John Smith


Rev. John Smith. For many years Rev. John Smith has been one of the most influential men of the fullblood Creek Indians. He has rendered notable service since early manhood in the cause of Christianity, and has been a leader in the organized church activities of his nation. He has also acquired and has ably managed extensive land holdings, and enjoys the comforts and conveniences of one of the finest homes in the vicinity of Wetumka. Although a fullblood Creek Indian, Mr. Smith’s complexion is as fair as a pure Anglo Saxon, and only the closest observer could determine his Indian origin and racial characteristics.
He was born in 1869 in the Creek Nation, a son of Tecumseh and Betty Smith, both of whom were fullblood Creeks, the former a native of Alabama, brought to Indian Territory with his people when the Government removed them west of the Mississippi, while the mother was born in Indian Territory and spent all her life there. She died in 1879 at an advanced age and the father passed away in 1883. Both were uneducated in the English language, but the father, who was a farmers and stock raiser, became prominent in tribal affairs, serving as member of the council and at one time was judge of the Supreme Court of the Creek Nation. During the war between the states he was member of a Creek regiment in the Confederate army. Both parents responded to the influences of Christianity and were long loyally identified with the Baptist Church. Their five children were: Jacob, who died at the age of twenty-three; Isaac, who died when twenty-five; Foley, died in childhood; Rev. John; and Mary, who died in childhood.
The only survivor of his parents’ children, Rev. John Smith grew up on his father’s farm, and was well educated for the part he was destined to play in life. He attended the old Levering Mission near Wetumka and for eight months was a student in Bacon University near Muskogee. In the early part of his career Mr. Smith taught among the Indians for about seven years, and then took up missionary work, which he has followed with little interruption to the present time. He was reared in the Baptist faith, and has long been prominent as one of its leading ministers in old Indian Territory. He was one of the managing board of the Indian, Muskogee & Washita Baptist Association.
In politics he is a democrat. Mr. Smith owns a half section of land while his wife has a quarter section, and this fine farm adjoins the Town of Wetumka on the west. In 1915 Mr. Smith completed a beautiful country home, comprising ten rooms and of modern furnishing and equipment, and this house stands on a fine elevation from which may be obtained an extensive view of the town and the entire surrounding country.
For his first wife Rev. Mr. Smith married in 1898 Eliza Yahola, who was born in the Creek Nation and was also a fullblood. She died in 1914 at the age of about thirty-five. No children survived her. In August, 1915, Rev. Mr. Smith married Addie Carr, who was born near Wetumka April 22, 1878, a daughter of the Rev. Robert Carr, one of the prominent men of Hughes County. Mrs. Smith attended the neighborhood schools, the Levering Mission, the Eufaula High School and finished an academic course in Bacone University. For about seven years she was a teacher in neighborhood schools, and for three years was matron at the Euchee Mission. Like her husband she is very active in the Baptist Church.
In concluding the history of Rev. John Smith we quote the well written words of G. Lee Phelps, general missionary and co-worker:
“Rev. Jno. Smith is of fullblood Creek Indian blood. He was born in 1869, just as his people were getting back into their devastated country that had been laid waste during the terrible war between the North and South.
“At that time all his people were very poor. Their herds and flocks had been confiscated. Their homes and fields destroyed, and thus it came about that Jno. Smith was born in deep poverty.
“ When he was nine years of age his mother died and at twelve years of age his father died, leaving him an orphan in the cruel world without a home, but not without a friend, for his cousin, Rev. James Bird, took him and gave him a home and sent him to school.
“The first school house was a little log cabin 12x14 and used as the meeting place of the Weogufkee Church as well as for school purposes. This log cabin still stands beside the new frame church and the old cemetery near, Hannah, Oklahoma.
“All the children who attended this first school were very poor. Jno. Smith’s only raiment for the entire winter was a pair of overalls and a cotton shirt. Later he attended Levering Mission School near the Town of Wetumka, and still later attended school at Bacone University, and came under the influence of the immortal Dr. Bacone. After leaving Bacone he taught •school for several years among his own people, teaching in the same log cabin where he first went to school.
“In 1884 Jno. Smith gave his heart to the Lord and was converted and baptized by his uncle, Rev. Wesley Smith. Fifteen years later he was ordained as a minister and became pastor of the Little Quarsarday Church, serving in that capacity for several years.
“In 1902 the writer discovered him and found him to be a live, wide awake, energetic minister. When I first met Rev. Smith, a few of us were trying to re-organize the old Muskogee and Wichita Association, which had not had a meeting for several years, and had practically become extinct. Rev. Smith fell right in with the plan and became an active helper, with the result that the Association was re organized. A managing board was appointed and three missionaries were elected. Rev. Smith was chosen as one of the missionaries. He served in this capacity for seven years.
“In all these years I have never known a more faithful, earnest and aggressive missionary than Rev. Smith has been. Hundreds have been converted and baptized and the Association was more than doubled in membership.
“This missionary work was prosecuted at no small sacrifice, the missionaries often suffering privations and enduring hardships. The salaries were very small, often not enough to pay the actual expenses.
“The Indians were scattered all over the territory and this meant miles of travel. Sometimes by trains, sometimes by vehicles or horseback, but not infrequently on foot. This latter method of travel was adopted because of the lack of conveyance. During this seven years that Rev. Smith was missionary, he lived fifteen miles from a railroad and many times he walked this distance in order to reach his appointments. Several times he was compelled to sleep out nights for want of means to pay for his lodging.
“Wicked ruffians have threatened his life several times, and six-shooters have been displayed, but through it all he has kept steady at the task, never wavering.
“He served as Moderator of the Ministers’ and Deacons’ meetings for several years, and is at this writing Chairman of the Managing Board of the Association, and is just as active in Missionary work as he was when he was under regular appointment as missionary.
“In private life Rev. Smith is a clean and upright man in every sense of the word.
“He was married first in April, 1898, to Eliza Yahola and lived with her until August, 1914, when she died. He was married again on August 5, 1915, to Miss Addie Carr, the daughter of Rev. Robt. Carr. Mrs. Smith is a cultured, educated, refined and intelligent Christian woman, and will be of great help to her husband in his work.
“Rev. Smith has had no children born into his home, but he has raised and educated several orphan children. He is maintaining two in school at the present time.
“In 1913 oil was discovered on the allotment of Mrs. Smith (nee Lizzie Yahola) and has proven to be very valuable. At her death Mr. Smith became heir to one-half interest in this, which has made him a rich man. The income from these oil wells is increasing his wealth at the rate of several thousand dollars per year, but this great wealth does not deter him from his main purpose of life–that, of serving God and his people, but on the other hand it has increased his power for service. He has given several thousand dollars already to the education and uplift of his people, and he says it is his purpose to give at least the tenth of his income for the work of the Lord among his people.
“He is now planning a unique method of stimulating missionary zeal among his people.”