The following account, of the closing day of our last term of school, is taken from the last issue of the Oak Hill Freedman’s Friend, a news-letter, intended to promote the interests of the Academy, and sent to its patrons and friends as a quarterly at first, but later as an annual, from February 1905, to September 1912.
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Closing Day, 1912
June 13, 1912, was a day of unusual interest. It was the last day of the last term of school, under the management of the superintendent, and the contemplation of this fact frequently suggested a thought of sadness, since it meant the last meeting with many friends and co-workers.
It was also the second day set for the dedication of Elliott Hall, and the third day announced for a visit and address by Rev. Phil C. Baird, D. D., pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Oklahoma City. His leading and unusually happy participation in the events of the day, made his visit and services on this occasion thrice welcome and valuable.
At 2:00 p. m. Dr. Baird delivered the principal address to a large and very appreciative audience in the Academy. He chose for his theme, The Essentials of Success; and emphasized these three, namely “Labor, purpose and perseverance.”
Elliott Hall Dedicated
At the close of the address of Dr. Baird, the meeting was transferred to the cozy and spacious front porch of Elliott Hall.
The story of the Hall as a grateful and permanently useful memorial of the late Alice Lee Elliott, and the generous gift of $5,000.00 on the part of her surviving husband, David Elliott of Lafayette, Indiana, now at Minneapolis, Minn., was briefly related by the superintendent. Rev. W. H. Carroll reported that voluntary offerings to the amount of $29.48 had that day been donated toward the expense of furnishing the two bath rooms. The prayer of dedication was offered by Rev. Wiley Homer of Grant, who has been a faithful annual visitor and constant guardian of the good name and welfare of the institution ever since it was founded in 1886. The benediction was pronounced by Rev. P. S. Meadows of Shawneetown, moderator of the Presbytery of Kiamichi.
The program provided for the evening consisted of a vocal and instrumental concert by the students, such as had been given, with one exception, at the close of each term. Several of the selections, rendered as full choruses, were from Leslie’s Ideal Class, the music book most frequently used by the superintendent in the training work of note reading and vocal culture. They included the anthems, “Break forth into Joy,” “I was Glad,” by I. B. Woodbury, “Before Jehovah’s Throne,” and patriotic Glees, “Hail to the Flag,” “Now a Mighty Nation,” and “Unfurl the Sail.”
When the time arrived to announce the closing chorus, the superintendent, after expressing appreciation of the fact there were present so many ministers of the Presbytery, patrons and friends; and gratitude for their constant co-operation, then made known to them, for the first time, the fact that several months previous he had tendered his resignation to the Board of Missions for Freedmen, and that in due season, Rev. W. H. Carroll, the principal, would be promoted to fill the vacancy, when it occurred.
After hearing these announcements, every minister present manifested a desire to participate in the meeting, by bearing voluntary testimony to the good work that had been done at the Academy under the leadership of the superintendent. Rev. Dr. Baird was the first speaker, and he acted as a leader or chairman during this temporary interruption of the program. He bore testimony to his previous knowledge of the faithfulness and administrative ability of the superintendent, and his pleasant surprise at the results achieved at this institution. Grateful tributes to the efficiency of his work, as superintendent of the Academy, were then expressed by Rev. Wiley Homer of Grant, Rev. T. K. Bridges of Lukfata, Rev. P. S. Meadows and Rev. W. H. Carroll.
Rev. W. J. Starks of Frogville read and presented for adoption the appreciative resolutions that follow:
Their unanimous adoption by a rising vote was immediately followed by a general waving of handkerchiefs, a touching expression of good wishes and parting cheer.
Whereas the Rev. R. E. Flickinger, our beloved superintendent and friend, has announced his resignation as superintendent of Oak Hill Industrial Academy, now Alice Lee Elliott School; and whereas such resignation has come to us at a very unexpected time; We, citizens of the neighborhood, patrons, students and teachers of the Academy, and members present of the Presbytery of Kiamichi, do hereby unite in adopting the following resolutions:
That the announcement of his resignation brings to us profound grief and disappointment, as it takes from among us a friend and brother bound to us by many unusual and lasting ties.
That we lose in Rev. R. E. Flickinger, the founder of the new and the real Oak Hill Industrial Institution, through the accomplishment of the following achievements, during his administration:
When he re-opened the doors of this academy seven and a half years ago, it had been closed for the year, and for months there seemed to be but little prospect it would be opened again. The evidences of neglect, decay and desertion were manifest on every hand. Under his magic hand the school was re-opened, only a few students were enrolled the first term, but the piles of rubbish in every corner, and underbrush began to disappear, and one of the buildings was neatly painted by the boys. At this time the Board did not own the land on which the buildings were located. After the removal of the restrictions in 1908, the title to one small tract was promptly secured by purchase. A dozen other adjoining little tracts have since been added to this first one, as their purchase became possible and at their virgin price; so that now there belongs to this school, as a means of promoting its local support, the magnificent domain of 270 acres of beautiful and valuable tillable lands of which about one-third is now cleared, enclosed and under cultivation.
“Enlargement and Permanent Improvement,” became the watchwords of progress, when the title to the second tract was secured. Upon this stable material basis there has been systematically organized and developed an important Industrial institution, where boys and girls are trained not only in the great fundamentals of the best intellectual and moral culture, but also in the essential industrial arts of life.
The accomplishment of these results has cost the superintendent an indescribable amount of toil and labor. His great staying powers and ingenuity were taxed to their utmost, when, in quick succession, the two largest buildings were suddenly destroyed by unexpected fires that left nothing but ashes and discouraged friends. The testimony that he has proved himself capable of overcoming these staggering losses appears in the temporary Boys Hall, an addition to the Academy building after the first fire in 1908, and in the large and commodious new building, bearing the name “Elliott Hall” of which he enjoys the honor of having been its architect and builder, through the labors of the students and the teachers of the academy; and, in this creditable student body of well trained young people.
In grateful recognition of his unusual patience and perseverance, his unceasing toil and never failing interest, his self denying generosity and for his noble, manly exemplary Christian life, we tender to him our heartfelt lasting gratitude; and, enrolling his name among the worthy founders of Oak Hill Industrial Academy, shall enshrine it as one to be given to children’s children, as the educator and organizer, who infused new life into this institution and greatly enlarged the scope of its work.
Fourth. That a copy of these resolutions be sent to the Board of Freedmen, to the Interior, The Valliant Tribune and the Times, Fonda, Iowa.
Phil. C. Baird,
Chairman of Meeting.
A Token of Affection and Regard From the Students
I have been requested by the boys of this institution, to offer you a slight token of our affection and regard. I cannot tell you how delighted I am to be the means of conveying to you this expression of our united love. What we offer you is a poor symbol of our feelings, but we know you will receive it kindly as a simple indication of the attachment, which each one of us cherishes for you in our hearts.
You have made our days and months pleasant to us. We know that we have often tried your patience and forbearance, but you have dealt gently with us in all our waywardness; teaching us by example as well as precept, the advantages of magnanimity and self control.
We will never forget you. We shall look back to this institution in after life; and, whenever memory recalls our school days, our hearts will warm toward you as they do today.
I have been requested by my school mates, not to address you formally, but as a beloved and respected friend. In that light, Dear Superintendent, we will regard you.
Please accept our good wishes. May you always be as happy as you have endeavored to make your pupils; and may they-nothing better could be wished them-be always as faithful to their duties to others, as you have been in your duties to them.
Very truly yours, W. Riley Flournoy.
In behalf of the boys of Oak Hill Academy
An expression of gratitude from Simon Folsom, an elder of the Forest Church, who gave us very cordial co-operation, and whose voice, ringing with pleading eloquence and words of glad encouragement to the students, was frequently heard at the Endeavor meetings or morning services, by the young people during term time:
Dear Sir: I want to thank you for your interest, help and work among my people. I feel that you have done us a great service here. It is my prayer that God will reward you in time for all your services in labor, thought and interest. This is the plea of one whom you have been serving.
July 21,1912. A Friend, Simon Folsom.
The superintendent continued to have charge of the improvement and other work of the Academy and farm, until the first of October; publishing in the mean time the last issue of the Freedman’s Friend in September; and, remaining during the month of October, prepared and published a bulletin entitled, “Approved Fruits for Southern Oklahoma.”
The aim of the author, in preparing and publishing this fruit bulletin, was to furnish a short and reliable text book on horticulture, for use in the Academy; and to supply the patrons of the institution, the information they were needing, to enable them to secure, when making their first investments, profitable early, medium and late, fruit-bearing varieties of trees for a small home orchard on their respective allotments.
The farewell words of the superintendent, briefly summarized, appeared as follows in the last issue of the Freedman’s Friend:
With the sending forth of this issue of the Oak Hill Freedman’s Friend, Rev. R. E. Flickinger lays aside the mantle of service, as superintendent of the Academy and Farm, and cordially commends Rev. W. H. Carroll, his successor, to the confidence and esteem of all the patrons and friends of the institution.
The opportunity afforded here during the last eight years, to engage in the educational work among the colored people of our beloved land, has been the realization of an earnest desire awakened in the early part of our ministry, but not expressed until the opening occurred at this place. The silent but deeply impressive cry of need, the golden opportunity to lay the foundation for the organization and development of an important Industrial Educational Institution in this new section of country, and the cordial co-operation of local ministers, teachers, patrons and friends, have combined to make this work throughout, intensely interesting.
It has enlisted our noblest and best powers of mind, heart and hand. The constant probability that our term of service would at best be brief, and the desire to accomplish the greatest possible results, have proved an incentive to incessant industry. When difficulties increased, they served as a signal to go forward more earnestly.
We have done what we could to add our mite, most, effectively, to the great educational work needed in this south land. That which has been done, has been due to the constant and cordial co-operation of our Board of Missions for Freedmen, and of the immediate patrons and friends of the institution. It remains, that we express to you all our lasting gratitude, for your cordial co-operation, and for the present, say, Farewell!
“God bless you, till we meet again.”
R. E. Flickinger.