Transcript for Missionary reports, 1831-1900, Church History Library

An account of the mission to the Cherokee, Creek and Chocktaw Indians in the years 1855 to 1860. At the April Conference held in G. S. L[Great Salt Lake]. City in the year 1855, Elders Henry W. Miller, Robert C. Petty, Wash[ing] ton N. Cook, Wm Richey and John A. Richards were appointed a mission to the Indians west of Missouri and Arkansas States. They left Salt Lake valley in May 1855 and reached Mormon grove in Pima; after reaching Kaw river the President, Bro.[ther] Miller appointed [Brother]s Cook and Richards to labor among the Delaware Indians, the remainder of the brothren went to the Cherokee Nation, where they reached in the fore-part of July. They stopped among a small number of brethren on Spavenson river in the Cherokee N[Nation] who had come from Texas, but meeting some of J. J. Strang’s disciples in the Cherokee Nation, they concluded that matters were rather wrong in Salt Lake and located in the C[Cherokee] N[Nation] Some of those brethren had been with Lyman Wight and becoming dissatisfied with his cause, had left him. Pres[ident] Miller with his associates soon convinced those brethren concerning the leadership of the Church and the majority of them numbering below 40 and 50 emigrated to the valley in 1856. In 1858 and 1859 the remaining few of Lyman Wight’s followers located at the same place; among the number was the Colonel’s first wife who had of late received a letter from Sidney Rigdon, in which he denounces the authorities of the Church in the valley and prophesies evil concerning this people. Elder Henry Eyring has preached in 1859 to those people, they however uphold their own views and likely will until the Lord chooses to interfere in their behalf. Bro [ther]s Cook and Richards who had been unsuccessful among the Delawares joined their brethren in the Cherokee Nation in the forepart of fall 1853 and commenced their labors in the Cherokee Nation. Mormonism being quite a new thing in that country the people came by great numbers to hear and as a general thing a good many believed and a few were baptized. Pres[iden]s Orson Spencer and Elder James McGaw came from St Louis to connvege[converge] with the brethren concerning the work in that country and had an interview with the chief of the Cherokees, John Ros, who granted them the privilege to preach. Pres[iden]t Miller deemed it wisdom to call on the St Louis church for some Elders to assist among the Cherokees and other nations if required. Subsequently upon the return of Pres[iden]t Spencer at a conference, held in St Louis October 6th [sixth] 1856 Elders James Case, W[illia] m Reicker, Geo[rge] Higginson, Wm[William] O. Flavell and Henry Eyring were sent to assist the Elders on the C[Cherokee] Mission. They arrived all but [William] O. Flavell who concluded to return to Keokuk after going with the rest as far as Springfield Mo[Missouri],on the 10 [tenth] Novemb[er] 1855 at the settlemet on Spavinaw Ch. N.[Cherokee Nation]. At a meeting held in the same place Bros[Brothers] Chase, Richards, Reicker and Eyring were appointed to labor among the Creek, and Bros[Brothers] Cook and Higginson among theChocfaw[Chocktaw] Indians. Bro[Brothers] Miller and Richey to remain in the Cherokee Nation principally. Bro[Brother] R C Petty as in very poor health and finally died Feb[February] 1st [first] 1856. Bros[Brothers] Richards and Reicker went their way to the Creek Nation stopped at the house of some Cherokees (Wm [William] Ringess and family) Mrs Mary Ringess and old lady was at the point of death and was given up by the doctor and her children to die. The brethren administered to her and the Lord raised her up and she and most of her family subsequently were baptized. December 31st [thirty first] 1855 Bros [Brothers] Case and Eyring arrived in the Creek Nation and commenced to lay the foundation for the work in that country. Bro [Brother] Case and Richards went to see the chief of the Creeks, Gen’l [General] Rollie McIntosh who thought that there were already preachers enough in the country and there was no need of any more. He however did not forbid us to preach. The winter in the forepart of 1856 was very severe and the Elders on that mission being obliged to labor for their board, suffered to a good extent. abt [About] the opening of spring they rensived their labors and were successful in baptizing some. Bro [Brother] Eyring baptized an Indian Town chief, who through his influence inclined a member to be baptized. The same spring Bro [Brother] Case organized a branch called Prince’s Creek branch Creek N[Nation] ; at present they are not fully organized in that locality, the first Pres[iden] t resigned, the 2d [second] died and the third apostatized and the fourth resigned; they now have a teacher and meet occasionally for worship. In April 56[1856] Bro[Brother] Eyring having received an invitation, made a trip into the Cherokee Nation and baptized 6 in the course of the summer and ordained one Eldr, one of those baptized was aged 145 years, lived 2 years after his baptisam and died in the faith. Several were also added by the other Elders and [a] branch organized on Priors Creek Cher. N.[Cherokee Nation] in the sumer [summer] of 1856. Those connected with that branch have removed to another locality and the branch was dissolved. Sickness now made considerable inroads upon the Elders, they were all taken with the ague and fever and at a Conference held on Priors Creek Octob 6th [October sixth] 1856 there was not one of them in the enjoyment of health. Bro[Brother] Miller being released, appointed Bro [Brother] Cook Pres[President] of the mission and released Bro[Brother] Case who was then quite low. Bro[Brother] Reicker had previously received leave to visit his wife in St Louis and [had] left before Conference, but never returned and since has denied the faith. Bros[Brothers] Miller and Case left in November 1856 and returned to the valley in 1857. Bros [Brothers] Cook and Higginson returned in Oct 56 [October 1856] from the Choctaw nation without being able to baptize any. That Nation has since been left without Elders with the exception of 2 trips which Bro [Brother] Eyring made there in the summer of 1859 without having any success apparently. In October 1856 an order was issued by the Chief of the Cherokees for all Monmon Elders to leave the nation forthwith. Thus al united to labor among the Creeks with the exception of Bro [Brother] Richey who remained among the Cherokees unmolested by avocating public speaking. Bro [Brother] Richey has been a faithful minister to the Cherokees and although unsuccessful in baptizing any, he has borne a faithful testimony and considering his age and bodily infirmities he certainly has done ore than many would do under the same circumstnces. Having also been restricked in the Creek Nation but little was done for the remainder of the year 1856 by the Elders. April 6th [sixth] 1857 a conference was held in the Creek Nation Bro [Brother] Cook presiding; Elder P. P. Pratt present; we had a time of rejoicing and Bro[Brother] Pratt expressed himself satisfied with the labors of the Elders. Bro[Brother] Higginson having been requested by Bro[Brother] Pratt before his death to see his family in the valley, left in the summer of 57 [1857]. The same summer an order was issued by the Creek Council for all Mormon Elders to leave the Nation. Bros[Brothers] Cook and Richards left for the Cherokee Nation where they recommenced their labors without being disturbed. Bro[Brother] Eyring was permitted to stay in the Creek Nation on the condition that he be employed to work for a native. The general excitement against the church in 1857 made it impossible to do much good and but little was effected [affected] ever afterwards. Prest [President] Cook who now [knows] the love and respect of saint and sinner, after a short but severe illness died September 24th [twentyfourth] 1858 of quick consumption. At a conference held in the Cherokee Nation Bro [Brother] Henry Eyring was nominated and sustained at Bro [Brother] Cook’s successor. A general work of reformation was then commenced and the saints required to be rebaptized In the year 1859 Prest [President] Eyring travelled in the Cherokee, Creek and Choctaw nations, added a number to the church and orgainised one branch (Lehi branch in Choc N [Choctaw Nation] ) and one (Nephi branch) in the Creek Nation. The former branch was disorganized, the Prest [President] and teacher immigrating to the valley. There is one Elder in that locality who has charge of the few remaining saints there. The branch in the Creek nation is still organized, the Prest [President] having charge of all the saints in the Creek Nation The number of saints in the Cherokee and Creek Nations was Octob [October] 6th [sixth] 1859 43 in the former and 48 in the latter nation but out of that number but very few are alive in the cause, the majority are careless and indifferent. The prospect to do further good at present being quite slim Elders Wm [William] Richey and Henry Eyring left May 23rd [twentythird] 1860 for the valley and reached Salt Lake City Aug. [August] 29th [twentyninth] . Bro [Brother] Richards still remains on his own accord in the Cherokee Nation, not situated however to do much good. In taking a retrospective view over the labors of the Elders among the Indians for 5 years, it is quite evident that the result of those trils [trials] , privations and hardships and the sickness of all and the death of 2 Elders connected with it, is but very small apparently. But it is to be hoped that in after years spontaneous fruits may spring up from the exertions of the servants of God among the seed of Jacob. The Cherokees are to a great extent mixed with the Gentiles and to some degree with the negroes. A majority of them speak the english language and are in their manners, customs, habits and traditions similar to if not equal with the whites Quite a number have good brick and frame houses and have good farms well stocked with negroes, cattle horses and hogs etc. They are as a people hospitable to strangers they will feed and lodge an Elder, but they don’t realize that he has to have clothing to wear and that they oought to contribute to that portion of his wants. The Elders therefore were obliged to labor with their hands form time to time to obtain those necessaries. They are politically organized similar to the whites, having a 1st [first] and 2nd [second] chief, spper and lower house of representatives, judges, courts and plenty of lawyers, which by the [bye] is no essentical benefit to any country. Wickedness is on the increase among them; murders are committed almost every weak [week] . Much excitement also prevails on a/c [account] of the slavery question. Their country is excellent for farming, timber and grass are abundant. The full blooded Cherokees are generally indolent and farm on a very small scale, many however raise cotton and sheep and spin, dye and weave their own clothing. They have some stream and water power mills in operation. The Ceeks are less mixed with the Gentiles but more with the negroes than the Cherokees. They are as respects good houses, farms and general improvements behind the Cherokees number is but seldom committed (although on the increase) and generally speaking the Creeks are more peaceable, but less enterprising than the Cherokees. Their political organization is similar t that of the Cherokees but retains a good deal yet of old customs and traditions. Some have expensive herds of cattle numbering a thousand head and upwards, also ponies by large quantites. Sectarianism has been disseminated among both nations to a great extent and although much has been said against the Elders by them yet thy have used no violence to them not withstanding some having made threats to that effect. The Cherokees at present number about 16000 the Creeks near about the same. Much might be added to this account but I hardly deem it wisdom to be too lengthy, hoping that what I have written may be accepted. I subscribe myself with the high esteem Your Bro [Brother] in the gospel Henry Eyring To Elder Wilford Woodruff Historian’s Office 1855-60 August 1860 Account of the mission to the Cherokee, Creek and Choctaw Indians Eyring, Henry