After the Removal, the Chickasaws were despondent. Many had died and were continuing to die from exposure, malnutrition, and disease. In the new land the people lived clustered around government supply depots, instead in clan based villages as before. In the Removal treaty Chickasaw district had been included in the Choctaw Nation, a situation which the individual Chickasaw could never accept. In addition, the Choctaw had located the Chickasaw district far to the west of the Choctaw settlements, to create a buffer between them and the hostile plains tribes, who considered the eastern tribes as intruders, and repeatedly raided their settlements. The Chickasaw's only protection was Fort Towson, which was a full 70 miles east of their border.
As a result, the Chickasaw were unable to even move into their district until 1844, when Fort Washita was built on its eastern border. Still most of the tribe waited until 1851, when Fort Arbuckle was built further to the west. It was only then that the Chickasaw began to establish their own farms and schools. In the meantime many of the Chickasaw lived in Choctaw settlements where there were some schools. Others remained in the vicinity of the old government supply depots, living off periodic annuity payments.
Map of Indian Territory: Note Ft. Towson in southeast corner,
Ft. Washita just inside Chickasaw border,
and Ft. Arbuckle in middle of Chickasaw Nation.
In spite of these handicaps, the Chickasaw did have some opportunities to educate their young people during the postremoval period. One of them was the Choctaw Academy in Blue Springs, Kentucky. The Choctaw Academy had been established in 1824 by the Baptist Church. Its superintendant was Richard Mentor Johnson, who had been vice president under James Van Buren. Johnson had first achieved notoriety as a Colonel in the war of 1812 when he allegedly shot and killed the great Shawnee Chief, Tecumseh. He used the following jingle during his campaign for vice president: "Rumsey Dumsey, Rumsey Dumsey, Col Johnson killed Tecumseh."
In spite of Col. Johnson's notoriety as an Indian fighter, he did apparently have sympathetic feelings for the Indians and also for other victims of prejudice and oppression. Like Thomas Jefferson, he had a Negro mistress, and for many years he devoted himself to the education on Indian youths. The US government originally sent 25 students per year to the Choctaw Academy, and the number was later raised to 45. The Chickasaw removal treaty provided $3000 annually for ten years to send 10 young men to the Choctaw Academy, and several of the graduates later became leaders of the tribe. After the ten year period the Chickasaw made a contract with Plainview Academy in Connecticut to provide higher education to Chickasaw youths.
Footnote: Wikipedia under Richard Mentor Johnson, and Oklahoma, by Arrell Gibson, P 161.
The Choctaw also developed neighborhood primary schools and academies, equivalent to high schools, and some Chickasaws took advantage of these schools.
In about 1843 or 4 my great great grandmother Ela-Teecha's first husband, Jason McClure, was fatally stricken with hydrophobia, better known as rabies. My great great grandfather, Smith Paul, who had been working for McClure, then married Ela-Teecha. By the way, I don't believe this implies a scandalous affair by my great great grandmother while she was married to McClure, as has been suggested by some. Smith Paul and Jason McClure were both Scotsmen, and they were friends. It was a difficult time. Ela Teecha was left alone by McClure's death to care for two small children. She was thirteen years older than Smith Paul, but she needed a husband, and so they were married. It was a practical and a compassionate arrangement.
Footnote: Leaders and Leading Men of the Indian Territory: Choctaws and Chickasaws, by Harry F. O'Beirne, 1891. P 308
Ela-Teecha's daughter Catherine stayed with the family, and in about 1848 or 1850 she married Tom Waite, a farmer from Illinois. I'm not sure how much education she had, but as you will learn later, her dedication to providing education for her children was remarkable.
With the building of Fort Washita in 1844, Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian missionaries began to establish churches, and when Fort Arbuckle was built in 1851, the Chickasaw provided the churches with funds to create schools in the new Chickasaw communities. Four academies were established: the Colbert and Burney Institutes for boys, and the Bloomfield and Wapanucka Academies for girls, as well as six neighborhood schools with an enrollment of 180 students. The Chickasaw achieved their independence from the Choctaw in 1854, and by 1856 they had written a constitution and had established their own government. Unfortunately the Civil War erupted in 1861, and again disrupted Chickasaw society in its attempts at nation building.
Burney Institute and Bloomfield Acadamy
In 1851, when Fort Arbuckle was built, Smith Paul started farming in the area adjacent to the fort and soon he had won a contract to supply corn to the government for the soldiers there and also for the many Indian tribes which came to the fort for rations. This situation provided a unique education for Smith and Ellen's children: Sam, Jesse, and Mississippia, or 'Sippia,' who were 16, 14, and 6 when the Civil War began. According to my great uncle Buck, his father Sam was able to communicate in the languages of all the Five Civilized Tribes, as well as those of the Caddo, Comanche, Kiowa, and Wichita. He once hosted and served as interpreter at a meeting of the Intertribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes.
Map of Ft. Arbuckle Area (from Advancing the Frontier, by Grant Foreman)
Note six lines extending from left side of map pointing to: 1. Road to Wichita Mts, 2. Smith Paul's farm, 3. Area Reserved for Indian Purposes (campground for visiting tribes), 4. Road to Ft. Belknap, 5. Spring, 6. Ft. Arbuckle.
Uncle Buck also said that his father Sam completed the third reader in primary school and that he attended military school for two years. I have no further information about the 'military school.' It might have been provided by the officers of Ft. Arbuckle, but it was also common for Indian children to be sent east to school. Sam Paul obviously continued his education informally, because in addition to serving in the Chickasaw legislature, he also edited two newspapers and worked as an attorney in the Chickasaw court system. Sam's younger brother Jesse's education was probably similar to Sam's, but he suffered an untimely death, probably in the late 1860's, and little is known of him. Aunt Sippia left a description of her education after the Civil War which I'll include in my next post.