|Courtesy of Chuck Raney
Lewis Francis Hadley was linguist, artist and inventor who lived in the Indian Territory in the late Victorian period. He made a study of a sign language common used for communincation between numerous Plains Indian tribes that spoke different languages. Hadley wanted to translate the "element of the Christian faith" into this sign language to facilitate missionary work. According to a "Chronicles of Oklahoma" essay, the Rev. George Degen, rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Fort Smith, and his wife raised funds to support his work. Mrs. Degen even traveled through New England on a public speaking tour for this purpose. Hadley visited Fort Smith from time to time and always lived in a tent when he did.