Thursday, August 2, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday - In the Words of Rev. Joseph Smedley (my 4x great grandfather)

I wrote a few weeks back about the lovely man who contacted me regarding letters and a sermon he stumbled upon that are in the hand of my 4x maternal great-grandfather, Rev. Joseph Smedley. Let me give you a small background, Rev. Joseph was born in the United Kingdom (1790), he went to school there, went to a seminary (of sorts), became a minister, met and married his wife Mary Ann Ratcliff (1820), they soon started their family. He came to America in 1830 on the Ship the Arab via Philadelphia. His wife Mary Ann and 6 of the children came to America a few months later in 1830 on Brig Agnora via New York. They maintained a life and church family in Pennsylvania up until 1834 when he was acknowledged and commissioned not only as a teacher by the US Government (for the Native Americans being moved to Oklahoma), but also as a missionary for the Methodist faith. Rev. Joseph and Mary Ann went on to have two more children, she passed and Joseph was left to raise his children, teach, preach and live among the Native American peoples, specifically the Choctaw in what is now Le Flore County, Oklahoma and a 50 mile circuit of stops he made on horseback.

So, back to those letters I would like to share a letter and its translation. This is TRULY a family Treasure!!! P.S. There are VERY historically famous people mentioned herein.


To The Hon Choctaw Council:

I beg respectfully to present this appeal to your Hon. Body for the following Reason. The Treaty of 1864, says That all Missionaries to the Choctaws who have been such five consecutive years, shall be allowed a gr. sec. of land as as a home for themselves and families. The following facts will shew that I have been such a Missionary from the year 1844 till the commencement of the War.

"To all those it may concern. I hereby certify that the Bearer, the Rev. Joseph Smedley, this sixteenth day of Sept. 1844, was duly appointed Missionary to the red people, particularly the Choctaws West of the State of Arkansas, by the Board of Managers of the American Indian Mission Association in Louisville in the State of Kentucky. Isaac Mc Coy, Cor. Sec"

I continued my services to your people till Nov 27, 1855, and then was reappointed by the Rev. Joseph Walker, together with seven Choctaws, as Missionaries to their own people, as follows, Joseph Smedley 600 dols a year _ Peter Folsom as Interpreter 400 _ Lewis Cass 100 dols _ Shoonuby 100 dols _  Simon Hancock 100 dols _ Ishiatuby 100 dols _ Artumley 100 dols _ Atrumely's Brother 100 dols.
Apl 27, 1855, Mission Rooms, Marion, Ala. Joseph Walker Cor Sec.

The above Missionary services were independent of my employment as a Teacher in pay of the U. S. Government. I located a piece of land without interfering with any ones improvement; and all I ask of your Hon. Body is to allow me, in any way your wisdom may deem fit, to occupy the improvement I have made, till the Country becomes sectionized.

With sentiments of the highest esteem,
yours faithfully,
Joseph Smedley

P.S. I have four surviving children namely, John Ratcliff Smedley, Benjamin Bucknall Smedley, Samuel Henry Smedley, and Narcissa T Goddard_ all with families except to Samuel H.

As a side note of family history here, Benjamin was allowed to live on the land but it was eventually taken away from him by the Choctaw Nation and given to someone of Blood to the Nation.

Next week I will post and translate his sermon on the Lord's Supper, it's beautifully written.

Please note these letters are nearly 160 years old.

Happy hunting,

~ Alisha


  1. Thank you sharing this Treasure Chest i like it very much.

  2. Dear Alisha,
    This is a fantastic find. I am working on material that I think will illuminate some critical points in the blog post here. One very important point, Rev. Joseph Smedley was a Baptist minister, not a Methodist minister. He was recommended for service by the Seventh Baptist church in Philadelphia -- 1834. Isaac McCoy was a noted Baptist minister who actively campaigned for Indian removal. I would very much like to discuss this with you further please contact me at
    Dr. John M. Rhea