Welcome to our second page for Indian Schools in Shawano County.  Our first, Red Springs Indian Mission, explains the Why & Hows of Indian Boarding Schools and Missions.  As we stated before, these mission schools were controversial at best and the details sometimes were lost over the years.  We've included articles written in journals, books and pamphlets as well as school censuses, photographs & post cards.  If you have additional information & pictures, you can email me and we can easily update the pages.  And, if you recognize any faces in any of the photos, email me and we'll add the name to the face.

**NOTE** Some of the following letters were originally written by the staff (from their point of view) in order to secure additional funding from the churches & community.  Please keep that in mind as you read letters & articles from 1900 - 1920... this was their point of view - not ours.  Why do I include them?  They help paint the picture of what life was like living in the schools as well as the view that some members of society had... remember to consider the time period when they were written.

These Indian Mission Schools were not just for the children in the immediate areas -- children from other areas of the county & state were sent here as well -- including children from the following tribes: Brothertown, Oneida, Menominee, Stockbridge, Winnebago (Ho-Chunk), Chippewa & Mohawk.

Historical Sketch of the Bethany Mission
Compiled by Rev. T. M. Rykken (1920)

In endeavoring to give an historical outline of our Bethany Indian Mission, it is not our purpose to go into details, but simply to give the main historical facts interspersed with a few every-day happenings, which we hope may interest you.

Our Norwegian Lutheran immigrants were a serious and earnest group of people. They came to this country bringing with them no money but an indomitable courage; honesty and upright hearts, and a determination to make this land of great privilege their home. They brought with them deep religious convictions and a determination to spread this most blessed heritage to those less unfortunate. So it was that in the eighties, when Rev. E. J. Homme, cutting his way thru the immense woods of northern Wisconsin, where he proposed to build an orphans' home, discovered the Red Man wandering about without hope and without God. He called the attention of Pastors Larsen, Ruh, and Dahl to the matter, and these men agreed among themselves to start an Indian mission, and as a result, 40 acres of heavily timbered land was bought some four miles west of the village of Wittenberg. This was in 1884. A man by the name of Morstad was placed in charge, and a log house built to accommodate the missionary and a few children.

It was no easy task to get a foothold among these people, as they seemed contented in the immense woods. There were plenty of wild animals for food and clothing, and they saw no need of changing. Mr. Morstad endeavored to learn the Indian language, and succeeded in getting three or four children into the school; but seeing little success, he resigned in the fall of 1886. The children were brought into the Homme Orphans' Home. In the meantime a suitable building had been erected near the village of Wittenberg, and 80 acres of land purchased by the committee before mentioned. Meanwhile the matter of beginning an Indian Mission had been taken up by the Norwegian Synod, and the property was now deeded over to said synod. Rev. T. Larson was called as the first superintendent, moving from Harmony, Minn., to Wittenberg in July, 1887, where the building was dedicated and called Bethany. This was on July 4th, and eight children were then at school. We find that the first Indian baby was baptized on this occasion, and that our venerable President Nordby of the Eastern District was one of the sponsors.

In the winter of 1888, Axel Jacobson was called as teacher and assistant to Superintendent Larson. Meanwhile we discovered that we had other tribes, more accessible and easier to interest in educational matters, namely, the Oneidas, Stockbridges, Brothertowns, Menominees, and Chippewas, some 20 to 40 miles distant from the station. Soon we succeeded in getting children from these tribes entered in our school, and our Winnebagoes, for whom we were especially solicitous, became a little more accessible.

We received support from the government to the extent of a certain amount until 1895, when all contracts with church schools were abrogated.

Finding that our school could not be supported wholly by donations on account of the attendance having increased, and receiving a proposition from the government to buy our Mission, the synod decided to sell the same to the government, which was done in 1900. Now our mission moved to Ingersoll, 7 miles west, on a large farm, purchased for the use of the mission. During the years 1893 to 1900 Axel Jacobson acted as superintendent for the church and government, and Rev. B. Hovde as mission pastor. Splendid work for our young Indians was done by Pastor Hovde in this space of time. From 1900 to 1902 he acted as superintendent of the Bethany Mission at Ingersoll. Pastor Hovde resigning on account of old age, Mr. 0. C. Tosterud was called as superintendent. He held this position until October 1, 1913, when the mission was moved back to Wittenberg. The mission board acquired the Wittenberg Academy buildings, and Axel Jacobson was called as superintendent. From 1900 to 1907 Rev. 0. A. Strom was mission pastor at the government school. From 1909 to 1917 Rev. M. C. Waller was mission pastor at Ingersoll, and later at the mission house at Wittenberg Academy. Thorough Christian instruction was given the pupils under the splendid efforts of these men.

The mission was run successfully at the Wittenberg Academy site with an attendance up to 75 children, until 1917, when the Government Indian School was closed on account of the war. The property stood abandoned until 1918, when our Church repurchased this institution, then much better equipped, for a small consideration. The former academy property was turned into an old people's home. Now we are back at our first station. Here the mission has prospered the past three years, and a great blessing has befallen the Indians. The attendance has varied from year to year, until at this writing, 139 children are cared for, fed, clothed, and instructed in all things pertaining to good citizenship, and, above all, are instructed in that which pertains to eternal life. We have been fortunate in securing good Christian teachers each year—teachers who have been self-sacrificing, and worked solely for the good of the children. Honorable mention might be made of Alice Johnson, Oline Lysne, Eureka Jordan (Indian), Magda Hoel, Marguerite Hovde, and Charlotte Hammer.

The work is very encouraging now. The Indians are really very interested in it themselves. It is far different from what it was during the first years. In the earlier days we would travel day and night, week after week, trying to induce the old Indians to send us their children, whereas now the children are brought to our doors. There was a time the medicine men would come and give this instruction: "You may take my children and teach them to read and write, but I will tell them about God" (none wanted to see their children baptized or confirmed) ; now they are, as a rule, very anxious to have their children baptized and instructed for confirmation.

To refute the assertion often made, even by educated people, that it is an impossibility to fully civilize and Christianize a heathen in the first generation, let me narrate the following :

It was back in the nineties, some years after we had started our Indian Mission. Those were different days. It was next to impossible to get the Winnebagoes to send their children to our school. I took regular trips out to the different camps, pleading with the old folks to send their children to school. Old man Bear, a typical, full-blooded Indian, had a good looking boy named Tom, who was about nine years old. After pleading at intervals, whenever occasion permitted, during almost a year, we succeeded at last in getting the boy into our school. I recollect as if it were today that stalworth Indian appearing at the school, with this bright, black-eyed boy, clad from top to toe in buckskin clothing, and his cue, nicely braided, hanging down the back of his head. (All these Indians, men and boys, wore the cue. The old superstition was still in force that a man who had lost his cue, in other words had been scalped, would never enter heaven, the happy hunting grounds.) Now came the crucial test. All our boys must bathe, change clothes, and have their hair clipped on the day of admittance. I personally took Tom, after the father had left, down beneath the maple trees, and clipped his head close, cue and all. After this I had him remove his buckskin clothes and don others. I carefully wrapped the buckskin suit in a bundle to have it ready for the father when he should call for it. The next morning Mr. Bear came. Tom was getting his first start, and in came Mr. Bear. One sharp glance at the boy and another at me, and I felt as tho I were pierced thru by it. I shall never forget that look. Coming closer to me, he made signs by pointing to Tom's head and clothing. I understood what he wanted, and made signs for him to sit down until I let the pupils out for recess. Recess came, and I beckoned to Mr. Bear to come with me, and I would get the buckskin clothing. When the bundle was handed him, he made me understand that he was pleased with that, but yet he pointed to his head. Then I thought of the cue. We proceeded down the side hill to the maples. He carefully picked up the cue, wrapped it in the bundle with the clothes, and departed.

Tom stayed at our school constantly. Peculiarly enough, he never asked for permission to leave the school and go home, even on a visit. A singular case. The father came to see him often, and I sometimes felt sorry for the old man when Tom refused to go home with him. Tom was interested in his studies, also joined our small school band, where he played the "E flat" bass horn. I heard it expressed by a good musician, "Tom has us all beat; he plays 'Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep' much better than a white man."

Tom learned to know what Christ had done for him, and was baptized and confirmed at our school. When thru here, he went to the Carlisle Indian School, making a splendid record. At the outbreak of the Philippine War, he was sent as leader of a small military band, and stayed two years. He was honorably discharged, appeared at our office one day, and was exceedingly glad to be back here. The first he said was, "Mr. Jacobson, your mission school has brought me the greatest blessing in my life. The things taught me here, viz, what Christ did for me, and what He expects of me has been my guide so far. I now want to take up a course in your academy, and see if I cannot do something for my people that they too may see the light."

Tom entered our academy, but God willed it otherwise. He was taken sick and died. During his sickness our pastor visited him, and gave us the assurance that Tom died a believing Christian. The principal of our academy made the statement, "Tom was the most orderly, prompt, and well behaved student at the academy."

Many other instances might be related.

From the time our mission was started up to the spring of 1920 we have baptized 351 infants and adults. We have confirmed 142, and have had 425 attendants at communion.

God has opened the door. We have now splendid quarters, and room for some 50 or 60 more than we have at present. We have also received applications for more than this number, but where are our means? We need beds and bedding, school desks, and means to support these unfortunates.

When we think back to the time we began the work here, and think of the obstacles confronting us, and how different the attitude of the average Indian to our mission is now, we must wonder and exclaim, "Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things" (Ps. 72:18).

As God has opened the door for us, will not you, kind reader, with prayer and gifts do your part to the end that our work may be enlarged, and all these young may be admitted into our mission, and become a salt among the remaining people who still live in darkness?

Will not you, out of the abundant blessings which, in a way, you have inherited from the Indian, in the lands and possessions left you, share in assisting him to become partaker of the spiritual blessings you possess?

Consider for a moment: there are 300,000 Indians in the United States, and only one Norwegian Lutheran mission, and one German Lutheran mission among them.

Shall we whose souls are lighted
With wisdom from on high
Shall we to men benighted
The lamp of life deny?

Shall we who know the Law to be our schoolmaster to drive us to Christ, and Christ the propitiation for our sins, which knowledge impels us to be the children of God, zealous of good works, shall we, I ask, deny these our Christian fundamentals to the heathen directly before our doors?

Hoping this little pamphlet may in some measure increase our interest in the salvation of the Indian, I am Fraternally,

Axel Jacobson
Wittenberg, Wis., March 16 (1920)

Lutheran Mission Work Among the American Indians (1922)
Chapter VIII

It was in 1883 that the Norwegian Synod, now merged in the Norwegian Lutheran Church, acting on the appeal of Rev. Tobias Larsen, decided to begin missionary work among the Indians of Northern Wisconsin. In order to obtain concrete results it was proposed to establish a school for Indian children near Wittenberg in Shawano Co. However, more than a year passed before the mission board was able to extend a call to Eric O. Moerstad, who arrived on the field September 30, 1884. He was directed to a certain George DeCora, an Indian who might aid him in acquiring the language. "This Indian had discarded his red blanket, was dressed like a white man, and lived in a small log house. He spoke fluent English. The missionary was welcomed by him, and the two were soon busily engaged in preparing a list of words and expressions in the Winnebago language. Mrs. DeCora made dinner for them. An old oilcloth was laid on the floor, as there was no table. Nor were there any chairs, and dinner had to be eaten as conveniently as possible seated on the floor. The meal consisted of pork, potatoes, bread and butter, and tea with sugar. It was relished by the partakers, and showed marked improvements in civilization."

Three and a half miles west of Wittenberg, where several families of the Winnebago tribe resided, forty acres of land was secured, and a mission station, receiving the name Bethany, was soon in course of construction. Into this modest building, 18x26, four little Indian boys were received and made comfortable. In spite of this, the temptation for these boys to return to their kin was great. At the same time, Indians as well as unscrupulous whites tried to hinder the work in every conceivable way. As usual in such cases, the missionary was represented as a dangerous man. Among other things, it was claimed that every family from which children attended the mission school would lose fifty dollars of its annual Government allowance. Here also, as in the case of the Bethany Mission in Michigan, the story was circulated that children would be sent across the ocean and never return. But these slanderous statements had little effect.

In September, 1885, the Indian mission board held a session at Wittenberg and naturally also visited the mission station. There they were received by Mr. Midtbo and family, which seems to indicate that Rev. Moerstad no longer had to attend to household duties. After due deliberation it was decided to make further improvements in order to accommodate the Indian boys who presumably would attend the school during the coming winter. Already before, the building had been enlarged by a frame addition, and now the roof on the part built of logs was to be raised in order that the attic might serve as sleeping quarters for the boys. It was furthermore decided to build at Wittenberg and to expand the work, the report stating that "we must do something for the Indians, so much the more as we now have the consent of the Government to receive children also from other parts, especially the Stockbridge and Oneida reservations, as well as to carry on the work in general.''

For a consideration of eight hundred dollars eighty acres of land was bought for the new station during the winter of 1886. In the spring and summer this land was cleared of boulders, timber, and underbrush. A well, which provided excellent water, was also dug. However, in the fall of the same year, Rev. Moerstad, who previously had asked for his release, and whom we shall meet again as a missionary to the Pottawatomies, left the station. It was now deemed best to discontinue the work at the old location, the six remaining Indian children being temporarily cared for at the Homme Orphans' Home at Wittenberg. The building and the forty acres of land, now partly cleared and cultivated, were bought by Mr. Midtbo, the steward.

Building operations on the new site progressed rapidly, the first structure with the respectable dimensions of 28x72 and 28x60, having basement, two stories, and an attic, being finished during the first half of 1887. On July 4th this Bethany Indian Mission and Industrial School was solemnly dedicated. Thus the mission had found a second and more commodious home for its work among the Indian children. Including the land, the property represented a value of six thousand dollars. A new superintendent was secured in the person of Rev. T. Larsen, who with two teachers and other employees entered upon his new duties on the day of the dedication of the mission. This force was augmented in the following year by the appointment of Axel Jacobson as teacher and assistant superintendent.

At the beginning eight children were in attendance, but in August this number was increased by twelve from the Oneida tribe, while in November an additional twelve swelled the total to thirty-two. Soon an important event made possible another increase. For on January 1, 1888, a contract was entered into with the United States Government for the support of twenty-five children. This contract was renewed from time to time, the number of Government supported children being gradually increased. Thus in 1894, for instance, it provided for one hundred and fifty children. These were generally drawn from different tribes, in 1894 being divided as follows: Oneida ninety-nine. Stockbridge thirty-two, Brothertown ten, Winnebago five, Chippewas ten, Mohawks three. By securing children from different tribes, the work of education and civilization was greatly aided, as the children were thus forced to desist from using their native dialect in play and conversation. The financial support granted by the Government, however, was inadequate, as the Government schools received for their children about twice the amount of that of the contract schools.

This partial control by the Government did not affect the religious life in any marked way. Practically the only restriction was in the use of denominational text books, but this could be made good thru verbal instruction. Each day the children were taught the fundamentals of the Christian religion, they had their morning and evening devotional exercises, and on Sundays attended the regular service.

Besides the usual subjects, work of a vocational nature was also taken up. "Since the Allotment Bill of 1887 entitles the Oneidas and Chippewas to a piece of land individually on their respective reservations, some time is spent in giving the boys instruction and practice in farming and clearing land. The work progresses slowly, but at times it is interesting to listen to the young fellows' plans and devices as to their future home, on which Uncle Sam in time awards them a deed. There is also an opportunity for those who wish to learn carpentry, painting, smithery, etc."

On account of failing health Rev. Larsen had relinquished the superintendency in 1893, being succeeded by Axel Jacobson, who occupied that position till 1895. In that year congressional action made a radical change necessary. A bill was passed which reduced the contracts 20 per cent each year, so that in 1900 all support would be withdrawn, tho Indian treaty and trust funds could still be used. As in 1895 the attendance had reached the number of one hundred and forty, the synod was unable to operate the Bethany Mission on such a large scale. So it was finally agreed to sell the entire property to the United States Government, which was to continue the school. The superintendency of the Government institution was offered to Axel Jacobson with the understanding that the old teaching force be retained. Mr. Jacobson accepted and held the position as superintendent of the school and agent for the Winnebago tribe from 1895-1905, when he resigned to take a long deserved rest after eighteen years of continuous work among the Indians.

The Norwegian Synod decided to continue the mission on a smaller scale at a suitable location, where, it was thought, the children would be afforded better opportunity to receive industrial training of the kind they needed. The Ingersoll farm, located seven miles from Wittenberg, was bought, and in July, 1900, the Indian Mission moved into its new home and was continued independently of the United States Government.

As a superintendent of the mission Rev. B. Hovde was appointed, being succeeded after his retirement a few years later by Mr. O. C. Tostrud, an experienced teacher, who with the help of his devoted wife achieved considerable success. The number of children during this period was of course far smaller than at Wittenberg, ranging from twenty-five to fifty, mostly of the Winnebago tribe. They did not remain during the whole year, as had been expected, but arrived late in the fall and left during May. Thus the plan of having the Indian children work on the farm during the summer could not be realized. Neither was the operation of a large farm in connection with the mission a very paying proposition. One can imagine the trying time of the superintendent, who had to manage both the farm and the mission. He was forced to do the greater part of the teaching and assist in the farm work, while all the other duties of the double position rested upon his shoulders. Among these were marketing, trips to secure children and to bring them back when they ran away, which not seldom happened.

However, the location was not a very good one. The nearest railroad stations were Eland Junction, four miles, and Wittenberg, seven miles distant. This involved considerable labor and much inconvenience. The spiritual needs were looked after by Rev. M. C Waller, who conducted divine services at the mission every third Sunday during the school year. All baptisms, confirmations, and communion services also took place at Ingersoll instead of at the church in Wittenberg.

The handicaps of the location were found increasingly embarrassing, so finally, in 1912, a committee was appointed charged with the duty to visit Ingersoll together with the Indian mission board. It was to report back to the synod the results of its investigation, especially in regard to the advisability of moving the mission to some other place. On the strength of the report made by this committee, the general convention was petitioned to sell the Ingersoll farm and to move the mission to some city, preferably Wittenberg. The recommendations of the board were adopted, and in the fall of 1913 the mission was back once more in Wittenberg, where the entire property of the Wittenberg Academy Association had been bought for Indian mission purposes.

Prof. Axel Jacobson was now called to the superintendency, and under his able administration the Bethany Indian Mission has enjoyed a healthy growth. The whole movement received a great impetus when the newly formed Norwegian Lutheran Church authorized the repurchase of the original Bethany Indian Mission site, so that the school is now located at its old quarters, A number of valuable improvements had been made during the Government ownership. The deal, involving property estimated at $65,000, was concluded in January, 1919.

At the well appointed quarters at Wittenberg, the attendance has steadily increased. For some years it ranged from fifty to seventy, but lately the one hundred mark has been passed. During the latter part of 1919 there were 120 children in the school, with an additional one hundred applications on file. This year, 1920-21, has seen the largest attendance in the history of the school, 140 being enrolled. These are mostly from the Winnebago and Oneida tribes. There are eighteen members in the confirmation class, and twelve children are likely to be baptized. Since the beginning of the Bethany Indian Mission there have been 363 adult and infant baptisms, 142 have been confirmed, and 425 have communed. In the school the common branches are taught; in addition religious instruction is given, the children being divided into convenient groups for that purpose. But not only does the mission furnish instruction, but also food and lodging, and to a considerable extent also clothing.

Among the older Indians in the settlement considerable progress has been made. Services are held every Sunday afternoon, and the attendance is fair. A number of adult baptisms have also taken place of late. Furthermore, the work has been extended to the Indian settlements near Wittenberg, services being held at the Bethany Indian Church at Embarrass River. The children and others are also somewhat assisted as to clothing, especially during the coldest part of the winter. Rev. T. M. Rykken, of the 1920 class from Luther Theological Seminary, devotes his time exclusively to Indian missionary work.

When more than thirty years ago the missionaries began work among the Winnebagoes in the forests of Wisconsin, the Red Man paid only slight attention to them. No material want existed then, for there was an abundance of deer in those days, deer hunting being the main source of sustenance for the Indians. Every one was then dressed in buckskin, and quite often the wigwams were also covered with the same material. In winter it was a common sight to see one or more carcasses of frozen deer hanging outside of the wigwam. Before the first fall hunt a dance lasting one or two days was held, when by speeches and supplications they implored divine blessing for the first hunt

These Indians, happy and contented, were entirely deaf and indifferent to the pleadings of the missionaries to send their children to school. As hunting became poorer and want made its presence felt, a gradual change took place. A few children began attending school, and reading and writing came to be looked upon as a good thing. But when it became known that the children received instruction about the Triune God, there was violent objection from the medicine men, of which the tribe of fourteen hundred had about seventy-five.

In course of time, however, a great change also appeared in this respect, and very gratifying results in the Christianization of the Indians were secured. Superintendent Jacobson narrates one instance which tends to destroy the fallacy that one cannot civilize or Christianize a heathen in the first generation. "I have in mind a Winnebago boy, a relative of Bighawk the chief. I tried and tried for a couple of years back in 1888 or 9 to get the father to send him to school. He was a bright looking lad about eight years old, clad in buskskin from top to toe, also wearing the long cue down the back of his head. One day I succeeded in getting him into school. I took him below to the laundry building, clipped his hair, and dressed him up in white man's clothing. The next day the father appeared, looked at the boy in a surly manner, and eyed me in no more lovable style. At last he pointed to where the cue had been and also made signs as to the buckskin clothing. I walked along down to where I had clipped the hair, and the old man carefully hunted until he found the cue of hair, and after carefully wrapping this up in the buckskin clothing, he left satisfied. The unexpected happened. The boy stayed right here at the mission, learned to play the E-flat bass horn in our Indian brass band better than any white boy, was baptized and confirmed. He was a real Christian spirited boy. We sent him to the Carlisle Indian School for further training. While there the Spanish American War came on, and Thomas Bear and another boy, Albert Thunder, left for the Philippines as United States soldiers, Thomas as leader of the regimental band. After serving two years he was honorably discharged and came back here to take up a course in our Lutheran Academy. Thomas was taken sick of a spinal disease and died at the academy a true Christian. The principal of the school gave him the testimony of being the neatest, best behaved, and Christian spirited boy at the academy, where he was the only Indian."

How different and in many respects easier is not the work now than it was thirty years ago. Then the workers had to scour the country for weeks, mostly on foot, and how they rejoiced if only one child was entrusted to their care. Now the parents bring them to the mission without any solicitation and beg the superintendent to teach them about the true God and Christ the Savior. When the medicine men still held perfect sway, the parents on hearing that their children were taught religion at the mission school rebelled. The teaching of such useful things as reading and writing they permitted, but considered themselves and their medicine men alone competent persons to give instruction concerning the Great Spirit. At the present time the situation is entirely changed. Only about three to four hundred are still clinging to the old beliefs, while the others believe with varying strength in the Triune God, who speaks to men thru His inspired Word. The influence of the few remaining medicine men is fast waning. Thus Bethany Indian Mission under the guidance of its enthusiastic superintendent is permitted to perform its great work without let or hindrance.

The following information was written by two students of the mission school - these would have been submitted to the parent church office to show the "success" of the mission and reasons to continue its support.
What the Bethany Indian Mission Has Done for Me
   My name is
Harry Thunder. I am a Winnebago Indian boy, 17 years old. This is my second year at the Bethany Mission. Before coming here I spent two years at a government Indian school. Although I learnt many things at that school, it did not do nearly so much for me as the Bethany Mission has done for me.
   I had not stayed long at this school before I noticed that the spirit of the school was different. At the former school we obeyed thru fear of punishment. Here we are taught to obey because it is God's desire that we should do that which is right.
   I did not feel so much at home in that school as I do in this one. Here we have Christian people to care for us and teach us. I am very thankful to the mission for this.
   But my greatest reason for liking this school is that here I was taught to love Jesus and to believe that He is my Savior who has redeemed me. The Government School never mentioned these things. At this school we hear the Word of
God every day, and sing hymns of prayer and praise to Him morning and evening.
   During the first year that I was here I was taught the Word of God, and I was very interested in learning it. I had never seen a Catechism nor an Explanation before I came here. After having received instruction thru the year, I was baptized and confirmed. I shall never forget that day. It was the greatest day for me. I am very glad that I came here, and that I have learnt to know and believe in my Savior.
   This year I am taking Bible study. I find it very interesting and beneficial.
   I am in the eighth grade, and I enjoy the work very much.  If I can finish my grade this year, as I hope to, I plan to take up further study next year.
   It is my wish to become a missionary among my people. There are so many of them who have not heard the Word of God. They have not heard of Jesus Christ coming into this world to suffer and die for us, in order that we might obtain eternal life thru faith in His merits. They serve strange gods instead of the one true God. They pray to rivers and lakes, animals, trees, and many other things. Because of this their home life is often miserable and pitiful. It would be so different if they could learn about Jesus, and accept Him as their Savior, and be willing to serve Him.
   I hope that this school will always continue its work so that many other boys and girls may have the opportunity to come here and study the Word of God, and learn to live as they should.       Harry Thunder

   My name is Stella Hill. I am an Oneida Indian girl, 14 years old. I have attended school here at the Bethany Mission for some time. I like it very well at this school. We are made to feel right at home here, and that makes it so pleasant. There are not so many children here as at some government schools, where they often have over 300 boys and girls. That helps us to get better acquainted, and we feel like brothers and sisters. Here we go to school all day. At the government schools it was always half days at school. I like it better this way, for we learn so much more.
   The teachers and the matrons mean a great deal to me, because they are Christians, who teach me the love of God. They tell me to do that which is good, not because we shall thereby escape punishment, but because we are God's children. If we really love Him, we like to do that which is His will.
   The government schools were good in that they taught us how to read, write, work problems in arithmetic and such common studies. But we are taught that here too, and besides that we have an hour of religious instruction every morning. Here we have confirmation class too, and a class in Bible study. We have devotion every morning and evening. We learn to sing hymns out of the Lutheran Hymnary, hymns which really mean something.
   We also have services in our little church on the Mission Hill every Sunday. We have h choir that sings every Sunday. These things we could not have at the government schools.
   Since we know that the kind people of our Lutheran Church pray for us, it makes it easier for us to do that which is good.
   All these things make me feel very grateful to the mission. It is my wish that I in time may do something for the mission, by doing something for my people, to show that what the mission has done for me has not been done in vain.       Stella Hill.

If you can identify any of these students, please email me so we can update the page.  Thanks...
1921 Bethany Mission School Enrollment
louise archiquette margaret archiquette
pierce baird lucy boyce
liaila boyce edith blackhawk
philip blackhawk harold buchanan
marie badsoldier stacy mitchel badsoldier stacy
rebecca badsoldier stacy lena bigthunder
elmer bigthunder jeremiah bigthunder
adelaide blackhawk mayme coulon
catherine coulon amelia coulon
howard coulon jacob coulon
virginia coulon paul christjohn
marie christjohn rose cloud
lucy carimony allen carimony
annie dick venvorth dick
grendall dick dora decorah
eva decorah helen decorah
wanda decorah ernest decorah
mitchell elm mabel elm
james funmaker george funmaker
daniel funmaker elsie green crow
annie green crow mary green crow
george green victor hill
george hill estelle hill
romona hill katherine hill
margaret house vera house
leonard hopinkah adam hall
william hill brownell hill
josephine hill isador john
jasper john elizabeth john
howard john reno john
flora king julia king
lawrence kirkwood stephen kirkwood
minnie littlewolf sam littlesoldier
edmund lincoln edward lonetree
fred lonetree leola lyons
neoma lyons beatrice lyons
merrill lyons rudolph lyons
chester mallory ruth mallory
daniel mallory jesse mike
thomas mike dora mallory
malinda nynham george nynham
electa powles agnes powles
oscar pigeon sarah pigeon
frank pigeon loomis peters
agnes payer minnie payer
sarah payer ruth payer
ferdinand palladeau daniel rockman
mildred rockman ada stacy
lena summers sada summers
hattie summers raymond summers
wilmae sickles lester smith
isabelle smith casteson swamp
evelyn swamp lucy stevens
shalton stevens john stacy
frank storm john storm
antone stevans henry stevans
clayton skenandore leo skenandore
lucile thomas joseph thundercloud
oline thunder harry thunder
lena white pine josephine white pine
raymond whitewing lowell whitewing
martha whitewing frank wabshagain
herman wabshagain lena wabshagain
earl williams joseph williams
nancy williams sarah white
mike white evelyn white
david white amelia webster
angeline webster fred white eagle
jesse white eagle howard walker
amelia wilson fanny wilson

Click on the page for larger view of the children - if you can identify them, email me.  I'm assuming most of the pictures were taken around 1920.


Wilmae Sickles and her brother


Now, here's some good stuff -- not only do some of the censuses list the student, some also list the tribal affiliation and blood quantum... and there's a few of their original Native American names included as well.  Click here.

We generally post queries to the Message Boards & surnames to the Surname page... but...here's a place to connect with other people who had family in the Bethany Indian School Mission area.  Just send me your info and I'll gladly post it... hopefully you'll make a connection!
Student or Family Surname Tribal Affiliation Researched By:


And, if you have anything else you would like to share, please send us an email.

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Georgia 24