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Bloomfield Academy (Oklahoma) facts for kids

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Bloomfield Academy Site
Chickasaw Nation's Bloomfield Academy.jpg
Bloomfield Academy prior to January 1914 fire, exact date of photograph unknown
Nearest city Achille, Oklahoma
Built 1852
NRHP reference No. 72001055
Added to NRHP November 15, 1972

Bloomfield Academy was a Chickasaw school for girls founded in 1852 by the Reverend John Harpole Carr, located in the Chickasaw Nation in Indian Territory, about 3 miles (4.8 km) southeast of the present town of Achille, Oklahoma. It was a boarding school funded by both the Missouri Conference of the Methodist Church and the government of the Chickasaw Nation. Rev. Carr was a licensed Methodist preacher who had joined the "Indian Mission Conference" in 1845 and traveled around the Doaksville circuit for six years. His first wife, Harriet, died in 1847. Carr continued his work for the school and remarried in 1852. The new Mrs. Carr joined the faculty, teaching music and "fancy work" to the girls.

The Academy closed during the Civil War, and the property was taken over by the Chickasaw Battalion, a Confederate Army unit. After the war, Carr was appointed to a new position by the Methodist Church South, He had married his third wife in 1865, and the couple moved to Texas. The Chickasaw Nation government took control of Bloomfield Academy and reopened it in 1867. A series of superintendents followed. Perhaps the most notable of these was Douglas H. Johnston, who remained in the post from 1880 until 1895. In 1897, Johnston was elected governor of the Chickasaw Nation, a position he held until the Chickasaw government was abolished by Oklahoma Statehood in 1907.

Responsibility for the Academy was taken by the Federal Government, and the school continued in its former surroundings until 1914, when most of the buildings were destroyed by a fire. The school moved to Ardmore, Oklahoma. The school was made coeducational and renamed Carter Seminary in 1934.

In 2004, Carter Seminary moved to a new location on Lake Texoma, where it operates at present.

Pre-Civil War

In the fall of 1847, the Missouri Conference appointed Rev, Carr to superintend the construction of Bloomfield Academy in the Choctaw Nation. In 1852, he selected a site and began the construction, even performing some of the manual labor himself. Carr married has second wife, Miss Angelena Hosmer, a native of Massachusetts, in June, 1852.

Funding was always tight. One source was an annual contribution of $1000 from a fund that Congress has voted for George Washington, but which the former president had set apart for educational purposes. The Choctaw Nation and later the Chickasaw Nation contributed two-thirds of the annual operating expenses, while the Methodist Board contributed one-third. Expenditures were held down because Rev. Carr, a skilled woodworker, performed all of the carpentry and cabinet work himself. In addition, he also raised corn, wheat and potatoes on the Academy property. He even added two orchards producing peaches, plums and apples. Mrs. Carr was the teacher of handicrafts ("fancy work") and music.

Prior to the Civil War, Bloomfield's curriculum consisted of basic academics, domestic and religious topics. Domestic classes covered sewing, cooking and housework. Religious instruction mainly involved memorizing Christian scriptures, which the missionaries wanted to replace Chickasaw traditions. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Bloomfield and all other boarding schools in Indian Territory closed.

Civil War

Right after the firing on Fort Sumpter, which opened the US Civil War, the fathers of many of the students enlisted, and their families called their girls home. Bloomfield Academy closed in May 1861. The Carrs continued to live at the site, but Angelina Carr died there in September, 1864. During the war, the facility was used as a free private school. Initially, the Chickasaw Battalion, a Confederate Army unit, planned to occupy it, but there was not enough space for all the soldiers, so the Carr family was allowed to remain. The soldiers camped outdoors and used a small building in the yard for a doctor's office. They also used the sitting room for stores and the school house as a hospital. Near the end of the war, Rev. Carr learned that his oldest son, Joel Henry, who had been promoted to first lieutenant, had died of a gunshot wound.

Post Civil War

Leadership

Rev. Carr married his third wife, Miss S. J. Johnson, in August, 1865. In September 1866, the Indian Mission Annual Conference met at Bloomfield. Carr was appointed Presiding Elder of Choctaw and Chickasaw District. The Carrs left Bloomfield in December 1867. They settled in Paris, Texas. No longer Presiding Elder, he served for a while as a supply (substitute minister) on the local circuit as needed. Family illnesses caused him to leave this work and take a job at a furniture store. Rev. Carr contracted pneumonia and died on December 29, 1876.

The Chickasaw government reopened Bloomfield Academy as a coeducational school in the same year. Captain Frederic Young was put in charge for the first year. Dr. and Mrs. H. F. Murray succeeded Captain Young as superintendent for two years. Professor Robert Cole then led the school from 1870 to 1875. Professor J. E. Wharton was superintendent from 1876 to 1880. He was followed by Robert Boyd, who resigned in 1882.

In 1876, the Chickasaw legislature provided for the Chickasaw Manual Labor Academy, a school for Chickasaw boys. Bloomfield Academy once again became a school for girls only. Douglas H. Johnston and his wife completed Boyd's term, then received a new 5-year contract. Mrs. Johnston died during this time, and Johnston remarried in 1885. The couple remained at Bloomfield until 1895. Then Johnston was elected governor of the Chickasaw Nation. Johnston popularized education among the Chickasaws. Professor Elihu B. Hinshaw succeeded Johnston and served until 1906. Hinshaw is credited with obtaining a charter from the Chickasaw Legislature that allowed Bloomfield to confer diplomas on students who completed the school's curriculum. J. R. Hendricks served after Hinshaw, and was succeeded by Annie Ream Addington, who remained in charge until 1914, when the main building burned down. Instead of rebuilding, Bloomfield Academy relocated to Ardmore, Oklahoma.

Postwar curriculum

The focus of the curriculum had changed. According to the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, the aim was "...to educate students to become leaders, to participate in both Indian and white communities, and to help Chickasaws transcend significant social and economic boundaries." Domestic training was eliminated and religious training was deemphasized. The academic training became more like that of a junior college. The school became known as the "Bryn Mawr of the West."

Control passed to the United States government after passage of the Curtis Act in 1898.

After relocating to Ardmore, Bloomfield resumed operations. In 1934, it was renamed as Carter Seminary. The new name honored Charles D. Carter. In 1949, Carter Seminary became co-educational and boarded Native American children from all over the United States. In 2002, plans were made to relocate the Seminary to 160 acres of land on Lake Texoma, near Kingston, Oklahoma creating a Chickasaw Children's Village. The new facility opened in 2004 and continues to operate until the present.

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