Summer Normals

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The summer normals were established at the academy in October, 1905, and were continued during the next two years. Their object was to prepare candidates for the ministry, under the care of the Presbytery, to serve also at that time as teachers in the mission, and later in the public schools; and to afford ambitious young people the opportunity to prepare for the same work. They were conducted by the superintendent and Bertha L. Ahrens, the latter serving as instructor in the class room.

At the time they were held, they afforded the only opportunity in the south part of the Choctaw Nation, for the Freedmen to receive this training. When the McCurtain county normal was established at Idabel in 1908, they were no longer needed and were discontinued.

Those that attended the normals were as follows:

In 1905, Mary A. Donaldson of Paris, Texas.

In 1906, Mary A. Donaldson and Lilly B. Simms, Paris, Texas; Mrs. W. H. Carroll and Fidelia Murchison, Garvin, Mary E. Shoals, Grant, and James G. Shoals, Valliant.

In 1907, Zolo O. Lawson, Shawneetown, Mary E. Shoals, Grant; Delia Clark, Lehigh; Virginia Wofford and Solomon H. Buchanan, Valliant.

When the first summer normal was held at the academy in 1905, a request for some lectures or an instructor a part of the time addressed to Hon. J. Blair Shoenfelt, Indian agent, Muskogee, brought the following response from John D. Benedict, superintendent of schools.

“The colored citizens of the Choctaw Nation have not been allowed to participate in the benefit of the school fund of that Nation; hence we have not been able to establish any schools for colored children in the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, until this year. We have now a few colored schools in both of these Nations. There has never been any demand for normals or summer institutes for colored teachers in these two Nations. They will enjoy an appropriation of $100,000 for the ensuing year, but there are no funds available for normal schools among them this year.” John D. Benedict, Superintendent.

This letter indicates the lapse of provision for the general education of the Choctaw Freedmen and its renewal during the last years of the Territorial government.


Those that pursued the course of study, provided during these years, for those that were preparing specially for the ministry, were Noah Alverson, Griffin, and John Richards, Lukfata. Mr. Richards died at 28 in 1908 and Mr. Alverson was ordained in 1910.

Candidates For The Ministry

In April 1911, Riley Flournoy, Sylvester S. Bibbs, Fred McFarland and Clarence Peete expressed the desire to become ministers of the gospel and were received under the care of the Presbytery at Eagletown, as candidates. All were members of the Oak Hill Church and school.

MLA Source Citation:

Flickinger, Robert Elliott. Choctaw Freedmen and Oak Hill Industrial Academy, Valliant, Oklahoma. Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen. Pittsburgh. 1914 Web. 16 December 2014. - Last updated on May 5th, 2012

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