Malcolm McGee who was a prominent character
in the Chickasaw Nation, was born in New York City of Scotch parents, about
the year, 1747. Soon after his arrival in America, McGee’s father enlisted
in the colonial army against the French, and fell at Ticonderoga. Little
Malcolm was born a few months after his father’s demise.
Great stories were told of the Illinois prairies,
and his mother determined to cast her lot with some adventurers who were
leaving for that country. The party made the journey, and the young mother
found herself in the new land very poor. Major McIntosh visited the
feeble colony about this time, and his sympathy was excited by the young
widow, his country woman. Young Malcolm, now about ten years old, was given
over to his care. The child had never seen his father, and now he left
his mother whom he never again beheld, and followed McIntosh to the wilds
of the Chickasaw country.
When young McGee was nearly grown, McIntosh
took him to Mobile and placed him in a French family to be sent to school,
but when some Indian traders visited Mobile, Malcolm saw them, attached
himself to their party and traveled back to the Indian country. He did
not go to the home of McIntosh, but remained some years with the Choctaws.
He here married a Choctaw woman. After he became the father of a family,
he returned to the Chickasaws. It appears that he visited the “Father of
his country.” He related many anecdotes of George and Martha Washington
whom he admired very much.
He became very much attached to Rev. T. C.
Stuart, and lived about ten or twelve years in a little house in Mr. Stuart’s
yard. About 1848 his son-in-law, William R. Guy, and daughter, Mrs. Jane
Guy, made him a visit, and he went with them to the Indian Territory. He
died at the age of over one hundred years, near Boggy Depot, Choctaw Nation,
I. T. He was the step-father of Cyrus Harris.
Colonel Gordon says of him:
“I knew old Malcolm McGee, the Scotchman, well. He lived with
Parson Thos. Stuart a number of years after the exodus, and I boarded with
Parson Stuart and roomed with McGee while at school at Tocsish,—a grub—[that
is, a root] when a small boy. It was the only school in the county.”
Hebron, and Elliot Missions
In 1818 Revs. Kingsbury, Gleason, Touse, Hooper
and Cushman, with their families, Dr. Pride and Misses Foster, Burnham
and Thacher, settled near the modern Mayhem Station, on the Mobile and
Ohio Railroad. They named their settlement “Mayhew.”
After laboring several years at Mayhew, Mr.
Cushman was induced to remove ten miles to the west of that place and establish
the mission of Hebron, three miles from the modern Starkville. A school
was established on the Yalabusha, in the Choctaw Nation, about sixty miles
to the southwest of the May-hew settlement, in August, 1818 by the American
Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The place was called “Elliot.”
It was a similar establishment, to the one at Mayhew, and was made not
long after the Mayhew settlement.
A farm was attached to every mission. It was
under the charge of a Northern farmer. The boys were taught the arts of
hoeing and plowing. The farmer’s wife and daughters taught the girls to
spin and weave, to sew and knit, to make butter and cheese, and how to
keep a New England kitchen.
Parents frequently visited the mission schools,
which were well-attended and in which the pupils were subordinate and docile.
Mr. David Wright was born in the State of New
York, and married Miss Washburn, of Vermont. He was a teacher, and was
employed by the Board of Missions and sent to Mississippi to teach the
Indians about 1820. He had charge of the Mayhew mission school, about eighteen
miles to the west of Columbus, in the prairie. Laura Wright, their
daughter, was born at Mayhew mission, 1824. The young mother soon died,
and was buried at Mayhew, about 1826.
The little Laura was sent to Vermont, and afterwards
to Mt. Holyoke, Mass., where she was educated. She returned to Mississippi,
and was a teacher in schools and colleges for forty-two years! In 1843
she married Mr. Charles Eagar. Her husband died in four years, and she
returned to teaching. Lizzie Eagar, her daughter, married Mr. Gid. D. Harris,
of Columbus. About 1828 Mr. Wright entered the Presbyterian ministry, and
labored with the Indians for several years.
With reference to the Elliot school, an old
“Sixty scholars and twenty females. The extract from the report
of the superintendent for 1820 (none having been received for 1821), herewith,
will show the prosperity and usefulness of this establishment. The chiefs
have shown great liberality in providing for the education of their children,
by appropriating in each of the three districts of the nation $2,000 annually,
for seventeen years, out of this annuity, for the purpose of schools, &c.;
and the American Board has taken measures for the establishment of other
schools in the nation, one of which, at Mayhew, is in great forwardness.
The school at Elliot is on the Lancasterian plan.”
The following extracts from the report of the
superintendent of the school at Elliot, among the Choctaws, made December
21, 1820, give an insight into the workings of that establishment, as well
as the favorable impression it made on the minds of the full-bloods of
“Since the last report, thirty-eight scholars have been admitted
to the school. Ten have left, and one has been dismissed for misconduct.
The number now in school is seventy-four. Six more are considered as belonging
to it, but are at home on a visit. Of the whole number, sixty are males
and twenty females. All these board in our family, and are entirely under
our directions; excepting that ten, who live in the neighborhood, go home
on Saturday, and return generally on the Sabbath morning.
“Fifty of the scholars now belonging to the school could not speak our
language when they entered. These have all made progress in proportion
to the time they have been here, and several of them now speak English
fluently. Others, who have not advanced so far, can read correctly, and
will soon acquire the spoken language. Sixty-five now in the school began
with the alphabet. Twenty-eight of these can read with facility in the
Testament. All the scholars have been accustomed, from the first, to write
their lessons on slates; and, when advanced, to write on paper. Thirty-nine
write a plain hand without a copy. Nineteen others can form letters with
tolerable accuracy. Ten have made some progress in arithmetic; and two,
who were considerably advanced when they entered school, have attended
to grammar and geography.
“The boys, when out of school, are employed, as circumstances may require,
in the various business of the farm and family. Each one, who is of sufficient
size, is furnished with an axe and a hoe. We cultivated the past season
about fifty acres of corn and potatoes, most of which was planted and hoed
by the boys.
“The girls are in two divisions, and are employed alternately in the
kitchen and in sewing, spinning, knitting, and other domestic labors. *
** Many full-blooded Indians have made applications of late to have children
admitted to the school. They are willing to submit them entirely to our
direction. Strong desires are expressed to have other schools opened.”
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