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Mathias Splitlog Leaves His Mark
on the Oklahoma Landscape

November 27, 2002

Almanac Transcript

Mathias Splitlog leaves his mark on the Oklahoma landscape this week on the Almanac.

Hello, Iím Steven Knoche Kite.

In northeastern Oklahoma sits a unassuming site out of the path of most tourist traffic yet, it is one of the more interesting road side attractions in the state. The Mathias Splitlog Church in Delaware County sits today on the shores of Grand Lake and has faithfully served the surrounding communities for more than 145 years. Mathias Splitlog moved from northern Kansas to Missouri and then into the Seneca Nation in what is now Oklahoma.

Splitlog, a member of the Cayuga Tribe was born in either 1810 or 1812 on the Canadian border. He married Eliza Carloe, a Wyandot, and moved with that tribe to northeast Kansas. The land held by Eliza and Mathias eventually became what is now down town Kansas City, and it was through the sale of the much sought after real estate in 1865 that Mathias became known at the time as "The Millionaire Indian." Following the sale of the Kansas land, the family moved south into the northeastern corner of present day Oklahoma. There Mathias and his wife financed the construction of several mills, a railroad, various businesses and what eventually became the town of Cayuga Springs.

In 1886 Mathias began the project for which he is most remembered, the construction of the Splitlog Church. Mathias intended the church as a present for his wife. Constructed out of hewn limestone the church sits tall and narrow with a magnificent steeple. The interior of the building features imported hand carved wood, and the fifteen stone arch at the entrance displays Native American art work around the edge. A bronze bell cast in Belgium finished off the church ringing for the first time during the funeral service of Eliza Splitlog, who died during the construction of her church. It was in this week of 1896, ten years after beginning, that Mathias Splitlog oversaw the completion and dedication of his church. The bronze bell still rings, and the Cayuga Mission Church, with the Splitlog graves beside it, still holds services today, more than one hundred and forty years after its official opening.

Mathias Splitlog and his church this week on the Almanac.

I'm Steven Knoche Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is joint production of the Oklahoma State University Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

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