"First day at school" by Norma Howard

“The subject of education may be termed the great subject among the Choctaws.’ – Ebenezer Hotchin,




Armstrong Academy, near Doaksville in Pushmataha District,  1841-1921, in what is now Bokchito, Bryan County. The Rev. Ramsay D. POTTS was in charge and the school was named after  William ARMSTRONG, the popular agent of the Choctaws. Trustees were Major  Armstrong, P.P. PITCHLYNN, George W. HARKINS, Thompson McKENNY and Robert M. JONES. The teaching staff was Mrs. Potts, Mr. and Mrs. P.O. BROWN Jr., Tabitha CHENOWETH; H.V. JONES was director of the farm. Average attendance was 65. The Rev. A. S. DENNISON, succeeded Potts as superintendent and A.G.  MOFFATT was teacher. Allen WRIGHT  served as superintendent after graduation from a New York seminary. The mission was transferred from the American Indian Mission Association to the Domestic Board of Southern Baptist Convention. In 1855, it was turned over to the Cumberland Presbyterian Board of Foreign and Domestic Missions, under whose auspices it continued until the outbreak of war in 1861. William James Beard LLOYD managed Armstrong for six years.  Elizabeth W. EARLE taught in 1859. The campus served as state capitol for  20 years, begining in 1863. He was relieved by the Rev. Calvin J. RALSTON.  In 1884, the buildings served as an orphans’ home for boys. 

Bethlehem, under way in 1843 when Samuel WORCESTER, a Choctaw, was in charge of 12 males and 1 female.

Boggy Depot, for Freedmen, 1874, supported by Baptist Mission Board. Destroyed by fire in 1875.

 Chuala Female Seminary,  1842, , a female seminary near Doaksville, under Cyrus KINGSBURY, a Presbyterian missionary sent by the ABCFM, and Ebenezer HOTCHKIN.  Girls made a large quantity of clothing for the boys at Spencer Academy.  Taught by Miss ARMS, MESSERS, WILSON, POTTS and H.G. RIND.  Mr. GREGORY was a missionary. In 1843 a report listed 36 students, 19 mixed bloods and the rest full Choctaws. Only 6 spoke English. Hotchkins died in 1867. Harriet GOULDING taught there 10 1/2 years.

Fort Coffee Academy, an abandoned military post on the Arkansas five miles from Skullyville, opened 1842. Superintendents were the Rev. John HARRELL and the Rev. William H. GOODE, Methodist clergyman. also Henry C. BENSON. In 1852, the academy boys were “prostrated with measles in their worst form. They all, however, partially recovered when whooping-cough, pneumonia and the flux followed. Fifteen of the pupils died and the school was suspended.” Boys here wore clothing made for them by girls at New Hope Seminary six miles away. 

Students were instructed in spelling, reading, arithmetic, geography, English grammar, chemistry, algebra, geometry and Latin grammar. The school was burned by raiding Union Indians from across the Arkansas; other buildings were used for barracks or refugee quarters and the rest fell into decay. George T. LINCOLN was in "possession" of the Fort Coffee Academy in autumn 1876. Rev. E.R.  SHAPARD was susperintendent in 1877. Beloved teachers were Miss LOCHI and her sister Miss Dora RANKIN and are namesakes of many Choctaw girls. Rev. Edward A. GRAY arrived to be superintendent in 1883. (Foreman, p. 80)

 Goodland Indian School, established in 1848 near Frogville, Durant, OK, under Mr. and Mrs. John LATRHOP. Oliver P. StARK took over in 1850 . He left in 1869. Harriet McCORMICK was teacher and later married Stark. Also served by James DYER. The school progressed with the community support of Solomon HOTEMA, Mrs. Carrie leFLORE, Miss Elizabeth ROOD and Silas BACON. The Rev. Joseph Parker HIGGONS came in 1890 and remained until his death in 1918. Operated in 1949 as Goodland Indian Orphanage, 2 miles west of Hugo, Choctaw County. (Foreman, p. 93)

 Goodwater Mission, 1837, the Rev. Ebenezer HOTCHKIN was superintendent in 1843. Miss Harriet MITCHELL as a teacher until she married Allen WRIGHT in 1857. Miss Sue L. McBETH was teacher in 1860. 

 Iyannubbee Female Seminary , 1842, see Stockbridge Mission, superintendent Cyrus BYINGTON, located near Eagle Town. Teacher was Priscilla CHILD, who later became the second wife of Cyrus KINGSBURY. (“The Five Civilized Tribes” by Grant Foreman, Oklahoma Chronicles, )

 Jones Academy for boys, four miles northeast of Hartshorne, 1892, under S.T. DWIGHT, the academy being named for Chief Wilson N. JONES. In 1952, it discontinued its academic program and became a residential care center for Indian students, more commonly referred to as a non-reservation boarding dormitory, operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Students entered public school at Hartshorne. Superintendents: Mrs. Jack McCURTAIN, W.A. DURANT, Wallace B. BUTZ, Sam L. MORLEY, W.F. AVEN, Edwin L. CHALCRAFT, H.P. Warren and Joseph N. KAGEY; J.G. MASTERS, principal. Includes classrooms, mantual training shop, engineering shop, blacksmith, shop, horse barn, dairy bar, poultry houses and cottages. It contained 720 acres, 40 under cultivation. Source: “Life and Times of Original Enrollees of the Choctaw Nation,” p. 393-394.

 Koonsha Female Academy, 1842, (see Goodland Mission). ( In 1848, both female teachers at Koonsha died; and scarlet fever, whooping cough and mumps successively attacked the students. Source:  “The Five Civilized Tribes” by Grant Foreman

Lukfata near Broken Bow. Teacher Eunice COUGH who married Noah Wall. 

Neighborhood Schools, Choctaw Nation district trustees established schools in each district in 1870 at the request of the local community. A committee selected a teacher and the school ran for nine or 10 months per year. Free Textbooks were furnished. Some of the teachers were white but most were Choctaw, educated in tribal schools.  Superintendet was Forbis leFLORE. After the Atoka Agreement, schools lost control of their school system and was placed under John D. BENEDICT as superintendent of Schools for the Indian Territory and E.T. McARTHUR as supervisor of the Choctaw schools. Benedict was controversial and tried to interfere with "Choctaw Pride." He was later moved to another position and the neighborhood schools soon became a part of the public school system of Oklahoma. Source: Chronicles of Oklahoma, vol X, Sept. 32, no. 3.

New Hope, girls’ school, near Fort Coffee, near Skullyville, established in 1842; also hit by epidemics that took the life of one teacher. A cholera scourge invaded in 1849 and the school was closed down. Rev. John HARRELL was in charge until 1855. Seven girls died in 1854 three of tuberculosis, one of dropsy, two of typhoid fever and one of "congestion in the brain." The Rev. F.M. PAINE was superintendent of New Hope and Fort Coffee in 1858.  Staff was Mrs. M.J. SCANNELL, principal; Miss Zorade BRUCE, assistant; Miss M.C. PAINE and Mrs. M.J. MOLLOY, teachers. and Mrs. Jane GUYMON, in charge of sewing.

It was the first boarding school to be re-opened after Civil War. First superintendent was the Rev. W. L. McALISTER. John PAGE, a full-blood, translated services. Also managed by Dr. and Mrs. E.G. MEEK, William GRAHAM and a mulatto matron called "Aunt Hetty." Mr. and Mrs. MARIS, Miss Carrie, Miss CROCKETT, Miss Mary H.P. TALBOTT, Elizabeth TRAMELL, Frances SAWYERS,  and Miss Helene STEELE  were teachers and Miss CARTER was responsible for good conduct. 

One year the girls of this school made 100 pairs of pants and shirts for Fort Coffee Academy boys, besides making much of their own clothing. Fort Coffee boys suppplied them with vegetables, corny and hominy. The instruction was "intended to prepare the girls for usefulness in life, giving to them, in addition to a knowledge of letters, instructions in housekeeping, and all necessary household affairs; also needle-work, knitting, cutting and and making clothes, the management of the dairy and everything that pertains to prudent management and thrifty housekeeping." Some of the girls from this school were sent to more advanced schools in Mississippi and Tennessee.  The school was closed by whooping cough and measles from March 1 to May 1, 1860. Burned down in 1896, two months after Spencer Academy burned. Teacher was Mr. OLMSTEAD. 

Norwalk Male’s Seminary, near Fort Towson, named after founder the Rev. Jared OLSTED’s birthplace in Connecticut. Charles COPELAND was superintendent. Norwalk was a school for small boys, located 5 miles north and west of Wheelock Seminary. The school was closed in 1854. It was noted for its boy singers trained by Mr. PITKIN, a teacher who was well known long after the Civil War, living in Northeast Texas.  Source: “The Five Civilized Tribes” by Grant Foreman, Chronicles of Oklahoma, vol XLIV, no. 3, Autumn 1966.

Pine Ridge Mission, 1835, see Chuala, above

Providence, Ramsay D. POTTS was teacher of Colbert CARTER, Mat COYL, Rosanna  COYL, Patsy GOING and 35 others in 1843 when a report was made to Captain Wm. A. ARMSTRONG, agent of the Western Territory, Choctaw Nation.

Red River School, Anna BURNHAM was over 13 boys and 17 girls (a neighborhood school, not a mission).

Saint Agnes School of the Choctaws, the Rev. William Henry KETCHAM  was sent to Antlers Nov. 23, 1896. to begin the mission under poverty and hardship. He was assisted by Mother Mary Katharine DREXEL but had an insecure financial foundation. The Sisters of St. Joseph began teaching there in the fall of 1897. Father KETCHAM was assisted in translating by Peter HUDSON, Victor LOCKE, Ben HENDERSON, George NELSON and Bailey SPRING. In 1903 when Mississippi Choctaws were given allotments in the nation, two Carmelite fathers cam, Rev. August BREEK,  H.J. HAMERS and Rev. van RECHEM. 

At first it was a "neighborhood" school, but began boarding Indian girls and boys. Rev. Charles van HULSE remained until 1925. The largest enrollment was 1910-1913. In 1936 fire destroyed and damaged much of the buildings. in 1945 a tornado struck the school. In the town of Antlers, 82 people were killed and 250 injured. Sixty school children escaped injury during the storm by kneeling and praying in the center hall. St. Agnes School had served the Choctaws for a total of 48 yeas.  Source: Chronicles of Oklahoma, vol. 33, no. 2, summer '55.

Shawnee Town, 1836, in McCurtain county, exclusively for girls. Teacher was Mrs. J.W.P. McKENZIE. 

Spencer Academy, Choctaw Nation, 1842-1900, By an act of the Choctaw Council in 1842, the Nation authorized a boarding school for boys at a site 10 miles north of Fort Towson at Doaksville. It was named for the Secretary of War, John C. SPENCER. Three dorms were named for trustees Peter P. PITCHLYNN, Robert M. JONES and William M. ARMSTRONG, Indian Agent.

In 1851, Spencer Academy was overwhelmed by measles and out of 100 boys, 70 were ill; four died. During the Civil War, Spencer Academy did not function as an educational institution but the dormitories in 1863 were used as a Confederate hospital. Gen. Douglas COOPER with the Wells Battalion established headquarters there.

The academy was rebuilt by Calvin ERVIN and reopened the school on Nov. 2, 1870. The academy was relocated in Soper as New Spencer in 1882 where new facilities were erected. On Oct. 3, 1896, main building and storeroom burned. Five students died and seven were seriously burned. The school reopened in fall 1898. Spencer burned again June 23, 1900.

Graduates include principal chiefs B. J. SMALLWOOD, Jefferson GARDNER, Allen WRIGHT, Jackson McCURTAIN, Gilbert DUKES; Judge Charles VENSIN and national treasurer William WILSON. Educators Peter J. HUDSON and Simon DWIGHT, Dr. Elijah Nott WRIGHT, the Rev. Frank Hall WRIGHT, Gabe PARKER were teachers during its last years.

 Sponsored By: The Presbyterian Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions;  Superintendents: Edmund McKinney, 1843-1845;  Rev. James B. Ramsey, 1846-49; Alexander Reid, 1849-1855; Rev. J. H. Colton, 1871-1875; John H. Read 1876-1881; Oliver P. Stark; Harvey Schermerhorn, 1888; Rev. R. W. Hill, temporary; Alfred Docking, 1889-1891; W.A. Caldwell; J.B. Jeter; Wallace B. Butch. John Jeremiah Read, a Presbyterian,  had charge of Spencer from 1877-1882.

 Stockbridge Mission , 1837, see Iyanubi, near Eagletown, under Cyrus Byington, Mr. C.C. Copeland was teacher. In 1843 he reported less ballplaying, and improvements of a stone chimney, purchase of sheep, two cotton gins and a water mill. Byington died in 1868. 

 Tuskahoma Female Institute, near the capitol,  established Aug. 6, 1892 , under Peter J. Hudson.

 Tushka Lusa, for Freedmen male and female, established 1892, under Henry Nail. "Tushka Lusa" means "Black Warriors."

 Wheelock Mission and Wheelock Female Seminaries, girls’ boarding school founded in 1842 in southern McCurtain County, not far from the present Wright City, 1 1/2 miles northeast of Millerton and 10-12 miles north and west of Idabel. Named in memory of the first president of Dartmouth College who was a devoted friend of the Indians and first opened his Indian school, the school was opened under auspices of the American Board. The school and the mission was directed by the Presbyterian missionary the Rev. Alfred Wright, who, with Cyrus Byington, developed the Choctaw alphabet and translated and printed books of the Bible and hymnals. Teacher was Anna Burnham. Wheelock was enlarged and reopened on May 1, 1843 after the Choctaw Legislative council authorized funding. Took students from various clans, the Ahepotukla, the Olilefeleia, the Oklahaneli and the Urihesahe. Among its students were Mrs. A.M.  Colbert (daughter of Israel Folsom and mother of Mrs. McConlan, Oklahoma City); and Mrs. J.F. McCurtain, who was Jane Austin and widow of Jack McCurtain. Teachers were Mr. H.K. Copeland and wife. In 1955 the Wheelock Academy, a non-reservation boarding school, was closed after having been in operation since 1839. Fifty-five girls were transferred to Jones Academy, which became coeducational. Source: Life and Times of Original Enrollees of the Choctaw Nation, p. 393-394; Perdue, p. 39; Chronicles of Oklahoma.

More on Wheelock


Baptist Mission and Printing House, 1839 (in operation  1949 as Bacone College, Muskogee

 Dwight Presbyterian Mission of the Cherokees in I.T. It was originally founded in 1820 in Russellville, Ark., as an Indian mission school. It was named for Timothy Dwight, the president of Yale University, who was an incorporator of the American Board of Foreign Missions, the early sponsor of the founding missionaries. In 1828, as the Western Cherokees were forced into Oklahoma, Dwight was moved at the invitation of the Cherokee chief to its current location 20 miles into the newly organized Indian Territory.

Dwight served generations of Native Americans as a mission and training school providing educational opportunities through its missionary work until public education became available and the school was finally closed in 1948. As early as the 1920’s, the site was utilized by Presbyterian churches for summer conferences for youth and adults. Dwight Mission was purchased in 1952 by the Synod of Oklahoma to serve as a camp and conference center, continuing as a gathering place for fellowship, study, meditation, and worship. Nancy Brown Hitchock and Jacob Hitchcock were teachers.  Maria JAMES was an assistant teacher.  She was an osage who married William Pettit. Cassandra Sawyer LOCKWOOD, wife of Rev. Jesse Lockwood were teachers. 

For more, Dwight Presbyterian Mission

Hopefield , 5 miles north of Tahlequah, 1823

Koweta Mission, 1843, Koweta Manual Labor Boarding School for boys and girls, 1847New Hopefield, 1827

Park Hill, 1935. Mary Avery Loughridge was teacher.

Tahlequah , J.F. Collins.

Tullahassee Manual Labor Boarding School for boys and girls, 1848, known as “Tullahassee Mission.” Clara W. EDDY was teacher, under the auspices of the Presbyterian Board. 

Union Mission, 1820


Bloomfield Seminary for girls, 1852 (in operation 1949 as Carter Seminary at Ardmore, Carter County). Teacher was Angelina H. Carr, wife of the superintendent. 

Burney Institute for girls, 1859

Calvin Institute, near Durant. begun by Rev. C.U. Ralston and named after his son, Calvin, who drowned.  On the Board were Rev. R.K. Moseley, head of the school;  J.J. Read, W.J.B. Loyd, Dr. Robert A. Lively.. It was later supervised by Mrs. Mary Semple HOTCHKIN and her son Ebenezer in 1896. She secured tribal funds in 1900 for Indian boys and girls could attend. Later the city of Durant and Dr. Thornton R. SAMPSON led a fund drive and the name was changed to Durant College.  Became a girls' school in1907 and after it was relocated to a new site opened in 1910 as Oklahoma Presbyterian College for Girls.

Chickasaw Manual Labor Boarding School for boys, 1850

Colbert Institute for boys and girls, 1854, first located at Perryville, moved west to headwaters of Clear Boggy and renamed Collins Institute.

New Springplace Mission, 1842, near Oaks, Delaware County. Teacher was rosina Gambold, wife of the Rev. John GAMBOLD.

Wapanucka Academy for girls, 1851, closed at outbreak of Civil War. In 1856 teacher was Mary Coombs GREENLEAF. 


Asbury Manual Labor Boarding School for boys and girls, 1848 (in operation 1949 as Eufaula Boarding school for girls. 

Cussita Square, (Creek) under charge of John R. BAYLOR, established July, 1843. Thirty-five students in 1843.

Creek Agency School, under Dr. Wm. N. ANDERSON, 38 "scholars" were taught English grammar, arithmetic, reading, writing and spelling. Pupils were 27 males and 11 females.

Oak Ridge Mission, 1848

Tuckabatchee (Creek) on the Canadian, reported in 1843 by J.S. DAWSON, Creek agent.


Chilocco Indian School, north of Newkirk in north central Oklahoma, established in 1884. It operated as a boarding school for nearly a century. James M. HAWORTH was founder and superintendent. It was a vocational school training girls in domestic arts and boys in agriculture.  Source: “They Called It Prairie Light,” by K. Tsianina Lomawaima.

Haskell Institute, a government Indian School at Lawrence, Kans.

Quapaw Mission, under Methodist Episcopal Church. S.G. PATTERSON was in charge in 1843.

Sources: “The Five Civilized Tribes” by Grant Foreman; “Nations Remembered,” by Theda Perdue; “Choctaws at the Crossroads,” by Sandra Faiman-Silva; “The Choctaw,” by Jesse O. McKee; “The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic,” by Angie Debo; The Chronicles of Oklahoma,” “They Called It Prairie Light,” by K. Tsianina Lomawaima.

 Watch for : Kentucky, Mississippi and others, to come

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Union Mission, 1820

Hopefield , 5 miles north, 1823

Dwight Mission , 1829

New Hopefield, 1827

Koweta Mission;, 1843, Koweta Manual Labor Boarding School for boys and girls, 1847

Tullahassee Manual Labor Boarding School for boys and girls, 1848, known as “Tullahassee Mission.”

Baptist Mission and Printing House, 1839 (in operation  1949 as Bacone College, Muskogee




Oak Ridge Mission, 1848

Asbury Manual Labor Boarding School for boys and girls, 1848 (in operation 1949 as Eufaula Boarding school for girls.



Wapanucka Academy for girls, 1851

Chickasaw Manual Labor Boarding School for boys, 1850

Bloomfield Seminary for girls, 1852 (in operation 1949 as Carter Seminary at Ardmore, Carter County)

Colbert Institute for boys and girls, 1854 9first located at Perryville, moved west to headwaters of ClearBoggy and renamed Collins Insitute).

Burney Institute for girls, 1859

New Springplace Mission, 1838