Name: Sherman COOLIDGE
Given Name: Sherman
_AKA: Runs on Top
Birth: 1 Jan 1862 in Goose Creek, Wind River, Wyoming
Death: 24 Jan 1932
_PRIMARY: Y 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Change Date: 13 Jul 2013 at 17:10:23|
Father: Charles Austin COOLIDGE b: 19 Jul 1844 in Boston, Massachusetts
Mother: Sophia Wagner LOWREY b: 1850 in Pennsylvania
Grace Darling WETHERBEE b: Jul 1873
22 Oct 1902
in Cheyenne, Laramie, Wyoming 8
- Effie COOLIDGE adopted b: 1898 in Wyoming
- Virgie COOLIDGE adopted b: 1900 in Wyoming
- Sarah Lucy COOLIDGE b: 4 Mar 1907 in Utah
- Sophia Hope COOLIDGE b: 5 Sep 1912 in Minnesota
- Rose Austin COOLIDGE b: 1913 in Minnesota
- Title: Encyclopedia of North American Indians
Author: Frederick E Hoxie
Publication: Houghton Mifflin, New York, New York, 1996
Page: page 133
Text: COOLIDGE, SHERMAN (1862 - 1932)
Native American leader and minister
Every now and then an individual of remarkable accomplishments and unique experience is forgotten as history is recorded. Such is the case with Sherman Coolidge. Coolidge's life is a story of irony and contrast that unfolded during a critical period for American Indian populations.
Runs-on-Top, later to be known as Sherman Coolidge, was born in 1862 near Goose Creek, in the Wind River country of Wyoming. His parents, Banasda (Big Heart) and Ba-ahnoce (Turtle Woman), were Arapahos. The Arapahos were almost continually at war with the Shoshones and Bannocks while also being involved in conflicts with federal troops. When Runs-on-Top was seven years old, his father was killed by a war party of Bannocks who were attempting to steal horses. Runs-on-Top, his younger brother, and his mother escaped by crawling under their tipi cover and hiding in the brush until the fight was over.
In the spring of 1870, the Arapahos were attacked by a large contingent of Shoshones and Bannocks near the present site of Lander, Wyoming. Runs-on-top and his younger brother were taken captive during the raid, but their mother escaped. Eventually, the boys were given to American troops by the Shoshones and Bannocks. Their mother, after learning where the boys were, decided to leave them in the care of the military for their safety. The two youngsters remained with the army at Camp Brown, Wyoming, and were taken in by military families. The younger brother, Little One-Who-Dies-and-Lives-Again, was cared for by Captain Laribee and re-named Philip Sheridan, after the famous general. Runs-on-Top was befriended by the Camp Brown surgeon, Dr Shapleigh, and was re-named for William Tecumseh Sherman. Young William Sherman caught the eye of Captain and Mrs Charles A Coolidge, who were childless, and in late 1870 the pair adopted him. William Sherman became Sherman Coolidge.
Coolidge was treated well by his foster parents, who encouraged his education and rapid assumption of white ways. Over time, the boy began to mirror the dress, habits, and manners of white children from fine families. At the age of nine, he was baptized by the Episcopal bishop, the Reverend Southgate, and was enrolled at the Shattuck Military School in Faribault, Minnesota. An exemplary student, he consistently ranked in the upper quarter of his class.
As Coolidge grew, his memories of his early life among the Arapahos faded. His foster parents encouraged him to perform to the best of his abilities and to strive for perfection. The Coolidges knew that segments of the white community would resent Sherman because of his Indian ancestry, but they hoped that a good education would enable him to overcome these prejudices. Ironically, Sherman accompanied his adoptive father west in 1876 while Captain Coolidge was involved in campaigns against the Sioux. It was druing that same year that Sherman began to consider becoming a missionary among the western tribes. Initially the Coolidges tried to discourage him, but they eventually enrolled him in the Seabury Divinity School, near Chicago. In 1884, Coolidge graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree and later that same year was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church by Henry B Whipple. Shortly thereafter, Coolidge proceeded to the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming to undertake his first church assignment.
The Wind River Reservation was originally established for the Shoshones. Later, the Arapahos were placed on the reservation with their old adversaries, and the two groups occupied opposite ends of the reserve. Upon his arrival at Wind River, Sherman was greeted by his mother, Ba-ahnoce, who had learned of his impending return from a local missionary. After so many years of separation, Coolidge felt somewhat alienated from his mother, but the two maintained cordial relations and he eventually persuaded her to convert to Christianity. During his first years at Wind River, Coolidge worked as a mediator between the tribal factions and helped secure a tentative peace between the groups.
In 1887, Coolidge enrolled at Hobart College in Geneva, New York, to continue his theological studies. He completed his courses in 1889 and was ordained to the priesthood before returning to the Wind River Agency. Back in Wyoming, he ministered to the needs of Indians and whites alike and traveled extensively to perform services for outlying communities. While Coolidge was engaged in his church work, he met Grace Wetherbee, the daughter of an affluent New York City couple, who was visiting an old school friend. Grace was also interested in church work, and the two began a long-term relationship that would culminate in their marriage in October 1902. Numerous people had counseled against a mixed-race marriage. Yet when an announcement of the marriage appeared in the New York Times, headlined "Indian Husband Approved," the opening line read: "Father of Miss Wetherbee who married Arapaho, gave full consent."
Grace Coolidge worked hand in hand with her husband as he ministered to the needs of the Wind River community. She began to write about her experiences on the reservation, and many of these stories were published in Collier's Weekly and the Outlook. Sherman worked diligently on behalf of American Indians and in 1911 became one of the founding members of the Society of American Indians. The society was the first prominent Indian-controlled rights organization in the country, and Sherman remained an influential figure in the group for a number of years. Grace's writing led to the publicaiton of TeePee Neighbors in 1917, a collection of touching vignettes of life on the Wind River Reservation in the early twentieth century. The Coolidges raised two daughters, Sarah and Rose, and adopted a number of Indian children. Sometime after World War I Sherman transferred to Colorado Springs, Colorado, and served in churches in that state. He died on January 24, 1932, and Grace died five years later, in1937.
George L Cornell (Sault Ste Marie Chippewa) Michigan State University
- Title: Federal Census 1880
Page: Minnesota, Rice, Faribault
- Title: Federal Census 1900
Page: Wyoming, Fremont, Shoshone Indian Reservation
- Title: Federal Census 1910
Page: Wyoming, Fremont, Wind River Reservation
Note: Episcopal church minister
- Title: Federal Census 1920
Page: Colorado, Denver, Denver
- Title: Federal Census 1930
Page: Colorado, El Paso, Colorado Springs
Note: Episcopal church clergyman
- Title: Indian Census Roll - Deaths
Page: Wyoming, Wind River, Shoshone
Note: Died 24 January 1932 Colorado Springs, El Paso, Colorado
Date: 1 Apr 1932
- Title: Newspaper
Page: New York Times, 23 October 1902
Note: MARRIED AN INDIAN
Miss Grace D Wetherbee Met Bishop Sherman Coolidge in the West
Miss Grace D Wetherbee, daughter of Gardner Wetherbee, one of the proprietors of the Hotel Manhattan, was married yesterday in Cheyenne to Bishop Sherman Coolidge, a full-blooded Arapahoe Indian, and a graduate of Hobart College. Miss Wetherbee that was met the Bishop some years ago while she was traveling in the West. At that time he was doing missionary work among the people of his tribe in Colorado. As a result the engagement was announced a year ago when the Bishop came to the East.
The Bishop, who is now about thirty-five years of age, comes by his American name as the result of an adventure of his extreme youth. When he was a boy he was captured with many others, by the Bannock Indians. The party of captives were rescued by a detail of United States cavalry. In the detail was Lieut A C Coolidge, now a Captain, who adopted the young Indian.