Friend to the Indian
Baptist Missionary - Educator
Isaac McCoy was born near Uniontown, PA June 13, 1784, the son of William and Eliza Royce McCoy. His father moved the family to Kentucky where Isaac was converted during the revival of 1800. Several important events occurred during the next ten years that would set the stage for McCoy to being his great and extensive work among the American Indians.
He was baptized in 1801, married Christiana Polke October 6, 1893 and moved to Indiana in 1804. He united with the Silver Creek Baptist Church, Clark County, in 1805 and was licensed to preach in 1808. The McCoy's moved to Vincennes, indiana in 1809 where Isaac became Pastor of the Maria Creek Baptist Church. It was there that he was ordained to the gospel ministry October 12, 1810.
While on the western frontier, McCoy's labour as a pastor and church planter brought him into contact with the Indians. He requested and received a one year appointment from the Baptist Missionary Convention to serve as a missionary. He stated, "I resolved that, notwithstanding I had no assurance of patronage beyond the current year, I would, the Lord willing, make an effort to establish a mission, and to employ the remainder of my life and labors in the promotion of their temporal and eternal welfare." This he did with uncommon zeal and incomparable sacrifice.
McCoy and his family suffered often from hunger, infirmity, disease, and sorrow. While McCoy was away prosecuting the work, his faithful wife, Christiana, was at home tending family and mission. Eleven of their fourteen children were buried on the mission field, and such was character of this remarkable woman that often, alone she bore them and alone she buried them.
Insufficient support, distance from civilization, lack of fellow helpers,, and peril from the natives further hindered their efforts, yet they undauntedly persevered and ultimately earned the trust of the Indians.
McCoy wrote, 'Missions to the Indians are unpopular things, and he who does not possess resources within himself to work alone, or with few associates, to sow much and rap little, to work hard without the reward of worldly honour or money, to reamin poor all his life for the sake of making the almost friendless Indians rich, and to wait for his pay until he shall get to heaven, had better not enter upon a mission to the Indians."
Isaac McCoy lived among and ministered to various Indian tribes. He fed, clothed, and lodged many Indian children. He formed schools and founded churches for them. The Indian Territory was his idea and he is credited with its formation. He made thirteen trips to Washington to persuade the House and Senate to adopt the plan of colonization. His unselfish devotion and untiring efforts on their behalf saved the Indians from certain extinction. He was known and respected by chiefs and presidents alike.
Isaac McCoy died June 21, 1848. His last words were, "Tell the brethren to never let the Indian Mission decline." He is buried in Western Cemetery--Louisville, KY.