William Packer Blake

Superintendent of Emahaka Mission

The following letter was written 3/3/37 by W. P. Blake, addressed to Grant Foreman, Oklahoma Historian.
"Indian-Pioneer Papers" (Foreman Collection), Vol. 77, pp. 213-216, Indian Archives, Oklahoma Historical Society.

Hyattsville, Md., 3/3/37

Dear Mr. Foreman:

Now in my 80th year, I am not so sure I can recall much of interest of my work with the Seminoles, tho' I think I am wide awake enough to the present condition, to retain my seat on the Supreme Court, if I happen to be there, and I am sorry about the attack.

My relation with the Seminoles were of such a nature as to bring us into intimate fellowship the whole Nation, both of the full-bloods, mixed bloods and the negroes among them.

Caesar Bowlegs, well-known in the Nation once said, when shaking hands with me, "Why, Mista Blake, you's de Fadda of all the Seminole children — " This grew out of the fact that I was Superintendent of one of their schools for about 19 years. Some of the girls who were there in our first years, later sent their children.

Rev. John Jumper, was Principal Chief when I was called to the school, and through him, the America Baptist Home Mission Society of New York, commissioned me as Missionary to the Seminole Government on November 14, 1887, 30th anniversary of my birthday — That suggests the sort of man — Bro Jumper was over six feet tall, large body, and very dark for an Indian. He was a Baptist preacher, and greatly beloved as their Chief. He had a close friend, Rev. James Factor, who in their early life in the South, before their removal to Indian Territory, had been whipped publicly for professing Chris­tianity. That was, I think before Bro. Jumper was Chief. Both these men were Christians, tho' some time troubled by drink, which was common in those days.

May I say here, in my contact with the Seminoles, I found, drink­ing intoxicating liquor, did much harm to them. It was hard for them to resist an invitation to drink, and Christian character suffered much.

I thought then, and am sure now that their early drinking of osofke as children created an appetite for whiskey etc. Drink is a curse.

Rev. Hulputta, who succeeded Jumper as Principal Chief, was much interested in his people, a loyal friend of the schools and carried on much the same as Bro. Jumper. During Hulputta's incum­bency they thought seriously of a removal into Mexico, and Hulputta in company with others went down into Mexico to view the country. He could talk a very little English, so that an interpreter, Mrs. Alice B. Davis, a half-blood, accompanied the party as interpreter. How­ever, nothing came of this trip.

This Mrs. Alice B. Davis, was a sister of John F. Brown, who succeeded Hulputta as P. Chief of the Nation. Mr. Brown was in merchandise business at Sasakwa when I first met him, and I had called on him to get the keys of the academy building. He was, I think the real leader of the interests of the Nation, even while Jumper and Hulputta were in the Chieftancy. His Bro. Jackson who was treasurer of the Nation was in business at Wewoka, merchandise. This Brown family, John F., Andrew Jackson, and Mrs. Alice Brown-Davis, were undoubtedly the real leaders, and did much to advance their people.

They were highly favored by birth, their father having been a U.S. Surgeon Physician, a Scotchman, in the U. S. Army, located at or near Ft. Gibson in the early days — He was a linguist and master of several languages, (as I was told). Any way John F. Brown and Mrs. Davis and Jackson received considerable education, which added to inherited talent fitted them for leadership.

In the affairs of the Seminole Nation with the U.S. Government — in arranging the Educational part of it, two large brick buildings, and necessary other buildings for schooling purposes were erected and as I understood it, a sufficient sum of money was set apart to main­tain the schools. These were boarding schools to accommodate 112 pupils. We tried them one year as co-educational, and then decided it would be better to make one a Boys' school and one a Girls' school I should say it was first a Girls' School — capacity about 30 — when the new buildings were ready we tried the co-ed plan.

As I then understood, it was my impression, the Educational ques­tion was practically settled for years to come. Provision had also been made for attendance of some of the children at Public Day schools — So far as the Seminole support of the schools was concerned, and the money allotted each of the Boarding Schools was believed sufficient for all expenses.

At first the A. B. H. M Society was associated in the support of the school. About 1894 the Society withdrew, with the full consent of the Seminoles, who gladly took over the support of myself and other helpers, and we were under the management of the Supt. of Education of the Seminole Nation. I was given a free hand, so to speak, and carried on just as I had when in cooperation with the ABHM Society.

Later we came under the management of the Indian Agency at Mus­kogee, which also gave me a free hand, and we carried on just the same — Having begun in 1887 as a mission school, and being retained in charge; as the changes in management came on, we carried on as a Mission School, to May 1906.

During these years the Brown family were leaders — At my suggestion Mrs. Alice Brown Davis succeeded me as Superintendent of the school.

As I recall it, Thomas McGeisey, a full blood, was Supt. of Education when I began my work. I think he was followed by Rev. Dorsey Fife, who was a frequent visitor to the school, and a good influence among the people. Later Staunton (?) Brown was chosen Superintendent. Wm Factor was on the School Board. The Brown Brothers, John F. and A. J. had associated with them in business Mr. C. C. Long in the name of the Wewoka Trading Co. His opinion as he expressed it to me, of John F. Brown, was "he is the soul of honor." My business relations with the Browns were always pleasant, and they treated me with the respect, that made me appreciate them among my dearest friends. None of them perfect. Neither was I, but in our work together we welded a friendship that holds, and it would be a joy today, to meet any one of them — It is a hope of mine that some, at least, of their children will hold up the high standards of those who have gone on.

Now, you may have to write me again, if you wish to know more.


W. P. Blake 

See the Indian-Pioneer Papers (Foreman Collection), Vol. 77, pp. 213­217, for a more detailed account of William Packer Blake's work among the Seminoles. Also see D. C. Gideon, Indian Territory Descriptive Biographical and Genealogical (New York and Chicago, 1910), pp. 667, 668.



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