CHC acquires Stephen Foreman belongings
Cherokee Heritage Center Curator Callie Chunestudy places drawers into the appropriate slots of a chest that once belonged to Rev. Stephen Foreman, a prominent 19th-century Cherokee. Billy Wear, of Springfield, Missouri recently donated the chest to the CHC. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Items once belonging to Rev. Stephen Foreman, a prominent 19th-century Cherokee, that were recently donated to the Cherokee Heritage Center include the New Webster Dictionary and Complete Vest-Pocket Library, “The Life of Rev. David Brainerd” book, an 1844 Cherokee Almanac, parts of Old and New Testaments in Cherokee and a Cherokee hymn book. Foreman’s descendant, Billy Wear, and his wife Susan, recently donated the items to help preserve Cherokee history. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Rev. Stephen Foreman
PARK HILL – A donation that reflects a part of Cherokee history was recently made to the Cherokee Heritage Center. Billy Wear and his wife Susan, of Springfield, Missouri, donated a chest of drawers that belonged to Rev. Stephen Foreman, a prominent 19th-century Cherokee.
Wear is Foreman’s great grandson, and it was Wear’s grandmother’s wish to one day donate the chest to the CHC to retain Cherokee history. The chest came over during the forced removal of the Cherokee people in 1838-39 from southeastern United States to Indian Territory.
Callie Chunestudy, CHC curator, said the chest most likely came over on a barge or boat.
“Wealthier people didn’t have to do the walking in the Trail of Tears. If you were wealthy you could put all your stuff on a barge and send it and then you traveled by wagon or something else. So it wasn’t quite the hardship,” Chunestudy said.
The chest belonging to Foreman is handmade although the type of wood it’s made of is unknown.
“When you look at the dresser there are readily seen signs that this is handmade and not made by machines or in a factory. The detailing on the drawers, one can easily see that there is no uniformity in size, cut or width. While they are all done very well, it is obvious it is done by hand,” former CHC archivist Jerry Thompson said.
Thompson said the dresser is “in great shape for it’s age” though there have been a few modifications over the years to help keep it maintained such as sanding, refinishing the top of the dresser, replacing broken pieces and adding support to certain areas where needed. He said after all these years the chest only suffers slight wood deterioration and was well taken care of.
Chunestudy said the chest would be displayed in a future exhibit when appropriate.
Other items acquired by Foreman after removal and donated by the Wears are the New Webster Dictionary and Complete Vest-Pocket Library, “The Life of Rev. David Brainerd” book, an 1844 Cherokee Almanac, parts of Old and New Testaments in Cherokee and a Cherokee hymn book.
Foreman was born in the Cherokee Nation East in 1807 to John Anthony Foreman, of Scottish descent, and Wattie (Elizabeth), a Cherokee.
He worked for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions doing mission work and translating documents and news into Cherokee for the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper in 1829, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society.
During the Trail of Tears, he was a Cherokee delegate to the U.S. government and protested the removal by writing letters to the ABCFM and voicing his disdain for the way Cherokees were being treated and forced to leave their homes due to the “so called treaty,” as he wrote in one of the letters.
“My determination, and the determination of a large majority of the Cherokees, yet in the Nation is never to recognize this fraudulent instrument as a treaty, nor remove under it until we are forced to do so at the point of the bayonet,” one of his letters states.
After removal, Foreman and his family settled in Park Hill. He held many important positions in the CN, including being a signer of the 1839 Cherokee Constitution, the first superintendent of Education for the CN and an associate justice of the CN Supreme Court. He died Dec. 8, 1881.