OAK RIDGE MISSION
The first Seminole mission school founded in the Indian Territory (present Oklahoma) was Oak Ridge, a manual labor school established in 1848. The Oak Ridge site was about three miles southeast of present Holdenville in the former Creek Nation, where the Seminole dwelled until 1856. The Presbyterian Mission Board built and ran the school. Rev. John Lilley and his wife, Mary Anne, were in charge. The Lilleys were assisted by John Bemo, a Seminole. In 1853 they had twenty-six students, nineteen of whom were Seminole. Creek and Cherokee students paid room and board, while Seminole attended for free. The Lilley's children were also enrolled. Oak Ridge closed in 1855 when the Lilleys returned to the East. They returned and reopened Oak Ridge in 1856 and were assisted by Rev. James Ross Ramsey, who later organized the Wewoka Mission, a boarding school for Seminole girls, just north of Wewoka. Oak Ridge was abandoned and destroyed during the Civil War.
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