Dawes Academy Sketch by: Tom-Pee-Saw attended Dawes Academy in 1896
I include this bit of unreported history for two reasons first, any history that involves people of color need to be shared as far to much of it has been omitted for the pages of history. Secondly I am the great great granddaughter of the first minister of this historic place, Ned Roberts.
"...No mention of this first Negro school in the Chickasaw Nation is found in the histories of Oklahoma. Recollections of its students and reminiscences of the children of pastors of the nearby church tells something about this academy. Closely interwoven with its history is that of the Calvary Baptist Church, built of logs before the academy was erected and later rebuilt in its present state.
Tombstones in the adjoining graveyard add their bit to the neglected story. Many who rest here were born into slavery and some of the graves have no markers. The oldest inscription reads:
Rev. J. R. Banks
The first minister of Calvary Baptist was the Rev. Ned Roberts ; the second the Rev. J. R. Banks ; and the third was the Rev. G. W. Hall who served 18 years.
All persons except citizens of the Chickasaw Nation were required to secure permits to reside lawfully in that nation but freedmen traveled about at will throughout the Indian Territory. Negro settlements sprang up along Caddo Creek and the Washita River. Some of these Negros has Indian and white Blood. Some of the families came from around Boggy Depot in the Choctaw Nation.
The oldest living student of the Dawes Academy now lives in Ardmore. The Rev. George W. Roberts was born June 10, 1883 (He died 4 months after this article was written in Dec. 1971..His Obit), in a settlement east of Springer. He first attended a subscription school of which his father, Jack Roberts , paid one dollar per month for tution.
Later the family moved about two miles north of the academy and the little log church. The pastor was George's grandfather, Ned Roberts , born in Mississippi, a slave of prominent area residents (Susan Colbert). His wife Sarah was part Choctaw (granddaughter of Maj. James Colbert).
Young George walked the two miles daily to the academy and "just as he was getting into fractions" his father took him from school and "put him behind a plow".... he was needed at home. There were 12 children and George was the oldest. For 16 years George helped on the farm and worked with cattle. He helped break bucking horses and was a regular cowboy working for Caesar James and his father Ephriam James , successful Negro ranchers who lived south of the Arbuckles......At the age of 27 years George was baptized in Cool Creek by Mr. Hall . He has served as pastor of several churches and is assistant pastor of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church at Ardmore.
Mr. Roberts and Samantha Bruner were married in 1901 and were the parents of three children. One of their grandsons, James Nash is a research biochemist at the Noble Foundation.
The teachers Miss Dana, a red haired woman from Massachusetts. Miss Zoller and Mr and Mrs. Hyde . Miss Mary Elizabeth (Allen) Dawes was the principal wife of Hiram M. Dawes of Wallingford, Vt.. Since no roster exists to tell who attended the academy, there is no way of know how far reaching was the influence of this dedicated woman.
Known Students of the Dawes Academy:
Claud DeVoyd Hall
This list was located at the Oklahoma Historical Society, Indian Archives, and generously donated to this site by
Bob Curry, Wynnewood, Oklahoma