Transcript for Andrew Jenson, "Indian Territory Mission," Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Publishing Co., 1941), 359-61
INDIAN TERRITORY MISSION. Indian Territory consisted of a part of the public land of the United States which was set apart by the U, S. Government for various tribes of Indians who were transferred there from different parts of the United States. When first set apart in 1843, it comprised all the country west of the Mississippi River which was not included within the boundaries of the states of Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. This area was diminished by the organization of various states and territories so that when, in 1907, Indian Territory united with Oklahoma to form the state of Oklahoma, the area embraced in Indian Territory was only 25,000 square miles. The population of Indian Territory in 1930 was 302,060.
Five months after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized (or in October, 1830) Elders Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, Richard Ziba Peterson and Peter Whitmer, jun., were called by revelation to carry the gospel to the Lamanites. They first visited the Catteraugas Indians near Buffalo, N.Y., and the Wyandottes in the western part of Ohio. Elders Parley P. Pratt and Oliver Cowdery then crossed the borders into the Indian Territory (now in Kansas), and in a council, called by the chief sachem of ten tribes, Elder Cowdery delivered a powerful discourse, which was translated by a friendly interpreter. But a few days later these Elders were ordered to leave the country by Indian agents.
In 1847 Bishop George Miller, being unwilling to obey counsel, did not gather with the body of the Church to the Rocky Mountains, but soon after the departure of the pioneers from Winter Quarters in the spring of 1847, he decided to go to Texas, where his son resided, having connected himself with Lyman Wight. Leaving Winter Quarters with his family, George Miller, accompanied by Joseph Kilting and Richard Hewitt (who had come to Winter Quarters to work on a building contract) started for Texas. While en route they heard that mechanics were needed in Indian Territory and so they decided to stay there for a while. Arriving at Tahlequah July 9, 1847, they found work immediately. Bishop Miller stopped in Indian Territory about five months, during which time he held meetings in his home and later in the court house at Tahlequah. This caused jealousy among the sectarian missionaries, and in December, 1847, Bishop Miller left Tahlequah, putting his contracts into the hands of his two companions, Kilting and Hewitt, and went to Texas. It is said that houses built at that time by Bishop Miller in Tahlequah are still standing.
At a conference held in Salt Lake City in April, 1855, Henry W. Miller, Robert C. Petty, Washington W. Cook, John A: Richards and William A. Richey were called to labor as missionaries among the Cherokee and Creek Nations in Indian Territory, Brother Miller to act as president of the mission. On their arrival at their destination they found a number of former Latter-day Saints who had joined Lyman Wight and George Miller. Some of them soon afterwards migrated to Utah. In August of that year (1855) Elders Orson Spencer and James McGaw visited the Indian Territory, but Elder Spencer, being attacked with chills and fever, soon returned to St. Louis, Mo., where he died shortly afterwards.
Through the labors of Elder Henry W. Miller and companions among the Indians, a branch of the Church was organized among the Cherokee's and another among the Creeks.
On Nov. 10, 1855, Elders James Case, William Bricker, George Higginson and Henry Eyring arrived from St. Louis, Mo., to labor as missionaries in Indian Territory. All the missionaries during the following winter suffered from the want of clothing and proper food, as the Indians among whom they labored were very poor.
On Feb. 2, 1856, Elder Robert C. Petty died, and in November of the same year Pres. Henry W. Miller was forced to leave the district on account of persecution. Some ten or twelve native Elders were ordained and labored as missionaries; 65 persons had migrated to Utah. Elder Washington N. Cook was left in charge of the mission and labored faithfully in that capacity until Sept. 4, 1858, when he died. At a meeting of the remaining missionaries, Henry Eyring was chosen to preside over the mission, his appointment being later approved by the Church authorities. Missionary work was continued until May, 1860, when by order of the Indian agents all the missionaries were forced to vacate the territory. After that for several years a native Elder presided over the Lehi Branch in the Cherokee Nation and another over the Nephi Branch in the Creek Nation, but only a little missionary work was done.
In 1877 George Lake, a halfbreed Indian, came to Salt Lake City from the Kiowa Nation, and requested Pres. Brigham Young to send missionaries to his people. Elder Matthew Wm. Dalton and John Hubbard, former Indian missionaries, were called to go back with him, although some doubt was felt as to the integrity of Lake. Upon their arrival, in March, 1877, George Lake left the missionaries and returned to his people alone. The Elders labored as they were able among the Cherokees, Creeks and Kiowas until Sept. 12, 1877, when Elder Hubbard died and Elder Dalton was released to return home.
In April, 1883, Apostle George Teasdale was called to re-open the Indian Territory Mission and took Elder Dalton with him, arriving at Vinita, I. T., April 20, 1883. They met with considerable success and upon the departure of Elder Teasdale in September, 1883, Elder Joseph H. Felt was sent to assist Elder Dalton.
In 1885 Elder Andrew Kimball was appointed to preside over the Indian Territory Mission, which position he held for twelve years, during which time considerable progress was made. Branches were raised up and several meeting houses erected. Their efforts were largely directed to converting the officials and leading men, Americans and Indians.
In 1890 the territory of Oklahoma was organized from the west part of Indian Territory, and Oklahoma was included in the boundaries of the mission. In 1892 a mission house and chapel was erected at Manard (Cherokee Nation), and each nation constituted a conference in which missionary labors were conducted under the direction of a president. Manard is about nine miles east of Fort Gibson and ten miles southwest of Tahlequah, the capital of the Cherokee Nation. In March, 1895, the states of Arkansas and Kansas were added, and in 1897 the state of Texas was included in the Indian Territory Mission. On this account, in the months of March, 1898, the name of the mission was changed to that of the Southwestern States Mission. Wm. T. Jack, who had succeeded Pres. Andrew Kimball in April, 1897, was continued as president of the Southwestern States Mission.
In 1904 the name of the Southwestern States Mission was changed to Central States Mission and Indian Territory became a part of that mission. In 1907 Indian Territory was united with the territory of Oklahoma to form the state of Oklahoma and thus lost its identity, but the whole of the state of Oklahoma is still included in the Central States Mission.
Following is a complete list of the presidents of the Indian Territory Mission: Henry W. Miller, April, 1855, to November, 1856; Washington N. Cook, Nov., 1856, to his death Sept. 4, 1859; Henry Eyring, October, 1858, to May, 1860; Matthew W. Dalton, March, 1877, to November, 1877; George Teasdale, April, 1883, to September, 1883; Matthew W. Dalton (2nd term), September, 1883, to April, 1884; Andrew Kimball, January, 1885, to April, 1897, and Wm. T. Jack, April, 1897, to March, 1898.