The name of this church "Tuskegee" derives from a name of the tribal town of the Creek Indians. When the Creek Indians settled here in 1836, Tuskegee Town consisted of an area from North Canadian River to the Pole Cat Creek in the western part of the present Creek Country. Tuskegee was one of the largest "towns" of the Creek Nation from the close of the Civil War to about 1907.
The families of this community attended other Indian churches of this area who had their own church. From this association with the other Christians, they first started having prayer meetings and services in private homes. One of the homes where services were held mainly was at the home of Dakosar Harjo. It was he who first asked that a church be held with sermon when he was ill at home. His home was located near the church cemetery west of the present grounds. Another place where they held meetings was at the home of Thomas McWilliams, near Vivian, Oklahoma.
As the congregation grew, they became interested in having their own church. They held a vote for selecting a location, which was between Vivian and the present site. This site won over the place at Vivian
This group and friends built the first church building, which was located a few yards west of the present camp of Robert Colbert. It was built with their own labor and resources. All the furniture and building was of logs and is told that the work was done by gifted craftsmen. This building was also used sometimes to hold tribal courts before the Tribal Laws was abolished.
This church was dedicated on March 23, 1867. The guest minister was the Reverend Chilli McIntosh of Big Arbor Indian Church of Fame, Oklahoma. The records from this date on to the time of the second church building was destroyed so there is no actual record of this program. The Church secretary then was Thomas McWilliams. The first pastor elec5ed was Reve4end Pohos Harjo (Phillips).
At the time this area was inhabited the state was not formed and was known as Indian Territory. In 1889 the territory was first opened to white settlers and from that time on the lands came to ownership so laws were made to grant the Indians their lands. This allotting of lands was started in 1891. By 1893 the Tribal Government was abolished. From a new law (Curtis Act, 1893) an acre of land was granted for churches, schools etc. The land for this church was located at the southeast corner of present church grounds. What is now church grounds was allotted to Jonas Barnett. As the first church was already built on this property, it was decided to purchase thirty-nine acres from Jonas. Before the purchase was completed, Jonas died so his sister and brother, Lillie Barnett Bear and Morris Barnett deeded the property to the church in 1908.
Besides the forty acres, the church has twenty acres located directly north across the road. This happened because William McCombs was interested in the spring, which was located on it for church use. He asked Mr. C. E. Foley about it and was told that for that reason he would donate the land to the church. This land was deeded to the church in 1916. To this day the water from the spring supplies the need for the church.
Another two acres of land was donated to this church for a cemetery. This was also a Barnett allotment but as it was originally a family cemetery of this community, it was deeded to the church for a permanent cemetery. It is located west of the church grounds and was deeded in 1930 by Lillie and Taylor Bear.
After the first church, there was a second one built, which was located a few yards to the northeast of the present one. It is not known what year it was built and dedicated or how many years it was in use. This building also served as school and there are still some members who attended. Before the Civil War and up to the First World War, there were many neighborhood day schools throughout the nations, corresponding to the common day schools of today.
The third church building was completed in 1911 and is the present one as it is now with the exception of minor additions and changes. A builder was hired for this building. The members who were on the committee for this work were Bunnie McIntosh, G. W. McCombs and ______. The expenses were paid by the church members and by donations from many friends. There are records of all this work.
The dedication service was held on August 9, 1911. The Pastor Reverend James McCombs Sr. made the special address. A song and dedication prayer was offered by William McCombs who sang, "Come Holy Spirit". At the closing of service, Deacon Thompson Colbert led the same song and offered a prayer. There is a complete record of the occasion in the church records, which was taken by the church secretary, Bunnie McIntosh.
The arbor was completed in 1917. The two members on this committee were James McCombs and Lewis McGilbrary. They planned the structure and were in charge of the construction. This was built through church collections and donations from those who wished to contribute.
The present stage was built in 1931 also from church collections. Most of this work was done by Rufus Cummings of Hilabee Church.
The stage inside the church was built in 1939. This need was suggested by Mrs. Bette Drew.
The additions of classrooms onto the present church house was started in 1959. The expense was met through church collections and donations. The members on the committee were
PASTORS OF TUSKEGEE INDIAN BAPTIST CHURCH
The first ordained minister who was elected as Pastor of the church was Pohos Harjo (Phillips). He served as Pastor from the time the first church was built and started as an organized Indian church until his death in _______. He lived near the Artussee community. He was buried in his family cemetery at Artussee and is located one and one-fourth miles south of the Artussee Indian Church.
The second Pastor was Reverend James Colbert. He attended the Indian Missions and was graduated from the Seminary at Louisville, Kentucky. His wife was Matilda and they lived near the present home of Joseph Colbert. He died in 19__, and is buried in a family cemetery, which is located one mile north and half-mile east of Vivian, Oklahoma.
The Reverend James McCombs Sr. was the third Pastor. He attended school at Asbury Mission, Eufaula, Oklahoma. Also attended a school at Denton, Texas for a brief time. He was ordained as Minister and pastor on the same date in 1907. He served from this time until his death in December 1928. His home was in the Vivian community where his family still resides. He was buried in the church cemetery.
After the death of Pastor McCombs, the Reverend Joe Colbert was elected in January 1929, a month after the vacancy. Reverend Colbert was the son of former Pastor, James Colbert. He attended schools at the Coweta Mission and Eufaula Mission. He lived at the present home of the family. He died in 194_, and is buried in the church cemetery.
(Kelley Funeral Home records indicate that Joe Colbert died 7 Sep 1953 :rgl)
The fifth and present Pastor is Reverend James McCombs. He was elected in 19__. He became a minister in _____. He attended schools in this community and briefly at Chilloco Indian School. He is a veteran of World War II. He lives west of Eufaula and is married to the former Phippie Charles who is a member of the Okfuskee Indian Church.
After the death of Reverend James Colbert, the church had some of the ministers and exhorters of the church serve as temporary chairman until a Pastor was elected. Those who served in this capacity were Sam Foster, Watson Washington, Johnson Phillips and William McCombs
MINISTERS OF TUSKEGEE CHURCH
These names are listed in order of their ordination as Ministers but do not have the exact date each was ordained.
|Rev. Kitto||William McCombs||Bunnie McIntosh|
|James Colbert||Watson Washington||Tucker Marshall|
|Timothy Barnett||George Jackson||Robert Colbert|
|Lewis Tiger||James McCombs Sr.||James McCombs Jr.|
On this date the last two names are present Ministers.
LEADING SISTERS OF TUSKEGEE CHURCH
The leading Sisters were elected in order listed through the years.
|Milley McWilliams||Sara McCombs||Leah McIntosh||Ellen McCombs|
|Metilda Colbert||Milla McCombs||Polly Marshall||Leah Colbert|
|Sallie McCombs||Mary Frances||Alice Colbert||Lilly Bear|
|Lizzie Colbert||Nancy Posey||Leah Wecochee||Geneva Colbert|
DEACONS OF TUSKEGEE CHURCH
The Deacons were ordained in order listed of which three are no dates on all of them.
|Dakosar Harjo||David McCombs||Thompson Colbert||George Barnett|
|Jim Barnett||Charles Barnett||William Gano||Silas Marshall|
|William Colbert||Isaac Washington||Roman Barnett||James McCombs|
|Thomas McWilliams||Jonas Smith||G. W. McCombs||Joseph Colbert|
|Thomas Jones||Jonas Henaha||Robert Colbert||Ben Marshall|
On this date, James McCombs Jr. and Robert Colbert are Ministers. G. W. McCombs is a member of Wekiwa Indian Church of Sand Springs. Silas Marshall is a member by letter of High Spring Indian Church at Tonkawa. The last two listed and George Barnett are present deacons.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]