Wetumka Boarding School

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Wetumka Boarding School
Opened 1881
Location Wetumpka, Ok
Alternate Names
  • Levering Manual Labor School



History[edit]

History as Wetumka Boarding School[edit]

In 1880 the Creek Council appropriated $5,000 for a manual labor school in the nation and Eugene Levering of Balitmore gave an equal amount. (Levering & his brother were wealthy coffee merchants and prominent churchmen of the Southern Baptist Convention. The school was in the southwest part of what was then the Creek Nation, near the north fork of the Canadian River, at the old home of Ward Coachman. On September 1, 1881, the Levering Manual Labor Mission School, under the auspices of the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and partially supported by the Creek Nation, opened to 50 Creek boys and 50 Creek girls.

By 1902 Wetumka public school had an enrollment of 261 and employed three teachers and a principal, Rev. J.A. Trenchard (selected by the Southern Baptists). land had been cleared for an orchard of 1,000 apple trees and 450 peach trees. The school farm produced 400 bushels of wheat, 250 bushels of oats, 1,000 lbs of beans, 850 lbs of green peas, 30 bushels of onions, 35 bushels of tomatoes, 40 bushels of potatoes, and 60 acres of corn. Girls were issued aprons, calico dresses, linsey dresses, plaid dresses, skirts, shoes and a handkerchief. Boys were issued coats, pants, socks, and shoes. All clothing was donated by the Southern Baptist Council of Women.

In January 1882, Trechard wrote "Eighty cases of Measles among the pupils has been a serious drawback, but otherwise the school is doing well. Some of the students can not endure restraint, the discipline necessary at school, or their studies, so they run away and generally tell very large tales of 'starvation', 'hard work' and 'hard whippings'. The large majority are contented"

On May 26, 1883 Trechard wrote the Home Mission Board reporting the death of his wife on May 19; the school had owned 175 head of cattle on May 1st but they had disappeared and a member of the Creek Council thought they had been driven to Muskogee to be sold, and some to the Choctaw Nation. "I fear drunkenness and thievery will nearly ruin us if no check can be put on these vile evils..."

Later in 1883 Trechard writes, "At Christmas the parents came in and took out most of the children to spend Christmas at home. While at home a rebellion within the Creek Nation broke out, and only about half the students returned to school. After the rebellion was defeated by the Creek Nation, the pupils in attendance are recorded as 96 boys and 77 girls.

In December 1883, Trechman was replaced by Isreal G. Vore. Vore stated the school's need for a hospital, smoke house, milk and fruit houses; which Vore suggested could be of rock as it was cheaper to build with than wood. In 1885 the student population was up to 120 pupils. Dr. J. C. Wingo was sent from Eufala to teach and act as physician for the school. Books for the library were sent from Mission Boards in New York and Pennsylvania. The Creek Nation appropriated $7,000 to finish payment on the hospital.

By 1886 music was being taught, and the school employed many additional workers, such as; a gardener, a laundress, a herder, mechanic, & poultryman. Later that same hear Vore wrote to the trustees that the buildings were badly in need of repaid, particularly the chimneys. The beds were worn out. There were one hundrd students present. In 1886, fifty-six were females and one of them, Emma Bruner, died May 4. Another loss was the death on October 10, 1887, when Goliah Herod died.

In January 1887, Major Vore died after being Superintendent for 4 years. J. 0. Wright became the new Super. The Woman's Baptist Home Mission Society of Maryland sent a set of wagon maker tools and blacksmithing tools worth $75.00. The school had a fine upright piano in addition to an organ. There was grown on the mission land 2500 bushels of eorn, one hundred tons of millet and prairie hay was put up for the winter. One hundred seventy cattle were owned by the missionaries and they brought fifty-five spring calves. There were eighty hogs, a good span of mules, one pony and a colt.

Because of illness the school closed on June 9, 1890. Dysentery had invaded the mission and Mr. Wright's little son, Bennie, was taken from his loving parents. Next Charlie Scott and Eliza Bruner were "called to their long home. . . ." On June 19 Miss Sarah Cundiff, the laundress, also died. Wright's report to Chief Perryman, dated September 1, 1890,to June 30, 1891, gave the number of pupils as one hundred eightgtwo; there had been considerable sickness, some cases serious.

In November 1938 classes were held in churches and the National Guard Armory after a fire destroyed the high school building.

History as Levering Manual Labor School[edit]

On September 1, 1881, the Levering Manual Labor Mission School, under the auspices of the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and partially supported by the Creek Nation, opened in Wetumpka, Oklahoma to provide education for Creek children. It had a start-up cost of around $10,000 and at first had only crude log buildings. The school was gradually upgraded to framed buildings, with a 2-acre campus and additional 80-acres for fields and orchards. 10 acres were cleared for 1000 apple trees, and around 450 peach trees. In 1885 the school built it's only stone building; a hospital with the cost of $1400.

By 1891, grounds had been improved and a white fence separated the girls and boys sides of the campus. (The boys on the South side, the girls on the North.) The pupils were not segregated during classes but were segregated most all other times, including church. One common punishment for girls was to have rags tied to their feet and be made to mop whole floors of the dorms this way.

In an account written in 1887 inside "The Gospel in All Lands" produced by the Methodist Episcopal Church, there were approx. 100 boys & girls in attendance, all of whom lived at the school. In addition to the "English education" the students received, this book also recounts many girls being trained as teachers and young boys as preachers of the Methodist faith.

In 1883, the minutes of the 16th Annual Session of the Baptist General Association of Virginia, names Major J.G. Vore as Superintendent and claims over 100 Indian pupils.

In 1888, the 20th Annual Report of the Board of Indian Commissions reported Brother James O. Wright as Superintendent; saying the institution was "never more prosperous". This document also reports "more than 150 students" in attendance.

Buildings in 1891 included the hospital, a 2-story boys dorm, admin building, a doctor's home & office, several smaller girls dorms, commissary, meat house, smoke house, laundry, and ice house. The boys dormitory burned in 1909, no reports of if any deaths were associated with this fire.