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Cooks Leave

The German man and wife who had been employed by Mr. G. and brought from Cincinnati, when he first came to Fort Coffee, became dissatisfied. They had been employed to do the cooking and chamberwork of the institution, but the situation did not please them. They had no German friends with whom to associate, and were anxious to return to Cincinnati. We were reluctant to let them go; they were pious, intelligent, and faithful; and we had become very much attached to them. But they would not be reconciled, and so returned to their former home and friends. Our plans were now somewhat frustrated; we were daily expecting the students, and there were none to cook, wash, and do chamber-work. Mrs. G. and Mrs. B. could do very well till the school should open, but no longer. In the midst of our perplexity Mr. G. fell in with a colored man at Fort Smith, who claimed to be skilled in the duties of the kitchen; and his wife and daughter could do the work of the rooms and the laundry. Charles was free, having bought himself; his eldest daughter was also free; but his wife and the younger children were slaves, belonging to a Mr. B. , who resided at Van Buren. It was arranged that Charles should hire the time of his wife and children of their master, and then hire himself and family to do the work of our establishment. The terms were settled and the contract entered into; and in a few days Charles and his family were duly installed at their respective posts of duty,...

The First Quarterly Meeting at Fort Coffee Academy

Near the close of December our first quarterly meeting was held at Fort Coffee. Revs. J. C. Parker, J. Harrel, and Andrew Hunter were present. At the recent session of the conference they had been appointed a committee to audit the books and accounts of our mission during the preceding year. J. C. Parker was the presiding elder, but left on Monday morning without having held a quarterly conference; but in the evening we met in an upper room to organize and hold the first quarterly conference ever held in the northern district of the nation. The members present were W. H. Goode, preacher in charge, and H. C. Benson and John Page, assistant preachers. Mr. Goode took the chair as President, and H. C. Benson was appointed Secretary. We had neither stewards nor class-leaders; the usual questions were asked and answered, and the regular minutes were made and recorded. Our goods had not yet arrived. Mr. Goode had written repeatedly to the merchant with whom they were stored, but had received no answer. It was finally determined that I should go in search and not return without them. Accordingly, on the morning of the twenty-seventh of December, I set out on horseback for Fort Smith There I left my horse, to be returned to Fort Coffee, and took the coach for Little Rock, a distance of three hundred miles, and over a rough, rocky, and mountainous region of country. The coach halted to spend the night at the house of Dr. Williams, on Little Mulberry creek. The Doctor lived on a farm, and made an honest penny by...

Crimes and Debauchery

A grand ball-play recently came off at Ayakni Achukma, at which some avaricious and unprincipled trader succeeded in smuggling whisky into the camp. Soon after the liquor was distributed the excitement became wild, intense, and irrepressible; the play was summarily closed, and a general bacchanalian carousal and debauch were the results. While the whisky lasted the drunken revelry was kept up, each one contributing his part in the disgusting orgies. At length, having exhausted the supply of liquid fire, they struck their camps and dispersed, each in the direction of his own neighborhood and cabin. Cornelius Macann and family, who were our near neighbors, had to perform a journey of thirty miles to reach home; as they could not do this in one afternoon, they were forced to camp and take one “sleep” by the roadside. Macann was about fifty years old; his wife was much younger, and his son Jim, by a former wife, was perhaps twenty-five years old. The old gentleman was a little more under the influence of liquor than his wife, and she assumed the responsibility of taking the jug into her own possession. Camping by the side of their trail, Macann was very stupid and almost consumed by thirst; his wife kept the jug concealed and would not give him the coveted oko-ho-ma–whisky. He complained bitterly of his wife’s unkind treatment, but finally lay down by the camp-fire and went into a drunken sleep. At a late hour Jim Macann, the son, rode up to the camp, whereupon Mrs. Macann immediately brought out the jug to treat Jim. The old man again begged for...

Louisville Convention

The month of March had come, and all the conferences in the slave states, except Baltimore, had voted in favor of a division of the Church, and had accordingly chosen delegates to meet in convention, in the city of Louisville, on the first Monday of May, 1845, to effect a separation and to “erect” the southern fraction into a distinct ” ecclesiastical organization.” It will be remembered that the Indian Mission conference had elected J. C. Berryman and W. H. Goode delegates to said convention, and D. B. Cumming a reserve delegate. As the time was drawing near for the convention to meet, Mr. Goode requested the Assistant Secretary of the recent conference to furnish Rev. Mr. Cumming with a certificate of his appointment as reserve delegate to the convention. Mr. Goode then wrote to Mr. Cumming that, as he should decline taking a seat in the convention, it would be the privilege of Mr. C. to be present and take his scat as a member. Mr. Goode’s opinions were well understood, at the time of his election, but the brethren hoped his views might undergo some change within a few months. His purpose was to go to Louisville at the time of the convention, as it was necessary to purchase the annual supplies for the Academy and the mission, and if conservative influences should prevail and the projected division should be abandoned he would return to Fort Coffee and continue in the work. But in the event of a separation his purpose was to continue in the old Church, and remain on the north side of the line....

Fort Coffee Quapaws

On the fourth day of September two Indians, a man and his wife, came to Fort Coffee, to seek admission into the school. They were, according to their statement, Quapaws, and belonged to a remnant of a once numerous tribe, residing near the south-west corner of Missouri, in the vicinity of a mixed tribe of Senecas and Shawnees. The Quapaws then only numbered a fraction over three hundred souls. The Rev. S. G. Patterson, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, had been laboring with them as a missionary for several years. The Quapaw’s name was Villiers, and his wife was sister of the chief then in power and the daughter of the old chief. Villiers professed to be a Christian, and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He believed himself called to the work of the ministry, and had come to our mission to improve his education and qualify himself for greater usefulness. He stated that, before leaving his tribe, he had procured a letter of recommendation from Colonel Barker, the United States Agent; also one from Mr. Patterson, the missionary, which was also signed by Rev. D. B. Cumming, the presiding elder of the district. The letters were addressed to Mr. Goode, but having been robbed on the way he had lost his papers, They had left their home, traveled across the country to the Neosho and there purchased a canoe, in which to descend the river to its junction with the Arkansas, and so on down to Fort Coffee. They had laid in a supply of provisions, had their blankets, a trunk of clothing, a rifle-gun, a...

Murder of Mr. Vore and Family

About the last of September we received intelligence of the murder of Mr. Vore and family, who had resided for some years a few miles above Fort Coffee, in the Cherokee nation. As the rumor spread the people became excited and aroused to an unusual extent. Mr. Vore was a merchant, an upright, honest, and reputable man, who had been very highly esteemed by his Cherokee neighbors; he had been engaged in selling goods, buying peltries, and in a general traffic with the Indians. On the evening of the twenty-fourth of September a man called at the residence of Mr. Vore to obtain accommodations for the night, and, as there was no public house in reach, he was taken in. On the following morning the neighbors discovered that the house and store had disappeared, although no fire had been seen in the night, nor had any alarm been heard. A crowd soon collected, and, on examination, discovered the charred skeletons of three individuals, supposed to be those of Mr. and Mrs. Vore and of some one who chanced to stop with them. They had no children and kept no servants or clerks about the store. A few rods from the smoldering ruins were found the money-safe and a few drawers and trunks, in which fine and costly goods had been kept; all were opened and rifled of their contents. It became evident that the inmates had first been murdered, after which the store had been robbed and finally burned. A saddle and mule were found in the corral, which led to the identification of the stranger who had perished...

Freshets in the Streams

It will be remembered that, during the spring of 1844, unprecedented floods prevailed in the south­west. The rivers west of the Mississippi all overflowed their banks, inundating all the low lands adjacent. The Arkansas and Red rivers had never been known to be so high. Having their sources in the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, and having numerous and lengthy tributaries, the continuous rains and the melting of the immense quantities of snow in the mountains, caused vast torrents of water to pour down the gorges and flood the channel of each stream. And as the rains continued to fall, with but little in­termission for seven weeks, the rivers overflowed their banks, inundating the low lands, and proving fearfully destructive of the improvements and growing crops in the bottoms. Such rains for so long a period we had never before witnessed. The forest-trees literally bent beneath the weight of their luxuriant growth of foliage. At Fort Coffee the river rose forty-four feet above low-water mark; but still we were secure, as it yet required an additional rise of twenty-one feet to reach the top of the rocky cliff. But on the opposite side of the river, where the bank was not so high, the country was inundated for miles. Vast numbers of cottonwood-trees were uprooted by the floods, and carried down the current to the imminent peril of the steamboats on the river, one of which was wrecked and sunk with all its cargo an entire loss. On Red river the damage was much greater than on the Arkansas. Here, the banks being low, the floods swept over...

School Duties

The plat of ground inclosed by our buildings was rectangular, the sides of which were one hundred feet in length. In the center of this square a post or column was firmly planted, upon the upper end of which a bell was hung. In the winter season the bell was rung at five o’clock, and in the summer at sunrise, as the signal for rising. In one hour after the first bell the second bell was rung as the signal for assembling in the chapel for family worship, which consisted of the reading of the Scriptures, singing, and prayer. From the chapel we went directly to the dining-room for breakfast. Immediately after breakfast all the pupils were taken to the fields or woods, and kept at manual labor till half past eight o’clock; they were always in the care of one of the teachers. At nine o’clock the exercises in the school­room commenced; the session continued till twelve, at which time we had an intermission of one hour for dinner and recreation. The afternoon session continued till four o’clock; at half-past four the pupils again engaged in manual labor till within a half hour of sunset. In the winter season, when the days were short, the school did not open till half-past nine in the morning, and was dismissed at half-past three in the afternoon. At the ring of the bell we met in the chapel for prayers at sunset in the evening, after which we had supper. The students were encouraged to read of evenings, but were not required to devote any of the time to study; they...

Opening of the Fort Coffee Academy

On the ninth day of February, 1844, the school opened with six students from the Pushmataha district; they presented certificates of appointment signed by J. Folsom, chief, and S. Jones, Trustee. On the following day a number of pupils came from the Puckchenubbee district with certificates signed by James Fletcher, chief, and P. P. Pitchlynn, Trustee; also from the Moshulatubbee district, with certificates from Nat Folsom, chief, and Thomson M’Kenny, Trustee. In a few days we had received thirty pupils into the school to be clothed, fed, and taught. In addition to these we had consented to teach all the day scholars who should choose to come, boarding at home and being clothed by their friends. There were only a few who availed themselves of this privilege. The lads came in dressed in the prevailing fashions, having generally shirts, pants, and calico hunting­shirts; a few had shoes or moccasins, but the major­ity came with the feet bare. Not more than two or three wore hats; the balance were either entirely bareheaded or had a cotton handkerchief twisted around the head, making a sort of turban. According to Indian taste they all had long hair, and a few of them wore it braided. Our first work after their arrival was to wash and clothe them; we had entire suits prepared in advance for them. The coat and pants were of Kentucky jeans; good stout shoes, sealskin caps, white shirts of stout cloth, and cotton handkerchiefs completed the outfit. We had a tub of water for ablutions; then Mr. P., armed with stout shears, soon reduced their hair to our notions...

Contraband Traffic

The proper authorities have made laudable efforts to keep intoxicating liquors out of the Indian territory, and with a good degree of success. The Indian superintendents and agents were invested with authority in the premises. No one could lawfully carry intoxicating liquors into any of the border tribes; and if a man should be found over the line with liquors in his possession, it was regarded as prima facie evidence of guilt, and any one was authorized to seize the contraband article, break open the casks, and pour the liquors out upon the ground. The technical language of the Indians in such case was “to spill the whisky.” This regulation operated rather oppressively upon the military officers who were stationed at forts west of the state lines. Steamboats were examined at Fort Smith, and no rum, brandy, or wines were permitted to go any further up the river. They ingeniously managed for a time to evade the law, by fastening casks of spirits under the keels of the boats till they had crossed the border, and then the liquors were brought on board again. After that artifice had been detected the officers at Fort Gibson were compelled to resort to another stratagem to procure the all important supply of rum and champagne. They would purchase their liquors at Van Buren, and have them carried across the Cherokee country in wagons, under the special care of a subaltern, who was careful to avoid any of the agents. That arrange­ment did admirably for some time; it was regarded as a decided success. But owing to the cavalier conduct of some of...
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