Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sooner Recollections

     Since I will be away from the blogging world for a few days, here is a past entry you may find interesting. 
     There are a few more entries in the archives under the category of  'Oklahoma'. 

Oklahoma has been in the news quite a bit lately, unfortunately. It’s been a pretty dangerous place to be these past few weeks.
 In 1884, my great-great grandfather Henry Clay Sweet surveyed the land for the future town of Mangum, later becoming its first postmaster.
His daughter Lucy married my great-grandfather Ashley Wilson in 1890 and they settled in Mangum, where Ashley had a large farm and ran a prosperous general store, Jackson & Wilson.

Ashley and Lucy Wilson

For a flavor of what life was like then, here are some thoughts from my great-uncle Bodie Wilson, one of 14 children produced by Lucy and Ashley.                                                                                                          (He was christened Ambrose Wickersham.        
Is it any wonder that he went by the name of Bodie?)

“Pa used to make about “$500 a year on the farm. The family raised seed and feed, plowed with animals, pumped water, had a wood stove, pigs, and chickens. $1 a month for a phone if you had one. They sold cream, cattle and crops, rendered lard for cooking, bought kerosene and sugar.”

“When Mother  moved to Mangum (then Greer County, Texas), the New York Times did a story on her being the first white woman in that area.”

-         And you think dating today is tricky?  -
“Before she was married, my mother had a date with a young federal marshal. He had to go over into Indian territory to hunt an outlaw. Mother begged him not to go. He didn’t come back for the date. Later someone found him in a slough (bog), just his boot sticking out. They buried him in a blanket.”

“When he was young, Pa rode out to see a girl. He ran into some people who told him there were outlaws nearby, a posse was looking for them.  He rode on anyway. Just as his horse stepped into the creek he saw out of the corner of his eye four men on their bellies training their rifles on him. He felt the hair rise on the back of his neck.  He rode on like he didn’t notice and got to the house. The girl and her brother said, ‘We were scared for you. We warned you not to come.”

“When Ma and Pa got married they drove in a buggy to Mobeetie, Texas – 85 miles away – to get the marriage license. They lived in a dugout when first married. ”

-  Just Another Day -

“Mother once chopped the head off a snake and milked out the chicken eggs it had just swallowed.”

“One year before winter Mother ordered some shoes from the Montgomery Ward catalog. When they came it was two left feet. Chief Lonewolf’s wife made her some moccasins.”

“Pa used to go down to the stock tank and break the ice and get in for his bath. Once during his bath he saw people coming. He got out and climbed a tree. They passed by as if they hadn’t seen. He had an old ripped feed bag to dry off with.”

“My mother never went to town without taking something for the poor – separated milk, pork livers, fruit and vegetables. Pa let them glean and let Indians stay on the land.”

                                             -    And from Ashley himself  -
“When you make fun of me, you’re making fun of your betters.”

“There are two ways to make a living.
Work for it or beat someone out of it. It’s easier to work for it.”

“So and So? Well, there’s not any good in him and not any harm either.”
“He’s such a good man he’d wade the creek to pay you back.”

-         And Lucy gets the last word in with advice for us all –

“Wash your feet, go to bed, and pray for rain.”


  1. Fascinating stuff - people were so independent and strong in the old wild west.

    1. I have a feeling that Ashley senior was quite the character. And Lucy was no slouch either. What we all need are time machines so we can meet these people from our past.

  2. And now the secret is out where our daughter Ashley and our Grandson Gerald Bodie Collins got their names.

  3. I saw that you added yourself to Fridge Soup and decided to come and take a look.

    This is brilliant stuff, are you going to collect these writings and turn them into a kind of family memoir?
    I for one would love to read more.

    Have you inherited this intrepid pioneer spirit? Or do you get your eggs from the hens direct?

    1. How delightful to hear from you, Friko.

      No I fear my life is more on the level of emptying litter boxes than milking snakes. Nothing like indoor plumbing and waking up after 5 am to soften a girl.

  4. Wow. I wouldn't have lasted a week there/then. But I suppose those brave enough to cross the ocean in boats to an uncertain future, and their descendants, are likely to have been made of sterner stuff than I am. My ancestors stayed right where they were.

    1. And they were probably the better for it, Isabelle. None of that schlepping around all over tarnation.

  5. Thank you for this peek into your family history. I am always fascinated with family tales and have a few, good and bad, myself.

    Mom and Dad were children in the Great Depression. Dad experienced the Dust Bowl in Kansas. I have been raised well by them.

  6. Gail -
    The Great Depression certainly left its imprint on those that lived through it. My mother-in-law was fond of coffee cans of cash in the woodpile.


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