Koweta Mission Site - Coweta, OK
Koweta Mission Site is a site near Coweta, Oklahoma, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The mission was started in 1843 by Presbyterian minister Robert Loughridge at Coweta, then the capital of the Creek Nation, Indian Territory. He named the mission "Koweta", after the Creek capital. The school operated until the American Civil War when Loughridge and most missionaries left the territory.
Creek Council Gives Robert Loughridge Permission to Open Mission
For a time the Creek people had resisted Protestant religious missions and their related schools, outlawing Christianity and preaching because it disrupted their traditional culture. But in 1842, Robert Loughridge, a Presbyterian missionary, had traveled to Coweta to meet with the Creek Council, who gave him permission to open a mission, because the Creek wanted to have their children educated. Loughridge made the school dependent on the mission.
The school operated for about 3 months until sickness and a lack of adequate accommodations resulted in Loughridge temporarily closing it. After a while, more Creek began attending Loughridge's services.
His wife Olivia gave birth to their second child on September 5, 1845. But the nearest physician lived in Fort Gibson and was not in the area. Olivia developed a puerperal fever on September 17 and died at the age of twenty-nine. One year later, on September 26, 1846, that second child also died; it was buried next to Olivia Loughridge, in what is known as the Bruner Family Cemetery. This was on the Hopping Farm, a mile and a half southeast of Coweta. Today the site is marked only by a cemetery.
Creek officials granted Loughridge permission to build a second school, which he called Tullahassee Mission. Completed in 1859, it was located 16 miles east of Koweta Mission and 10 miles west of Fort Gibson. Another missionary couple, the Rev. and Mrs. William Robertson, operated this boarding school.
1843 Map of Coweta Mission
Abandoned and Burned Down During the Civil War
After the American Civil War broke out, the Presbyterians abandoned the Koweta Mission and left the Territory, as did other missionaries. It was burned during the war. During the war years, most missionaries abandoned the schools and churches they had started among the tribes, but many children had received some education. With the war, most of the ministers and teachers left the Indian Territory for the duration of the conflict.
The Creek developed a tribal school system funded from federal annuities paid following their removal to Indian Territory. In the later nineteenth century, the Creek Nation encouraged the founding of more schools: Wealaka Mission School (1882), which replaced Tullahassee; Asbury Manual Labor School, Harrell Institute (1881), Bacone College (1885), Levering Mission, Nuyaka Mission, and Yuchi Mission. In this period, they had a total of 7 boarding schools for Indian children, 3 boarding schools for Creek Freedmen, and 65-day schools.
The Koweta Mission was abandoned and then burned during the Civil War. Other schools and churches that had been built were also abandoned among all the tribes. Most of their children had received at least a few years of education. Sadly, the war disrupted the mission work forcing most of the ministers and teachers to leave the Indian Territory for the duration of the conflict. Olivia and her child are buried in the Bruner Family Cemetery on the Hopping Farm a mile and a half southeast of Coweta.