The late Emmy Stidham honored
It was a sultry morning at Honey Springs Battlefield on Saturday as staff held the annual memorial service honoring the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Honey Springs near Checotah. The memorial service was held outside on the lawn of the visitor center.
Site Manager Adam Lynn welcomed everyone who came out to the ceremony and the Presentation of Colors was given by the Color Guard and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Honor Guard.
Grover Wind, Secretary of Veterans Affairs with Muscogee (Creek) Nation gave the invocation and Mvskoke citizen Anne Townsend-Edwards sang two beautiful hymns in her native language.
Executive Director of the Oklahoma Historical Society Trait Thompson, honored the late Emmy Stidham for her many years of service through the Friends of Honey Springs and the Oklahoma Historical Society.
“Ms. Emmy was such a warm presence here and she just absolutely loved telling the history of Honey Springs to us all,” Thompson said. “We cannot let this Battle of Honey Springs Memorial pass without a few words about Sarah Emmaline (Scott) Stidham known to all of us as Ms. Emmy.
“This is the first memorial service Emmy has missed since they began in the 1960’s and though she is not here in body, I am positive she is here in spirit.
“Emmy was a tireless supporter of Checotah and was among the original group who started to preserve Honey Springs battlefield. Without the work of Emmy and others, we would not be here today in a new Visitor’s Center on a small Battlefield with over 1,000 acres. Staff that worked on the planning group for this Visitor’s Center joked that it was being built with Ms. Stidham’s corn chowder. Every time the working group met, Emmy made her famous corn chowder and those in attendance brought containers to take away all the leftovers. She was always a gracious host, making cookies for the memorial service, gathering homegrown tomatoes from her friends and helping serve sandwiches.
“Emmy was a founding member of the Friends of Honey Springs Battlefield and served as the membership chair for many years. In 1981 she was elected to the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Historical Society and she served as president from 2011-2014. During her board service, Emmy served on the Historic Preservation Committee promoting historic preservation across the state and especially in Checotah. I know that Ms. Emmy is looking down on us today and that makes my heart happy. So we are all thinking about you today, Ms. Emmy.”
John Beaver, curator for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Cultural Center and Archives, was the guest speaker of the ceremony and spoke in depth of the many tribes who filled Indian Territory then and now and how important it is to preserve the land and the history for future generations to come.
After the program, the Color Guard retired the colors and The Friends of Honey Springs Battlefield hosted its annual meeting following the ceremony.
The service commemorates the largest of approximately 107 documented Civil War military engagements throughout Indian Territory in present- day Oklahoma. The engagement took place at the Honey Springs settlement, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, on July 17, 1863, just two weeks after the famous Battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg. Approximately 9,000 Union and Confederate troops, mostly Native and African Americans, were involved in the Battle of Honey Springs. Of those, approximately 200 total casualties were suffered. After a decisive Union victory, Confederates lost control of Indian Territory north of the Arkansas River. The Union victory also ensured Federal control of Fort Gibson in Indian Territory and Fort Smith in Arkansas.
For more information regarding the memorial service and Honey Springs Battlefield call 918-617-7125 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.