Joseph Samuel to the Choctaw Indians

Murrow, Rev. Joseph Samuel, a missionary to the Choctaw Indians, in the Indian Territory, sent out and supported by the Rehoboth Baptist Association of Georgia, was born in Jefferson Co., Ga., June 7, 1835. He became a Christian at a very early age, and received academical instruction in youth. He joined Green Fork Baptist church, in Burke Co., Ga., at nineteen; was licensed at twenty. In 1855, at the age of twenty, he entered Mercer University, where he pursued his studies diligently until ordained and sent out as a missionary to the Indian Territory in the fall of 1857. In November of that year he began what has proved to be a long, laborious, and useful missionary life, in which much of hardship and suffering has been mingled with great success and joy.

He settled at North Fork town, and began his missionary work among the Creeks, among whom he labored most assiduously for two years. He then removed to Little River, Creek Nation, and began a work among the Seminoles. In 1861 he constituted the first Baptist church ever formed among that tribe. During the war the Seminoles selected him as their agent, in transactions with the government, to receive their food and supplies; and, as he was cut off from the Association which sustained him, he was thus supported; but he never forgot his character as a missionary, nor ceased to maintain it, while performing his official duties to the satisfaction of both the government and tribe. One of the first structures built always was a bush arbor for preaching services. For several years he and his wife lived thus with the Seminoles, during which period he baptized 200 of that nation, and may thus be considered the father of the mission work among the Seminoles. Three-fifths of the adults of that nation are now Baptists.

The war closed in 1865, and his duties as Indian agent came to an end. Being still cut off from his Association, he took refuge for a year in Texas, but returned in 1866, settling at Atoka, Choctaw Nation, the first missionary to return to the Indian field after the war. He found the Choctaw mission in a very demoralized condition, and proceeded at once to reorganize the churches, in which he was very successful, constituting a large Association, and putting the Sunday-school work on a healthy basis. The Baptist Theological School, for training teachers and preachers, now being established at Tallequah, Cherokee Nation, by the Home Mission Society of the North, is the conception of his brain. He has now been a missionary among the Indians for twenty-four years, has preached thousands of sermons, traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, and baptized over a thousand Indians, yet there is no abatement in his desire to live and labor for the triumph of the gospel among the red men of the West.

 William Cathcart, ed., The Baptist Encyclopædia (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1881), 825–826.

About the author

Austin Gardner is pastor of Vision Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA. Previously he was church planting missionary in Peru for 20 years.

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