Wheelock Academy

From Asylum Projects
Jump to: navigation, search
Wheelock Academy
Opened 1832
Closed 1955
Current Status Preserved
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location 3mi East of Millerton, Ok
Alternate Names
  • Wheelock Mission School
  • Choctaw National Academy



History[edit]

Wheelock Academy, established in 1832 as a church, opened a mission school for Choctaw girls the following year. The church and school were overseen by physician and missionary Alfred Wright and his wife Harriet; who had traveled with the Choctaw tribe when they were expelled from their homeland and forced into Indian Territory. In 1839, Wright expanded the school by adding a large dormitory building and the school became the first Choctaw National Academy in 1842. Wright died in 1853 and Rev. John Edwards was named his replacement as Superintendent.

Children attending the Choctaw academies were ten to sixteen years old. When the boarding schools for females first opened, the girls were taught given English names and told that all instruction would be in English. They were forbidden to use their native language while they were at the school. The curriculum included sewing, making clothing and doing household chores. They also learned business skills, reading, writing and spelling in the English language. Additional courses included Arithmetic, music, and geography were also taught, and in some schools pupils learned algebra, geometry, chemistry, and philosophy.

Allegations of abuses abound at Wheelock Academy. Some members of the Choctaw Nation accuse children were regularly beaten, and stories of rape and the murder of children and babies exist at Wheelock.

It was closed during the Civil War (1861-1865) and briefly reopened until a fire in 1869. The Choctaw Nation rebuilt the facility in 1880 - 1884, with assistance from the Southern Presbyterian Church. Although the Presbyterian Home Missions Board and the Federal Government became involved in administering the school, it remained owned and financially supported by the Choctaw Nation. The 1898 Curtis Act had required the gradual closure of all tribal schools. By 1930, Wheelock and the Jones Academy in Hartshorne, Oklahoma were the only remaining Choctaw schools. In 1932, Wheelock became a United States Indian School. In 1955, its functions were merged with Jones Academy, and the Wheelock site was closed permanently

It is owned by the Choctaw Nation and is listed as a National Historic Landmark.

Local legend connected with this Wheelock Mission says hauntings at Wheelock Mission began in the 1890's when a white man broke into the girls’ mission and murdered some of the girls. Witnesses say that the walls and trees bleed, and apparitions sit in chairs or hang from trees. A Native American paranormal team also claims to have documented the voices of several girls who died at the school.