I. Folsom, Armstrong Academy, Choctaw Nation
Minister - Bethel Presbytery - Texas Synod
Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1869, page 77]
Committee on Deceased Minister
Rev. Israel Fulsom [sic], of Bethel Presbytery, April 24, 1870, at home, in the Choctaw Nation, near Armstrong Academy.
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1870, page 27]
When the great lawgiver of Israel was called to die, it was said of him that, though his age was an hundred and twenty, "his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated." So with Rev. Israel Folsom. Though he had attained nearly to the age of three-score and ten, he was buoyant with life and ruddy with heath. His broad, placid face wore ever a serenity which betokened a heart that knew nothing but goodness and love. He was to his people what Moses had been to Israel--a lawgiver and a servant of God. He was ever a prime mover in every thing that pertained to the advancement of his people in all the arts of civilization; especially in education. It was by his individual exertions alone, when his people were ignorantly averse to a change for the better, that he, unawed, succeeded in establishing the system of Public Schools in his Nation. Rev. Allen Wright, a native, and a minister of the O.S. Presbyterian Church, who was the officiating clergyman at his funeral made this remarkable assertion: "It was to him that the female portion of the Choctaws owed their education and their place in society." The writer of this can bear record that he was truly sensible to the reply of Madame Campan to the interrogatory of Napoleon: "That educated mothers were necessary to the education of the youths of France," and put it into practice in the broad sense that the Emperor gave it: "Here is a system of education for the world!" Women were more than slaves in his estimation, and he wanted to raise them from that low degree of degradation and bondage in which they were held by his people. The only way to attain that end was to have educated mothers. There was no backward step with him in civilization. His motto was onward; his beacon-light was in the distance, and for it he steered. He was a friend to all; and, when his neighbor would borrow of him, he turned not away. His friendship for the white man was marked, and he could say with Logan, "My countrymen pointed, as they passed, and said, 'He is the friend of the white man.'" Whatever was good in the trait of man, he had; whatever was evil, he tried to discard. He stood aloof from all that was low and cunning, and held his heart in the hollow of his hand, open and free to all.
He was, by his own natural desire, a minister of the gospel, and from necessity a politician. Two professions so incompatible with each other, placed him in a trying situation. Still, his demeanor was worthy of a Christian and of a gentleman. If ever, in the long line of years that he stood within the political arena of his country, a spirit a rancor was engendered, the sarcasm to which it gave vent was always made to assume the form of a religious rebuke. His education and his influence, as a man, prompted him to take part in the politics of his Nation, in order that every thing tending to the enlightenment of his people might find a place in the law; and the law itself will now bear testimony to his usefulness and influence,
In the company of ladies he was affable and chivalrous, and studied to make himself acceptable and agreeable; never assuming an air of levity unbecoming his age or profession.
Toward little children he was affectionate, instructive, and amusing; and such was his fascination that they were easy in his company, and, without timidity, they would tell him all that was in their little hearts.
As a husband and father, he was kind and affectionate, a good provider, and studied to make home happy.
As a minister of the gospel, he was firm in his faith in God, a true believer in the Bible, and a strong defender of the doctrines and polity of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. A true devotee to the cause of religion, he could say, like Paul, "These hands have ministered unto my necessities." It was his custom to appoint meetings in different portions of the country, and he was always sure to attend, rain or shine. His meetings were always conducted in a spirit of religious resolution, showing that his heart was with his work. The last act of his noble and exemplary life was to appoint a meeting which fell disease prevented him from attending. His work was done! His voice had gone out from the sanctuary for the last time on its mission of good. His days were numbered! God called him to minister before his throne.
Among his last words he told his wife "that he had lived a righteous life--exemplary--that his children might not beg bread." His body was interred with all the honors due his name. His people could remember his greatness and his goodness; and, in consigning him to his grave, their hearts could only speak:
"Peace be with thee, O our brother,
In the spirit-land;
Vainly look we for another,
In thy place to stand."
J. H. Moore.
Boggy Depot, Choctaw Nation.
[Source: Banner of Peace, Vol. XXIX, No. 49, May 26, 1870, page 1]
In our last communication we left Israel Folsom burning his books. After this he attached himself to the Presbyterian Church, where he remained until he united with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which occurred on this wise. He visited brother Provine, a Cumberland Presbyterian minister, in Fannin county, Texas, where he found the Confession of Faith of our Church. "Oh!" said he, "I have found the Church of my mother; the one in which she was converted." He at once wanted brother Provine to take him into the Church, but he declined receiving him at that time; but gave him an appointment to preach at his church in the Choctaw Nation, when he would receive him and any otherds that might wish to join. This satisfied him, and on returning home he published the appointment, telling his people that he was going to join the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, at the same time telling them the difference between the two Churches. That the Cumberland Presbyterians discard the doctrine of fatality, which they understood to be taught in the Westminster Confession of Faith. Many of them said, "If you join that Chruch we will join too. We will go with you."
The result was, that when brother Provine filled his appointment, and received brother and sister Folsom into the Church, there were some ten or twelve others of the same Church to which they had belonged, who united with them, among whom were the following persons: Jeremiah Folsom, brother to Israel, and Solomon Archibald, both elders in the old Church; also Mary Folsom, wife of the said Jeremish. She and the wife of Israel were sisters.
Thus there were three ruling elders received in the new congregation, namely, Israel Folsom, Jeremiah Folsom, and Solomon Archibald, who were all regularly reinstated as ruling elders in the new copngregation; so the organization was complete.
This transaction occurred on the 19the day of July, A.D., 1848, at the old Hu-shuk-wa church, in Blue county, in the Choctaw Nation. This was the commencement of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the Indian Territory. It retained the old name of Hu-shuk-wa and continues to occupy the same place for worship, for the old organization was quite broken up, nearly all of its members having joined the new one. It was taken under the fostering care of Red River Presbytery of Texas Synod, as well as all congregations subsequently organized in the Nation, until the organization of this Presbyery.
At what time Israel Folsom became a candidate for the ministry, or was ordained as a minister, I am not informed. That was done in Red River Presbytery in Texas, from which it is not convenient for me to get the information. But when Bethel Presbytery was organized in 1860, he had evidently been a minister several years, for he then stood at the head of the ministry of his own Church, and continued to retain that standing while he lived.
R. S. Bell.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, October 10, 1878, page 5]
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