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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Early Trustees Holdenville

It is in often dry and hard to read entries in legal records that some fascinating nuggets of history can be mined. Mrs. John E.Turner in her small volume, History of the Methodist Church in Holdenville (1956), notes that a group of trustees had received a patent from the Townsite Company of Holdenville for parts of lot, 1,2,3,4,5, and 6 in Block 44 of the official town plat. On this site they would build the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The papers duly filed in Muskogee, Indian Territory in September of 1903 held the names of those representing the church. The names were: James L. Adair, James B Lusk, Harry D. Holman, Samuel Checote and Motie (sic)Tiger.
Turner's volume expressed little knowledge as to who some of these individuals were. There was a question as who Checote and Tiger were and the role they played in the process. There are two potential sources for the Checote name on the document (which has not been seen by this writer). It is surmised, however, that the Samuel Checote listed is most probably the grandson of the noted Samuel Checote based on the date of death.  Chief Samuel Checote was a noted preacher, soldier and statesman who had been born in Alabama, was licensed to preach in 1852 and commanded a regiment as Lieutenant Colonel during the Civil War. He was elected Principal Chief of the Creek Nation in 1869,1972, and 1879 ( Clegg, pg. 27-28). He died in Okmulgee in 1884. His grave is marked by a historical monument erected by the Oklahoma Methodist Historical Society and the state has set a historical marker as well. He is recognized by the State of Oklahoma as a significant individual in state history and American history.  The second possibility is his grandson, Samuel J. Checote, born 1867 and died 1950, who was reared by his grandfather and attended Carlisle Military Academy in Pennsylvania and returned to Oklahoma were the legacy of leadership and service was continued through the younger generation. He was licensed to preach and is mentioned as pastor in the Honey Creek Circuit, Holdenville District, 1903-1904. He was a member of the East Oklahoma Conference and, as was a custom, also member of the New Town Church near Okmulgee where he also served on the centennial committee (Clegg, 173-174). He may be the signer functioning in an official capacity representing the interests of the Indian Missionary Conference or the Creek Nation.
Moty Tiger was a Supreme Judge of the Creek Nation and served as Chief for many years. This may be the capacity in which his signature was added to the document. He was a Christian and so may have also played additional, yet to be identified, role in the process of founding the M.E., South work in Holdenville. He was a minister in the early days of eastern Oklahoma. His son, Johnson Tiger was a noted leader and minister, graduate of Bacone College with a B.S. and Dennison Commercial College (TX) before entering the ministry in 1903 (see Clegg, pg. 65-67).
Adair was known as a charter member, and Holman a longtime active member of the subsequent church (his wife may have been another charter member). Lusk was an area attorney and possibly an early member as well.

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