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The Beginning of Tulsa
By J. M. Hall (1927)
(c) Karolyn Kay Garland (1997)
Nothing here is free for the taking. This book is reproduced here with the permission of the copyright holder - see copyright statement.
Rev. W P Haworth (con't)
erection of the town's first school and church building.
The building was put up at what is now the southeast corner of Fourth Street and Boston avenue, where the pretty, slender Cosden building stands. School began in the fall of 1884 although Mrs. Haworth, the pastor's wife, and Miss Ida Stephens, of Vinita, the first teacher, taught in private homes before the building was completed.
From the first day of this mission school in 1884 to the last session in 1899, a chapter of the Bible was read and prayer offered each day.
Rev. W. P. Haworth came from Vinita to Tulsa in 1884 to superintend the erection of the Presbyterian Mission school building and church combined. He preached a few sermons from the porch of the Hall store. As soon as the school building was erected he held preaching services there.
He organized the First Presbyterian church of Tulsa on October 5, 1885. The writer was present at the organization and remembers the pastor's text, taken from John III:16.
By an act of Presbytery all members of the Wealaka Mission church living on the north side of the Arkansas river were made charter members of the Tulsa church. Fifteen members, all Indians, were transferred by this act. Most of them lived in the country south of what is now known as Broken Arrow. They lived too far to attend services and few of them ever became affiliated.
Taylor Postoak, a full-blood Creek Indian being an elder in the Wealaka church, became first elder of the Tulsa church. He could not speak English and attended but one time. He was called on to lead in prayer and he did this in the Creek tongue.
Reverend Haworth was pastor until 1888 when his ministry came to a tragic end.
The Tulsa of that year was wild and woolly. Reverend Haworth preached one Sunday night condemning the law violations by some of the village's citizens. The following night one of the men he had condemned unsparingly slipped up behind him as he was walking home, knocked him down and left him unconscious. He resigned from his sorrowing church and went to California where he died a few years ago.
Looking backward to the old Mission building at Fourth street and Boston avenue, and to the organization of the First Presbyterian church with its 15 Indian charter members, and comparing these with the present commodious church buildings at Seventh street and Boston avenue and the present membership of more than 3.000, the writer may be pardoned if he pronounces the superlative "wonderful."
The First Presbyterian church was organized in the old Mission school building. Services were held there for a number of years. In 1899 a frame church building was erected at the corner of Fourth street and Boston avenue, where the Pioneer building now stands. In 1911 a larger building was needed and it was erected at Seventh street and Boston avenue A few years ago this edifice was also outgrown and the present magnificent building added. The church has had a number of pastors. When it was a missions church and largely supported by the home mission board none of the ministers remained longer than a few years.
Since this church was the first organized, and adding to its influences those of the Mission school, the author feels secure in his statement that it has had more to do with making Tulsa a moral and church-going community than any other one agency.
There have been many unreliable reports regarding the beginning of this church. Some time ago a visitor to Tulsa said that at one time the board of home missions of New York intended closing its doors. This report is not true. This man evidently meant the mission school, which was closed in 1899.
OTHER CHURCHES ORGANIZED
The First Methodist Episcopal church was the second to be established in Tulsa. While Dave Allen, a cowboy preacher, was holding revival services in the Mission school building in the latter part of December, 1886, and the early weeks of January, 1887, the presiding elder of the Methodist church in Kansas came to Tulsa. He came on a Saturday and asked permission to organize a church of his denomination the following day during the Allen meetings. The permission was gladly extended him. The writer was present at the organization of this church, too.
Reverend Bowden was the first pastor of this church, He and Mrs. Bowden lived in one small room on Cincinnati avenue, near the railroad, for some time. Later the congregation built a church and parsonage on North Main street. This was soon outgrown and a brick structure was erected at Fifth street and Boulder avenue but it, too, proved inadequate and the congregation is completing a splendid new building at South Boulder and Twelfth
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