By MATT CRANE
As a part of the year-long celebration of Starkville’s 175th birthday, Jack Forbus begins a series of summer speakers with his presentation, “The Road from Mayhew Mission,” 7 p.m. tonight at the Starkville Public Library.
Forbus said what began as a look into his own church’s history grew into a deeper amazement at the origins of the Starkville-Oktibbeha County area.
“First Presbyterian Church grew out of the Mayhew Mission,” he said. “The more I dug, I found things that were absolutely fascinating.”
Forbus said the mission was initially started about 1818 to 1819 as a government-backed operation in an effort to provide mission fields to the Choctaw.
“The Mayhew Mission was an effort to spread the gospel to the West, which we were still considered because we had yet to cross the Mississippi River,” he said. “It was in operation for 12 or 13 years.”
Forbus said it was Cyrus Kingsbury who lead the charge in establishing and naming the mission.
“Kingsbury had tremendous missionary zeal and wanted the Choctaw to not just hear the gospel, but see it through his life and actions,” he said. “He named the mission after a family who worked with Native Americans in Martha’s Vineyard for six generations.”
Forbus said a cemetery located 8 to 9 miles out Old West Point Road is the only thing that remains from the original mission.
“Along with mission work, they built schools, a church, a brickyard and even a blacksmith shop,” he said. “Settlers came to the area we now call Starkville around 1831 after the Treaty of the Dancing Rabbit.”
Forbus said the treaty of 1831 saw the largest exchange of Native American land, over 10.5 million acres, when the Choctaw were forced to relocate to Oklahoma traveling the tragically historic Trail of Tears.
“They left with nothing but what was on their backs,” he said. “This particular area had to move the first Americans out of their own country.”
Forbus said while Kingsbury traveled with the Choctaw to Oklahoma, one family from the original mission continue to live in Starkville.
“Of some of the founding families, the Bardwell family is still here and very active,” he said.
Forbus said he has been giving this particular presentation for the past 10 years and enjoys sharing this story.
“The history of me doing this was because I became interested and I wanted to share this information,” he said. “This is important because Mayhew Mission effects everyone in Starkville.”
“The Road from Mayhew Mission” presented by Jack Forbus begins at 7 p.m. tonight at the Starkville Public Library. For more information, call 662-323-2766.