Mrs. D. H. Johnston, the subject of this sketch, was born near Bloomfield, Chickasaw Nation, September, 1865. She was the daughter of J. R. Harper, a white man, who came to the territory from Louisburg, North Carolina, and a full-blood Chickasaw lady whose maiden name was Miss Serena Factor, and who assisted in the primary department for a while at Bloomfield when Parson Carr was contractor.
Mrs. Johnston was educated principally at Bloomfield Seminary, but attended Savoy College, in Texas, one term. She began teaching in 1884, near Pennington, ten miles northwest of Tishomingo, while Col. G. W. Harkins was Superintendent of Public Instruction of the Chickasaw Nation. The following year (1885) Mr. Johnston employed her as one of the teachers at Bloomfield, where she continued to teach four years in succession. Her intellectuality, her kind disposition and beautiful countenance won for her a host of friends.
In 1889 the subject of this sketch was married to Mr. Johnston. Since her marriage she has retained her position as teacher in his school, which she occupies at present. One daughter -- Wahneta E., a lovely child -- blesses this marriage. Mrs. Johnston belongs to the house of Incona (In-co-na).
Bloomfield Academy, a Chickasaw school for girls, was founded in 1852 by Rev. J. H. Carr and is located between present-day Kemp and Achille, OK. Control passed to the U.S. government after passage of the Curtis Act in 1898. Bloomfield Academy burned January 14, 1914. Later, Bloomfield Academy was moved to Ardmore.
Sunday, December 9, 1984
BLOOMFIELD ACADEMY RECALLED BY LEVI RETIREE
by John CLift
Herald state editor
Achille - Lela Turner, who will turn 70 in 1985, figures she retired from Levi Strauss in Deniosn just in time. She ended two decades with the Denixon needle operation, when she hit 54 and when Levi's was still a major Denison industry.
Although working in Denison, Mrs. Turner was one of the hundred of Oklahomans remployed in North Texas industries. Since she grew up in Bryan county, she can still remember when the old Bloomfield Academy was a popular Inidan girl's school.
"When I was a small girl I remember going to a funeral for a small child at the old Academy Cemetery, which is across the road and up on a knoll from where the Academy was located. the tiny, wooden casket was carried in a wagon. People either were in wagons, walking or riding horses to the funerals," she said.
The Academy was located 13 miles, southwest of a curve on state 70 south of Achille where the historical marker has been placed. However, unless you knew what you were looking for, there is no way you would find the Academy site.
It sits about a quarter mile off the road back in a grove of trees. The windmill still stands although the Academy burned to the ground in 1914. Au rusty pump is under the windmill, mute evidence of the hundreds of youngsters who went to the well to get their water.
Evar Duckworth of Achille had only fond memories of the Academy.
"I used to go to the Academy when I was small to play with some of the Indian children there. I played o utside frequently, but never went in," she said.
"There were several buildings, barns and other out buildings, but the main academy was a two-story structure that had a veranda porch circling the building a both the ground level and seconf floor level," Mrs. Duckworth recalled.
"Only the concrete walks and foundations are left where the main Academy building existed, but most of the sheds and bars escaped the fire and still are there," she said.
Mrs. Duckworth said there are two stories making the rounds as to what caused the fire.
"Some say it was set by the headmaster who was bucking its move to Ardmore and would rather see it burn than to be moved," she recalled."Then there was the story that there was a young Indian girl from Ardmore who was sent to the Academy solely to torch it so the school could be moved to Ardmore. Frankly, from what I recall best, most folks felt it was the headmaster who did it,. she said.
"After the fire, he stayed on and tended the herd of mik cows and made quite bit of money selling milk and butter," Mrs. Duckworth recalled.
Addording to the marker, after the fire th eshcool did move to Ardmore where it was known as the Carter Seminary for Indian Girls.
Mrs. Duckworth said the school had about 100 Indian girls attending. At least half boarded there, and the rest either walked to school or rode the railroad dinky. The dinky was operated by the Kansas, Oklahoma & Gulf Railroad.
"The dinky had a station at the Academy and after school and on weekends a lot of the girls would catch the dinky and ride in Achille. Those were horse and buggy days and transportation was hard to come by," Mrs. Dickerson recalled.
The overgrown site of the old school resembles Fort Washita before the ruins were restored. However, where Fort Washita wtsill had portions of the old rock buildings standing, Bloomfield Academy had only the old cracked cement walkways and some ramshackle wooden buildings leaning at an askew angle.
The 70 yars that have passed since the fire has resulted in the area being overgrown and in a sorry state. Much of the walks have been washed away but there is enough left to follow to show where the main academy building was located. The walkway to the windmill was well worn, which indicated that it was a busy place.
The old Bloomfield Academy was actually established by the Chickasaw COunci in the early 1850s and it opened officially in 183 with Rev. J.H. Carr as the superintendent. It was under the auspices of the Mississippi Board of Methodists.
It take a little imagination to picture the school in operation, but after walking over the grounds it can be done. It might be an interesting place to take a metal dector and see what it could produce.
Sunday, December 9, 1984
Courtesy of Oklahoma Historical Society
Native American Research
Elaine Nall Bay