Atoka Baptist Academy
|Atoka Baptist Academy|
|Opened||1895 (as a mental health facility)|
|Current Status||Active / Murrow Indian Childrens Home|
|Location||Atoka, OK / Muskogee, OK|
In 1885 Rev. Joeseph Samuel Murrow, who had previously (1867) ran a public school in Atoka with his wife and also took in several Native American orphans, requested the Choctaw and Chickasaw Baptist Association establish a Baptist Academy at Atoka. After the Atoka Baptist Academy ceased to function as a school, Rev. Murrow secured many donations of small portions of the land allotments from adult full-bloods among the Choctaw Tribe. These small portions, together with a grant of 1,790 acres from the Choctaw Tribe itself, provided a new site for the now-named Murrow Indian Orphans Home at Unchuka, which was near what is now Coalgate, OK.
The new Orphanage and Mission opened January 1, 1902. At the farm of 45,000 acres some temporary buildings were erected and a little later the school building and one of the dormitory buildings in Atoka were torn down and removed to the farm where they were re-erected and afford comfortable quarters, though still inadequate. They lacked farm equipment to work the fertile farm land around the orphanage. A well-traveled road running by the school afforded them the ability to buy most of the goods needed for the orphanage.
As of 1908 there were 40 children at the farm who are entirely dependent upon the institution for a home. Four of these children were entirely without allotments, having been overlooked and left off the rolls. Twenty more children were living at the home during the school year. These were not entirely dependent but the home affords them far better opportunity than could their relatives at their homes. In 1908, 60 applications for admission to the home during the school year were refused on account of lack of facilities. In 1907, 100 applications were similarly refused.
It soon became apparent that considerable more support would be needed if the Orphanage was to meet the needs of the Indian children. With this need in mind, Rev. Murrow arranged for the American Baptist Home Mission Society to assume full responsibility for the Home and the home was moved to the campus of Bacone College in Muskogee. Substantial fireproof buildings were erected, and the children were cared for in these dormitory style buildings until the move into the present brick cottages in 1956.
This institution still functions at the same property on Bacone College campus as a non-for profit orphanage for Native American children. Murrow Indian Children’s Home currently provides a home for 20-30 Native American children. These are children that are in State or Tribal Custody and in the current foster care and adoption system. The Cherokee Nation annually donates $5,000 and monetary donations are received from the Muscogee Creek and Sac & Fox Nations. The main fundraising event held for the home is an annual powwow held on the campus of the nearby Bacone College.