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Washita County, Oklahoma

Seger Indian Training School

[note: much more about the Seger family and photos may be seen here (off site link)]

In a newspaper dated June 30, 1932, there appeared this item:

"Effective August 15, 1932, the Seger Indian school at Colony will be permanently closed, according to the El Reno Tribune, which says that most of the pupils will be transferred to the Indian school at Concho. The Seger school is one of eight Indian schools being permanently closed, but is the only one in Oklahoma. Indian pupils from eastern Oklahoma will be transferred to other Indian schools and public schools."

There are four sections in the tract of land set apart for the Indian school at Colony, Oklahoma. More than 1200 acres are in cultivation and approximately 200 acres are in alfalfa. Upon this reservation there are in all some thirty-five structures and of this number there are fourteen or fifteen well constructed buildings, several of the larger ones are built of brick. These buildings are strictly modern, having a complete water system, sewage and electric lights. There are dormitories for both boys and girls; school houses and office buildings for the employees, and an equipped hospital that would be a credit to most county seat towns. There are large modern barns for horses, cows and hogs. Before the order came to dismantle this institution there were perhaps 200 head of fine cattle, many good horses and more than 200 head of hogs. It was a going concern and before the period of depression it was at one time nearly a self supporting educational and industrial school. There were 160 students in the school last year, including quite a number from the Pottawatomie and Shawnee tribes.

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Every old timer who lived in western Oklahoma before railroads and automobiles invaded the country, will breathe a sigh of regret at the passing of the Seger Indian Training School. It was on the Old Trail - the highway where travelers and freighters going and coming from El Reno and other railroad points to the new counties established after the opening of the Cheyenne and Arapaho reservation. The beautiful shady grove, the clear fresh water of Pond Creek, (now known as Cobb Creek) and the cold springs, made this stopping place a haven of rest. Along this creek there were many ideal camping places, - good grass for horses and plenty of wood and water.

John H. Seger, presiding genius of the Seger Indian Training School situated in the heart of a wonderful grove of native timber on the nearly 3000 acres of the school reservation. John H. Seger was nearly always spoken of as "Captain Seger."

When school was in session all of the teachers and other employees and the Indian students and often the Indian parents of these students, gathered in the chapel where a passage of scripture was read, a prayer offered and sometimes a song sung. Mr. Seger conducted these morning services to start the day off right, in a dignified and fatherly manner. It was in these assemblies that the work of the school and business of all kinds was discussed by the superintendent, the teachers and the students. Of course, all visitors were expected to be up and to attend these chapel exercises.

Here was the ideal educational and industrial school where children of the forest and the plains, who were strangers to civilized life, whose parents knew nothing but the chase and the warpath, and who had no conception of farming and industry, were taught to be useful, self supporting members of society. The work was done by the students who were given a share in all crops grown. The farming was planned and all work was done under the supervision of John H. Seger.

Mr. Seger was proud of this school and the work it was doing for the Indians. He had a right to be proud of it for it was his own little kingdom. He selected this location for the school. It was he who took there a large colony of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians from the Darlington Agency and located them upon lands around the Seger Indian Training School, including some of the rich Washita valley a few miles west.

John H. Seger's sole mission was to help the Indians.

The Araphahoe Boarding School opened September, 1872, with 12 scholars, in the main part of the present school building, which was intended to accommodate 35 pupils. Joshua Trueblood was the first superintendent, and the average attendance the first year was about 12. The roll ran up to 35, children coming for clothing, but leaving after a week's attendance to go with their parents on the buffalo hunt. Mr. Trueblood becoming discouraged, resigned after a few months service and was succeeded by Walter Moorland, and he by Henry King, each serving a short term. In 1874 it was difficult to secure a superintendent on account of the warlike demonstrations of the Indians, when Mrs. Miles, wife of the agent, observing J. H. Seger's (plasterer) pleasant relations with the Indians, also the excellent influence he exerted over them, said to her husband, "why not appoint Mr. Seger superintendent?" Mr. Seger was at once appointed, and though not a teacher by profession, he knew good teaching, and very soon had competent teachers and employes in all departments.

Mr. Seger inaugurated a system of industrial teaching and employment for both boys and girls. He took the school under contract the second year and adopted the plan of sharing the proceeds of school industries with the boys who did the work. When Mr. Seger left the school in 1879 the pupils were personal owners of 400 head of cattle.

The Cheyenne and Arapahoe Agency, forty miles northeast of the Wichita Agency, upon the evening of Thursday, December 14, [1876.] The agency is located on the north bank of the North Fork of the Canadian, which has here a wide and fertile bottom. About one and one-half or two miles west of the agency, and upon the opposite side of the North Fork, is the military post of Fort Reno, which was established subsequent to the troubles in 1874 and is still incomplete. Good water is furnished by wells, but the timber in the near vicinity has been mostly used for firewood and building purposes. The most serious defect in the location of the agency is its exposure to the sweeping prairie winds, and the sand which these winds constantly raise from the river-bank upon the one hand and the well-worn roads upon the other. These latter have been worn, or more correctly blown, away in some places two or three feet. This disadvantage was not foreseen by Agent Darlington when he located the agency.

Contributed to the OKGenWeb Washita County site by Marti Graham, August 2003. Information posted as courtesy to researchers. The contributor is not related to nor researching any of the families mentioned.

Source: Perry, Dan W.. "The Indians' Friend John H. Seger." Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 10, No. 3 September 1932. August 16, 2003 <http://digital.library.okstate.edu/chronicles/>.


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