Trail-Blazing Missionaries

Mission Bend -- the area where Reverend Epaphras Chapman established Union Mission -- November 15, 1820


Remains of homestead near Union Mission



I'm not computer savvy, so the photos ended up at the top of the blog, instead of... whatever.


The pastor of my church often states that you don’t have to travel to be a missionary. Mission fields are all around us. However, I ran across this story that involved not only extreme travel, but extraordinary circumstances as well.

A few weeks ago, I posted a photograph of an old wooden shack, located close to where the Union Mission had been. The shack, discovered by workers clearing underbrush for power lines, sits about fifty feet from an old rock-covered road that leads to an area of Grand River known as Mission Bend. My brother-in-law, who grew up in Chouteau, Oklahoma, a few miles north of the area, often visits Mission Bend for fishing and boating. The story, as related to my brother-in-law, has it that the shack was actually a homestead, lived in by an early Oklahoma resident for ninety-seven years. Actually the structure more resembles an outbuilding, but it’s still an intriguing reminder of the past.

I’ve lived in Oklahoma most of my life. However, until a few years ago I was unaware of the Union Mission site. I’m not alone. The mission, an important part of Oklahoma history remains relatively unknown to many of the state’s inhabitants.

As early as 1796, Jean Pierre Chouteau operated a trading post along the Neosho (Grand) River. In 1805, President Thomas Jefferson learned of the Three Forks area, a place where the Neosho (Grand) River met the Verdigris and Arkansas, from his explorers, Lewis and Clarke. Speaking to Congress in 1806, President Jefferson mentioned the area along with its inhabitants, a tribe of the Osage Nation that had travelled from Missouri to settle in the region. Most historians agree this was the first time the United States government recognized the area we now know as Oklahoma. Eighteen years later, Fort Gibson was constructed to provide military protection for the region. But a few years before that, Oklahoma became a mission field.

On November 15, 1820, Epaphras Chapman and a group of missionaries from Connecticut and New York landed on the west bank of the Neosho River. At the location, about twenty-five miles north of the Three Forks area, Chapman and his followers founded Union Mission.

It’s difficult to imagine such an undertaking. The trip from New York to Oklahoma took ten months, navigating the Ohio, Mississippi, and Arkansas Rivers into present day Arkansas. From there, they paddled several hundred miles up the Arkansas River to reach the site Epaphras Chapman had chosen a year earlier, an area with no roads, no towns, and no settlements, except for a few scattered trading posts. They suffered hardship and death to bring the Gospel of Jesus to the Osage people and a handful of French traders. Talk about faith.

The Union Mission, the first Protestant mission west of the Mississippi, went on to establish the first school, erect the first printing press, publish the first book, mortar the first brick, and hold the first Christian wedding in Oklahoma. The Mission cemetery has the oldest marked grave, that of Reverend Epaphras Chapman, who founded the mission, and died in 1825 at the age of 32.


A Day in the Life - A Funny Story


Could it be that I have more than my share of those kinds of days, or does everyone feel that way?

Every six months, I go in for a routine checkup, and my doctor always orders lab work a few days before my appointment. I’d just come out of the lab and I was a bit unsettled. After all these years, blood tests still make me nervous. I decided I’d stop and get a cappuccino before going to the office, a little treat for being such a brave boy while getting stabbed by the vampires.

I pulled into the parking lot of a convenience store, but as I was preparing to exit my vehicle, which had already drawn attention because it’s a noisy little buggy – not because it’s supped up, but because it’s old and worn out – I dropped my keys between the seat and the console. With a Dodge Neon, this is no small problem. The chasm is deep but narrow, and, like a black hole things go in but they don’t come out. At the bottom of the canyon, my keys mocked me.  I snaked my hand down into the crevice but managed only to brush the edge of the key ring. Refusing to be defeated by the got-you-now engineering joke, I shoved my hand deeper. The horn started honking and the lights began to flash. My keys were still lodged deep in the black hole, though I’d managed to hit the panic button on the remote. Now I really had everyone’s attention. My dilemma had escalated to the point of fight or flight. Deciding to fight, I jumped from the car, jerked open the backdoor, and threw myself onto the floorboard where I made a few moves that would make a seasoned contortionist envious. Somehow I managed to get the keys and shut down the spectacle.

Walking nonchalantly past the snickering crowd of onlookers, I made my way into the store and went directly to the bathroom. I needed to wash my face and hands. Anyway while in the room of rest, I noticed a sign fastened to the stall wall, which read: Rent movies here for $1.00, but I ignored it. It seemed like a good deal, but I didn’t plan to stay that long.

Back at the office, each time I would take a sip of cappuccino, since the vent hole was improperly installed, the cup made a noise. Perhaps I was giddy from loss of blood coupled with a shot of caffeine, but as I read the brand name of the cup it occurred to me that I was actually whistling Dixie.

A few days later, being scheduled for a book signing during an open-house gala at the library, I drove to Chelsea, Oklahoma. Admittedly, not knowing how long it would take me to get there, I arrived a bit early. However, the library had provided a nice table for me. It would take a while to get set up. Ten minutes later, I sat behind the table, feeling a little out of place. I usually appreciate libraries being quiet, a bit of a rarity these days, but hearing particles of dust collide with the floor was a bit more than I was prepared for. I checked my watch. Only three hours to go. Later, I heard a train whistle, and I imagined Johnny Cash’s inspiration behind, Folsom Prison.

I’m just kidding around, about the library anyway. Actually I had a great time. Everyone treated me as if I was an old friend, a respect that humbled me. Being in Chelsea reminded me of just how much a treasure small-town America really is. I grew up in a one. At least Sand Springs used to be. If you’re ever in Chelsea, Oklahoma, stop by the library. You’ll never find nicer people.

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it won the book giveaway. Congratulations, tesenters. I want to thank everyone who has signed up for my newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it. If you know of someone who might enjoy it, too, please email it to them. Thanks.

I also give programs for writing groups, reading groups, or any group that’s interested. If you belong to a club, which needs program speakers, keep me in mind.

You have permission to reprint, forward, or use the contents of this newsletter in your newsletter or e-zine. The only requirement is the inclusion of the following footer:

This article was written by Bob Avey, author of, Twisted Perception, and Beneath a Buried House.

I don't usually post the same article to both my newsletter and my blog. Those of you who have read both know that they are completely different. But I've been pressed for time, trying to get my 3rd book, Footprints of a Dancer, edited. Hopefully it will be out in a month or two.



Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Do you believe in the existence of ghosts, spirits, – to slip into a cliché – things that go bump in the night?

While cruising the internet, I ran across several articles concerning the spirit world and the typical Western-World view of such things, and the process reignited a subject of interest that I had not given thought to for some time. People in the Western Civilization have a hard time thinking about, much less talking about anything that they – I want to say: Cannot see, hear, or touch, but reports of such sensory occurrences in the spirit world are not uncommon – cannot physically quantify. And yet, just about everyone I know, if I can get them to talk about the subject, admits to having had at least one supernatural experience.  Here are a few of my experiences:

This is an especially puzzling concept when it comes to Christianity. As Christians, we believe in the existence of God, and the fact that He, or a part of Him came to earth as Jesus to save us from our sins. And the Bible is full of references to the spirit world, and to its inhabitants, both good and bad.  However, any mention of ghosts or spirits among Christians is viewed with scorn and ridicule. In my opinion, the sole purpose of God’s Holy Word, the Bible, is to instruct us, to teach us how to live our lives in this temporary world, so that we can be on the right side of things – God’s side – in the eternal world of the spirit.

What caused this seemingly paradoxical Western-World view?

I believe it is due to the practical and pragmatic attitudes passed down to us by our ancestors.

What do you think?

I’d love to know your thoughts on the subject. Please leave a comment, or email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


The Renaissance of Elliot

I’m still experiencing Blogger’s Block, but an idea came to me a few minutes ago. I’ve mentioned this before in the blog, and other places, but I’ve decided to push the envelope with my next novel, Footprints of a Dancer, the 3rd book in the Detective Elliot series. I’m about a week away from getting the manuscript into shape so I can send it to my publisher, AWOC Books.

The pushing involves stepping outside previously self-imposed parameters of writing within what I’ve come to know as the Mystery genre, and not so much the breaking away from industry standards.

 What kind of changes are we talking about?

Coming from two different sources, the desire to expand incorporates both religion and fantasy. It’s the same impetus behind the name of my blog, Faith, Fantasy and Fiction. With Footprints, I hope to blend my need and calling to incorporate my Christian faith into the writing, while exploring the style of fiction that drew me into both reading and writing in the first place, that being, speculative, fantasy, paranormal.

Footprints of a Dancer should be released within three months, perhaps sooner.

I sincerely hope that you will follow me in my journey.  If you would like to experience a small sampling of the renaissance, a short story, A Passion for Laura, based on the novel, Footprints, was published in an anthology titled, Mystery in the Wind. I’ve included the link below, as well as links for the first two books in the series.



Editing is a Chore

I apologize for the lack of blog posts lately. I knew going in to this blogging thing that I would not be one of those bloggers who post daily, but I had hoped to put something together weekly. However, I’ve been busy, consumed is closer to the truth, with editing my third novel, Footprints of a Dancer, the 3rd book in the Detective Elliot series. The book should have been published a year ago, but all kinds of things got in the way, not the least of which is my own procrastination. So a few weeks ago, I started an all-out editing blitz, working feverishly to get through the first editing pass.

It seems that, when it comes to writing, writers fall into two categories – those who outline and those who don’t. I fall into the latter bunch, which means my first drafts are… Well let’s just say the prose, the dialogue, the plot, and even the setting wander all over the place while I try to figure out where the story is going. That makes the first rewrite a nightmare, especially when it takes two years – or is that three – of interrupted starts and stops to wade through the first draft. One tends to lose continuity, which can be frustrating when dealing with a dynamic and quite non-linear beast to begin with.

If there is a bright side to my chaotic, though holistic, style of writing, it would be the tendency of my novels to be unpredictable. It’s tough for the reader to guess what’s going to happen next when I have to do the same while writing it.

But I’m almost there. I’m about 80% finished with the first rewrite. The second rewrite always goes much faster. I hope to have the book out within the next few months.



More Articles...

Page 7 of 13


Member Of:

Sign Up For Bob's Newsletter!

Register for Bob’s newsletter and receive a free ebook copy of Beneath a Buried House. Also, you will be entered into a drawing for a free signed paperback copy of your choice of Bob’s books.

Like What You See?