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The Choctaw Freedmen and The Story of Oak Hill Industrial Academy

The Choctaw Freedmen
and The Story of Oak Hill Industrial Academy

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INTRODUCTION

 

"The pleasant books, that silently amongOur household treasures take familiar places,Are to us, as if a living tongueSpake from the printed leaves, or pictured faces!"

The aim of the Author in preparing this volume has been to put in a form, convenient for preservation and future reference, a brief historical sketch of the work and workers connected with the founding and development of Oak Hill Industrial Academy, established for the benefit of the Freedmen of the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, by the Presbyterian church, U. S. A., in 1886, when Miss Eliza Hartford became the first white teacher, to the erection of Elliott Hall in 1910, and its dedication in 1912; when the name of the institution was changed to "The Alice Lee Elliott Memorial."

Some who rendered service at Oak Hill Academy, bestowed upon it their best work, while superintendent, James F. McBride and Matron, Adelia M. Eaton, brought to it a faithful service, that proved to be the crowning work of their lives.

The occasion of receiving a new name in 1912, is one that suggests the eminent propriety of a volume, that will commemorate the labors of those, whose self-denying pioneer work was associated with the former name of the institution.

Another aim has been, to place as much as possible of the character building work of the institution, in an attractive form for profitable perusal by the youth, in the homes of the pupils and patrons of the Academy. As an aid in effecting this result, the volume has been profusely illustrated with engravings of all the good photographs of groups of the students that have come to the hand of the author; and also of all the teachers of whom they could be obtained at this time. The portraits of the ministers and older elders of the neighboring churches have been added to these, to increase its general interest and value.

In as much as Oak Hill Industrial Academy was intended to supply the special educational needs of the young people in the circuit of churches ministered to by Parson Charles W. Stewart, the pioneer preacher of the Choctaw Freedmen, and faithful founder of most of the churches in the Presbytery of Kiamichi, a memorial sketch of this worthy soldier of the cross has been added, that the young people of the present and future generations may catch the inspiration of his heroic missionary spirit.

"All who labor wield a mighty power;The glorious privilege to doIs man's most noble dower."

The ministers of the neighboring churches, in recent years, have been so helpfully identified with the work of the Academy, as special lecturers and assistants on decision days, and on the first and last days of the school terms, they seem to have been members of the Oak Hill Family. The story of the Academy would not be complete, without a recognition of them and their good work. This recognition has been very gratefully accorded in a brief history of the Presbytery of Kiamichi and of the Synod of Canadian.

The period of service rendered by the author, as superintendent of the Academy from the beginning of 1905 to the end of 1912, eight years, was one of important transitions in the material development of Indian Territory....