Scope and Content

Collection comprised of correspondence, journals (1888-1890), and other papers of Rev. Francis M. Craft, 1871-1921, with related facsimile documents, research notes, drafts, and PowerPoints regarding Craft, a mixed-descent Mohawk Indian, and the Congregation of American Sisters, a Catholic religious community of Dakota-Lakota Indians. Rev. Craft survived the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre and served with the American Sisters as Indian missionaries in North and South Dakota and as hospital workers in Cuba during the Spanish American War.

Gift of Thomas W. Foley, 2012. Processed by Mark G. Thiel, 2013.


Biographical Notes

Rev. Francis M. Craft (1852-1920): In 1883, Craft, of mixed Mohawk descent, became the first Catholic priest ordained by Bishop Martin Marty, O.S.B., for Dakota Territory. There he served as an itinerant missionary among the Dakota-Lakota Indians on the Pine Ridge, Rosebud, and Standing Rock reservations, 1884-1900, and during the Ghost Dance or Messiah Movement, he survived the Wounded Knee Massacre (1890) where beforehand he had attempted to defuse the military-native standoff. He organized the Congregation of American Sisters, a Catholic religious community of Dakota-Lakota Indians inspired by Kateri Tekakwitha and Sacred White Buffalo Woman, who served the Arikara, Hidatsa, and Mandan Indians of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, 1893-1900. With four of the American Sisters as hospital workers, he served as a hospital chaplain in Cuba during the Spanish American War, 1900-1901. Then he served as pastor of St. Matthew Church, East Stroudsberg, Pennsylvania, 1902-1920, and also founded and served St. Mark’s Mission in nearby Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania. There he became close friends with relatives of the yet unborn Thomas Foley.

Thomas W. Foley (1931-2013): Foley was born and raised initially in Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania. In 1942, his extended family moved to Chicago where at a relative's home the next year young Thomas discovered Craft's papers, which piqued his curiosity immeasurably. Foley then attended Fenwick High School and Loyola University in Chicago, served in the U.S. Navy and Army, and then served in U.S. Gypsum Corp. until his retirement. Soon after, although lacking a scholarly background in historiography, he successfully wrote that company's official corporate history, United States Gypsum, A Company History (1995). Next, he returned to his interest in Craft's life, and with his papers and research visits to monasteries and archives worldwide, Foley successfully authored three more books -- Father Francis M. Craft, Missionary to the Sioux (2002), Faces of Faith, A History of the First Order of Indian Sisters (2008), and At Standing Rock and Wounded Knee, The Journals and Papers of Father Francis M. Craft, 1888-1890 (2009).


Scope and Content

The Foley collection is divided into two series -- the original papers by Fr. Craft, and the facsimile papers, news clippings, and photographs by and about Craft compiled by Foley plus the derivative presentations created by Foley. Bracketed item numbers 1 through 8 are sequentially numbered physical items, e.g. [volume 1], [volume 8] whereas comparably numbered items without brackets denote electronic copies that lack numbers displayed on the cover of the physical item.

Reformatted records: These and other records are or can be made available in digital formats via email. Reformatting fees may apply. Ask an Archivist for details.

Rev. Francis M. Craft Papers, Series 1: Focuses primarily on Father Craft’s ministry and chaplaincy in North and South Dakota and in Cuba during the Spanish American War. In the Dakotas, Craft served as an itinerant missionary to the Pine Ridge, Rosebud, and Standing Rock Indian agencies and to the Congregation of American Sisters, a community of Dakota - Lakota women religious who established a mission on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. In Cuba, he served with the four remaining American Sisters, who administered a U.S. hospital in Havana. Included are letters by:

Bliss, Zenas Randall, 1887-1888; General, U.S. Army

Crowfeather, Claudia, a.k.a. Mother Mary Catherine Sacred White Buffalo and novices/ sisters of the American Sisters, 1888-1889, 1891-1893, re Congregation of American Sisters and Craft’s recovery from wounds sustained at 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre

de Smet, S.J., Rev. Pierre-Jean, 1871

Gibbons, James Cardinal, 1893, Archbishop of Baltimore, re Congregation of American Sisters

Ireland, Bishop John (and secretary to Bishop Ireland), 1893, 1899-1900, Archbishop of Saint Paul, Minnesota, re Congregation of American Sisters

Jones, William A., 1898; U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, re Catholic Indian missions and schools

Marty, O.S.B., Bishop Martin, 1884-1886, 1890, Bishop of Dakota Territory, re Catholic Indian missions and schools, 1884 pictorial message by Sitting Bull to Leo XIII painted on a buffalo robe (see – Colin F. Taylor, Sitting Bull and the White Man's Religion: Early Missionaries in North America = Sitting Bull und die Religion des Weissen Mannes: Frühe Missionare in Nordamerika, E99.D1 S62 2000; copy in Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Records, series 14-1

Morgan, Thomas Jefferson, 1891; U.S. Commissioners of Indian Affairs, re Catholic Indian missions and schools

Proctor, Redfield, 1890; U.S. Secretary of War

Shanely, Bishop John, 1890-1891; Bishop of Jamestown, North Dakota, re Wounded Knee recovery, lecture tour by Craft

Sitting Bull, Chief, 1886

Stephan, Rev. Joseph A., 1887-1891; Director, Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, re Catholic Indian missions and schools

Willard, Rev. George L. Willard, 1887-1891; Secretary, Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, re Catholic Indian missions and schools

The map folder contains three undated handwritten maps with extensive notations that detail the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota. It is believed that Craft drew the maps from memory while recovering from his wounds the following year.

Craft’s journals (March 21, 1888-May 28, 1890): In three volumes, Fr. Craft present his intense views regarding the Catholic Church and the United States in the lives of the native peoples of North Dakota. He discusses the Bureau of Indian Affairs, including its methods, motives, and agents, especially James McLaughlin (1842-1923). At length, he describes the formation of a St. Joseph Society among native men, a St. Mary's Society among native women, and the Congregation of American Sisters, a community of young native religious sisters. Furthermore, he discusses the Dawes Act (1887), Benjamin Harrison's presidential election (1889), the construction of the Fort Berthold Reservation Government School (1889), and the signing of a bill allotting Indian lands, chap. 405, 25 Stat. at L. 888 (1889); and he provides his perceptions of Sitting Bull (1831-1890) and the Messiah Movement. The journal facsimiles comprise an enlarged photocopy set of the journal originals.

Other items kept by Craft include a cigarette case, Nekenhiken Nahwawen, a biblical tract written in Mohawk, and his certificate of priestly ordination by Bishop Martin Marty, O.S.B. (December 10, 1883). The latter is a ledger-sized item separated from the collection for preservation purposes.

Thomas W. Foley Research Papers, Series 2: Contains primarily collected facsimile documents by and about Craft in electronic and paper form plus Foley’s related writings and presentations.

Black & White Prints: The prints from the late 19th and early 20th centuries (primarily copies; few originals) include Craft and his contemporaries and related sites in the Northern Plains. Among them are Native men wearing crucifixes received as gifts from Catholic missionaries, Native women who became religious sisters in the Congregation of American Sisters, and President Theodore Roosevelt. One unidentified print may pertain to St. Mark’s Mission in Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania.

Color Prints: Foley captured most of the color images, which pertain to Craft-related sites and archival repositories in the Northern Plains, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Electronic form: These electronic copies include a typescript of and introduction to Craft’s journal, which Foley numbered volumes 1-3, plus typescripts of Craft’s correspondence. Location: G Drive > Digital Projects > TWF.

The scanned letters are numbered 1-102 and 600 plus one is unnumbered, Numbers 1-52 originated from these sources:

MUA = Bureau of Catholic Indian Mission Records, series 1-1, Marquette University

Baltimore Archdiocese = Archdiocese of Baltimore Archives, Maryland

SBS = Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament Archives, Bensalam, Pennsylvania

Sacred Heart Priory = Sacred Heart Priory Archives, Benedictines, Richardson, North Dakota

ME = Sr. Mary Ewens, O.P. Collection, Marquette University; note: elsewhere in Marquette Special Collections, this collection is known by the initials, "MEOP."

St. Meinrad Archabbey = St. Meinrad Archabbey Archives, Benedictines, St. Meinrad, Indiana

Northwestern Chronicle [newspaper]

The Dakota Catholic [newspaper]

The bulk of the papers came from the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Records and Sr. Mary Ewens, O.P. Collection, both at the Marquette University Department of Special Collections and University Archives.

No. 53-102: TWF and uncertain provenance (noted by footnotes of likely sources, e.g. U.S. National Archives, ME). No. 600: Image of Craft, undated. Unnumbered: Illustrated story of President Theodore Roosevelt visiting the Watergate House hotel, Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania, August 2, 1910, amid a gathered crowd with Craft.

Hovering Eagle – The Daily Journals & Papers of Rev. Francis M. Craft, 1863-1941: These materials comprise copies of Foley’s collected facsimiles and research notes in five volumes, which he arranged and numbered as volumes 4-8 respectively.

A provenance note and inventory by Foley details the chain-of-custody of Craft's papers from Craft to Foley with an item-level listing of the original correspondence.

Related Collections

Several Marquette special collections contain additional materials about Rev. Francis M. Craft, the American Sisters, and Thomas W. Foley. Most notable are the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Records, the Michael F. Steltenkamp, S.J., Papers and the Sr. Mary Ewens, O.P., Research Collection. See Search the Collections (digitized collections not included) and Digitized Collections.

For materials elsewhere (not at Marquette), see Marquette's Guide to Catholic Records about Native Americans in the United States.

Questions: Ask an Archivist.