Rev. Alexander Hamilton Balentine, Sr

Photo added by Laura Jackson

Rev. Alexander Hamilton Balentine, Sr

  • Birth Jan 1817 Churchtown, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Death 21 Feb 1876 Vinita, Craig County, Oklahoma, USA
  • Burial Park Hill, Cherokee County, Oklahoma, USA
  • Plot "Old Fenced Plot" ~ Indicated on signage by Anna Eddings, March 1996, Murrell Home, The Oklahoma Historical Society
  • Memorial ID 8153368

Reverend Balentine actually died in Vinita, Cherokee Nation, Craig County, Indian Territory. Oklahoma Statehood was granted 16 Nov 1907.

Reverend Balentine was a Graduate of The College of New Jersey, and The Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey. He was sent to Indian Territory as a Presbyterian Evangelist, Teacher and Missionary among the Five Civilized Tribes. He was the Husband of Nancy Ann {Anna} Hoyt.

Their Children:

Alexander Hamilton, Jr. (1850-1901)
Ellen Anna (1852-1852)
William Henry,Sr. (1854-1933)
Joseph Addison Alexander (1857-1875)
Jonathan Hamilton (1862-1900)


The Rev. Hamilton Balentine was born January ---, 1817, at Churchtown, Lancaster Co., Pa. His parents both died before he was six years of age, leaving him entirely destitute of the means of support. His early years were spent in the family and service of a farmer in Montgomery Co., Pa., where he distinguished himself by his quickness, intelligence, industry and fidelity. After about two years he was transferred into the service and family of Mr. William Hamill, where the same traits continued to be manifested along with a growing fondness for reading and study. While here he also became hopefully converted. These so attracted the attention and warm regard of intelligent friends that he was aided to secure an education. After attending an ordinary country school some time, he went to Lawrenceville (N. J.) High School, under the care of the Rev. Samuel H. Hamill. Here he studied industriously until fitted for college. In this High School he acted as an instructor for some time. He became also a member of Lawrenceville Presbyterian church.

Mr. Balentine was graduated from the College of New Jersey at Princeton in 1845, [25 Jun 1845] and in the same year entered Princeton Theological Seminary. Here he passed through the fall course of three years, distinguished for his diligence, regularity, and piety, and was regularly graduated in 1848. [29 May 1848] Having devoted his life to the Foreign Missionary work, and an urgent call having come for help to the Indian Missions, he at once proceeded to Kowetah, a station among the Creek Indians, and in July, 1848, devoted himself to his chosen work with an ardor which never abated while he lived. Before going to the Indians he was licensed by the Presbytery of New Brunswick, Feb. 2, 1848. June 14, 1849, he was married to Miss Anna Hoyt, the daughter of a missionary among the Indians. {Nancy Ann “Anna” (nee Hoyt) Balentine was the Granddaughter of Cherokee Chief Tsa Tsi Agi Li aka: Major George Lowrey, Jr. 1770–1852.}

Next year [1850] he was appointed to assist in giving instruction at Spencer Academy, among the Choctaws, and labored there from 1850 to 1852, at which time the board opened a boarding school for females at Wapanucka among the Chickasaws. The buildings at that place were so far completed that Mr. Balentine opened the institution about Oct. 1, 1852, with forty pupils, but they soon increased to one hundred in number. He remained here, laboring efficiently, until the fall of 1855, when he visited Philadelphia for medical advice, owing to severe illness in his family. {Their son, Alexander Hamilton Balentine, Jr. had severe eyesight issues and became totally blind at about age 12. The Reverend and his wife, Anna, sought an Asylum in Philadelphia for him to be trained for an occupation.}

On his return after a few months, he was placed in charge of the boarding school for females at Good Water, among the Choctaws, and continued to labor there until 1858. Early in 1859, he returned to Wapanucka, again taking charge of the school there, and laboring at the same time as an evangelist in the surrounding region. He remained there until after the breaking out of the civil war [U. S. Civil War] in 1861, when all communication with the Board of Foreign Missions was cut off, as well as all support from its funds. Nevertheless he continued to labor zealously for the spiritual good of the Indians, teaching and preaching at various points among them until the beginning of 1876, when, through excessive labors, his health became feeble and precarious. He was finally seized with a fierce attack of pneumonia, by which his life was ended. He died at Vinita, in the Cherokee Nation, Feb. 21, 1876, in the sixtieth year of his age. His dying hours were full of peace and strong faith. Mr. Balentine was an humble, earnest, faithful and self-denying missionary, ever active in the great work to which he had thoroughly consecrated his life and all his powers.

Necrological Reports and Annual Proceedings of the Alumni ..., Volume 1 By Princeton Theological Seminary. Alumni Association, Joseph Heatly Dulles XXXVI. HAMILTON BALENTINE.

From: Rev. Hamilton Balentine Missionary to Cherokees

By O.B. Campbell - Vinita Historian

"This is the story of Rev. [Alexander Hamilton] Balentine, who was as far as known, was the first missionary to serve the Cherokees in what is now Craig County. He began that service in Nov. 1869. But it could also be the story of Rev. Balentine and two other pioneer settlers, for all three had married daughters of Dr. Milo Hoyt, whose wife was the daughter of [Cherokee] Major George Lowrey.

Amory Nelson Chamberlin, who had married Dolly Eunice Hoyt, and moved with his family from Honey Creek to what became known as Pheasant Hill, northwest of Vinita, in the spring of 1868, was one of these pioneers.

The other was Monroe Keys, whose wife was Lucy L. Hoyt and who came to the area in 1872. Rev. Balentine married Anna Hoyt {Nancy Ann/Anna Hoyt}, June 14, 1849. She had been teaching in the Cherokee Nation. Anna was the first teacher in the first school at Tahlequah when it was started in 1845. Her salary was $20 a month and she boarded at the home of Thomas Blackcoat Wolf.

Chamberlin and Keys had served with the Confederacy under Stand Watie. These families formed the nucleus for the community in that sparsely settled region along Cabin Creek. It was as winter was arriving in 1869 that Rev. Balentine reached Pheasant Hill after more than 20 years of missionary service among the Indians. Pheasant Hill was named after a Cherokee who settled there.

Balentine was born January, 1817 in Churchtown, {Lancaster County} PA. His father was Irish. [Likely his Parents were "Scots-Irish" as "Balentine" is Scottish: Persons who fled from Scotland (for various reasons, including religious persecution, war and famine) who settled in Northern Ireland, "Ulster Scots". They rarely mixed with the Native Irish Peoples. Also, those "Scots-Irish" folks emigrated from Northern Ireland to Pennsylvania and became known as "Scots-Irish" there. Not "Scotch-Irish"!] Both his parents had died before he was 6 years old and he, a brother [All of his Siblings were born in Pennsylvania; three brothers: John E. (abt 1811-abt 1888); Samuel (abt 1814-2 Apr 1875) and William "Willie" (22 Feb 1823-11 Mar 1898)] and [one] sister [Sarah Ellen (nee Balentine) Parker (14 Dec 1821-8 Dec 1893)] became wards of families in the area.

[Alexander] Hamilton became a part of the family of Rev. Samuel H. Hamilll at Lawrenceville, N.J. and attended school there. He joined the Presbyterian Church. He graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1845 and entered Princeton Theological Seminary and graduated in 1848.

His work started among the Creeks and in the years that followed he was a missionary and teacher in Indian Territory, serving the Choctaws and Chickasaw. He was at Wapanucka when the Civil War broke out and remained there teaching and preaching at stations in the area. For safety they left for Boggy Depot where Rev. Allen Wright lived. It was there that [Alexander] Hamilton opened a school in which he taught.

"In July, 1868", Mrs. Balantine [Balentine] {Nancy Ann/Anna nee Hoyt} recalled, "in compliance with a request from Rev. Stephen Foreman and Amory Chamberlin, we again left Boggy Depot and returned through the same wild country to the Cherokee Nation to open a school at Park Hill. We arrived there August 4, 1868." After a year, Rev. Balentine, at Chamberlin's suggestion, moved deeper into the Nation to join him at Pheasant Hill. The family left Park Hill Nov. 26, 1869. [Alexander] Hamilton [Sr.] conducted church services and taught in the school. In addition, he was also preaching and teaching at other stations including Paw Paw (later called Timpton) [and possibly "Quapaw"], Vinita, Pleasant Valley and Landrum's schoolhouse. He was later asked to take charge of the new Female Seminary in Sept. 1875. He began serving as superintendent, steward and principal teacher. He became ill early the next year and died Feb. 21, 1876.

At the time one son, William [William Henry Balentine], was attending Westminster college at Fulton, MO. [William was compelled to return home to I.T. to help his Mother and to fill in for his Father, thus not completing his schooling at that time.] Another son, Jonathan [Actually, it was Joseph Addison Alexander Balentine who died at age 18 in 1875. Jonathan Hamilton Balentine died at age 36 in 1899.] had died a year or so earlier. Services were held at Park Hill and burial made in the old mission cemetery there."

Excerpt from: 6 Report of H. Balentine, Superintendent, to Walter Lowrie, Esq., dated Wapanucka Institute, Dec. 15th, 1852. Reverend Hamilton Balentime [Balentine] was a native of Pennsylvania. After completing his college course at Princeton, he came to the Creek Nation in 1844 and served as a teacher at both Tallahassee Mission and Coweta [Kowetah] Mission. Afterward, he taught at Good Water Mission and Spencer Academy, Choctaw Nation. He was appointed superintendent of Wapanucka Institute in 1852, serving for three years, and again in 1859. Before his appointment at Wapanucka, he married Anna Hoyt, [Nancy Anna Hoyt] grand-daughter of Second Chief George Lowery, [Lowrey] of the Cherokee Nation. After the Civil War, he lived at Park Hill for a time, and later moved to Vinita. In 1875, he was appointed superintendent of the Cherokee Female Seminary, by the Cherokee Council. He died of pneumonia on February 22, 1876, "sincerely and deservedly regretted by all who knew him and felt his influence."

—O'Bierne, The Indian Territory, Its Chiefs, Legislators, and Leading Men, p. 138.

Page 426

"While Wapanucka Academy accomplished much in the education of the youth of the Chickasaw Nation, as a national school, after 1868, yet its record as mission institute before the War [U.S. Civil War] will go down in history for its high ideals and beneficent spirit. Its first superintendent, Reverend Hamilton Ballentine, [Balentine] wrote the following statement in July, 1852, prophetic of the influence of Wapanucka:

"The moral and religious training of our children is conducted with reference to their usefulness; and their happiness, in time, and in eternity: and the means employed to secure the ends in view is the Bible; from which we instruct them in the relative duties of life, and the duties that they owe to God their Maker. Our Success in this branch of our labors,— if any,— will be revealed in the future history of our pupils; and peradventure may be read on the pages of eternity."

History of the Pilgrim Presbyterian Church at Vinita Oklahoma

Written by Arthur Fanshaw Chamberlin, father of Mrs. James William Dunnington (Kathryn Chamberlin) of Farmville, VA

This is the story--the very brief story--of the Pilgrim Presbyterian Church of Vinita. It is gleaned from personal manuscripts, family histories, letters, and early records that the church now possesses.

When does a church begin? We are prone to think of the beginning in terms of lumber, bricks, stone and mortar, when, in truth, it is when or wherever believers in Him gather together. So let us turn back the pages to the beginning of the 19th century when Rev. Ard Hoyt and Rev. William Chamberlin were sent from the New England states as missionaries to Brainard Mission in the Old Cherokee Nation. It was William Chamberlin's son, Amory Nelson Chamberlin and his wife, Eunice Hoyt, and Rev. Hamilton Balentine and his wife, Anna Hoyt, who established a school and Presbyterian Mission at Pheasant Hill, located about seven miles northwest of what is now Vinita. Mrs. Chamberlin and Mrs. Balentine were granddaughters of Rev. Mr. Hoyt.

The Chamberlins moved to this, their now home, in the spring of 1868 and in the fall of 1869, Rev. Mr. Balentine and family joined them. There were few families in this vicinity at that time and practically all of them were mixed or full blood Cherokees. Vinita, as a town or village, did not exist.

The first services of the Pheasant Hill church were held in the Chamberlin home; also the first Sunday School. When the weather permitted they moved to the great out-of-doors. Rev Mr. Chamberlin spoke the Cherokee language fluently and preached in both languages. After Rev. Mr. Balentine arrived, a small log cabin became vacant and was used for religious services. Soon a newer house was tendered and the neighbors gathered, cut and hauled logs for an addition. Here, Pheasant Hill was organized and had its first communion service.

Rev. Hamilton Balentine, a graduate of Princeton College and Seminary became the first minister. This was on Sept. 11, 1870. Mr. A. N. Chamberlin was the only elder at this time.

Rev. Mr. Chamberlin spent most of his time teaching and preaching among the full blood Cherokees.

Five years later, Mr. Balentine was moved to Tahlaquah as superintendent of the Female Seminary. Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlin spent their last years at Pheasant Hill.

Mrs. Chamberlin, a graduate of Monticello, was not satisfied with supplying just her own community with a Sabbath School and in the summer organized one at the Tom Bacon home, ten miles north of Pheasant Hill, one at the Dave Landrum home, five miles southeast of what is now Vinita and one in Vinita. The first Sunday School in Vinita met in the M.K.&T. Depot and later, on South Vann St. in a store building that belonged to Jim Bell. She visited these Sunday Schools in turn every Sunday for sometime.

The town of Vinita was growing and there were numbers of people in Vinita, who were members of the Pheasant Hill Church. They would drive out in their wagons and buggies and on horseback to the services at Pheasant Hill.

Through the instrumentality of Rev. Timothy Hill, D.D., who at this time was synodical missionary for Missouri, Kansas, and Indian Hill was indefatigable, both here and in the states, laboring to build the walls of our church in this territory. Although he endured many hardships and discouragements, he was permitted to see it grown, under his paternal oversight and the blessing of God, and the Presbytery of Indian Territory, established in 1884.

Dr. Hill secured the Rev. W. P. Haworth, a resident of Vinita, to work in this community, as the time seemed ripe for Vinita to have a church of its own. At this time, there were fourteen members of the Pheasant Hill church already living in Vinita. On January 28, 1882, these fourteen members were dismissed from the Pheasant Hill church to organize the First Presbyterian Church of Vinita.

Mr. Arthur F. Chamberlin was elected ruling elder. Other charter members were Mrs. Anna H. Balentine, {Nancy Ann (Anna) HOYT Balentine} Mrs. Amanda Goody Koontz, Mrs. Susan Haworth, Dr. Worcester Foreman, Mrs. Emma Foreman, Mrs. Ellen Miller, Miss Fannie Blythe, Miss Fannie Folmire, Mrs. Keller Coody, Mr. Thomas Bluejacket and Mrs. Josephine Bluejacket.

Early in 1883, the Vinita church had twenty five members and two elders. The second elder was Dr. Foreman. Within the year of organization, a church building was being constructed. Arthur F. Chamberlin was elected first superintendent of the Sunday School and Mrs. A. P. Goody Koontz first assistant superintendent. Mrs. Narcissa Owne, mother of Robert L. Owen, was the first organist. The first trustees were Mr. A. P. Goody Koontz, Mr. John Foreman and Mr. A. N. Chamberlin. The fact that Mr. Chamberlin in the Pheasant Hill church was also a trustee of the Vinita church showed the closeness of the two congregations.

The pulpit Bible of the church was a gift of Mrs. William P. Ross. The Communion service was the gift of a personal friend (in Louisville, Kentucky) of Mrs. Hamilton Balentine and the pulpit chairs were the gifts of Dr. McKittrick of the First Presbyterian Church of Saint Louis. The bell which we now have was installed in the first church building was a result of funds raised by the women.

Dr. Timothy Hill dedicated the first church building in Feb., 1884. This was replaced in 1903 with a brick building which in turn was dismantled in 1951 to make way for the new stone Pilgrim Presbyterian Church.

At this time, it might be fitting to mention some more of the men and women who by their work and prayers made the First Presbyterian Church a great spiritual force in our community. In mentioning these leaders it should be remembered that we are very likely omitting many due to the incompleteness of our records.

Some of the elders were David Marrs, E. N. Ratcliff, Joe Butler, C. M. Dunlap, J. A. Leforce, G. E. Lennington, Walter Davis, Wilton Ratcliff - and at one time there were some women elders, Mrs. E. N. Ratcliff, Mrs. R. T. Phillips, Mrs. J. F. Murphy and Mrs. William Malone.

Mrs. Fannie Marks was on all building committees and took much part in the women's work in the church. Mrs. E. N. Ratcliff, Miss Nettie Duncan, Mrs. Bell Stephens, Mrs. William Miller, Mrs. A. F. Chamberlin, Mrs. Nannie Kornegay, Mrs. Arch Goody Koontz, Mrs. Robert Ironsides, Mrs. Gula Davenport, Mrs. Emmett Skinner, Mrs. J. F. Murphy, Mrs. Sophia Bethel, Mrs. Osborn, Mrs. Lydia Taylor, Mrs. J. I. Morning, Mrs. H. R. Warner, Mrs. C. M. Dunlap, Mrs. Fannie Leforce, Mrs. Mollie Balentine, and the always loyal and devoted pastor's wives were others known by their good works. Among the men who were ever ready to help build and carry on the work of the church were T. F. Thompson, who like Charlie Collins, was for many years secretary of the Sunday School. William L. Trott and David Marrs, were two of the devoted early Sunday School Superintendents. J. I. Morning and Him Ratcliff, among other duties had important places in the choir.

It is interesting and encouraging to note that many of the descendants of these men and women are faithful workers in the present Pilgrim Presbyterian Church.

It was in 1947 - that the First Presbyterian church and First Congregational church of Vinita united and became the Pilgrim Presbyterian Church.

The Congregational church itself was closely identified with the development of the educational and spiritual life of the community for many years.

The church was founded in 1879 by a group headed by Joseph Whitefield Scroggs, an educator, who became the first minister for the church. At his suggestion, the American Home Missionary society of the Congregational church established Worcester Academy in Vinita, a school that rendered a great service to this area for many years.

During the life of the church, such names stand out as Mrs. Rebecca Swain, Miss Myrtle Lucky, Mrs. May McCulloch, Mr. and Mrs. L. D. Dalquest, Mr. and Mrs. Otis Cherrington, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Lacey, Mr. and Mrs. Preston Sharp, Mrs. Annie Martin and others.

The merger in 1947 brought into the Presbyterian church many men and women whose lives gave new richness to the spiritual service of the church that became the Pilgrim Presbyterian church. Our rich heritage today has resulted there because devoted men and women gave their lives, prayers, and full stewardship to God.

This is the story of the Presbyterian church and its early founders who built a firm foundation for those who followed. No attempt has been made to recognize the valuable work and services of those who contributed so much the past quarter of a century. Future historians will do that.

Today, we pause all too briefly, to honor those who wrought well for the Glory of God.

From the full text of "Princeton Theological Seminary biographical catalogue, 1909"

1848 *Balentine, Hamilton— born Churchtown, [Lancaster County] Pennsylvania, Jan, 1817; Princeton University, 1845; Princeton Theological Seminary, '45-48 [1845-1848]; ordained, Presbyterian, New Brunswick, [New Jersey] May 29, '48 [1848]; missionary, Creek Indians, Kowetah, '48-50 [1848-1850]; missionary, Choctaws, Spencer Academy, '50-52 [1850-1852]; missionary, Chicasaws, Wapanucka, '52-55 [1852-1855]; missionary, Choctaws, Good Water, '55-58 [1855-1858]; Fort Gibson, '58-59 [1858-1859]; Wapanucka, '59-63 [1859-1863]; Boggy Depot, '63-68 [1863-1868]; Cabin Creek school, '69-75 [1869-1875]; missionary, Cherokees, principal, Tahlequah Female Seminary, '75-76 [1875-1876]; died Vinita, Indian Territory, February 21, 1876. [Succumbed to severe Pneumonia]

Note: Information/opinion passed through the family by the Reverend Balentine's Great Niece (the Granddaughter, Lillian Dell Parker; M1-Widowed 1921: John Kendig Handwork; M2-Lynn Henry "Hank" LeBaron; {Adopted Name: nee Tompkins} of his only Sister, Sarah Ellen (nee Balentine) Parker, that the reason the Reverend attended a "Presbyterian" Theological Seminary, was because "There was no Episcopal seminary in the North at that time"...the areas of Pennsylvania and New Jersey where Mr. Balentine was reared." This was likely her "wish" for it to be so, as she had a very long heritage of the Episcopal Church in her family.

In reality, he likely attended The College of New Jersey and Princeton Theological Seminary, because he was being reared and cared for by Presbyterian men/families who recognized his spiritual dedication, intelligence, diligence in learning and a good work ethic, as they paid for his education. Also, he was a member of the Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. {Janet Handwork-Spencer, Granddaughter of Lillian ~ 30 Jul 2015 Updated 29 Apr 2017}

Family Members



"Missionary 28 yrs. among the Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws and Cherokees. Born in Pennsylvania January 1817. Died near Tahlequah 21 Feb 1876. 'They that shall be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.'"

Gravesite Details Terrill White, thank you for the Transfer of my 3rd Great Grand Uncle, Rev. Balentine's Page! 25 Jul 2015. Thank you Laura Jackson and Laura Marvel for the fine photographs.





  • Maintained by: Janet*Handwork-Parker/Mellen-Taylor
  • Originally Created by: Terrill White
  • Added: 3 Dec 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8153368
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rev. Alexander Hamilton Balentine, Sr (Jan 1817–21 Feb 1876), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8153368, citing Worcester Mission Cemetery, Park Hill, Cherokee County, Oklahoma, USA ; Maintained by Janet*Handwork-Parker/Mellen-Taylor (contributor 47018985) .