choctaws, appeared the remark that, aside from the teachers in the mission schools, there were three teachers, within the bounds of the nation, holding appointments from Captain William Armstrong, agent for the U. S. Government. These three teachers had furnished Mr. Byington with the following data:

Stations Teachers Term Time Scholars in day Sch. Scholars in Sab. Sch.
Eagleton Miss Lavinia Pitchlynn 7½ months 25 30
Good Water Mrs. Philena T. Hotchkin 10 " 19 20
Mayhew Miss Tryphena Wall 10 " 23 45
67 95

Mr. Byington continued his letter with this statement:

"It gave me pleasure to visit the three last schools, and I trust it will not be deemed improper for me to remark that I think the teachers were devoted to their work and exerted themselves according to the best of their skill."

Just preceding Mr. Byington's letter in the Commissioner's Report appeared the following letter:

Page 181

Mayhew, August, 1841.

Sir: This year I have not had many scholars. Some have quit school, and others do not attend regularly. Those that have attended regularly have made good proficiency in their studies, and those that have not attended regularly have not improved as much as I could wish. Some have been detained from school on account of sickness, and others have been kept at home to work. By boarding six, I have had, including all, twenty-four. In history 2, English grammar 1, arithmetic 11, geography 8, writing 11, reading in Testament and spelling 14, words of three syllables 2, words of three and four letters 4. I think the scholars have learned well, notwithstanding we have not had a supply of books. If you could forward us some books, they would be very acceptable.
We have a Sabbath school, which has been attended regularly, ever since I commenced teaching, by the scholars and a good many of the adults. This increasing disposition to learn to read is encouraging. This school was closed on the 10th of July, and will commence on the 10th of September.

Most respectfully, &c.,

Tryphena Wall.

Capt. Win. Armstrong, &c.

Miss Tryphena Wall, a teacher in the employ of the U. S. Government! Could this be our "Tryphena?" The Wall family was well known among the citizens of the Choctaw Nation.

Early in February, 1930, Mrs. Jessie E. Moore handed a letter to the writer, addressed to her by Mrs. Dora Lewis Gaines, of Abilene, Texas. Mrs. Gaines wrote that Alvin Rucker's article on Rev. Allen Wright, in the "Oklahoman" had given her great pleasure and had called to mind a photograph that she had of the old Wheelock Church which had been erected through the efforts of Rev. Alfred Wright, the noted missionary to the Choctaws, many years before the Civil War. Before closing her letter, she remarked, "Perhaps my grandmother, Tryphena Wall Stewart, a Presbyterian, and buried at Ft. Towson, 1849, (Choctaw by blood) might have attended services there at some time. She was called a missionary to her own people, married at Pine Ridge Mission."

So our "Tryphena" was Mrs. Tryphena Wall Stewart. If this introduction was surrounded by a quiet dignity, we loved her the more for that. Mrs. Gaines' letter was answered and there followed other letters from her and her aunt, Mrs. Maria Stewart Berry, Tryphena's eldest daugh-

Page 182

ter who was living at Concord, New Hampshire.1 Besides the personal notes and reminiscences from Mrs. Berry, other interesting data have been discovered in historical records, in addition to eight letters written in the Indian Territory between 1841 and 1855, which were recently sent the writer by Mrs. Annie Eden, of Eufaula, Oklahoma, another of Tryphena's grand-daughters and a sister of Mrs. Gaines.2

Tryphena, the daughter of Noah and Lucy (Folsom) Wall,3 was born in the Choctaw country in Mississippi, about 1824. Tryphena is from the Greek and means "delicate or dainty." It is to be found in Romans 16:12, where Paul said, "Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labor in the Lord." The name seems to have been appropriate for our Tryphena, as it was said she was a charming, sweet child and remarkable as a woman not only for her personal







Page 183

beauty but also for her lovely character. It is to be regretted that there is no photograph of her, known to be in existence, so only the story of her life can present her likeness to those who would know her.

When Tryphena was four years old she began attending school at Mayhew Mission, founded in 1820 by Rev. Cyrus Kingsbury, senior missionary to the Choctaw Nation, laboring under the auspices of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions. Sometime after the main immigration of the Choctaws to the Indian Territory, Noah Wall brought his family to this country, finally locating about five miles west of Clear Boggy River, in what is now Bryan County, on the road between Fort Towson and Boggy Depot.4 A church was organized by Rev. Kingsbury, near Mr. Wall's place, in 1839, and was named Mayhew, probably on account of the associations that the latter's family had had with the old mission by the same name back in Mississippi. Some months later, a school was opened at Mayhew, Tryphena Wall being employed as the teacher by Captain William Armstrong, U. S. agent to the Choctaws. On May 9, 1842, Tryphena married Charles F. Stewart, at Pine Ridge Mission, two miles north of Doaksville.

Charles Fanning Stewart was born at North Preston, Connecticut, in February, 1814. At the age of sixteen, he entered the employ of a wholesale merchant by the name of Polk, in New Orleans. With the final removal of the Creeks, Chickasaws, and Cherokees to the West, there were exceptional opportunities for merchants in the Indian Territory, since a limited number were to be granted the right to set up trading establishments by securing permits from the U. S. Government. Young Stewart remained in the employ of Mr. Polk until he was twenty-one. Some time later he set out for the Indian Territory after having been engaged to clerk in a trading establishment at Doaksville, a thriving village in the Red River region of the Choctaw Nation. In the spring of 1841, he wrote the following letter to his mother, who lived in Norwich, Connecticut. Although there are some slips in the spelling and punctua-



Page 184

tion, yet the letter was written in beautifully even script. What is most important of all, it shows the young man was thoughtful and generous and full of the vigorous spirit of life on the frontier:

Doaks Ville
Choctaw Nation West Apr. 17, 1841.

Dear Mother,

To attempt a sufficient apology for so long neglecting to write you would be uselefs for mother I have done verry wrong in thus neglecting the kindest parent that a son could wish for but I am determined to be more faithful in the future. The fact is I am thrown entirely out of the pale of white society and I have almost forgotten that I am a white man myself. Doaks Ville is some sixty miles west of the Boundary line between the United States and the Indian country. It is six miles north of the Red River which forms the line between us and Texas. Fort Towson is only half a mile from us which affords the only white society we have except the few there is in this place. Our trade which is verry extencive is confined to the Red Men of the forrest who look upon us as intruders but treat us friendly out of fear as for my own part they treat me in every way as though I was one of their own people I never have had the first hard word with one of them I speak the Chickasaw and Choctaw language quite well and on the whole enjoy myself far better than you would suppose as for my marrying one of them I never have nor would I on any consideration although I could marry the richest and most butiful of them tomorrow if I would but there is a natural dislike implanted in the heart of the Red Man and the white that can never be obliterated. My salary is Twelve Hundred Dollars a year and my Expenses bourne except clothing which is much better than I could do in the States we have none of the vanities or fashions of sivilized life to contend with the Indians are living almost in a perfect state of nature and we out of choise follow nearly the same coarse. Mr. Tims one of the men I am living with is now in New York purchasing a stock of goods I sent Fifty dollars by him to leave with I & S Brewster for you and told him to collect fifty more in New Orleans which I had due me there and to leave that with them also for you making one hundred if he should not get that in New Orleans I will send it to you by the first opportunity for mother although you may not think so there is nothing that gives me more heart felt pleasure than to be able in some measure to relieve your necessities for you are most dear to me I only wish that I were only able to set you and all the children entirely out of the reach of want nothing could give me more pleasure it was my intention to have come home this summer but Mr. Tims trip to New York prevented it but I intend if I should live to go home one year from now. We are hourly expecting war to break out among the Wild tribes above us there is now about six hundred U. S. Troops on their march for that section and should war ever be declared we shall have a verry bloody one. dont be allarmed for the fighting will not come nearer us they will breaking back for the Rocky Mountains. My health at present is verry good but for the last year I have had a good deal of sickness I should have been verry glad to have gone home this season for it appears almost a dream to me that I was once surrounded by the friends and neighbors of my birth place in a civilized land. And now Mother I must ask you on receipt of this to write me

Charles Fanning Stewart

Mrs. Maria F. Berry

Lavinia Stewart Lewis

Page 185

and write everything you think would interest me one thing in particular that is about Mary Morris if you can hear the least thing of her write it for I still feel a deep interest in that young lady. Give the kindest rememberances to all the children as well as all of the friends and should you kneed more money for your own use tell me of it for as long as I can obtain any you shall share it with me write me more minutely how the children are situated tell James if I can get a place for him in the South I will do so with pleasure but if he can get a place in Western New York he had better go there the South wont do for all young men money is not so easily made as many suppose.

Believe me dearest Mother to be
Your affectionate Son
Chas. F. Stewart.

In spite of the declaration to his mother not to marry an Indian, the young man changed his mind the next year and married Tryphena, if not the most beautiful and the wealthiest, at least one of the most charming and popular Choctaw girls in the country.5 It is interesting to note at this point that the General Council of the Choctaw Nation had passed a law in 1840, providing that no white man should be allowed to marry in the Nation unless he had lived within its limits for two years. The intent of the law was that such a person should establish his character and standing in his community before he would be allowed a license to be married either by the authorities of the Nation or by a minister of the gospel. With his marriage to Tryphena, Charles Stewart was entitled to all the rights and privileges of a citizen in her nation.

The settlement of the Chickasaws in the Choctaw country, the permanent location of Fort Washita on the Washita River, and the increase of travelers to the Republic of Texas along the road that passed Noah Wall's house had made Mayhew an important stopping place, since it was just west of the crossing on Boggy River and on the route from Fort Smith to Beal's Ferry on Red River. Mr. Wall had opened a tavern at Mayhew, which, by 1842, afforded a profitable location for a store. This was young Stewart's opportunity. In the same spring that he and Tryphena were married, he bought a stock of goods from his old employer, Mr. Polk, of New Orleans, and set up a general merchandise establishment at Mayhew.

From the heading of another letter, dated April 19,



Page 186

1843, written to his mother in Connecticut, there seems to have been an attempt to change the name of Mayhew to Albion. Mr. Stewart wrote in part as follows:

I was verry glad when I heard that Mrs. E. M. Kingsbury was going north and intended seeing you on her way she has been like a mother to me ever since I have been in this Nation she will give you all the minutia of news but fearing she will not see you I will give you some of the most important matters first as it is on my mind we are looking every day for an heir, whether a son or a daughter we don't say if a son his name will be Charles if a daughter it will be Mariah after you we have been building a fine house and have just got to living in it it is on the public road leading from Fort Towson to Fort Washita half way from each it is thought to be one of the handsomest places in this District today I commenced cutting timber for a new store house my old one was too far from the house it was broken open a few weeks since and some $250 worth of goods taken out I have not been able as yet to find the Thief. The stock of goods I brot here last Spring I have sold and have done verry well, but it has taken nearly all of the proffits of my businefs to get fixed for living and we are just getting comfortable yet and shall have to spend a good deal yet before I get through. I hope if I am prosperous to have everything comfortable about me soon I have just bot two verry good negroes a man and woman. They cost me Eleven Hundred Dollars it was more money than I ought to pay out of my business but I was obliged to have them to help me and my wife I have about seventy five head of cattle about fifty five of hogs and ten head of horses which if I have luck with them in a short time will make me a large stock I sent by my friend Mr. Tims last week for another stock of goods he will be in New York sometime in May I have had for the last six months to exert myself to the uttermost to get along I have had to attend to my store and all of my building myself which has kept me on the go all the time. But on the whole I am doing verry well the only thing I regret is not having married sooner for when I was single I sought every means but the right to make me happy without success I now am happy and contented I have a most excellent wife who I love most dearly and enough to live comfortably and what more ought a man to have to make him happy except favour with God and that I often wish I had although I live a wicked life still I think a great deal about the future state and often wish I was a Cristian And what can I say to my dear Brothers and Sisters I love them most dearly and often verry often wish that I could see them I hope they are all doing verry well I feel a deep interest in their welfare I have done verry wrong in not wrighting to them but it was not because I did not love them. I ought to send you some money by Mrs. Kingsbury but mother it is almost impossible for me to do it at present. I sent you fifty dollars last December which I hope has made you comfortable and if you can get along untill next fall I will send you more I have spent a great deal of money the last year which has involved me but if I am prosperous I shall get along and be easy in a short time * * *

Two years later, Mr. Stewart wrote in a chatty, humorous vein to his brother. In those days, envelopes were not in use, so the body of the letter was folded and sealed

Page 187

with sealing wax. On the left-hand corner of the folded sheet (instead of a stamp) appears "From C. F. Stewart P. M.," with a proud flourish of the pen. On the right-hand corner is "Mayhew C. N. June 11 1845," followed by the address, "Thos. C. Stewart Esq. New Orleans La." On the inside of the letter, one may read as follows:

Mayhew Choctaw Nation
West of Arkansas June 11 1845

Dear Brother,
Can you forgive me for not writing before for I am verry guilty but you know I never was fond of writing

I suppose Henry has told you much of me Since his visit to me last Summer he is I fear not what he should be there is much about him I cant fellowship but I hope for the best I herd from a Traveler the other day that his [?] was H Stewart on a Steam Boat in the Mobile and New Orleans trade I hope it is not so. Since his visit here some changes have taken place with me last fall I purchased the Tavern and the Tavern belonged to my father-in-law I have rented out the Tavern and have opened my House to the public it is the best stand in the country being half way from Fort Towson and Fort Washita between which two posts there is a large amt of travel the road building from Washita to Fort Smith is to be turned so as to pass by my place I am still doing a very good business selling goods I have just got my goods purchased for me in New York last October but the prices I sell at pays for the delay You will see by the backing of this letter that I am P. M. for this place which appointment was obtained for me by a Friend in Washington last winter I have Five likely negroes which make plenty of help about my House And have one of the largest stocks of cattle, horses and hogs in the country numbering about 4 to 500 head and on the whole am a tolerable big bug for this country.

I herd by Mr. Hotchkins who visited Mother last Summer from this country that you were on there making large splurges also James with his Piano by the by this thing of knowing how to tutch the strings of a piano is verry assential to a man of businefs or poloticks he will make a man before his Mamma in your next letter tell me something of him I have just finished a long letter to Mother I have not herd from her since last fall I have hands now at work building me a Barn and an addition to my House which when completed will be some Pumpkins I am contemplating a visit home in the Spring if I can raise the wind sufficiently high but there are so many sudden changes in this country that I may be disappointed but I shall try hard to go. Brother I am verry anxious to see you and your wife Tryphena often speaks of you nothing would give us more pleasure than a visit from you this summer we have a fine boy about two years old Charles after his daddy and a fine daughter ten weeks named after our dear mother I have one of the best of wives and am living as happy as a lord write me soon and tell me all you know of home and what you are doing if anyone in New Orleans enquires after me give them a bit there are some of the Fellows I would be glad to see Tryphena sends much love to you and your wife remember me to her

Your Brother
C. F. Stewart

Page 188

It is evident that Charles Stewart was happy and prospering at Mayhew. The tavern was a comfortable resting place for many a weary traveler, for in early days, a well kept inn on the frontier was more than a commercial hostelry. It was a haven and a hospitable home to the wanderer in the wilderness. Among the visitors at the tavern were said to have been congressmen, army officers, and two prominent men each of who was afterward elected as president of the United States. Large parties of hunters and traders, exploring expeditions, many a company of U. S. troops, and trains of covered wagons bound for Texas frequently camped in front of the Stewart store to restock their supplies for the long journey ahead of them toward the west.

A year after Mr. Stewart had written Thomas, his brother, in New Orleans, a letter from his sister in Connecticut and a package of photographs of her and her mother and sisters was received at Mayhew. That of Anna Stewart was particularly beautiful. It fascinated Tryphena who saw in the face a counterpart of her own little girl. Holding it at arm's length she studied it thoughtfully, then suddenly said, "Just look!"

Glancing up from the midst of his sister's letter and seeing the graceful, unconscious pose of his lovely wife intent on the photograph of the beautiful Anna, was too much. He burst into tears.

Tryphena sent a letter of acknowledgment for the pictures. It was written in delicate, even script expressive of tender sentiment and warm affection for the mother and sisters back east. There were details of the children. "Bub," little Charles, could talk quite plainly and knew half the alphabet. "Sis," the baby Maria, was ten months old, could walk all about the place, and tried to say "pa and ma." Tryphena went on to say,

I often wish I could see you all but I am afraid that we never shall see each other. I heard that H. wanted to come out here, it is not too late yet, if you should ever come you would find a home, br.—and Sister. I thank you a thousand times for your likenefsefs, for whenever I think of you now, it seems as if I can see you at the same time. Charles says to tell you he has a pretty little Fice dog, he calls beauty, he says he loves his Grandma and Aunteys, too. I expect his Papa will send, or take him to the north, when he is old enough to leave his Mamma, and home, he looks like he was three years old, he is a smart

Page 189

little boy. Sometimes he brings some wood in, and will say "Mama I am going to make a fire for you." And Sis tries to sing whenever she hears some of us singing. I wish you could see her, she is a little beauty. I expect husband will write some in this letter, so I must draw to a close. * * * I send a great deal of love to you and to all the Family.
I am your very affectionate Daughter & Sister,

Tryphena W. Stewart.

On the page below this signature, appears the husband's message. In hauling rock to build a chimney, he had severely injured the forefinger on his right hand, which had kept him from writing. There had been hopes of going north but he had been at great expense in improving his home and store. He had also purchased another negro man. Until he could send more, he hoped his mother would enjoy some comfort from eighty dollars being forwarded to her through Rev. Anson Gleason whom he esteemed as a father. With inquiries after the welfare of his relatives and friends in Connecticut, he closed saying, "Following is Charles' letter." Beneath his name at the bottom of the page, crumbling and yellowed by the passage of almost a century, can be seen the curves and angular strokes of "Bub's" pen in childish scrawl.

Children, husband, home, and church were Tryphena's life. One time in spring, when the woods near Mayhew were misty pink with redbud, dotted here and there with drifts of snow-white plum blossoms, she and "Bub" and "Sis" set out on a long walk in search of a nest of wild turkey eggs to set under a hen. Bub was volubly enthusiastic over the quest while Sis poked about in the leaves with a long stick that she carried in her chubby hands. With the discovery of a prize nest, came the joyous return of the trio to the baby, Lavinia, who had been left at home.

Tryphena took an interest in the welfare of the negro slaves and taught them not only to read and write but also in a religious way. The first slave man, Charles, who had also been named after his master, had a fine voice and, for a time, was allowed to start the singing in the monthly church meetings at Mayhew.6 However, the plan did not



Page 190

work, Tryphena confiding in Father Kingsbury that Charles was beginning to feel his importance too much. So the meetings were held without any assistance in the singing after that. But Charles remained master of ceremonies in the large smoke-house in the Stewart's back yard, where he tended the little fires of corn cobs and hickory sticks for smoking the rows on rows of bacon and hams that hung in several tiers to the roof above.

Although his relatives back east had been ready to disown Charles F. Stewart for marrying an Indian girl, yet his loving comments about her as his wife, her own affectionate letters, and the glowing accounts of her loveliness given by the brothers who visited Mayhew and the friends who journeyed back to New England, finally won them. The descriptions of Tryphena's character and beauty remained a tradition in the Stewart family ever afterward. Many years later, when Maria, (Mrs. Berry) was growing up, her Aunt Arianna said, "Maria, you must hold your head high for your mother was a beautiful woman!"

Seven years after Tryphena's marriage, a dark shadow rested on the happy life at Mayhew, when she succumbed to a lingering illness and died on June 27, 1849. She left behind four little children,—Charles, Maria, Lavinia, and Henry. Father Kingsbury, Tryphena's old friend and counsellor, wrote the following sketch in her memory:7

Died in this village on the 27th of last month, Mrs. Tryphena Wall Stewart, wife of Charles F. Stewart, aged about twenty-five years.
For some months past, Mrs. Stewart had been in declining health and some two or three weeks ago, she came to Doaksville with her husband and two of her children, that she might enjoy the advantage of medical attendance. But it soon became evident to her friends, that it was too late. Disease had too strong a hold on her frail system, to be arrested. She came to make her grave in our midst, while her bereaved husband has had to make his lonely journey back to his desolate home without her.
It is a common fault to lavish indiscriminate praise on the dead. Examples of female excellence, however, are so precious in this land, that we must not let them descend to the tomb unnoticed.
Mrs. Stewart was an ornament to her sex, and to her nation. She was an example of the happy influence of early religious training. At the age of about four years, she commenced attending school at Mayhew,


Page 191

one of the mission stations in the old Choctaw nation, and continued her attendance until the school closed, previous to the removal of the Choctaws to their present country.
The instruction she received at school was well improved, and produced a happy effect. One very important trait of character displayed in the early years of Mrs. Stewart was her cheerful and ready obedience to those under whose care she was placed. It is not recollected that during the whole time of her attending school at Mayhew, she needed to be corrected for obstinacy of temper or disobedience.
While attending school at Mayhew, both her parents became pious. From that time their precepts and example, were united with those of her teachers, to train their beloved daughter to paths of virtue and piety. Happily for her she was disposed to listen to their instructions.
After the removal of her father and the family to this country, Tryphena was under the instruction of the excellent Mrs. Barnes of Eagle Town.
At the age of about fifteen, she united with the Presbyterian Church at Mayhew, on the Boggy. Making a profession of religion was, with her, a serious and solemn duty; and she did not as some others unfortunately have done, after the lapse of a few months or a few years, give up her Savior and return to the world. She felt that she could not break her covenant engagements with Him who had died that she might live. She was assailed by temptation as were others, but she persisted in following her Savior.
She was one of the first of the Choctaw females, who engaged in the arduous work of instructing the youth of her own nation. And so well did she succeed in the work, that for a time she was employed to teach one of the public schools with a liberal salary.
About eight years since she was married to Mr. Stewart. It was in these new relations of a wife and a mother that her character appears to the greatest advantages. It was here that she was able to put in practice those principles she had learned from the gospel.
In her habits she was strictly domestic. She made her house a happy home for her husband and family. Here the weary traveller found a comfortable resting place; and those engaged in publishing the Gospel to her people received from her husband and herself a welcome reception. She seemed always to appreciate the visits of her pious friends.
It has been our intention to present the character of our deceased friend, as standing pre-eminent, when compared with those who from infancy, have enjoyed the advantages of an enlightened Christian society. But considering all, the disadvantages of her situation and the general standing of female attainments in this country, we consider the example of Mrs. Stewart, as deserving and honorable distinction.
There is however, one particular in which her example will bear a favorable comparison, with that of mothers in any country; we mean in training her children. She has been called to leave them, four in number, at a tender age, but they exhibit evidence of faithful, judicious parental training; as rare as it is excellent.
She considered it no mark of kindness or affection in a parent to indulge children in what would not be for their own good.
Like the mother of the immortal Washington, she taught her children obedience. This obedience was always cheerful and prompt; without murmuring or fretfulness.
Seldom in any country have we seen a family of little children better trained. Were all parents to pursue the same course, teachers

Page 192

would find little difficulty in governing their pupils and when they left school, there would be good reason to hope that they would be a comfort to their parents and a blessing to the community.
As Mrs. Stewart drew near to the close of life, she manifested a deeper interest in the spiritual welfare of her friends.
Having herself obtained sweet consolation and peace through the Savior, she was desirous that others should be partakers of the same consolation. She said it was sweet to lie in the arms of Jesus, and to have no will of her own. She was willing to live or die as it pleased him. She took great delight in uniting with pious friends, in prayer and praise. With much entreaty she besought those who were living in the neglect of religion, to seek an interest in Him who died for sinners. It is to be hoped that her affectionate expostulations will not soon be forgotten.
"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord"

In a letter dated July 10, 1849, Choctaw Nation, Charles F. Stewart wrote his mother. "My dear, dear Tryphena is gone—and to use her own expression—gone 'to sleep in the arms of Jesus,' and her spirit is now in heaven. She died as an infant falling into a sweet sleep." But the simple inscription, "Tryphena's Grave," on the marble at Doaksville, remained his only expression to the outside world.

Mr. Stewart kept up his business interests at Mayhew. During her last illness, when she realized her end was near, Tryphena had asked a friend, Juliette Slate, a missionary from Connecticut, to marry her husband that her children might be reared by a Christian mother. This marriage took place in November, 1849.

Mayhew continued to grow in importance. In 1851, the Choctaw General Council established the district court ground in Pushamata District near Charles F. Stewart's home. He himself was deeply engrossed in his business. There was his purchase of the "Steamer Sun" on Red River not only to carry his own freight upstream from New Orleans but to trade between that port and the landings in the Indian Territory and Northern Texas on the Upper Red River. A notice of the "Steamer Sun" is to be found in the files of "The Northern Standard," published at Clarksville, Texas, one of the earliest newspapers in that region. Clarksville was located about fourteen miles from Rowland Landing on the Texas side of Red River, most of the river news appearing in "The Northern Standard" being gleaned from that point. The issue of this paper for March 5, 1853, contained the following:

Page 193

Red River

The river at our landing and above is falling. The Sulphur, however, still pours a heavy body of water into it below, being overflowed from hill to hill.
The Steamer Sun, with a load of cotton, from below here, sunk, a few days since at the lower end of Black Bayou, completely stopping navigation for the time and preventing the two or three boats, expected here, from getting up. The Echo, sunk last Friday, in the lake. She ran on a snag; had a load of cotton from Jefferson. At last advice efforts were making to raise the Sun, whether they have succeeded will be known in a few days. If not, she will have to be destroyed at once, to allow the passage of the boats.

One time Mr. Stewart's return home from a trading trip was delayed when the "Steamer Sun" struck a sandbar. As he sat on the deck patiently waiting the work of shoving her off the bar, the humor of his situation struck him and he sent word home, "I am waiting for the Sun to rise!" In July, 1853, he was aboard the Steamer "R. M. Jones" bound for New Orleans. He wrote his wife, Julia an affectionate letter, in which he said he was glad he had made the trip, as it gave him time on board ship for reflection. He regretted that he had been too deeply engrossed in his business to the exclusion of his family. He assured her his stay in New Orleans would be short and that he longed for the time when he could return and devote himself more to his home.

Life at Mayhew reflected the spirit of the growing West. Trains of covered wagons continued to restock their supplies in passing down the road, bound for Texas and on to California. "Weary travelers" still stopped to rest at the tavern. The slave, Charles, remained faithful to the little fires of corn cobs and hickory sticks in the smokehouse. Then suddenly one day, a year or two after the news item about the "Steamer Sun" had appeared in Clarksville's "Northern Standard," Stewart's store at Mayhew burned. Old Charles ran to the aid of his master but for all their frantic efforts nearly everything was lost. Mr. Stewart strained his side in rescuing his safe from the flames and never recovered from the over exertion. He lingered as an invalid for several months, during which his Choctaw friends came to visit him, often bearing little gifts as expressions of their friendliness and sympathy in his trouble. After his death, Mrs. Stewart disposed of her large property holdings, old Charles and his wife and the

Page 194

other slaves being purchased by Sampson Folsom. She then departed for a new home in the North. She never failed in teaching her stepchildren, whom she loved as her own, to revere the memory of their father and their beautiful mother. Last year Tryphena's granddaughter, Dora Lewis Gaines, composed the following lines as a tribute to her life and that of her friends:

How precious is the memory
Of our illustrious dead,
The lives they lived, and suffered—
The Cause for which they bled.

How precious are the records
Saved thro' the dust of time,
Mute messages that linger
From your mother and mine.

How precious our forefathers
Who worked and blazed the way,
And made our Christian Nation
Just what it is today!

MURIEL H. WRIGHT.

Return to top


Electronic Publishing Center | OSU Home | Search this Site