Cooks Leave

The German man and wife who had been employed by Mr. G. and brought from Cincinnati, when he first came to Fort Coffee, became dissatisfied. They had been employed to do the cooking and chamberwork of the institution, but the situation did not please them. They had no German friends with whom to associate, and were anxious to return to Cincinnati. We were reluctant to let them go; they were pious, intelligent, and faithful; and we had become very much attached to them. But they would not be reconciled, and so returned to their former home and friends.

Our plans were now somewhat frustrated; we were daily expecting the students, and there were none to cook, wash, and do chamber-work. Mrs. G. and Mrs. B. could do very well till the school should open, but no longer. In the midst of our perplexity Mr. G. fell in with a colored man at Fort Smith, who claimed to be skilled in the duties of the kitchen; and his wife and daughter could do the work of the rooms and the laundry. Charles was free, having bought himself; his eldest daughter was also free; but his wife and the younger children were slaves, belonging to a Mr. B. , who resided at Van Buren. It was arranged that Charles should hire the time of his wife and children of their master, and then hire himself and family to do the work of our establishment. The terms were settled and the contract entered into; and in a few days Charles and his family were duly installed at their respective posts of duty, and we were again in readiness for the arrival of the pupils.

During the fall and winter we had enlarged the farm and repaired the fencing of the Jones field, and the two fields were united by clearing and enclosing the few acres that lay between them. The farm now contained thirty acres, the soil of which was of good quality, and with proper cultivation would produce an excellent crop of grain and vegetables. The produce of that amount of land, it was believed, would be amply sufficient for our large family, especially as we kept no stock, except a span of horses and a yoke or two of strong cattle. We did not attempt to produce wheat; first, because there were no flouring mills in the country; and in the second place, because the land was not adapted to the growth of wheat, having scarcely a particle of lime in the soil. Indian corn, sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkins, squashes, tomatoes. melons, peas, and beans were produced with facility and in great abundance.

It may be proper to mention the appointments for preaching, since the session of the conference. We formed a regular circuit, and determined to do the work of itinerant preachers. The principal preaching places were Fort Coffee, New Hope, Pheasant Bluffs, Council Ground, and Mrs. James’s, on the south fork of the Poteau. Besides these Mr. P. was in the habit of preaching at the cabins, wherever he could succeed in collecting a few to hear the word.

Mr. G. had the charge of the work, and was faithful. Mr. P. was diligent and almost constantly on his circuit. He usually preached in the native tongue, but could express himself readily and correctly in English.

As his Biblical and theological researches were in English, he found it more convenient to preach in that language, yet his sentences were wanting in con­necting words. In the Indian dialects there are no articles, prepositions, or conjunctions; the particles which give force and finish to our composition, were wholly wanting in their language.

H. C. Benson was not required to travel regularly around the circuit, for, having the immediate charge of the school and Sunday school, he could not be absent. Hence he only attended such appointments as were sufficiently near to be reached in the morning in time for service. But during the vacations he was at liberty to visit any point, and do his part of the work of a traveling preacher.


Benson, Henry C. Life Among the Choctaw Indians and Sketches of the South-West. L. Swormstedt & A. Poe. 1860.

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