Asbury Manual Labor School

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Asbury Manual Labor School
Established 1848
Construction Began 1848
Construction Ended 1849
Opened 1849
Closed 1887
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location North Fork Town, OK (near Eufala)


Opened as a mission school by the Presbyterian church in 1849 in the Creek town of North Fork Town, Oklahoma. The site chosen in 1848 for the school was an 80-acre farm at North Fork Town, near what is now Eufaula, OK. About 30 acres was fenced. Included on the property was a 20 square foot house with porch and kitchen, a stable, chicken house and a few fruit trees. The site and these improvements cost $300.

The first classes were held in the log house on August 8, 1848, with the Reverend W. S. Cobb as teacher in the log house that already existed on the property. The classes continued in the log house until the new buildings were ready to use in 1850. A stone and brick building 110 feet long, 34 feet wide and three stories high was built with materials shipped by boat from Louisville, via the Arkansas River, then overland to the site by ox-drawn wagons. The U.S. Government paid $5,000 from the funds appropriated for the Creeks under a treaty in 1845, and the balance of the total cost of $9,169 was paid by the Board of Missions of the M. E. Church, South. The building contained 21 rooms, large halls and would accommodate 100 students and the faculty. In 1848 the annual report to the IMC records that there were 30 Creek students, one local preacher, 24 white teachers and staff and a small balance of $6.75 on hand. The school continued to be maintained by the Creek’s appropriated funds.

The Civil War and Reconstruction was devastating to Indian Territory. Rev. Thomas Bertholf was appointed Superintendent of Asbury school that had been destroyed in the war. Through Creek Chief, Samuel Checote, he secured an appropriation of $6,000 from the U.S. government for the task of rebuilding and reopening the school. Bertholf did not live long enough to accomplish the task. John Harell was then appointed superintendent of the Mission. In 1868 the main building was destroyed by fire. Using his considerable influence with the Creeks and government officials, Rev. Harrell had new buildings built and the school reopened in 1870.

The school burned in 1881 and again for the final time in 1887, never to reopen. Rev. Thomas Bertholf, and Rev. John Harrell, both of whom died during their administrations, were buried on the school grounds. When the present day Lake Eufaula was built the cemetery was relocated to Eufaula’s Greenwood Cemetery and the old school site and cemetery disappeared under the waters of the new lake.

The town became mostly abandoned when a railroad line was built just northwest of there in 1873, and by 1893 the post office for the area was closed in favor of opening one in the town of Eufala which was forming along the railroad.