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Oklahoma Genealogical Society


 Episcopal Whirlwind Missions

(And a Note About Indians for our Eastern Readers and Some Oklahomans, Too)

From Oklahoma Genealogical Society, Vol. 12, Nos. 1 & 2; For March and June 1967

Transcribed to Electronic form by Jo White



This information was obtained from Reverend Jones after reading the account of the first “Episcopal Vacation Church School” in Watonga in 49 years.  The Watonga Republican, July 15, 1965.  Among those helping with the school was Bill Heuss, whose father is Rector of Old Trinity Church, New York City; Mary C. Southcott of London, daughter of the Provost at the Southern Cathedral in London and several from Tulsa.  Among those attending the Whirlwind services at Watonga is Frank Pendleton, whose father was a Deacon at old Whirlwind.  Frank Pendleton’s father, named David Oakahater, was sent from the Mission to Florida to study to become a Deacon.  He took the name of Pendleton there—no doubt for a respected friend.  Perhaps some Florida Pendleton can add information of interest to Frank Pendleton of Watonga.  A historical marker southwest of Fay commemorates old Whirlwind Mission.  Reverend Vern Jones, Vicar, has as his mailing address—Woodward, Oklahoma.



The Reverend Vern Jones, Vicar, born at Enid, is the grandson of a homesteader who came to Fay in 1894.  The old Whirlwind Mission was established there in 1897.  His father, Cary Jones, knew most of the Mission residents and later carried mail.  Reverend Jones lives at Woodward, Okla., but serves four Episcopal Missions—St. John’s in Woodward; St. Charles at Buffalo; Family of the Good Shepherd at the mental hospital at Fort Supply; and Whirlwind Mission at Watonga.


The old Whirlwind was closed down in 1917.  The Episcopal Indians at Watonga today, mostly Cheyenne, are the children from the old Mission.  In fact there are six generations of Episcopalians in the Goodbear family beginning with Chief Whirlwind, his daughter Twin Woman, her son Turkey Legs, his daughter Winona Goodbear  (Mrs. Richard), her son Leonard Goodbear and his son Leonard Goodbear.


Winona Goodbear is gathering a record of those who were residents at old Whirlwind and has given a number of old photographs—mostly taken at old Whirlwind—to Whirlwind Mission at Watonga.  They include one of the Episcopal Deaconess, Harriett Bodell.


The Episcopal Church in Woodward began services   at Woodward in the fall of 1893 after the Strip land opening.  That late fall the former chapel from old Camp Supply was moved into town to Main Street where it became St. John’s Church.  As far as yet determined, the building was built in 1868—the Centennial of the church building and Diamond Anniversary of the Woodward Church will be observed in 1968.  Tourists stop to see the “Historic General Custer’s Chapel.”  The appellation will do—except for those who want to go back to the truth of things—the dedication of three generations of these Jones families; people like the six generations of the Goodbear family; and benefactors of the first Whirlwind Mission at Fay. Perhaps there are readers or their descendants who remember the call for help to form a Mission way out West in Oklahoma Territory in what is now Blaine County.



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