Mission to the Cherokees of The Arkansas
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Let every kindred,-every tribe,
On this terrestrial ball,
To Christ all majesty ascribe,
And crown him Lord of all.
O mother,’ said Delia Claiborne as she returned home from school one afternoon, ‘you do not know how happy the sight of the table makes me.’
Mrs. Claiborne. It is not such a novel sight that I should expect it should produce so much pleasure.
Delia. Do you know mother, that cousin Cornelia promised to tell us about the Arkansas Mission in the bower, immediately after tea, and I was very desirous of hearing it early, but forgot to request it when I went to school, and could think of nothing else till I opened the door and found you all ready to pour it out; it is the more pleasant for being so unexpected.
Cornelia. I think we shall have time enough, for it is not a very long story I have to tell you.
Mrs. Claiborne. I wish to hear it; and do not see why you cannot begin now and by and by I can follow you into the garden.
Cornelia. In the year 1804 the government of the United States made an agreement with the Cherokees to exchange a tract of land about two hundred miles west of the Mississippi or a certain portion of land owned by tribe on the east side, and from the year 1816 to 1820 from two to four thousand Cherokees removed to the land on the river Arkansas. Talbot Claiborne. Did they go “without missionaries?
Cornelia. Yes; but the American Board of Missions fitted out a mission family, who soon followed them to that country.
Jerome. Who went, and when did they go?
Cornelia. It was about eighteen months after the mission at Brainerd was established, that a formal request was made by the princi? pal chiefs among the emigrants to the Arkansas Territory, to have a similar mission established on the west side of the river in their new coun? try. A conference or talk was held with them, which was followed by other measures preparatory to the future settlement of missionaries among them.
The Rev. Alfred Finney and the Rev. Cephas Washburn were designated as missionaries for the contemplated station. The Board of Commissioners appointed the former to make an exploring tour through the Arkansas country, and select a suitable place for a mission. The latter went to Georgia, as a Missionary, to labor a few months in that State, and then join Mr. Finney, who left Vermont with his wife and Miss Washburn, and went directly to Rockaway, New Jersey, and in company with Mr. Conger, Mr. Valli, Mr. Motte, and Mr. Talmage, with their wives and children, all 1. consecrated to the service of Christ among the heathen, proceeded to Brainerd.
Mrs. Claiborne. What an undertaking for families with young children; how many were there in the company?
Cornelia. Mr. Conger had five, the oldest fourteen, the youngest two. Mr. Vaill had a large family of very promising children, three of whom fell sick a short time before their de? parture from home; two of them died, and were laid in the same grave. The other gentlemen from New Jersey had been recently married.
Here Mrs. Sumers very unexpectedly called, and was easily persuaded to sit down and take a social cup of tea with the family, and after repeating a part of the conversation that had passed, Cornelia proceeded.
This company left Rockaway on the last day of September, 1819, and reached the seat of government the ninth of October. There the superintendent of Indian trade and several other officers of government, paid them many grateful attentions, and expressed much interest in all their benevolent plans for the promotion of Indian reform. They left Washington with letters to the governor of Arkansas, and many of the United States’ agents in that region, and continued their journey without meeting any uncommon adventures. When they entered the Indian country, they were met by Mr. Washburn, who had fulfilled his mission in Georgia and been waiting for them at Brainerd some time. Hearing of their approach, he and Milo Hoyt went out to meet and conduct them to the missionary station, where they were wel? comed with hearty expressions of joy and gladness. 1*
After resting two or three weeks, in which time they visited many persons and places, Mr. Finney and Mr. Washburn, with their wives, and Miss Minerva Washburn, took an affectionate leave of their friends at Brainerd, and pursued their way through the wilderness to Mr. Kingsbury’s new establishment in the Choctaw nation.
Delia. How far was it from Brainerd?
Cornelia. About four hundred miles, over the most dangerous roads, swamps, creeks and mountains, you can imagine. But few of the creeks had bridges or ferryways, and the water being generally muddy, it was impossible to determine the depth, until the horses waded in.
Mrs. Claiborne. I should not willingly try such an experiment. Were they not often deceived?
Cornelia. Yes; their trials were very great, and could not be remedied. The long and heavy rains had made the roads unusually bad, and had swollen the small streams to an uncommon size; it often happened that after entering what they hoped was a shallow stream, the horse and wagon would sink so deep as to wet all their baggage at a single plunge, or be stopped by logs, which lay under the water as high as the axle-tree.
Delia. What did the poor women do?
Cornelia. They could do nothing but sit in the wagons filled with water, with their infants on their laps, till their husbands carried them in their arms to the shore, seated them on the bank, and returned, working sometimes an hour in the water, waist high, before they could get the horse and carriage free from their entanglement in the logs, and. perhaps they would hardly have replaced their family in the carriage, reached the opposite shore in safety, and think now we shall ride with comfort, before their horses, and wagons would suddenly sink in the mire up to the body.
Mrs. Claiborne. What was the occasion of it.
Cornelia. In that country, sloughs are common and very dangerous, because the surface is so like the other ground, that you suspect nothing till you plunge in a moment three feet or more; the first shock is so great, you feel as if the earth had opened and was swallowing you up alive. Mr. Finney’s hat was knocked off on one of these occasions, carried down by the wheels, and never heard from again.
Andrew. How could he travel without a hat?
Cornelia. He tied a handkerchief about his head, after the prevailing fashion of the country in those days.
Delia. What became of the horses? Could they be taken out alive?
Cornelia. Yes; but the labor and perplexity were great; after unharnessing the horses, unloading the wagons, and prying with levers till they were nearly exhausted, they never failed of final success. Jerome. I hope there were few such sloughs.
Cornelia. They passed several of them, and no doubt they were quite numerous. This journey was uncommonly fatiguing; they were obliged to sleep out of doors fourteen nights, several of them were cold and stormy, it both snowed and rained, and the wind was strong and piercing.
Mrs. Claiborne. Is it possible they could suffer so much without being sick?
Cornelia. It was matter of astonishment to their friends, that they survived the perils of their pilgrimage through this trackless wilderness, for the ladies who were carried through these scenes of trial were delicate women, un? used to hardship and exposure. I have read somewhere that ‘God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb,’ and doubtless it was the sense of his presence that sustained and comforted them through the dangers of this journey, and preserved them from serious illness. How must their mothers have felt, could they have known at the time their daughters were wading through mud and water, bearing their tender infants in their arms, as they actually did after their wagons broke, till at last they mounted the horses and rode, with their little ones. On the last day of their journey, one of Mr. Kingsbury’s men met them; they were then reduced very low, having worn wet and frozen clothes, and slept on frozen blankets, two or three days and nights. Their whole stock of provisions which they brought from Brainerd, was reduced to a little frozen meat and corn-meal cake. They were received with the greatest kindness and affection by Mr. Kingsbury and his associates, on the third of January 1820.
Mrs. Summers. We may here see how the constraining love of Christ can and will bear up his disciples, and press them forward in the path of duty and obedience, beyond their natural strength and. courage.
Cornelia. Is it not cruel and disgraceful?
Mrs. Summers, that men and women so regardless of selfish considerations, should want the pecuniary means of accomplishing their largest desires.
Mrs. Summers. I will only answer for myself, when I say; this account shames and condemns me for self-indulgence and want of benevolence. I hope the society we have formed will add a little to the means of furnishing instruction to some of the tribe to whom these self-denying missionaries were bound, when they suffered so much fatigue and sorrow.
Delia. Were no other persons sent to the Arkansas?
Cornelia. Yes, several others followed them; the first were Mr. Hitchcock, of Brimfield, Massachusetts, and Mr. Orr, from Groton, New York. The American Board received quite a number of young men as missionaries and assistants, about the same time, some of whom had been designated to the Choctaw Indians. Among them was a Mr. Joel Wood, who had a short time previous married a daughter of the Rev. Mr. Williams, of Saratoga county, in the State of New York. This good minister accompanied his daughter and son-in-law, as far as Groton, where Mr. Orr resided. Unforeseen circumstances had prevented Mr. Orr from setting out on his missionary enterprise for several months, and he, from a desire of usefully filling up this period, had made an unsuccessful journey to Pennsylvania to procure a school, and returned somewhat depressed, the day before Mr. Wood arrived at Groton with unexpected instructions from the Prudential Committee, to stop at Gro? ton and take Mr. Orr on their way to the Cherokee country.
When Mr. Wood first arrived at Groton, he was told that Mr. Orr had gone to Pennsylvania, which cast a deep shade of gloom over his whole party. A person standing by told them that the Rev. Mr. Dean, the minister of Groton, had appointed a day of fasting and prayer, and the people were that moment engaged in their public morning services they all repaired to the meeting-house; after the services closed, the strangers were introduced to Mr. Dean. Mr. Orr came forward, and for the first time saw and welcomed his new friends. This sudden and unexpected call deeply affected Mr. Orr’s friends, and his own feelings were not unmoved; however he immediately consented to depart on the morrow, if it were necessary. At the close of the afternoon exercises, the congregation were made acquainted with all the circumstances and arrangements that had been made. The Lord had prepared the church to hear the intelligence with unusual interest; the claims of the heathen seemed presented in a new light, they saw and felt their miseries, as they had never done before, and all appeared anxious to impart something to furnish relief even the children of the Society expressed a willingness to send their own clothing to the heathen.
Mrs. Summers. Do you not think, Miss Pelham, if proper measures were adopted by parents, superintendents and teachers in Sabbath schools, a missionary spirit might be awakened and cherished among our children and young people, that would greatly add to the happiness of families, the prosperity of Sabbath schools, and the success of the gospel in heathen countries?
Cornelia. I do indeed, Mrs. Summers, and cannot express the desire I have felt to have a missionary association in every Sabbath school in the country.
Mrs. Summers. How soon the personal happiness of children would be promoted, by having their attention turned to this subject, and how cheerfully, and even joyfully, would they lay aside their cent every week, to ‘carry to the mission box; instead ‘of running to the confectioner’s with it for candy or sugar plums!
Cornelia. I believe every word you say, Mrs. Summers. I have often felt grieved, as I sat at my window, opposite a shop filled with all manner of sweatmeats, to see the flocks of children, who resorted to it in the course of an afternoon. Many parents feel, that a few cents are hardly worth a thought, if spent one or two at a time, but I know children whose annual expenditures, for toys and confectionary, would more than cover the expenses of schooling a heathen child, connected with almost any of our missionary establishments. I do hope the time will soon come, when the current of public opinion will open a new channel for these tiny streams, that they may flow into some reservoir, which furnishes the water of life to the perishing heathen. I hope, ladies, you will excuse this long digression.
Mrs. Claiborne. Certainly, my dear, and I hope we may profit by it.
Cornelia then pursued her narrative and said; Another meeting was called, at which Mr. Orr took leave of his Christian friends, who loved him most tenderly. A sermon was preached upon the occasion, and many fervent prayers for him and his associates were offered –he made a most affecting address to the church, the singers and congregation tears flowed from every eye, the church felt it was hard parting with him, at the same time they. rejoiced that he was willing literally to forsake all for Christ, and viewed it an honor that God had prepared one of their number to engage in such a noble, self-denying enterprise. While he gave the parting hand to every brother and sister of the church, every heart seemed to melt anew, and all wept without restraint. The congregation united in their labors of love, and clothes for the Indian children, with other articles, and money, were raised in that small village to the amount of two hundred dollars.
Mrs. Claiborne. Had Mr. Orr parents?
Cornelia. Yes; he was their youngest son, and very dear to them; his brothers, sisters and other family connections, all assembled at the house of his aged parents to witness his final departure; prayers were offered, a hymn sung, and with mingled emotions of joy and grief, they exchanged the parting embrace. Mr. Orr pursued his way to a heathen land followed by the prayers of an affectionate family and church.
Mrs. Summers. Is it extravagant to say, that in all probability he was instrumental of more good to his church and friends by going to the heathen, than he would have been by living and dying in the midst of them?
Cornelia. No, Mrs. Summers, the benevolent impulse they received at the time of his departure, was productive of more Christian effort than it is likely he would ever have occasioned had he never thought of leaving them.
Delia. Did. Mr. Orr and Mr. Hitchcock. travel together?.2*
Cornelia. Part of the way. At Pittsburgh, they took passage on the river, hoping to meet Mr. Finney and Mr. Washburn, at the military post on the Arkansas.
Delia. How long did those gentlemen remain at Mr. Kingsbury’s?
Cornelia. About a month. Their plan was, to leave their wives under the care of Mr. Kingsbury, make a beginning at Arkansas, and return for them; they set out early in February, and reached the Walnut Hills in safety, but finding the waters of the Mississippi had overflowed their banks, and traveling by land nearly impracticable, they returned to Mr.. Kingsbury’s station, and labored with him until May, when they once more took leave of their companions, and in June arrived at the military post on the Arkansas; but finding Governor Miller absent, they were obliged to wait nearly a fortnight, as they could not enter the Cherokee settlement without his permission. On his return, the missionaries were treated by him with the utmost kindness, and he cordially offered them all the assistance in his power, prepared the necessary papers, and made such arrangements as were needful. Just as they were ready to take leave of him, Mr. Orr and Mr. Hitchcock arrived. After a Iittle delay, they proceeded, laden with provisions.
Delia. How did they convey their provisions?
Cornelia. Upon horses. They had engaged two hired men, while at Mr. Kingsbury’s, to follow them to the Post; the men set out according to agreement, but lost themselves, and wandered among the swamps and creeks of the Mississippi, until they were almost famished; their horses also were brought nearly to death from fatigue and want. During their tedious journey from the Arkansas Post to the scene of their future operations, the whole party suffered more or less from sickness. Mr. Finney was first attacked with fever, which ran very high; then Mr. Wash burn, whose life was in imminent danger for a time; Mr. Orr and Mr. Hitchcock suffered much. They were obliged to sleep on the damp ground, which, with unsuitable diet, greatly increased their disorders. At length they reached the residence of the United States’. Agent, attended a council of the Cherokees, explained their object in coming, described the school they wished to establish, and requested permission to select a place to erect a dwelling and schoolhouse. The chiefs heard all they had to say with, much patience, but manifested no farther interest, till the head chief was told they were the missionaries promised to their late king Talon-tis-kee, two or three years before. On hearing this, the sable, countenance of the warrior brightened with. joy, and he offered them the privilege of choosing a place for the dwelling-house of the mission family.
After much examination, a site was selected on the twenty-fifth of August, about – five miles above the junction of the Illinois creek with the river Arkansas. It was upon a beautiful eminence, covered with lofty oak and pine, a bold spring of pure water gushed out a little below in great abundance, to supply the wants of a numerous family.
On the fourth of September, the missionaries, with their assistants, repaired to this spot, and in the most solemn manner, consecrated themselves and the plate to their God and Redeemer. Within a month, one log cabin was completed, and another begun. . In October, Mr. Finney and Mr. Washburn thought it expedient to return for their wives and children, leaving Mr. Orr and Mr. Hitchcock with the two hired men, to make further preparation for a school, and to cultivate the land.
Delia. I hope their journey back was not as toilsome and dangerous, as it was in going out to the Cherokee settlement.
Cornelia. It was quite as much so. It would take me hours to relate their wearisome wanderings in the wilderness, their privations and hardships, their sicknesses, without physicians, suitable food or medicine, fire or shelter. Here and there a kind-hearted officer of the United States’ army showed humane, generous and grateful attentions; but I must pass over many sorrowful and suffering scenes, and say that they arrived at Mr. Kingsbury’s on the twenty-fifth of December, in so weak and mis? erable a condition that they were obliged to ascend the bank of the creek upon their hands and knees, not having strength to walk; they were ten days traveling the last hundred and fifty miles on horseback; ‘their bones were constantly racked with intolerable pains-their bodies chilled and burnt by violent ague and fever.’ Repose was seldom more needed, or more highly valued, than by these way-worn missionaries, when they reached the bosom of Mr. Kingsbury’s family. Mrs. Claiborne. How long had they been absent?
Cornelia. About seven months; during the whole time they had never heard from their families but once, and were in greater ignorance of every thing passing in New England.
Delia. Is there no possible intercourse between that part of the country and this? Cornelia. Yes; the difficulty lay in something wrong in the post-office department, which being remedied, communications were made with the same ease and punctuality as formerly. Mrs. Summers. How did these missionaries support their afflictions?
Cornelia. With Christian heroism. They were humble, patient, and resigned. They determined to do all their strength and ability would allow, and leave the event with God. Delia. How long did they stop in the Choctaw nation the second time? Cornelia. From the twenty-fifth of December till the twenty-fifth of March, during which time they finely recruited. When they returned to their new station, they were fitted out with every thing comfortable, took a passage by water, and suffered very little from fatigue.
Delia. What was the name of the new station? Cornelia. Dwight. It was so named in honor of Dr. Dwight, President of Yale College, in Connecticut.
Delia. When did they arrive there? Cornelia. On the tenth of May. Delia. How did Mr. Orr and Mr. Hitchcock get along during their absence?
Cornelia. They suffered much from sickness and unsuitable food, but bore it all with contentment and cheerfulness. When their friends returned, they had entirely recovered.
Mrs. Summers. Had they been able to accomplish much?
Cornelia. Mr. Finney and Mr. Washburn were astonished to find so much land prepared for planting. , They had cleared twelve acres, and fitted it for the plough, and felled the trees on six acres more, besides planting three acres, and almost completing two log-houses.
Mrs. Claiborne. Were not blacksmiths and other mechanics as necessary at Dwight as at Brainerd?
Cornelia. Yes, aunt, and the Prudential Committee sent on a reinforcement, as early as possible, consisting of two Mr. Hitchcocks, one a brother of Mr. Hitchcock, at Dwight; two ladies, Miss Stetson and Miss Brown, went with them. This company started from Brim? field, Massachusetts, in September, 1821, and had a pleasant journey to Pennsylvania, where Mr. Hitchcock was taken ill of fever, which put a period to his life on the ninth day.
Mrs. Claiborne. What a trial to his fellow? Travelers
Cornelia. It was a heavy affliction; but they were carried through it remarkably.
Mrs. Summers. How did Mr. Hitchcock appear in view of death?
Cornelia. Tranquil and resigned ; he manifested a most excellent spirit from the first. Soon after he was confined to his bed, he spoke as though he almost fully expected his sickness would terminate in death, and said repeatedly, if it should, he wished his companions to proceed on their journey as far as Ohio, where they might consult an agent of the Board about their future course.
At intervals, his mind wandered as his disease increased, till toward the Iast, his reason and speech failed entirely. Mr. Hitchcock kept a diary, and I will read a few extracts from what he wrote in it, two days before his fatal illness. (Reads) ‘ I do not hesitate a moment on the ground that I shall not glorify
God in this act of benevolence; but I am determined, let the event on my part be what it may, to persevere in the way I have chosen; to go to the heathen, not knowing what shall befall me on my way, or after I shall arrive; and I desire to say with Paul, ” I am not only ready to be bound, but to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.” ‘ The next day he wrote, Whether I die on my way in this enterprise the salvatiaon of souls, or arrive at port, destined for my labors among the heathen, there to suffer much toil, and pain, and hardship and there to drop into the dust, I think I shall never regret embarking in this glorious cause. May this be my motto, God shall call me, “Life and death to me are equal.” All his language and deportment corresponded with this motto, which contained the last words he ever wrote.
Delia. Did the other missionaries proceed? females to the Cherokee country?
Cornelia. He did; and so prosperous was they reached Dwight on the twenty-second of December 1821. In less than three weeks afterwards, the school house filled up so rapidly that early in May it consisted of fifty scholars. The whole establishment was conducted upon the same principles, and the plan was so exactly like the one at Brainerd, that a particular description would be tiresome and useless.
Mrs. Claiborne. Did the Cherokees live in harmony with the neighboring tribes? Cornelia. The 0 sages were the only tribe in their immediate vicinity: with the Cherokees had long been at variance, and in their repeated skirmishes lives bad been lost on both sides and many scalps exhibited as trophies of victory; but in August 1821, a treaty was formed and ratified between the two tribes, and the chiefs and warriors of both nations smoked the pipe of peace together in great harmony.
Mrs. Summers. How far was Dwight from the stations on the east side of the Mississippi? Cornelia. Nearly five hundred miles. They felt at a great remove from the Christian world, and almost buried in the wilderness for a time.
Delia. I suppose they seldom received company.
Cornelia. They were not exposed to as much company as the missionaries at Brainerd, yet they had calls from Governor Miller, the agent of government, and almost every person who traveled through the country, friendly to religious institutions; besides emigrants to the southern country, who generally called.
Mrs. Summers. Were the emigrants numerous?
Cornelia. Considerably so; their condition was often deplorable; the mission family were deeply affected, when they witnessed what privations and hardships are encountered for the hope of worldly gain, and thought if Christians could look upon them, they would blush at the remembrance of their past neglects of duty, from love to personal ease, and lack of zeal in the cause of truth and holiness.
Delia. It is still surprising to me, cousin, how genteel and refined gentlemen and ladies can turn their backs upon the comforts and pleasures of friends and home, to go and labor like slaves, live in log-huts, and wear themselves out in keeping school,’ preaching, and learning the Indians how to plough, hoe, and spin, all without pay!
Cornelia. I presume, Delia, it will remain a mystery to you, unless it shall please God to grant you genuine conversion; then you will feel the spiritual wants and woes of the poor heathen, see the gloom and thick darkness that broods over their grave, and view by the eye of faith the horrors of that world where hope never enters; then turning from these painful scenes to the glories of heaven, which have been purchased by the agonies and blood of the Son of God, you will not so much wonder that missionaries are willing to go and persuade the heathen to accept of those blessed mansions, as that Christians can stay at home, forgetful of the obligations of the gospel, which bind them to use all they are allowed to call theirs for the glory of God and the salvation of men, equally with those who literally forsake all for Christ.
Mrs. Claiborne. Cornelia, you do not suppose that it is as much your duty to labor for the salvation of the heathen, as it is for Mr. Kingsbury, do you?
Cornelia. Not in the same way, aunt; but I feel as much bound by the vows I took upon myself when I joined the church, to live and labor with as much singleness of heart for the advancement of the Redeemer’s kingdom on earth, as Mr. Kingsbury or any other missionary in the world. And I believe that every professor of religion, as well as myself, is under as strong obligations to pray for the heathen, and earn money, and to save it by prudent economy, to expend in supporting missionaries ,as the missionaries are, on heathen ground, to preach and teach and devise and execute their various plans to bring the heathen under the influence of Christianity and civilization.
Mrs. Claiborne. Do you believe all professors of religion think as you do?
Cornelia. I do not know, aunt, what passes in the hearts of professors; but with their lips they acknowledge themselves to be no longer their own; that they have been bought, and with no less price than a Savior’s blood; that they cordially choose him for their portion, and promise to be his servants forever.
Mrs. Claiborne. I believe that all you say, and much more, is implied in a public profession of religion. I wonder so many have the courage to make one.
Cornelia. I hope, my dear aunt, you do not suppose it requires more courage to obey a command of Christ, especially one so plain, positive, and simple as confessing him before men, than to neglect and refuse compliance. The Bible is very explicit on the subject of a religious profession, its rules are clearly laid down, and if we study it with diligence, our duties to Christ, our own souls, and those of our friends, and even the heathen will appear to us very plain and pointed, and I think our happiness will be in proportion to our fidelity in discharging them.
Talbot. Come,’ ladies, do let me wait on you to our beautiful bower. ‘Oh that salvation might proceed From Zion’s sacred place, till Israel’s captives all are freed, And sing recovering grace.’
Mrs. Claiborne, Mrs. Summers, Miss Cornelia and the children were hardly seated in the bower before Jerome said, “Were the scholars at Dwight as agreeable as those in the school at Brainerd?’
Cornelia. Yes, quite as agreeable; the missionaries always speak of them in their letters and journals with much affection, and describe them gentle, and docile, handsome, intelligent, and to a considerable degree industrious.
Mrs. Claiborne. Are their parents grateful to the missionaries for the labor thus bestowed upon their children?
Cornelia. They are now much more so than in the first years of the mission; then many appeared to think and feel that they conferred a favor upon the missionaries whenever they gave up their children to be educated, or consented to receive instruction themselves.
Mrs. Claiborne. Was the preaching of the gospel as successful at Dwight as on the other side of the Mississippi?
Cornelia. Perhaps not, though divine truth was set home upon the hearts of a few, who ultimately became active, fruitful Christians. In May 1824, two females were received into the church; one of them a half sister of Catharine Brown, the other was a woman fifty or sixty years old, named Naomi, extremely ignorant, but she gave very satisfactory evidence of love to Christ, and ever afterwards lived a consistent Christian life. She was the daughter of a warrior of considerable reputation in Willis Valley, on the east side of the Mississippi, and removed to the Arkansas in 1818. Her neighbors were attached to her for the kindness and honesty she always manifested. Before her mind was changed, her greatest defect was Peevishness. Soon after she was admitted to the church, many accusations were brought against Naomi by those who hated the missionaries and the gospel which they preached; all these persecutions she bore with the greatest patience, forbearing to retaliate, humbly waiting upon God, and praying for her enemies. Her conduct was examined, and every charge proved false.
She had an only son, who fell sick and died of consumption, not many months after she United with the church; after his illness became serious, he expressed a wish to live with, the missionaries, and his mother accompanied him to the mission family, whose instructions, it is believed, were owned of God to the salvation of his soul. In this season of affliction, Naomi’s Christian consolations enabled her to triumph in Christ. Her own death was near; in less than a month after the departure of her son, she was attacked with an inflammatory disease of the liver. Her sufferings were short, but severe; not a murmur escaped her lips. She said, “It is my Savior’s hand: I am resigned and happy.’ Two days before she breathed out her soul, and went to heaven, her mind was deranged; but in all her wanderings her soul appeared to be stayed on God. The mind of her daughter was soon impressed, and she became a member of the church. The missionaries were satisfied that the holy example, fervent prayers, and affectionate warnings of Naomi were instrumental in the conversion of the daughter, although this pleasing change was not effected until long after the mother slept in the grave.
Mrs. Claiborne. Were the people around
Dwight as ignorant as the natives in the neighborhood of Brainerd?
Cornelia. Yes; their ignorance, superstition, and cruelty exceeded theirs. That the soul was immortal was as wonderful news, to many who “came to hear preaching, as the birth, life, miracles, and death of Christ. Mr. Washburn read and expounded the parable of the prodigal son one day to a company of men, who appeared to feel interested. When he ceased speaking, one of them, named Long Knife, asked how we came into the world, and how we became sinners? These questions led to a history of the creation, apostasy, and redemption through the atonement of Christ. After hearing it with many close applications, he wished to know what the law of God was; for if such dreadful consequences followed the breaking of it, he wished to know all that was required and forbidden, that .he might no more disobey.
Talbot. Had the missionaries’ time to instruct all who came to them for that purpose?
Cornelia. No; they were obliged to limit their school to sixty, and could not go to such a distance as they desired to attend meetings, because there were so few persons attached to the mission. Some of these evils, connected with want of help, were partly remedied after Mr. Brown went over the river and settled for a time in the vicinity of Dwight. They attended meetings, prayed and exhorted in Cherokee, and were rich blessings to their adult countrymen. David Brown labored with the chiefs and people of the Arkansas, until they called a council, enacted laws and transacted much business for the promotion of religion and civilization. At this council, a National Committee was chosen, to hold their office four years, and David was appointed Secretary. Two of this honorable committee, John Jolly, the President, and Black Fox, became so friendly to the missionaries that they urged them to come and preach at their houses. Talbot. Did they go?
Cornelia. Yes; Mr. Washburn set out early in January, 1825, and made a preaching tour of two or three weeks. During this excursion, he visited many families, and preached a great many sermons. He visited Col. Webber, a half-brother to David and Catharine Brown, whose whole family ran out to meet him, hallooing, ‘ Mr. Washburn come, Mr. Washburn come.’ The colonel and his wife were at that time both serious. It was a very remarkable circumstance that in less than six years, nine members of Mr. John Brown’s family became hopefully pious. On his way home, Mr. Washburn called upon Tom Graves, a half?breed, who made himself much talked of, by the murder of an Osage woman and her child, whom he took captive, brought home, and treated with great attention two or three months, and then in a drunken frolic butchered them in the most savage manner.
Delia. I wonder Mr. Washburn dared trust himself in his power.
Cornelia. Graves always lamented the murder, and said he never should have done. it, had he not been drunk.
Talbot. A miserable excuse for murder, or any other crime.
Cornelia. That is true, and one which adds greatly to the guilt.
Delia. Were no other missionaries sent to aid those established at Dwight?
Cornelia. Yes; Dr. Weed with his wife and Miss Cynthia Thrall, joined them in 1825. About the same time the principal chiefs in different places requested the missionaries to establish local schools, promising to build houses for the teachers, and to make all the necessary preparations for large schools. At the meeting of councils, the missionaries were sent: for to act as chaplains; during the whole session, the meeting was daily opened with prayer, and preaching well attended on the Sabbath. In 1828, the government of the United States entered into a new engagement with the Cherokees of the Arkansas, upon their agreeing to exchange their cultivated lands for a tract still farther west.
Talbot. Did they make such a foolish bargain as to give up all their improvements, and receive only wild uncultivated land in return?
Cornelia. No, cousin Talbot; the United States promised to have all their property appraised, and the value of all the improvements paid into their hands; that the buildings and land belonging to the agency should be sold, and the avails appropriated to erecting saw and grist-mills for their use, upon the land they received in exchange. The United States’ government also promised fifty thousand dollars to pay them for their trouble of removing, and six thousand more within three years as an equivalent for the inconveniences they would have to encounter in forming a new settlement4; and between eight and nine thousand more were promised, to pay them in full for all the depredations and injuries they had sustained from United States’ citizens and Indians previous to the formation of this treaty. Two thousand a year, for ten years, were also to be paid for the education of Cherokee youth in literature and the mechanic arts; and one thousand dollars towards the establishment of a Printing press solely for their use. Talbot. This removal must have been a heavy pecuniary loss to the Board of Missions. Cornelia. No, Talbot; government agreed to pay as much for the building of a new establishment, as the one at Dwight cost them.
Jerome. Was this treaty pleasing to the Nation?
Cornelia. No; it occasioned much dissatisfaction.
Jerome. How far off were the lands for which they exchanged their improvements?
Cornelia. About a hundred miles west of Dwight, on the western bank of the river Salina, which falls into the Arkansas.
Mrs. Claiborne. Did not this removal occasion much difficulty and confusion in the missionary movements?
Cornelia. Yes, aunt, it was a scene of deep distress to the missionaries; they had been prospered in a new school at a place called Mulberry, and between thirty and forty scholars had commenced study under very favorable circumstances. The school at Dwight contained sixty interesting scholars, making fine progress in knowledge and civilization. The church was in a happy, thriving condition, bound together by the strong ties of Christian love, and common interest.
Mrs. Claiborne. How large was the church?
Cornelia. Sixteen members had been admitted, three of whom had died in the faith.
Mrs. Claiborne. This removal must have been a serious check to improvement.
Cornelia. It was a most perplexing, dis? heartening affair. The gospel had partially triumphed over some of the grossest heathenish practices, and increasing light gave promise of a brighter day.
Mrs. Claiborne. What were the most prominent vices of the Indians, when the mission was first commenced?
Cornelia. Drunkenness, lewdness, gambling, polygamy, witchcraft, and infanticide.
Andrew. What is infanticide, cousin Cornelia?
Cornelia. The murder of infants. It is a common thing for heathen parents to murder a large portion of their children, in the first days of their existence.
Delia. And what is polygamy?
Cornelia. Having more wives than one.
Mrs. Claiborne. How far had these evils been remedied, at the time of their removal?
Cornelia. Public sentiment was so much refined and elevated, that it was accounted disgraceful for a man to have more than one wife, and for nearly two years the missionaries had no personal knowledge of the murder of a single infant.
Talbot. Was there any difference in respect to drunkenness?
Cornelia. Yes, Talbot, that hateful vice had so much abated, that one gallon of ardent spirit was not then consumed, where one barrel was drank at the commencement of the mission.
Jerome. I suppose witches found less to do. Cornelia. With regard to witchcraft and conjuring, the reformation was not so visible; but as the knowledge of divine truth spread abroad, Christian institutions were reverenced, and, of course, witchcraft and conjuring retired, as they always do, from the light of the gospel.
Delia. Is it possible, that witches excite fear? I thought they were consulted by per? sons wishing to have their fortunes told.
Cornelia. Yes; you cannot imagine how much anxiety is manifested, lest a person should give offence to one of these miserable creatures. A little girl about nine years old, (niece to Catharine Brown,) came to the mission school at Dwight, in 1822. At that time, she had most fearful apprehensions of their power and malignity. One day Mr. Washburn took an opportunity to make several remarks in school, upon the subject, with a view to allay these fears. This little girl listened with fixed attention, but manifested the greatest distress; thinking it the height of presumptuous wickedness to doubt their power to punish and destroy all who should oppose or slight them. She was a very modest, retiring little girl; but her feelings were so much excited, that she could no longer refrain from giving her testimony in. favor of their existence at least, and rising up, she said in the most rapid manner, ‘ Mr. Washburn, I seed a witch in mamma’s tater patch,’ and sat down as suddenly. Her kind instructor took a seat beside her, and in the most gentle and affectionate manner conversed with her, until all the unreasonable fears which had oppressed her mind from infancy, were dissipated.
Delia. Cousin, do tell us more about this little girl.
Cornelia. She remained in school till she was about thirteen, and then died, leaving the most decided evidence of a renewed heart.
Mrs. Claiborne. Were any changes effected in their domestic establishments?
Cornelia. Yes, aunt, very great changes in their style of building, furniture and dress. Wigwams gave place to wooden framed houses, with floors, windows, and chimneys; gardens bloomed around these habitations of peace, and in some instances of prayer; habits of comparative industry had been formed, and cloth was manufactured in many families-farms under good cultivation might be found, where cattle, horses, sheep, and poultry were raised in abundance. Beds, with handsome coverings, had been substituted for skins and blankets, and tables, knives, forks, and spoons had been introduced into the dwellings of a large proportion of the respectable inhabitants.
Of late, it is not unusual to see coffee and sugar upon the table of a Cherokee, and they have made as rapid advances in dress, as in any thing connected with civilization. Almost all the men have laid aside the Indian leggins, and put on pantaloons; hats are generally worn instead of handkerchiefs; both men and women have discarded the mocasin, and now wear stockings and shoes. The dress of many women is neat, and rather tasteful; bonnets and turbans are seldom worn, but they generally appear with their heads uncovered, except a few, who wear men’s hats.
Jerome. The Indian women from Penobscot wore men’s hats, with bands of red bombazette, and robes of silk made out of spotted red and white bandanna handkerchiefs. I dare say they looked and dressed very much like the Cherokee women.
Cornelia. No, cousin Jerome, the Cherokees are much fairer and more beautiful. It is very uncommon to see a mixture of Cherokee and African blood, and equally so in New England, to find an Indian without some mixture of African or white. I do not recollect one among the remnant of the Penobscot or Narragansett tribe, in whose veins pure Indian blood flows, and I have seen a large part of both tribes.
Delia. Cousin Cornelia, do you really think the Cherokee girls handsome?
Cornelia. Many of them are called beautiful, by ladies and gentlemen of good taste and iudgment. One little girl of twelve years of age attended the school at Dwight several years; the missionaries there said when she was eighteen, that her person was beautiful; and in manners, she was not exceeded by any female of any nation.
Mrs. Claiborne. Who were her parents?
Cornelia. They were ignorant, degraded heathen, like most of their tribe; and although this child resided with her mother entirely, until she entered the mission school, her whole deportment was so perfectly correct, that no person ever gave her a word of reproof. She was a fine scholar, and displayed uncommon skill and taste in needlework. She early became