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Indian Pioneer Papers - Index

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: July 30, 1937
Name: Lilah D. Lindsey
Residence: 516 N. Frisco, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Father: John Denton
Place of Birth: Alabama
Information on father:
Mother:  Susan McKellop
Place of birth: Alabama
Information on mother:
Field worker: Effie S. Jackson 

My parents were born in Alabama of Scotch ancestry. My father, John Denton (born 1830) was Scotch and Cherokee. My mother, Susan McKellop (born 1833) was Scotch and Creek. Their parents brought them during the 30s to the Creek Nation. The McKellops settled on Blue Creek about twelve miles west of Muskogee. My uncle, Jim McKellop, had a large ranch about six miles northwest of our home. The Dentons lived near Celsea. After their marriage, my parents lived in Blue Springs area. I was the youngest of six; four died in infancy; one later in life.

My father passed away when I was three. My memory of my mother, Susan McKellop Denton, is a picture of one devoting her life to her fellow man.

Gifted in nursing and healing arts she spent all her years in service to others. She died when I was sixteen. I attended the Tullahassee Mission and I remember although I was ready to enter at eight, twelve was the lowest age entrance. Augusta Robertson (sister of Alice) was my teacher.

At sixteen, I entered Highland Institute, Hillsboro, Ohio. I graduated with honors 1883, the first Creek Indian girl to finish that school. I knew only the Creek language when I entered, but the English language seemed like my mother tongue. The spring before my graduation I was appointed by the Home Mission Board of Schools at New York to teach at Wealaka (to which place the old Tullahassee Mission had been removed). From there to Coweta Mission, and then three years in the mission school at Tulsa. (I had married Col. L. W. Lindsey at Wealaka Mission in 1884.)

I am writing in detail my school experiences. This article will cover the founding, activities and school life at Tullahassee Mission, Wealaka Mission, Coweta Mission and Tulsa's early mission school. Dr. Loughridge told me the story of his struggles to found a mission school; how he went to Coweta, a young missionary full of zeal to work for the good of the Indians. But the Creeks said: "No, No white man's religion." Loughridge said: "If I can't preach, may I teach?" Grudgingly they agreed. So he started a school in his one-room cabin. Realizing that by teaching he could preach, training the young  generation, he decided to devote his life to that. But he must have a companion to help him in the missionary work. So back east he went to ask his Mt. Holyoke sweetheart to become his wife and with him devote her life to the welfare of the Indians. In my article I will tell the story as Dr. Loughridge told me, the founding of Tullahassee, the struggle during the War, the work of the Robertsons, my correspondence with them, Tullahassee after the War, Wealaka Mission and Coweta Mission. when I have completed my history of "Mission Life from 1850-1900", I would like to personally send the copy to Dr. Grant Foreman. I have never told the story of those days and now I realize the historical value of my experiences. It will be a pleasure to me to write this article for him.

I came to Tulsa in 1886 as a teacher at the Presbyterian Mission School, where the Cosden Building is today at fourth and Boston. I had occasion in a report I gave to count the number of people living here then, by actual count there were two hundred and fifty, not families, but men, women and children. No civic pride manifested itself as cattle, horses, cows and pigs roamed the streets at will.

to be continued....

Transcribed for OKGenWeb by Gay Wall <t31892@enaila.nidlink.com> January 1999.

Photo: The Beginning of Tulsa - Mrs. Lilah D. Lindsay, Presbyterian Mission School Teacher

Lilah D. Lindsey Papers, The University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library, Department of Special Collections. Jul 2002 http://www.lib.utulsa.edu/Speccoll/lindsld0.htm