John Davis and Joseph Islands: Indigenous Missionaries among the Creeks in Indian Territory

By Faught, Jerry L., II | Baptist History and Heritage, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

John Davis and Joseph Islands: Indigenous Missionaries among the Creeks in Indian Territory


Faught, Jerry L., II, Baptist History and Heritage


The Muscogee Indians, better known as the Creeks, (1) and recognized as one of the Five Civilized Tribes, (2) lived along the Chattahoochee River in Georgia and Alabama when white settlers began arriving. (3)

Whites in Alabama and Georgia pushed forcefully for the removal of all Native Americans from their borders, while United States government officials communicated to them that they would have to move west to a "happy home" because the government could not protect them from oppression by white intruders. (4) The Creeks were divided into two parties, the Upper Creeks and Lower Creeks. The Lower Creeks, whose leaders consented to the sale of their lands and removal, migrated to Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma during the late 1820s and early 1830s after the government ratified treaties authorizing the sale of Creek lands. Although the Upper Creeks largely opposed the sale of their lands and removal, they arrived in Indian Territory not long after the Lower Creeks when they were evicted from their lands by the government and forcibly removed to their new home. (5) By 1836, perhaps as many as 15,000 to 20,000 Creeks had made the trip along the "Trail of Tears" and had settled in a part of Indian Territory known as the Creek Nation. (6)

John Davis (c.1810-c.1842), a full-blood Creek, arrived in Indian Territory with one of the earlier Creek groups of immigrants in 1829 and served as a pastor and missionary. In 1842, not long after Davis's death, Joseph Islands (c.1810-1848), another full-blood Creek who had immigrated to Indian Territory by way of Georgia, became a Christian and immediately began ministering to his people. This article examines the missionary work of Davis and Islands, Oklahoma's first Baptist indigenous missionaries to the Creeks, underscoring their unique contributions as well as the daunting challenges they faced as they labored among their own people.

John Davis: Pastor of the Creek Nation

Born in Alabama of Creek parents, (7) Davis as a boy was taken captive during the War of 1812 and raised by a white man. (8) Davis became a Christian as a youth while attending a mission school operated by Lee Compere, who had been ordained as a Baptist preacher in his native country of England. In 1817, at the age of nineteen, Compere arrived in America after serving for a brief time as a missionary in Jamaica. In 1820, Baptists in Georgia opened Withington Mission among the Creeks on the Chattahoochee River near the line between Alabama and Georgia; and two years later, the American Baptist Board of Foreign Missions appointed Compere to lead the mission school after another missionary resigned. (9) In 1826, Compere reported that of twenty-seven students studying at the mission, twenty were reading the New Testament and twelve were studying subjects such as arithmetic, grammar, and geography. (10)

While a student at the mission in 1827, Davis converted to Christianity. He studied diligently, distinguishing himself as one of Compere's brightest students. Compere described Davis as "intelligent and sober minded." (11) Davis often served as an interpreter for Compere, having developed the ability to speak both Creek and English fluently. (12)

Davis likely attended the mission school every year until it closed in 1829. The mission shut its doors primarily because of the removal of the Creeks and the opposition to Christian preaching on the part of the Creeks. (13) Missions among the Creeks in their original territories proved to be quite a challenge for a variety of reasons. The Creeks had been friendly to Great Britain during the second war between the United States and Great Britain that had only recently ended. The Creeks now found themselves under the authority of a government that wanted to move them beyond the Mississippi River. The tribe members were also bitter about having lost a number of their people in the war, and they were angry that white hunters had intruded into their lands forcing Creek hunters to travel beyond the Mississippi River during the years 1815 to 1830. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

John Davis and Joseph Islands: Indigenous Missionaries among the Creeks in Indian Territory
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.