A Sketch History of the Primitive Baptists in Oklahoma

Oklahoma and the Indian Nations

For more than fifty years during the 1800's, this entire region was a huge reservation known as Indian Territory. In 1889, the crack of a pistol started the first rush of homesteaders into Oklahoma, when about two million acres of the western half were opened to settlement. On September 16, 1893, over 110,000 people raced for a piece of seven million acres opened for settlement in the now famous Cherokee Strip Land Rush.

"The Messenger of Peace" issue of August 15, 1893, has an article titled "The Cherokee Strip" written by Elder J. M. Thompson, of Wichita, Kansas. He wrote as follows:

"To Primitive Baptists, and all of like precious faith, who contemplate locating on these lands now soon to be opened for settlement, and who desire church privileges early, and to live with true believers. I will advise that you watch for the president's proclamation opening the lands in settlement and that you come to the border about fifteen to twenty miles west of Arkansas City, ten days before the time set for entering upon the lands. The president has to give twenty days notice of the day of opening, so we are informed. I will give further information later by card to any person desiring, who may ask, enclosing a stamp. Any person of good moral character will be kindly received. We expect this opening will take place September 1st, 10th or 15th."

Oklahoma became the 46th State on November 16, 1907, after Congress passed an Enabling Act which allowed the Territory of Oklahoma and the Indian Territory to write a constitution for one state to be formed from the two territories.

Primitive Baptist Churches and Associations Organized

We are still researching the dates of constitution of the early Primitive Baptist Churches in Oklahoma and Indian Territories, but several were organized prior to Statehood. Pilgrim's Rest Church, located near Healdton in Indian Territory, united with the Salem Association in 1891, her messenger being Elder L. R. Gee; this church hosted the Salem Association in 1894. Cole Creek Church was organized at Fanshaw, in Le Flore County, in November 1893, but moved as a body to Roger Mills County in 1899 and changed its name to Buffalo. Shiloh Church at Crescent was organized in 1893. New Hope Church at Tecumseh, Shiloh Church at Sulphur, and Pisgah Church in Washita County, were all organized in 1896. The Salem Association (originally called Brazos River) of Texas was organized in 1878, and included a church at Cornish in Oklahoma Territory which was organized in 1897 (see Carter County). The First Primitive Baptist Association of Oklahoma was organized in August 1900, with four churches. The Elk Creek Association was organized in 1902. The Panhandle & Oklahoma Association was organized in 1903. The Washita Association was organized in 1910. The Western Oklahoma Association was organized by 1913. The Elk River Association of Kansas, which was organized in 1873, included a church called Prairie Valley, at Centralia, in Indian Territory, which was organized by 1898 or earlier. The Center Creek Association as early as 1928 (the earliest year for which we have minutes) included churches in Missouri, Arkansas, and eastern Oklahoma.

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