Various Accounts of Early Years of Settlement in Mathewson Township OK

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Thelma Rose Ratcliff's MS Family History [RtcTR.fmy.hst]


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Loomis (Lum) Meigs,
(1933:Related for The Spectator)
[Long-hand addition to MS title = "Howard & Irene R. bought the Meigs place. Dolores now owns it."]

After leaving Hutchinson, Kans., I was a day late in reaching the "promised land" because of heavy ruins. I also did not want to exhaust my horses, but I was enabled to see some of the casualties of those who took less time. After a few miles I could see where some over-zealous person had driven too recklessly and had broken down his conveyance or tipped over; some had lost a stove pipe, bucket, or a chair -- but did tney stop to recover their losses? No, they did not. Time was too precious

Farther on I saw dead horses, oxen and mules that had been driven or ridden too hard, what surprised me most as I continued on my journey was the several hundred people I met going back to Kansas. Although it was only the first day after the opening of April 22, they invariably told me to turn around and go back home. Some said I would not have room to turn around if 1 went much farther, and that every farm in Oklahoma had two or more occupants already. Nevertheless, I kept on my way -- determined, at least to see the country, whether I got a farm or not.

Finally I got to Kingfisher and was somewhat discouraged as there seemed to be enough people there to populate the whole territory. They seemed to have about a section staked off in town lots, so I concluded that town lots would not be very desirable.

The next day I wended my way eastward hoping to find a claim that I could homestead on. I must have been too particular -- all the bottom land claims as well as the upland ones that I wanted seemed to have one or more claimants already. Finally I got to Guthrie and found about the same conditions, only more booze and gambling.

I started south toward the new town of Oklahoma City but again found the same conditions and no city lots that I would have. I scouted around farther south for a few days, but finally figured out that as I was a single man, the settlers would not even show me any locations that they might know about -- they wanted families for neighbors.

If I had had plenty of cash I could have bought thousands of likely claims for $50 up to several hundred, but my money was too limited for that. I drifted back to Oklahoma City where I got a job of hauling freight for the Darlington Indian Agency.

Sometimes I happened to be at Darlington on beef issue day. The government issued cattle to the Indians and it was a novel sight wnen tne superintendent turned several hundred cattle out on tne prairie and the young bucks took cut after them on their horses until they could shoot them down. The older bucks and squaws hurried up to skin them, often eating some of the raw beef with their children as they worked. At night they often had a pow-wow dance which was quite interesting to watch.

Several times during the first year or two, the report would get around that the Cheyennes and Arapahos were on the war path and the white neighbors rode around through the country warning the people to flee to the towns. Nearly all the people went to fortify themselves for protection; but I will state, as far as I ever knew all alarms mere false for tne Indians never came.

[Loomis took a job as a teamster-freighter]

We often met some queer conveyances during those early days. I remembered an old white-haired Negro driving a covered wagon hitched to only one ox. But he seemed happy and was singing on his way. The teams that hauled wood from Council Grove to Fort Reno and Darlington -- and there were many -- were usually made up of nine yoke of oxen stringing ahead, two abreast , with three heavy wagons loaded with wood. The driver walked along the side of the oxen and when he popped his whip, which sounded like a gun, would those oxen move! Yes, they were fast steppers. There were other freighters too, with seven to nine spans of mules hitched to two or more big wagons loaded with timber or other freight. The driver rode the left rear mule and had one line running to his lead team. It was strenuous work, but the drivers appeared to enjoy their job.

In those days there were no bridges across the rivers and they were sometimes very dangerous to cross. I remember pulling into the North Canadian river with 2,000 feet of lumber when the water was so deep that it nearly floated the team. They could not pull tne load out and I had to get out, unhitch my team, and wait nearly half a day for someone to nelp get me out. It took four teams to pull that load out. Oh, yes they gladly helped me out. Why? Because they could not get cross until I was out of the way.

One thing that lumber business makes me think of, is the fact that I hauled the first load of lumber into the new town of El Reno. I was hired at Darlington to take a load of lumber to the surveyors who had gone over that morning to survey the new town site. The lumber was to floor tents and make tables and benches for the workers. I think this was in June, 1889.

While freighting I learned that there was some vacant land northeast of El Reno. I decided I would look the proposition over and found a very desirable claim. Tnis was in June, 1889, so 1 bought a sod plow and went out and plowed a few acres on the land [G/KSOK/39my04 pix]. I built a fair dugout, worked around for a few days, and then on the 16th of July a neighbor [??who KmbWH?] and I started back to Kansas to work, because our funds were running mighty low. As we went through Kingfisher we filed on our claims, which cost $14.00, and as there was only 50 cents left between us, we hurried on toward Kansas.

A few miles north of Kingfisher we name to the Cimarron river, which was running bank full. People were camped on both sides waiting for it to run down. As our funds were so nearly gone we determined to press on. Notwithstanding the campers all warned us, we chained the wagon-box firmly to the running-gears and drove into the river. The team, wagon and all promptly went out of sight, but the wagon had to run down the incline and it pushed the team out of the deepest water near the bank. By keeping our eyes fixed on the spot we hoped to come out, we managed to make tne crossing all right. As my team had forded many deep streams before they had tne courage to struggle safely through, for a moment it looked as if we would surely be swept down tne river as we could only see tne ears and noses of the horses.

We hurried on to Kansas and stayed there as long as possible, we had to be back in six months as the homestead law required one to live there part of the time, and if one were gone more than six months it was considered an abandoned claim and subject to contest. Well, as usual, I tarried a little too long and tne weather man stepped in again and made my return trip very disagreeable. The weatner in Kansas was fine until the l2th of January. I started back to my claim thut aay as I should be there by the l6th. Tnat morning it was misting wnen I started, and gradually it got worse until at noon it was raining hard. Tne wind went around to the north about 2:00 o'clock and by nignt there was a real blizzard, with the mercury down to zero. Misery likes company, and I was surely glad that my two friends (who wanted to see tne new country and possibly get claims) were witn me.

We found that we could not get to Caldwell that night; roads were frozen hard and fast filling up with snow. We came to a school house and decided to camp there for the night. We put tne tent up south of tne building for the norses and proceeded to make ourselves as comfortable as possible in the school house. Owing to a sorry stove and poor coal, we spent a very uncomfortable night. Our supper consisted of sour-dough pancakes. Be slept on the bare floor with insufficient covers and only one quilt under us and three of us at tnat. The ones sleeping on the sides made the middle man change places with them every once in a while, so they could get thawed out.

Next morning was clear but the roads were drifted full of snow. When the children came for school we broke our camp and proceeded on our journey, hoping for warmer weather ahead.

As we neared Caldwell the Chikaskia was frozen over but not firm enough to hold a team. As I was compelled to get to my claim the next day, I had to leave my team there in a livery barn and the three of us went by train as far as Okarche and then started out on foot, carrying a bed, skillet, coffee pot, etc. To maxe it more discouraging the entire country had been swept clean by prairie fire and it looked so black and dreary that my companions became dissatisfied and wished they had not come. Tney went on with me to my dugout, 14 miles away, and spent another uncomfortable night in the damp, cold dugout.

Tne result was, we all hied back to Kansas the next day. I to get my team and goods and return to Oklahoma, but my companions returned to their comfortable homes, [they were] through with the new country.

Well, my story is too long already, so I haste[n] to a close. I still own my old claim -- and have had it for nearly 44 years. Many happy experiences -- and some sad ones -- have come during the intervening years. I put up a good, clean sod house which was later presided over by the Gragg girl tnat I persuaded to marry me. We raised three children, all of whom are purebred Oklahomans.

Picture inserted with following notation: Sod home of L. G. Meigs, built in 189O, northeast of E1 Reno. Visitor on horse is Will Simpson. In 1895 Mr. Meigs was married to Miss Alice Gragg; they had three children, Edith Lucille, Leonard Charles, Wyman Henry -- and a new home. [G/KSOK/39my04]



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[Blackwood, Ratcliff & Kimball] Family History
as Related by Thelma Rose Ratcliff (Aunty)

William Blackwood married Turzah Ann Hope [Blackwood,Tirza]. Their children were: Ed, Albert, Anna, Jane (Janie), Emma, Walter, Frank, and Addie. A great-great grandmother came from Cork, Ireland. The other heritage is Pennsylvania-Dutch.

These people were Presbyterians of the very strictest type. All food was prepared on Saturday. There was no fire in the kitchen on Sunday; Sunday was observed strictly. Only hymns were sung. This branch of family was very musical. Great-Grandfather had a tuning pipe. The family sang parts, and there were some excellent singers. [More early Blackwood family history at bottom of MS]

Great-Great Grandfather Thomas Ratcliff -- born in England -- close standing to Royal Family [?]. His wife, Mary, was born in Scotland.

Great Grandfather William Ratcliff (first immigrant) married Margarite. One of their sons was John Riley Ratcliff, my grandfather. September 2, 1838 - Sept. 8, 1899. He married, had six children and then after his first wife's death he married Maria Louise Cummings. July 10, 1842 -June 14, 1893.

John Riley Ratcliff 's brother, Thomas Miles, died in a prison camp in the South during the Civil War,

My father Miles , was named for him.

The children of John Riley and his first wife were Robert (Bob), William (Will), Jennie, Nora, Margaret (Maggie), and Cena.

The children of John Riley and his second wife, Maria Louisa Cummings, were:
Lemuel (Lew),
Delia 9/18/1872-10/11/1956,
Miles 9/7/1874-2/10/1952,
Anna 12/4/1876-2/2/1963,
Morris 8/24/1879-6/1943, and
Roy 9/3/1882-192?.

All from second marriage were born in Ayr, Nebraska.

Members of the Ratcliff family were in close standing to the Royal Family and served as ladies-in-waiting, so this heritage is English.

The 12 Ratcliff children were never all together.

Emma Janette [sic!] Blackwood born at Hillsboro, Illinois on August 25, 1851-August 3, 1951, married William Heilich Kimball (German) born at Statesville, North Carolina. ["Heilich" spelling suggests Thelma heard the name pronounced in the German fashion.]

Their children were:
Roy -- Salisbury, NC,
Daisy May -- Salisbury, NC May 13, 1878-April 5, 1944,
Jessie Claire -- Hillsboro IL Sept. 9, 1883-
Fred Hugh Kimball -- Oklahoma Territory Nov. 7, 1890-Nov. 13, 1972.

Daisy May Kimball married Miles W. Ratcliff December 10, 1902. Their children (all born at home on farm out of Piedmont were:
Thelma Rose -December 20, 1903 [- CF:RtcTR obituary],
Howard Odell - October 11, 1908 - August 20, 1954,
Harold Miles - September 25. 1915 - March 19, 1981, and
Margorie [sic!] Anna -February 3, 1919 — September 4, 2005 [death date added by another hand]

Grandfather Kimball [KmbWH] made the Run in 1889. He had a team of Kentucky racers on a bottom box of a wagon. He planned to take a claim on the North Canadian river bottom, but there were too many Sooners. He took the claim one mile west of where Uncle Fred lived. (A mile south of Tub's). The house he built was a one room half dug-out. Grandmother [KmbEJ] came later in the spring. Aunt Jessie was five years old. The water was hard and red. grandmother had her clothes line placed out of sight of the house so no one could see her clothes. They were dyed with Oklahoma's red soil. She used to have to put lye in the water, let it stand over night; then she would skim it the next morning.

The land was covered with prairie grass as tall as four or five, feet. There were no roads, no towns nor schools.

One time Grandmother saw a great prairie fire sweeping toward their home. She sent Aunt Jessie to the "soddy" with her puppy. Grandmother then took an old blind horse and plowed a furrow around the buildings. She aiso set fire to the grass around the house. (This was called back-firing.) She saved the house, feed, and straw barn. Grandfather was in Yukon, saw the fire, had some men help him remove the bed of the wagon, and he raced for home. However, Grandmother had saved the home. Grandfather was prone to spend far too much time in Yukon at one of the various bars, sampling their contents. That plagued the family always. I have heard Momma say she dreaded Christmas and other holidays, because Grandfather celebrated far too much.

Mamma [RtcDM] and Uncle Roy were brought to Oklahoma when Mamma was twelve and Uncle Roy [KmbWR] was fourteen. Mamma said she hated Oklahoma with a passion. They had lived with Great-Grandfather and Great-Grandmother Blackwood on a beautiful farm out of Hillsboro, Illinois. They had a beautiful three story home. It was quite like a modern home. They had wonderful fruit. (I have heard the folk tell how they longed for fruit here.) The only thing they had in those first days was sand plums, which they sweetened with sorghum. (They tried to make preserves of cacti apples.)

There were good schools in Illinois. At first there were no schools in Oklahoma. Then they established subscription schools. They only lasted about two or three months a year. The students had only texts from every state in the Union. There were no desks. The children first sat on split logs. They had recitation benches of split logs. The students took the subjects they wanted. I have heard Mamma say the would cry and beg the teacher to stay longer. The children were so eager to learn. I do not know how they accomplished it, but they were wonderful readers. I never heard my parents make a mistake in grammar, and their pronunciation was superior. My father could work more math in his head the I can do today with tables and books. They spent a great deal of time reading aloud in the evening. They contested spelling and math as we do inter-scholastic athletics today.

It was a long time before schools lasted over a few months per year. I was at least in the eighth grade Before we had a nine months term.

John R. Ratcliff and Marie Louise Cummings came to Oklahoma in April, 1895. They bought the 160 (quarter-section) on which Harold lived. They first built a two-room frame house and located it on the north-east corner of the section (down about a quarter from where the house now stands. They had the sides of the house up when there was a terrible April snow storm. Grandmother had tuberculosis. They put a tarpaulin over the sides of the house and protected her the best they could.

Grandfather moved the house up on the hill so he could get a better view. We can see three counties from there/

Miles W. was fifteen and a big fellow much like Don. Miles W. and Grandfather were blacksmiths. They established a shop at Mathewson which was one mile east of the present Mathewson Cemetery.

The first share they sharpened was somewhat of a disaster. As Grandfather swung his ball-pean hammer, the head flew off and hit Miljes W. in the mouth, knocking off two front teeth. Years later, he had those teeth capped with gold which was the way they corrected teeth in those days.

Later they moved the shop to the home place out on what is about where an old tamarac shrub now is on Harold's (Tub's) lawn. There Grandfather was struck and killed by lightning. There was only a small summer cloud, but Uncle Roy Ratcliff had just said, "Pa, we better quit."

The home became quite a popular bachelors' quarters. They played cards to see who cooked, who washed dishes, who brought in the fuel, etc.

One of the bachelors who made it permanent headquarters was Aimer Alexander Douglas, "Dad". He lived with either Miles W. or Morris until he finally went back to Missouri after Daisy died.

Miles and Morris ran a threshing machine. In the early days the "run" would last as much as 100 days. They had a cook shack and men from as far as Texas would come each year to make the run, Uncle Morris ran the engine and Papa ran the separator. I so remember the Garr-Scott engine and the Rumley Separator. [handwritten text undecipherable]

The young people made their own recreation. There were literary ""•" societies. Mamma sangi Uncle Roy Kimfeall played the harp, and Mamma could out-chord the best on the organ. Papa and Uncle Morris were great athletes Papa was left-handed and could out-pitch the best. I heard one man say he would rather back up to a mule and have him kick, rather than have Papa pitch to him. Uncle Morris was very fast and considered the best as a first baseman. Today they would have gone frofessional. A professional team tried to employ Papa the year he married.

They did a lot of wrestling. At one time a professional boxer came into the country. He challenged the young men, but no one wanted to put on the gloves with him. They finally coaxed Papa to put on the gloves. The professional boxer was shadow boxing while Papa just stood there. Finally Papa saw an opening, and that left hand (I have never seen a man who had such big hands.) flew out with lightning speed. The professional boxer lay unconscious. Papa said, "Take them off, boys. I think I hit him too hard?"

I have always said Papa never knew his own strength. I have seen him lift a binder as most men would lift a ten pound sack of flour. He was 6'1" and often weighed 250 pounds in the later years. His hair was brown, but in the later years it was beautifully white.

They held country dances in the sod homes. At this time there was a family on every quarter section. I have heard Papa say the dust got so thick they could scarcely see across the room.

They rode horse-back a great deal for recreation, and, of course, it was a way of transportation.

Aunt Anna Ratcliff was a superb horse-woman. She liked to race. She rode side-saddle. Her skirt came to the floor. She put shot in the hem so nothng so daring as a bare ankle would be exposedJ

All Papa's sisters taught school. (The half-sisters and his own sisters.) I am the twenty-fourth teacher in the line. The first time a high school inspector observed me teach, he asked as he was leaving, "I want to know one thing. Do you come from a long line of teachers?"

When I answered in the affirmative, he then advised, "Don't spend all of your time going to school in summer. Travel."

I often thought I took his advice too seriously. However, I have surely enjoyed the traveling I have done. One of my students once wrote, "Miss Ratcliff had been every where."

Grandfather Ratcliff and two other men purchased Mathewson Cemetery for $1.50. Each expended fifty cents.

Daisy Kimball and Miles Ratcliff were married December 10, 1902 by the Reverend Davis. I've often heard Mamma say, "I never moved, and I traveled a mile in the buggy when I first married."

She also remarked, "I really shocked the bachelors." They would come tumbling in, and there was a woman! One of the first places Papa and Mamma went when they were first married was to the literary society at Mathewson. They could tell there was a deal of whispering going about so they knew a charivari was eminent. In the rural areas a charivari was considered a compliment to the young couple; however in some cases they got out of hand. The young people would ride wildly, shooting guns into the air and making all kinds of noise. The groom was expected to treat the crowd with cigars and candy.

The first place Mamma went after I was born was to see the new town, Piedmont. A railroad had gone through called the Fort Smith and Western. Piedmont became a very prosperous little town. More wheat was shipped there than from any town of its size in the United States. The Mulvey Mercantile sold more machinery than any town in the state.

The Ratcliffs were Christians. The Kimballs were Presbyterians. They all became Methodist, because in the early days of Piedmont the Methodist Church was most like their own faith.

Daisy was- perhaps one of the greatest extroverts I ever knew. No one had more fun than she. I have seen her walk into a group, and people would begin to chuckle just because she made them think of such pleasant times. Hersaprano voice was one of the best untrained voices I have ever heard. She was always calling on the sick, baking bread for orphaned children, (We had two families of motherless children within a half mile.) (The Brunhorsts and the Springlers)taking gifts to shut-ins, attending W.C.T.U. meetings. (I was the first "white-ribbon" baby in Canadian County.) A white ribbon baby was a baby upon whom a white ribbon was tied when the mother belonged to the W.C.T.U. (Women's Christian Temperance Union)

In those early days families visited more than they do now. Mamma was always bringing some one home from church. I used to suffer, thinking we wouldn't have enough for the guests, but Mamma could stretch any meal to accomplish its purpose.

We had one of the first telephones in the country. The neighbor children at first used to come just to see Mamma talk to the "box on the wall". Mamma did. enjoy the telephone; she liked to "pike" which was a favorite pastime in those early days. As long as Mamma lived our telephone number was 1177. I got a new dress to wear my first day of school, because I learned our number.

The operator was called "Central". She was a great source of information. When we would call for a number, she would say, "They aren't at home. I just saw them pass." Sometimes she might say, "I just saw him go into the beer-joint. I'll send one of the kids to get him.", , 'If there were a fire, a bit of general information, or something of ,&\a.t type, we would have a "general-ring". The central would ring four ' long rings and several short ones. Since there were many people on one line, everyone wofltld dash to see what was to be announced. "Central" often repeated, because some customer always failed to understand.the. first statement. . '" , .•

Howard Odell was born October" 11, 1908. He was a large nine "pound'boy, and Papa was realty proud of him. I called him "Brother-Baby" for a long time.

The month Wf was born, Papa had the old house pushed back, and they built the big two-story house which burned after Papa and Mamma died. Harold and Irene were visiting in California at the time. There were many treasures of the family that burned.

Howard was an unusual little boy. Now I know he nearly starved to death as a baby. Mamma Never was able to nurse her babies well. (Additional foods were unheard of at that time.) She was excited over the new house.

I remember the day we moved in. We had planned to have everything done, but we had a blizzard in December. The old house was so cold, because it was off the foundation. I remember Papa said to me "Be careful of the big window." That living room was one of the most pleasant rooms I ever saw. It was 14x16 on the south-east corner. I always think of home whenever I smell wootf smoke or madeira vines.

Howard hated small chores. "Dad" Douglas always covered for him. There was very little food Howard liked, and I am sure he never felt very well as a little boy. School to him was one of life's unnecessary evils. I can see why. He knew his alphabet when he startedl We had the poorest teacher. He had a chart with the alphabet. For the six months he taught; that was all the first graders had. That would bore the best of ??i?s,

Howard wanted to spend his time with the threshing crew. Dad would sneak food at the table so Howand could have lunch.

When Howard was about seventeen, he was going out to Calumet to "work on the road". I can remenber Papa's saying to Howard as he left, "Just remember who you are." Mamma didn't want Howard to go, because sfle had a fear he wouldn't find the best company. As I remember, he was home withir a few days.

Howard,inherited Grandfather Kiuiball's ability to "horse-trade". All HowardJS life he was "wheeling and dealing". You perhaps see how Glen comes by it honestly.

Harold was born September 25, 1915. He was a cute little fellow. One day in November,1918, he had been out with the men working on the road. I was going to visix a friend. I hitched "Old Dolly" to the buggy. Harold wanted to go along. I replied, "Go let Mamma wash your face." He came back and we had the best time. As we reached home that evening, Howard came running'out and jumped on "Dolly". I saw her start to kick. I grabbed for Harold, because he was in the front of the buggy. I thought I had rescued him, but as I pulled him closer, I could see his exposed brain.

I jumped with him in my arms, screaming at Mamma. Papa was just coming in from the road. I called the old Dr. Stilwell and told him we were coming to town. They let us children off at Hidys. Tub lost brain matter. The doctor saw he could do nothing. He put a bandage on and they dashed for the Polyclinic Hospital in the T Model Ford touring car. John Whelan and Ed Washecheck were to follow in case Papa had car trouble. John never caught sight of Papa. An old doctor, Dr. Jolly, had come out of retirement during the war. He operated on Tub's head. Later he told the folfc, "Your little boy won't know anything for at least six months and perhaps never!" You folk get a room and rest." He could tell Mamma really needed rest, because Marjorie was born February 3 and that was November.

When the folk walked into the hospital the next morning, the nurse at the desk greeted them, "Your little boy has been asking for you!" In the night the nurse thought he was regaining consciousness. She asked, "What is your name?"

"Harold Miles Ratcliff" "Where do you live?"


"Do you have a dog?"

"Yes, his name is Bill."

He made rapid recovery, but the doctor was sure Harold would need further surgery on his eye, because the shattered bone had evidently scratched it all the way from home.

One evening Harold said to Mamma, "This udder eye is wanting to see."

Mamma said she never had such relief as when she lifted that bandage, and that brown eye was sparkling at her.

Papa had &one down to see them, and the doctor dismissed them immediately. I relnember it was a cloudy evening, and I was just looking in the old Majestic range to see how my cornbread was progressing.

We went through some frightening times, because Tub was one of those very active little boys. All that protected his brain was a very little skin tissue. Papa tried to make shields for Tub, who took them off faster than Papa could prepare them. One was of the aluminum dipper.

Howard was always hitching up everything with four legs. He had a steer and a horse he drove everywhere. Later he had two steers. One day Mamma looked out just as the steers went one way? Howard and Elmer Brunkhorst went another, and the buggy stayed at the fence. The harness was never found!

Mamma always fed the preachers cottage cheese, cream, eggs, chicken, fruit, and anything we had on the farm.

Papa was the repair man for the church as well as handy-man at home. He spoiled us all. If anything went "hay-wire", he could repair it.

Of course, Oklahoma had its good years and bad. I remember 1911 when Papa and Mamma went on the west hill to cut oats with the mower. Papa tried it for a round or two and then said, "It is just too short." When I was in high school, we had such beautiful wheat (nearly to Papa's arm pits.) It was peal early, May 2?, and just about ready to cut. We had a hail which practically leveled it.

The Christmas before Marjorie was born, we had such a snow storm on Christmas Eve that when we tried to go to Grandma's (a mile east and 'three-fourths south) we got only about half a mile south and the canyons r^.exe^drifjte.d full of snow. We were driving four horses, and Howard was riding^ *tifS" lead team. As we got to what is now the Pruitt (McKee) place, the lead team-began to flounder in the deep snow. Howard went crawling and escaped the striking hpo.fs._ W,e got ^turned around and spent the day at home.

One year Papfi furnished the Christmas tree'for the church. The tree reached the top of the church and was positively treautiful.

On the way to the program, Papa exclaimed, "By Joe, I forgot my belt!"

Mamma casually replied, "It won't make any dif/erence. You will just be sitting still in the back of the churcfc.

The program was completed. In those days everything was on the tree from dolls to rocking chairs. The Sunday School superintendent scanned the audience and commanded, "Miles, you come get on the ladder and reach those gifts at the top." All went well, and people were assisting Santa when suddenly the tree started to fall. I can remember thinking, "I hope nothing breaks."

On the way home Mamma said, "Miles, it looked to me as if you could have caught the tree,"

"WellV'he slowly replied, "it was the tree or my pants!"

Papa had for years farmed a place called "The Ttflbert Place". It was owned by a man in Chicago. He died, and his Chicago relatives inherited it. They came, and how they disliked this countryI They had lived in basement apartments and never seen anything growing. Mamma would give them vegetables, and they had no idea what they were. Finally one day they offered the place to Mamma for $4,000.00, and she bought it. Of course, Papa approved heartily. However, $4,000.00 in those days would certainly amount to many times that sum today.

Howard never liked school, and it was my life. He really complained when it took a load of oats to buy me a hat (It was pretty.) when I went to Stillwater as a sophomore in high school.

Uncle Morris attended Stillwater when Old Central was the only building, and the students lined up outside and marched into class as elementary students do today. O.S.U. (formerly A. & M.) is today the largest campus in the world.

World War I didn't touch our family too closely except there was the constant fear of its worsening. We suffered after it financially. I know Papa had been farming about 600 acres, and he had one of the best crops we ever had. During threshing he bought a new Dodge touring. I learned to drive it by the book of directions. I had driven the old T Model Ford, and shifting was an unknown hardship. I was nearly snapping Mamma's and the kids' heads off, because I didn't know there was a "second gear".

Papa got $2.00 a bushel for the wheat he sold to buy the Dodge, but he held all the rest and had to sell for 25£ a bushel!

In 1923 we made a trip to Colorado. We drove the Dodge? Uncle Morris had a Cleveland, and Uncle Freds had a Ford sedan. We made Enid the first night. On the entire trip we had twenty-seven miles of pavement in Stephens County, Kansas. Papa was afraid we would get thirsty so we ki$s rode along side a cream can of ice water all the way. We also,had enough wood for a fire. We didn't take coats and went up Pike's Peafl. It was 37 degrees and sleeting! Sleet is sleet, and we nearly froze. We did see some of the most beautiful country. I shall never forget one grove of blue spruce. We were in so much unspoiled country. Years later it was unrecognizable. We were unprepared for Colorado's sudden showers. Papa always thought, "That shower will go around." It was such a chore to button on those side curtains that we were all drenched by the time we were "buttoned in", and the shower had passed. Mamma really had a ball. She met everyone in every camp-site. On the way home she asked once where we could get some ice. The native replied, "Jest bey£nt the ka'ffy(cafe). " That still is a family expression.

The years merged. Howard and Irene were married. We really worked on that house. It was a beautiful house, but renters had taken their toll. We wouldn't let Irene see it until we had scrubbed, scoured, jerked out cabinets, painted, and papered. Her one request had been for a dressing table. She was so proud of it. The mirror is in Glen's hall. When Roy came along, the only thing he could not or would not learn was to refrain from slowly pulling off the cover on the dressing table.

I bought his first high chair in Guthrie. The folk used to put a bean or two on his tray, and he would chase it with his fat little finger throughout the meal.

When I taught in CreseQnt, they came to seerome. I had such a pretty little navy blue suit for his birthday. During dinner tears kept rolling down Roy's cheeks. He wouldn't cry, but he wanted coffee. They were ... ashamed for me to know he liked coffee so much.

They moved to the place on the creek just a mile north of the Shear place. Roy was surely happy there. The poly-wogs and minnows were plentiful. He just lived there. Dad Douglas was a wonderful companion. He was a nature lover and told Roy the habits of many wild creatures.

One time when Roy was about three, we were picking strawberries. I asked, "Do you know what Dad's real name is?"

"It's Dad."

"No, itss Aimer Alexander Douglas."

Roy's face really got red, and he informed me in no uncertain terms that I was wrong.

Roy once said to me after he was grown, "Every little boy should get to live by a creek."

I never saw two children who played together more happily than Marjorie and Tub. They were in the house very little and rode everywhere on "Charlie and later "Babe". Marjorie was always unusually small, and we dressed her in red. One time she told me, "I don't want a bonnej^ I want a hat wis' fouers, fedders, and flags!"

Howard nick-named her "Prissy" and called her that all his life.

Marjorie and Loren liked to sing, but he was scared of an audience. They were about three and singing at church. He didn't make a sound. She punched him and said, "Sing."

"I tan't. My bedy aches."

[The text continues in long-hand = ]

We used always to have Children's Day at Sunday School. Everyone would participate in some way. Once when Marjorie was about two she was in a little exercise and her line (as "One of God's Little Flowers") was, "Sweet peas so sweet." Mamma and I were in the choir, and I saw Blanche Garten (Roy's first wife) hand Marjorie a petunia. She stood there, looking like a thunder cloud and wouldn't say a word. Mamma had some sweet peas in her hair. I said, "Quick! Give me your sweet peas!"

I handed Marjorie the right flowers, and she spoke her piece loud and clear.

(The Baby's singing her solo!)

[Final three sheets of RtcTR.fmy.hst takes up earlier Blackwood family history in long-hand = ]

The Blackwoods, Browns, Craigs, Freelands, and Strayhorns arrived in America in 1736-1741 from Londonderry, Ireland, and settled in Pennsylvania for only a few months. (Their Presbyterian religion was not in accord with the Quakers.) They traveled to Virginia, but left there because the Church of England was firmly established there.

The rivers of Virginia were frozen, and they crossed on the ice. They first settled in the Hawfields of North Carolina, and then moved to the New Hope Vicinity. After their weary wanderings, they were so impressed with the beautiful valley with its fine stream that they named it New Hope, North Carolina.

(Source -- material North Carolina State Department.)

The New Hope Church was organized in 1754. The first building was burned by the Indians. The Church tract (200 acres) was deeded to the New Hope Presbyterians by Gilbert Strayhorn in 1792. Other acres were given by William Craig, the first landowner in the community. The Craig house stands still [?date]. Blackwood Station and Cemetery are nearby. Chapel Hill is five miles south and Hillsboro [Hillsborough?] five miles north. Hillsboro was the State Capital in 1775. The grave of William Hoper, signer of the Declaration of Independence is in the Cemetery. Lord Cornwallis tried to organize soldiers here for the King, but he was unsuccessful.

William David Blackwood was born in North Carolina in 1827. He came to Illinois in 1836 with his parents. He lived on the homeplace near the Waveland Church, Hillsboro, Illinois. He married Tirzah Ann Hope [sic!]. He died November 19, 1902. (over)

I've [?"I've" = "I, Thelma, have"] always heard we have the blood of Pennsylvania Dutch, and some ancestors came from Cork, Ireland. Evidently that line came from Turzah [sic!] Hope.

The Blackwood home stands still out of Hillsboro. The house is on one side of the road, and the barn is on the other. There is not a nail in the barn. It was made with walnut beams and is all put together with wooden pegs.

One could see years ago -- and I presume still -- a carving [drawing shows heart with two sets of initials inside = "WHK" and "EJB"]. Grandfather Kimball's initials were WHK. Grandmother's were E.J.B.

Your Aunty.

Still no word from Mrs. Whitehed [??]