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On October 1, 1892, Rev. Edward Graham Haymaker became superintendent and continued to serve in that capacity until the spring of 1904.
The following extracts, from a circular announcement, sent out in script form, for one of the early years of this period, are full of historic interest.
“Oak Hill Industrial school for colored children is situated 5 miles north of Red river and 25 miles east of Goodland, the nearest R. R. station. School opens Oct. 2nd and will continue for a term of six months. It is important that all who attend be on hand at the opening. The sum of $10.00 for citizens and $12.00 for non-citizens will be charged which must be paid in advance, or assurance given for its payment. The price of tuition has been raised by the Board as the Choctaw fund seems to be cut off. It only amounts to 1 cent a meal or 3 cents a day for board and 1½ cents for lodging. Cheap enough. The Board pays the large part of the bill.
Shoes must in all cases be provided by parents and guardians. Girls will be provided with other articles of clothing as far as possible, but no such provision can be made for boys. Books for all will be provided free, and all will be required to work certain hours each day. Boys will not be allowed to use tobacco.
A course of study has been arranged and pupils completing the course will be given a diploma, which will admit to any of the higher schools under the Board.
E. G. Haymaker, superintendent.”
During this period a Boys’ Hall was erected in 1893, a laundry and smokehouse in 1895. In 1902 the school building was moved from the oak grove at the railway to its present position on the campus and the height of it increased.
Most of the pupils were boarders and most of them were girls. The girls were encouraged to learn to sew that at Christmas they might be the wearers of a new calico dress made with their own hands.
All were required to read the Bible and encouraged to commit the shorter catechism, the World’s briefest and best commentary on the Bible.
Mr. And Mrs. Haymaker
Rev. E. G. Haymaker was a native of Newlonsburg, Westmoreland County, Pa. He graduated from Washington and Jefferson College in 1885 and from the Western Theological Seminary at Pittsburgh, in 1890. In 1887 he was licensed by the Presbytery of Blairsville, and in 1890 was ordained by the Presbytery of Kittanning. After serving Midway and Union Churches, Cowansville, Pa., two years, on Oct. 1, 1892, he became superintendent of Oak Hill and continued until the spring of 1904, eleven and a half years.
Mrs. Haymaker, who became matron of the Boys Hall in 1894, was a native of Pennsylvania and was educated in the public schools and Wilson Female College at Chambersburg. She was a teacher at Wheelock Academy at the time of her marriage in 1894.
During the period of service on the part of these and all previous helpers the necessaries of life had to be hauled long distances. The daily supply of water had to be hauled one and a half miles. The nearest post office most of the time was at Wheelock, ten miles east. Previous to 1902, when Valliant was founded the nearest trading stations were Paris and Clarksville, Texas, and from 1889 to 1903 Goodland, twenty-eight miles west. All the surfaced lumber in the Girls’ and Boys’ Halls, built in 1889 and 1894 had to be hauled from Paris.
Travel over the rough crooked trails and un-bridged streams in the timber, whilst not unhealthful in good weather, was always a slow, tedious experience, rather than a source of pleasure. To live at Oak Hill meant to enjoy a quiet secluded home, so far removed from the currents of the world’s activity, as to be almost unaffected by them.
Mrs. McBride continued to serve as matron until 1899, a period of ten years. The school had then a history of 13 years. On reviewing the signs of improvement and progress among the colored people that might be attributed to the good influence of the Oak Hill school, she wrote as follows:
“The community has greatly changed since this school was established. When Mr. McBride and I went to the field murders were common in the neighborhood of Oak Hill, but they are rare now. The people are now improving their places, cultivating more land, planting orchards and building board houses, having several rooms. They have more stock than formerly and their outlook seems hopeful; but alas! Their religious life is sadly neglected. One half the pupils are from Presbyterian families, and those who come from other denominations learn to love our Church, its doctrines and form of worship.”
Parson Stewart of Doaksville, who had been the faithful pastor of the Oak Hill Church from the time it was founded in 1869, continued to serve it once a month until the spring of 1893, a period of 24 years. He was then at the age of 70 honorably retired from the active ministry, and the superintendent of the academy, became his successor in the pastorate of the Oak Hill Church.
The other assistants, during the period Mr. Haymaker was superintendent were as follows:
Principals: Anna T. Hunter, 1895 to 1901; Sadie Shaw, 1898-9; Carrie E. Crowe, 1901 to 1903; Verne Gossard, 1903 to 1904.
Assistant Teachers: Mattie Hunter, 1895 to 1901; Mrs. Mary Scott, 1901-1903; Jessie Fisher, 1903 to 1904; Rilla Fields, 1892 to 1895; Howard McBride, 1892-93.
Assistants in the Cooking Department: Mary Gordon, 1894-5; Fannie Green (Col.), Josephine McAfee (Col.), Sadie Shaw, 1897, Lou K. Early, Josie Jones, Lilly E. Lee, Mrs. Martha Folsom (Col.), 1902-3, and Mrs. Emma Burrows, 1903-4.
Matrons: Mrs. M. E. Crowe, 1899-1903; Carrie Craig, 1903-04.
Anna F. And Mattie Hunter
Anna F. And Mattie Hunter of Huntsville, Ohio, were educated, Mattie in Indianapolis and State Normal at Terra Haute, Indiana, and Anna in similar schools in Ohio.
Anna taught at Wheelock, I. T., from 1885 to 1890, under the Home Mission Board, and then three years under the Freedmen’s Board at Atoka. In 1895 she became a teacher at Oak Hill and, serving one year as an assistant, served four years as principal 1896 to 1901, being absent in 1898.
Mattie was an assistant at Oak Hill from 1896 to 1901, having previously taught at Wheelock two years, 1889 to 1891.
The work of these sisters at Oak Hill was greatly appreciated. A number of the views of the early days that appear in this volume are due to their thoughtfulness, and skill in the use of a Kodak.
Mrs. M. E. Crowe
Mrs. M. E. (Rev. James B.) Crowe in 1899 became the successor of Mrs. McBride as matron of the Girls’ Hall and continued until the spring of 1903. It seemed to her like the dawning of a new era in the life of a Choctaw Negro girl, when she entered a Christian training school like Oak Hill. After an opportunity for observation she wrote as follows:
“It gives us no small satisfaction to see the rapid improvement during the first year on the part of those who come to our school. It is very gratifying to witness the surprise of their parents, when they return after the lapse of a few months. This work may seem small when compared with the great South; but these Choctaw Negroes are ours now to mould as we will. The time is near when this country will be thrown open to white settlers; the hordes,-both white and black-will then pour into this section and our opportunity will be gone if we do not seize it now. We have had this year the clearest evidence of God’s approval of this work. Oak Hill needs much in the way of facilities. We are thankful for every word of sympathy and the help received this year from societies and friends. I would like to speak of individual pupils; of the transformation we see going on in their characters, and also of their efforts to profit by the instruction given.”
Rev. James B. Crowe, in 1887 had charge of the Presbyterian Church of Remington, Indiana. In 1890 he was appointed by the Freedmen’s Board to serve the colored people at Caddo and Atoka. Anna and Mattie Hunter were then teaching at Atoka, and Mrs. Crowe became a teacher at Caddo. In 1893 her health failed and, returning to the North he died soon afterward. Later Mrs. Crowe became matron at Oak Hill. She is now living at Hartford, South Dakota.
Praying For Water
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
When Oak Hill became a boarding school and a heavy draft was made on the old well, that at the first had attracted the school there, it “went dry.” After this unexpected occurrence it never furnished an adequate supply of water for the school and stock. During all of the 90’s great inconvenience was experienced in securing and keeping on hand an adequate supply during term time. When the supply was exhausted the work in the laundry and kitchen had to stop, until a new supply was obtained.
The nearest sources of supply, during this “lack of water” period, were Clear Creek and a large spring near it, both one and a half miles distant. At first two barrels were used to haul water and the team had to make daily trips during term time. Later a long water tank, that held a wagon load, was substituted for the barrels. Hauling water in barrels kept two boys out of school a considerable part of their time. They did not seem to care, yet the feeling prevailed that it was not right.
In the fall of 1899 when Mrs. M. E. Crowe became matron, the lack of water was so distressing it was made the subject of prayer. Mrs. F. D. Palmer, a secretary of the Board visited the school at this period and after an address, the question was asked, “How many will join in prayer for water to be given Oak Hill?” Quite a number responded and, at the ringing of the retiring bell, a circle of prayer would form in the girls’ sitting room and sentence prayers were offered for that one object.
About three weeks later, Mrs. Palmer met the women of the First Presbyterian Church, Wilkinsburg, Pa., and, among other needs of the schools visited, referred to the urgent need for water and a cook stove with a large oven at Oak Hill. At the close of her address an elderly lady, Mrs. Rebecca S. Campbell, arose in the back part of the room and said, “My sister-in-law, Anna E. Campbell, taught in that school some years ago; and I will give one hundred dollars for a good well and wind wheel for it, that it may be a useful and worthy memorial of a dear son, Frank Campbell, who died at thirty in 1900, and of Annie’s work in 1888.”
The Endeavor society added fifty dollars for a large cook stove that would serve as an oven.
In this reminiscence, the faithful teacher, the circle of prayer, the visit of the secretary, the address, and the presence at the meeting of a woman with a responsive heart and offering, seemed links in a chain of providential circumstances, that made those who were interested feel sure the school at Oak Hill was “precious in the sight of the Lord.” Their prayer for water had been heard and the answer was assured.
In 1903 this difficulty was overcome by placing an aeromoter over the well, sunk the previous year, to do the pumping for the stock. The stock then enjoyed the free range of the timber and consisted of considerable herds of cattle and hogs.
Appeal For Hospital
“Ask and it shall be given you.”
In the early spring of 1903, writes Mrs. M. E. Crowe, matron, one of the girls became ill and feared she was going to die. A special bed was made for her in my own sitting room.
After her recovery Mrs. Crowe wrote Mrs. Mary O. Becker, Mexico, N. Y., a personal stranger but previous contributor to the school, soliciting her aid to provide a hospital or separate room for the care of sick girls.
A favorable response was received. A partition was removed to make a long room and provide for a stove. Soon afterwards there was received from the Women’s Missionary Society represented by Mrs. Becker, three single beds, bedding, gowns, slippers, sponges, water-bottles and all the other articles necessary for the complete equipment of a sick room, including three changes of clothing for the sick.
The promptness of this response and the generosity of the donation, awakened feelings of heartfelt gratitude, on the part of the recipients.
A few years afterwards Mrs. Crowe related this incident to a group of ladies at Mitchell, South Dakota, standing in the recess of a bay window.
The pastor of the Church, now an evangelist, was busy in an adjoining room, separated only by a curtain. The reference to Mrs. Becker attracted his attention. At the close of her remarks he entered the room and stepping to the window, pointed to some pictures and said:
“These pictures at your side are of Mrs. Becker’s home and son. She helped me to get an education. That may not have meant much to others but it meant a great deal to me. It was a fulfillment of the promise.
“I will guide thee with mine eye.”
Mrs. Crowe further states, “Many that were under my care became Christians and I know that many of them are now doing great good.
“One, when leaving for home at the close of the term, remarked, “All things are going to be different with me at home, but I’m goin’ to try to live a Christian.”
“They need to be taught how to live as well as to die; So many have died. They are not careful of their feet.
“They are unable to get good books at reasonable prices, and the shoddy stuff they do read only tends to make them dreamy and careless.”
Carrie E. Crowe
Carrie E. Crowe, principal teacher at Oak Hill 1901 to 1903, and again in 1905, is one to be remembered as having devoted her best years and noblest gifts to the educational work among the Freedmen. It was during the early 80’s and through the influence of her cousin Mrs. R. H. Allen, D. D., whose husband was then in the beginning of his work as secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen, she was led to consecrate herself to this greatly needed work.
Her first commission was as leading teacher in Scotia Seminary, Concord, North Carolina. During one of the vacations while here, she and Miss D. J. Barber developed a new school at Hendersonville, North Carolina that was continued a number of years under the care of our Freedmen’s Board and the personal direction of Sadia L. Carson.
During another vacation she developed a school at Nebo, Marion County, N. C. This school came to be known as the Boston Mission. While she was caring for it, her father, who was a Colporteur of the American Tract Society, and her mother came and made their home with her. The maintenance of this school was not pleasing to all the people of that community; and when a total abstinence organization was effected and some regarded it as a menace to the local illicit manufacture of intoxicating liquors, the ill feeling was manifested by the complete destruction and loss of their home. Her parents were so distressed over this destructive work of the “white caps” and the seriousness of the loss sustained that both died a few months later at Durham, N. C.
After the experience of these great trials that came in quick succession, she was requested to open a day and Sunday school and visiting Mission, among the operatives of the Pearl Cotton Mills at Durham. When failing health made it necessary to relinquish this work, it was extended to the other mills at that place and continued by the women of the Southern Presbyterian Church, at whose request this work had been originally undertaken.
On resuming work under our Freedmen’s Board the first year was spent at Nottoway, near Burkeville, Nottoway County, Virginia.
The next year, 1897, the Mary Holmes Seminary, destroyed by fire at Jackson Jan. 1, 1895, was rebuilt and re-opened at West Point, Miss., by Rev. Henry N. Payne, D. D. and she became the principal teacher in that institution. On March 6, 1899, their principal building was again destroyed by fire. After three years of faithful service and another sad experience that tended to impair her health, she became in 1901 principal at Oak Hill Academy, Indian Territory, but after two years, by special request, returned and resumed her former position as leading teacher at West Point, taking with her two pupils from Oak Hill, Lizzie Watt and Iserina Folsom.
In the fall of 1905 she returned to Oak Hill Academy and remained until the month of February following, when she was called to the bedside of the late Mary Holmes at Rockford, Illinois.
Her work since that date has been limited to more healthful localities, namely Gunnison, Utah, and the Spanish Mission in Los Angeles, California. At both of these places she served under commissions issued by our Board of Home Missions.
She is now enjoying the rest of a quiet and frugal life in retirement at Escanto, California, within easy distance of a brother and wife, whose kindness is constant, and having as a companion, a friend, who is as a sister in their modest home.
Her last teaching among the Freedmen was at Oak Hill Academy and she seemed to have a special interest in the young people of that section. This interest was awakened by the fact that during her first term of service at West Point several girls were sent there from the vicinity of Oak Hill, which was then represented as a new country, without previous educational and good Church privileges.
She had the earnest desire to follow these girls when they returned to their home communities to see to what extent their Christian training at West Point would tend to elevate and ennoble their own lives and through them the lives of others.
This is the desire of every friend of Christian education. It cannot be given too great emphasis. Pupils that give assurance they will “make good” find that there are friends somewhere, when their need is known, ready to “help them to help themselves.” It ought to be a source of constant and life-long encouragement to every pupil, specially aided by friends in any of our Christian educational institutions, to know that the personal interest of their teachers and friends follows them through life to see and know, that they have profited by their youthful Christian training. They are expected to be teachers and leaders in thought and action in their respective communities.