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POST OAK MISSION

A Comanche Indian mission, Post Oak Mission was located five miles northeast of Indiahoma. Established in 1896 by the Mennonite Brethren Churches of North America, the enterprise had an inauspicious start. After twelve years the first missionary, Henry Kohfeld, could not claim a single baptized convert. A turning point came in 1907 when Abraham and Magdalena Becker were appointed head missionaries. Seven converts were baptized that year, and the work was soon on a firm foundation. Critical to the institution's success was the service of Magdalena as field matron in the Indian service. For twenty-eight years she trained Indian women in the skills of housekeeping, child care, cooking, and sewing. Her fluency in the Comanche language enabled to her to break down barriers and make the Comanches amenable to the Beckers' religious message.

A friendly relationship developed between the Mennonites and Comanche leader Quanah Parker. The chief had the grave of his white mother, Cynthia Ann Parker, removed to Post Oak Mission Cemetery, and he also chose to be buried there. An imposing granite monument over his grave became a local landmark. To-pay, one of his seven wives, and several other family members also joined the church.

The Beckers developed Post Oak Mission into, arguably, the most successful one in western Oklahoma. Long-time worker Annie Hiebert Gomez contributed to its success. Abraham Becker retired in 1941, three years after his wife's death. From 1948 to 1959 the mission operated an elementary school. In 1957, over the protests of many Comanches, the mission and historic cemetery were relocated to Indiahoma to make room for a missile range. In 1959 the status of Post Oak changes from a mission church to a self-administering congregation. That the Post Oak Mennonite Brethren Church still existed at the beginning of the twenty-first century testifies that the mission enterprise succeeded.

SEE ALSO: AMERICAN INDIANS AND CHRISTIANITY, MENNONITES, RELIGION.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. J. Becker, "The Story of Post Oak," Zionsbote (28 November 1945). Kiowa Agency, Field Matron Reports, 1904-1932, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Marvin E. Kroeker, Comanches and Mennonites on the Oklahoma Plains: A. J. and Magdalena Becker and the Post Oak Mission (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: Kindred Productions, 1997). Post Oak Mission Records, Board of Foreign Missions, General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies, Fresno, California.

Marvin E. Kroeker

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