Wheelock Academy for nearly four-score years was the most attractive social, educational and religious center in the southeast part of the Choctaw nation. It was located on the main trails running east and west and north and south. But when the Frisco railway came in 1902, it passed two miles south of it, and a half dozen flourishing towns were founded along its line.
There remain to mark this place of early historic interest the two mission school buildings, a strongly built stone Church 30 by 50 feet, a two story parsonage and cemetery. The Church is of the Gothic style of architecture, tastefully decorated inside and furnished with good pews and pulpit furniture.
Rev. Alfred Wright
Among the many old inscriptions on the grave stones in the Wheelock cemetery, there may be seen the following beautiful record of the work of one, whose long and eminently useful life was devoted to the welfare of the Choctaw people:
to the memory of the
Rev. Alfred Wright
who entered into his heavenly rest
March 31, 1853, age 65 years.
Born in Columbia, Connecticut, March 1, 1788.
Appointed Missionary to the Choctaws 1820.
Removed to this land October, 1832.
Organized Wheelock Church December, 1832.
Received to its fellowship 570 members.
As A Man
he was intelligent, firm in principle,
prudent in counsel, gentle in spirit,
kindness and gravity,
and conscientious in the discharge of every
relative and social duty.
As A Christian
he was uniform, constant, strong in faith,
and in doctrine, constant and fervent in prayer,
holy in life, filled with the spirit of Christ
and peaceful in death.
As A Physician
he was skillful, attentive, ever ready to relieve
and comfort the afflicted.
As A Translator
he was patient, investigating and diligent,
giving to the Choctaws in their own tongue the
New and part of the Old Testament,
and various other books.
As A Minister
his preaching was scriptural, earnest, practical,
and rich in the full exhibition of Gospel truth.
He was laborious, faithful and successful.
Communion with God, faith in the Lord Jesus,
and reliance upon the aid of the Holy Spirit,
made all his labor sweet to his own soul
and a blessing to others.
In testimony of his worth, and their affection,
his mourning friends erect this
Tablet to his Memory.
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people
Rev. John Edwards
Rev. John Edwards, the successor of Rev. Alfred Wright, was a native of Bath, New York. He graduated from the college at Princeton, New Jersey, in 1848, and from the theological seminary there in 1851. He was ordained by the Presbytery of Indian Territory December 11, 1853.
He became a teacher at Spencer Academy, north of Fort Towson, in 1851, and continued until 1853, when he became the successor of Rev. Alfred Wright as the stated supply of the Choctaw Church and superintendent of the academy at Wheelock. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 he passed to California and after teaching two years in San Francisco, served as stated supply of various Churches during the next twenty years, having his residence during the latter part of that period at Oakland.
In 1882 he returned and resumed work among the Choctaws, locating first at Atoka. In 1884 he re-opened the academy at Wheelock, and continued to serve as its superintendent until 1895, when it became a government school. He remained the next year in charge of the Church. He then returned to California and died at San Jose, at 75, December 18, 1903.
In 1897, Rev. Evan B. Evans, supplied the Choctaw Church at Wheelock one year. As its membership of 60 consisted principally of students living at a distance, and they were absent most of the year, the services were then discontinued. A few years later the services were resumed at the town of Garvin, where another stone Church was built in 1910, during the efficient ministry of Rev. W. J. Willis.