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
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:
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
“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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
life Rev. Smith is a clean and upright man in every sense of the
“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
“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