Missionary Activities. First Printing

When the missionaries commenced work among the Cherokees at the beginning of the nineteenth century they found a condition awaiting them that was never presented to the Christian workers by a heathen people. Within less than three quarters of a century before, Christian Priber, ex-Jesuit had identified himself with this tribe, became one of them, learned their language, related to them the biblical stories, which the tribesmen had retained and remembered in infinite detail, although they had entirely forgotten Priber and the source of the stories. The sturdy Scotch and English countryman had also insidiously imbued the people with many of their ideas and notions.

Then the missionary came telling the self same Bible stories that the Cherokees had but recently derived from Priber, but in forgetting him they attributed them to an origin from their old religion that had legendarily been destroyed by the Ku-ta-ni. Upon an attempt to tell the story of Abraham, the missionary was almost invariably stopped by Cherokee auditors, who then told the story in, to the missionary, astonishing precision, even giving the personal names with remarkable correctness.

The recently revived New England idea of the evangelization of the non Christians furnished a fresh impetus and many zealous workers to many fields that had been dormant, and the missionaries were entirely oblivious of the principal impelling causes of their advantage among this tribe but on account of the success that attended their efforts, they put forth extra exertions to win those who were so appreciative.

The Cherokees were naturally very amenable to a doctrine and belief that was identical with the legends that they thought had come from their primeval ancestry and within three decades became a Christian people.

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In ISOI James Vann, a wealthy half-breed Scotch-Cherokee had a commodious two story brick dwelling on Chicamauga Creek in North Georgia and in April of that year Reverends Abraham Steiner and Gottleib Byhan, Moravian missionaries, became his invited guests until they could erect the initial mission buildings at Spring Place, so named on account of the number of springs in the vicinity. During the civil war, long after the missionaries and Indians had moved away, the bloody battle of Missionary Ridge was fought on its site. In 1821, the Moravians established a mission at Ootcalogy, about thirty miles south of Spring Place. Its creator and director was Reverend John Gambold, who had been at Spring Place since 1805. He died on November 6, 1827.

A mission was established in the western Cherokee nation, on Barren Fork, below the mouth of Tyner’s Creek, in Adair County. It was moved to Harmony, near Beatty’s Prairie, in the early fifties and after the civil war it was moved to Spring Place, on the west side of Illinois River, in the northern part of what is now Cherokee County, Oklahoma.

In 1803, Reverend Gideon Blackburn, a Presbyterian, opened two schools among the Cherokees in the vicinity of the present North Carolina Tennessee line.

He made two trips through the Cherokee country. One of six weeks in 1808 and one of twelve weeks during the succeeding year. Besides acquainting himself with the conditions of the country; he encouraged various industries; especially that of preparing and spinning cotton and wool. This bore rich fruits, in a few years, in the abundance of cloth that was woven and worn by the Cherokees. This cloth became so popular among them that the buckskin garment was a rare sight in the Cherokee country by 1830 and the striped home made hunting shirt, which was really a loose frock coat, trimmed with red yarn fringe, of the Cherokees became as distinctive a mark as was the Scotch tartan.

After the Cherokees came west and became the peacemakers of the plains, this Cherokee hunting shirt became the safest guarantee of life of any emblem that might be exhibited to the hostile Indians between the Mississippi River and Rocky Mountains.

On account of ill health. Reverend Blackburn gave up his missionary work among the Cherokees in 1810.

In 1816, Reverend Cyrus Kingsbury, a native of Alstead, New Hampshire, visited the Cherokee country, with a view of locating a mission among the tribe. He reported favorably on the proposition and was delegated by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, a non denominational organization, composed of Presbyterians and Congregationalists, to erect the necessary buildings.

He arrived at the proposed site, on Chicamauga Creek, on January 13, 18 17 and immediately commenced the establishment of Brainard Mission, which was destined to be the precurser of much missionary work among the Cherokees.

On March 7, IS 17, Moody Hall, a native of Cornish, New Hampshire and Loring S. Williams of Pownal, Vermont arrived at Brainard. Other missionary accessions to Brainard were Reverend Ard Hoyt of Danbury, Connecticut and Reverend Daniel Sabin Buttrick, on January 3, 1818. The latter was born at Windsor, Massachusetts on August 25, 1879 and died at Dwight Mission on June 8, I85l. On March 10, iSi8, Reverend William Chamberlin a native of Newbury, Vermont, arrived at Brainard. He was the affianced husband of Miss Flora, the daughter of Reverend and Mrs. Ard Hoyt and they were married at the mission on March 22, 1818. Their son, Amory Nelson Chamberlin was born at Brainard on November 29, 1821. He had an equally fluent command of both the English and Cherokee languages and on account of his unassuming erudition and purity of character he was loved and respected by all that came in contact with him. He married on December 3, 1846 Dolly Eunice, the eldest daughter of his uncle, Milo Hoyt. Mrs. Chamberlin was the granddaughter of George Lowry, Assistant Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Reverend and Mrs. A. N. Chamberlin, died at their home near Vinita during the month of July 1849. His death preceding hers by about three weeks.

In January 1818,  Catherine Brown, aged seventeen, a three quarters blood Cherokee girl, joined the Presbyterian Church at Brainard. Two years

later she established Creek Path Mission, near her home in Alabama, a hundred miles southwest of Brainard. She died on July 1l, 1823.

The mission among the Cherokees being in successful operation, Reverend Kingsbury and Williams left the Cherokee mission work for a new field among the Choctaws, about the first of June 1818.

In 1819 Reverend Ard Hoyt was Superintendent of Brainard with Reverend Daniel S. Buttrick, as assistant. The school had sixty pupils that year. One of them, Lydia Lowrey, aged sixteen, daughter of George Lowrey, later Assistant Chief of the Cherokee Nation, joined the Presbyterian Church and was baptized on January 31, 19l9. Shortly afterwards she had a dream in which the words came to her so impressively that on arising in the morning she wrote them out as the first hymn written by a Cherokee. She married Milo Hoyt, a son of Reverend Ard Hoyt and they were the ancestors of the Cherokee Hoyts. Mrs. Hoyt died on July 10, 1862. John Arch, “an unpromising looking young man” entered the school this year. He was a full blood Cherokee from western North Carolina. He soon became a good English scholar and interpreter and was noted for his sincere Christianity and splendid character. He died at Brainard on June 18, 1825. President James Monroe, accompanied by Major General Edmund P. and Mrs. Gaines, visited Brainard on May 27 and 28, 1819, stopping over night there.

Reverend William Potter and Dr. Elizur Butler, with their families arrived at Brainard on January 10, 1821. In the autumn of 1844, Reverend Henry C. Benson on his way from the Choctaw school at Fort Cobb to Tahlequah to attend the first annual conference of the Methodist church in Indian Territory, which was held at Riley’s Chapel, two miles south of Tahlequah from October 23 to 28, 1844, Bishop Thomas A. Morris, pre-siding, described his visit to Fairfield Mission as follows: “We found Dr. (Elizur) Butler sitting in an arm chair, in a dark room, prepared to spend the night in that position. He was suffering from asthma to such an extent as to render it impossible for him to lie upon a bed and sleep in a recumbent position. For many successive nights he had been compelled to sit alone in his dark chamber while the hours were slowly passing. At the ring of the bell we were admitted, with a brotherly and Christian cordiality that was truly grateful to our hearts at the end of our day’s journey. Mrs. B., being indisposed, did not rise; but Miss Esther Smith, the teacher of the Mission school, and two time Cherokee misses, who were about fourteen years of age, came and, in a few minutes, prepared us a substantial tea.

We were impressed with the good sense and economy which characterized, as far as we could discover, the entire establishment. There were no servants; Mrs. B., Miss Smith and six Cherokee girls who had been received into the family, did the kitchen and chamber work. These girls were not treated as servants, but daughters; they were neat, intelligent and sufficiently comely to pass reputably in any society. The furniture of the mission was plain, vet comfortable; while the table was destitute of every article that might be considered a luxury, the food was good, substantial and of sufficient variety.”

John C. Ellsworth arrived at Brainard on November 24, 1821 and on the succeeding nineteenth of December John Vail and Henry Parker arrived.

A grist mill, a saw mill and a blacksmith shop were installed at Brainard during this year. These were for the use of the mission and to accommodate the public. At the end of the year there were eighty seven Cherokee pupils in attendance at Brainard, thirty girls and fifty seven boys.

Mr. Dean, a blacksmith from Vermont, with his wife, arrived in January 1822 and two months later, Ainsworth E. Blunt, a cooper and Sylvester Ellis, a farmer were added to the mission establishment. Blunt was a native of New Hampshire and Ellis of Vermont.

In May 1822, the property of the Mission was valued at $17,390.00. There were eighty Cherokee and two Osage pupils. These Osages, named by missionaries: John Osage Ross and Lydia Carter, had been adopted by the Cherokee after they had killed their parents in the battle of Pasuga or Claremore’s Mound, in the present county of Rogers, State of Oklahoma, in Anoya or Strawberry moon of 1818. Lydia died at Mrs. William L. Lovely’s in the Western Cherokee nation in the winter of 1823. The boy was taken to New England by General James Miller, the hero of Lundy’s Lane, who was the first governor of Arkansas Territory and ex officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs. He was educated and learned the trade of a saddle, harness and trunk maker, he was living in 1835 and possibly has descendants in Massachusetts or New Hampshire that are not aware that they belong to the richest nation in the world, as the Osages enjoy enormous quarterly payments. The battle of Claremore mound was won by the Cherokees but they were not always so fortunate in their fights with the Osages, for in October or November 1816 an entire war party of one hundred Cherokees under their favorite war chief Walk in the Water was killed in a battle with the Osages and their allies on White River, excepting the White men: William Noland, Col. Lynn and L. D. Lafferty, who were captured and later escaped.

On October 12, 1822 Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Proctor of New Hampshire arrived at Brainard and on the thirteenth of the same month Mr. Frederick Ellsworth of Vermont, arrived.

Reverend Samuel Austin Worcester arrived at Brainard on October 21, 1825. He was born at Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts on January 19, 1798. Graduated from University of Vermont in 1819 and Andover Seminary in 1.823; ordained in Park Street Church, Boston on August 25, 1825 and departed for Brainard six days later. He remained at Brainard as it supervising missionary through 1826. He left the Cherokee Nation some time during the summer of 182 7 for Boston to supervise the making of the matrices for the Sequoian syllabary, have the type cast and purchase a printing press for the Nation.

The first printing done from this type was in the December number of 1827 of the Missionary Herald, it being the first to the fifth verses of the first chapter of Genesis. He arrived at New Echota, capital of the Cherokee Nation, on Conasanga River, in Georgia, on November 2 7, 182 7 and immediately commenced the work of translating the Scriptures from Greek to Cherokee. He also systematized the phonetic arrangement of the Cherokee syllabary to the form that it subsequently bore. The printers: Isaac N. Harris and John Foster Wheeler arrived at New Echota on December 23, 1827 and the press arrived about a month later and volume 1, number 1 of the Phoenix appeared on February 21, 1828. Shortly after the issuance of the first copy, John Walker Candy, became an apprentice on the paper. Rev. Worcester was a continuous contributor to the paper and had a great deal of religious literature published from this press. He was arrested by the Georgia militia on July 7, 1831, on the charge of being in the Cherokee Nation, without a permit from Georgia and in violation of an act of the Georgia legislature, bearing date of December 22, 1830. He was sentenced to the penitentiary on September 16, 1831 and was released by the Governor of Georgia on January 14, 183 3. He returned to Brainard on March 15,

Chief W. C. Rogers
November 1903 to November 1917

1834. Reverend Worcester’s first wife was Miss Anne Orr, a native of Bedford, New Hampshire.

Reverend Worcester procured another press and full complement of Cherokee type and emigrated with them to the Western Cherokee Nation where he first stopped at Dwight and then proceeded to Union Mission, on Grand River, arriving there in the fall of 1835 and set up his press from which he published several religious works both in the Choctaw and Cherokee languages, notably the Cherokee Almanac for the year of 1836. These publications were the pioneers of Oklahoma printing. As he moved to Park Hill on December 2, 1836, it is possible that no Almanac was published for the year 183 7, but it was published at the latter place for each consecutive year thereafter, until 1861. Elias Boudinot soon joined him in the work of translating and the mechanical press work was done by his son, John Walker Candy and Edwin Archer. Reverend Worcester’s second wife, whom he married at Dwight Mission on April 3, 1841, was Miss Ermina Nash, a native of Cummington, who had begun her missionary work at Creek Path Mission, on November 5, 1825. He died at Park Hill, on April 20, 1859. He and his first wife, nee A. N. Orr, a native of Bedford, New Hampshire was buried in the Park Hill Cemetery.

Miss Lucy Ames, a native of Groton, Massachusetts arrived at Brainard on November 7, 1827. She married at Hawais Mission on August 14, 1830 Dr. Elizur Butler.

The station at Brainard sustained a great loss by the burning of the principal portion of the Mission buildings on the twelfth of March 1830, including the kitchen, dining hall, school rooms for both departments, lodging rooms for both scholars and family, together with supplies and furniture. The fire was so rapid that not more than fifteen minutes were allowed for awakening and saving the occupants. There were more than fifty children, besides the missionary family.

The missionaries, almost frantic with the responsibility, rushed into and through the burning buildings, almost into the very jaws of death, to see if any of the beloved charge remained unsaved. Then, when the roof had fallen in, a rush was made down to the bank of the beautiful Chickamauga, where the saved ones had been ordered to go. There, in the gray morning twilight the lines were formed, the count was made, and all dropped on their knees and thanked God for deliverance. All were saved.'”

A mission was established by Reverend Moody Hall on the federal road in Georgia, sixty miles southeast of Brainard, on November 2, 18 19-. It was at first called Taloney but they later changed to Carmel. The school was opened in May 1820. There were thirty pupils attending in September 1821. Reverend and Mrs. John Thompson and Miss Catherine Fuller were attached to the school on January 23, 1822. Reverend Daniel S. Buttrick had charge of the school in 1823. The school was maintained until 1836.

Creek Path Mission was established in April 1920 by Miss Catherine Brown, a three quarters blood Cherokee girl. It was in Alabama, one hundred miles southwest of Brainard. Reverend William Potter was assigned to Creek Path January l9, 1822 and stayed there until July 1837. Dr. Elizur Butler was attached to Creek Path May 7, 18e1 and remained until l826. Miss Ermina Nash arrived at Creek Path on November 5, 1825 and staid until 1837. There were thirty one pupils at Creek Path in 1828.

Willstown Mission, located in Will’s Valley, Alabama was founded March 28, 1823 by Reverend William Chamberlin, who had charge of the mission until 1839. He moved to Illinois and died at Alton on March 11, 1849.

Willstown was so named because it was the home of Will, an auburn haired, half-breed Cherokee sub-chief.

Reverend and Mrs. Ard Hoyt, the parents of Mrs. Chamberlin, settled at Willstown on May 22, 1824 and remained there until his death, which occurred on February 18, 1828. Mrs. Hoyt returned north in 1834.

Hawais Mission, originally called Turnip Mountain, in Georgia, was established in 1823 by Mr. John C. Ellsworth. Dr. Elizur Butler was attached to Hawais on May 1, 1826. Mrs. Butler nee Esther Post of South Concord, Connecticut died there on November 21, 1829. Dr. Butler was arrested by Georgia militia on July 7, 1831 for residing in the Cherokee Nation without a permit from Georgia; sentenced to the penitentiary on September 16 of that year and released by the Governor of Georgia on January 14, 1833.

Etowa Mission, improperly pronounced “Hightower” was founded in 1823 by Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Proctor. It was located on Etowa River in Georgia, eighty miles southeast of Brainard and thirty-five miles west of Carmel.

Candy’s Creek Mission was founded in 1824 by John Vail and William Holland. In 1828 there were thirty Cherokee pupils in this school.

New Echota, the capital of the Cherokee Nation was established by an act of council in 1818. An act providing for the erection of an office for the “Cherokee Phoenix” was enacted on November l5, 1826. New Echota was never used as a mission location, but a church was maintained by the A. B. C. F. M., and a great deal of religious literature was printed on the Phoenix press.

In July 1820, Reverends Cephus Washburn and Alfred Finney accompanied by James Orr and Jacob Hitchcock arrived in the Western Cherokee Nation, Arkansas Territory. Shortly afterward they established Dwight Mission, on the west bank of Illinois Creek, four miles from Arkansas River. It was named in honor of Reverend Timothy Dwight, President of Yale College and the first signatory member of the A. B. C. F. M.

By the first of October I820 they had erected two “comfortable cabins” and soon afterwards Washburn and Finney returned to Elliott Million, in Mississippi, for their families. They returned to Dwight on May 10, 1821. Miss Ellen Stetson, born March 30, 1873 at Kingston, Massachusetts arrived at Dwight on December 22, 1821 where she died on December 29, 1848.

The missionaries commenced the erection of the school building upon their return to the mission, but before they finished it they ran out of nails and had to go to Union Mission, over two hundred miles distant, to borrow enough to complete the building, which they did and commenced school on January 1, 1822.

In January 1826, the following missionaries were at Dwight: Reverends Washburn and Finney, missionaries; Dr. George L. Weed who afterwards moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, physician and teacher; Jacob Hitchcock, steward; Miss Cynthia Thrall, charge of school; Miss Ellen Stetson, teacher; James Orr, farmer; Samuel Wisner and Asa Hitchcock, mechanics. Reverend and Mrs. Worcester Willey arrived at Dwight on January 31, 1826.

The Western Cherokees exchanged their land in Arkansas for land west of that Territory on May 6, 1828, and by the succeeding spring practically the entire Western nation had moved to their new possession. For that reason it became incumbent on the missionaries to also remove to the Indian Territory. The entire missionary establishment of Dwight Mission was moved to and located on the site of Nicksville, the late county seat of Lovely County, Arkansas, in 1828. The location is in the northern half of section two, township twelve north, range twenty-three east and in the south half of section thirty-four, township thirteen north, range twenty-three east in Sequoyah County, Oklahoma.

Miss Esther Smith, born July 25, 1806, at Harrisburg, N. Y., arrived at Dwight on December 22, 1832. She was transferred to the Mission at the Forks of the Illinois in 1835; to Park Hill Mission in 1836, and back to Dwight in 1838. In 1841 she was transferred to Fairfield, where she continued until her release from the service of the American Board on September 6, 1853. She remained in the Cherokee Nation and taught in the national schools. Just before the Civil war she was teaching at Peavine School, which was about one mile south of the present town of Baron. She remained with the Cherokees during the Civil war and died at Fort Gibson in January 1865. Her remains being interred in the post burial ground, from whence they were later removed and reburied, by the government contractors, among the unknown dead in the National Cemetery, several years later.

Reverend and Mrs. Jesse Lockwood arrived in Dwight in January 1834. He died of fever at that Mission on the succeeding eleventh of July. Mrs. Lockwood returned to New England in April, 1835.

On account of the emigration Reverends D. S. Buttrick, William Potter and Elizur Butler came to Dwight from the Old Cherokee nation in 1839.

Mulberry Mission had been established as a branch station to Dwight, on Mulberry Creek in Pope County, Arkansas, and was moved in 1828 to a location some fifteen miles north of Dwight and its name was changed to Fairfield. It was placed under the direction of Dr. Marcus Palmer.

Union Mission, section sixteen, township nineteen north, range nineteen east, in Mayes County, Oklahoma, was established in 1820 by Reverend William F. Vaill of the United Foreign Missionary Society for work among the Osage Indians. A large farm was established in 1822. It was under the direction of Reverend William B. Montgomery as missionary and George Requa a “supermtendent of secular concerns.” The location was about four miles from the main mission establishment and run in connection with the school.

The first Protestant conference, in what is now the state of Oklahoma, was held at Union Mission, from November second to the seventh 1822; the sessions being from 5:15 a. m. to 9 p. m. of each day except the last, which was ended shortly before noon. There were representatives from Union, Dwight and Harmony, which was located on the Maries des Cygnes River in Missouri. Reverend Burton Pixley of Harmony was chosen moderator and Epaphrus Chapman, scribe.

As early as 1823 there were fourteen missions at this place and the property was valued at twenty-four thousand dollars.

Ur. Marcus Palmer was granted a restricted license to preach on November 7, 1825, by a conference that was held at Union.

In January, 1826, the missionaries attached to Union were: Reverend William F. Vaill, missionary; Dr. Marcus Palmer, Physician; Stephen Fuller, Abraham Redfield, John M. Spaulding, Alexander Woodruff and George Requa, assistant missionaries, farmers and mechanics, and seven females. At this time they had twenty-six pupils.

On May 10, 1826, the United Foreign Missionary society and the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Affairs were united and continued under the name of the latter organization.

In the fall of 1835 Reverend Samuel A. Worcester located at Union and set up his mission press.

Park Hill Mission was founded in about 1829 by Samuel Newton, late of Osage Mission, in Kansas. He named the Mission “Park Hill” on account of the natural beauty of its surroundings. His residence and mission was at Campbell’s Spring, between the later residence of Chief John Ross and Reverend Samuel A. Worcester. The Mission was later moved to a location about a quarter of a mile east of the residence of Reverend Worcester and at the latter place the Mission press was established. Mr. Newton afterwards moved to Washington County, Arkansas, and was postmaster of Boonesborough in 1847.

The “Mission at the Forks of the Illinois” was in operation in 1830 and was perpetuated in the Elm Springs Mission.

Reverend Humphrey Posey, a native of North Carolina, was appointed by the Baptist Board as a missionary to the Cherokees on October 13, 1817. He immediately repaired to the Western part of his own state, where there were living at that time several thousand of this tribe. Having established a few schools, he felt called to do some exploring in the regions West of the Mississippi, doubtless with a view of locating there. His protracted absence caused a loss of interest in the schools and their necessary suspension. On his return early in 1820, he established a mission station at Valley Town, on Hiwassee River, in the southwest corner of the State and Thomas Dawson was appointed assistant. A farm of eighty acres was cleared, put m cultivation and three houses were built. Shortly after the school started, it had forty pupils.

Evan Jones was born in Brecknockshire, Wales on May 14, 1788. At the age of fifteen he was apprenticed to a linen draper and spent a number of years with him. While there he met Miss Elizabeth Lanigan who was also working in this store and in course of time she became his wife The Jones emigrated to America, reaching Philadelphia early in 1821 Mr. Jones had previously left the formal church of England and joined the Methodists, bu during the summer of 1821 he and his wife became members of the “Great Valley Baptist Church, near their home. It was under the pastorage of Reverend Thomas Roberts, who, with others, was at that time preparing to enter into a mission to the Cherokees.

A month after the reception of Mr. and Mrs. Jones into the Baptist church, found them members of the missionary band to the Cherokees. Traveling in farm wagons these missionaries arrived at Valley Town in September 1821. Reverend Roberts took the directing office of Missionary Superintendent and among the other assignments were Isaac Clever, blacksmith; John Farrier, farmer and weaver; Evan Jones, teacher, and it is not known what the other score of people did. The date of the ordination of Evan Jones to the ministry is not known, but we do know that by 1825 he and his family were the only ones of the Great Valley missionary band that still remained with the Cherokee mission work.

A mission was established at Notley, sixteen miles southwest of Valley Town in the summer of 1822. Shortly afterwards another mission was established at Tinsawatee sixty miles southwest from Valley Town, in Georgia. In 1823 the Baptist missions received their convert in the person of John Timson. In this year they were joined by Reverend and Mr. Duncan O’Bryant, who were assigned to the station of Tinsawatee and shortly afterwards he moved the mission from Tinsawatee to Hickory Log, a distance of some ten miles.

Kaneeda, a full-blood Cherokee, was converted at Hiwassee in 1829, and became the first native Baptist minister among the Cherokees. On account of his character, Reverend Jones gave him the English name of John Wickliffe. He began preaching in 1831 and was ordained in 1833. He died in Saline District on November 22, 1857.

During the time that these Baptist missionaries were prosecuting their work among the full bloods in the eastern part of the Cherokee Nation, Jesse Bushyhead, the son of a prominent family, after having attended school in Tennessee, joined the Baptist church and was baptized in 1830. He returned to the Cherokee Nation and gathered a congregation at Ahmohee, which was in the neighborhood in which his parents resided. It was not until quite a while after he had built up a good church here that he met any of the Baptist missionaries. He was ordained to the ministry on the same day as was John Wickliffe. Reverend Bushyhead had a circuit of two hundred and forty miles in which he was assisted from 1834 to 1838 by Reverend Beaver Carrier, a young Cherokee minister who was later a senator from Saline District.

Reverend Bushyhead was one of the leaders of the Ross party, being at the time of his death on July 17, 1844, Chief Justice of the Cherokee Nation. His disinterestedness in the feudal and political troubles among his people gained for him the peculiar distinction of being the only man of any consequence among the Cherokees who habitually traveled among his people in the troublous period of 1830-46, unarmed, except, as he said, with his Bible.

Aganoyah, a full blood Cherokee, was a contemporary Baptist minister with Bushyhead and Wickliffe.

The Baptist church membership in 18 55 in the Cherokee Nation “East” was two hundred and twenty-seven.

Mrs. Elizabeth Lanigan Jones died at Valley Town on February 5, 1831. Reverend Jones’ second wife was Miss Pauline Cunningham.

About thirty families from the vicinity of Hickory Log Mission, under the leadership of Reverend O ‘Bryant, migrated to the Cherokee Nation “West” in 1831, establishing New Hope Mission on Barren Fork Creek and about two miles from the Arkansas line. They shortly afterwards added a grist and sawmill. Reverend O’Bryant died in 1854 and was succeeded by Reverend Samuel Aldrich of Cincinnati, Ohio, who died after one year’s service and then the mission lapsed.

Other accessions to the missionary working force among the Eastern Cherokees were Leonard and Mrs. Butterfield and Miss Sarah Rayner in 1832 and Chandler Curtis in 1835.

Reverend Bushyhead established a camp near the Arkansas line upon his arrival in 1839, at which rations were issued to needy emigrants and for this ration the camp was locally known as “Bread Town,” but he immediately commenced his religious work here and the location soon became known as Baptist Mission, the name that it justly bears to this day, although the mission was removed to Tahlequah by John B. Jones, in 1867. The Joneses settled at and became a part of Baptist Mission shortly after their arrival in the Western Cherokee Nation.

John Buttrick Jones, son of Reverend Evan and Mrs. Elizabeth Lanigan Jones, was born at Valley Town, North Carolina on December 24, 1821. He was Cherokee interpreter for his father at the age of thirteen. Was baptized by Reverend John Wickliffe in 1844. The Jonses, assisted by Harvey Upham and Mark Tiger published at Union Mission the Cherokee Message, a monthly missionary publication a part of which was printed in the Cherokee language. Its first issue was in August 1844. Only about fourteen issues were printed.

John B. Jones graduated from the University of Rochester, New York in 1855. He was ordained to the ministry in that city on July 14, 1855 and was married there in October of the same year to Miss Jennie M. Smith. They repaired immediately to the Baptist Mission and entered the missionary work.

Both Evan and his son John B. Jones were men of magnetic and sympathetic presences, splendid acquisitive minds and rare executive abilities. While the father was perfectly conversant with the Cherokee language, he always used an interpreter when preaching to the Cherokees. The son, having been born in the Cherokee country, rapidly gained a facile and perfect knowledge of the Cherokee language and customs and no man or men were ever able to sway the minds and policies of the full blood Cherokees as did this father and son.

They were the real directors of the Cherokee Nation from 1830 to 1867, through the numerically dominant full bloods, who as a body were always swayed by impulse rather than reason. As ministers of the gospel they were apparently meek and humble. But the sentiments that they powerfully and insidiously engendered among the full bloods were perforce the governmental policies of Chief Ross.

At the same time they almost always courted the good will of the astute and suave Ross, hut upon the accession of his nephew, William P. Ross, to the Chieftaincy they broke with him and by promoting an alliance, in 1867, between the friends of Lieutenant Colonel, the Reverend Lewis Downing and the ex-Confederate Cherokees, they formed the Downing party, which after this time elected all the Chiefs, except one Dennis W. Bushyhead and he was opposed to his first election by many of the prominent Ross leaders.

The Jones’ were the moving and dominant spirits in the inception of the Keetoowha Society in 1859. Its membership was at first practically all full bloods and one of its prime principles was abolitionism which severely affected the Ross family, as many of them were large slave owners. On account of this agitation the Jones were proscribed by the federal and national authorities in l86l and then became the active negotiators with their full blood friends in persuading them to give up their affiliation with the confederacy in 1862, deserting their Colonel, John Drew and the Ross family Drew joined the confederates but almost all the Rosses went over to the federal cause.

With hardly an intermission the Baptist educational success has been: Valley Town Mission 1820-39; Baptist Mission 1839-67; Baptist Mission at Tahlequah 1876-85 and because the Cherokee Nation would not make them satisfactory land grants the mission was moved to the Muskogee Nation where its name was changed to Bacom University and has maintained a laudable existence since f885.

Reverend Evan Jones died in August 1873 and Reverend John Buttrick Jones died on June 13, 1876.

A unique religious observance among the full blood Cherokees is the annual “Baptist Association’ which meets at some selected place on the east side of the Grand River in the late summer or early autumn. They come with their entire families and camp for a week, attending church and fraternizing. Their provisions are assembled in a general tent, cooks are allotted for each meal. These cooks are almost universally clean and mistresses of their art. The meals are served to all and without price. The fervor of their worship is a moral stimulus to all who come in contact with them. As beneficent hallowedness seems to permeate the very atmosphere as these people who live close to nature met render their obeisance and thanks to their creator.

The largest of these Baptist Association establishments was described in the Annual Report of the Commissioners of Indian Affairs for 1859 on page 176, as follows: Delawaretown church on September 5, 1859 was a main room eighty by twenty feet, with two side rooms equipped with two stoves and a bell, together with the thirty other buildings which were occupied by the people who came to attend the Association, these were hewn log houses ranging from twelve feet square to fifty by twenty feet and also a comfortable log school house thirty by twenty beet with a good floor, stove and four glazed windows. This was the establishment of a people nearly all full blood Cherokees, practically all of whom were in moderate circumstances.

The policy of the Methodists was not to build mission establishments Their work was more along the evangelical lines, primary instruction being subsidiary.

In 1822, at the solicitation of Richard Riley, Reverend Richard Neeley of the Tennessee Methodist Conference, commenced to preach in the Cherokee country. Riley and several others joined the church during this year. Reverends L. W. Sullivan and Ambrose F. Driskill succeeded Neeley.

The first Methodist Mission school was established in the Cherokee country in 1824 and during that year John Fletcher Boot was licensed to preach. “He was an orator and simple. He was unaffected, unstudied, graceful and powerful.”‘ He died while filling the Canadian District circuit m 1852 or 3.

There were three missions in 1825, four in 1826 and seven in 1827. Truth Fields, a veteran of the Creek war of 1841 was converted in 1826 and licensed to preach during the next year. In 1827 he filled the Coosawatee circuit. He was a signer of the constitution of 1839.

Greenwood LeFlore, Chief of the Choctaws, whose wife was Elizabeth Coody, niece of Chief Ross, was converted and joined the Methodist church in 1827.

In the fall of 1828 the Tennessee conference made the following appointments for the Cherokee Nation :

Superintendent of Missions, Reverend William McMahon.

Wills Valley and Oostanalla, Reverend B. M. Ferran with Joseph Blackbird as interpreter.

Coosawater, Reverend Truth Fields.

Mount Wesley and Ashbury, Reverend Dixon C. McLeod. A mission school attached.

Chatooga, Reverend Greenbury Garrett. A school attached.

Sullacooie, Reverend Nicholas Dutton Scalis. A school attached.

Neeley’s Grove, Reverend Allen F. Scraggs. A school attached.

Conasauga, Reverend Thomas J. Elliott. A school attached.

General Missionary to travel through the Nation, Reverend James Jenkins Trott.

Chief John Ross joined the Methodist church and Reverend Richard Neeley died during this year.

Commission Appointed By President Cleveland, 1893


Front Row: Thos. R. Knight Coffee Woodall
Second Row: Darius E. Ward, Sec., Jas. M. Keys, Wm. H. Hendricks, Pres.


Starr, Emmett. History of the Cherokee Indians and Their Legends and Folk Lore. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: The Warden Company. 1921

2 thoughts on “Missionary Activities. First Printing”

  1. Laurie Grant Brockman

    For more information about missions, missionaries, and the Cherokees in northeast Alabama and northwest Georgia there is a comprehensive book out now that goes into great detail. It is titled “New England Missions and Schools to the Cherokees in Northeast Alabama 1800-1830” by Brockman, Smith, and Benefield. 2018. It is available on e-bay.

  2. This is great information. i would like more information from a later time after 1880. My great great uncleWilliam Harvey Sullivan, came as a missionary with the Methodith Mission after the 1880’s to the mission in Cherokee county. My Great Grandfather Joseph Lee Sullivan came to settle around the Peggs, Cherokee County, Ok in early 1900’s.

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