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Biography of Bertha Louise Ahrens

Bertha Louise Ahrens (B. Feb. 26, 1857), missionary teacher among the Choctaw Freedmen of Indian Territory since 1885, and principal teacher at Oak Hill Academy, 1905-1911, is a native of Berlin, Prussia. Her parents, Otto and Augusta Ahrens, in 1865, when she was 8, and a brother Otto 5, came to America and located on a farm near Sigourney, Iowa, after one year at Bellville, Illinois; and four, at Harper, Iowa. The schools and Churches first attended used the German language. Her first studies in English were in the graded schools at Sigourney and here at seventeen, she became a member of the Presbyterian Church under the pastorate of Rev. S. G. Hair. He loaned her some missionary literature to read and it awakened a desire on her part to become a missionary. This desire was expressed to the Women’s Missionary society of the Church and she was encouraged to attend the Western Female Seminary, now college, at Oxford, Ohio. After a course of study at this institution she enjoyed a year’s training in the Bible school connected with Moody’s Chicago Avenue Church, Chicago. During the next year, after hearing in her home town an appeal in behalf of a Negro school in the south, she was led to offer her services to the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen. In December 1885, she received a commission with request to locate among the Choctaw Freedmen at Lukfata, in the southeast part of Indian Territory. The route at that early date was quite circuitous. Going south through Kansas City over the M. K. T. Ry., to Denison, Texas, she passed...

Biography of Mary I. Weimer

Mary I. Weimer, who served as matron 1909 to 1911, a native of Port Royal, Pennsylvania, came to Oak Hill from Knox, in the Devils Lake Region of North Dakota; where, after a course of preparation at the state teachers college at Fargo, she achieved an unusual degree of success, both as a teacher and manager of affairs on the farm. These interests prevented her from coming the previous year when first solicited. At the Academy she rendered a service so efficient and faithful as to merit the gratitude of all. After the loss of the Girls’ Hall, which occurred during her first year, when all of its occupants were deprived of comfortable quarters, the fear was entertained she would want to be excused from further service. Instead of pursuing this course she became one of our best counselors and helpers in the effort to provide for the comfort of herself and the girls, and keep the latter from returning home at that critical period. The superintendent will never cease to be grateful for her favorable decision at this trying hour, and the self-denial she voluntarily proposed to undergo, in order to make it possible, to continue the work of the institution. It was the period when Mrs. Flickinger was a helpless invalid at Fonda, patiently awaiting the return of her husband, with daily anxiety. He could not leave, however, until the cellar excavation and concrete walls of the building had been completed. This done, Samuel Folsom was ready to serve as foreman of the carpenters, in the erection of the new building, and it fell to the lot...

Biography of Solomon H. Buchanan

Solomon H. Buchanan is a native of Glen Rose, Somervell County, Texas. At the age of eight he was bereft of both of his parents, and those, into whose care he drifted, were not willing he should learn a letter. By some means he attracted the favorable notice of Miss Mary A. Pearson, a missionary of our Home Mission Board. Furnishing him the funds for the trip, she sent him at the age of 18 in 1903, to Oak Hill Academy with request to become an earnest Christian teacher. At the Academy Mrs. Mary R. Scott of Pittsburgh became his teacher. She taught him his letters and first lessons in spelling and reading, giving him considerable time and attention, while the other boys were playing. Perceiving his special fondness for music, she taught him the chords on the piano, and thus gave him a start on that noble instrument, which has ever since been his favorite. He has always found the study of books a rather difficult task, owing to the lack of early training in them; but he has proved a good student and a very valuable helper at the Academy. The longing desire to become a capable and successful teacher, has kept him there, amid all the changes that have occurred since his arrival in 1903. He has now acquired an unusual degree of skill as a performer on the piano and his enthusiastic accompaniments on that noble instrument contributed greatly to the pleasure and delight of the work at the Academy. He has become an earnest worker in the Sunday school and endeavor meetings. He has...

Biography of Simon Folsom

Simon Folsom, one of the first elders of the Forest Presbyterian Church is now one of the oldest living representatives of the slavery period. Nancy Brashears, his third and present wife, enjoys the distinction of having been the most influential of the early leaders in effecting the organization of that Church. He became an elder in 1887. After twenty-six years of faithful service under very unfavorable circumstances, he is still trying “to hold up for the faith.” In 1901 he enjoyed the privilege of being one of the commissioners of the Presbytery of Kiamichi, and attended the meeting of the General Assembly in Philadelphia. Many of the good things heard and fine impressions received on that occasion, have never been forgotten, and they have furnished him interesting themes, for many subsequent addresses. Though unable to read, he quotes the Bible as one very familiar with that sacred book. He inherited a good memory, that serves him well in public address, and he is always happy and ready when it comes his turn to “speak in meeting.” His messages are always notes of joy and gladness, and the ebb and flow of his voice in prayer often seem like the chanting of a sacred melody. He was an ardent supporter of the Oak Hill school and two of his sons, Samuel and David, both now deceased, were among the brightest and most promising, that have attended that institution. He has been for many years the coffin maker, for the people of his community, and both of these boys became skilled carpenters. Samuel, after completing the grammar course at Oak Hill,...

History of the Oak Hill Presbyterian Church, Valliant, Oklahoma

The Oak Hill Presbyterian Church was organized about June 29, 1869, with six members, namely, Henry Crittenden, who was ordained an elder, Teena Crittenden, his wife, J. Ross Shoals and his wife Hettie Shoals, Emily Harris and Reindeer Clark. The services at first were held in the home and later in an arbor at the home of Henry Crittenden, one mile east of the present town of Valliant, and now known as the home of James and Johnson Shoals. After a few years the place of meeting was transferred to an arbor about two miles southwest of Crittenden’s, and two years later, 1878, to the Oak Hill schoolhouse, a frame building erected that year on the main east and west road north of Red river. It was located on the southwest quarter of section 27, near the site on which Valliant was located in 1902. It is reported, that Henry Crittenden was the principal contributor towards the erection of this building. His cash income though meager was greater than others and he gave freely in order that a suitable place might be provided both for public worship and a day school for the neighborhood. Parson Charles W. Stewart of Doaksville, a representative of the last generation of those who were slaves to the Indians, was the minister in charge from the time of organization until the spring of 1893, when he retired from the ministry. He was succeeded at Oak Hill by Rev. Edward G. Haymaker, the superintendent of the academy, who continued a period of eleven years. He was succeeded by Rev. R. E. Flickinger, whose pastorate of...

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