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St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma

St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma

Founded in February, 1888, one year before Oklahoma was opened to settlement and barely a year after Purcell was established as a junction point on the Santa Fe, St. Elizabeth is one of Oklahoma's most famous old schools. Money for the grounds, buildings and teachers was paid for by Miss Katherine Drexel of the wealthy Philadelphia Drexel family. She had become interested in educating the Indians through the efforts of Father Vincent Jolly, O.S.B. The school was under the charge of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Philadelphia Foundation, Mother House in Glen Riddle, Pa. These photos in this album were taken while the Payne sisters (Anna Laura, Fay, and Lois) were boarding students at the school, in the late 1920's and early 1930's. They were in Anna Laura Payne Strong's possession until her death in 2004, and are now in the possession of her son, Charles Strong.

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Payne, Anna Laura ca 1931
Payne, Anna Laura ca 1931
This photo of Anna Laura was taken shortly before her marriage to Homer Strong, and soon after her graduation from St. Elizabeth's academy in Purcell, Oklahoma. At the time the photo was taken, Anna Laura was with her cousin Mary Pat Sparks. They were going to St. Elizabeth's to pick up Anna Laura's sisters, Fay and Lois, for a school holiday break.  
 
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St. Elizabeth's Academy, Established 1888, Purcell, Oklahoma
St. Elizabeth's Academy, Established 1888, Purcell, Oklahoma
Founded in February, 1888, one year before Oklahoma was opened to settlement and barely a year after Purcell was established as a junction point on the Santa Fe, St. Elizabeth is one of Oklahoma's most famous old schools. The spacious, roomy, two-storied frame building, set in a grassy plot with a peaceful background of slender poplars, elms and cedars, is still a thing of considerable beauty. For many years it was the only educational landmark in an unsettled area, and the sight of students playing about its grounds, supervised by the black-robed nuns, against the bright southwestern skies, has become familiar to nearly all Oklahomans who have lived here any length of time. When St. Elizabeth's convent was founded, in 1888, Purcell was a part of the Chickasaw nation of the old Indian territory, and the gateway to the great ranching empire which lay to the west and south. The country then was all pastureland, heavily wooded and a ranch of 10,000 to 20,000 acres was commonplace. Most of the settlers were Chickasaws, but here were also Choctaw families, and a good many white settlers. All were eager to send their children to school and the news that St. Elizabeth's convent had opened in Purcell was welcomed far and wide. Families packed their children and brought them to board and room at the convent, or if there was no space there, boarded them in homes and they attended day school. Three eager young nuns, all now dead, of the Order of St. Francis, made their way west from Philadelphia and arrived in Purcell on Feb. 14, 1888. At the time there was under construction a three-room frame building on the same lot where the Benedictine priests had built a one-room church. Sunday services were conducted in the church which on week days was converted into two school rooms by hanging a heavy carpet to form a partition. By November, however, the new three-room frame building was completed and enrolment consisted of 120 pupils. Ages of these pupils ranged from 6 to 18 years. Soon, there were 25 boarders, then 50. Money for the grounds, buildings and teachers was paid for by Miss Katherine Drexel of the wealthy Philadelphia Drexel family. She had become interested in educating the Indians through the efforts of Father Vincent Jolly, O.S.B., who taught at the Sacred Heart academy situated in unsettled wilderness in what is now Pottawatomie county. Father Jolly, accompanied by Father William Capital, took turns in coming to Purcell to hold services. Father Jolly told Miss Drexel of the Indian boys and girls who needed educational opportunities, and described the great wilderness, which pioneers were still to conquer. One church was unable to bear the expense. But Miss Drexel could and did for 60 years. Miss Drexel furnished money for the grounds, buildings and early support, and a new building site was selected in 1891 by the Very Rev. Ignatius Jean, Benedictine priest, while Rev. F. Steven, director of the Indian bureau, gave the plans of the building to Miss Drexel. At her instigation, Archbishop Ryan of Philadelphia designated the Sisters of St. Francis of the Philadelphia Foundation, Mother House in Glen Riddle, Pa., to take charge of the mission. Miss Drexel also offered to pay of the sister's support. In an area known as Love's pasture, named for the late Robert Love, Purcell's founder, who proved to be very helpful to the new school, ground was broken and the building erected which still stands today. On the second floor near the chapel is a bronze plaque dedicated to the founder, the late Father Vincent Jolly. Government support by which the Indian girls' tuition was paid in part by the government was withdrawn in 1932......(Causing the sisters) to run the institution on practically no income except from Miss Drexel. For some time the sisters kept the girls without government aid from their own slender resources as teachers. Continued maintenance soon became impossible. The school shut its doors for good in 1948. (Excerpted from an August 15, 1948 article in the Daily Oklahoman about the closure of St. Elizabeth's) 
 
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St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Student
St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Student
Alice "Ida" Cotner, late 1920's to early 1930's 
 
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St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Students
St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Students
Anna Laura Payne and Alice "Ida" Cotner, around 1931 
 
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St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Students
St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Students
Fay Payne and Jessie Rice 
 
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St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Student
St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Student
Hazel Weller, late 1920's to early 1930's 
 
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St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Student
St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Student
Jessie Rice, late 1920's to early 1930's 
 
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St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Student
St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Student
Lela S.(unknown), a student, in the late 1920's to early 1930's. PLEASE HELP US FULLY IDENTIFY Lela, whose last name is Unknown 
 
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St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Students
St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Students
Marion UNKNOWN and Hazel Weller (Students), late 1920's to early 1930's. PLEASE HELP FULLY IDENTIFY Marion 
 
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St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Montage of Students from the Scrapbook of Anna Laura Payne, a 1931 graduate, from the mid 1920's
St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Montage of Students from the Scrapbook of Anna Laura Payne, a 1931 graduate, from the mid 1920's
Please help us identify the students from this photo montage, from the scrapbook of Anna Laura Payne, a 1931 graduate of St. Elizabeth's. Based on the Student Directory, 1888-1968, it is thought the students pictured include Evelyn CUNNINGHAM (later married a Carpento and moved to Canada), Irene DUMAS, Ida KRESS (later married a Singleton and remained in Purcell), Margaret "Maggie" MARTIN, Mary HAYES (married to a McIntosh) and Ruth HAYES, Helen FERRY (later married a Proctor), Anna Laura ("Minnie Ha Ha") PAYNE (later married Homer Strong and lived in Duncan, Oklahoma), "Pa" H. UNKNOWN, "Fama" R. UNKNOWN, Not Labeled-Unknown, "Pat" UNKNOWN (possibly Pacunda COLBERT or Paticia CUTTER), Louise UNKNOWN (possibly Louise McCLURE or Louise MICHAEL), Dorothy "Dot" ROY, and Nora LAWRENCE (later married a Yoakum) 
 
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Payne, Anna Laura ca 1926 at St. Elizabeth's Academy
Payne, Anna Laura ca 1926 at St. Elizabeth's Academy
From her St. Elizabeth Scrapbook 
 
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St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Students
St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Students
Two students, Pauline and Velma, in the late 1920's to early 1930's, with Shep, the dog. Donna Barnard thinks that Velma, on the right, is her Aunt Velma (Janes) Bullock, born in 1915.

Please HELP US POSTIVELY ID THESE STUDENTS.  
 
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St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Students
St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Students
PLEASE HELP US IDENTIFY the Unknown students in this picture

Top Row: Appears to be one of the RICE sisters from Noble, Oklahoma

Middle Row: Unknown, Bessie Gentry PAYNE (the mother of Lois and Fay PAYNE)

Bottom Row: Lois Marie PAYNE, Fay PAYNE, UNKNOWN

Please help us identify the unknown Students 
 
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St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Payne and Rice sisters
St. Elizabeth's Academy, Purcell, Oklahoma, Established 1888; Payne and Rice sisters
Top Row: Fay PAYNE, Anna Laura PAYNE, Jessie RICE

Bottow Row: RICE Twin, Lois PAYNE, RICE Twin 
 
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Payne, Anna Laura ca 1931, High School Diploma
Payne, Anna Laura ca 1931, High School Diploma
High School Diploma from Saint Elizabeth Academy in Purcell, Oklahoma, a school established for Native American students by Miss Katherine Drexel of the wealthy Philadelphia Drexel family, and run by the Sisters of St. Francis 
 

Linked to Anna Laura Payne