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Kingsbury, Cyrus (1786-1870)



Cyrus Kingsbury was born 1786 Nov 22 in Alstead, New Hampshire. He was raised in Alstead, New Hampshire, by his uncle and aunt. Kingsbury received his bachelor's degree in 1812 from Brown University. He furthered his education at Andover Theological Seminary in Newton, Massachusetts, and was ordained on 1815 Sept 19 at Ipswich, Massachusetts.

In 1816, first working for the Connecticut Missionary Society and then the Cherokee Missionary Society, Kingsbury entered into Cherokee territory in Virginia and Eastern Tennessee. Largely inspired by the success of the mission schools Rev. Gideon Blackburn established, he began work to start a mission school of his own. Later that same year, he went before the General Council of the Cherokees and received permission to begin plans for a school. He then bought a plantation on which to build the mission. Work on Kingsbury's school (now known as Brainerd Mission) began in 1817. However, Kingsbury only oversaw the mission for one year before.

In 1818, Kingsbury changed the focus of his missionary work from the Cherokee to the Choctaw peoples. He founded a second mission, this one for Choctaw children, called Eliot Mission. He began working for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, but later switched organizations and aligned himself with the Presbyterian Board of of Foreign Missions and Southern Presbytery Church.

Kingsbury married his first wife, Sarah B. Varnum, on 1818 Dec 24. Together they had two sons- Cyrus, Jr. and John Parker. Kingsbury founded another Choctaw mission on 1820 Nov 20, this one called Mayhew Mission, In 1822, Sarah Varnum Kingsbury died at Mayhew. On 1824 May 10, Kingsbury remarried, tis time to Electa May

When the government began removing Native Americans west of the Mississippi, Kingsbury stayed with the Choctaw people. He and his family moved to Pine Ridge, Indian Territory, in February of 1836. While in the Choctaw Nation he still raised churches and schools. On 1853 July 31 he raised a church in Doaksville, Oaklahoma. His missionary work continued uninterrupted, with the notable exception of the Civil War. Kingsbury died on 1870 June 27. He was the only missionary in the Choctaw Nation.

Collins, Linton McGee. "The Activities of the Missionaries among the Cherokees." The Georgia Historical Quarterly 6, no. 4 (1922): 38.
Mize, Richard, "Kingsbury, Cyrus (1786-1870)", Oklahoma Historical Society (2015).
"This Day in Presbyterian History", Presbyterian Heritage Center (2015).
Walker, Robert Sparks. Torchlights to the Cherokees: The Brainerd Mission. 1st ed. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1931.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Penelope Johnson Allen papers

Identifier: MS-002
Scope and Contents

This collection contains research notes, correspondence, clippings, histories, photographs, receipts, deeds, and research notes on the topics of Brainerd Mission and the Cherokee Indians that were created or collected by Penelope Johnson Allen primarily from 1933 to 1976. The collection also documents the historian's work with the Daughters of the American Revolution to preserve the cemetery at Brainerd Mission in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Dates: 1772-1990
Found in: Manuscripts