Armstrong Academy, OK Academy Building Fire, Jan 1920
LIKE LOSING AN OLD FRIEND SAYS PARKER AFTER BURNING OF BOKCHITO INDIAN SCHOOL.
Armstrong Academy, Okla. -- (AP)
"It was just like losing an old friend," said Gabe Parker in speaking of the destruction by fire of the old Armstrong Academy buildings near Bokchite.
Mr. Parker, now superintendent for the Five Civilized Tribes, was for 13 years connected with the old Choctaw school in supervisory capacities.
"The school was known and respected throughout the Indian Territory and especially among the Choctaws," said Mr. Parker, who is himself a Choctaw. "Thousands of fine young Choctaw boys have been educated there, and all remember it with much feeling and reverence.
Started in 1834 as a community school for children of the Choctaw settlement, the school has kept on its traditions through over 80 years of ups and downs. The present administration building was erected in 1856, according to Mr. Parker.
"The Choctaws put together the logs for the first building in 1834," he said. "Along in the fifties the building began to deteriorate and the question came up of replacing it or repairing it. The tribal council decided to build a new structure and they made it a good one.
"When we tried to make some repairs down there a few years ago, we found that the building was practically indestructible. The nails were square, forged on the premises. The brick and mortar were put on to stay. It was more of a job to tear out part of the building than to put in the repairs."
Mr. Parker was principal of the school from 1900 to 1904, taking the position shortly after the school was put under government supervision. He was superintendent from 1904 to 1913, succeeding Wallace Butz, insurance man, here. Sam L. Morley, now a McAlester bank president and formerly warden at the state penitentiary was superintendent of the school before Mr. Butz.
"The school used to be literary and academic, but of recent years industrial pursuits have claimed the most attention," says Mr. Parker. "Stock raising, agriculture, manual training and other occupations more suitable to the Choctaw's life are being taught now."
"The school also has military training. During the war dozens of Choctaws who had attended the school were in the war and one made the enviable record of winning the Croix de Guerre -- a posthumous honor."
The destruction of the school buildings leaves the Choctaws with only three schools -- two for girls. They are the Jones Male academy near Harishorne, the Tuskahoma Female academy at Tuskahoma, and the Wheelock Female academy near Millerton.
Because of the government's policy of sending Indians to the public schools, it is doubtful whether the school will be re-established. Insurance on the buildings expired several years ago and was never renewed by the government.
Muskogee County Democrat Oklahoma 1920-01-22