Methodist missionaries worked with the Chickasaw Nation to open a school on the farm in 1848, designed to teach boys to read and write, as well as to grow crops.In 1848 Chickasaw Agent A.M.M. Upshaw reported that a site for the Chickasaw Academy had been chosen. The site would be about 10 miles northwest of Fort Washita and work had begun on the building. This site is now the location of the Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge, formerly Chapman Farms/Washita Farms. Read the Washita Farm Brochure (8.6M)
The new academy finally opened in 1851 under the superintendence of the Reverend J.C. Robinson. There were 60 students during the few months of the session, although the plan was to accommodate 60 boys and 60 girls.
In addition to studies, the boys were to be instructed in agriculture and in the mechanic arts; the "females in housewifery, needle-work, and domestic industry."
The fancy work made by the girl students was exhibited on examination days and sold to visitors; the cash so secured was used to buy books for the library. The missionary society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, contributed one-sixth of the cost for support of the school.
and Teachers of Washita Farms School
- FWS Photo
In 1853 Robinson wrote his annual report to Colonel A.J. Smith, agent for the Chickasaws on August 18, "The past has been a year of checkered events - a mixture of prosperity and adversity...Our afflictions...typhoid, pneumonia, with which we were visited last winter." The cloud passed away and the teachers and pupils were able to resume their duties, until the close of the session on the first of July.
In 1868 Joshua Harley brought his bride, Lucretia, to Chickasaw Nation and went into contract with the Chickasaw Nation as head of the school. They both served as teachers at the institute. Working alongside her husband during these long, difficult years to bring education to the Chickasaw children, Mrs. Harley bore four children, two of whom died in infancy to be buried in the cemetery adjacent to the old Academy. The school under Harley's leadership soon took his name and was known as Harley Institute.
A flood in the early summer (1853) damaged the saw-mill, overflowed the corn field and swept away part of the fence. The water rose in a few hours to many feet higher than had been ever known and the loss to the school amounted to $2,000.
About 170,000 bricks had been burned (fired) for additional buildings at the academy. One such building was to be a three-story structure, 52 feet long by 22 feet wide. Six rooms were to be 19 feet square in the clear, with a fireplace in each. Two small bedrooms were to be cut off the halls on the second and third floors. The new mill was directly across at the south end of the old building, which formed a right angle with the new. A well had been dug 50 feet deep in the yard and it supplied excellent water and a "horse-power" erected for general purposes. Rev. Robinson remained at the academy until 1859. The school became so identified with the superintendent that it was generally known as the Robinson Academy.
In the early 1900's, farm fields extended far beyond the refuge wildlife plantings of today. The residents of Washita Farms, also known as Chapman Farms, not only grew crops in the first half of the century here, but also raised hogs and thousands of chickens and turkeys. The farm encompassed a community of 53 residences, a brick school, frame church, concrete silos, and a concrete store. The store is still used as the refuge office/shop building. Some of the concrete houses are still used by refuge employees.In 1946 the federal government purchased the Roxie A. Chapman Estate as part of a much larger impoundment area for the Denison Dam in Texas, which created Lake Texoma. At that time 16,464 acres of land and water were set aside to become the Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge.
The Harley Cemetery is located on the Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge. You can see the cemetery sign along the entrance road.
This is the former location of the Old Chickasaw Manual Labor Academy, established by the Chickasaw Nation and the Methodist Church.
There is a tombstone in the cemetery for a man named "Cluck". He is not related to the Harley's and the stone is not old.
Joshua M. Harley, born 22 June 1839; died 24 December 1894
Moses J. Harley, born 29 September 1876; died 17 October 1877
Nina A. Harley, born 26 March 1872; died 18 October 1874