|James Henry Adkins|
1876 - 1952
Near the small village of Cummings, Kansas, a few miles from Atchison, on October 1, 1876, a son was born to James Columbus and Lucy Ann Adkins. He was their fifth child. They christened him James Henry. James for his father, and Henry for an uncle of his mother's. From the time that he was born, his parents called him "Jimmie." His father, when speaking of him, always referred to him as "Jimmie Boy," even until his death at the age of 94. I guess that it was his pet name for him. To everyone else and to all of his friends, he was "Jim."
Jimmie was just an ordinary little rough and tumble boy. He went to school in Cummings, having to walk about a mile and a half. He told of going to school barefooted in the late fall once, when, during the day it turned cold and started to snow. He had to run home barefooted in the snow. As a child he suffered terrific headaches. His mother has told of the many times he came home from school and fell on the floor, complain of a headache. He had these terrible headaches until He was a middle aged man. Many times, I saw him walk the floor and knock his head against a wall to make the pain go elsewhere.
Jimmie only went to the fifth grade in school. His parents were very poor, and as soon as He was large enough, he had to quit School and go to work. In 1891, at the age of 15, he started to work with a section gang on the Santa Fe Railroad, doing the work of a grown man and earning fifty cents a day. He turned most of his salary over to his parents. With some of this money, his mother bought material and made him his first suit of clothes. He was really proud of this hard-earned suit.
His mother's sister, Mattie Vandever, and her family, lived only a mile or so away. One Sunday, they all gathered together to have a water-melon feast. They were all out in the yard and were having a big time. Jim had on his new suit and hat and was strutting around feeling pretty proud of himself, when Brit Vandever, a cousin about the same age as Jim, slipped up behind him with half of an overripe watermelon and squashed it down over his head. Now was Jim ever mad. He had quite a temper in those days. In later years when Brit and Jim would meet, they would always have a big laugh over it. Jim would always say to her, "You sure was an ornery brat."
The house that they lived in was not very large. There was a small. room behind the kitchen where the boys slept. When Jimmie was about twelve he came down with the measles. He wasn't used to lying around and being inactive, and he didn't like it. On about the third day, he decided he had been in bed enough. Unbeknown to his mother, he dressed, climbed out the window, got on his horse and rode over to his Aunt Mattie's. His Uncle Jim Vandever practically met him at the gate with a big stick, and threatened to give him a good thrashing if he didn't hurry back home and get in bed. To this, "Jimmie Boy" obeyed.
Their main entertaining at Cummings was their social affairs at the school house, such as literary societies, box and pie suppers, etc. At these socials, the older group would always call on John, Jim's oldest brother, to sing. He would oblige by singing some hymns or sad songs as "The Letter Edged in Black, ' "The Baggage Coach Ahead," or "Packet of Old Letters." These songs were very popular at the time. As soon as lie was finished, the younger group would insist on Jim singing. He would also oblige, sometimes singing and sometimes playing his French harp. The-songs he sang were of a different type, though. The crazier the song, the better he liked it. Some were "Beware, Oh, Take Care," "Little Brown Jug," "Bicycle Built for Two," etc.
Ice skating was one of the main winter sports. Jim has told of skating from Atchinson, on the river, to "almost home." I've forgot now how many miles were the longest he had skated, but they were a good many. He talked about skating on Frog Lake. This lake, now, is a beautiful lake resort, with many lovely homes around it. Crooked Creek was another place they skated.
In 1889, the Adkins and the Graham families packed all their possessions into eight wagons and started for the first opening in Oklahoma. It took so long for them to make this trip that they were too late to make the run. Their oldest daughter, Effie, had married Ike Graham a few years before, and was living on a claim in Oklahoma. The two families stayed two years until the second land opening in Oklahoma, in 1891. In the second run, they home-steadied a claim near Merriek, Oklahoma (only the cemetery remains of Merrick today).
By this time, Jim had four sisters and five brothers: Effie, Nora, John, Nancy, Isaac, Andrew, George, Jerry, and Josie. Nora Anis had died when she was a small child. Effie had married.
John and Jim did not go with their parents to Oklahoma at this time. "Doc" Cassidy, the country doctor at Cummings, asked Jim to work for him. Jim took care of the Doc's horses, and, in stormy weather or in the middle of the night, he would drive the Doc to see his patients. Jim worked for Doc Cassidy for several years. He became very fond of Doc and his wife; it seemed almost like a second home to Jim. (In the fall of 1950 when Dad came to visit us in Kansas City, we drove to Cummings so he could see his old "Lap Log" as he called it. Mrs. Cassidy was still living and we called on her. She and Dad had quite a time laughing and crying over the "good old days," long passed. She was a lovely old lady, and I'm very happy I got to meet her.)
After his parents had been gone about three years, Jim decided to go see them. He owned a little buckskin pony that he called "Kitten," and a Cart He hitched Kitten to the cart and started for Oklahoma. Most of the neighbors gave him something to take along, mostly in the way of eats. One party gave him a five-gallon jar of apple butter. For several days, he camped and traveled along with some of the Graham families. He shared his food, and most of the apple butter was eaten on the way. The Grahams carried most of his food and supplies in their wagons. At every stream or bad looking place, they would insist on Jim going first. When they reached the Cimarron River at Perkins, Oklahoma, the river was way up. Again, they insisted on Jim going first. This made Jim mad, for he just had a light cart and they had wagons. however, he started to ford the river.
It was so deep that he had to stand up on the seat of the cart and poor Kitten had to swim. He kept getting madder as he went along, so when he got across, he just gave Kitten the reins and away they went. He said he never looked back to see whether the Grahams made it or not. They did, however. It was only nine miles from both their destinations. The Grahams were mad at Dad and never would give him his supplies that they were carrying.
When he reached home, he found his parents had been living in a dugout, but they had hued logs and almost had their cabin built. Jim got busy and made the shingles to finish the house. It was a two-story house, and still stands today , Jack Adkins of Coffeyville, Kansas, restored the cabin to its original condition.
It was a two-story cabin with one large room downstairs and one large room upstairs. The upstairs room was curtained off, one side for boys and one side for the girls. Later, they built a lean-to on the back for a kitchen. In the summer, Jim's mother would move the wood cooking stove outside and do the cooking there.
Jim was home in Oklahoma a short time when he received a letter from Doc Cassidy wanting him to come work for him again. Jim went back to Cummings and stayed a couple more years.
When he quit working for Doe, he went back to Merrick. He still had Kitten. Jim loved this little buckskin pony, and rode her all over the country. He had a quick temper, though, and he wanted the pony to do just what he wanted. One day when Kitten didn't do what he wanted, Jim picked up a stick and struck her. The pony turned and the stick struck a vital spot in her head and she fell dead at his feet. Jim was really a sick boy over this, for he had no intentions of really hurting the pony.
John didn't come to Merrick with Jim. Instead, he went "out west" to Colorado. Nancy Jane was working for a doctor in Perkins, Oklahoma. George, Isaac, and Andrew were working at whatever they could find. Working in the cotton fields, hoeing in summer and picking the cotton in the fall was one of the main occupations. Jeremiah and Josie were in school; Della was the new baby. A couple of years later, Jim's youngest sister, Ola, was born, giving him six sisters and five brothers. Almost everyone had large families in those days.
Such a large family was no little job to care for. The soil on their homestead was too sandy to make a living from. In fact, it mostly blew away. The men folks, including Jim's father, would go wherever they could find work. following harvest, Hulling lumber, etc. Sometimes they would work for as little as a pound of butter a day. The boys turned most of their money over to their parents for groceries. While they were away working, Jim's mother was left alone to take care of the small children. This was no easy job and only a brave woman could stand up under it. The Oklahoma Territory was full of thieves and outlaws.
Jim told of working as far away as Bonner Springs, Kansas, Caneyville (known now as Caney), Kansas, and other places north, south, east and west, doing any kind of work that there was to be done. Jim always said he was 'jack-of-all-trades but farming is my favorite." He was a good farmer, too.
Along with all of the hardships, there was also lots of excitement and good times. The country was very wild. My cousin, Raymond, and a boy friend were out playing in the woods one day. They came running to the house and told of hearing fierce screams. Everyone said panthers sounded like a lady screaming so that's what they decided it was. The whole neighborhood got their guns and went hunting for the panther.
A man was riding Down one of the country lanes one day and he reported that he saw a snake as large around as a log and reaching from fence to fence "clear across the road." Again, all the people started hunting for the snake. There was an old abandoned shack nearby and everyone thought the snake was in it. No one would venture into that shack for quite some time. The snake was never found.
There was lots of hunting for game in those days. Jim used to laugh and tell of some men who went deer hunting one day. Their dogs started chasing a large buck and it came straight towards the yard. Jim got his gun, and when the deer was close enough, he shot it. He took the deer inside a shed. Before long, the hunters came by. They asked Jim if he saw a deer go by. Jim said, "No. No deer went by here." The hunters went on. When his father rebuked him for saying that, Jim replied, " I didn't lie about it! No deer went by here!" They had meat for several days.
Besides wild life, there were terrible storms in this part of the country. Jim's mother was very scared of these storms and always took the children to the storm cave. Jim and his dad would not go. However, a time or two they wished they had gone along. Jim told of one night that a storm came up. He had been away working and was walking hone through a wooded area. He said that he never saw or heard so much thunder and lightning; the wind was blowing at a terrific rate. Trees were falling and one fell right in front of him. he was really scared and he was glad to get home.
Another time, several years later, (I was about 4 then) another terrible storm came up. Grandmother told us all to hurry and get to the cave. I guess I was the first one out the door. A big gush of wind took me Sailing right around the house. Ola said she saw me go sailing past the window and she thought I was sure a goner. I did, too. Jerry Grabbed his good hat and clothes. He didn't want them to blow away. As he went out the door, away went his hat. He thought, "Good bye, hat," but the next morning he found it down in the orchard under the wash tub, unharmed.
As usual, Jim didn't go to the cave. Unbeknown to him, his father had The frame house they were living in then was not very well built. The wind would blow the door and the side of the wall way in. Jim called to his father to help him hold the door and discovered that he was all alone. After the storm was' all over, we discovered that the wind had uprooted a large cotton wood tree which stood in the yard. This must have made a great impression on Jim's mind, for he mentioned the old cottonwood tree the last day of his life.
Besides these natural dangers, there were horse thieves, cotton thieves, and outlaws galore in the Oklahoma Territory. Outlaws were quite Common in those days. One day, when Grandmother was alone with the small children, three outlaws rode in and demanded that she give them their dinner. She didn't argue with them and fixed about everything she had. They took their guns and laid them on the table as they ate. Before they had finished, Jim and another fellow rode in. The outlaws ran to the dugout to hide. They warned Grandmother about telling that they were there, threatening to hurt the children. She made up excuses to get Jim and his friend away from the house.
While in the dugout, the outlaws found some melons. They thought that she had been holding out on them so they burst several open but soon found out that they were not what they thought. They were citrons, and only edible when cooked raw, they were like green persimmons. The outlaws left without hurting anyone. (According to Josie Barnett, Jim's sister, the outlaws were from the Starr gang. Belle Starr is buried close to Kinta, Oklahoma at Robbers' Cave. However, Belle Starr was killed before 1891, when the Adkins home steadied. The outlaws could have been remnants of the Starr gang, or could have been riders with Belle's son's gang.)
Another day, Jim was going through the woods and came to an old abandoned house. House were not plastered then, but were just roughed in. Jim went inside the shack and just happened to put his hand up over the door sill. He felt some paper, and, upon examining it, found it to be a big roll of money. Jim didn't have his gun with him and he was afraid someone was watching, so he put the money back and went home. Jim stated that funny feelings went up and down his spine as he walked away from that house. The next day his courage returned; he got his gun and went back to the old shack but the money had disappeared by then. He always said that, if he had it to do all over again, he believed he would have taken the money with him.
Some of the famous outlaws in those days were the Starrs, and King. Many of his robberies were around Stroud, Oklahoma. The Dalton brothers were also famous at that time, and the James gang was still well-remembered.
Jim belonged to the Anti-horse Thief Association. When anyone reported a stolen horse, they would form a posse and try to track the thief down. Some times they would find them but usually not. They'd usually track them to Stroud or Chandler and some times further.
One day when Jim was farming, a man came by riding a real fine horse. He talked to Jim awhile and then asked if Jim would like to trade horses. Jim made a deal with him and thought that he had the best of the bargain, but the next day, he found out that he had traded for a stolen horse. Now Jim was without a horse. They got up a posse and tracked the fellow as far as Stroud, but there they lost track of him.
At cotton picking time, everyone had to watch out for cotton thieves. The cotton pickers would empty their sacks into a large pile in the cotton field. When there was a wagon load, the owner would haul it to the cotton gin to be processed. It was quite a temptation to steal the cotton when it was piled in the field. Negroes seemed to be the worst of the thieves.
After finding their cotton stolen one morning, Jim and a group of men went to try to track the thieves Down. Jake Haver and Jim's brother-in- law, Charley Coulson, were along on this hunt. The tracks weren't too hard to follow, and led to a Negro's shack several miles away. It was evening when they rode in. A colored man was out chopping wood. They questioned the Negro about where he was the night before. The Negro said that he had been home all evening. When they told him that they had tracked him from Merrick, the Negro said, " Oh, that was probably my brother, he was out last night."
They asked him were his brother was, and he said, "Oh, he's in the house asleep. I'll go waken him and bring him out." The Negro picked up a load of wood and took it in the house.
The posse waited and waited but no one came out. They called in that they would come in after them if they didn't come out. A Negro woman came to the door and said there was no one in the house. The men searched the house but found no one. The Negro man had gone in the house and right out the back window and ran away. He had been the man that they were after. They were really put out to think that they had the thief and let him walk away.
Jim and Charley got in a buckboard and decided they would find the man. They asked another Negro if he knew where the first one went. He informed them that he had gone to his aunt's at Langston. That is strictly a Negro town. He promised to show them where the aunt lived, so off they went to Langston. It was about ten o'clock at night when they got to Langston. As they were going down the street, the Negro man jumped out of the buckboard and started to walk off. Jim drew his pistol and said, "Hold on there, you were going to tell us where that man's aunt lives."
"Why, I don't even know the man," the Negro replied.
Jim and Charley made the man get back into the buckboard and they started back. The Negro had a jug of whiskey with him, and, when he got back into the buckboard, the men made him set the jug up in their seat. Several times, the Negro would grab for the jug and try to jump out. They would threaten him each time. By the time they were two-thirds of the way home, they had begun to wonder what they were going to do with him. They had made him believe that they were ' the law.
They told him that, since this was his first offense they had against him, they were going to let him go. As he got out of the buckboard, he grabbed for the jug, but Jim and charley wouldn't let him have it. He began running after them, calling them thieves until Jim began shooting down the road over his head to scare him. The last they saw of him, he was running down the road screaming at them. The men went on home. One jug of liquor was all that they had to show for the night's trip.
Merrick and the neighboring town, had lots of dances. The Adkins boys usually played for the dances. George played the violin, Andrew the guitar, Jerry the mandolin. The French harp was the only instrument that Jim played. So Jim usually did the calling. There was seldom a dance that did not have a fight or two. Jim was usually in the middle of these fracases. Some were quite serious.
There was a merchant in Merrick who had a very beautiful Daughter. She was a music teacher, and gave lessons on the organ. She was also a beautiful singer. Her mother had died a few years before, and she kept house for her father and three single brothers, who didn't think much of the idea of her getting married. Her name was Bessie Blanche Coulson. She and Jim found that they were meant for each other.
On January 3, 1900, they went to Chandler, Oklahoma, the county seat, and were married. Jim's sister, Nannie, and her boy friend, Field Wright, went with them. They came back to Jim's parents that night. They were still living in the log cabin.
Late in the evening, there came a knock at the door. It was Charley Coulson, Bessie's brother, who was looking for her. Jim's father had quite a time explaining to him and cooling Charley off. He was going to give Jim a thrashing and take Bessie home. If there had been a fight between Jim and Charley, however, I'm sure that Charley wouldn't have won. Jim always said that Charley liked to crow like a little Banty rooster. It took quite a while for Chancy and Will to become reconciled to Bessie's marriage. When Will and Jim would meet, it usually ended up in a fight.
Jim and his father built another log cabin on another side of the old homestead where Bessie and Jim lived for some time. Once, when Jim was working in the garden, Will came over. Soon he and Jim were at it, and Will picked up something and hit Jim. Jim took the hoe after him. Bessie came out and separated them, and soon had each going their way again. Bessie was the family peacemaker. Johnnie Dawson once said she always had a smile and a kind word for everyone.
In the fail of 1900, a baby girl was born to Jim and Bessie, but she lived only for a few days. She was buried in the southeast corner of the at the old homestead.
In June, 1902, another baby girl was born to Jim and Bessie. She was named Leone Blanche. Leone was taken from a book that Bessie was reading named "Mad Love." Blanche was Bessie's middle name.
Della, Jim's next-to-youngest sister, liked to stay with Jim and Bessie. She'd stay several days at a time. If they wanted to go some- place, they would send her home. After Leone was born, Della didn't like it and, for a long time, she refused to go to Jim and Bessie's.
Bessie was never well after Leone was born. They moved to Guthrie, thinking that another location might help, but Bessie kept getting worse. She had tuberculosis; her mother and sister had died of the same disease. Poor medical care at the time of her daughter's birth aggravated it more. They came back and lived in the old dugout in the old homestead yard. When Bessie became bedfast, she was taken into the front room of the old log cabin.
She wanted no one to wait on her but Jim. She was bedfast for six months. On July 14, 1903, she slipped away. It was on a Sunday When Josie, Jim's sister, was ready to go to Sunday school, Bessie called her to her bedside and had Josie say her Bible and memory verses to her. When Josie returned home from Sunday school, Bessie had passed away.
Bessie's sister, Florence Main, wanted to adopt Leone, but Jim would not hear of it. So Jim's mother took on one more child to raise. She only had twelve of her own, and raised Raymond, Nannie's son, Leone, Jim's daughter, and kept Effie's two sons Warren and Howard for several years. In later years, she kept Jack, Jerry's son.
To Jim, the whole world dropped out from under him. The evening that Bessie died, he had one of his terrific headaches. Members of the family who, were old enough to remember said that Jim walked back and forth from the house to the barn so many times that he wore a new path to the barn. Dad never got over losing mother, for even after I was married, he came to Wichita, Kansas to visit us, and, seeing mother's picture on the wail one evening, he started talking to me about her and completely broke down and cried and cried. It was quite unusual for Dad to show his emotions. He and Mary Margaret separated then, and I guess that he was just lonely. He was living in Oklahoma City at the time.
After Bessie passed away, Jim went out to Colorado where his brother John lived He worked on the section for quite awhile. When he came back, his father had sold the old homestead and was renting the old Dilly place just a couple of miles from there. He rented this place from Field Wright. Grandma took care of me. I always called grandma "mother," grandpa "papa," and called Dad "papa Jim." I did this until I was about five years old. Ola got mad at me one day and told me it wasn't my "'mamma" and "papa" and then grandma explained every thing to me.
Jim came back and tried to begin again. There were Jerry, Andrew, Josie, Della, Ola, Raymond and I at home then. Tolbert (Isaac) had married Jessie Sires. George had married Ella Dawson. Nannie had married Bob Root and was living in Sapulpa. The older ones took in all the dances. They'd work all day and then dance until nearly daybreak. Weather never stopped them. Jim's father didn't approve of dances; he was a very religious man.
Jim began to go with the village "school mom." She was a widow woman and had two daughters. Her name was Kitty Taylor. All of the neighbors thought this was going to be a good match. Kitty was loved and respected by everyone there and Jim was well-known and liked by Every one. They became very fond of one another, but Kitty thought that her duty and responsibility lay in taking care of her two daughters and she would not remarry. Years later, after Jim and Mary, his second wife, had separated, he visited Kitty Taylor in Stillwater, Oklahoma. They had several dates and corresponded with each other several months.
As I stated before, weather conditions didn't keep them at home. One winter day, there was quite a snow storm. Snow was drifted several feet in places. The Adkins boys made a sled. Maybe some of the neighbor boys helped, for there were several starting out in it to a dance that evening. Grandmother had a basket of eggs, and wanted them to leave them someplace along the way. As they were going along, they came to a big drift and the sled upset. Josie was carrying the eggs but she didn't spill or break even one. They all had good times along with all the hardships.
One of their closest neighbor's when living at the old homestead was named Dawson. There were several in the Dawson family. The young folks were in the same crowd and went the same places as the Adkins. George was going with Ella Dawson, and they were married in 1907. Johnnie Dawson wanted to buy Josie from grandpa, and offered him a team of horses for her. Josie was kidded quite a bit about that.
One summer, Mary Dawson Clover came to visit her parents. She had three small girls. She had lost her husband a year or so before. Jim dated her that summer as she went with the crowd to various social activities. She went back to Cambridge, Kansas that fall, but the next year she was back visiting her parents again. Jim, and Mary started a courtship that lasted until June, 1908, when they went to Chandler and were married. Grandmother was living at the old Dilly place then.
They told no one about going to get married. Andrew had just bought a new suit and Jim asked him if he could borrow it as he had an important engagement. Mary got on the train at Merrick but Jim went to Dudley, a few miles away, to board the train. On returning from Chandler that evening, Jim got off at Dudley and came on home. Mary went on to Merrick and went to her parents.
Jim said nothing about being married. However, a few days before they were married, Jim had written a letter to Kitty Taylor and had given the letter to Josie, his sister, to mail. The letter was very thin and Jim acted rather mysterious when he gave it to her, and that made Josie wonder about it. The more she thought about it the more curious she became, so she steamed the letter open. In the letter, Jim told Kitty that he and Mary were getting married soon and that she would hear no more from him. Josie kept this a secret. Jim came back to the house and started working as he always had.
Things went on like this for several days. Josie told her mother that she thought Jim was married but her mother didn't think so. A few days later, Josie looked out in the field, where Jim was working, and saw some woman talking to him. It was Mary. In a few minutes, they came into the house and told of being married.
My spirits really fell. I didn't like the idea of sharing my "papa Jim" with anyone. After telling us, he went back to Dawson with Mary. It was told that Blanche, Mary's youngest daughter, would sleep no place but with her mother that night. They kidded Jim a lot about Blanche sleeping with them.
Dad and Mary rented a small house about a quarter mile away from his dad's. It had only two rooms. There Dad, Mary, Lillian, Susie, Blanche and I lived. We girls all went to the Prairie Jun school. Blanche and I were in the first grade; Tillie Miller was our teacher. She taught there many years. She took quite an interest in me. She had taken music lessons from my mother. Practically every evening just about dusk, I'd ask Dad if I could go to grandmas to stay all night. I usual usually got to go; Della and Ola were usually watching for me.
Jim bought a span of mules about this time. Their names were Tommy and Kate. They were tiny little mules, sorrel in color, and mean...oh, man! Some team! They were good little workers and could out pull most any team in the country. Outrun them, too! Jim was the only person who could handle these mules. They got away from him several times. If he got out to open a gate, he'd always have hold of the Lines and be ready to jump in the wagon, for those mules always started out in a run.
I remember one day, shortly after he got them, when he hitched them to the wagon and went out to fix fence. About four in the afternoon, here came the mules on a dead run, without Jim. When they got to the barn, they stopped. Andrew and his dad were sure that Jim had been hurt or something, and started to go look for him. They soon saw him coming across the meadow on foot. He had opened the gate and wasn't quite quick enough on the draw that day, and didn't get back into the wagon in time. Jim had those mules for several years.
In all my life, Jim only spanked me three times. Once was for running away That was before Jim and Mary were married. I ran off and went down to a Negro's house. The man's name was Sidney; he was rendering lard. While I was there, one of the little boys came up to his dad and wanted some cracklings, so he said, "Sidney, Sidney, give me some skin!"
Tommy and Kate were the cause of another spanking. We kids and several neighbor children were playing one day. The kids all began to tell what they could do. I wanted to come up with something bigger than any of them, so I said I had ridden old Tommy. Ola said I hadn't, but I swore that I had. Ola told dad, and I got a spanking for lying. Both spankings were with a razor strap, too!
In the spring of 1910, Mary and Jim decided to move to Cambridge, Kansas. Mary owned a farm there, four and a half miles north of Cambridge, on Grouse Creek. It was a very good farm. They had two teams - Brandy and Prince, and Tommy and Kate. They packed all their belongings into two wagons. Jerry went along to drive one wagon. He drove Old Brandy and Prince. Dad drove the little mules. The mules were hitched to covered wagons, and to we girls, Blanche and I, it was a real picnic.
I remember the first night we stayed at Stillwater, Oklahoma. People then would camp near the horse barns. Blanche and I were wandering along the street and we met Ike Graham; he had been the husband of Effie Adkins. He was a policeman now, and he told us we had better hurry back to camp for the curfew rang at nine and they put boys and girls in jail if they were caught on the street after that without their parents. We sure hurried back. The next night we camped in the pasture of the 101 Ranch. Cow chips were the only fuel we could find there.
Blanche and I would scuffle and have a big time as we rolled along. Once, we almost fell out of the back of the wagon, scaring Jerry's team. He scolded us, and we cried and laid down and went to sleep. We didn't awaken until after camp had been made and supper eaten. They had bought a jelly pie there and had eaten it all up. Blanche and I were sure mad that we didn't get any. That was at New Salem, Kansas.
We stopped first at John Dawson's. It was a real cold day. I remember that Susie Dawson held me and got me warm. The girls didn't like it much, for Susie was their aunt - not mine. We ate dinner there, then went to Mary's farm, which was about a half mile from there. There was a five-room house on this farm, painted green. It was very nice. The nicest house I had ever lived in.
I was soon made to feel like an outsider, as I was told often enough by the girls that this was their farm and not Jim's and mine. Of course, that was true, but it made one feel as though they were intruding.
The Clovers accepted us, but I think they resented Jim farming that farm. You see, Mary's first husband was a Clover. Jim was one of the best farmers in the country, but so many things were against him. If any problems came up, which they do in any family, or if Jim wanted to change anything at all, Susie would always run to her Uncle Charley with it. Of course, this would make Jim very angry. I didn't help matters any, for several times I would hear Susie say she had, or was going to, tell Charley Clover, and I'd go tell Dad. Dad took to going to town and playing cards with the gang quite often.
Alfalfa and corn were the main crops he raised. All the men in the neighborhood who raised alfalfa would help each other at times when the alfalfa was ready to cut, which was three or four times each season.
Jim bought a few cows. Getting the cows in from the pasture and milking them was part of Blanche's and my job. Besides that, we always had to see that the wood box was full, kindling in, and the dishes washed. I remember one time when Blanche and I were told to bring in two baskets of cobs. We started out and both of us started after the same basket. "That's my basket," Blanche said, but I beat her to it. We both picked up cobs and put them in the same basket. We carried the basket to the house, and, of course, was asked where the other basket was. Blanche said, "I said that was my basket." I said, "I got it first."
I was made to get another basket of cobs all by myself. I could never see the fair side of that. Dad was in town and I took as long as I possibly could to pick them up, but I had to go in long before he got home. When things would go wrong, Dad would say, "I'm going to send you to your Grand mother's." I'd say, "I wish you would." Then I'd usually go to Oklahoma and stay several months to a year.
After I was at Grandmother's quite a while, Dad would come to see us. Dad always wanted me to go back with him and of course I always wanted to. Once he had Della go with us, for he was afraid I wouldn't want to stay. I guess Della stayed about a month or more. I started to school. Mae Brown was the teacher. She was very strict, and she scared me to death. I had been used to going to Tillie Miller and she was so kind and had such a gentle voice. When it got closer to the time for Della to go home, she would say to me, "Leone, why don't you cry, and I think Jim will let you go back home with rile." I did, too. I got to go back home with Della.
Mary went to Winfield with us. She bought the tickets, then gave us fifty cents. That was all the money we had. We had to stay overnight in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Uncle Tol lived there, and we planned to stay at his house. Aunt Jessie was to meet us, but she thought we wouldn't get in until midnight; instead, we got in at about 8 P.M. When we got there, we didn't know what to do. Della took one quarter and had our trunks transferred over to another depot. Then we got a taxi with the other quarter and went out to Uncle Tol's house. No one was home. The house was locked. We didn't know what to do, so we sat on the front porch. It got later and we got scared. A neighbor lady saw us and asked us to come in her house. We did. They tried to get us to go to bed, but we wouldn't. Those poor old folks sat up with us till after midnight, when Jessie and family got home. Jessie saw that we got to the depot the next day, and we went on to Merrick. Grandpa met us and the first thing I said to him was, "I cried and got to come home." really should have been spanked. I was in Oklahoma the rest of that school year and then went again to Kansas.
On March 3, 1911, a daughter was born to Mary and Jim. They named her Dorothy Lucile. She was called Lucile until she started to school, then she wanted to be called Dorothy. Later, most of us just called her "Dot." I was in Oklahoma when she was born. Dad wrote me and asked me what I thought would be a good name. My little playmate's name was Reba, so that is the name I sent. Thank goodness they didn't accept that name, Though.
That summer, Dad came after me. I was really thrilled to go this time. There was something there that belonged partly to me - a baby sister. She was as much my sister as she was Blanche, Susie, and Lil's. But I soon found out different. The only time I got to hold her was when Dad was around and he would set her in my lap. I don't think I could ever think more of Dot had she been my full sister instead of my half-sister. Yes, we had a mixed up family It was "your kids and my kid against our kid," as the old saying goes.
Dad was always kind to me and as far as I can remember to the girls, too, with the exception of getting mad at Susie when she would tell Charley Clover things. He would really get vexed at us, though. I remember once he was going to town. Mary had told Blanche and I that we could go along, but Dad had other plans, and he said, "Not this time." We were all ready, and, of course, we whined and cried, thinking maybe he would give in. I was in the kitchen, standing by the kitchen cabinet, trying not to cry, when he came in.
For something to say, I asked, "Papa, what is Wassa-toosa for?" "Belly ache - and you had better take some!" was his reply. Wassa-toosa was some patent medicine they had bought from some traveling medicine man. He'd come through the town and put on an act or two, then try to sell medicine that was supposed to cure about every ailment. Everybody turned out to these shows and usually bought some.
People in those days visited a lot. Of course, there were no picture shows to go to there. Whenever anyone from Dawsetts, Will Clover's, or Dad's went to town in the summer time, they would usually bring back a 100-pound cake of ice. Then they would invite the other families in and make five or more gallons of ice cream. The women would make cakes. We would eat and eat until it was a wonder we didn't all have to take Wassa-toosa.
At these get to-gathers they would nearly always ask Dad to sing. He'd usually say, "Well, Leone will have to help me." I really felt big. The main song we sang was "Coon, Coon, Coon." Dad was really a good singer.
At church one night, Dad was singing away and the fellow who was sitting next to him said, "No one should sing in church unless they belong to the church." Dad informed him if he felt like singing in church, he would sing. The man was Abe Farris, who lived there in Cambridge.
At these get-to-Gathers, the young folks and of course we kids would all gather together and the older ones would begin to tell ghost stories. Real hair-raising ones, and by bed time, I would be so scared I could hardly go to sleep.
There were school programs and literary societies at Shaw School, where we girls went. Dad was asked to sing quite often. Once he was asked to sing a hymn. A young girl, Elsie Brunton, was to say a reading and several times she was to stop and Dad was to sing a line or two, then she would say more and he was to sing another line. He got mixed up and sang every line with the same tune, and he was sure kidded about this, especially by his nephew, Ray Adkins, who was visiting us at the time.
Another time, he sang "Old and Only In the Way," and Dad said he sang it especially for Susie Dawsett, because she treated her father-in-law so terrible and wouldn't let him in the house. That was one of Dad's good traits. He always treated the elderly people and children nice, and it made him angry to see them mistreated.
It kept Dad quite busy doing all the farming by himself. He said once he didn't see why some of us couldn't have been boys so he would have had someone to help him. That gave me an idea, and I told him I'd help him, if he would just let me try. He did. Dad hitched Old Brandy, a very tame horse, to a one- horse plow, and sent me down a row of corn. I went down and back two rows. I don't think there was any corn left in those two rows. Dad decided he'd gain nothing that way, so my plowing days were over.
He still had Tommie and Kate, the mules. I think they got meaner every day. If we girls would go in the corral and they were any place around, they'd start after us and chase us out. I don't know what they would have done had they caught us probably trampled us to death. Dad had to always go on a certain side to feed them or to harness them. Although they were mean, they could haul the heaviest loads, run the fastest, and work the longest of any team in the country. Dad decided to sell them before they did hurt anyone. He cautioned the buyer, telling him to be careful, and how to approach them, etc. The buyer gave him to understand that he knew how to handle mules and horses. However, the first morning after he bought them, the man started to tend to them his own way, and the mules started kicking and almost killed the man.
I always thought Dad was the most wonderful, strongest, and grandest man in the world. I still say he was. He used to play with me a lot. He'd take hold of my hands, and I would stiffen out and walk right up to the top of his shoulders. Practically every time he came to the house I'd run to him and do it. He taught me to glide across the floor by putting first toe together then heel. I was sure proud when I accomplished that and we could glide across the floor together. He used to place two kitchen chairs just far enough apart to put his head on one and his heels on the other, then he would stiffen himself some way. We girls would jump on him, sit on his stomach and bounce around. Sometimes all of us at once. He could hold quite a weight that way, and I never saw anyone else do it. It made him seem more wonderful to me, if that could have been possible.
Besides playing with us he was so kind and lovable when we were ill. I used to have the headache so bad. He would usually bring me out of it by rubbing my head until I went to sleep. He seemed to know just the right spot to rub. Mary could never understand my headaches for no matter how hard it ached, I still liked to eat. I still do. She said to tile many times, "Must not hurt very bad if you can eat like that." I didn't then, but I now believe that Mary thought I was just putting on, for when she had a sick headache, she didn't want anything at all to eat. Different kind of headaches, I guess.
Dad made friends wherever he went - young and old as well. Bryan Clover once said he loved Jim almost as much as his own dad. Bryan used to get up about 4 A.M. during duck hunting season, come waken Dad, and they'd go hunting. In Summer they fished a lot together.
Dad had a way of speaking sometimes that we didn't know whether he meant it or not, so we'd take it the way we wanted to. In late spring one day, it seemed quite warm and Blanche and I wanted to go barefooted. We'd asked Mary and pestered her until she said, "Go ask Jim." Away we went to the granary and asked him. He said, "Yes, but if you do, you will have to go wade across the creek." Away we went and waded until they sent after us. Once we asked if we could go fishing, and he said, "Yes, but you can't come back until you catch a mess of fish." We believed him and we sure fished hard and long that day, but we came home with a string of perch and sunfish. It tickled him that we took him serious.
Once we all went fishing. Blanche and I always liked to fish with small hooks. I was very unhappy because we only had one and Blanche got it, but Dad fixed me up with a pole and line and a rather big hook. We were sitting on the bank by a very deep hole. I got a bite and away went my line. I tried to pull it in but I couldn't, but I wouldn't let go of the pole. It pulled me down to the bank, and just as I got to the edge of the water, Dad reached down and took my pole and helped me get the fish. It was a big succor. Anyway, it was the largest caught that day. I was sure proud and would not give up the big hook, then.
Mary and Dad went fishing one Sunday. They caught a nice string of fish and were almost ready to call it a day when Dad snagged a big one. He worked and worked trying to get it out when it flopped its tail up and they saw it was really a big one. Mary wanted Dad to jump in and get it, but Dad kept trying to wear him out. In about an hour, he drug him up to the ford and was able to get hand in the gills and pull him out. Mary was so excited she threw the fish they had already caught back in the creek, stringer and all. Dad strung the catfish on the fishing pole and he and Mary carried it home. By putting it on their shoulders, the tail drug the ground. It weighed 49 pounds. Every- one in the country had fish to eat. I was in Oklahoma at the time, but Dad put the head over a fence post and it was there several years. I got to see the head. This made Dad the best fisherman in the country something else to brag about.
Dad's brother, George, who was married to Mary's sister Ella, moved to Cambridge. He became the barber there. He came down with the smallpox. Before the doctor had dismissed him, he got up and came out to the farm. Mary wouldn't let him come in the house. No one could blame her, for the smallpox was one of the most feared diseases. Dad didn't do like his uncle did when he bad the measles. He fixed a bed out in the grainer and made Uncle George stay there. I'd carry his meals out to him. I liked Uncle George. He used to help me by telling me how to fix myself up more attractive. He played the violin and played for the dances there in Cambridge, Kansas. I used to go to the dances with he and Aunt Ella a lot. At these dances I always liked to shoddish, waltz, and two-step with Dad. He was still a very good dancer and still called quite a bit for the square dances.
Along about this time, they put a pipe line through the country. It went across our pasture and the men set up a camp there in our pasture. Lots of the men were called "Bo-hunks." Two of them used to come to the house and play the piano. Blanche had won the piano in a popularity contest. Dad worked for the pipeline company. After it was finished, he had the job of "Pipeline Walker" to see if everything was OK.
One of these "Bohunks" could do imitations. Blanche and I would get the cows almost to the coral and then he would start bawling like a calf and those old cows would turn and run back to the pasture. It was quite awhile before we knew they were the cause of it.
A lady came to Cambridge to put on a home talent show with the youngsters in the town and community. Blanche and I were in it. A big storm came up while the show was going on. Going home from Cambridge, it was so dark that one could hardly see. Going down the lane, one of the horses got in the wire fence and fell. Mary started to send Blanche and I on over to Dawsetts, but Dad said, "No, they will get lost." He saw a light going down the main high way, so he ran back to stop whoever had it. He couldn't see where he was going and ran into a barbed wire fence and tore a sleeve out of his suit. However, he stopped the fellow with the lantern. It was Orville McCrabb. He came and they got the horse up. Then Mary and Dorothy got on Old Prince. Blanche and I got on Old Brandy and Dad and Lil walked home. When we got to Grouse Creek, Lil got on Dad's back and Dad carried her and led the horses across the creek. We were all soaked when we got home around midnight.
When World War I was declared, we were still living on the farm. Susie had married Beecher Brunton. Blanche and I were in the 8th grade. They were drafting the young fellows unless they had a good excuse. Farming was considered a good excuse. One day, Dad came home from town and found Beecher getting ready to plow. He asked him what the idea was and Beech informed him that Mary had signed a paper stating that he was needed to do the farming there. Dad never believed that Mary really knew what she was signing - it was just a paper that her son-in-law wanted signed and, sure, she'd help him out.
Dad was never any madder than he was then. He got cleaned up and went back to town. He was going to Winfield to turn Beecher in. Susie and Mary were real scared. Mary called Cambridge and got hold of Jim, and, as Dad was cooled off a little, she talked him out of it. From that time on, there was practically a feud between Dad and Beech. The farm really began to go down after that. We all lived there that year.
Blanche and I would usually get up real early and get our breakfast and go to school before anyone else got up. Beech got into his head that we should get his breakfast, too, but Dad said that we didn't have to. Dad spent more and more of his time in town, playing cards. Beech did, too. The farming became a sideline.
In the spring of 1918, Dad would take no more. Mary and he found a small place in town and bought it. It was only a two-room house, but had a nice smokehouse that they moved up close and made a bedroom out of it.
This year, they had just started a high school in Cambridge. Mary told Blanche that she didn't have to go. I said to Dad one evening, "Dad, Mary said 'Blanche doesn't have to go to high school this year I don't have to go either, do I?" He replied very emphatically, "Young lady, you're going to school! I can't help it if Blanche doesn't go, but you're going to get the education that I never had the chance to get." I have thanked Dad many times for making me go. I was one of the Charter Members of the Cambridge, Kansas High School.
That winter was the year of the flu epidemic. Influenza, they called it. People were dying everyplace with it. The doctors didn't know how to cope with it. Dad came down with it, then Mary, then Lil, Blanche, and Dot took it. I never caught it. Uncle George's family all had it. I'd cook, then care for all of the folks, then take something over for Uncle George's to eat. Every time the doctor would come he'd say I would be the next. Annie Laurie Snow was the high school teacher. She would leave the lesson assignments by the gate. I'd get it and do my school work.
The doc was so busy he didn't get around to put a quarantine on the house. Dad was feeling pretty good and was all ready to go to town when the mayor came and put one up. The doc took it down the next morning. Dad had kidded the mayor and told him he was coming to town anyway, so the next morning, he went. The mayor was going to arrest him when someone told him that the doctor had taken the quarantine down. Dad was having lots of fun out of it.
Dad began working at the grain elevator. World War I was over that year. Blanche's boy friend, Claud Irwin, came home, and they were soon married.
Mary bought the Cambridge Hotel. It had 16 rooms - no bath, no nothing, but 'a lot of hard work. With my school work and the work that was laid out for me to do there, it kept me rather busy. My job was to clean the tables, wash dishes, and clean the upstairs rooms. Lillian was there but she didn't like to wait tables and I really don't know what she did. Sewed a little. Mary's brother Ed and his wife came and stayed there. Ed would get up first, then come and awaken me. Many times I wouldn't answer him. Dad would say, "You don't have to pay any attention to him." Then they would put the alarm clock in my room. Dad would say, "Throw the damn thing out He always took my part.
Dad worked at the grain elevator most of the time we were in the hotel. One day he came in and said he bought a car that day. We were all so excited and wanted to see it. Then he said he had only owned it for about an hour, and sold it for more than he gave for it. We could have wrung his neck for that! There weren't too many people who owned cars then in Cambridge.
We were in the hotel about a year and a half. Mary sold it to Eddie Cook. It wasn't but a few years after that that the old hotel burned down.
The folks bought a five-room house on a corner lot, a block west of Main Street. That was the end of my senior year in high school. I had been working in Wichita all summer. When I came home to go to school, Dad was sick. He had a kidney stone, and was sick for several months, and times were pretty hard. He belonged to a club called the "22 Club." Its purpose was to help the members when they were sick by giving $.50 apiece. The 1O.5O he received for that kept us going. I had made enough to get my school books and clothes. Lil was working out then, so Dot was the only one to buy for, and she wasn't very big, then.
That year, Dad was elected Mayor of Cambridge, Kansas. At Halloween time, the big boys in the community really went all out to turn every thing possible upside down - especially the "Jonnies." They took one out in the middle of main street. Lots of the old codgers there wanted Dad to arrest the gang. Dad laughed and said, "Oh, you fellows were young once, and probably did more damage than these kids. I won't do nothing to them for having a little fun on Halloween!" The very next Halloween night, a bunch of the boys came to the house and wanted Dad to go along with them. He didn't go, but it made him feel good that the boys wanted him.
After being Mayor, he was the Road Commissioner and Street commissioner for quite awhile. Dad drank and played cards quite a bit, but it always made him mad to see an older fellow try to get a young one to drink. He almost got in a fight with one fellow for trying to get Orville McCrabb to take a drink. A few years later, Orville drank quite a bit, but he always had a high regard for Dad.
Dad was usually a happy-go-lucky guy - always jolly and ready to laugh and talk with everyone. Most everyone liked him - not only in Cambridge, but wherever he went.
He belonged to the Odd Fellow Lodge there. He went through all the chairs and was Noble Grand. They would have oyster suppers and all the family would go. It was quite a feast. It was the first time I can remember eating celery. Of course, celery, and those little oyster crackers went with the stew. In those days, the whole community turned out for some thing like that.
In early 1922, they bought the restaurant there. It was right next to the post office and Uncle George's barber shop. Besides handling meals, we handled soft drinks and ice cream. Dad and I did most of the waiting on customers. Most of the railroad men came there to eat. When school was out, in the spring of 1922, I left for Oklahoma to go to college, and then to teach in a rural school there. At Independence, where I had to change trains, I met one of the railroad men who had eaten at our restaurant. He asked where I was going and when I told him he was very surprised. He said he thought I was Dad's wife, for we were always working in the restaurant together.
In the summer of 1922, there began an oil boom around Cambridge. The folks were still in the restaurant. Dad had to be gone one day. Before he left, he said to Mary that, whatever happened, not to sell the restaurant until he got back. Mary asked, "Why?" Mrs. Stell Sheets had been wanting to buy it. Some of the men got some good information about some places to lease, and Dad was in on it. He was going to check on it. Dad was being quiet about it, so he didn't tell Mary why. Dad didn't like to always explain his reasons - he wanted people to take him at face value and trust him. When Dad returned, Mary had sold the restaurant. Had she waited, they could have made several hundred dollars more on the deal. They moved back to the corner, house again. There was quite a bit of ground with the place. Mary and her nephews built a rooming house on the spare space (that still stands today). After moving back, Dad began to drink more. He and Mary quarreled more frequently. Lil got in some of the arguments. Things began to get pretty rocky for Mary and Dad.
In the spring of 1923, Uncle George was killed. His car was struck by the evening train - east of Cambridge.
In the spring of 1924, Dad came to Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Grandpa and Grand- ma lived on a farm, four miles north of Sapulpa. Aunt Nannie lived on a farm about five miles west of Sapulpa. I was staying at her place and teaching at the Burgess or Model School. After Dad was there a few days, he got a job in the oil fields, doing roustabout work, helping clean out oil wells, etc. A Mr. Black, who had a lease there, wanted him to tend his lease for him. Dad took the job. There was a three room house on this lease. Mary wouldn't come down to live with him because her girls were all in Cambridge. Dad and I bought tile necessary pieces of furniture and started keeping house.
It was only about five miles from where I was teaching. In the summer, Mary and Dorothy would come down , but Mary wouldn't stay long she felt she must be close to her three daughters, although two were married. I owned a Ford roadster, then, and I would leave it home in the summer for Dad to use while I was away to summer school.
About that time, many people were making "home brew." Dad was one who did. He was so free-hearted with it that he really had the company. I'd get rather put out about this. We had an old-time flat ice box. The lid raised from the top. After they all had had a bottle or two, I would sit on the box, and no coaxing would get me off. Then the men would go home and Dad and I would have a big laugh about it. Dad would get provoked, sometimes, but he would soon get over it.
One evening On my way home from school, I met Dad and another fellow on the way to town. They had been drinking, so I got Dad to go back home with me. I had stopped and bought groceries on the way home, including a sack of flour. I asked Dad to bring in the sack of groceries for me. He didn't want to much, but he finally did. He came in with the sack of flour in one hand, and, as he stepped in the door, he just gave the sack of flour a toss, and it landed on the floor, over by the cabinet. I left everything as it was. The next day when I got home from school, everything was cleaned up and in its place. Dad and I laughed several times over this.
In the years of 1928 and 1929, Dot came down to Oilton and stayed with me and went to school there. We'd drive over to Sapulpa each weekend. That summer, Dot stayed with Dad while I was at school. That fall, she went back to Cambridge, and in the spring of 1930, she was married to Emory Lewis.
About this time, Mr. Black sold his lease, and Dad was out of a job. Work was hard to find at that time. (Depression years) Dad leased a little filling station and grocery store on the highway between Sapulpa and Drum- right. I helped there after I came home from summer school until my school started, but it didn't pan out. I was teaching near Depew, then. I came
home one Friday night and found that Dad had moved out. He had decided he could make no money there, so he rented a little two-room house in Sapulpa and had moved there. Then he began to look for work. He wasn't having any luck, so Nannie and I took him to Gainesville, Texas, but he couldn't find anything there, either. He went to Oklahoma City. There he found a job in Armour's packing plant. He rented a two-room house from a Mexican family. Nannie and I got a trailer and we took the furniture he would need to him. This was in 1929.
All the time he worked in Oklahoma City, he drank a lot. Here he got acquainted with Myrtle Price. She was a widow with seven children - all married but two. Dad and Mary were divorced in 1934 or 1935. It wasn't long after that until he and Myrtle were married.
I was married to Hubert Gailey in 1931, on June 6. However, no one knew about it until the spring of 1932, as I was teaching at Prettywater, near Sapulpa, that year (Leone would have been automatically fired from her teaching position for getting married, as it was against the conditions of her teaching contract). Hubert and I moved into an apartment, the Spanish Courts, in Wichita, Kansas.
I remember one weekend there was a special railroad rate from Oklahoma City to Wichita, and back, for $1.OO. I wrote Dad and he came to see us. Dot and Emory came up that weekend, too. They had two children - James and Donald. Don was just a tiny baby. Dad was still working at Armour's, and worked there for about another year. Then work became slack, and he was laid off.
We moved to three different places in Wichita - then we bought an acre of ground. Hubert and his dad built a garage house on it. Dad came up arid spent a week with us and helped on the house while he was there.
After we moved to the acreage, Dad wrote that he was going go move to the rooming house, so Hubert and I rented a trailer and went to Oklahoma City and brought back the furniture he had there. It wasn't long until Dad came to Wichita. It was during the depression. He got a job working on a suburban place. He got practically nothing for it - board, room, and 50c a day, I think.
We moved our garage house on the back half of our acre. Hubert's dad and Dad remodeled it. It took quite a while. After it was done, Dad was helping a neighbor do some carpenter work and he fell backwards off the ladder, wrenching his back. He was in bed at our place quite a while. Ray came out one day and took him to an osteopath and that seemed to straighten him out more than anything had. It was a long time until his back was strong again.
While he was at our place, he was getting about a letter a week from a person in Tulsa. I kept wondering who they were from. While he was laid up in bed and it hurt him to write, he asked me to answer one of the letters for him. They were to Kitty Taylor, the lady he went with at Merrick, Oklahoma, before he and Mary were married. Kitty was staying with one of her daughters in Tulsa. Dad said when he was going back and forth from Sapulpa to Oklahoma city, he stopped in Stillwater one day - that was where her home was. He looked her up and they had quite a visit. That started them corresponding again. If Dad could have left the liquor alone then, he probably would have married Kitty instead of Myrtle. Kitty would not put up with anyone drinking. But, besides that, her daughters didn't want Kitty to remarry.
After he began to feel a little better, George Garver, at Sapulpa, Oklahoma, wrote and asked Dad if he would like to come work for him on the farm. He went because work was really hard to find. It was only a short time until I had a letter from Mrs. Garver telling about Dad and Myrtle getting married.
Dot and Emory were on their vacation, and stopped by Garvers to see Dad. There they learned he was married. Myrtle stayed in the house and didn't come out to meet them.
Dad and Myrtle were at Garver's about a year. They left and went back to Oklahoma City.
Dad went up to Dot's and did some painting for Emory's uncle. He painted their house, barn, etc. Finally, Myrtle came up and stayed at Dot's. It was hard on Dorothy because her own mother lived only a few miles away. They rented a little farm about a mile from Dot's. They raised turkeys and chickens and had a cow. Worked hard but kept it going. One thing that can be said about Myrtle was that she was a hard worker.
In February of 1941, Dad and Myrtle came to Kansas City where Hubert and I were living. Dad built a room on the back of our house a nice bedroom. They were there about a month. Then, in August of the same year, Hubert went and got Dad, and he came and helped Hubert build a garage on the house. When David was two months old, we went to visit them on their farm. From about the time David was six months old, David would clasp his hands together and hold them over his head. If we would say, "Hi, Champ," he would do it again. Dad began to call David "Champ," and from that time on till the last time he saw David, it was always "Champ."
From there they moved on Fred Barger's farm, south of Cambridge. It was a very good farm and Dad liked it there. In fact, it was so good of a farm, and Dad had such good luck farming that year, that Fred wanted to farm it himself the next year. David and I visited them that fall they were there. Dad brought in an ear of yellow corn. David thought it was candy corn, and it made him so mad when he couldn't eat it Dad sure got a big laugh out of that. Dad let him drink out of the big water bucket and do most everything. They'd scuffle and have a big time. No wonder that David always liked going to his Grandfather's.
They moved back to the farm they had lived on before, near Dot's. When David was about three, we were there to visit. Dad and David went to get the old cow in from the pasture. It was milking time. Dad told David to stay close to him or he would scare the old cow. David said, "Why, Grandpa, the old cow is much bigger than I am, why should she get scared of me?" Dad sure got a big kick out of that.
They bought a car and drove out to Colorado. There he got a job working for a Mr. Jones in a liquor store. They rented a three-room home in a tourist camp. They lived there about two years, in Holly, Colorado. Dad did pretty good financially, but he started drinking more and more. He hadn't been drinking very much when he was farming. He became sick and the doctor said he had heart trouble He had a bad spell and they took him to the hospital in Lamar, Colorado. From what he said, the nurses had quite a time with him. He got to feeling fair and got up, called a cab, and went back to Holly. The doctor gave him two years to live.
Dad left Holly then and went to Burden. Here they decided to buy a house. Dad paid down on a house they bought from Basil. He paid about $1OOO. Myrtle's son had been killed in the army (World War II) and she was getting insurance money from the government. She was going to keep the payments up. We thought, then, they were settled for good.
But Myrtle was never satisfied any one place for any length of time. They were there for a year when Myrtle's two daughters from El Paso visited them. Dorothy, her oldest daughter, said if they would come to El Paso, to live, she would furnish them a new house and it would cost them nothing. All they would have to do was to keep the place up. So they sold their place in Burden and went to El Paso. Things didn't work out as smoothly as they had anticipated, though. They were only there about a year, then they came back to Burden and rented a house.
We visited them in El Paso over the Christmas Holidays. Laughing, we said we thought that we'd better come the first year, for they probably wouldn't be there next year. We were right - the next spring, they were back in Burden.
While we were there on New Year's Eve, Dad had a terrible heart attack. We were at Thelma's for dinner, and Dad had neglected to take any of his medicine with him. We rushed him back to their home and had to work a long time to bring him out of it. We were all really scared.
Next spring, after they came back to Burden, they came to Coffeyville to visit us. Dad was feeling pretty low. The two years that the Doctor in Colorado had given him were just about up. It was worrying him, too. One morning, I got Dad to get ready and told him we were going to town and he was going to get a good check up. The doctor there gave him a very good report. He told him that, if he took care of himself, he would live several years, yet. He gave Dad some medicine and told him to stay off any hard drinking. Not even beer. From that time on, Dad perked up quite a bit.
They settled in Burden a while, went back to Holly, Colorado, then back to Burden. Finally, they rented the house they had once owned. Dad worked awhile for Hank Triplett and got his social security. Triplett owned a garage in Burden and Dad did the janitor work. Then he began working in a domino parlor, opening it of a morning and closing it at night. He spent a lot of his time there. He liked being with the fellows he knew. I guess he had several light heart attacks there that the family didn't know about.
Evenings when his grandchildren would visit him, they'd play dominoes. Although he didn't feel good, he'd always play with David and Marilyn. They thought that there was no one like their grandfather. Once Marilyn pulled a good one on him. She had some bubble gum and asked him if he wanted a piece. Dad thought it was candy and took a piece. He chewed and chewed, and after awhile, he said to Marilyn, "I cant get this blamed stuff chewed up!" It kind of got him when Marilyn told him it was bubble gum. We all got a big laugh and teased him about his bubble gum quite often. Dad would say, "You little rascals, you!'" and Marilyn and David would laugh and try to tease him more.
On March 9, 1953, Dot lost her mother. We went to Cambridge for the funeral, and stayed all night in Burden, at Dad's. He had been to the doctor the day before for a check up. He was laughing, and telling us about getting lost in the hospital while in the nude and one doctor giving him a sheet and showing him the way to his room. I didn't realize he was so ill then, though. He told us that night that he had enough laid aside to take care of him. I remember in talking about being sick, Hubert said that he could sure groan when he was sick. Dad said, "So can I, and it sure helps to groan."
He got up out of his rocker that he usually sat in and came over and sat on a foot stool there by my chair. I'll always remember his sitting there. He seemed to be feeling pretty good, but I can see he was really putting on a big front for our sake. He was never one to let anyone know how bad he felt. The next morning we left and went to Cambridge to Mary's funeral and then on home to Kansas City. David was in grade school there, and Hubert was working for the Employment Security office in Kansas City. That was the last time we saw Dad alive.
Dad went down to Dot's several times that week without Myrtle knowing it. On Monday he stopped at Triplett's garage on the way home and when he left there he told Triplett that would probably be his last visit. He stopped at the Domino Parlor. There he got to feeling so bad that he stopped Marvin as he was going home from school and asked him to drive him home Instead of going straight home, he had Marvin drive him around a little bit. After he got home, he kept getting worse. That night, he couldn't lay down. He walked the floor and sat in his big chair all night. He dozed off once and Myrtle awakened him and tried to get him to go lie down. Early next morning, she called Dot. When Dot got there, she saw how bad Dad was. She called Basil, who lived next door, and had him go bring the doctor over The doctor gave him as large a shot as he could and told them to take him to the hospital in Winfield. He said he needed a shave, but he guessed he'd let the other fellow do that for him. None of them thought Dad would go as soon as he did. They thought he'd probably be in the hospital for several days. Dot told Myrtle that she could stay during the day with Dad but she'd have to be at home at nights. Myrtle went back to Burden with Emory, planning to come back that evening to stay. Dot stayed at the hospital. I think that was the way it was intended to be.
I think Dad knew his time was up. He talked to Dot about her mother and told her the reasons why he and Mary had not been able to get along. I think that Dot felt better after hearing Dad's side of the story.
Early that morning, while Dot was at the hospital, she called me. She told me how sick Dad was. I began to get ready and I left on the 5 o'clock train that evening. I guess just about the time the train left Kansas City, Dad passed away.
Dot said that Emory and Myrtle just came in the room and she said, "Dad, here's Myrtle." he turned his head and then passed away. When I got there that evening, Dot and Emory were there to meet me at the station. Dot got a preacher that Dad liked very much to preach the funeral sermon. I thought everything was as nice as could be. Most of Dad's living brothers and sisters, Dot and I, and our husbands and children were at the funeral, except for James and Donald, who were in the service. Myrtle left most everything up to Dot
The last summer of his life, he must have had a premonition. He said he was going to visit everyone that summer. He and Myrtle started out. They came here first. They were in Kansas City only a couple of days. D.C., Ola's husband, was here, and they were going to take him home and visit there. They went to Josie's from here, then on to Ola's. They went back to Josie's, and when they got ready to leave, Mary Joe said, "Uncle Jim, don't wait so long to come back." He told her that he didn't think his "old ticker" would let him do much more going. They went to Jerry's and Warren's before going back to Burden.
His last Christmas, Myrtle went to El Paso. We went to Burden and, the day after Christmas, we took Dad and went to Hominy to see Della. Margie's were there, so Dad got to see her and her family, too. It was sure a pleasant Christmas for us all.. That Christmas day, Dad came over to Cambridge and ate Christmas dinner with us (the Gailey family) over there.
I know this doesn't do Dad justice, but I wanted to write a little about his life. he never had an easy time of it. He never had much money, and had to work extremely hard for what he did have. However, he was always happy and easy to get along with. He had more friends than the average fellow, and enjoyed visiting and talking to them He loved children. He was always ready to give a helping hand to anyone who needed it. I will say he was one of the best, most understanding, and loving fathers a girl could ever have.
James Henry Adkins passed away on Tuesday at 5:30 P.M. He was 76 years, 6 months of age. He left two daughters and six grandchildren. Two of his grandsons were overseas when he passed away James was in Germany; Donald was in Korea.
BY LEONE BLANCHE ADKINS