Tag Archives: Cherokees

293 – Oct. 20 – This Day in Baptist History Past


His schools received no federal funds


1823 – The Triennial Convention, meeting in Washington, D.C., made mention in their report, that Duncan O’Bryant was the missionary-teacher at the Tensawattee Baptist School, where he had a total enrollment of twenty-eight students, among the Cherokees in Georgia. O’Bryant was born in the late 18th century in S.C. By 1820 he had moved to Habersham County, Georgia with his wife Martha Whitehead. Under the influence of a Franklin County Baptist preacher named Littleton Meeks, he became burdened for the Cherokee Nation. As the Cherokee removal under President Jackson progressed, O’Bryant maintained schools in three different sites with nearly two hundred children in attendance. He said that the “…greater part were able to read the Word of Life, and to write a fair hand…” During 1830-31 O’Bryant had a circuit of four preaching points including the Tinswattee Baptist Church. There were a large number of Cherokees in these congregations, and, on some occasions, U.S. troops who had been called in because of the turmoil and violence of those times. On Jan. 27, 1832, O’Bryant left Georgia to go west, where he settled in the northeast part of Oklahoma territory. He soon gathered the remnants of his congregation into the Liberty Baptist Church and reopened his school without receiving federal funds. He died of malaria at the age of forty-eight on August 25, 1834, and was survived by his wife and ten children. He escaped the trail of tears in 1838-39. [Robert G. Gardner, Viewpoints of Georgia Baptist History (Atlanta: Georgia Baptist Historical Society, 1988), 2:42. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. 573-75.]   Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon


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A long and arduous ministry of over forty years
December 05, 1792 – Joseph Smedley was born in Westmoreland County, England. This is where he professed Christ and became a member of a Baptist church. After emigrating to the U.S., he applied to the Fifth Baptist Church of Philadelphia for membership, and a committee was appointed to investigate the matter and report to the church. Upon investigation, they discovered that he had been excluded by a church in England, and they would need time to determine the facts. On Aug. 23, 1834, in the absence of a letter, they decided to receive him into the church based on his confession of his Christian experience and on his approval of the church’s confession of faith and discipline. It shows the importance Baptist churches placed on church membership. The following month Smedley requested a letter of dismission in order to go west, where under the advisory counsel of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions and the employment of the U.S. Government, he became a teacher and missionary among the Indians. During this time his wife Mary Radcliff died in July of 1836 and left him in the care of seven children. In spite of this loss, he continued his ministry among the Choctaws, Creeks and Cherokees in an area of 80 miles west of Ft. Smith along the Arkansas and Canadian rivers. Smedley organized the first black Baptist church in Ft. Smith in 1856. He continued his missionary work, but the Civil War greatly curtailed his ministry. After the outbreak of hostilities, he was able to make only occasional visits to his churches. After a long and arduous ministry of over forty years, Smedley died on Aug. 27, 1877.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 507-08.

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