Bourland in North Texas and Indian Territory During the Civil War: Fort Cobb, Fort Arbuckle & the Wichita Mountains

by Patricia Adkins-Rochette

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The Washita Valley in the 1880s  (index at bottom of page)

 Erin Springs, Beef Creek and Purcell

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Jonathan Hazel (1852-1926)

An essay written about 1950 by Elizabeth Juanita Hazel Smith (died in 1958 Santa Ana, Orange County, CA) and found in The McClain County OK Historical Society, Purcell OK. It is important that the reader understand that Jonathan Hazel was considerably more financially successful than his neighbors. Sent by Joyce Rex of Purcell OK then retyped and indexed by Patricia Adkins-Rochette of Duncan OK.



Elizabeth Juanita Hazel Smith (1878-1958)

My father, Jonathan Hazel, was born 3 February 1852 in Lavaca County, Texas. My mother, Evaleen Hadley Irwin was born 10 December 1855 in Carthage, Panola County, Texas. She was the daughter of Alexander Donahoe Irwin and Elizabeth Anderson. My parents were married at Boggy Depot, Indian Territory 18 January 1876. This place was so named because the stage depot was located there. Also, during the Civil War the Union Army had a big ammunition depot and they trained some of their troops there. The name itself describes the area aptly — in wet weather, it is truly boggy. My sister, Caroline Matilda "Carrie" (1876-1953), was born there 10 November 1876.

Editor’s note: The Confederates controlled Boggy Depot, Choctaw Nation, I.T. (now Atoka Co OK), a major repository for commissary of subsistence stores until about February 1864 when the Union Army took command.

An interesting July 29, 1863 receipt on vIp165 of Bourland in North Texas and Indian Territory During the Civil War reads: "July 29, Receipt for purchase of 852 pounds of corn for 71 horses, purchased from Capt. W.H. Wooten, (signed) A.B. White, for Bourland’s Border Battalion." This was Captain A.B. White of Company ‘D’ of Bourland’s Regiment from Whitesboro, Grayson County, Texas. per CSA National Archives, Bourland’s Regiment.

Moved 1879 to Washita Valley

In the fall of 1877 my parents came West to the Washita River Valley (about 100 miles), stayed awhile then went back to Boggy Depot. I, Elizabeth Juanita Hazel, was born there 29 December 1878. Other children born to my parents were Arthur Oscar, Alberta Evaleen "Burd", Lamar Irwin, Stella Pearl (deceased) and George Jonathan. Grandmother [Caroline Buckholts] Hazel [1816-1892] came to live with us and also two cousins, "May" [Mary Hazel Jenkins (1872-1950)] and Seth Field Hazel [(1874-1907), children of Jane Holt (c1848-1879) and James Polk Hazel (1848-1879)]. Then in September 1879 my parents came back to the Washita River Valley to stay. They traveled by wagon and horses and settled on the banks of the river at a point about six miles east of the town of Lindsay, [Garvin County] Oklahoma.

Erin Springs, six miles west

The home on the Washita River is the first home I remember. It consisted of a large cabin of hewn logs, chinked with lime mortar and a limestone rock fireplace. This was our living room and bedroom. Across the back side were two double beds with space enough between for trundle beds for the small children. These were built low enough to roll under the big beds in the day time. Later a shed room, or lean-to, was built of lumber across the west side which provided two bedrooms, and a porch across the front. Still later a room was built of lumber across the south end for Grandmother Hazel. Our dining room and kitchen was another large log cabin with a fireplace. There was quite a space between the two cabins, somewhat like a patio. This had flagstones of the same flat limestone as the chimney and in summer this had a framework of poles over it on which were put green branches cut from the trees along the river, forming a "roof" which a light rain would not penetrate, and which was called a "brush arbor." This was our summer dining room. We also had a smoke house (of logs), a large room with dirt floor where the meat was smoked. Also a dugout or outdoor cellar, where our fruit and vegetables were stored in winter to keep them from freezing and our milk and butter were kept cool in summer.

Our chicken houses were also built of logs with roofs of thatched prairie hay. Over in a corner of the yard was a log cabin with a fireplace and sod chimney for the hired men’s sleeping quarters. They came to the kitchen for their meals.

Our yard which covered more than a city block, was enclosed with a rail fence, the front of it "stake and rider" fashion while the back portion was "laid up elbow" style. At the front we had a gate, or what we called a stile, which consisted of steps up from the inside with a platform over the fence so that one, especially women, could mount or dismount a horse without assistance or without having to stand in dust or mud. Also, we dismounted from or could get into vehicles without difficulty, as all vehicles were built high off the ground and all women rode side saddle.

Horsewoman’s apparel

The women wore long full black cambric skirts (riding skirts) which buttoned around the waist and were long enough to cover the feet. These protected the clothes from dust or mud or possible contact with the horse and were removed immediately after one dismounted. We rode double, that is, one in the saddle and one behind on the horse rump on an extension of the saddle blanket, and held on to the one in the saddle, or when experienced, without holding to anything. It was not at all unusual for a Mother to hold a baby in her lap and another small child behind her on her horse and go about the country for miles, just as they do today with cars. This often entailed getting off and opening and closing gates and then getting on [her horse] again. I often wonder what the athletic women of today would do under such circumstances, for of course, horse back was the commonest mode of travel.

Orchards and wild fruit

At the back of the kitchen and smoke house were two large black cherry trees, one or two plum trees and about a dozen peach trees. The fruit from these trees were supplemented by the Chickasaw plums [wild sand plums] which grew wild in abundance; also wild dew berries (black) in the spring and early summer; and during the summer and fall, the wild [possum] grapes, [Chickasaw sand] plums, red and black haws and [wild] persimmons. There were no apples in our locality, but at Paul’s Valley [Garvin County], about 25 miles away, Mr. [Smith] Paul had quite extensive orchards. These [Paul’s fruit boxes] were peddled about the country. Our garden was quite a ways from the house, out of the range of the chickens. One of my earliest recollections was the joy we children derived from the colored plates [pictures] of William Henry Maule's (Philadelphia [PA]) seed catalogue.

Horse lots, cow lots, pig lots

Our corrals for horses and cows, and cribs and sheds were north of the house along the bluff above the river. The corn cribs were built of poles running east and west, with a framework of roof on the south side. This roof was covered with light brush, then prairie hay, and tied at intervals with poles forming warm shelter for the [live]stock. These were divided into stalls with feed boxes and mangers for hay. All of these partitions were made of poles from which the bark had been peeled, there was no lumber to be had. We had no barns, no horse sheds, nor cow sheds; just horse lots and cow and hog pens and hog lots.


Our Daily Activities

The family arose at 4:00 a.m. for there were fires to be made, meals prepared, water to be heated for morning ablutions [cleaning] in winter, (there was a crust of ice on the water bucket in winter.) There was [live] stock of all sorts to be fed, cows to be milked and milk to strain, cream to be skimmed and churned into butter, then the butter to be washed, salted, and put away. Then all the milk pails, crocks and churns to be washed and scalded. During farming season there were three meals to be cooked; along with gardening, raising chickens, ducks, geese, sewing, much of it done by hand. Everything was buttoned which entailed working many, many button holes, and quilts were pieced and quilted

In cool or cold weather there was always a fire in the two fireplaces and much of the food that required boiling was done in a kettle on the hearth, or irons heated when the family ironing had to be done. This saved much wood chopping and splitting. There were no saws. During the summer months, our winter’s wood was cut and hauled many miles from the oak ridges, then chopped up in fireplace and cook stove lengths, and the stove wood was split and all of it then was allowed to dry out, as it would not burn when green.

Wash day

On sunny days we played outside, near the house to protect us from the cold winds or sometimes the sunny side of the haystacks; or on wash days, near the big iron "wash pot" (we called it), or kettle in which the clothes were boiled, and under which we were required to keep the fires going. For this we used chips from the wood pile and cobs from the feed lots.

When the weather was too severe, we opened the cellar door and played up and down the steps where the sun shone but the cold wind could not reach us. Our winters were very cold and our Grandma Hazel knitted us heavy wool stockings and our shoes were quite heavy with a piece of brass across the toe to protect the leather from all the stubs that a small pioneer child’s shoes had to encounter.

We had lots of fun around the old kitchen hearth, with fire going and lots of hot embers. We roasted small sweet potatoes and eggs in the embers or put corn on the hearth, then a shovel of hot embers over it and then we’d scramble for each grain as it pooped out, or if there was no popcorn, we parched field corn. Sometimes we made [toy] horses and dogs and other animals from corn stalks, rather crude, of course, but we were busy and happy and out from under Mother’s feet.

Cattle feed-lot business

My father raised cattle, hogs, and horses, mostly cattle. The rich valleys along the rivers were fenced and planted to corn and the rest of the country was open range for the [live]stock, as the land was held in common by the Indian tribes. Before the Santa Fe Railway extended its line through the Indian Territory and Texas, my father, in addition to his own, fed beef cattle for a man named Charles Wood from Wichita Falls, Texas. They [Wood’s men] drove these cattle up there [about 150 miles] in the fall, then Dad fed them through the winter and in the spring the owners came and drove them to the railroad in Kansas. The feed pens were located about one-fourth mile from our home, in a wooded branch that sloped gently down to the river. The corn cribs were built in a long row across the north side which served as a wind break in stormy weather. The feed troughs were scattered all over a large area. The chopped corn — shucks, cobs and all — were scooped into these troughs. The hogs were fed the waste corn. These feed pens attracted an abundance of wild turkey, quail, ducks, and geese. So my father made traps for the quail and turkey, and shot the water fowl after they left, or before they arrived at the feed pens. He never shot anything in the pens as that would have stampeded the cattle. It was a rare treat for us children to be allowed to ride on the corn wagons as they hauled the corn to the cribs at the feed pens.

Black-bird pie

How we delighted in seeing all the birds that frequented the feed pens; blue birds, red birds (cardinals), quail, and many others. As every driver of a wagon carried a jug of water and they would sing as we drove along, "Little Brown Jug," "How I Love Thee," it was all all so real to my simple childish mind. The black birds came in such swarms that I have seen my father turn loose both barrels of a shot gun into them as they circled overhead, and showers of black birds and feathers came down. We didn’t have black bird pie, but we children would gather them up and dress them [remove feathers and clean] and put them on the end of a stick and attempt to broil them them over the fire; usually the result was a little black lump not much bigger than a thumb, all charred on the outside and bloody inside.

Croquet, a community attraction

One year father sowed a patch of millet just back of the house, about 20 acres, I think. We children pulled the weeds from this and as a reward, he bought us a croquet set and made us a nice court [croquet lawn] on the east side of the house. We had a lot of fun playing, and as it was the only one in our locality, our friends came from far and near to play. Finally the children’s game was taken over by the grown folks, and the increased numbers of guests, (they always had to be fed), made so much added work for Mother. Father felt he must do something about it — and he did — piece by piece, the croquet set became lost and hunt as we might, we could not find it [the pieces]. Dad told me, after I was grown and married that he took the it down to the river and threw it in, and let the current carry it away.

Wild onions

In spring, when the warm sunny days came, we children wandered through the pastures gathering wild flowers, eagerly digging and eating the little wild onions that grew everywhere. We were so starved for green things. We picked the tender leaves of the "lamb’s quarters" and sour dock for greens [maybe also poke salad greens and sheepshowers]. And oh how we thrilled when father hitched the team to the turning plow and plowed the garden. We, barefooted would follow after him and how good the warm fresh earth felt to our feet. The chickens swarmed over the fresh plowed ground feasting on grubs, bugs and spiders that were thus rudely exposed to view. We helped according to our capacity with planting of the garden and watched eagerly for the fresh green lines that meant garden salads. We helped with transplanting of plants from the hot beds. Sweet potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, (thank heavens we didn’t raise head lettuce), these plants (in case it didn’t rain at the proper time and and it usually didn’t) had to be watered, so each of us with buckets in proportion to our size, went up and down the long rows, tipping our bucket at each plant, allowing about a pint of water for each plant. This was done in the warm spring twilight. Ours was a very busy family, therefore, a very happy carefree family.

Steam-engine riverboats and locomotives

We lived about a quarter mile from the main east-west road, and as a small child, I can remember the ox-drawn wagon trains hauling freight from Denison [Grayson County], Texas to Silver City [Grant County], New Mexico. Later these were changed to horse and mule teams which were faster. These being replaced by the iron horse (railroads). These trains supplied various army posts along the route, Fort Sill [now Comanche County OK] was one of them. The railroad ran along the river so as to have water for their steam engines. Sometimes it just came over the tracks and traffic was tied up. Sometimes the [Washita] river overflowed and washed out the tracks and traffic was tied up. Sometimes it just came over the tracks and into the depot and other buildings and left a lot of mud to be cleaned up. My first ride on a train was from Purcell to the picnic grounds — about one and half miles — big thrill.

Editor’s note: Since steam engines required so much wood for fuel and water, the landscape on either side of the rivers was denuded to propel steam engines: first for the riverboats then for the rail locomotives.

Beef Creek

Our nearest store and post office was Erin Springs [Garvin County] about six and a half miles west. There was another store at Beef Creek, now Maysville, about eight miles southeast, and another at White Bead some fifteen miles southeast. Once and sometimes twice a year my father and mother went to Gainesville [Cooke Co], Texas, about 110 miles away. This meant traversing some very rough country, through the Arbuckle Mountains [Murray County OK], a low range that was famous as a hideout for cattle and horse thieves. There were no bridges, so all streams, including Red River, had to be forded. Gainesville, was a magic word to us children, for they brought back new saddles, harnesses, wagons, and our joy knew no bounds when they arrived with a new double-seated carriage. My mother was a good horse woman, and with a pair of spirited horses, we traveled over the country side. We had neighbors from one to two, or three or four or five miles away. We usually would spend the day and at evening on the homeward trip, Mother would wrap the lines [reins] around her hands and pull with all her might; even so, sometimes we would arrive at the pasture gate in a dead run. We, of course, thought it was fun. We were not afraid of our horses, for they were our means of going places. We fed them and watered them, curried and brushed them until their coats shone in the sun.



There being no evergreen trees in our locality, we did not have Christmas trees in our homes. Some time though, they would have one at the school house. (I have no idea how they got the trees.) It was a community affair and the parents saw to it that there were gifts for the older children and cornucopias of candy for the small fry. When I was about eight years old (c1884), Papa took us to one, up somewhere in the neighborhood of where Lindsay is now. We crossed the [Washita] river and it seemed so ominous in the dark, (there was no moon), and we went eight miles to this school house. The room was lighted with lamps (would be very dim in this electric age), and the Christmas tree was trimmed with bits of cotton and ropes of popcorn with lighted candles on it. A wonderful, beautiful sight to my childish eyes. It was laden with packages, and unwrapped gifts, and the little colored paper cornucopias filled with candy. Of course, there was community singing of Christmas hymns, and then that long, dark trip home. However, our horses were surefooted and with Papa alert and careful to guide them, we arrived home safely, happy and sleepy. I think that was the first time I had gone out and come back in the dark. The roads were rough in places and sometimes dim trails. On this occasion Papa took the wagon, for it was built higher and was sturdier than the carriage. It was cold so he put the bows and sheet on, to keep out the cold. We usually went to Erin Springs, which was on our side of the river. This was the main road and was in much better condition — no timber.

Another Christmas I remember; the ground was covered with snow. The afternoon of Christmas Eve friends began coming. The local musician was a banjo picker; he came, (walked, I don’t know how far) and they moved the furniture out of the living room and the dancing began (square dance). By dark, all the neighbors were there, and they danced all night, and quite a number stayed for breakfast. We were quite dismayed because we couldn’t hang up our stockings, but Mama and Papa assured us would find them in the bedroom. Christmas morning, some candy, an orange and a gift were at our places at the table, and we were so thrilled for we could show them to our company. I don’t remember what the younger children got, but mine, Carrie’s and May’s [Mary {Hazel} Jenkins] were colored glass slippers with bottles of perfume in them. Carries was blue and my [was] pale green, May’s was a little boot [that was] also blue.

The Choctaw Indian reservation was southeast of Erin Springs [Rush Creek] so the Indians passed by our place on their way to the [U.S.] government offices at Fort Sill. One day Mama was hanging out the washing, Arthur, Burd, and Lamar were playing close by. Mama had a flock of white geese which were not too common in that locality. The Indians saw the geese and came running up to see if they could buy some. The children thought they [the Indians] were coming after them and they nearly pulled Mama’s skirt off trying to hide in its folds, they were also scared.



Lack of schools in the territory was a problem. There were no organized schools except those maintained by the tribal governments. But we were Choctaws living in the Chickasaw Nation, so therefore, we were not entitled to attend either one. So it was the custom for people who had an education to teach in the little school houses or churches, charging so much per month, per pupil. Our parents were very anxious that we have more education than they had, and so off we went to school. My first school, was at Beef Creek where my sister Carrie and I were sent. We boarded in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel L. Williams, a young couple with two small children. Mr. Williams, through some accident, was partially paralyzed in his left side and could do no manual labor, so he taught school. He was from Nashville, Tennessee and had a college education. Afterward he was prominent as a cattleman and also as banker at Purcell, Oklahoma. He was very kind and his young and beautiful wife was so sweet. I was about [age] six and Carrie eight. We learned to read, write, spell, and our multiplication tables. We were there three months and then someone opened a school at Erin Springs, so we went home, as we could ride to school from home. Father paid a dollar and half to two dollars per month per pupil, tuition, in those territorial schools.

Erin Springs School

Our teacher at Erin Springs was a Mrs. Wallace. A young couple from Terrell [Kaufman County], Texas. Mr. Wallace had a store and she taught [in] the village school. She was earnest, painstaking and always kind. The school house was a one-room school building with blackboard on the wall with crude benches. My father made a desk and we were quite proud of it. The other children used it for writing. Here we studied our McGuffey Readers, Blue-back Spellers, arithmetic, geography, and writing.

We had to draw maps of all the states, free hand, and oh how we toiled over them. The older children had copy books for writing, but we beginners had our copy written for us by the teacher. We memorialized the multiplication tables up to and including the twelves. We memorialized the states of the union in groups, beginning with the New England states, their capitols, and where situated. Every Friday afternoon, we spoke pieces or had spelling matches and sang songs, mostly church hymns. Mrs. Wallace had an organ which she kept in the school building and played for us to sing. Therefore, a teacher had to be rather versatile and a great deal was expected of anyone who assumed the role of school teacher. The school building was also used for whatever religious service that was held. These services were intermittent but were well attended.

Care of horse during school day

We rode to school on horseback, riding double, my cousin Seth [Field Hazel (1876-1907)] and Carrie on one horse and my cousin May [Mary {Hazel} Jenkins] and I on the other. We carried our books in our homemade satchel, and our lunches in a tin pail with a tight-fitting lid, that wouldn’t jostle off while riding. When we got to school, the horses were unsaddled and the halter with a rope attached, was put on, the rope was tied to a fence post, or a stake, so they were free to nibble at the grass. At noon they were given water. The girls wore long skirts over their dresses to keep clean. The skirts were taken off and put on again for the trip home. We all rode side saddle.

Jumping rope, hot pepper style

School ‘took up’ at 9:00 a.m. and closed at 4:00 p.m. We had a fifteen-minute recess in the morning and another in the afternoon. We had an hour at lunch time and, after we had eaten, we had to take our horses to the watering trough for a drink. We jumped the rope and did all the tricks, including hot pepper. Sometimes we made small purchases at the store, which pleased us very much, but we never went to the stores unless we had business there. The school was about a mile from the stores.


Interesting Events

There were several well-to-do families in the little village. The Murrays [Frank m-1868 Fort Arbuckle to Alzira McGaughey] were No. 1. They lived in a big two story stone house, which awed us very much. Mr. Murray was a cattleman and his FB [full-blooded] cattle roamed more than seven hills. The big general store was owned by Mr. Frank Lowe. He had a slender, blond, young man clerk, named Dixey — somebody with a big Adams apple, that excited my childish interest. Then there were two colonial cottages painted white with green shutters enclosed by white paling fences. As I remember these people, they were money lenders, former city people. They lived apart from the farmers and associated with them only as far as loaning money to them at excessive rates of interest. These people lived in a different world from us, although our parents had a speaking acquaintance with them.

Our country doctor, was young Dr. Milton McMurtry, with a wife and a baby son. We were always thrilled when we went to their home and Mrs. McMurtry was always very kind to us. They lived in Erin Springs too. Dr. McMurtry used to pay my mother the compliment of being a very fine nurse. I know she had lots of experience at home and was always willing to go to the aid of neighbors and friends in time of need. Malaria was prevalent and some of us had "chills and fever" continually. The winters were cold and there were always cases of pneumonia, but Mother always seemed equal to the occasion. She nursed my father through a long siege of typhoid, contracted while he was nursing one of his friends some ten miles away. Another time she nursed one of our hired hands through typhoid. Then once my father cut his foot open, when the ax slipped off while he was splitting rails. I’ll never forget that gaping wound, it looked as though his foot was almost severed. But Mother sterilized it with turpentine, bound it up very carefully and it grew together again with no after effects. I can’t remember that they ever went to the Doctor about it. Then there was the time that Burd, age about three, got her hands and knees scaled with hot coffee and was swathed in bandages for weeks. All of our old linen table cloths were saved for bandages as they were very soft and clingy. Before using for bandages they were scorched on the stove to sterilize them. Linseed oil was used for burns. Then the time Arthur and I were cutting weeds in the fence corners back of the house, using butcher knives, hacking away at the biggest ones. I cut Arthur’s hand and it frightened me so that we both ran to the house crying and Mama said she had to see who was bloody before she knew which one was hurt.

Our pets

Dogs and cats were quite necessary additions to our animal family. How we delighted in each batch of puppies or kittens. Old Queen, the mother dog, once a had a litter of ten (as I remember) and father in humorous vein, named them after the presidents of the United States. Anyway, I remember that Chester A. Arthur was stepped on by one of the horses and killed, to the consternation of those of us who witnessed the accident. In August 1889, we came to Purcell to see our first circus. Although it rained and the wind blew part of the main tent down, we had a wonderful time. We came in our double-seated buggy or hack, as we called it, and by starting very early, we made it in time for the two o’clock performance. One of our hired men came ahead in a wagon with camping supplies, so we camped for the night and went home the next day. The little railroad town of Purcell, sprawled over the steep hill overlooking the South Canadian River.

In August or September 1888 our father’s niece and husband (bride and groom), Jeff and Lola Bullock came from Texas and stayed with us until they could rent a farm for themselves. Previously Lola’s sisters and their families had come to the [Washita] valley from Texas. Then in December 1888, Mama’s sister and family William and Sarah Lout and three children came from Boggy Depot. They stayed in the home by the [Washita] river and in 1889 we moved to the Thompson place, about two miles away, which Dad had bought, consisting of 150 acres. The home on the river later burned, so there is no vestige of it left, and a railroad runs through what was the garden. This place was on higher ground, newer buildings, a good orchard and most important, there were springs in an outcropping of rock at the base of the hill below the house. Later he made a reservoir for the run-off water, which afforded an ample supply of water for [live]stock. He maintained this placed as ranch head quarters until he moved to Texas in 1904.


We Moved to Purcell

In the Autumn of 1889, he built a home in the little town of Purcell, twenty five miles away, and we moved into it in December 1889. However, we went back to the ranch during the summer vacations and Mother canned and dried fruits for winter use. This move was quite an event to us children. The wagons were loaded the night before and we were up at 4:00 a.m. as usual. Mother drove the carriage and Dad and the hired hand drove the wagons. It was a cold winter day but the sun shone bright and our hopes ran high. About half way, we stopped and built a camp fire and cooked lunch and then on again. However, the days were short, the loads were heavy and the roads were muddy, so when we were within about two miles of town, we camped for the night on the banks of Walnut Creek, cooked our supper by camp fire light and slept the night. Early the next morning, we were in our new home.

My father held about 130 acres of land adjoining the town; which furnished pasturage for our [live]stock, for of course, we had our riding and driving horses, milk cows and pigs. Our home, with yards front and back, gardens, fruit trees, barns and corrals covered a city block, 600 feet square. This was all fenced with picket fences. Later he donated ten acres to the city for a school. This was located on a hill behind the house. Our home contained seven rooms, all quite large. Our parlor had red plush furniture and a square piano. Mother’s bedroom suite was oak, with marble tops on dresser and wash stand, with bowl and pitcher set in maple leaf design. Life was full of thrills for us as we shopped in the stores and marveled at the variety of their contents.

Editor’s note: This house, that was built in 1889 at the corner of Main and 6th Street in Purcell, McClain County OK, is still standing in 2006. It was sold in 1895 to U.S. Marshal Chris Boyer. Jonathan Hazel then moved in 1904 to San Antonio TX.

0n July 30, 1890 we rejoiced over the arrival of a baby brother who was named George Jonathan. He was a sickly little mite and during the winter had pneumonia. He survived however, but on April 1, 1891 our dear little sister, Pearl, passed away after being stricken ill the day before. The doctor called it spinal meningitis. She lies in the cemetery south of Purcell, her headstone adorned with baby shoes and stocking is mute evidence of her most beloved possessions. She was a beautiful blue-eyed, darling with golden blond curls, a winning smile and baby talk as she toddled thru the house. I always seemed to be nursemaid and she was my especial charge during the illnesses of our little baby. I grieved deeply over her going away. Today, I prize her little high chair, which Mother gave me for my first baby and which has been used by all of my children and grand children.

It was a joy to us to be able to attend Sunday School regularly and take part in the entertainment given at various times. My first Sunday School teacher was Mrs. Piatt, wife of one of the first merchants [of Purcell OK]. It was the Christian Sunday School held in a hall over one of the stores. At Christmas time she was kind enough to make me a white tarlatan dress, sprinkled with snow crystals, combing my long blond hair out over my shoulders and encouraged me to speak the piece she had taught me. My love for her knew no bounds and our friendship lasted through the years. However, our parents not being communicants of any church, we attended other churches at various times.

Schools were as irregular in Purcell as they had been in the country [area of Washita Valley, Beef Creek, Erin Springs, now Garvin County OK], except the Catholic school. St. Elizabeth’s convent was located on the northern boundary of the town and was surrounded by orchards and gardens which were cultivated for the benefit of the boarding school. The school was established about 1880 (I think) and endowed by Miss Kate Drexel of Philadelphia [PA], who was the Mother Superior of the institution. It was maintained for the education of Indian children. About fifty were kept in the convent and these were augmented by some twenty or twenty-five girls from the surrounding country. Then there were day pupils from the town, the girls going to the school rooms in the convent and the boys attending the parochial school a few blocks away. The girls who boarded in the convent were taught cooking, sewing and housework in addition to general studies, also music, instrumental and vocal, also drawing and drama. The sisters went to great pains to teach us the fundamentals and we were awarded medals in varying values as compensation for our efforts. The courses compared with seventh grade work of today. I attended the convent during the school years of 1890-1892.

Away at School

In September 1892 I was sent to Sherman [Grayson County], Texas to the North Texas Female College, with my sister Carrie who had been sent there during 1891-1892. This boarding school maintained a high school rating augmented by a conservatory of music and art studio. There was a charge per month for foreign languages, music, drama or art. I had had piano lessons from various local [Purcell, I.T.] teachers at home. So in addition to regular studies I had piano lessons, which indicated one-hour practice per day, and dramatics, elocution, [which] it was called then. If we practiced more than one hour per day, we had to pay extra. This was another new world to me and sometimes I was very lonely for home and Mother and the children. However, there were many activities to occupy my attention and new friends were made and soon I was at home in the school. There were about 425 girls in the school who came from all over the state of Texas, also Indian Territory, a few from Arizona Territory, New Mexico Territory, Mississippi, Louisiana and one or two from far away Chicago, Illinois. Mrs. Lucy Ann Kidd was president of the school. A queenly little gray-haired lady, who always wore black silks and brocades, always made with long trains and dainty touches of white lace at neck and wrists, always sweet, kind and approachable. She was married in April 1893 to Bishop Joseph S. Key and the school thereafter was nicknamed "Kidd-Key."

Kidd-Key school, Sherman, Texas

Boarding school life was very busy, well regulated and very strict in many ways. We arose at 6:00 and had breakfast at 7:00. We had our regular places in the dining room and each table was presided over by one of the teachers, therefore, we minded our table manners. 7:30 to 8:30, study period in the chapel, (assembly hall of today). 8:30 to 8:45, recess, 8: 45 to 9:00 chapel exercises consisting of music, songs, prayer and roll call, 9:00 to 12:00 classes, 12: 00 to 1:00 lunch hour, 1:00 to 4:00 classes, 4:00 to 6:00 leisure in rooms on campus, 6:00 to 6:30 dinner, 6:30 to 7:00 usually a walk, two by two, led and followed by a two or more teachers, outside the campus through residential sections of town. This was not compulsory and omitted in inclement weather, however we enjoyed getting off the school grounds. We might speak to women acquaintances met on the street, not so, men. So it was no wonder that sly winks and smiles were exchanged. From 7:00 to 9:00 study period in the chapel. Discipline was rigid, with demerits for all infractions of the rules. We were allowed to wear kimonos or "wrappers" or negligees to evening study hall, and many unusual and unique garbs were worn, some to be different and some to create merriment. 9:00 to 9:30 rooms, lights out at 9:30 p.m.

Drama in the foot lights

On Friday nights there was entertainment in the chapel. Instructors in piano, violin or the orchestras or advanced students or sometimes beginners tried their skill. Pupils in drama, in varying stages of advancement gave readings, dialogues or short plays. It was on one of these programs that I played my first piano duet and gave a reading. At intervals, formal programs were given for the public with a small charge and we felt the thrill of foot lights and a sea of faces. And did our knees shake! I felt almost grown up when in a cream wool cashmere dress, made with a round yoke, puffed elbow sleeves and full skirt, narrow picot moiré ribbon with bows on the skirt. My very blond hair in one big braid that hung to my waist, a bow of ribbon at my crown and another near the end of a bow of ribbon at my crown and another near the end of the braid, I stepped before the foot lights recited "A Hasty Pudding" and got an encore. No doubt, being the only little one on the program was the real reason. I was small for my age, as I was about 14 years, weight 85 pounds. However, with the regular routine of school life, I soon began to grow and was soon a big girl.

Remembering Grandmother Hazel

Sorrow again entered our family, for on November 14, 1892, our dear beloved Grandmother Hazel passed away. She had been a member of our household for many years and we missed her so much. She taught us to sew, knit and crochet, to pray and read the Bible. She was always kind and was always busy; sewing, knitting our stockings, putting touches of embroidery on bits of household linens, piecing and making quilts, carding the bats [batting] light and fluffy. She had been deaf for many years and carried a tiny slate with pencil attached, that we might write messages or answer her questions. In addition to the quilts completed for home use, she made my father a silk "Crazy Quilt," outlining each piece with silk thread in various stitches. After we moved to town, these things could be had. She pieced a top for each of us children. (I’m using mine today.) She embroidered, made, including button holes and buttons, a pair of pillow cases for May, Carrie, and me. While styles in pillows have changed, I prize my pillow cases very much. I also have in my possession, some embroidery, which was the bottom of a child’s petticoat, she made for a cousin. As fine a piece of handiwork as I have ever seen. We were attending school in Sherman, Texas at the time of Grandmother’s death, so we came home for her funeral. We laid her away in the little cemetery at Erin Springs beside her son Augustus Hazel. How sweet she looked in her neat black Henrietta dress, which she had made and her dainty cap of bobbinet and ribbon.

Socialites of Sherman, Texas

We did not return home for Christmas that year, but remained in the school, and it was a lonesome place. There being only twenty-five girls of the 425 who did not go home. However, teachers relaxed and were human. Mother sent a box of gifts and candy, nuts and cake, etc., which made us very happy. We had a friend, Mrs. Ira Hall (formerly of Purcell, I.T.), who came and took us to her home for a lovely dinner at noon, a drive in the afternoon, and then back to school. Then one evening she took some half dozen of us to her home and during the evening several young men, very casually dropped in and we played games and that was a "big evening" to us. I spent quite a number of nights with Mrs. Holt (Mrs. Kidd’s daughter, a widow with a son about my age), as her young son Joe [Holt] had gone somewhere for the holidays, and she was afraid to stay alone in her cottage. She was a peculiar sort of person, but she was very kind to me, gave me candy and cake and hair ribbons and let me read Joe’s books. Oh such a store of beautiful books. I remember especially Grimm’s Fairy Tales, handsomely bound and illustrated. Her cottage was luxuriously furnished. Thick carpets, silken draperies, cushions, or at least it seemed so to me after the bareness of our bedrooms. We had to furnish our own pillow, covers, linens, towels and napkins, so of course, traveling by trains, we only took bare necessities. We also cleaned our own rooms.

Life at Kidd-Key school

April 22, San Jacinto Day in Texas, was always a holiday and we usually had a treat of some sort. Sometimes a picnic in the woods (there were no parks then), and the kitchen help packed the lunch in great hampers, and oh, how we did eat. Sometimes streetcars were chartered and we were taken for a ride around the loop, a line that encircled the town serving the suburban districts. These streetcar rides were especially welcome on warm evenings in September. Our rooms were quite stuffy, after the freedom of our own homes during vacation.

School closed the first week in June and was called Commencement week, with few classes, entertainment every night, and some in the afternoon. An art line, when all the worthwhile work done by students during the year was exhibited. This included charcoal drawings, pastels, oil and china painting. The art teachers presided, assisted by Mrs. Kidd-Key and such of the seniors as were chosen to do so. It was the custom to award gold medals to those girls who made the best grades or for unusual advancement. These medals created keen competition and the rank and file aligned themselves for likely candidates and took it very much to heart when their candidate lost. The two most popular were the general excellence and dramatics. The others were for music in the several grades, art, the same, mathematics, Shakespeare and advancement in music or dramatics.

Sent to school in Purcell

At all public functions, we were required to wear white dresses, however, these were of our own, or our mother’s choosing and we enjoyed wearing them, after having worn a uniform all winter. Our uniform were navy blue, with a blue velvet tam and silver tassel. The graduation dresses were all alike usually of some lovely white or cream silk. In 1894 they were of brocade and the girls looked lovely. Many of our mothers came and spent Commencement Week with us, and Carrie and I were so thrilled to have Mama with us one year. We were also quite proud once when Papa came to see us for a day or two and thought it quite a joke when some of the girls thought he was our brother. And so the year went by. We could not stay long enough to graduate as our younger brothers and sisters had to have their chance. However our schools at home had improved to such an extent that we continued our studies at home. This was quite beneficial as it gave us the pleasure of home life and community life which we missed in boarding school. So we took an active part in amateur plays, church entertainment, etc. During the winter we had a dancing club and enjoyed the monthly program dances, where the boys wore dark suits, we girls wore formal dresses.

Church in Purcell

We attended Sunday School and Church regularly and it was at the Baptist Church in March that we met three young lawyers who had recently arrived in Purcell to take up the practice of law. These were William Pope, Benton Maxey, and Joseph P. Smith [b-1870 Weston, Collin County, Texas]. It was the custom for young men to call on the girls: be introduced to their parents, whose consent had to be obtained when taking the girls to parties or other entertainment, or even to church or for a Sunday afternoon drive. We always asked our parents’ permission before making a date. Our parties were all held in our various homes. And those of us who had our parents’ permission, played cards, the others (or church crowd), played checkers, dominoes, croquignole or other games. However all we needed was to get together and we had fun.

Chores and our routine

Most of the girls played the piano and so we gathered round and sang all the popular tunes of the day. We took great pride in serving tempting refreshments and our picnics and birthday parties were real feasts. We had our own smoked meats and in the winter our own beef, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese, and in season, quail, duck, geese and squirrels. Also our own cream, milk and butter, and our own canned fruit, jams and jellies. We thought nothing of going to church and taking home a half dozen boys and girls for Sunday dinner (noon). Margaret O’Kane was Mother’s helper, and what a grand girl she was and what a cook! We all helped with the kitchen work when we had company and it was fun to all go to the kitchen (and such a big kitchen) and wash the dishes. Our little town was growing, in fact our whole country was growing, more land being cultivated, frame buildings being replaced by brick and stone.


Love in Bloom

Along in the summer of 1897, Joe and I began going steady, and oh, the good times we had. All fall and winter, horseback rides, picnics, parties and we began planning. Christmas of 1897 was a white Christmas. Carrie went to spend the holidays with a friend in Montague, Texas, so I was on my own, so to speak. Because our parents made the rule that we must always go out together, and as Carrie had a leader’s personality, I seemed to always play second fiddle. Anyway, Joe and I attended several church Christmas entertainment and trees, several parties, winding up with a watch party on New Year’s Eve at Miss Estelle Plummer’s home. There were some five or six couples, the boys took the oysters, the girls contributed the rest of he food and we had a big oyster supper. Then we played games until 12:00 midnight and vied to see who could let out the first whoop for the New Year. Then the walk home (about a mile) through the snow. But our hearts were warm and we were together and that seemed to us, very good indeed. We even sat on the church steps, for a few minutes. They looked so inviting in the star light. Also during that week Mother had cooked a big turkey dinner on my birthday and I had asked several of our young friends out to eat with us.

Kidney stones

On February 13, 1898 Joe and I decided too, that it was Joe for me and me for Joe and February 15th, he gave me my ring, a gold band set with four little opals. We planned a fall wedding and so all spring and early summer were very busy. However, as we planned, Joe became ill, a recurrence of kidney stones, which worried me, as he was living at the hotel and had no one to look after him. Also, my father did not relish the idea of one of us getting married and leaving home, and he did not feel that Joe was making enough [money] to take care of a wife. Joe was working at the cotton seed oil mill as the doctor had advised getting out of the office, on account of previous attacks of kidney stones. However, he had the promise of a place in the school in September. So one fine June morning I was called on the carpet and asked about our plans. I told father all about our plans and was promptly and sternly told that my romance was over, that I was to tell Joe the verdict and was not to go out with him any more. I protested, but it was no use. He said Joe was too old for me, could not support me and that I was to do as I was told. I told him I wouldn’t and we had quite a scene. Anyway, he gave me my orders and left for he Washita Valley ranch [near Erin Springs], leaving poor Mother to enforce them [orders].

Seeing Joe on the sly

As I couldn’t have Joe come to see me at home, I met him, openly at our friend’s home across the street. I really don’t think Mother cared, for she never protested. On July 4, 1898, at the close of a hot day, we walked downtown to see the fireworks, they were displayed in the sandy waste, which was the South Canadian River bed, so that there was no danger of fire. Carrie and her friends, and Joe and I and the smaller children were with Margaret O’Kane who was Mother’s helper at the time. When we got down town (only a few blocks) every one was there and all in a gay mood. It was twilight and cool and we were hailed on all sides by friends. Carrie and her friend decided to join a group assembled on the balcony of the hotel, and Margaret and the children decided on a vantage point by the court house overlooking the river. It was still too early for the fire works, so Joe and I walked along with the crowd, turned south on Canadian Avenue for a block or two. We paused to watch a group who had erected an outdoor platform and decorated the premises with Japanese lanterns. Most of these people were of French or German descent, nice people and our best laborers. Anyway their customs being a little different and with gay music, they were having a lot of fun, so we were watching along with many others.

We were hailed by some friends, a marriage couple who were sitting in their buggy, I sat in the buggy and Joe and the husband stood leaning on the wheels. After awhile the tour of us joined the crowd that were watching the display of fire works. That over, we wended our way home, happy in our plans for the future. T’was really a beautiful night, bright moon light. As we approached my home, we could see that the other members of the family were assembled on the porch. We hailed them in gay good humor, but there was not much gaiety in their replies. Immediately, my father (who had arrived during our absence) spoke to me, upbraiding me for not getting home earlier (10:00 p.m.) and when we tried to explain our whereabouts, our companions, etc., he asked Joe to leave the premises and sent me upstairs to bed. Well, the next day, I was again told what I could and could not do. I was very unhappy.

Kidney stones again

The Wedding Then Joe and I began planning for an immediate wedding on the 13th of July; we told Mother our plans and she asked us to wait and let her go to the ranch and talk to my father, which we did. Then Joe got sick again. Anyway, Mother went to the ranch and brought Papa back with her and they went to see Joe at the hotel where we was confined to his bed. They talked it over and Joe convinced them that we were in earnest. So he not only consented to our marriage but packed Joe up and brought him to our house and we nursed him for a week. We set the 28th as our wedding day, and everyone lent a hand toward the preparation.

We decided on white India linen for my dress, also a natural linen crash for travelling. Carrie made them both. My wedding dress was of white India linen, a material similar to organdy, but of softer texture. The bodice was tight fitting, high choker collar, long medium legomutton sleeves. A panel of white satin covered with ruffles of chiffon embroidery at throat and wrists. Skirt — seven gores flared, with three narrow ruffles edged and headed with white satin baby ribbon around the bottom, floor length, a white satin sash, six inches wide, tied at the back and ends to bottom of skirt. White kid slippers, two muslin petticoats, with double ruffles knee depth. The top ruffle being of tucks and lace insertion. Hair waved and done in soft knot on back of my head and white silk lace mitts. My traveling suit, ecru linen, Eton jacket, wide lapels and a high Catherine de Medicai collar (perfect for rice), seven-gore flared skirt, sleeveless white dotted Swiss vest, ecru straw sailor hat and brown kid shoes and brown lace mitts.

Joe [Smith] wrote to our friend, Rev. James N. Crutcher (who had held the pastorate of the First Christian Church until recently, and who was living in Whitesboro, Texas) and asked him to come and perform the ceremony. Thursday, July 28, 1898 dawned bright and clear and as noon time came on, it was hot. Our home was made ready from parlor to bedrooms (we had neither cellar nor attic). One of my last tasks before noon was cleaning mine and Carrie’s bedroom and the upstairs hall. They had become quite messed, what with packing and sorting. Our beloved Maggie [O’Kane] had baked cakes as had several of our close friends, also made ice cream to be served to our guests. We had a delicious fried chicken dinner. The process of getting dressed and everything was very informal, casual and homey. We had asked about fifty of our friends and relatives for the ceremony and most of them were there.


1898 Wedding Guests

Family — Papa and Mama, sisters — Caroline "Carrie" and [Evalene] Alberta "Burd", brothers — Arthur, Lamar, and George. Aunt Quida Irwin of Lewisville [Lafayette County], Arkansas. Cousins — Mr. and Mrs. Andy P. Jennings.

Dear Friends — Miss Margaret O’Kane, Mrs. Mary Powers, Misses Sadie O’Kane, Mary Powers, Tanie White, Maud Vaden, Estelle Plummer, Josephine Hoover [and] Alice Thompson; Erin and Lula Murray [of Erin Springs], Clara and Lucy Clardy, Mr. and Mrs. B. C. Clark, C. C. Jones, George Jones, A. D. Patterson, S. L. Williams, Skelt Williams, Lewis Lindsay, W. S. Orme, Parke F. Needham, Fred Conner, R. B. Lutting, A. H. Blanchard, W. G. Blanchard, W. Downard, W. Cardy (maybe Clardy), Mr. James Isgrigg, Mrs. Mary Boone, Hamp Boone, Charles Wood [of Wichita Falls TX], Utah Taylor, M. S. Pennybacker, Will Farris, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Paul [of Pauls Valley], Scott Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Mayes [of Maysville].

1:30 came and Joe came up the stairs. Carrie and Tanie White (our girlfriend who lived across the street) went down to join the family. I took Joe’s arm and we went gaily down the stairs, took our places on the white Angora rug (one of father’s choicest) in the archway between the parlor and Mother’s sitting room, where Rev. Crutcher awaited us; we said our "I Do’s" and received enthusiastic congratulations of family and friends. After refreshments were served, I changed to my ecru linen suit. The carriage was at the gate to take us to the station to board the 3:15 Santa Fe [Railway], en route to Bonham [Fannin County], Texas to meet Joe’s parents and family. Many of our friends accompanied us to the train, where we were showered with rice, good wishes and good-byes.

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Patricia Adkins-Rochette        04/27/2008          

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