Cherokee Christians (Part 3)

In 1853, James Jenkins Trott was once again asked to serve as a missionary to the Cherokee tribe. Lacking finances, the actual ministry was delayed for three years. Despite this setback, he traveled three thousand miles through Arkansas and Missouri, raising a total of $166./1
Determined to move into Indian Territory, Trott resumed his work with the Cherokees in late 1857. From Arkansas on January 10, 1858, he reported: “After six weeks of toilsome and extensive travel we found ourselves, on the 24th of November, in the midst of old friends and hospitable relatives. Our location we consider a favorable one. We are 26 miles west of Fayetteville, Arkansas, about halfway between the Southern and Northern boundaries of the Cherokee Nation and some three miles from a Christian Church composed in part of citizens of the Cherokee Nation.”/2 According to these directions the congregation he established must have been in the vicinity of Fort Gibson./3
In 1859, a congregation in Franklin, Tennessee decided to help his efforts. Disturbed by the fact that the Cherokees were receiving harsh treatment by white officials, this congregation, along with the aid of several other Tennessee congregations, took charge of supporting Trott and his family. Tolbert Fanning, one of the most influential men associated with these congregations, said that the decision to select Trott was reached through prayer, fasting, and the extension of the right hand of fellowship./4 Within a year, there were seventy-five Cherokee Christians meeting on Sundays in Indian Territory.
Although Trott was dedicated to work among the Cherokee people, he had a dream of seeing all Indians west of the Mississippi River evangelized. Before arriving in Indian Territory, he wrote: “The Cherokee Nation is only a part of a great missionary field in the far west. The whole Indian territory west of Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas is inhabited by thousands and tens of thousands of the children of Shem, Ham and Japheth. A great number of whites and Negroes live in the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Cherokee countries, the former by marriage or permit, the latter as slaves. In Kansas and Nebraska, the Indians have reservations, and the residue of the territory is being rapidly settled by thousands of whites. If our missionary society intends to do anything in the great missionary field of the world, a more promising field cannot be found on the globe than Indian Territory.”/5
1/ James J. Trott, “The Indian Mission,” Gospel Advocate 2 (March 1856), 110.
2/ Trott, “Mission to the Cherokees,” Northwestern Christian Magazine 4 (April 1858), 317.
3/ J.R. Frame, “An Indian Mission,” Christian Standard 9 (April 18, 1874), 122.
4/ Herman A. Norton, Tennessee Christians (Nashville: Reed and Company, 1971), 54.
5/ Trott, “Evangelizing in South Carolina,” Gospel Advocate 3 (April 1857), 112.

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