On Oct. 30, 1904, during the period of vacancy, ten persons interested in its continuance met in the Academy and organized an aid society, to aid the Freedmen’s Board in maintaining it. Solomon Buchanan and Samuel Harris took the lead in calling the meeting. James R. Crabtree served as chairman and Bertha L. Ahrens as secretary. The others present were Mitchell S. Stewart, Wilson Clark, S. S. Bibbs, Charles B. Harris and Mrs. J. A. Thomas. The organization was effected by the election of M. S. Stewart, president; J. A. Thomas, (absent) secretary; B. L. Ahrens, treasurer; and Samuel Harris, field secretary:
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May 28, 1905, George Shoals was elected president and S. S. Bibbs, secretary. On June 25th, 1905 a constitution was adopted, in which its object was stated as follows:
“The aims and object of this society shall be: To help the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen; to raise the funds required to pay for the land on which the buildings are located; to devise ways and means by which the academy may be directly aided with supplies of food, live stock and other things, when money cannot be given; and, to do what we can, to enlarge its course of study and provide new departments of industry.”
“It is understood, that all money raised shall be sent to the aforesaid Mission Board and be applied by it to the general needs of this institution, when no specific object has been named by this society. It is also understood, that this society shall not hinder the aforesaid Board, in its absolute control of the academy and farm.”
The annual membership fee is twenty-five cents, other offerings being entirely voluntary, each giving, “as the Lord hath prospered him.” The first week in October was designated, as the time for an annual public meeting, to give emphasis to the work of the society and solicit free-will offerings from everybody. Other congregations were requested to form similar organizations, to create a visible bond of union in the support of the academy.
The first visible result of this lowly organization, founded as a forlorn hope, appeared on the 15th of April 1905, when at the close of the eloquent appeal of Samuel Harris, its field secretary, before the Presbytery at Grant, Rev. F. W. Hawley, the Synodical Missionary of Indian Territory, challenged all present to unite with him in making a pledge of support toward the purchase of the land. Heading the list with a pledge of $10.00, all were surprised to find it increased, in a few minutes, to $210.00. Two weeks later Mr. Harris made a similar appeal at Oak Hill, and $45.00 more were pledged. He visited Forest Church and received pledges to the amount of $45.00. George Shoals visited Bethany Church at Parsons, and $15.00 more were pledged, making the amount pledged, $315.00.
Sam Harris, in the fall of 1905, voluntarily went to Atoka and had forty-five acres of land allotted to his wife and four of his children, in order that they might later be added to the Oak Hill farm; and the education of his children be provided for, at that institution. His death occurred the next year, and in 1912, the last of these lands were added to the Oak Hill farm. His children are now enjoying the privileges of the institution.
He belonged to a generation that could neither read nor write, and that which he accomplished for Oak Hill and his needy children during the short period of his co-operation with the superintendent, is but another beautiful illustration of what may be done for a needy and worthy cause, by one, however unlearned, whose sincere and burning interest leads him to lend a helping hand and to use the power of his voice in its behalf.
He had come to appreciate and, before the Presbytery, emphasized the importance of these three vital facts:
- The need of a good Christian education for all the members of his own rapidly growing family.
- The great value of the educational and religious privileges, and the facilities for industrial training, afforded the young people of the colored race at Oak Hill Academy, located in the very midst of them.
- The great meaning of the changes, that were taking place in the country around them since the building of the railroad, the transition to statehood, the allotment of the lands to them individually, and the incoming of large numbers of white folks from Arkansas, Texas and other sections; who were founding and building towns, leasing and occupying the farm lands, gaining control of the business interests of the community; and thus making it ten fold more necessary for the young people of the colored race to have sufficient intelligence to enable them to do their own thinking and manage successfully their own business interests, in order to avoid the impending doom, of being soon crowded out of their present homes and possessions.
His burning desire as he often expressed it, was to bring it to pass, that their children and the generations to come might rise up and be able to say, “Our Fathers, in grateful acknowledgement of the inestimable value of the educational, moral and religious privileges, that the Presbyterian Board of Missions had established and so long maintained, for the benefit of the colored people of that section, had contributed the funds, paid for and donated the lands occupied by the buildings of Oak Hill Industrial Academy.”
The members of his family, in whose names the allotments for Oak Hill were secured, were Catherine, his wife; Roland (died Nov. 24, 1911), John, Margie and Ellen.
Land Funds Contributed
The following is a brief summary of the funds contributed for the purchase of the land at Oak Hill.
Rev. F. W. Hawley, Sam Harris, Bertha L. Ahrens, Adelia M. Eaton, Wiley Homer, William Butler, R. D. Colbert, Malinda A. Hall, Noah S. Alverson, R. E. Flickinger and Jo Lu Wolcott, each $10.00; Samuel Gladman, W. J. Starks, S. H. Buchanan, John Richards and Finley Union Sunday school, Lehigh, per Isabella Monroe, each $5.00; Virginia Williams, and Matt Brown, each $3.00; Simon Folsom and Alonza Lewis, $2.50; specials from Churches in Oklahoma, as follows: Anadarko, Bartlesville, Perry and Vinita, each $2.00; Chelsea, $2.50; Muskogee and Wagoner, each $3.00; Oklahoma First, $5.00; Oak Hill $10.00; and Alva $50.00.
The Oak Hill Aid Society in 1906 gave $39.00; in 1907 $46.00; in 1908, $16.00 and in 1910 to 1912, $19.00; making for it $120.00, and altogether $335.00.
This amount covers the cost of the forty acre allotment of Samuel A. Folsom, on which the Academy and Boy’s Hall are located. This was the first tract purchased, and it was obtained August 30, 1908, a few days after the Choctaw Freedmen were legally authorized to execute warranty deeds.
These facts are worthy of note, since to that extent they indicate the achievement of that object, for which Sam Harris plead so earnestly and effectively at Presbytery.
A lady at San Jose, California, gave $200 in 1909, for an annuity bond to cover tract No. 5, on the Oak Hill plat, containing twenty acres and allotted to Caroline Prince. Bertha L. Ahrens in 1908 purchased the three fourths inheritance of three of the heirs of William Shoals, in tract No. 8, containing thirty acres, that in course of time, it might be included; and in 1909 and 1913, R. E. Flickinger donated tract number 4, containing twenty acres north of the buildings. These three specials include and cover the 70 acres on section 20, north of the public road, north of the buildings.
The Oak Hill Women’s Missionary society was organized in October 1906, and at the end of its first year contributed to Home Missions, Gunnison, Utah, $5.00; and to the Board of Freedmen, $15.00.
Locality Of Donors
The following exhibit shows the location of the generous contributors, who united in furnishing the general expense funds for the support of the students and furnishing the Temporary Boy’s Hall, as it appeared in the report for July 1, 1909.
|State||Expense Fund||Furnishing Boy’s Hall||Total|
|California||$ 444.20||$ 13.41||$ 457.61|
|Total||$1166.18||$ 121.15||$ 1287.33|
Donors To The General Support
A record has already been made of those who contributed toward the purchase of the farm in response to the appeal through the Oak Hill Aid society. A grateful mention of the Women’s and Young People’s societies and individual donors, who contributed to the support and extension of the general work of the institution, seems eminently appropriate. They include the following list:
Alabama: The Negro in Business by Booker T. Washington, Tuskeegee.
California: Alhambra, Dinuba, Rev. H. J. Frothingham, Elsinore; Eureka, Lampoc, Long Beach, Mrs. O. L. Mason; Los Gatos, Los Angeles, First; Mrs. Margaret Daniels, Mrs. Archibald; Central, Mrs. Hiram Leithead; Highland Park, Mrs. Kate C. Moody M. D.; Third, Mary A. Clark, Boyle Heights, Hollywood, Immanuel, Spanish Mission, Carrie E. Crowe, Westminster; Nordhoff, Margaret Daniels; North Ontario, New Monterey, Monte Cito, Oakland, Mattie Hunter; Orange, Red Bluff, San Diego First, Mrs. A. W. Crawford; San Jose First and Second, Mrs. Frances Palmer, Mrs. G. H. Start, Mrs. Mary Langdon; Lebanon of San Francisco, San Martin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Santa Paula, San Louis Obispo; Upland Ventura, Watsonville.
Colorado: Fort Morgan, Gunnison, Timnath.
Connecticut: Miss A. C. Benedict, Waterbury.
Illinois: Cairo; Chicago, Bethany, J. H. Jones, Leslie Music Company; Fairbury, Mrs. J. J. Pence; Mason City, Springfield Second.
Indiana: William Elliot, Lafayette $5,000 for Elliott Hall; Greensburg, Winona Lake.
Iowa: Alta, Lucy M. Haywood; Boone, Burlington First, Clarinda, Corning, Corning Presbytery, Crawfordsville, Creston, Des Moines Central, Fonda, M. E. Church, Mrs. A. S. Wood, Adele Curkeet, Adelia M. Eaton, Mrs. R. E. Flickinger, Geo. Sanborn, Mrs. J. B. Weaver, Mrs. John E. Jordan, Clark Perry; Fort Dodge, Gilmore City, Mrs. Bert C. McGinnis, Clarence M. Patterson; Grimes, Hamburg, Knoxville, Lenox, Malvern, Manchester, Nodaway, Princeton, Red Oak, Rockwell City, Ella T. Smith, Elmer E. Johnson, John H. Mattison; Sanborn, Sigourney, Shenandoah, State Center, Storm Lake, Washington, Bethel, Winfield, Walnut.
Kansas: Auburn, Burlington, Clay Center, Derby, Edgerton, Herrington, Halstead, Highland, Humboldt, Junction City, Kansas City, First, Grand View Park, Western Highland; Lincoln Center, Lawrence, Lyons, Manhattan, Morganville, Mulberry Creek, Neodesha, Oakland, Osawatomie, Oswego, Phillipsburg, Roxbury, Stanley, Sterling, Syracuse, Topeka, First, Second, Third and Westminster, M. B. True; Waverly, Wichita, First.
Massachusetts: Marblehead, Mrs. J. J. Gregory.
Michigan: Coldwater, Harrington.
Missouri: Kansas City, Montgomery Ward & Co., Maryville, Prof, J. C. Speckerman; St. Louis, Majestic Range Co.
New York: Mexico, Mrs. Mary O. Becker, Mrs. Mamie G. Richardson; Plattsburg, Mrs. M. D. Edwards; Honoye, Anna M. Bowerman; New York, Am. Bible Society, Oliver Swet Marden.
Ohio: Bellefontaine, Mrs. D. O. Spade; Columbiana, Mrs. Mattie C. Flickinger; Dayton Lorenz Music Co.; Denison, College Hill, Miss H. M. Wilson; East Liverpool First, Mansfield, Springfield First, Wellsville First.
Oklahoma: Alva, Mrs. H. E. Mason, Anadarko, Atoka, Annie Osborne, Ardmore, Rev. Charles C. Weith, Bartlesville, Blackwell; Mrs. Emma F. McBride, Coalgate; Cement, Central, Cimmaron Presbyterial; Chickasha, Edmond, Elk City, El Reno, Mrs. F. R. Farrand, Enid, Eagletown, Kiamichi Presbyterial; Garvin, Rev. and Mrs. W. H. and Emma A. Carroll; Hobart, Mrs. Geo. D. Willingham; Frederick, Griffin, Charity Glover; Granite, Grant, Susan Seats, Kaw, Kingfisher, MacAlester, Millerton, Rance Cherry, Joseph Garner; Muskogee First, Mulhall, Norman, Prof. Geo. N. Gould; Oklahoma First, Phil C. Baird D. D., Mrs. W. A. Knott; Okmulgee, Perry, Ponca, Shawnee, Stroud, Tulsa, Tonkawa, Oak Hill, Valliant, Solomon H. Buchanan, Dining Table and Chairs, Samuel Folsom, Front Door of Elliot Hall, Lucretia C. Brown Communion Service, Bertha L. Ahrens, Adelia M. Eaton, John Claypool, Malinda A. Hall, R. E. and Mary A. Flickinger; Vinita, Wagoner, Watonga.
North Dakota: Fillmore, Mary I. Weimer.
Pennsylvania: Armagh, Bakerstown, Black Lick, Blairsville First, Blairsville Presbyterial, Braddock, First and Calvary; Buelah, Coatesville, E. Lilley; Cresson, Congruity, Derry, Doe Run, Easton, College Hill, Brainard and South Side; East Liberty, Ebensburg, Greensburg, First and Westminster; Anna B. Hazleton, Irwin, Jeanette, Latrobe, Ligonier, Johnstown, First, Second and Laurel Avenue; Lewistown, Manor, McGinnis, Murraysville, Philadelphia, Lena D. Fieber and Prof, H. W. Flickinger; Pittsburgh, First and Second, Ellen M. Watson, Mary R. Scott; Port Royal, Parnassus, Pleasant Grove, Poke Run, Plum Creek, New Alexandria, New Kensington, South Danville, Mrs. W. A. Reagel; Turtle Creek, Westmont Chapel, Wilkinsburg, Martha Graham, Mrs. J. J. Campbell, Williamsburg, Windber and Windsor.
South Dakota: Volga, Hartford, Mrs. M. E. Crowe.
Texas: Bushy Creek, Mary A. Pierson, Crockett, Mrs. John B. Smith.