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Christiana Polke McCoy DAR Dedication Service

At Dedication Service on May 4, 1986, at Union Cemetery, Kansas City, Missouri, by the Independence Pioneers Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, honoring a daughter of a Revolutionary War soldier. Copied by Christie Russell from the files of the Westport Historical Society, Westport, Jackson Co., Missouri [Kansas City, Missouri] 1998.

Christiana Polke McCoy

Christiana Polke McCoy was born November 12, 1787, in Nelson County, Kentucky. Her mother was Delilah Tyler, who married Capt. Charles Polk in Virginia in 1774. Capt. Polk was a cousin of President James K. Polk. Delilah was related to President John Tyler.

During the Revolutionary War, Charles Polk served in the Frontier Militia in Virginia, prior to moving westward to Kentucky in 1780. Capt. Polk served with General George Rogers Clark in the Indian wars on the Frontier.

In 1782, before Christiana was born, her mother, Delilah, and four of her children were captured at Kincheloe's Station in Kentucky, by Indians who raided the fort. (For many years afterward, this was known as the "Burnt Station".) Mrs. Polk and her children were marched hundreds of miles by the Indians to Fort Detroit, then a British fort. Others were captured with her and many died from fatigue and thirst during the exhausting march. Delilah was finally permitted to send a letter to Captain Polk, informing him of their whereabouts and safety.

The celebrated Simon Girty, a friend of the Indians in their war against the white settlers, out of friendship for Capt. Polk, aided in the safe return of the Captain's wife and children through Indian lands back to Kentucky. This constituted one of the few humane acts known to have been done toward the whites by Girty, who was called the "Frontier Butcher".

Christiana married Reverend Isaac McCoy in 1803, who became a Baptist minister and missionary to the Indians, and spent 30 years in the wilderness of Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Indian Territory, aiding her husband in his benevolent work of teaching, feeding, clothing and Christianizing the Indians and their children in Missions he established. The suffering and hardship she experienced is almost unbelievable, but she seemed to have drunk from the same spirit as her husband and entered zealously into the labors in behalf of the Indians. It was McCoy's plan to colonize the Indians on lands to be given them in the West that culminated in the passage by Congress of the Indian Act of 1830. He was commissioned by the Government to survey the Indian Territory and mark the boundaries of lands assigned to various tribes prior to their removal -- now Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

Two cities stand today that were McCoy Indian Missions -- Niles and Grand Rapids, Michigan. There is a beautiful stream in Northern Indiana, in Elkhart County, named after this fine, dedicated lady, called "Christiana Creek"; and Christiana Lake in Cass County, Michigan, took its name from this creek.

Isaac and Christiana had fourteen children. Only four outlived their father, and Christiana was survived by only one -- John Calvin McCoy, our city's founder [Kansas City, Missouri]. She died at her son's home, "Woodside", in 1851, and was buried in the McCoy family cemetery near the State Line at 55th Street. Remains of the cemetery were removed to the Union Cemetery by the McCoy family, and by the J.C. Nichols Company later when the area was developed.

Isaac McCoy moved his family here in December, [27] 1831. After a few months at the home of his son-in-law, Dr. Johnston Lykins, he patented a tract of land and built a home, called "Locust", in June-July, 1832, which was the site of St. Luke's Hospital. (There is a note in McCoy's papers on which he listed the cost of building the home as $259.37!) Christiana's wandering days were over -- she never again lived in tents or make-shift shelters in the wilderness. Her last home was built for her by her son, John Calvin McCoy, on Pearl Street in the new Town of Kansas (Kansas City), overlooking the Missouri River.

An excellent portrait of Christiana Polke McCoy, painted by the noted Kentucky artist, Matthew Jouett, hangs in the parlor of the Wornall Home, It is fitting -- as the Wornall farm was originally a McCoy farm, purchased by Richard Wornall in 1843.

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Jane Mallison's great-great-grandfather was Charles Polke, III, a brother of Christiana, who was born in 1782 at an Indian camp near Fort Detroit where Delilah and four other children were hold captive.

(By Laurance C. Phister, descendant; member, Westport Historical Society)