Reverend John Page, Choctaw Delegate

In 1866, the Rev. John Page was selected as a member of the Choctaw Delegation to Washington to negotiate a critical treaty in hopes of restoring relations with the U.S. government. He served the Choctaw people well during his short life. He died at age 54 on April 10, 1876 and is buried at the family cemetery near Pocola, Okla. The Rev. Page and his wife Jane had nine children in total, but these are the children who are known: Wesley Ann, wife of Benjamin Conway; Robert Payne Page; Sierra Nevada Page (died at 7 months); William Capers Page; and Joshua S. Page. I hope you enjoy reading about his life as much as I have.

Highway Marker-John Page
Historical Marker, Hwy 122, Pocola, Oklahoma

“…On the fifth day of November [1843] Rev. John Page, a Choctaw Indian, preached to us at Fort Coffee. The services were held in the little office, where I was still confined with the fever. The sermon was plain, Scriptural, and earnest, rendering the exercises interesting and profitable. Mr. Page preached in English, speaking the language intelligibly, but not correctly; his custom was to preach to his people in the native tongue.

During the week Mr. Page spent with us he gave us a brief sketch of his life. When a lad, in a heathen state, he had been sent to the Choctaw Academy, where he remained a number of years, and only left when the institution was disorganized. At the time of his entering the school he was utterly destitute of moral and religious instruction; he had never been taught his duty to himself, his fellowmen, or to his God. He was received into the Sunday school, where he received his first lessons of a religious character; he there received light into his dark and benighted mind; there he felt himself to be a sinner exposed to death.

His faithful instructors impressed upon his mind and conscience the duty of repentance and faith in the Savior as conditions of mercy and acceptance with God. While under strong convictions for sin, with a soul yearning for peace, he attended a protracted meeting; he became deeply, penitent, made sincere confessions, sought the Lord with all his heart, and obtained “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” He united with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and became a diligent student of God’s word.

Soon after his conversion the Academy was closed up, when it became necessary for Mr. Page to seek instruction elsewhere; for he was not yet qualified for the work to which he believed God had called him. He was taken into the family of a minister, where his privileges for mental and moral culture enabled him to make rapid advancement. Believing that God required him to stand as a watchman upon the walls of Zion, he devoted his last year in Kentucky to theological studies, receiving instruction from the pastor of the Church of which he was a member.

In the summer of 1842 Mr. Page was licensed to preach, and recommended as a suitable person to be admitted into the itinerant work. His purpose was to go to his own tribe and labor with his own people, from whom he had been separated from his early youth, and whom he had not visited since their removal from Mississippi to the Indian Territory. Mr. Page’s recommendation was sent to the Arkansas conference, which, at that time, embraced the state of Arkansas, the greater portion of the Indian Territory, and the northern portion of Texas.

Its session was held in the month of November, 1842, at Helena, on the Mississippi river. Mr. Page was present, admitted, and appointed to the Apuckshunnubbee circuit, in the southern part of the Choctaw Nation. To reach the session of the conference he had traveled near one thousand miles, and from Helena to his circuit required a journey of seven hundred miles more through a wilderness country. Such was his initiation into the work of a traveling preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church. At the time of his visit to Fort Coffee he had just completed his first year in the ministry, and was on his way to the conference which was to hold its session at Clarksville, Arkansas.

Mr. Page at that time was twenty-two years old, rather below the medium height, and neither stout nor muscular. He was scrupulously neat in his person, well-formed, active, and sprightly. He was gentlemanly, self-possessed, and graceful in his manners, and though modest and unobtrusive, yet not wanting in confidence. His head was of medium size and well formed; his check-bones were high and prominent; his eye sparkling and very expressive; his mouth large, and his teeth, though perfect, were irregular. He was by no means handsome, even for a Choctaw; but he was bright and sensible, a man of unflinching integrity and moral worth; and was eminently qualified for usefulness in preaching the Gospel to his own people. He loved his nation devotedly, and was indefatigable in his efforts to advance their interests, and to improve their condition intellectually and morally….”

excerpt from Life Among the Choctaws, by Rev. Henry C. BENSON, 1860

50

***YAHOKE, ikana! Thank you, friends. Much GRATITUDE for spending time on a Choctaw Journey with me.***

Sources:

Obituary published in The Vindicator, Wednesday, April 26, 1876.

See Rev. Page’s Find-A-Grave memorial here.

For more information about the Treaty of 1866, please read my blog: How Old a Word is Oklahoma?

Group photo with names

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