Miller, W.L. to Timothy Hill. 1885, n.d. (20, 23)
Tahlequah--May 4th, 1885
Rev Timothy Hill, D. D.
I have finished my report and have read it to Mr Stapler. He cautioned me about the harm it would do me if it should get back to the Nation. I would have rewritten it but had no time. I have concluded to send it to you to read and burn. I send nothing to the Board, except that you may say that in my judgement Childers Station is the place and that the mission there will be the grandest success of our Church in the Indian Territory, whilst the mission at Dwight would prove very expensive and the results be unsatisfactory. There would go up at C Station a school under the Baptists or Congregationalists if Willy comes down- that would over-shadow Dwight. Please burn my long report when read. I have no business reflecting on Chamberlain to the Board When I state the matter to you my duty is ended. Your opinion after all will decide the question. If you are satisfied that Dwight is the place- I would rather not have my views go to the Board- and if you prefer C. Station my opinion in favor of Dwight is not necessary. I have written freely. Consider the part mentioned as confidential, and burn the papers.
I feel a deep interest in the location of this Mission. Success or failure depends on our choice. May God direct.
Will you please inform me how long the Board expects the teachers to continue the sessions of the schools. I have said 40 weeks out of the 52 constituted the term. Now if you wish more or less let me know. We gave two weeks at Xmas here. The 40 weeks will end on the 22nd of June, counting out the two weeks at Xmas. The teachers were here on the ground and the vacation was given as much on account of bad weather as for resting. Miss W, and Anna expecially are very much jaded by hard work- and I wish to close about June the 10th if you sanction it.
The Park Hill School begun three weeks later. Forty weeks would carry the school into July. Miss Bodine is much worn by her labors and she proposes to close on June 5th. She gave only one week aT Xmas. I ask you as Superintendent of Mission Schools to say how many weeks constitute the scolastic year.
Did I send you Thornton's letter about E B Sanders- and my personal statement of statements about him made to me by Dr Trent, Spears, Stapler &c? Excuse prolixity--
I found it impossible to get the needed rooms completed in time to be of much use this session. So too with the cistern, have concluded to wait until the vacation to build all except an out house, costing some 30 dollars and having the rooms in back porches now enclosed with rough lumber fitted up. Miss Minnie goes to Mr Staplers to board. Annie comes over & occupies the parlor. This will ease matters. Tis best.
If you decide for C Station and can get your son to take Tahlequah for the vacation I will if desired give three months to S. E. Cherokee Nation and explore. I can work this thing up so as to make it boom.
How the work enlarges-
Yours in haste
Reasons for protesting against the location of our Mission at Dwight-in the lower Salisaw.
First. There are very few men near who have any cultivation or even knowledge of the English language. The three men who have shown interest in the Mission School are E. B. Sanders Sam Sanders and a full blood named Young, I send certificates showing the character of the two first: Mr Sam Sanders owns Dwight. He expects to open a boarding house. At his house the influence exerted on the boarders will be very injurious. His moral influence will be bad and the intercourse between the boys and girls will result in scandal after scandal. Lewdness is one of the besetting sins of the Cherokees. Mr Sam Sanders expects to make money of the Mission. His motives are mercenary. Mr Young is a narrow, contracted man, full of prejudice and in favor of excluding the children of renters from the school. When asked if he would consent to such children going to the school he would not answer. These three men expect to be trustees. We had better give up the mission entirely than have these men trustees. If we pass them by we incur their enmity.
Second. The school population is very small as shown by the statement of Mr Frye. The full bloods living near are poor and intensely narrow. There is now a great excitement about the school and every available scholar has been entered. In a few months the reaction will come. The full blood children will get tired of study and confinement. The parents appreciate education so little that many will stay at home because there is no home stimulant to keep them at the school.
Third. The Salisaw valley is unhealthy. From Rabbit Bunch's to Dwight- I saw many farms with houses abandoned. Mr McLemore of Fairfield told me they were occupied by a succession of families and the deaths in each family had been so numerous that the farms with improvements were abandoned. No person could be found to buy them. It was proven at the meeting at Childer's Station by the testimony of two doctors and the merchant who sold patent medicines, that Dwight and the Salisaw valley were subject to the diseases caused by malaria. If the Mission is located at Dwight a few cases of severe fever and deaths would break up the school, I am satisfied fully on this head [?] and consider this alone a sufficient reason why the mission should be established else-where.
Fourth. It is urged that the mission ought to be located among the full bloods- and various reasons are given. If these reasons prevail Dwight is not the place- for every such reason has two fold force if you substitute old Fairfield for Dwight. This is a healthy place. There are leading men around who would make excellent trustees. Judge Lynch, Shoat, McLemore & others, & there are more than twice the number of scholars who could board at home, and four or five times the number of full bloods within ten miles and materiel for the great immediate organization of a church. Now if the Board think this mission should be among the full bloods, Fairfield- one of our old mission stations- 17 miles above Fairfield is the place.
Fifth. The mission ought not to be planted in the midst of the full bloods. It is a well known fact that the national schools among the full bloods, taught by teachers speaking English only, and all the text books English, fail in teaching the children English. Now all the books are in English and a good knowledge of English is necessary to understand the meaning of the text. The full bloods read English in the schools without knowing the meaning of the words- just as an English boy would read Latin- you can imagine the absurdity of teaching an English boy History Geography &c with Latin text books. Every man competent to form an opinion on the subject that I have consulted on this head [?] testifies to the fact that the full bloods in full blood communities do not learn English in the schools for them although the teacher only speaks English & the text books are English . At Dwight the day scholars would be from full blood families, the beneficiaries would also be full bloods. The language of the play ground would be Cherokee, the language of the homes of the day scholars would be Cherokee. It is positively absurd to suppose much progress could be made in acquiring English enough to understand the text books. Only a few would acquire enough English to make any progress in the branches of study taught. I testify from my personal experience as Principal of the Tahlequah Mission School as to the importance of this point. The education of the full bloods in our school out of school hours, gained on the play ground and in the English speaking families, is worth far more for the first session in acquiring English (the basis of education) than what is secured in the school. And they learn fully as much the second session out of school as in school. For elevating the Cherokees I would rather have ten boys and girls thoroughly taught than fifty taught in a full blood community.
Sixth. The adults among the full bloods are ignorant: full of prejedices, and indolent They are children except in years & size. The pupils would learn nothing out of school from such a population and those more advanced would be "toned down'. In the formation of character public sentiment is an important factor, This in a full blood community would be "dead against" progress
Seventh. As stated to the committee the full bloods expect the mission to furnish everything- Books-board-clothing as well as free schooling. The expense will be great and there is no hope of a near future when some revenue will be possible.
Eighth. The adults would continue under the influence of ignorant full blood preachers for our minister must use an interpreter. Hence we would be partially educating a large number who would naturally join the Baptist & Methodist Churches. Jack Walkingstick and Gawny would get the members, for the home influence would be too much for our minister speaking through an interpreter or to children too ignorant of English to understand him
Ninth. If the school is established at Dwight we cannot expect the half breeds on the prairie- the most intelligent and wealthy of the Cherokees- and who are the leaders now and whose children will be- to send their children to Dwight. They know their children would retrograde, and the reputation of Dwight for unhealthiness would alone prevent them.
Tenth. There is no hope of much increase of population in ten years at Dwight. The valley is heavily wooded. The former clearings were made by slaves. The Cherokees, full bloods especially, will not clear the forests. Nearly all the land susceptible of cultivation is owned by the Sanders and two or three others. There is a hostile feeling against renters. The full bloods in the mountains are too poor to move to Dwight and board their children. They expect everything to be done for them.
Eleventh. The object of the mission is to utilize the labors of former missionaries and build up the Presn Church. There is not a full blood belonging to our Church. The Cherokees partial to our Church are half breeds. The full bloods in the Salisaw valley are Methodists or Baptists. These will continue to be supplied by Cherokee preachers. We cannot win them over. The full bloods never change their church. If you want simply to go among the most destitute give the Mission to the wild indians. If you want to secure the fruits of the labors of other years place the mission at C Station and bring full blood beneficiaries from the mountains.
W. L Miller
Reasons for establishing our Mission at Childer's Station
First. Childers station is on a beautiful prarie studded with natural groves. The land slopes gently to the South. The scenery is beautiful. The soil is fertile. Mr. C. O. Frye told me his brother received $8.80 per acre of rent cotton. Corn yields full crops. The prarie for miles around is being rapidly put under cultivation. White men rent the farms. The Cherokee laws allow a citizen to improve and own an unlimited quantity of land. The Cherokees at C. Station and from there to Arkansas- 25 miles, have learned that they can get rich by renting farms to white men. The supply of labor from Arkansas is abundant: They are reducing this thing to a system and a better class of renters are coming in. By sharing the profits with the renter the Cherokee and renter both have a good thing. There are now eleven hundred acres in cultivation within four miles of C. Station. Every year more and more land is put under the plow and more white families are settled as renters in this section. The young people marry Cherokees and become citizens. Some of the Cherokee families of their region are well advanced in the arts of civilization. Dr Hill and I were the guests of Mr Cushingbury. He had married a Cherokee. Their residence is beautifully situated, well furnished, well kept; and the most sumptuous table I have sat down to this side of the Mississippi was that of Mr Cushingbury. Dr Hill ate as if he engaged the various dishes prepared in a manner to suit the taste of an epicure.
To the South for 10 miles and East for 25 miles there is a splendid region. No Church as yet has preempted the field. The use of renters as a system is a new thing. The new era has just begun. It is due to the example of the Watts family at Cottonwood 10 miles S. East of C. Station. This Cherokee family claim citizenship, but their claims were rejected by the Cherokee Court: An appeal was taken to the Secretary of the Interior and the Watts family made out a "prima facie" case and remain by protection of the Secretary. They have opened extensive farms, cultivated by renters, and have a steam mill, store &c. and are accumulating wealth. At first the Cherokees in the vicinity were incensed at the introduction of so many white families and the opening of so many farms. They tried to stop it but failed. Then seeing how rapidly the Watts were getting rich, one after another "followed suit": Mr Faulkner, an ex senator, is a noted example. He once bitterly opposed the employment of whites. Now he has opened four or five farms and all his influence is in favor of progress. He and others like him will move to C Station when the Mission is established.
I have endeavored at length to give you a true conception of the status of affairs at Childers Station. You can see that this community are not likely to remain dependent on any missionary Board long. They offer $800 now to aid in building a Church and School, and many are able to pay full board and tuition. Every year there will be more of this class. Soon all at C. Station will pay their own way. There are now 85 of school age within 4 miles of the Station, as shown by the "census" sent by Mr Frye. Twenty three more pupils are pledged by families who will move in and build at C Station, making a school population of 108 Cherokee children. There are 75 children of renters within four miles, a total of 183. We can count on 100 of these to enter the school. Our boarding department could soon be filled with paying boarders.
Warning. I warn the Board that the refusal to accept the proposition of the C Station people will be quickly followed by their applying to the Baptists. This Church is already proposing to take the field. Then we will soon be overshadowed at Dwight by the school at C. Station and we will find we have given up the key of this entire region to take a field no other church would have. The entire region will be lost to our church. If however we take C. Station no other church will come in - unless it be at Cottonwood, among the Watts. We can prevent this by preempting Cottonwood. Vigorous efforts in the Church line there will secure all the field to us. The full bloods are passing away. Few of the girls who are taken to the Cherokee Female Seminary and see something of the world outside of their wilderness homes marry full blood men. They prefer a white man or if they cant marry a white man they will marry a half breed. The boys prefer half breed or white girls for wives. The full bloods may be compared to an iceberg floating down towards the equator. Day by day it wastes away and every day's loss is greater than the previous day. The Mission at C. Station will leave a permanent work. There is no school where a good English education can be gained nearer than Fort Smith- in Arkansas. Tahlequah is 45 miles and you cross two mountain ranges. The section of country you preempt by seizing C. Station is fertile and filling up rapidly - and one in which the Cherokees are growing rich & is 25 x 15 miles. North and west of this are the full bloods in the mountains and the Salisaw valley. You see at once the strategical importance of the position.
1st The C. Station people pledge $800. The Dwight people
2nd The C. Station agree to the payment of tuition- beneficiaries the exception. Dwight says we are poor & can neither pay tuition nor buy books.
3rd C. Station desire the school for the benefit of the children of renters as well as Cherokees. Dwight: refused to agree to this. Jorry [?], their leader, remained silent and his face showed that the proposition incensed him.
4th Within 4 miles of C. Station there are 85 Cherokee children and 75 renters children, and the names of parents, wealthy Cherokees, with 23 more children are given who promise to send their children to C. Station. I believe a nice village will grow up of the best Cherokee families. Dwight has a very small school population, & the full bloods are too poor to move there, & board their own children.
5th The men (Sam & E. B. Sanders) active in securing the school for Dwight are men of damaged characters and not safe to trust. At C. Station we have C. O. Frye Faulkner and others who stand high as men of integrity. I regard c. O. Frye as the rising man of the Nation. He is a man of excellent business ability.
6 Put the Mission at Dwight and but few half breeds and paying scholars will come from a distance. At C. Station you can have all the full blood beneficiaries you can take. Every statement to the contrary is written from ignorance or wilful misrepresentation. Mr. Chamberlain intimated as much to me and when I told him I could get 500 Cherokee full bloods at any of our mission schools as beneficiaries, he owned it was true. The argument that we offend the full bloods by placing the school at C. Station is true only so far as Dwight is concerned. There will not be one hundred Cherokees who will have any feeling about the matter. The upper Salisaw valley would just as soon have the Mission at C. Station as at Dwight except it is 7 miles further. Lees Creek has a larger full blood population and is nearer C. Station. I will guarantee the pick of the full blood Cherokee children if the Bd will support them at school. I will warrant that these will make twice as rapid progress at C. Station as at Dwight.
But you say the Rev. A. N. Chamberlain who proposes to understand the Cherokees better than any other white man, advises the location of the school at Dwight. Pardon me if I seem uncharitable. There is no man in the Indian Territory among our ministers who can preach in Cherokee. This gives brother Chamberlain an immense advantage over the rest of us. Now what has be done to build up our church? Has he ever organized a Church. Have sinners been converted by his ministry? Is his judgement to be relied on in this important matter? How does he prosecute his own work. He was ordained as missionary to the "full bloods. He lives about two days drive from only full blood settlement. Had he been a man of ordinary judgement & deeply interested in the spiritual welfare of the full bloods he would have settled among them. Now I have always thought that the judgement of a man who did not manage his own business successfully was not worth very much. It was to be expected that bro. Chamberlain would at least explore and find out good openings for mission points. Has he made such discoveries?
Rev. N. Marlin [?] has recently come into the Cherokee Nation. He will make a good teacher and faithful missionary, but he is sadly wanting in ability to organize & his knowledge of men is deficient. Finally, I have consulted several of the most intelligent men in the nation friendly to our Church on this question of location. They all agree that C Station is the place for a prosperous and useful mission and are very decided in saying that full bloods will not learn the English language attending schools in full blood settlements, and that it is better to take them to an English speaking community. If Childers Station is selected & the mission styled "New Dwight" I will if so desired spend 3 months in evangelistic work in that region this summer, if my churches are supplied by a student.
W L Miller
Near Mt Vernon, Mo. July 4th
Rev. T. Hill D.D.
Thank you for your genial letter. My Presbytery convenes on the 19th of Sept. and I can leave her about the 1st of August. Time is passing by so rapidly I want to ask you some questions about Texas and Kansas. It occurs to me that the most promising fields of Texas are taken up, and that perhaps I may find a better field of labor in Kansas. Will you please give me such information about a few points in Kansas as may enable me to judge between the two States. Describe the fields and states the amt of salary and how it is to be paid. Could I get any help towards moving out?
I want to act prudently in this move and if the expense is not too great I should like to visit the field before accepting. This may be out of my power and therefore permit me to use your eyes as much as possible. I have no fear of work involved but I do want a field of promise. I had rather take a new field of great promise, than a more easy one at the start with little outcome. I have had two counties most of my time in Mo. One county with location at the county seat and work all around will suit me. I have plenty of sermons such as they are, preach with short notes and try rather to speak the word in season than make a polished sermon. The last I can do when needed, but I find that the people out West want good thoughs [sic] and convincing arguments more than ornate finish.
I may misjudge myself but if I mistake not my forte is in the pioneer work, the work of organization. Now if you have a county with the Presbyterian element scattered over it and good prospect of churches if taken in time, that is the field I want. I prefer the Southern or Middle part of Kansas so far as climate is concerned. If you want any testimonials I think I can send you such papers "ad nauseum" I suppose you have had your eye on me and my work and "taken my measure" If you think testimonials will help you to get me a good field I can send you as many as you want. Somehow I have always had a kind of prejudice against asking for them. To me it sounds like "My good brother: can't you write a letter in my praise to Dr.Hill. If a brother volunteers such a letter it is different. but alas! so few men have their wits about them. Now if I do get over to Kansas I want to organise some churches on the primitive Presn plan with permanent elders and a permanent minister. I hate rotating the elders and minister. The first is bad, the last is very bad.
And now in conclusion let me ask your special prayers that the good Lord will direct me just where I may have His grace to do it and do it well.
yours in Xst