Friends and Community – never have these two words seemed so treasured as right now. Perhaps it is just the current times we live in, but rarely have I read an old story that resonated so truly with me. I have not heard of Henry G. Rind before now, but apparently he was an early missionary and teacher to the Choctaw Nation. He was one of those individuals who found a great affinity with the Choctaw people. The deep friendships he discovered during his years of teaching in the Nation still bloomed in his memory thirty years later, when he wrote an “interesting letter.”
To the Editor, Vindicator:
By yesterday’s mail I received a copy of your valuable paper. On opening it, I found it was from my friend Heard, of the Nation. The copy that I received had quite an interesting account of the meeting of the Mosholatubby Teacher’s Institute.
Then ex-Gov. Wade was a subscriber. I took his paper from the post office at this place so as to forward it to him. I had the privilege of reading it before sending it to the Governor, and it was always a pleasure so to do; it brought to memory the early part of my life, as forty years ago I was appointed, by the venerable Elbert Herving, then Commissioner of Indian Affairs, (now living in New York in his 99th year,) an office in the Choctaw Nation.
I lived with my Choctaw friends from 1835 to 1845 doing the duties of teacher and preacher. I have always highly respected, if I may not say loved, the Choctaws. Col. Thomas LeFlore was then Chief; Col. David Folsom was one of my warmest friends, as was also Col. Peter Pitchlynn, James Fletcher, Basil and Forbis LeFlore, and Geo. Harkins, Col. Eastman Lowman, Col. Samuel Garland, Rev. Israel Folsom, and numbers of others. Ex- Gov. Wade and myself were neighbors and were both about twenty-six years of age at that time.
Those holy men of God, Rev’ds Alfred Wright, Cyrus Kingsbury, Cyrus Byington, Charles Copeland, and others, who have gone to their reward: I love to cherish their memories, for they were friends to me. I was well acquainted with John Page; my house was one of his homes when he traveled and preached to the people.
Then there was William Oakchia, Willis James, and Richard Harkins. Ex-Governor Wright, now one of the giants of the Nation, was then but a boy.
Col. P. P. Pitchlynn named my oldest daughter, who was born at Schuylerville, Talawahotia; Col. Thomas LeFlore named my first boy Talowo?eba, and my third child, now Fannie Redding living in the Nation on the Howell place near Judge James Hudson, Talowvhemev.
I taught school three years in the Nation at Lenox, since, enjoying myself with Gov. Wade and other old friends, and should have remained, but my health failed me. I now have my home on the Choctaw line, near where the Mountain Fork enters into the State.
I do not know where to direct a letter to my friend Heard, or I would write him and send thanks for the welcome visitor, The Vindicator.
P.S.: Several of the persons who were my pupils, are now holding honorable positions: Judge Loring Folsom, John Benton, Judge Garvin, John Wilson, Simpson Folsom, and others. — H. G. R.
Henry Grierson Rind was the youngest child of William Alexander Rind III, owner, editor, printer of the Washington Federalist located in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. [see William Rind’s memorial HERE.] Henry married Rebecca Rowzee in 1835 at Georgetown shortly before he came to the Choctaw Nation. From 1848 until the start of the Civil War, Henry Grierson Rind served as County Clerk for Sevier County, Arkansas. He and his wife raised nine children. The son named by Col. Thomas LeFlore, his oldest son, James Grierson Rind, served in the Civil War, but died of illness in Jan 1863 in an Arkansas hospital. Descendants of Henry G. Rind tell me he died Oct 21, 1878 in Polk County, Arkansas, the same year as his fried ex-Gov. Alfred Wade.
Most of the names in Henry Rind’s letter are legendary figures of the Choctaw Nation, the first generation of visionary leaders for the new Choctaw Nation. At the time of Mr. Rind’s letter, five of the early Choctaw men of legend had left this earthly realm. Chief David Folsom and Chief Thomas LeFlore had both passed on, dying in 1847 and 1859, respectively. Chief George W. Hawkins is believed to have died in 1860 or 1861; nothing is known about the place of his death but it is assumed that he died at Doaksville, However, no grave marker has been found there. The much-revered Rev. Israel Folsom, brother to Chief David Folsom, laid down his earthly cares and passed on April 24, 1870. Chief Samuel Garland, who steered the Choctaw Nation through the difficult Civil War years, went to his final rest on May 20, 1870.
The Rev. John Page, one of the distinguished negotiators of the 1866 post-Civil War treaty, passed on April 10, 1876 at age 53. Another of the negotiators, Ex-Gov Albert Wade, was the next to go, passing on March 13, 1878.
The year 1881 witnessed the passing of these long-serving men: Chief Peter Pitchlynn in January and Forbis LeFlore, the great superintendent of schools, in August. Then the Choctaw Nation lost Chief Allen Wright in December 1885, closely followed by Chief Basil LeFlore in October 1886.
Several of the names in Mr. Rind’s letter are much less well-known. In the years 1840-1841, Col. Eastman Lowman, along with William Riddle, was an interpreter for William Armstrong, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs stationed at Fort Coffee. He was a slave owner who farmed near Tushkahoma.
James Fletcher was an early Chief of the Second District, 1838-1842. He was one of the signors of the 1837 Choctaw-Chickasaw Treaty, negotiated at Doaksville, near Fort Towson. According to historian Peter Hudson, Fletcher lived on Rock Creek, probably near Spencerville, Oklahoma. Another of the signors was Capt. Oakchia; his relationship to the William Oakchia mentioned by Mr. Rind is unknown, but I assume it is the same person.
Richard Harkins was the brother of Chief George W. Harkins. In 1846 he married Lavinia Pitchlynn, the first child of Chief Peter Pitchlynn. The couple settled on a plantation near Doaksville. Soon the lively voices of six children filled their home. His wife Lavinia struggled to cope with the early loss of four of those children.
Tragedy struck on December 28, 1858 when Richard was murdered by an unhappy slave who wanted to return to the Pitchlynn plantation at Eagletown. Lavinia lived until 1867 but never recovered from the loss of her husband and children. Chief Pitchlynn tried to care for Lavinia’s last child but the girl’s sanity was damaged by the events and she died about 1900 in a Washington D.C. hospital.
Mr. Rind’s students:
- Loring S.W. Folsom, long-time county judge.
- A lonely weathered gravestone in an old Indian cemetery is all we know of John Benton.
- District Judge and Chief Isaac Garvin.
- John Wilson, long-time judge of Towson County, C.N.
- Simpson Folsom – unknown.
Alas, Willis James and Simpson Folsom have defeated my investigative skills – never say never – which only serves to stoke the fires of my curiosity and yours also, I hope.
And so, my friends, I end this blog with a fervent wish for peace and good health for you and yours, for friends and community, wherever you are, appreciating that the bonds between Choctaw people – both distant ancestors and the modern-day Chocs – only grow stronger each day.
***YAHOKE, ikana! Thank you, friends. Much GRATITUDE for spending time on a Choctaw Journey with me.***
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Henry G. Rind’s letter, The Vindicator (Atoka, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory), Saturday, June 12, 1875, Page 1
From GoogleBooks: Survey of the Missions of the Board, Missionary Herald, January 1858
Per Peter Hudson, the Rev. Charles C. Copeland died November 1869 at Washington, Arkansas while on a trip. “In 1869 Chas. C. Copeland, one of the early Choctaw missionaries, stayed all night with us on his way to Arkansas and the next morning he performed the marriage ceremony of my sister, Harriet Hudson, to Thomas Amos. Copeland was tall and slender and rather stooped. I understand he died at Washington, Arkansas in 1869, on this trip.” from Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Dec 1932), page 505.
The South-Western (Shreveport, Louisiana), Weds, Nov 17, 1869, Page 4
Another reference: The Missionary, vol. 2, no. 12 (December 1869) re Death of the Rev. Charles C. Copeland [1 November 1869]
From GoogleBooks: Abstract of Disbursements made by William Armstrong, Superintendent of Indian Affairs (Western District-Fort Coffee)
The information about James Fletcher being Chief of the Second District was found in a 50-page document at the OHS Research Division on page 11. The document was titled “List of Choctaw Students Attending Schools in the States.” The document was not indexed that I know of and had no author or original source identified, except for an old catalog# 22521-A.
Pitchlynn Family Bible, the Peter Pitchlynn Collection, Western History Collection, University of Oklahoma, Norman.
Richard Harkins’ murder, The Clarksville Standard (Texas), Saturday, January 8 , 1859.
Henry G. Rind’s third child Mary Frances Rind Redding (1840-1912) – see her memorial page.