MISSIONS OF THE AMERICAN BOARD.
From the New York Observer
The following are extracts from a letter of Mr. Holmes, dated at Martin Dec. 24, 1831.
Disturbed State of the People.
The expectation of a removal beyond the river seems to have concentrated every thought to that one point. Even those who are determined to remain on reservations, as is the case with this neighborhood, are far from enjoying tranquility of mind. Judging from what has passed since the extension of the laws over the nation they cannot promise themselves much undisturbed enjoyment. Instances of grievous oppression have become common. One of many will relate, as if came under my own observation, and is of recent occurrence. A citizen of Mississippi, with an unjust claim entered the nation with a civil officer, and carried forcibly away property to the valuable of several hundred dollars. The Chickasaw instituted a suit, and recovered the property; but by attending to this business, he sustained considerable loss at home, owing to his absence for several weeks; travelled more than eight hundred miles, bearing his own expenses; and paid a lawyer $100 for pleading his cause. It is a fact honorable to the court which has cognizance of the affairs of this nation, that in every case, I believe, without exception, the decision has been in favor of the Indian, who is uniformly the defendant. This, however, does not relieve the natives from the expense of feeing lawyers and attending courts.
Sufferings of the Emigrating Choctaws
[Martin, the station at which Mr. Holmes resides, lies on the road leading from the Choctaw Nation to Memphis, a route by which a portion of the Choctaws cross the Mississippi to their country in the West. The distance by that route is about 5000 miles; a large part of which is an uninhabited wilderness.]
About a month ago several hundred Choctaws spent a part of three days in sight of Martin, on their way to their new country. Although the contractor seemed to do every thing in his power to render their situation comfortable, there was still much unavoidable suffering. There was very aged persons and very young children in the company; many had nothing to shelter them from the storm by day or night. The weather was excessively cold, and yet a neighbor remarked to me a few day ago that he had noticed particularly, and in his opinion, not one in ten of the women had even a moccasin on their feet and the great majority of these were walking. An interesting girl; who was formerly a scholar at Mayhew, sustained a compound fracture of the arm several days before they reached this place, and was brought thus far in a rough baggage wagon. In compliance with our suggestion, a litter was made, and she was carried the remainder of the way to Memphis on men's shoulders. On her arrival there, a gangrene had proceeded so far as to render it very doubtful in the opinion of the physician, whether an amputation would save her life. They, however, resolved to operate, and her right arm was taken off as near the shoulder as possible. Her parents were compelled to move over in two days, and she was left in the hospital.
A number of small companies have since passed who were detained on the way by loss of horses and other causes. No provision could be made for them, and consequently they were, in some instances very destitute. One party came to us and begged an ear of corn a piece, to relieve, for a season, their sufferings. Another party camped in the woods near us, about three weeks ago, and that night a storm of hail and sleet commenced, which was followed in a day or two with a heavy fall of snow. For more than two weeks there was continued freezing and colder weather than I have ever seen in this climate. During the whole this time these suffering people were lying at their camp without any shelter,and with very little provision. Much suffering was to be expected in the removal of the Choctaws, but if I may judge from what I have seen and heard, the half was not anticipated.
During the last two years, as has been often stated, the Christian portion of the Choctaws have been exposed to very protracted and severe temptation. The force of their laws has been broken and intoxicating liquors have been introduced without restraint. They have experienced much opposition from that portion of own people who still reject Christianity and of late especially since the commencement of preparations for their removal west of the Mississippi, they have been brought much in contact with unprincipled white men. Mr. Moulton, teacher of the school at Goshen under date of January 4th, makes the following remarks respecting the
Character sustained by the Church Members.
Many anecdotes illustrating the happy effects of the gospel upon this people might be mentioned. I will note one or two.
A native of our church, purchased in the white settlements, fifteen or twenty miles from his house, a wagon for the purpose of removing his family. In the contract for the wagon, he engaged to carry the man who sold it to him thirty bushels of corn. Owing to unforseen events he was unable to start from home with the corn before Friday. About this time he received word that those who were to remove must assemble the next day at the place of rendezvous. He proceeded on with his corn, but did not discharge his load till Saturday evening. The next day was the Sabbath. Necessity seemed to urge his immediate return; yet he was required to keep the Sabbath holy. He yielded to a sense of duty and rested till the Sabbath's sun had set. He then harnessed his team and started for home, where he arrived, by traveling all night, the next day. I was at his house when he arrived. He immediately told me the circumstances and with a countenance expressive of concern, 'I am afraid that I have broken the Sabbath, because I did not wait till this morning.' The white men where he stayed, he said, spent the Sabbath in playing at marbles.
About the time the above took place, I had occasion to be often at the house of the man of whom I have been speaking, over night. He, his wife, her mother, and a brother are members of our church. Morning and evening prayers were regularly attended, and I think with as much interest as in our best regulated Christian families. Family devotions were conducted by the females in the absence of the men. I have noticed them, after family worship was concluded, retire to another room, and heard them there singing the songs of Zion, and listened to the accents of prayer falling from their lips till I could recount three or four prayers offered by as many individuals, and these both male and female. I have every reason to believe that it was their love to their Savior which prompted these acts of devotion. Peace and happiness seemed to smile upon their humble dwelling.