Chronicles of Oklahoma

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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 10, No. 4
December, 1932

Page 460


The date, November 16, 1932, marked the 25th Anniversary of an event of first importance in the chronology of the State of Oklahoma. It was upon this date in 1907, that the original Territory of Oklahoma was united with Indian Territory and under the name "Oklahoma" was admitted into the sisterhood of states, making it the 46th star on the flag.

Many editors of newspapers throughout the State recognized this event by writing appropriate editorials and publishing historical reminiscences. The City of Tulsa celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Statehood, closing with a banquet. Among men of prominence who spoke was Honorable Victor Murdock, editor of the Wichita Eagle. To commemorate this event they had a medal struck and on this medal is the imprint of the City of Tulsa and these words: "Oklahoma, Silver Jubilee—Tulsa 1907-1932. Statehood."

The City of Bristow also gave recognition to Oklahoma's 25th Anniversary. Marshall L. Smith, editorial writer for the Tulsa World, was the orator of the day and delivered a very eloquent address, his subject was "Background of Oklahoma."

Altogether the largest and most elaborate celebration was that sponsored by the Oklahoma Memorial Association and held in Oklahoma City. Mrs. Frank Korn of El Reno, president of the Association, had full charge of all arrangements and it was through her untiring efforts and preeminent ability as an organizer that the full measure of success was attained.

There was a parade through the streets of the city in which there were beautiful historical floats representing several counties, State schools, Indian schools, and other institutions, societies and organizations. There were ten or twelve bands led by the Kilties, dressed in Scotch costumes. The band masters were all gaily caparisoned and flaunting their batons, they marched proudly down the streets playing patriotic airs. The streets were lined with thousands of people watching the parade and cheering their favorites.

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After the parade a great float was brought up in front of the Historical building and there the ceremony of the marriage of the two Territories that was first held at Guthrie just twenty-five years before was re-enacted. After this ceremony several hundred people gathered in the auditorium of the Historical building and listened to addresses made by Honorable Claude Weaver, and former Governor Charles N. Haskell. Governor Haskell's speech on this occasion is published in full in this number of the Chronicles.

The annual banquet of the Oklahoma Memorial Association was held in the dining room of the Chamber of Commerce that evening, with Mrs. Frank Korn in charge of the program. Josh Lee of the University of Oklahoma, was toastmaster. Judge C. B. Stuart delivered the principal address of the evening. Twenty-six of Oklahoma's most prominent citizens were honored and given diplomas for having distinguished themselves by eminent service rendered to the State of Oklahoma, and to humanity, each in his own particular field of intellectual, professional and social endeavor.

The editors of the Chronicles have received an account written by Mr. T. L. Ballenger of the Northeastern Teachers' College at Tahlequah, telling of the restoring of the monument over the grave of Reverend Epaphras Chapman at Union Mission. The enterprise and vision of the teachers and students at this school are commended to all who are interested in Oklahoma history. There is a wealth of historical sites in this state that have been neglected and with the passing of time their locations will be entirely forgotten unless steps are taken to mark and commemorate them. Mr. Ballenger's account follows:

On Wednesday, November 23, a group of teachers and students from Northeastern Teachers College took material to the site of Union Mission, five miles northeast of Mazie in Mayes County, and erected a substantial concrete memorial over the grave of Reverend Epaphras Chapman, the founder of this mission.

Union Mission was established in 1820 among the Osage Indians who then inhabited this country. Some twenty or

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more men and women, mainly from Boston, working under the auspices of the Congregational Church, with permission from the War Department, composed the personel of the mission. Some were preachers, some teachers, some farmers, and others were carpenters and mechanics. They came here from the East by boat down the Ohio and Mississippi and up the Arkansas and Grand rivers. They started in the Spring of 1820 and reached their destination in February, 1821. The mission site was selected in the summer of 1819 by Epaphras Chapman and Nathaniel Pryor and consisted of a thousand acres in the bend of Grand River. It contained a fresh water spring and also a good salt well. Not only was this the first mission within the bounds of present Oklahoma, but here was set up the first printing press, and here the first Protestant marriage ceremony was performed.

Reverend Epaphras Chapman worked here among the Osages for five years, and died at his post in 1825. The mission was abandoned in 1837 and has long since gone entirely into decay. Scarcely anything remains to mark the site but some forlorn graves, marked only by plain slabs of native stone. The Chouteaus had a family burial ground here of slightly later date, but most of their graves have been ruthlessly torn up and pilfered. The most callous neglect would seem to be that of the grave of Mr. Chapman. After his death his young widow erected what was a handsome monument in those days before she returned to her home in New England. This monument bore the inscription: "In memory of Rev. Epaphras Chapman who died 7 Jan. 1825: Age 32. First Missionary to the Osages. Say among the heathen the Lord reigneth."

How long it stood intact it is impossible to say but at some period heartless vandals threw it down and broke it into pieces and within the past year other depraved vandals have been digging in the pathetic graves of this little cemetery looking for supposed treasure and have carried their depravity so far as to break some of the fragments of Mr. Chapman's monument into still smaller pieces. The Northeastern Teachers College has assembled these fragments so as to restore the inscription as far as possible, and in this they have taken the initial step to preserve the site of this historic mission for the benefit of coming generations.

The work was done under the direction of Professor

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M. E. Franklin of the Industrial Arts Department of the College. He was assisted by T. L. Ballenger of the Department of History and three students: Sterling Tell, Herman Teel, and Hubert Rosser. A mortuary encasement of solid concrete, about three by seven by two feet in size, was constructed over the entire grave. Then the original headstone was placed on top of the structure and embedded in the concrete so as to preserve it intact and yet show the original inscription upon it. A portion of the old footstone was also made a part of the structure. A tablet containing the words: "Erected by Northeastern Teachers College 1932" was set in the side of the monument.

All of the cement, sand, gravel, water, and other material were hauled there from a considerable distance thus making the task a slow and laborious one. Mr. Franklin and the writer made a second trip the following Saturday to remove the forms and do the finishing work. It is hoped that the whole of this historic old site may soon be secured by some historical or patriotic society of the state, restored, and preserved to posterity. It is one of the most interesting and important spots associated with the early history of this state.

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