More than 100 years ago a young Choctaw boy became the first Native American to graduate from a prestigious Ivy League prep school. Forty years ago the superintendent of Thackerville began the eight-man football team still running today. Next week,  the authors of the books telling these stories will be speaking and signing their work at the Greater Southwest Historical Museum.
These are very personal stories to authors S. Wayne and Carolee Maxwell because Wayne is that superintendent and Carolee’s grandfather was Charles Watson McGilberry, the young Choctow boy. Carolee gave some information about their books, “Touched by Greatness” and “Slim Pickens.”
 “In 1914 my grandfather and two other boys were told they were chosen by a philanthropist to receive a special scholarship to attend an Ivy League school,” Maxwell said.
What they weren’t told was the scholarship was actually an experiment to determine if Native Americans could learn in a previously exclusively white Ivy League environment.
Maxwell said the three boys were from different tribes and different areas across the country, but they all ended up together at Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania. In 1917,her grandfather was the first to graduate. She said that the family discovered the full details of the “experiment” in 2007 when they went to the school and found his file.
“Today they honor him well and they treat us like royalty when we go back,” Maxwell said. They even had a celebration at the school in 2017 to honor McGilberry’s legacy.
“He was a very smart man, and spoke seven languages,” Maxwell said. “He was my mentor.”
Maxwell said her husband wrote “Slim Pickins’” about his time as superintendent of Thackerville Public Schools, and his efforts to begin the school’s eight-man football team.
“It was such a small school, and the students had nothing to look forward to,” Maxwell said. “After 40 years they are still going strong in eight-man football.”
The lecture and book signing will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, March 28, at the Greater Southwest Historical Museum. A short film about McGillberry’s life produced for the 100th anniversary celebration at Mercersburg Academy will be shown. The event is free to attend and light refreshments will be served. Copies of the books will be available for purchase. freshments will be served. Copies of the books will be available for purchase.