Collection: Choctaw Freedmen and Oak Hill Industrial Academy

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...

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Biographical Sketch of Mrs. John Claypool

Mrs. John Claypool, matron 1908-9, the successor of Adelia Eaton, came from membership in the class of Mrs. A. W. Crawford of the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego, California. Her work is gratefully remembered for its uniform faithfulness and efficiency, and the sweet beneficent influence exerted by the noble womanhood and manhood of herself and husband, previously employed in a bank, who also came and remained with her at the institution. Through the aid of the latter, the profit on the poultry was greater that year, than in any other. The garden that year was greatly enlarged and surrounded with a new fence. He nailed the pales on the panels and they remain as a memento of his interest and handiwork. The fact that she represented one of the Churches giving most loyal and liberal support to the Academy, and was thus a living link connecting the work of the institution with the many friends, supporting it on the Pacific Coast, gave to her work an additional charm that was greatly appreciated. They are now living in...

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Biography of Adelia M. Eaton

Adelia M. Eaton was the second daughter of Harvey Eaton, one of the hardy, prosperous pioneer farmers of Pocahontas County, Iowa. She grew to womanhood on the farm, where she learned to be industrious and earnest.

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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,...

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Biography of Malinda A. Hall

Malinda A. Hall rendered six years of faithful and efficient service as assistant matron, and teacher. Having completed the grammar course at Oak Hill in 1900, and then a four years course at Ingleside Seminary in Virginia, she was well prepared for the work at the Academy, and proved a very reliable and valuable helper. She was capable and always willing, when requested, to supply any vacancy occurring among the other helpers. She enjoyed good health, and never lost a day from illness. Her strength and energy enabled her to execute promptly and efficiently, every work entrusted to her. Her work throughout was characterized by a never failing promptness, faithfulness and energy. She was familiar with the needs and traits of her people, was thoroughly devoted to the promotion of their best interests, and her suggestions were always gratefully received. The ability and enthusiasm of her work, as the teacher of a large class in the Sunday school and leader of the young people in their Endeavor meetings, will never be forgotten by those, who came within the sphere of her voice and influence. Since her marriage in 1911 to William Stewart she has been devoting her time and attention to the improvement of their home on the farm near Valliant. She is needed on the farm, but the thought lingers, that there continues to be a great need...

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Biography of Mary A. Flickinger

Mrs. Flickinger is gratefully remembered for five years of untiring service as assistant superintendent of Oak Hill Industrial Academy. The sphere of her observation and suggestion included all the women’s work in the buildings, occupied by the students, and the special care of the garden and Boy’s Hall. In connection with this daily oversight, there was always manifested a feeling of personal responsibility, to carry to completion at the end of the day, any unfinished work, that would otherwise prevent some of the larger girls from enjoying the privileges of the school, during the evening study hour. Trained in her youth to execute speedily all the kinds of work, usually required on a well arranged farm, and also as a sewer and nurse, one proved a very valuable helper. She became the home physician, administering the medicines and caring for the sick. Her method of treatment included the prevention of some of the milder, but common forms of disease, by the regular administration of some inexpensive antidotes. These two principles were frequently expressed: “Self-preservation is the first law of nature,” and “Prevention is better than cure.” The young people were also encouraged to learn, how to keep and intelligently use, a few simple remedies in the home. She and her husband are both natives of Port Royal, Juniata County, Pa., and their marriage occurred there, June 20, 1878. They...

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Biographical Sketch of Jo Lu Wolcott

Miss Jo Lu Wolcott, matron, February to June, 1912, was a daughter of the late Dr. Wolcott of Chandler, Oklahoma. She has had considerable experience as a teacher in the public schools of Kansas and Oklahoma, and in the government school for the Indians at Navajo Falls, Colorado. She is now serving as a teacher in an Indian school in South...

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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...

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Biographical Sketch of Mary A Donaldson

When Carrie E. Crowe was called away in January 1906, the place was rather reluctantly assumed but very acceptably filled by Mrs. Sarah L. Wallace of Fairhope, Alabama. After two months she also was called away. The place was then filled by Mary A. Donaldson of Paris, Texas. She had been an attendant at the first Oak Hill Normal, in 1905, and then became a missionary teacher at Grant. Attendance at the Normal led to her recognition, both at Grant and Oak Hill. After teaching several years she pursued another course of training at New Orleans and has become a professional...

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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...

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Biographical Sketch of Elijah Butler

Elijah Butler, Lukfata, was an uncle of Rev. William Butler. He was one of the early leaders in Christian work in what is now the northeast part of McCurtain County. In 1878, when St. Paul Church was organized at Eagletown, he was ordained as one of its first elders, and became an active Christian worker. A few years later he moved to Lukfata, and when the Mount Gilead Presbyterian Church of that locality was organized, July 26, 1885, he and his son, Elisha Butler, were chosen as two of the first elders of that Church. Elijah Butler, like Apollos of old, was a man, “fervent in spirit,” and was teaching others of the people, what he knew of God and the Bible, when Parson Stewart first visited the Lukfata neighborhood. His zeal and faithfulness, in magnifying the call of God to him to be a Christian leader among his people, suggested to them the propriety of naming their Church, at the time of its organization “Mount Gilead,” the home of the prophet, Elijah, in his honor. As an elder and Christian worker, he “kept the faith” and “finished his course with...

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Biographical Sketch of Rev. Plant Senior Meadows

Plant Senior Meadows, (Born Feb. 15, 1841) Shawneetown, is a native of Lewis County, Missouri. At 17 in 1859, he was sold by the administrator of the Cecil Home, and a sugar planter at St. Mary’s Parish, Louisiana, became his master. Here he was employed at various kinds of mechanical work, until he was accorded his freedom, at 26 in 1865. Mrs. Cecil taught him to read, and during this early period, he made the best possible use of his spare moments, by reading all the good books that were available. As soon as he was free, he became a teacher and in connection with ministerial duties taught twenty-two years in Texas, and since 1908, in Shawneetown, Oklahoma. On Nov. 10, 1867, he was licensed and in 1869, ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry, by the A. M. E. Church of Texas. After 41 years of faithful service in that Church, which included a term as presiding elder, in 1908 he located within the Presbytery of Kiamichi, Oklahoma, and, becoming a member of it, was placed in charge of the Presbyterian Church at Shawneetown. Bethany and Pleasant Hill have since been added to his field. He has made a good record and is still doing splendid work at...

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Biography of Rev. Thompson K. Bridges

Rev. Thompson K. Bridges, (B. Dec. 6, 1856), Lukfata, is a native of Ellisville, Jones County, Mississippi. He grew to manhood and received his early education at Claiborne, Jasper County. Later he attended the city school at Meridian, and then took a course in theology at Biddle University. He began to teach public school at the age of 21 in 1877, and taught fourteen years in Mississippi. In 1891, he located in Indian Territory, and has now taught sixteen years in Oklahoma. In 1899 he was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Catawba and in April 1902 was ordained by the same Presbytery. His first ministerial labors were at Griffin, Indian Territory, where in 1903 he effected the organization of the Ebenezer Church. The next year he continued to serve Ebenezer, but located at Lukfata, where he has since continued to serve as the stated supply of the Mount Gilead Church, and teacher of the local school. He served two years, 1904 and 1905, as stated clerk of the Presbytery of Kiamichi. Mr. Bridges has been a progressive teacher and minister. In his youth, he formed the habit of having a good book or paper always at hand to occupy his attention profitably, whenever he had a spare moment. That habit of private study in spare moments has enabled him to keep abreast of the times, and the...

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