In 1817 [Isaac McCoy] received an appointment as missionary to the Indians of Indiana and Illinois. After his departure for his work the influence of Daniel Parker grew rapidly in the southwestern part of Indiana, and the missionary spirit waned. Mr. McCoy was appointed for one year, but had no thought that he should cease to labor for the red man at the expiration of that time; his plans embraced many years.
* * * * *One of the severest trials that Mr. McCoy was called to bear was that during his absence from home sickness and sometimes death would visit his family. Five of his children were called by death at different times while he was absent from home.
Rev. Isaac McCoy
Early Baptist Indian Missionary
The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881
Rev. Isaac McCoy, the great apostle to the American Indians, was born in Fayette Co., Pa., June 13, 1784. He came with his father to Kentucky in 1790. In 1801 he was converted and joined the Buck Creek Baptist church. In 1803 he was married to Christiana Polk, daughter of Capt. Polk, whose wife and several children were captured by the Ottowas. Mr. McCoy and his wife were afterwards missionaries to that tribe.
In 1804 he came to Vincennes, Ind., and in 1805 removed to Clarke County, same State. He had a marked influence upon the churches and Associations of that part of the State. No one of the great benevolent enterprises of the denomination was allowed to pass unnoticed. Living in a part of the country where Antinomianism was industriously taught, he exerted himself to counteract its baneful influence. He was licensed to preach by the mother of all Indiana Baptist churches, — Silver Creek. In 1810 he was ordained by the Maria Creek church. In 1817 he received an appointment as missionary to the Indians of Indiana and Illinois. After his departure for his work the influence of Daniel Parker grew rapidly in the southwestern part of Indiana, and the missionary spirit waned. Mr. McCoy was appointed for one year, but had no thought that he should cease to labor for the red man at the expiration of that time; his plans embraced many years. After spending some time in Western Indiana, it occurred to him that he should move to Fort Wayne and establish a mission. He labored there till 1822, when he established a mission about one mile west of where Niles (Michigan) now is. He named it Carey, after the English missionary. Mr. McCoy and his wife entered upon this missionary work with all the zeal and strength of faith that characterized the life and labors of Mr. and Mrs. Judson. And their faith did not fail. Deprivations, sicknesses, and sorrows such as but few mortals know were not strangers to them. Mr. McCoy rode hundreds of miles through the wilderness, and swam the swollen streams, lying on the wet ground at night, for the sake of carrying forward his missions. He went on horseback to Washington several times to interest Congress in measures beneficial to the Indian. Many months would be occupied in these journeys. One of the severest trials that Mr. McCoy was called to bear was that during his absence from home sickness and sometimes death would visit his family. Five of his children were called by death at different times while he was absent from home. Persons of narrow selfish views would readily call him cruel and indifferent, but men who could rise to his plane of devotion to the work that he believed God had given him can see that his loyalty to the Master was superior even to parental affection. No man loved his wife and children more than he.
Many conversions occurred at the Carey mission. The hymns composed by him on the occasion of the first baptism at Fort Wayne and at Carey are expressive at once of his great joy and his great hope of what would yet be done for the Indian.
He records that the greatest obstacle by far that he was obliged to meet in his labors for the conversion of the Indians was the introduction of whisky among them by white men. So great were his annoyances at one time that he decided to send several of his Indian pupils East to be educated, so that they might become teachers for their own people. They found a ready welcome at Hamilton, N.Y.
His labors at Washington were to secure a territory for the Indians into which the white man might not intrude his wicked commerce. This he regarded as the only sure hope for the Christianization or civilization of the red men. He lived to see some of the tribes settled on their own territory, industrious and happy. In his labors for the passage of such acts as he recommended to Congress he speaks of the sympathy and co-operation afforded him by Spencer H. Cone, William Colgate, and others of his brethren.
Oct. 9, 1825, Mr. McCoy preached the first sermon in English ever delivered in Chicago or near its site. In 1826 he gave up the personal superintendence of the Carey mission for the purpose of selecting lands for the Indians farther West. He made surveys west of the Mississippi River, and several times went to Washington to communicate facts to Congress and to lay his plans before that body. In 1840 he published his "History
of Indian Affairs," a volume of 600 octavo pages, and full of interest. In 1842 the American Indian Mission Association was formed, and he was made secretary, with headquarters at Louisville, Ky.
In June, 1846, as he was returning from Jeffersonville, where he had preached, he was caught in a rain-storm, from the effects of which he died in a few days at his home in Louisville.
"His life and labors were truly the connecting link between barbarism and civilization in this region of the country and over a large portion of the West. His perseverance and devotion were morally and heroically sublime. For nearly thirty years he was the apostle to the Indians of the West." His last words were, "Tell the brethren, never to let the Indian mission decline."
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