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I was born in 1890 in what was known as the old Indian Territory, near Vinita, Oklahoma on the Cow Skin Prairie. Of part Indian descent of the Cherokee tribe, daughter of H. V. Jobe and Cynthia Webb, my mother’s maiden name. My parents were both natives of Arkansas. The lived near Vinita awhile and went back to Arkansas and resided there until I was eight years old.
My earliest recollection was a small two room house, a hall way between the rooms was log. It must have been on a main road as I remember. Now we call them tourists, two young women came by in a buggy once and stopped and ate, what we called dinner then, lunch now, under the big trees by the road side. Later I found a ring with a set in it which was my pride and joy and I doubt if any of the upper tens were ever more proud of a real diamond than I was of my brass ring. I also found a lovely old carved brass spoon I kept many years. In this day of collecting antiques I would surely love to possess it. My oldest brother was born at this place.
My grandmother and uncle lived not far from us. My father took my sister and I down once to spend the weekend, I think it was now. I thought I was doing fine until my father took my sister and I down once to spend the week-end, I think it was now. I thought I was doing fine until my father left and what a homesick child I was. A guy came along on horse back, I was standing in the yard and as some people like to pick on children, he says, “I’m going up and kill your pappy,” well I was a homesick bewildered child sure enough.
We later moved to this place where grandmother lived. I so well remember she had a pet hen, the feathers were so black they were a glossy green black. She would get up on the arm of grandmother’s chair and pick at her glasses. Grandmother called her, “Arabian Queen.”
My cousin used to come and visit us at this place. One time we heard what we thought was someone groaning and wiling, supposed they had fallen from a big bluff. It was some goats over near the bluff that belonged to a neighbor.
A man killed a big cat fish and brought it by on his horse once. It was so large he would sit and talk and double his fist and put it in the fish’s mouth.
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I think the prettiest fire I can remember was, standing in this yard at night watching a rail fence burn that wound up the mountain side.
My father got to be an officer of the law, a deputy United States Marshal, at this place I think. He had a young Indian Deputy who rode with him. One time he came home chewing gum, the young full blood was with him. sister and I fell on to father wanting chewing gum, before he could remove a package from his pocket the young Indian whisked a package from his pocket and gave us. This Indian was keeping company with my father's niece and sister and I often got our heads together and speculated how fine it would be if he got to be our cousin. This same man was riding with my father when they had a fellow arrested and taken to a house where they were to guard him. While father was to rest a few winks the Indian was on guard. Two doors were just opposite, the Indian locked one and sat down against it and went to sleep. When father came on guard their prisoner had flown. The Indian had sat down against the locked door and left the other unlocked. But one time in later years this incident was mentioned, father said the Indian was too smart a man to have neglected a thing like that to remember, but he thought he was paid off.
My mother's cousin staid with us some and went with a full blood cherokee, a very intelligant young man but I don't think this cousin could ever have gotten him, as my mother's first cousin, this girl's mother had run off from a well respected family and married a good hearted near-do-well of a man. To this union was born a house full of children. The cousin's brother was one of Fayetteville's biggest merchants but she drove her ducks to a bad market, her husband drove a freight wagon much of the time and would some time put up at our house. You know when there is a good supper one of chicken and dumplings prepared by a good cook, well it's mighty nice to drop in and claim kin at those times, provided the kin folks are better off than the traveler.
Well this girl I speak of the second cousin of mother's, was one of the oldest children and she worked out some, a thing girls were not allowed to do much in those days. A southern woman could go to the field with her menfolks and be respected but they were...
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taking a step down if they hired out to someone's else's kitchen. This Indian wanted her as a commom-law wife but she was too smart for him on that and possibly loved him too much to put herself under his feet. His own mother who was deceased was a full blood and he had a white step-mother, or rather his father had taken a white woman common-law wife.
This cousin worked in their home and she said "Peggy" for so the woman was called, was always afraid old Zeke would go off and leave her some time. He had killed eighteen men and one woman known to man. He and one of the men got into an argument and the woman stepped in between them and he shot her. It was said she was the only one he ever voiced any regret over killing. Most people thought he could see before and behind too, he was always on the watch. It was said he would go to town one way and take another road home to avoid being waylaid on the road and killed. I think he lived to die a natural death. I can remember we saw an account of his death in later years in the news-paper.
We later lived near Cincinnati Arkansas, father was still in the officer business. We resided in a small burg, the only store the back of which set in the corner of our yard with the paling fence coming up two sides of it. Dry goods and groceries of all kinds and hardware of every kind you could mention was sold there. My brother was about two years old then, he would go in with his penny in one hand and hand out the other for his candy. Those days quite a "poke" or sack would be had for a penny. Mother feared he would go out the front of the store and get run over by a fast teams then, so a small slide door was put in at the back of the store but brother was not long in learning to slide this door.
A drummer we called them in those days used to wear a yellow hat shaped just like a Chinaman and drove an Albino team that had the prettiest pink eyes. The drummer would come to this store. There was a blacksmith shop where we heard the daily hammer of the smith resetting wagon tires and sharpening plow shares. He was the father of seventeen children. I still remember the wild touch-me-nots that grew along a stream behind the....
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shop. There was a big flour mill also where flour was ground here. I remember once a bunch of youngsters started up a long fight of stairs that went up on the outside of the mill, sister and I were with them. The mischievous miller saw us and blew a long blast, I turned and fled down the stairs missing all the sights in the mill and could never be persuaded to again go up those steps.
When we lived here we used to drive to my mother's people. Her invalid mother lived with mother's oldest sister and family. It took us a day on the road. Mother always kept coffee in a wooden bucket with hoops on it and when we were going to aunt Joe's, mother would empty the coffee out and put in fried chicken and home made bread..The coffee gave it such an excellent smell and taste, I don't think any other fried chicken has ever tasted so good. My aunt and her brother resided on joining farms, twin springs were on the line between the two farms and a big log spring house was near the springs. Two big long handle gourds were hung up at the springs for drinking purposes, the end being sawed out of the handles. I know once my mother had made me a white seersucker dress I was very proud of and being at auntie's I started for uncle Josh's and espied the gourds. It always seemed some of my ideas must have been planted in my head by the deceiver of all good, anyway I took down the gourds and would fill first one then the other and let the water run out the handles. I was wet as a duck when I decided I better go back and face mother even though I well knew I would arouse her ire in my nice sopping white dress.
Old uncle Josh, her brother had a slate hanging on the wall with a pencil tied to it. He would take down and have me add numbers on. I was very proud of being able to put small ones together and add. I yet remember my little mother's smile of approval when I finished them. Auntie, uncle's wife, always wore the prettiest dresses, some were black with little lavender sheep sorrel clusters and to this day I love the first spring sheep sorrel blossoms. I still remember a corded spool bed they owned. I don't think I have ever seen but one like it.
When we lived in this burg my father arrested an old colored man for misconduct and brought him to our place. I think he was padlocked to something on our porch and while await-...
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...ing trial, my curly headed little brother would go and get the old fellow by the hand and try to pull him in to the table. People would no more have let a colored man sit down to their table than they would have eaten with a leper. Brother would go and lay his yellow curly head in the old man's lap and talk to him which would delight the old negro. Brother was only two years old.
An old negress and her grandmother lived just above the mill and my sister went to the door a time or two with a woman seeing about her washing, and for some reason I wanted to go. Sister painted glowing pictures of the interior of her house, the lovely wicker furniture, beautiful pictures and the gar soup she was serving for supper. Oh how it thrilled my imagination and really made me want to (go) in old aunt Mime's house. but some years later sister told me she too was only drawing on her imagination of what she would love to have seen there and I doubt if she had the faintest idea what gar soup really was. I know aunt Mime could have never bought anything expensive as they were very poor. But I never could think of her in childhood without wishing sister's weird stories of her were true.
From this burg we moved to a small log house where we resided until we could get possession of the farm father was to take us to. Joining it he had come down and put in a crop before moving there. The deep woods came close to the back of this log house. Many huge juggles were piled up where rail road ties had been hewed out of the big trees. An old stick and clap chimney stood not far from this house, had been a fire-place to a house I suppose burned down. One evening father saw a wild turkey in the trees. When he returned from the house with the gun, where sister and I were watching it, it was gone.
A clear stream of blue deep water flowed near by and for the amusement of us youngsters father led his brown saddle horse to the stream and made him swim the water. I remember he set steel traps on big logs near the water's edge, as mink some times caught the chickens. At last we moved across the stream to our home. Father had in wheat that year and had made a lot of new rail fence. The water got up and washed his wheat and fence down the stream. The water rose so rapidly father got up in the night and put the sheep and bows on the wagon to pull for higher ground as the water had backed up to the smoke house. The water subsided.....
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...though without us having to move. It wasn't a laughing matter then but my little mother related for years how I called to father when he was busiest fixing the wagon, "Oh Papa can't you put in a side of bacon?" I thought of the eats more than any real danger we were in.
Blood hounds always give me a cold shiver but my father got two small part blood hound pups that we named Mike and Pat. Our little baby sister learned to call them, " Mike and Wat." She would call "here Mike, here Wat", the pups would come pell mell and she would race across the floor just in time to reach and pull up to safety in a chair before the pups could touch her. In those days children made their own amusement. a neighbor family, the oldest boy who was fourteen, sawed wheels from logs and made his own express wagon. It would hold several children on it. I have rode many times with the bunch on this wagon.
Slippery elm grew in abundance there..The whole pack of both families of kids went to the spring for fresh water. this boy got some bark and he and my older sister rubbed it over the dipper handle. When the water was brought in, father and the neighbor come near chastening us all.
My father had in corn on some bottom land at this place and there was two sink holes. One was just a deep depression in the ground, the other one about the same only there was a small hole in this one and we dropped rocks into it and heard them go bouncing down, way down and some where hit water. Which reminds me of a story my mother read to us when we were very small. A man was plowing in a field and plowed through a sink hole and fell through. The lines broke around his waist and the team took the plow home. He went on down until he struck a stream in a cave, following it and stumbled out into his neighbors spring house that was built at the entrance of a cave spring. This always sent horror over me and I was rid of one childhood fear when we moved away from there.
My father had one bachelor brother, though a quiet refined gentleman, somehow he always seemed to make me the brunt of his teasing. One time he was polishing a lovely watch chain, it had pretty carved hearts on. He hooked it across his finger and held his finger out to me. Grinning I was a very young child and rather timid. He held it out to sister and asked her if she wanted it, she said,"why.....
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..yes I'll take it. "Well I think half my heart went with it and how many times I've thought in later years, things of life that would have meant so much to me have been just as ruthlessly jerked back and someone else walked off with the laurals. I am sure my uncle knew I was the one that would hesitate and sister would get the chain. Father had another brother that visited us when we were in this small burg. He was such a mischievous rascal and petted all of us youngsters. He was always doing something to amuse us. One time he got the cat up in a big maple tree and cut a long rose briar, every time the cat would start down one side he would switch it to the other side. Well tomboy that I was I truly enjoyed the fun. He kept us amused and enjoying ourselves while he visited us.
We attended school at the old school-house called Eureka school. fifty one pupils are in an old time photograph we have of the school. there were many tiny tot and more than a third of them must have been young men and women around eighteen and nineteen. Of course in that day and time women's dresses and hair-dos made them look older in their late teens than the early thirties do now.
I remember once a mad dog scare came up, someone had reported it at school and had even gone so far as to relate seeing a pile of bloody clothes on the road, as the dog had eaten someone. Possibly this was some of the mischievous older boys, as some were much gifted with unmerciful teasing of the younger set. A bunch of the medium sized had in mind to sleep in the school house that night and decided against it because a window pane was broken out near the back of the school house and it was feared the dog would jump through the window. I still recall how the name "mad dog" sent the shivers with such horror over me.
There were big grape vines near the school and a big swing was made for the girls of one. Two medium age young fellows had one fight over one becoming angry over the other young rooster paying too much attention to his girl and the swing was cut. My sister witnessed the fight though I was not at school the day it came off.
One old gentleman owned a big orchard that stood up on the hill overlooking this burg. Sheep-nosed and pippin apples such as we never see now, grew in abundance there.
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To this day I can remember a little lady up in years resided at the foot of this hill. She had a nice roomy house, the floors were covered with home woven rag carpets. Lovely old lace curtains reached the floor over the shaded windows. Horseshoes were covered in tin foil and hung on the walls. Many big puff balls were made from crepe paper shredded into a fluff and were suspended on string, the balls were different colors. Big enlarged pictures of family photographs adorned the wall and old family albums lay on the stands. To this day I can remember how aunt Sallie's (as she was called by all who knew her) kitchen always smelled of fresh cocoanut. I always loved the fragrance of her kitchen.
Uncle Han Moore (as all knew him) lived just above our house. They always had a colored woman in their kitchen, aunt Celia, she was called kept a bandana on her head. I loved to watch her put hominy in the old big wooden tray and chop it with a chopper that went with the wooden bowls. She would make the finest butter and put in the big spring house that had clear crystal water running through it.
They also kept a hired man we could hear him singing as he milked the cows. On one occassion he was singing, "Way Out in the Golden West", then he gave a whistle and groan for the ole cow had sent him and milk bucket flying toward the golden west but her heels were manning the motive power.
Uncle Han passed away and my sister and I were permitted to go view him. Those days they kept the corpse in their homes and covered them with what was called a winding sheet. Aunt Mary, his old maid sister, took us in to the room and drew back the sheet, he looked so peacefully asleep. That night it came a heavy rain and the frogs croaked all night. In the fifty two years now since that far off childhood, those frogs croaking after a rain makes me think of them as "death frogs" and bring the memory of uncle Han's last peaceful sleep.
My father and mother would not have attended a dance for anything in those day. And I remember one incident when uncle Hans had a crowd out from Cincinnati for a dance. A bunch of the village girls were not invited so they ganged up and while the dance was in progress went up and piled rocks in the back of their buggies then came to our house and played games and had a time. My mother was mischievous little thing so she says. "Girls will
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watch my baby a few minutes?" Mother slipped from the room and rigged up, come to the front door and knocked. Now from the big front room a hallway ran the full length of this room and connected to a front porch from another room, then the other side of hallway was my grandmother's room and the hallway had a large stained glass door with small glasses full length on each side. Some of the girls went to the door and on peeking through the glass ran back whispering, "Girls there's a man out there," mother continued knocking and the girls going into a huddle with subdued screeches caused our baby sister to turn loose some real screaming. Mother had to quickly walk in then in father's clothes and hat. Well of course the girls all exploded then sure enough. In those far off days women never donned men's apparel only for some joke.
I remember a neighbor woman telling once of young girl who was real fat and she dressed up in her brother's suit. She was so stout she had to remove her dress from under them. As luck would have it her sweetheart came on the scene and chased her around threatening to take those off her. And as a punishment, for that was most a disgrace in those days for women to put on men's clothes, he did vow if she ever dressed up again like that he would pull all her clothes off.
I plainly remember one incident at this place, father was gone much of the time having to be out in pursuit of his duty. Sister and I had fixed a big box in the corner of the pa(?)ed in yard and made us a play house. We were so thrilled over it we decided to sleep in it. Though grandmother and mama had said we would be afraid when night came, we vowed we would not be. After dark we took our blanket and started for the big grain box, when we heard the awfulest weird noises, clawing, pounding, and scratching and mewing in the side the box. We stood rooted to the ground then took to our heels and fled in the house all eyes. As we were relating our plight, dear old grandma innocently walked in and listened to our story. We couldn't understand why she and mother were not scared stiff to think such a monstrous animal would be in the yard, but I'm telling you we two little girls surely were broken of wanting to again sleep in our play house. I don't know how many years later it was though we learned our grandmother had slipped from her room ahead of us and played the wild animal part perfectly.
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There were three big fireplaces in this house. A fig tree grew near one chimney where it was sheltered and warm. sister and I slept in this room. A dog came out in the chimney corner and howled all night, dear old grandmother always thought they forboded evil of some kind.
When we lived at the Oklahoma line my father went to Siloam Springs one day and a large conch shell caught his eye. He bought it for a nickel and brought it home, sawed off one of the knobs on it and commence to blow it. After blowing several long loud blasts we were surprised to see the old neighbor from across the creek puff in to the yard all out of breath. He hastily inquired of father what was the trouble. father began to laugh and told him there wasn't anything only he was amusing the youngsters. The old fellow recognized it from the deep rumbling sound as a conch shell, he then told father that where he came from, to hear one of those was always a sign some one was in distress and needed help at once. Father was very sorry he had caused him the hurried walk. But since telephones were few and far between in those far off days many times later it was of much benefit to us pioneering in the west. When neighbors needed help they too realized we kept this horn for means of communication where in need of help to summons some neighbor quickly to the scene of distress. To me they will always be beautiful to behold and bring back home ties and memories that slumber until some word or sight of them call forth the vision of childhood.
A clear stream flowed below the house and a spring was near it. Mother would wash at the spring. She had put home-made soft soap in a cedar wooden churn with brass hoops round it. The soap was made by using lye where ashes had been packed in to a hopper and water poured over to run through and make lye. this boiled with fat made a soft jelly soap. When the churn was emptied I would amuse myself by the hour pouring soft creek water in the churn and churning it to make it foam. Limestone rock were all along the creek and many curious figures like small shells were imbedded in them. I have tried many times to pound them out whole but was never successful in no breaking them.
Thrashers were to come and thrash our wheat and in crossing this stream they got stuck. It was late eve before they got up steam to pull them out and get to the house. So mother...
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..had to put feather beds on the floor to make room for some of them to sleep. There was always something fascinating to me about a bed made on the floor.
We lived near the nation line then went to south western part of Indian Territory by covered wagon. There were four of us children ranging in age from two to eleven years of age. My father owned a big dapple gray team. Father made what he called over jets and put on the wagon and bed slats were roped from one side to another. A straw tick and one of mother's big fat feather beds was made up on top of the straw tick. Quite a lot of canned fruit and five hundred pounds of flour and meat was stored down in the bottom of the wagon, with lard included, home made soap, cooking utensils and other things. We took an old fashioned three legged oven and lid along to cook bread in. Mother would rake out the coals from the camp fire, set the Dutch oven on them and then put coals of fire on top the lid and bake our bread that way when we made camp. No bread ever has tasked quite so good any more. But people in this day and time couldn't take the taste, for to me it always had a fragrance of wood smoke in the taste.
We crossed on the first ferry boat I ever saw, well the only one, in fact. I believe there were two teams and wagons on ahead of us. When we were driving on the boat father couldn't understand why the big team was having such a time with the wagon, when one of the ferry men discovered father's brown saddle horse on a lead rope behind the wagon was setting back with all his might and did not want to go on the boat.
A man traveled a ways with us selling apples. He had a stick stuck up on the side of his wagon with an apple on it for a sign. We fell in with another family with three small children. One night the three men sat up all night and watched the wagons, as there were rum runners and much thieving and outlawlessness in the nation at that day and time in through the country. Many reported the loss of fine teams through those unsettled bottom lands. That day and time the desperadoes could get away unmolested, through that country we were passing. One Man where we camped once came up and slapped the big stallion on the rump, says "My friend you should put cockleburrs in their mane and tails and daub some mud on them and the new wagon sheet and wagon. As you'll never go through the nation with such an outfit as that." So much horse thieving going on.
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One night we camped in a wooded area near a town, some people were camped there too. Next morning father cut a long straight young tree to put under the axle and pry it up to grease the wagon with. Was just getting ready for action when a man walked up and said, "My friend if you don't want trouble better pull out. Did you see that sign?" Father looked up and posted was a sign he had not seen coming in at night, Five dollar fine for cutting a tree. So we hastily loaded cooking utensils and headed for the west.
One night we made camp in a rather sandy country. A small house on one side and a mansion on the other. A tall well dressed young woman was roaming around the lovely grounds. Father went to get water for the night from their place and heard her say she wished the herd of hogs in a pasture would soon fatten so they could go to market. The man from opposite side of the road came over and told us the paunchy old white headed man in his gray suit was the young girl's husband. To my childish mind one of life's tragedies, as youth and old age were never meant to be chained in the holy union of wedlock which in their case becomes bonds of steel forged to galling chains of slavery minus the peaceful dove of young love when equally mated. Now in my later years I have seen some pitiful unions of May and December that only death freed the young mate from the gilded cage that was only gall and wormwood.
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We traveled through a low wooded valley and late one eve we saw a lot of things stacked up..
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...and I remember mother said some one might be murdered there. On investigation we found a great heap of granite ware that had been battered up new stuff off a freighter's wagon. Those days everything was hauled in freight wagons. Many freighters have camped near our house. I have wondered since being grown at the lawlessness of that country, if maybe a freighter might not have been knocked in the head and the best of his mares taken with his money and he buried under that mess of battered up stuff to throw off suspicion.
We went through some bottoms where large pecans grew and colored families with children were picking them for a big overseer. I was sick and wrapped in a blanket by one noon campfire, the owner, an old gentleman picked up a pan of pecans and brought me, said he like little girls.
Over in the lowlands we got our first introduction to the Oklahoma (??e) melon and poor man apples. We stopped to water the team, my father asked the owner of a large patch of melons to buy some (????) and three water melons. The man laughed and told father he could have all he could cut. He then told them they were a kind of citron though you could not tell them from big green and white rind water melons. Made good hog and cow feed. Later when established in our new home my little mother made delicious pies, preserves and melon butter from them, resembling much apple butter.
Father learned to like his first tomatoes on this trip. We passed a farm where the red cherry tomatoes were thick as hops. Father gave mother a dime and told her to go to the house and get some (those days a dime would buy a pound of coffee. Oh for the good old days, now a single pound of coffee costs seventy-five cents) Mother got a good bucket full. brought them back and father eat a good many, being a great hand for cleanliness of his food and cooking, my mother said, "Oli if you had seen the apron that woman gathered those in you wouldn't have tasted them." Father said, I've a notion to run my finger down my throat and puke them up." A common expression of his, though a quiet refined sedate man. Well we all laughed anyway.
Father was a good shot with a Winchester and quail being in abundance he kept us well supplied on this trip with fresh wild meat. I imagine rabbits were plentiful though father would not have killed one for the table since he would not taste them......
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...for love or money. In those long ago days though there was no such thing as disease among rabbits and many did enjoy a tasty meal from them. My job was pick the quail and clean the onions for mama. I remember they were red onions we took along and oh how they did make my eyes stream out I loved the little tasks mother assigned me and I was always faithful to my job though it did bring showers.
We camped one night where a white man and woman's closest neighbors were ten miles away. A big negro and his mother lived near and there was a real Indian settlement right at them. I can very vividly in memory see the many tepees assembled across the creek. From this house the little woman came out and sat with mother and us children that night. she wore a pair moccasins beaded all over in white beads with a blue star on the front. Father and her husband went across the creek to what was called an "Indian stomp dance." The men wore scalps on their knees and danced, the squaws sat around and at times would break in to weeping and howling. Somehow this was a part of their ritual.
Later we saw our first gyp hills. We were in a hilly country right on to the house before we saw there was a house and a light from it. The house was a part dug-out, dug in the side of a hill. A lone mother and children were living there, her husband worked away from home and only got home now and then.
These gyp contained a kind of alabaster men burned and plastered their dug-outs with and some even put floors in from it though not so successful as it rubbed off and caused women much grief in washing the clothes of small children. It made the water almost unbreakable to wash in.
I think our first introduction to coyotes was one night way out on the prairie we made camp late and the wind blew. By the light of a lantern mother boiled a pot of cabbage. My older sister and I sat with our little brown eyed brother in between us wrapped up on the spring seat. The lantern smoked, the wind blew and the coyotes howled their lonesome wail.
I know this trip must have been an awful hardship and an ever ending source of strain and worry on our little mother but to us children looking back, it brings tender memories of childhood with father and mother, brothers and sisters.
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We camped for noon one day at El heno Oklahoma, it was a real Indian town then. Indian women came with their papooses on their backs and buckets for water. They wore moccasins and a kind of beaded leggings in those days. My little brother came up to mama and whispered, "Mama that old Indian woman had bitches on for I seen 'em." There was a town beyond El heno called Kingfisher. I don't know why it was so named unless it was because of a large strange bird possibly congregated in droves near there. Oklahoma had many canyons and some times in these canyons a small stream was fed by a spring in the head of these canyons. The kingfisher birds would build their nests up in the red dirt canyons. The kingfisher birds would build their nests up in the red dirt canyons walls by scooping out a large round hole in the dirt somewhat near the size of a large tea cup around. The birds would build up around them by daubing with mud. We later had a spring on our homestead coming out of a deep canyon wall at the bottom of it and many of these kingfishers build their nests up in the banks.
One evening we came to a dim road where we were undecided about, there was a plain traveled road leading off another way and an old Indian passed us in his wagon. Father asked him which road to take, he grunted and pointed to the dim one. Father suspected him of treachery and took the good road. The old Indian watched back as far as he could see then stood up in his wagon and looked. We followed the road until it most ran out and though it was late we had to turn back and take the Indian's road leading to Cantonement.
We were four weeks on this trip, no accidents or sickness. One day we had two narrow escapes. My father stopped for directions and he did not know I had gotten out and was investigating some moss or something by the road side, he got in and just started the team. When kids like I was afraid I'd be left I ran and put my foot on the wagon spoke and made a dive for the double tree. I never realized I was in any danger but father was so scared for my safety he was surely angry and read me one lesson of what would have happened if I had fallen under the heavy loaded wagon. Brother was playing near where some workers had turned their team loose to go in when one ran by brother and kicked at him like he would a dog, just missing him enough or rather grazing him or something causing him to fall down, unhurt though scared most out of his.......
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...wits and frightening little mother most sick. It was a narrow escape for both of us in one day.
We reached my father's brother's home late one eve, the cousin who was fourteen had started horseback for the cows but got so excited when he saw us he came in and turned the horse loose and the cows were forgotten by all for that night.
Father's mother, our grandmother, was at that time living with my uncle's folks. Uncle's family consisted of uncle, aunt, two boys one a young man and three girls, the oldest a young lady.
This was a new strange wonderful country to us. Uncle was foreman for a big cattle outfit there. they made my uncle's home on the J. V. Flats their headquarters. There were several cowboys though I have forgotten now just the number.
Uncle had a large house and grandmother's room had a large fireplace in it where the two families congregated of an evening until bed time. I do not remember how long we staid at my uncle's but while there it was my cousin's and my job to gather cobs for grandmother's fire as uncle fed a big bunch of fat hogs and the feeding lot was always full of cobs, though this task seemed an endless one to me being a small child.
They had a big steel tank that set up some ten feet high, water was pumped into this supply tank and piped into the hog lot from the big windmill. There was also a big watering trough in the cattle lot made from a big cottonwood log that was hewn out.
We in time moved to a house a short distance on uncle's place and were on a main road where Cheyenne Indians passed every so often. Great caravans of them in wagons and on ponies going to their encampments. One time they stopped with a bunch of soiled red calico. The pretty young Indian squaw came to the gate, grunted, gestured and pointed to the roasting ear field beyond the house. Mother says, "Why I can't understand you," she would laugh and point, when a big buck from the wagon said in good English said, "She wants to trade that for potatoes or roasting ears." The corn was not matured enough to eat. One time they brought a poor cow in off the range that had recently been dehorned, she was so thin she died. A group of Indians came by and traded my uncle two big fine butcher...
* * 16 * *
...knives for the carcass or "woo how" they called it. They skinned her and would peal off strips of the stringy lean, carry it to the wagons where the squaws made a great to do over it chattering, laughing and pointing. The cowboys would stand by, spitting, winking and grinning at one another while the meat outting went on.
One time my uncle had butchered a fat cow and hung the hide on the fence. A lone Indian came by and asked to get the fat off the hide, he went out and took a butcher knife and picked the fat in little pieces until he had a good sized paper sack filled, my auntie had given him.
I've stood and watched the Indians many times, and like I always was by wild geese, wished many times I could go with them to their feeding ground and see what it was like.
Many prairie dogs made their home on uncle's level land. water got up once and father ditched the ground to some dog holes and drowned out a young one, made us a box with screen over it and we kept it a good while. It finally gnawed out of the box.
A family lived below uncle's in a big dug-out and nice frame house which joined it. A red handkerchief was run up on a pole and people wondered. One day we saw two men on horseback stop in there then came on, they stopped in at our house, being warm weather we had the table in the yard. They asked mother if she would set them out two glasses, she did and they took bottles from their pockets and mixed them drinks, explaining they had gotten in the river and needed a stimulant. But they were strangers and it set the folks wondering why they didn't drink their toddy at the house below us. They passed as respectable people because they were pretty well fixed for that day and time, but many strange things happened in those pioneer days.
We raised a good many watermelons that year and one day being my birthday I decided to have sister print me a card. I put three nice melons by the gate and my sign over them, "watermelons for sale," Well in a short while a well dressed young couple with a small child came along and paid a dime for a melon. I've never seen a dollar look as big or as good to me since as that little birthday dime.
Uncle bought great loads of snapped corn for the ranch that fall and it was piled in.....
* * 17a * *
...great ricks back of our house. the cowboys would come in and shuck out corn and feed their tired ponies after a hard day's ride. One morning I was out playing around those ricks and turned over a scoop shovel, I found a small brown bottle of capsules and a deck of playing cards. I flew to the house to exhibit my find, father and mother looked at them and while father was not a Christian at that time, he said they were nothing for nice people to have around the house and stuck the whole business in the stove. He thought the bottle contained some kind of dope.
Father homesteaded a hundred and sixty acres six miles from my uncle, up in the big pasture or heart of the range. His land lay in four forties, section line cutting it in two in four directions. There was a big pond or tank they called it at that time, a big butment put across a low corner of the forty, eighty feet deep. this furnished stock water which the cattle owner did not like so well as it caused other homesteaders to come in and spoil the range. Two canyons ran east and west on this place though there was much level fine land. The canyons were full of cedar trees and father cut cedars and built us a big half dug-out and put it up alone. I would not attempt to say how wide the ridge log measured at the face. though it was so wide everyone marveled one man alone could have put it up. One canyon contained this gyp or alabaster I earlier spoke of. Father made a kiln and burned this stuff and plastered the dugout walls finer than any plaster I have ever seen. How happy and delighted we all were to move into our new home, our very own. I still remember the tears of joy little mother shed when we came in sight of it. Father put his arm around her and asked if she wasn't pleased though his eyes were twinkling when he said it. He had laughing brown eyes. The prairie grass grew rank and fine and father cut good sized poles and put up a good sized barn double walled and packed hay in between, covered a thatched hay top. This made a good warm barn. Father had a good well drilled before we moved and since Santa claus had presented us with a fine big fat sweet baby brother, well the words was rosy to us.
We had one neighbor, a young bachelor soldier boy of the Phillipines, he killed a mud hen in our pond and would get big frogs from a spring below the tank and eat the legs. He and father were hunting one night and shot a wild turkey.
* * 17b* *
When we first moved on to our homestead the first year, father rented some ground on the J. V. flats for crops and my oldest sister went with him and staid with the old people to help the woman of the house with the work while Papa was putting in the crop. The old fellow was a small man and she was a real large old lady who never spent a waking hour without her corset. She was very neat and had a billowy bosom. I said to mama once I'll bet I could set a saucer on her bosom and it would set there. Well they were later at our house for Sunday dinner and sister told me while I was out at play that she told this woman what I said and she was real mad at me. Was I ever scared until I found she was only teasing.
We only had two young heifers when we went on the farm and father got a big spotted cow they called old Jude, from these people to milk. She was a good milk cow but come the next summer she was in the cabbage patch eating, come up for water and seemed to kind of choke. Father sent the old fellow word that was something wrong with the cow and he and a neighbor set up and doctored her until about when midnight, she was dead next morning.
This same neighbor that staid with father that night was a soldier of the Phillipines. He contracted fever while over there and it left a small fever sore on his lip which never healed. He went back to Iowa and had it cut out but it only aggravated it and he later had it cut on again. It kept sapping his life's blood until he moved into Lenora to be near the doctor. It eat his jugular vein in two and they put a clamp on the vain then when it had to be removed he went instantly. My father took our team and we two older girls and brother and some of the neighbors to the funeral at the hall in Lenora. It was a sad one as his wife was expecting a little baby.
The young neighbor joining him had said once if he and his wife ever parted he would keep their baby. This man wasn't married then but he made the remark, "when he and his old lady parted she could keep the child." Well it so happened she did raise the child he never lived to see. Strange though prophetic.
The first school taught back in this new settlement was in a big half dug-out, I judge now it was a mile and a half or two miles from us. One term was taught there then the schoolhouse was built up on a forty of our place father gave for the school. There was....
* * 17c * *
...a lovely location down just below our house for a store. Father put an ad in the paper for someone to come and put in a store. An old fellow answered on paper so old it was fly-specked and could scarcely be deciphered. Father wrote on the back, "Write me a letter I can read and I'll be glad to answer. "Later this same man came from the East and put in a store at Deltis. Our post office was supplied at first from Deltis and a neighbor carried the mail or rather had the contract and his wife carried the mail with a buggy and team. I had the thrill a time or two going with her for the mail.
This same man laughed and told father when he wrote he was so drunk he really didn't care what kind of a letter he sent. Our office was later supplied from old Lenora. a new town on the frontier. There was a saloon, such a dive of a place, so many drunks and so much devilment, gave the town the name of "hellroarin."
Well it was the joy and thrill of my young life to go to Lenora to a picnic where they had the old horse swing, some sleepy fellow had the job sitting up under a big umbrella and kept the lazy horse moving to swing the young folks. Then there was a host of kids with firecrackers, would throw them close to the girls as they could to make them jump and squeal. Lemonade stands were covered with bunting around the stand and one saw our American flag on display everywhere. Lemonade was made in tubs, and peole went in wagons and buggies, young men on horseback from everywhere. Women stood over hot stoves and baked cakes and pies, made salads and fried chickens until all baskets were well filled. Neighbors would set dinner together.
One fourth we went to one of the neighbor families from our church, spread our dinners together. a dear old lady who had attended church and visited us while the revivals were going on, had a young grandson about a year older than I was, being only thirteen myself. This old grandma as we called her brought her son, a sheriff of Taloga, up and made him acquainted with the family, said of my oldest sister. "John this is my intended granddaughter but I believe the other one loves him the best, "meaning me of course, which brought a big laugh from them all.
One fourth when I was still younger a neighbor family, man, his wife and little daughter went to the picnic and sister and I went with them and enjoyed the day so much. They staid at night for the fireworks and I can still see them. I have seen more expensive fireworks...
* * 17d * *
...in later years but I don't think any of them ever looked so beautiful as my first experience seeing them. Put childhood hallows memories and while life wasn't all play, what a secure substantial life it was. What a glorious wild free life away from the hustle and greed of mankind. It seemed most the pioneers felt a kindred spirit with one another, people would go to church for miles in wagons. Again they would go for miles to visit, which kept alive a wholesome attitude toward one another.
One Christmas a family three miles away had gone east on a visit, leaving the man's sixty-three year old mother on the homestead. another good family about two miles from us had invited her and our family for dinner and the day. When we reached these folks father let my brother and sister and I take the team and go for this old lady. Brother ran against a fence post and got the wagon wheel hooked in behind it. This woman was a very strong person for her age, she just walked out and put her hands and arms under the hind bolster and lifted it from around the post, which seemed a real feat to us. We took her to those folks and she went home with us and spent a few day.
The family east of us had a big thicket of fine plums and two neighbor women and a schoolmate of mine staying with one of these women wanted my sister and I to go with them and gather plums. Father said we could not go as I would eat so many plums I'd be sick. Well we went and I picked plums all day and never tasted a one. When we went home that night sister told the folks I had not tasted a plum. Papa said, "Do you expect me to believe that. I'll bet she didn't, "but sister finally convinced them I had never tasted one. Well that was a help to me in later years. Since I had resisted eating the real ripe luscious plums, would not take the first taste, I'd remember I could pass up anything appealing to the eye, because I had resisted the plums by not taking the first taste.
* * 18 * *
One day three strange men drove up and father brought them in to dinner then took them to look at land around us. As the land was spotted each one jumped from the buggy, "This is mine, this is mine," until they had surrounded us. Strange to say when the wells were drilled, one of these men was a bachelor, and he got the only soft well of water in the country. Well when they moved in the bachelor made a dug-out, the man on the east made a real log house, the one on the north a "picket house," made by cutting or splitting cedar logs length wise and bolting upright to a frame.
These people moved in one day when mother and grandmother had had to reprimand me very sharply for some misconduct. So I thought I'd run away. I sneaked up by the barn out back of it until I had reached the north canyon. I was wondering where and how far I'd run, seeing that distant skyline way over, out where we think the pastures are still greener and folks better to us than our very own, if we could only get over there. When I spied the new folks moving in I saw a flash of red and realized there was a little lady about my own age (but never my size as I was always very stout for my age) coming in to be company to play with. Well I watched fascinated until I forgot all about my grievance at dear old grandma and little mother. I flew to the house forgetting I'd vowed to myself to go so far they would be sorry, I'd gone away and eaten a worm even if I didn't die. In fact I was so excited the rest of the day I don't think I ever remembered to try to run off again.
Father was always a great lover of flowers and lovely surroundings and he set cedar in the yard and young cottonwood in groves, planted black locust until he had a real grove of them. Made a summer house, planted blue morning glories and big white moon flowers together until they covered it. He sent to John A. Silzer and bought flower seed of all kind, must have been almost a gallon from the looks of our yard.
A schoolhouse was built on one forty of our land, many had settled around us then. A teacher from old Missouri was sent for by some friends of hers in our community. Our schools were only three and four months terms. Our teacher walked a mile and a half through snow and any kind of weather, built her own fires, trained her scholars God fearing and right. Aside from my precious mother, I owe her much thanks for a knowledge of the blessed Psalmist's writing and the priceless gems she taught us in school. She organized a literary society.......
* * 19 * *
..and wrote a paper called the "Locust Hill Banner," read each Friday night. they came for miles around, horseback, wagons, buggies and so on. New comers had a song, recitation or something to add. One old middle age couple had good voices and were always willing to get up and sing, though very illiterate their songs were some times comic and some times religious. I well remember a few lines of one song they would sing,
"Oh there's music on earthOld Tom would rare back, fold his arms, shut his eyes, pat his foot and let the music roll out. Regardless of any mispronounciation of words he had and audience and he thrilled to it. He pronounced hallelujah, halleluier.
and there's music in my soul.
Salvation here has just begun to roll
and I love God Glory hallelujah."
My father got a post office known as Webb Oklahoma and ran it the six years we lived there. Literary gave way to preaching as the Methodist organized a church so did the Missionary Baptist but preachers of many denominations preached there and were made welcome in the little schoolhouse and homes open to them. Every Sunday was taken up and in between times. Though my family was Baptist we so much kept the dear old Methodist minister who was such a singer and a power for God in his preaching. Father so much enjoyed good singing and he kept this old brother up until four o"clock once, talking scripture and having him sing. The old fellow would laugh and tell it on him that a preacher would not get much sleep if he went there.
We kept preacher, priest, beggar and all way-faring wanderers in our old big dug-out in early day. One time a candidate came and staid all night, we youngsters had gone to bed when he came. Next morning mother came and called us, said, "wake up children, a candidate staid all night with us." my youngest sister jumped up all eyes, "What is it mama, can we eat him?" One time she was just laughing and laughing, my mother went in and ask her what she was tickled at, she said, "Just tickled at a wat a dingin."
In those days youngsters never got but one pair sturdy shoes a year and they did not get to go to town and tell father just what they would wear and would not. We were eighteen miles from the county seat, eleven miles to the nearest small western town. Father would go and get a young cottonwood limb and measure the children's feet and cut into proper shoe lengths and take to town and measure the shoes. I think this was an old Indian custom.
* * 20 * *
One time my youngest sister and brother had done some trivial little thing father had said not to do and as luck would have it he was getting ready for town, he went and cut his switch and called the children, they came squalling their heart out thinking they were to get it now, though father had only cut the switch to measure their new shoes they were to get.
I know I was more proud of a coarse pair shoes and red yarn stocking my mother knit then than youngsters of our day are of the finest silk anklets and the straps and the buckles they call shoes now, when they get them by the half dozen pairs.
Mother used to spin card and knit. I would give anything now for her old spinning wheel, she had woven cloth when a girl and had many pieces of jeans in quilts she had made. I never saw a tallow candle used though used to play with a brass one I would give much to possess now.
When we lived on our homestead father went up to the barn on Christmas Day and saw a smoke coming from a neighbor's house, he came hurriedly and told mother and jumped on his horse and raced over there. Mother went out in the yard and blew several loud blasts on the conch shell and a neighbor from the south came racing on his horse. Mother told him the other neighbor's house was on fire and he too took out over there. He and father soon controlled the blaze. These people had gone down on the flats to spend the day with some old folks. The conch shell surely helped save the day.
When we were pioneering in Oklahoma we lived eighteen miles from the county seat. To get there we crossed the Canadian river which was a mile wide at town. I imagine it would be one thrilling and horrid story to know how many bodies that old quicksand bed holds. Once the chuck wagon and cowboys for Kinch Halsell were on the other side of the river and it came up. The men drove and rode into it anyway, the wagon went to going down and the men quickly undressed and waded into shovel the wagon out. While they were working a big fine gray horse and saddle came floating down stream or rather was being washed down. It had drowned. No one knew what fate befell the river. The wagon settled until the men had to leave it and hike for the shore. A dish pan floated.....
* * 21 * *
...out, one cowboy picked it up swore and tossed it back in the river. My uncle was on the home side, he rode around and collected clothes for the men to wear.
Back in the hills they had what was known as the Bull pasture. I got to see one great round-up and it was a sight to see. Father took the entire family in the wagon and we watched them through the day.
In the early day people were too far from town to go to a dentist with a jumping toothache, in a lumber wagon. My father had three or four pair tooth forceps and pulled teeth free of charge for people all over the country. some were comical too. One woman came to have a tooth extracted, we thought her a very pios saintly widow. Father pulled her tooth and she went out side. My mother sent me out with a glass of water. The woman was just pawing like a mule and cursing every kick. again a neighbor stopped his work and brought his wife for a tooth pulling, she lost her nerve and he took her home but in a few days she had to come alone and have it pulled. One time a fellow brought his little faded overworked wife and a bunch of babies to have a tooth pulled for her. He kept saying, "Hurry up Mamie, if that is not the right one have him pull another one." My father said if he ever got a chance to pull a tooth for the guy he would pull and let the forceps slip off then pull again to prolong his misery. One evening just at sundown a man drove up in a new wagon and big mule team, wanted to take father to pull his wife's tooth. when he got there she kept saying, "Now Jim do you reckon I'll faint?" I think father wished she had so he would not had to pull the tooth.
The old prairies with the home-steaders dotted here and there was a wild free life even though it was fraught with many hardships for men and women both. But people were friendly and good neighbors. the early days we had rains and raised an abundance of everything. I always loved to follow father turning over the new earth with a sod plow. One day he had been planting the big old striped watermelons, came in and gave my youngest sister a few seed and the hatchet and told her to plant them. She went out and just hacked the sod and put the seeds in. well believe it or not, melons so large my little mother and older sister could not put into a gunny sack, was raised from those vines. Two of these...
* * 22 * *
...were extra big ones and they rolled them one at a time on the gunny sack and carried them into the yard. ,P> Our youngest brother was never afraid of anything and once father set up a batch of feed shocks to make a blind to shoot crows from. Brother being about four years old asked what he was doing, father told him he would have to sleep in there to keep the crows off the melons. When night came brother went and got his small blanket, tucked it under his arm and started for the gate. When asked what he was going to do he said he was going to sleep in the fodder to keep the crows away.
The folks would never allow us children to run here and there and stay all night with other children but when neighbor women were left alone when their husbands had to be gone a few days they would let us girls go and stay with the woman and small children, which was always a delight to us.
Back in these good old days unless a woman was a Civil War soldier's widow they did not know what a pension was and all old homeless people lived with their children. One old lady who was a war widow lived with her children and would come and stay much with us.
The women settling Oklahoma went through many privations and hardships. One neighbor joining us brought his wife and little son to a dug-out and it really was just a hole in the ground with a small window high up in one side. The man was good to her but so very careless. He went to town and staid out late leaving his wife with no oil for the lamp. It was a black windy night and she left her little one alone and started for our house and turned on the road to the house. She making for a big canyon which was very high steep banks, when she saw father's light at the barn and came to it. Mother was so frightened for what might have happened to her when she came in and told us, if she had not seen the light. My oldest sister went home with her and her husband came some time later. When this woman's little girl was old enough to talk good the minister staid all night with them and had the covers drawn up just so his black head was showing. The little boy was wondering what it could be on the cot, when the little sister come up and said, "It's a kitty bovy, it's a kitty."
* * 23 * *
One neighbor east of us had a little fat two year old baby boy, they discovered him gone one day and hunted the place over, one sister-in-law came to our place hunting him. They later found him curled up in the horse trough at the barn sould asleep. He took bac sick later and this aunt run over to our place for father to go for a doctor for him. It was eighteen miles and the Canadian river to cross, just before reaching town. Father started horseback and made the river after night, he crossed one channel of the river and it was rising so fast when he got to the other channel he didn't try to go into it for he knew by the time he reached it again with the doctor they could not cross it. So he had to turn back but the little one made it all right.
There was only one doctor in miles and miles around and he never seemed the best. He came out once and operated on a little baby out in our community and the little thing died. They failed to get the casket when ordered so kept the little one long as they could and went at ten o'clock at night by lantern and buried it, three miles from us one of the darkest nights I ever saw. My tender hearted little mother wept as though it had been her own child.
The first cemetery anywhere in that country was three graves up on a hill, the three hills were at the edge of the J. V. flats and as much alike as three peas. It was said Oklahoma was such a healthy country they had to murder three men to start a graveyard. I really don't know if anyone knew who or where the men came from that were buried there.
My uncle's folks had a pair little twins they had lost before we ever went there, buried at the back of their orchard but later when they were leaving there they had the little things taken up and reburied in a cemetery in the east somewhere. I never knew where.
Some where near my uncle's place an old fellow cutting his corn, and I don't know if anyone knew why, a man near him went out in the field and shot him. The man was only sent up for three years. It was said wierd strange lights appeared around the old man's place at night. Strange mysterious things happened in that law of the west country.
There was war between the settlers and cattle men down in Custer county. A farmer put up a herd of cattle and was guarding them, in the night the owner rode up and called to him, when he raised up the cattle man shot him.
* * 24 * *
Later neighbors around us were being molested with range cattle and my father had the best corral in the country. they brought the cattle to our place and neighbor men came to guard them. Father and them made their beds at two corral gates. In the night some men rode up and demanded the cattle but I imagine they knew the men's trusty old Winchesters rested by their sides. They sat on their horses and talked to one another in subdued tones a while and then rode away. My oldest sister went and spent the night with the neighbor's wife on the hill while he came and helped keep watch. What a night of anxiety and horror it must have been for my little mother and other good women. We children knew there was danger but really not old enough to realize just how much danger our father and the neighbors were in.
As I write of these happenings and they come back to me so vivid and clear reliving them again, brings a lump in my throat and my eyes fill as I think of all I owed my parents for their tender care, how they went through such deprivations, we might be clothed and fed, to have our chance in life. A deep abiding respect and love wells up in my heart, of boundless gratitude and I realize I never ever commence to repay them for all I owed them for what they had gone through for me.
Oklahoma was a beautiful country when we had plenty rains but there was hard water to contend with and could not be used to wash clothes unless much lye was put in the water. We put a big barrel at our well and put wood ashes in and filled with water then straining it made a good clear water to wash. Well the bachelor that homesteaded got a well of fine soft water and we later hauled water from there to wash. Later my oldest sister went with him and they were engaged to be married. He used to go away and work in resturants making more money than anyone around. My sister and I and small brother took the team and wagon and went to his place to get water. I had no inkling the bachelor had come in home. So we commenced to draw water. I yelled out, "If you are in that dug-out and expect to be my brother-in-law, come and help draw this water." He was a very find gentlemanly fellow in his early thirties. Later he came walking out but his eyes were dancing and he could scarce keep his face straight. When we went home and sister told mother what I did, I'm telling you I come near getting a whipping though I was thirteen...
* * 25 * *
...year of age. I was full of life, I did things on the impulse and mama reckoned with me later.
A young fellow came into our church and had his eye on sister. The big tent we used for a kitchen and bed room set out to one side of the big dug-out we lived in. The old lady that staid with us so much was at our house, and a school mate of mine about my age, for dinner. father was at the school house on the election board. This young fellow came to the post office for the mail and asked my sister to go with him Saturday night to church. We never heard the word date in those days. Well because sister didn't want to go with him she says, "you go ask mama," he bolted into the tent and asked mother right before us all if she cared if sister went with him. Being the family cut-up I gulped a bit or two and rolled out under the side of the tent, the old lady was big and fat but she ducked under right after me. We commence to beat one another on the back and laugh, my schoolmate tore out for the school house and by that time the young fellow sensed he was being made sport of and he took off. Just as he turned the corner below the house he was on two wheels, his ponies most laying to the ground. The old lady hollered though not audible to him, "Young man come back and I'll ride behind your nice team in your new buggy."
Well that went like wild fire and he later went over across the river and asked a young girl to go with him and she told him to go and ask mama, he said nothing doing, he had asked one girl's mama and he would never again.
One winter a new political book came out and father got the agency for it and he went much in his buggy, making trips several miles from home selling it. He ate dinner with an old couple and the old man remarked the beans they had had a few days ago were the best he ever ate out there they were soft and it was a hard matter to cook beans in that water. The old lady says, "Yes and I'll bet you don't know where I got the water to cook them. I caught it in the calf trough." Well if father had eaten any of them he never would have lived over the thoughts of it.
Dear old Oklahoma with its searing hot winds, its withering scorching dry sun, had in it a wild fierce beauty, the virgin sod and cool nights where you could peacefully sleep and dream of a new and brighter day. Its hopes and ambitions just somehow got into your bone and blood until it reminds one of the long ago Indian story. A white child was carried....
* * 26 * *
...off by Indians. She mourned so many year for her people and they never ceased to mourn and look for her. In the years she grew up and wed an Indian chief, her brothers and sisters found her and went to persuade her to come back with them. She said no that was finally her people. Some half breed daughters sat around her and she said the bones of her chief were buried on the hill, she would not go back. And so it was with Oklahoma, women who had been raised delicately to everything they could wish for, came with their companions and staid through heartaches, deprivations and sorrow, to help tame and conquer the wild fierce land. In so doing it got into their blood and hearts until no amount of culture and refinement back in the east could tear them away from that which they had helped build out of their very life's blood. My little mother had so often told us of the clear flowing soft water, the flowers, shade trees and pretty homes and I don't doubt she shed buckets of tears for the quieter peaceful life back among her people.
I know when our baby brother was a little cherub I would rock him to sleep much, since sister helped mother it fell to my job to tend the baby. I would howl like a coyote and he would pucker his little mouth just heartbreaking and tuck his face under my arm. My mother sharply reproved me once, said, "You don't know that little things feeling." Well I did not understand but in later years I realized the coyote's lonesome wail at night in this new wild strange country so far away from home and loved ones of other days must have been as so many sharp daggers piercing through her own heart when she was looking for this little one, and had had four other young children she might have to leave to fare along. No wonder her baby felt the impression while being nestled so close to mother's heart.
My mother's cousin came from the east after we had gone to Oklahoma and father made a trip to Weatherford, he found this cousin not knowing he was in the west. He said when he plowed the first round of a forty acres not hittling a rock or stump he pulled off his old had and tossed it in the air and whooped loud as he could. He now sleeps in the bosom of old Oklahoma.
The dear old state with its grim stern reality was kind to its children. When it did rain crops grew in abundance, the big ears of yellow corn, great fields of maize and kaffir. No state ever yielded such fine watermelons and garden stuff grew by the ton. The great rolling....
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...plains with deep canyons filled with elm or cottonwood made a never to be forgotten sight for an easterner. There were many wild prairie flowers. One kind in particular was the wild daisies, pink, red and white. they grew in our pasture, I have never seen them anywhere else but in Oklahoma.
Father kept the post office in our home and many of the earlier settlers subscribed to the old Comfort paper, American Woman, Hearth and Home and the Fireside visitor. The latter had many lovely old song ballads in it. One was "Sweet Bunch of daisies." A neighbor woman knew so many of these old songs and she would come and spend the day and sing for us. I think I loved the old song so much made the daisies always dear to me, as they bring again memories of early childhood.
When father applied for the post office he sent in several names for it, among them was my mother's maiden name of Webb and that was the name the post office department chose for the new office.
Our school teacher was a very refined dear woman in her early thirties. a circuit rider preached at our schoolhouse from North Carolina for the Methodist church, he became very infatuated with our teacher and spending the Sabath with us once, asked mother if she thought this teacher wanted to marry but said he guessed that was for him to find out.
Well a very fine looking tall black eyed black mustached minister came in there to preach with this minister and went with our teacher and another girl about her age. Our teacher never had looked twice at any man, and though a little inclined to be stern, her face would light up with a smile and her eyes get starry when the team and buggy would drive into the school yard to take her home. Easter come with all its lovely decorations and the only little cottage organ in the community was hauled to the school house and lovely decorations put up. Recitations, songs and an Easter sermon with a wonderful dinner was to follow. This minister came and our teacher was really dolled out in the most stunning garb we ever saw her wear. She played the organ and the minister stood near her and turned the music. She was just enough touched her cheeks wore a delicate tine of nature's own painting and this whole community knew regardles of the ending, there was surely a glorious romance...
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...budding that had brought forth a lovely sparkling thing to life, in what had been just an ordinary every day woman. And being all pioneers of one mind and heart and bound together by kindred ties of hardships and strength, they all watched fascinated and rejoiced to see our teacher's face light up with a smile, her eyes take on a dreamy look, when a familiar form appeared. But as the hot scorching winds could wither and sear the finest field of grain in a few hours, just so the beautiful budding romance was shattered when gossip or rather not a rumor but a true story caught up with the preacher at last. It was found though he passed as a single man, he had a wife and several children. The old minister had warned him he should tell the truth when he came up there. Our teacher heard the news and she looked like a withered flower but lady that she was she let him take her home and while no one knew what passed, all knew it had ended tragically for her. One dear neighbor woman who lived right close where she boarded said,"We knew she cared so much for him we never mention him in any way, because you can tell she was so hurt." She lived on but I'm sure the light of life went out when the story came out and she had to learn the bitter truth.
There were some lovely romances in the new land ending happily but some others ended tragically. Two lovely young women came down into our community, they dressed just alike though one light and the other dark. They were seen everywhere with two young men, each one matching in complexion the girl he went with. They were so devoted to the girls and one in particular waited on his girl hand and foot. The dark one married his sweetheart and lived happily ever after but like a bolt from the blue, a young man came down from their home country, married the light one and took her back home. It looked for a while like this young man would go to the dogs, he was careless in his dress and looked the picture of despair. Where before he had been so handsome and very neat in his clothing. But the last I ever heard of him he seemed to have come out of the fog and was doing well.
In the spring of 1905 we traded our homestead for a farm in Missouri. On March 5, 1905 my father was ordained in the Baptist church. He had been licensed to preach on November 14th 1903 in what was known as the Jobe Baptist church. The same schoolhouse I have so often referred to. We left for Missouri shortly after his ordination.
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September 2, 1906. I was sixteen on Sunday, my twin schoolmate same age to the day I was, came and spent the day. Sister's sweetheart and two other young men came. Fred Stoipe took some pictures of us all.
FROM SWAN MISSOURI TO ANADARKO OKLAHOMA
The 10th of September we started on the road. Our neighbor, Mrs. Stover had just lost a little grandchild she idolized. She bid us good bye at their gate. the road wound up and up the hill, as far as we could look back she was standing with her head laid over on the gate post on her arm.
We travelled an up grade all day and staid all night at a lovely place, old fashion home with big peach orchard, near Ozark. We went through Maryville Missouri and took dinner with Will Cooks an old Taney neighbor.
My youngest brother had stepped on a nail just before we started on our trip and his foot became very sore. We camped one night where an old fellow talked with father as he watered his team. The old fellow asked his name, father said Jobe, he said, "Oh yes you're the man the whale swallowed." Had his bible somewhat mixed. He told us to get shonnishow and brew it and then thicked the liquid with corn meal and make a poultice and put on brother's foot. Mother did and it surely did the work right now.
One night we camped at a lovely home a woman and her brother owned. Sister and I went to the house and sang and played the organ at night. Those days the old organs were a real treat when anyone could sing and play. Those were the days when every one made the best of their talents and were satisfied with a God-given lot.
The home was lovely, old fashioned parlor where big lace curtains hung from windows to touch the carpets on the floor. Large framed pictures of ancestors long departed adorned the walls. Several large albums lay on a stand table and on the carpet near the stand.
We went through Burden Kansas and visited our old pastor from Talogo Oklahoma and his family. They had a lovely baby boy just commencing to walk, we had not seen before. He took us to see his church he pastored, saw first baptistry in side the church.
We camped one night in a church yard and sister found a song book in the yard, she prized it very much. We camped one night near Hennessey Oklahoma, a little widow came out and set...
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...with us around our camp fire, with her children. A man came by driving cattle and this woman's boy went to turn the cattle from their field, the man thought the boy belonged to another camper there and bawled him out. The camper fairly dance and cursed him out for everything he could think of. We saw many beautiful mulatto women in Hennessey.
We crossed a long bridge at Dover Oklahoma and found when we reached the other side a sign up, "Condemned bridge closed for repairs." There we had crossed with a heavy loaded wagon. We made camp for the day being Sunday. The man came out and invited us in, sister and I went in and sang and played the organ.
One family travelled aways, the old man short and jolly, his wife a big fat woman, he'd always make camp singing an old song but he sang it, "I'll eat when I'm hungry, I'll drink when I'm dry, if nothing don't kill me, I'll live till I die."
One family camped one night near us, a man and two small children, a little girl and boy, said his wife had ran off and left him and the little ones. Another fellow and his wife travelled a few days our road. He was selling a household glue, said when he got near his wife's relation he would sell his outfit and take to the train, as her people were very well off.
One family fell in with us and travelled a day or two until their road turned off another way. The young girl was like sister, had left her heart behind and while following dad and mom, was looking back to the hills with longing eyes. Those days families all abided dad's decision when he started on a long journey no matter how many hearts were left behind. The family went along and kept their heart aches bottled up inside, obedient to the head of the house.
One young fellow drove up in a big new wagon and team, wanted father to drive by his place and make camp that night. Father asked him if he had a family, he said no just him and the devil and the dogs lived together. Father saw a big bottle in his pocket so he made sure he never stopped at his place.
Sister and mother were out walking one day and sister found a beautiful signet ring for a man which she later gave to the sweetheart she left in the hills, when he came out to see her. We made camp one night and she found a set of table spoons where father tied the horses. But walk as I might, I never ever found anything of any value.
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...sometimes such journeys were hazardous, long and tedious but one was always seeing new sights, new homes and things of interest along the way. Too the family was all together and looking back now I ask what more did we want or need. Father was a large apparently stern man though a kind heart and loved his family and what a tower of strength to lean on for the family, seemed like we feared nothing when papa was with us.
The day we left Anadarko we made Exendine that evening but just before we reached there, I was driving and father and brother were out walking. We met a big Indian reported to weigh seven hundred pounds. He entirely filled the spring seat sitting in it. there was a county fair at Exendine and he was to be on exhibition at the fair. The squaw was sitting down in the back of the wagon, she could not have sat anywhere else and him in seat. We camped in a wagon yard that night.
FROM ANADARKO TO DUDLEY - possibly spring of 1907
One night on this trip we camped in an enormous big hay barn. Many bales of hay was in it, it was floored. We made our beds down and father slept with our mail box at his head, it had two hundred and ninety some dollars in it. Father had the shot gun by him and I got a long big iron bolt by me. I can't remember what the other youngsters got for weapons. We didn't know what might happen before morning.
OKLAHOMA TO COLORADO 1913
Married and going to Colorado one eve we drove until late and stopped and bought feed from what seemed a very prosperous farmer though we did not like the looks of him for he asked all about where we came from, where we were going to and so on. Well we made camp and tried to cook supper by lantern light. The wind blew, the lantern smoked and the fire went in every direction but around the frying pan where sister-in-law was trying to fry spuds and onions together, my first introduction to that dish.
There were great clumps of tumble weeds on a rise just back from our wagon. We turned in late and was awakened in the night by brother-in-laws dog just having one spell barking. The youngest brother-in-law slept on a bed down by the wagon with his revolver......
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...under his head. We four got up and looked out the wagon. the dog would run back to the wagon barking and when hissed would tear back to the tumble weeds that were highest and pry things up with his barking. Well I insisted brother-in-law shoot into the weeds but he said he would not want to hurt anyone. Finally he was sitting in the front of the wagon and shot up just above the tumble weed pile. The gun seemed to spit fire everywhere. The dog ceased his bark and no more was heard that night. We always supposed the old coot we bought the fodder from had some evil intentions in his head and followed us that night. It was way out on the Kansas plains and anything could have happened and no one be the wiser. Mother used to tell us when small about the Benders and the havoc they played with travelers when it was suspected they had money.
Well the next morning we four were discussing the nights escapade when brother-in-law who was eighteen, all eyes wanted to know what we were talking about, as he had slept through the entire performance and heard nothing. Of course we all enjoyed a real laugh but we were glad when we were entirely away from there.
We passed then through much level land, nice houses and big barns but when we would stop for water or something we found for miles no one lived in that country. As Anna of Green Gables said it seemed only a grave yard of buried hopes. Many had settled and give up the fight to again return to their eastern home.
FROM COLORADO TO MISSOURI - in the 20's
We camped one night out on the prairie close to a pasture full of cattle. In the night a storm came up which was crowding the cattle toward the fence. Husband said they might stampede and come right through the wire fence and we would be trampled. We quickly aroused the little ones and gathered our bedding and bundled things into the car, got the little ones safe inside when it commence to rain but we were also safe from the cattle.
Another time we made camp in a schoolhouse yard and had put our beds down when it looked like coming a heavy rain. I wanted to go into the schoolhouse but it was locked and husband would not hear to going into the window. When an old gentleman drove by in a wagon, he says, "I'd break a window before I'd leave my family out in a rain." Well I yanked up a window and commenced to pile the bedding in and got the youngsters safe inside. When it really commence to rain and nothing was disturbed, we surely fared more comfortable.