Rogers County, OK

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I remember when..
in Rogers County, Oklahoma.


Submitted by: Norma White  

Grandfather Stonebarger, who would take one of us fishing and tie the line on his toe and go to sleep and never miss a fish.
My Dad who would sit on the front porch and play his guitar and sing and before you knew it, the front porch was full of kids at his feet and you could look around and all the neighbors would be on their front porch listening.

Submitted by: Kaylene Jones-Stephens 

Every year my parents ( Jimmie Jones and Elsie Robinson ) would bring us to Chelsea, Oklahoma for a two or three week vacation from Michigan to visit with their families. One of my fondest memories is of my Uncle Casey,
( Leonard Franklin Jones) and ( Cora Mae Jones) my grandmother, who would give us a couple bacon strips and some twine to take to Uncle Casey. He would cut fishing poles from the tree in their front yard for each of us. He would then walk us down a path to a little bridge about two blocks from Granny's house. There he would fix our poles with twine and tie a piece of bacon to the end so we could catch crawdads. He would stand and tell us stories as we screamed with delight when we were able to pull up a big crawdad without losing him back in the water. As he carried the little bucket back to the house loaded with our "catch" of the day, he would tell us what a fine job we did. It is a beautiful memory shared by many of my cousins also, we were very lucky to have Uncle Casey.

Grandmas story
Submitted by Larry Gosnell

Memoirs of Mary Elizabeth Peterson Gosnell, Rogers County, Oklahoma

Mary Elizabeth Peterson Gosnell gives a human element to our ancestral statistics by writing her life story when she was 90 years of age.
When she would awaken in the early morning hours, unable to fall back asleep, she would bring out her blue composition spiral notebook and handwrite, very carefully, the story of her life and many stories of her beloved family members.........

I was born in the Dogwood Hills of Chelsea, Indian Territory (Oklahoma)  April 28, 1897. My father was James Peterson from Copenhagen, Denmark.

He came to this country when he was a young man. He could not speak a word of English and said he learned his first English words from
children on the streets of New York City. My mother was Martha Elizabeth Tate Foster, a young widow with two small children from
Marlton, Arkansas. Mother and Father met at a friend's house and were married soon after that. My Father was a Carpenter and a Stonemason. He also liked to farm and owned a pair of big black mares. He was known about the country as the man with the big black horses by people who did not know his name. He was a good farmer and a good man.

Mother used to talk to me about my Father for I was so young when we lost him. I still remember things he said and did. Mother said he was good to his family, good to his neighbors and everybody liked him. He and Mother had only about twelve years together. He was a big strong man who had never been sick in his life, but pneumonia took him in nine short days. A few days before Father got sick, he and Mother had gathered up some chickens to take to town to sell and, someway, one of them scratched Mother on the inside of a finger, but she didn't pay much attention to it but in two or three days it got sore and swelled up and a red streak run up her arm and then they knew something bad was wrong. She had a high fever and they called the doctor. Father's fever was going higher and higher and he was talking out of his head, talking to his horses. Our neighbors were there doing everything they could, but Father passed away on Thanksgiving Day and they all thought Mother was going to die too.

We had one neighbor man who sat by Mother's bedside day and night dripping medicine on her arm. I guess that was what saved her life.
After Father passed away and in a little while, a man put two chairs at the foot of mother's bed and I wondered what they were for. I soon
found out. They brought that long black box with Father in it and placed it on the chairs, then two men raised Mother up so she could see Father for the last time. I just thought Mother couldn't stand it, but she did.

We children didn't know what to do. We just stood around Mother's bed. Then they took Father outside and put him in the hack and he was
carried to the cemetery by his big black horses and he was laid to rest by the side of Grandfather TATE (Mother's father) at the Ward's
Grove Cemetery near what is now Foile, Oklahoma. Mother was sick what seemed like a long time with her hand, but when she got better, she began to think about finding a place to move.

We couldn't live on that big farm for we had no one to work it. Lewis, my brother, was only fifteen years old, not old enough to take care of the stock or farm. Mother and Lewis started out to find a place to live. They found a neighbor who had a 20 acre patch with a two-room house on it. He said to just move in and if you want to plant anything, just plant. No one had lived on the place for a long time so the house wasn't much but it was a place to live. Mother got busy selling what she could, like hogs and two milk cows and other things we had. We took a few
chickens with us. Mother was just planning to stay there until Spring, then she planned to move to town where she might find work. We were
all feeling a little better now that we were settled in a house. Now, maybe we could make it to Spring so Spring passed into Summer.

Mother went out one night to shut the chicken coops. I was sitting in the kitchen door watching her. When she shut the last coop, I saw her
kneel down and then I heard her praying. She was talking to the Lord and I thought now everything is going to be all right-but I was wrong.
Just a few days later our house burned to the ground and everything we had went with it. Our neighbors were there but we had no water to
fight fire with, so we had to stand and watch everything burn. Mother had put some meat skins in a pan in the oven to cook the fat off of
them and crisp them up the way we all liked them and the grease caught fire.

One man did pull our old trunk out, but it didn't have much in it.

We spent the night with a neighbor and the next morning Lewis loaded up the plow and some other things and we went to Uncle Bob Tate's,
Mother's brother. We stayed there a few months. Uncle Bob wanted to use our horses to haul pipe in the oil fields and did. One of them
died and Mother sold the other one to a farmer. That deep mud and heavy loads just pulled them to death.

From Uncle Bob's we went to Chelsea where Mother and Lewis found work right away. Mother found a job cooking at the Clayton Hotel. Mother was a good cook and stayed about two years and Lewis found work driving for Dr. Caldwell on his house calls. It wasn't an easy job for a l5 year old boy for he had to get up all hours at night and drive the doctor on his calls. All this time, I was living with a family in Claremore, Oklahoma who wanted me to live with them. I don't know why, for I wasn't a very pretty little girl and with no home, but I was big enough to wash dishes. They had two little boys, one was about my age and he didn't like to help me with the dishes. His father was Mr. Ben Hester, Principal of the Claremore School. He always said that he was going to make a teacher out of me. I have often wondered what my life
might have been like if I had lived with them. I am sure I would have been raised just right and I would have been able to spell all of
these words that I can't spell now, but I might not have met that big boy with the knee pants and big feet and I'm sure it would not have
been worth that.

My little sister, Viola, was not in school yet, so she had to spend the day at the Hotel and go home with Mother at night, then get up early and go with Mother to go back to the Hotel. After she stopped working at the hotel and just cleaned homes for people. Then, one day
a thin man came to our house. He had on a blue shirt that had not been ironed. Mother met him at the door and shook hands with him. We
had never seen her shake hands with a man so we wondered who he was. Well, this was the day the Lord had sent CHARLEY GOSNELL our way. He came in the house and they talked a long time. He came back a few times and then they told us they were going to get married. The first thing I thought about when I heard that, was that I would get to come and stay home all the time. They were married at Claremore and I
packed my little bag and went home with them. Mr. and Mrs. Hester tried to talk Mother into leaving me with them, but she wouldn't leave
me unless I wanted to stay.

Well, we all went home to HIS house that evening. There were HIS children, Elmer and Ada and HER children, Mary and Viola. We just sat down and looked at each other. We didn't say a word. After a while, Elmer went out and soon came back with a friend with him and he didn't say anything either, and it took us about two days to be able to talk. In a few days we had put our furniture together and moved into one house.

Dad was working on the railroad at that time. One day a train came through and had a wreck at the edge of town; just a small wreck, but
it wrecked a car that was loaded with fresh fruit. That evening Dad brought home a big stalk of ripe bananas. We thought that was the
best thing in the world he could have brought to us. We had never seen so many bananas in one bunch. We had bananas for several days.

When Spring arrived, Dad bought an old team of horses and rented a small farm about four miles out of town. They planted a big garden
and a melon patch and corn. That was when Elmer and I got a taste of chopping weeds out of the cornfield. The weather was hot and the corn
was a lot taller than we were so if there was a breeze, the corn got it, but we didn't. Mother tried to make it easy on us. Every day she
would bring us that good fried bread with sugar on it and fresh water to drink. We would sit under a shade tree and eat our snack and talk
to Mother. It took a few days to clean the weeds out of that field, but there was always another field ready.

Two years after Mother and Charley Gosnell were married they had a little boy. We all loved him very much. We named him Earl Henry, the
Henry part was after his father. He was a happy little boy. He grew up to be a good man and he married a good girl and they had seven
children. They were a happy family. Then Mother and Charley had a little girl named Dorothy. They were so special to us and they were both taken away from us. We lost Dorotha first, at Tahlequah, Oklahoma. When she was about sixteen she was thrown from a horse hitting her head on a rock, crushing the back of her head in. Our family never got over that. Earl died from prostate cancer in Andrews, Texas at age 62.....

To go on with the story of my life... While we lived on that farm, we went to school at the Condry School about a mile through the woods. We made some good friends and we were friends after we left that school. I still write to one of the girls, Mary Yochum. Of course, she is 89 years old now and so am I, but we still write about playing ball and Black Man. We always had a good garden and Mother always saved garden seed for the next year so she had the seed all put away, but I found the pumpkin seed and I liked pumpkin seed. I would crack the seed and get the goody out and eat it. But this time, something went wrong and I wasn't expecting it.We children always got along so good as a family and never fought among ourselves, but once, and this was that time.

Elmer found me eating the pumpkin seed and he tried to take them away from me and he couldn't, so he threw me down on the bed and held my arms and legs down so I couldn't move. All this time he was yelling for Mamma and I was trying to move, so I couldn't hit him, pull his
hair, so I just had one thing that I could do to move him-so I did it. I spit right in his face. At that, he yelled louder and here came
Mamma. Well, we got that settled after a while and I got the worst end of it. Of course, Elmer was always Mother's Pet, anyway and after
that I let the old pumpkin seed alone. They weren't very good anyway.....

The Fourth of July was always a big day for us. Dad always had time to take us all to the Fourth of July Picnic at Chelsea. We would see
the races and get an ice cream cone. They made the cones right there at the ice cream stand and an orangeade made in a big wash tub with a
man selling and singing, "Orangeade made in the shade, stirred with a spade, just good enough for any old maid" and he was selling as fast
as he could fill the glasses for five cents a big glass, and the ride on the Merry-Go-Round, I thought, was the most beautiful music I had
ever heard, and I still like to hear it....

Well, Dad tried farming for a few years but it was no big success so he went looking for something else to do. Our neighbor was loading up
to go to Missouri. He owned a little farm and had left it and came to Oklahoma to get rich. Well, he didn't find what he came after so now
he was homesick for the hills again and told Dad what a wonderful country it was.

He said there were empty houses on small farms that you could just move into and go to farming and that DID sound good so Dad loaded us
all up and we went with the man. It was like the man said-there were a lot of empty houses where people had starved out and left so we
moved into one of the empty houses. It had a big fireplace and a pretty good house about a half mile from that man's place and a short
distance from Pineville, Missouri.

Now, everyone knows what beautiful country that is around Pineville, beautiful water and beautiful hills. Everyway you look there is beauty,
but there comes a time that you can't live on beauty alone.

Well, when that happened to us, Dad went out and traded something for a molasses mill and made molasses on the half. Then he had molasses to sell and molasses to eat so we got along pretty well. After the molasses season was over, Dad always saved part of the last batch
of molasses to make taffy. The whole community was invited to the Taffy Pull and party and just about everyone in the community came.
Dad was an expert at making molasses and taffy. His taffy wasn't just taffy-it was taffy Candy. After everybody got tired of pulling taffy,
then the party started.

Those Hill People knew more party games than I ever heard of, such as: "OL DAN TUCKER WAS A FINE OLD MAN, HE WASHED

The boys got to hold hands with the girls a lot and that the best kind of games. Everybody had a good time and were sorry the molasses
season was over...Before another molasses season, we were back in Oklahoma and Dad was working in the oil fields and he never went back
to farming.....Elmer and I were 17 years old. Elmer was hauling pipe in the oil fields and I was working some, too, helping where there was
somebody sick in a home or where they had a new baby. Well, I guess we thought now we were old enough to go with somebody besides each
other like we always had done. I went wherever he went and he went wherever I went when we were going to parties. This girl he was going
with was as ugly as a mud fence but she had an apricot tree in her yard and Elmer liked apricots so he just kept going back and when we walked to church, about one mile away, they walked together and I walked with her brother. I wouldn't call him handsome, but he was nice. It wasn't long before Elmer was going with one of those girls that lived in the big white house and Elsea was heart-broken so she wrote Elmer a long letter but she didn't dare let her mother know about it, so she folded it up and put it in her shoe, so the letter was in pretty bad shape
by the time Elmer got it. He left it on the dresser in his room and Jessie and I read it. Jessie was Lewis's wife. We thought he would
have a fit about it-he knew we had read it and he said, "What would her mom do about it if she knew about it?" Well, I knew what that old
woman would do, she would just about have killed her, that's what.

Well, for a few years there we just went with the boys and girls of our community, then Elmer began to drift farther away from home.
Sometimes he would be gone two weeks at a time working, then the oil company put him on a pumping job and he was away most of the time and I wondered why I was missing him so much. I had never missed him like that before and when he would come home I was so glad to see him.

One Saturday he came home and we decided this must be love and we began to think about when and where. Of course, we were at War with Germany and everybody was going to camp, but Elmer had been rejected because of a heart murmur thought to be caused from him having meningitis as a child and, no way would they take him. So we rode the train from Belin into Muskogee and got married. Then in a short time Elmer was drafted into the Army and sent to Camp Pike, Arkansas. At that time, the flu epidemic had taken over the Camp, so he and a few other men who had not taken the flu kept busy carrying out the dead soldiers and training the few who were left. But, Thank the Lord, in just four months the War was over and my loved one came home on Christmas Day.

Etna, Uncle Bob's wife, and I had spent Christmas Day with Emma, Pat and Robert and when Mother called us that Elmer was home, we lost no time in getting home. Our little pony just couldn't go fast enough, and when Elmer saw us coming, he ran and jumped every rod line on the
way to get to us. That was just the best Christmas I ever had.....We stayed at Mother and Dad's until after our first child was born, which
was about three months. A beautiful little blue-eyed girl. She is still a beautiful blue-eyed girl although she is about 70 years old
and not little, but she is so good, everybody loves Verna. We were soon in our own home again. The oil company put Elmer back to work
where he left off when he went to Camp, and in about two years we had another little girl, a pretty little blue-eyed girl to be a happy
little girl, kind of a special little girl. We called her our little Peace-Maker. When there were things for the other children to do and
they didn't want to go right on and do them, she would always say, "I will do it". And she would. Well, we were having our now family
but we needed a boy, so the very next one was a big long blond boy. He was a handsome little boy, smart and a good worker. Well, he was
our pride and joy, and always will be...the Lord took our special little girl to Heaven when she was l3 years old.

That was the first big sorrow of our life--Little Vera Mae.......When Paul was twenty years old he married a dear little girl who lived in
our community and we have loved her like a daughter and always will. They had three wonderful boys. Well, if I start bragging on my
grandchildren, I am going to run out of notebook, so I will just tell you how many I have and, of course, they are all the best grand-
children in the world. We have five grandchildren, fourteen great grandchildren and eight great-great grandchildren, and I know I will
have one more great because he is on the way.


Well, out back of our house in the big garden we had several rows of nice watermelon vines. They were just setting on little melons when the hot days and hot winds decided to come through our part of Oklahoma and you know what that can do to nice tender melon vines. We watched them wilt down for a few days and then Elmer said, "We have got to do something or we will have no melons". The first things we did-we went out there in the woods to our trash pile and found all the tin cans and syrup buckets we could find, then we went to ourmneighbor's trash pile and found all they had then he took a good-sized nail and made two holes in each can about a half inch from the bottom and set a can at each plant so it wouldn't fall over, then we filled each can with water that run out right over the roots of the plants, then we started over again and filled them again the second time.

Well, we did this until the showers started. Of course, we didn't carry all this water. In those days nearly every farmer had a big water barrel fixed on a sled and it was pulled by a horse, All farmers hauled water from the farm pond to keep water in the hog pens for the hogs to wallow in to keep cool. Our neighbors thought we were putting out a lot work for nothing, but the results were lots of good melons and lots of evening company from the neighbors to eat watermelon. Elmer was never one to stand back and watch somethingjust dry up and do nothing about it...

Grandmother died in 1989. She was a very special person and we will miss her forever. She loved Easter Sunday and being with her family.


By Sharon Staton

I never knew what a real thunder and lightning storm was until I moved to the Midwest from California, but I remember hearing a lot of stories about them from my grandparents. One story in particular that stands out in my memory was a story about a short trip that my grandparents took just outside of Chelsea, Oklahoma in 1914.

My grandparents John D. Palmour and wife Maud were traveling with his brother Hugh Aaron and sisters Mary Lou and Sarah (Sally). They also had with them Maud’s daughter by a former marriage Lillian Strozier who was five years old. They had been visiting their father Ben Palmour in Chelsea and were on their way back home by wagon when a thunderstorm hit. The wind began to blow and then rain. They started looking for shelter and noticed a house just a short distance away. By the time they reached the house the rain had turned to hail and was peppering them pretty hard. The house belonged to an acquaintance of theirs. People didn’t lock their doors back then and in case of emergency it was taken for granted that a person could take shelter in your home. My grandmother Maud took her daughter and with Aunt Sally and Aunt Lou ran into the house. She placed Lillian on a daybed while Aunt Sally proceeded to put wood into the woodstove for heat. Uncle Aaron and my grandfather John led the mules closer to the front of the house. Uncle Aaron had the reins in his hand when lightning struck the mules killing them instantly. The strike knocked out the two men and a second strike hit the stovepipe on top of the house. The lightning came through the stove and hit Aunt Sally knocking her unconscious. It also knocked out Aunt Lou and my grandmother. When they woke up Aunt Lillian was sitting in the middle of the floor sobbing.

When Uncle Aaron and my grandfather recovered they went in to find Aunt Sally severely burned, the eyes of her corset had been welded shut and the tops of the staves melted. Her high-topped shoes were split down the sides and the metal buttons melted together. They cut off the shoes and corset and placed her outside on the wet ground. A doctor told them later that this act probably saved her life. The Midwest has experienced many storms and almost every generation has a story to tell.

Rogers Co, OK


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