Documenting my family's past for future generations. My family tree includes the Smith/Mansell families of Alabama and Oklahoma, the Castle/Day families of Kentucky and Oklahoma, the Wheat/Ming families of Texas and Oklahoma, and the Bell/Roberts families of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Lost Restaurants and Fond Memories

My family--my grandparents, my dad, my brother, and me--ate out a lot when I was a kid. As I've mentioned before, my grandmother took on two babies to raise when my mother died in 1957. My dad tried to help as much as he could, and one of the ways he helped was to take us out to dinner. If it had been just a decade earlier, there might not have been many places to eat in Tulsa, but in the 1950's and 60's, there were lots of good restaurants to choose from. Later, after my marriage, the birth of my son, and my divorce, I moved home, and Jason joined our eating excursions in the 1970's and 80's until my dad died in 1985. 

It was nothing for our family to pile into the car on Sunday afternoons and drive to Skiatook or Henryetta, to the Hammett House at Claremore, or even to Nickerson Farms in Joplin, Missouri, for Sunday dinner. Thus began my love affair with long drives and eating out. Through the week, though, we mostly ate at several favorite restaurants in Tulsa. (That's not to say that my grandmother didn't cook; we had some good meals at home, too!)

Apparently, a lot of Tulsans have nostalgic memories of restaurants they enjoyed while growing up here. The evidence was at a recent book-signing for Lost Restaurants of Tulsa by Rhys Martin at the Tulsa Historical Society. A roomful of nostalgic Tulsans listened to Martin describe his research, show photographs that didn't make it into the book, and answer questions about restaurants he didn't include. (I'm hoping for a sequel--More Lost Restaurants.)  As a highlight of the evening, Martin's wife, Samantha, provided samples of some popular Tulsa restaurant foods: Hot Toddy Bread from Middle Path, Baked Fudge from 1880/The Garden, Black Bottom Pie from Pennington's, and an almond cookie from The Pagoda. On Rhys Martin's website at, you can see me lined up to get my snacks at the book signing.   

Clockwise from top: Baked Fudge with Whipped Dream, Hot Toddy Bread,
Almond Cookie, Black Bottom Pie

Martin abided (mostly) by a couple of rules while choosing the restaurants for his book. The restaurant has to be closed at the present time (in other words, "lost") and should not be part of a chain, unless the Tulsa location was a "really big deal." For example, King's was one of my favorite restaurants downtown; when my friends and I went shopping in downtown Tulsa in the 60's, that was the place we most likely would eat. I loved their Cheese Frenchees--a breaded and deep-fried grilled cheese sandwich--yum! Martin mentioned it at the book signing, but it doesn't appear in the book because it was a chain of restaurants across the U.S.

Martin said that sometimes he just wasn't able to find the right person that could give him the details of the restaurant's history that he needed. For that reason, another couple of our family's favorite restaurants were mentioned in the Introduction to the book but not in the book itself: Martin's Barbecue and Borden's Cafeteria. Martin's was one of my dad's favorite restaurants. He loved barbecue, and we would drive from Red Fork to north Tulsa so Daddy could have barbecue at Martin's. My brother and I loved the little jukebox selectors at the tables--my favorite selection was "Ghost Riders in the Sky." I think Rhys Martin could write an entire book just about the "lost" barbecue restaurants in Tulsa! In the Q&A at the end of the presentation, he mentioned Elliot's on Peoria, another of our favorite barbecue places. At the end of the meal, they would bring out little bowls of warm water with lemon floating in them, so you could clean the barbecue sauce off your fingers.

Borden's was so much a part of our restaurant repertoire that I don't even remember any specific occasions that we ate there. We ate at most of the Borden's locations, but the one I remember the best was at Sheridan and Admiral. While in line to get our books signed, I reminisced with a woman about my age about Borden's. We both remembered the prize we could choose from a big treasure chest if we finished our plate.

Here are some more of my memories of restaurants featured in the Lost Restaurants of Tulsa.

  • Bishop's: I think I only ate there one time, when Uncle George and Aunt Georgia took my brother and me to church at First Christian Church in downtown Tulsa, and we went to Bishop's afterwards. I don't remember anything about it, except that I had heard of Bishop's and thought it was cool that I finally got to eat there.
  • The Louisiane: I lucked into a wonderful part-time job while I was in college at the University of Tulsa. My pastor's daughter was the receptionist at Mid-States Pipe and Supply in the Philtower Building, and she recommended me for an assistant bookkeeper's position. I knew nothing about bookkeeping, but that was what the bookkeeper wanted: someone she could train to her standards. Her name was Helen Squires, and she was quite an influence in my life for the 5 or 6 years I worked at Mid-States. Every few months the owners of the business, Mr. Horwitz and Mr. Hogan, would take all of us out to lunch at the Louisiane. I always got this particular salad with Russian dressing, and I had my first drink at the Louisiane: a Tom Collins.
Helen and I at Mid-States Pipe & Supply
  • Steve's Sundry: I discovered Steve's Sundry comparatively late in life, and I mostly went there to find books I couldn't find anywhere else. I ate once at the lunch counter in the back as a nostalgic nod to the drugstore lunch counters I remembered from my childhood.
  • Goldie's: I learned from Lost Restaurants that the original Goldie's Patio Grill was a spinoff from a golf course clubhouse restaurant operated by the owner of Villa Venice. I can't tell you how many times I have eaten at Goldie's, probably in every location they have ever had, although nowadays it's mostly the one across from Utica Square and the one in Owasso. The seasoning on a Goldie's hamburger is so good that you really don't need anything else except pickles from the pickle bar! 
  • Kay's: Kay's on 31st St. just west of Yale was one of our family's favorite restaurants. I don't even remember what I ordered as an entree because all I remember were how wonderful the hot rolls were!
  • Pennington's: I bet I ate at Pennington's a hundred times, when you combine the family outings, dates, and the lunches with friends. I loved everything about Pennington's: the hamburgers, shrimp, rolls, salad dressing, and of course, black bottom pie. However, Pennington's onion rings are the onion rings by which all onion rings are measured!
  • St. Michael's Alley: I ate there one time after a double date with my best friend and two of our guy friends from high school. We had just been to see "Oliver!" at the movies. We thought we were so cool.
  • The Pagoda: I never ate at the Pagoda until I was long grown. I realized at the book signing why I didn't know anything about the great Chinese restaurants in Tulsa, or the great chicken restaurants, for that matter. My dad didn't do Chinese OR chicken.
  • Diamond Jack's: But, oh, my dad loved Diamond Jack's! We followed it from location to location, admiring the decor, the waitresses' outfits, and the food, of course. Daddy would get pastrami or drip beef, but my favorite was the Diamond Lil--a double decker ham and egg salad with black olives. 
  • Shotgun Sam's: Shotgun Sam's on Sheridan just north of 21st opened in 1967 and became a favorite of our high school crowd. I remember at least one particularly fun cast party we had there.
  • The 1800/The Garden: I remember eating here when it was still The 1800. I think it might have been December of 1964. Aunt Jessie took me out on a Christmas shopping expedition to Utica Square, just the two of us. She bought me a pink skirt and sweater, probably at Vandever's, and I remember buying Christmas gifts for my family and eating at The 1800. Later, when it was The Garden, I attended a bridesmaid luncheon there. It was definitely the place to be for the "ladies who lunch." The Baked Fudge was to die for!
  • Casa Bonita: Rhys Martin broke his rule about chain restaurants so he could include Casa Bonita in his book. It was definitely the place to go in Tulsa for families and dates for several years. It was our favorite place to go when I was dating my ex-husband. Everything was new to us--choices of dining room, like a Mexican village or a cave; raising a flag when you wanted more of something on your all-you-can-eat platter or were ready for sopapillas.
  • Nine of Cups: My ex-husband and I ate at the Nine of Cups once in about 1975-76. Again, we thought we were pretty cool.
  • The Fountains: We had an anniversary dinner at The Fountains. We were only married from 1973-1978, so it was September of one of those years. I remember that the food was delicious, and we felt quite fancy.
  • Middle Path: I ate there once with a friend of mine who was a vegetarian. Of course, since I love bread of all kinds, I liked the Hot Toddy Bread.
  • The Bakery on Cherry Street: I ate there once on a Saturday morning with a friend of mine before we headed out for a day of shopping.
  • Impressions: My brother suggested we meet there once for lunch. I don't remember anything about it except the really cool building.
  • Molly Murphy's: Mannford Middle School had their Christmas party at Molly Murphy's one year. I vividly remember the salad bar set up in the open car body--because I managed to roll several croutons off the car and onto the floor. 
  • Charlie Mitchell's: My friends and I used to eat at the Charlie Mitchell's on 21st a lot. My favorite item to order was the Monte Cristo.
  • Metro Diner: I only ate there a couple of times. The one time I remember was with a group of students from the OU Master of Liberal Studies program. We had just completed our summer seminar in Tulsa. I mostly remember that a couple of my fellow students thought they were pretty darn smart.
Another restaurant that was mentioned in the Q&A after the book signing was the Sky Chef at the airport. Back in the days when anybody could go into the airport restaurants, our family would go to the Sky Chef for dinner and watch the planes fly in and out. Some of our other favorite restaurants that weren't mentioned in the book were:

  • the Western Chicken House on Hwy. 66 towards Sapulpa. They must have had steak, too, or Daddy wouldn't have taken us there. I remember eating spoonsful of honey from the squirt bottle on the table while waiting for our food. When they removed the house we lived in at 2717 W. 42nd St., they moved it to a location on the other side of the turnpike from the restaurant. We could see it through the front window while we ate our dinner.
  • El Chico, mostly the one on 21st St. El Chico's is still going strong in Tulsa at several locations. It was our family's favorite place to eat Mexican food.
  • Ike's Chili was my grandmother's favorite. We would sometimes drive to the north side of town to get Ike's Chili (or three-way) to bring home, and my grandmother would buy frozen blocks of it in the grocery store to thaw and warm up at home.
  • Der Wienerschnitzel was a hot dog drive-in that opened up on Peoria in the 60's. I loved the one with sauerkraut. My grandmother could never remember the name of it and called it "Sour Pickle Green Shield."
  • My dad loved Sizzler and Sizzlin' Sirloin, of course. We ate at both chains a lot.

Which brings me full circle to the opening of this post. What strikes me most about these memories is my dad. I often think that my grandmother held the family together, but we lost these family eating excursions when we lost my dad in 1985. He really was so good to take us where we wanted to go--as long as there was something beef for him to eat, and the line wasn't too long. I miss our Sunday drives and philosophical discussions and eating experiences. I still miss him every day.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

For My Brother

My brother hardly ever requests a specific birthday or Christmas present, but he called me a couple of months ago to say that he would really like a hardbound copy of all my blog posts for his birthday in November. I found out a couple of years ago that it is very easy to turn your blog posts into a book--with the help of some online publishing services like Blog2Print. All you do is pick out a cover background/image and make some decisions about appearance and which posts you want to include, and Blog2Print does the rest. Even though he is tech-savvy and no stranger to e-books, my brother, it seems, would rather have a book of my blog posts that he can hold in his hands. So he is going to get his wish, and this is the dedication he will see in his completed book.

Recently, my friends and I have remarked that there are so few people left in our lives that actually remember our parents and specific occasions from our childhoods. I'm sure that most siblings share special memories, but I think mine and Tim's are all the more poignant because it's just the two of us. We remember the ordinary and the special--trips to the grocery store and Sunday drives, celebrations and funny jokes, family visits and sad times--and we're grateful for having the same memories.

Now for a small photo montage featuring my brother and me--

My grandmother has written on the back of this studio portrait:
"Rebecca Sue and Timothy Stephen
Daughter and Son of Jack and Ida Smith
Ages 4 and 7"

Tim and I with our grandmother at Aunt Georgia's

I've always loved these pictures of us
at the house on 42nd St.

Theme: Pets and outdoors
Love the expression on Tim's face in the bottom left pic
I've seen that expression lately!
Theme: Celebrations
I think I've recently seen that expression
in the top photo too!

Theme: Hats
Theme: General awkwardness

Even though we are three years apart in age and four years apart in school years (I was one of the youngest in my class and Tim was one of the oldest in his) we have always been pretty close--except for a brief period of time in which my most common response was to whack him in the back when he annoyed me. We played outside a lot together when we were kids, we took disco lessons together when we were young adults, and now we travel together. We've been to Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington D.C., North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama. (We just can't talk about politics.)

I think this photo (and what's on the back of it) says it all. 

My grandmother wrote on the back:
"Becky gave Tim this T-shirt for Christmas to tease him.
They go a lot of places together."

Love you, little brother!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Retirement Reverie

I just finished the first nine weeks of my last year of teaching. Last week I turned 65, and I plan to retire at the end of this school year. I'm sure I feel like everyone who ever retired. I am looking forward to it, and yet my job has been such a big part of my identity that I can't imagine how I will feel without it.

I think it might make it a little harder that I work in a school. School has been the setting for almost my entire life. I made a little chart this morning and realized that I have begun school, in one way or another, every fall since 1958. 

I was 4 years old when I started school. No preschool then, but the cutoff date for kindergarten was November 1, so my October birthday meant that I could start school at 4 and that I would always be one of the youngest in my class. Kindergarten is actually one of the clearest memories I have of elementary school. I attended kindergarten at Pleasant Porter Elementary School with Mrs. Mary Gold as my teacher. I remember a large room with big, sunny windows, easels for our artwork, and centers where we could busily play kitchen or build with blocks. Much, much later, when I began work in the Sand Springs Schools, I met Jill, Mrs. Gold's granddaughter, who was to become one of my best friends.

My first school picture

In the summer before my 5th grade year we moved to my great-grandmother's house on 38th St. just behind Park Elementary School. I attended 5th and 6th grade at Park--two of my favorite years with two of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Richardson and Miss Stewart. Funny what you remember from school; in the case of Mrs. Richardson I remember studying the explorers and admiring a beautiful hydrangea she had placed on her bookshelf. In the case of Miss Stewart it was mythology, The Secret Garden, and a Christmas tree made out of styrofoam balls and toothpicks. A lot of my memories involve the Park playground, too--riding bikes down the "big hill," climbing the jungle gyms, flying kites on the big field.

Off to school

Tim and I with neighbors at Park playground

Seventh, eighth, and ninth grade I spent at Clinton Junior High School, built on the site of the Clinton farmhouse, where my Castle family lived after moving to Red Fork in the 1910's. Having spent most of my teaching career in middle school, I have come to know that age group well. I recently observed to my colleagues that I remember hardly anything about what I learned in junior high--other than outlining, taught by Mrs. Kunsman, and some favorite pieces of literature, such as "Evangeline" and Ivanhoe, taught by Mrs. Cox in 9th grade--but I vividly remember what my friends and I wore and watched on TV and listened to on the radio. I know that we got a good academic background at Clinton, as our middle school students do now, but I also know that teenagers have other things on their minds besides school. I did start on a path in junior high school that would affect my later life; I became a library aide, and thought, even then, that being a librarian might be my future career.


School pic from junior high

Mrs. Roberts and library aides at Clinton

I continued to start school every fall through my senior year at Daniel Webster High School in 1971, and then immediately began college at Oklahoma State University in the fall of 1971. Homesickness and a wayward boyfriend brought me back home to Tulsa to begin the spring semester of 1972 at the University of Tulsa, where I finally completed my bachelor's degree in 1977. In between I got married; took classes at Cameron University in Lawton and at the University of Maryland, Far East Division, in Uijongbu, South Korea; and had a baby.

Senior picture

Webster graduation 1971

Every year from 1958 to 1976 I attended school as a student; every fall since, for 42 years, I have started school as a teacher.

In the fall of 1977 I began my first year as an English and speech teacher at Mannford Middle School. When an opportunity arose to become the MMS librarian, I started library school at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, became certified as a librarian, and became a middle school librarian in the fall of 1982. Eventually, I received a Master in Liberal Studies from the University of Oklahoma. After 21 years at Mannford, I made a change of school district and age group, serving as a librarian at Pratt Elementary in Sand Springs for four years. Another opportunity arose, and I made the change back to junior high/middle school at Clyde Boyd in Sand Springs, where I have been for the last 17 years.

Various teacher school pics

Even more school pics

My grandmother's school life was both the same and different from mine. She began school in Kentucky in a one-room schoolhouse. One of her memories was that the school building had two back doors. If a boy went out to the privy, he put a book in one of the doors to signal to the other boys that the privy was occupied; a girl put hers in the other door. I know that she learned from a McGuffey's reader. Later I bought her a set of them when they were reprinted. The Castles moved to a farm between Davenport and Chandler, Oklahoma, in 1907, and my grandmother finished school there, graduating from Chandler High School.

Class picture from Kentucky, about 1902

Two back doors to the schoolhouse

My grandmother with her re-issued McGuffey Reader

In those days it only took a high school diploma to teach school, so my grandmother began her teaching career in a one-room school between Collinsville and Owasso, Oklahoma, in 1915. Her first years of teaching coincided with World War I, and I remember her saying that she spent much of her time breaking up fights between her German-American and Native American students. (I live in Owasso, not far from the corner of 116th E. Ave. and Garnett, which is still called German Corner. I often wonder how far I live from the site of my grandmother's first school.) Taking this job at Owasso was fateful. My grandmother boarded with Mrs. Walker at her boarding house in Collinsville, and this is how she met my grandfather, who lived there and co-owned the Candy Kitchen with his brother.

After three years at Owasso, my grandmother and grandfather married in June 1918, and my grandmother taught in the school year of 1918-1919 at Lynn Lane, a community east of Tulsa. (Lynn Lane is a road and community between Tulsa and Broken Arrow. I read online that a Tulsa Public Schools district school was built there in 1928 and closed in 1975. I wonder if it was on the same site as my grandmother's older school?)

My grandmother's family was firmly established at Red Fork by this time. My grandmother had taken the Civil Service exam, had been appointed postmaster of the Red Fork Post Office in 1917, and had turned over the running of the post office to her mother. So it was only natural that she would apply to teach at Red Fork School, which she did in the summer of 1919. She did this by walking out in a field to talk to the superintendent of the Red Fork Schools, O.C. Brooks. Mr. Brooks was impressed by her initiative--he said that not many applicants would walk out in a field to get a job--and my grandmother started teaching at Red Fork in the school year 1919-1920. 

After teaching through the 1926-27 school year at Red Fork, and after having been married for ten years, my grandmother was pregnant with twins. The twins weren't born until January 1928, but she didn't begin the 1927-28 school year, 'cause you didn't teach in those days if you were "showing." After taking two years off with her boys, she came back to teaching in the 1929-30 school year at McBirney Elementary, where she taught for two years.

Another thing my grandmother and I have in common is that we both went back to school after we began teaching. At some time during the 20's or 30's--I'm not exactly sure when--my grandmother finally received her teaching degree after attending classes at both Northeastern in Tahlequah and the University of Tulsa. I have her Teacher's Certificate, presented in 1932, that granted her the ability to teach "in any grade from the first to the 8th, inclusive, in the public Schools of Oklahoma for the term of Life." 

Life Teaching Certificate

In the fall of 1931 my grandmother changed schools to Pleasant Porter Elementary, where she spent the rest of her teaching career, retiring in 1960 after 30 years at Porter--43 years in all. I can tell you exactly what inspired me to follow in her footsteps; any time we shopped in Red Fork we were sure to run into one of her former students who told me that she was the best teacher they ever had. I wanted someone to say that about me!

Article in TPS magazine about my grandmother's
Land Run "special day"

In November of 1956 my brother Tim was born, and in March of 1957 my mother died from complications of lupus. My dad moved us home to his parents' house, and from 1957 to 1960 they managed, with help from my retired Grandpa Smith and my maternal Granny Altstatt--to raise a toddler and a baby. I don't know what the rule for teacher's retirement or Social Security was in 1960, but I know it had something to do with my grandmother's birthday on March 1, because that was when she retired at age 63. 

My grandmother on her last day at school

And home teaching us

She told me later that she wasn't really ready to retire because she loved teaching. The letter accepting her resignation from Superintendent of Schools, Charles Mason, says "I hope that this relief from school duties will give more time for your family and relieve you from the strain of several jobs." I have to say that this is one place where she and I differ--I am beginning to really look forward to retirement. The funny thing is, retirement for me may still involve school. While I won't be working in a school, I would love to take some non-credit courses at one of the local universities.

Retirement acknowledgement
from Dr. Charles Mason,
TPS Superintendent of Schools

When I started thinking about retiring, I really thought about whether I wanted to meet or exceed my grandmother's years of teaching--or let her beat me. I think I've come up with the perfect compromise. Including 120 days of unused sick leave, I will leave teaching with 43 years credit. My grandmother had 43 real years--so we tied, but really, she beat me.

What I can't say is that I ever taught for the Tulsa Public Schools, but my brother can! I think my grandmother would be very proud of us.

My last school picture

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Playlist for My Life

I'm turning 65 in a couple of weeks. Signing up for Medicare and the prospect of retirement have made me look back at my life, and the accidental fact that I have recently subscribed to Sirius XM has made me very nostalgic--because music has always done that for me. My brother and I had lunch one day this summer, when I had Sirius on trial, and I asked him which stations he liked to listen to. We had a great conversation about songs we remembered from our shared childhood, especially the Motown classics that always make us think of summers past. That conversation was the inspiration for this blog post.

I have mentioned before how many of my passions were inspired by my grandmother, but this one definitely came from my dad. My dad loved to dance, and it was an activity he enjoyed until the very last day of his life.

Dance Club at Webster High School 1946--
Daddy is at the top of the right circle, his twin brother Mack to his left

Daddy grew up at a remarkable time and place, dancing western swing at the historic Cain's and Cimarron Ballrooms in Tulsa. Daddy wasn't a great fan of country music in general, but he loved the musicianship of Johnnie Lee Wills and his band, and I remember him singing Hank Williams songs around the house. In high school I was one of only two members of my class who could sing all the verses of "Hey, Good Lookin'." (Jimmy's dad was a western swing dancer, too.)  

I can't remember a time that I didn't love music, and I feel so grateful to have lived at a time when some of the greatest songs ever were being recorded. My growth in music appreciation parallels the changes in music taking place during my early years. Those swing music staples from the 40's and 50's--I was born in 1953--became the rockabilly of the 1950's, then the rock 'n roll of the 1960's and 70's. At the same time rhythm and blues gave birth to the soul music that was such an influence on the British groups that hit America in the 1960's, just when I was old enough to really appreciate them.  

I have a lot of memories tied to songs.

  • Playing "Ghost Riders in the Sky" on the jukebox at Martin's Barbecue, one of my dad's favorite places to eat
  • Playing a 45 of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" on a little record player on the porch of the house on 38th Street
  • Singing "The Name Game" on a school bus going on a field trip
  • Dancing to "Woolly Bully" at Teen Town at Reed Park and to "House of the Rising Sun" at a Rainbow-Demolay dance at the Red Fork Masonic Hall
  • Singing "The 59th St. Bridge Song" and dancing around a lamppost ("Hello, lamppost, what'cha knowin'") with friends outside the Convention Center in downtown Tulsa while waiting for parents to pick us up from a concert
  • Playing "Strawberry Fields Forever" backwards at a slumber party at my friend Jane's so we could claim to hear "Paul is dead" 
  • Listening to Credence Clearwater Revival and Three Dog Night on the radio while shopping for a Christmas tree for Webster High School with the other Student Council kids
  • Listening to Sly and the Family Stone on the radio while driving from the University of Tulsa to my part-time job at the Philtower Building in downtown Tulsa

But the ones that go on my playlist are the ones that I hear that take me back vividly to a specific time and place. I can't hear the song without the memory.

  • I can't hear "Walk On By" by Dionne Warwick without thinking about softball games at the Westside YMCA in the summer between 5th and 6th grade. The memory is complete with the feeling of the grass under me, the whack of bats on balls, and the transistor radio in my hand.
  • "Come Together" by the Beatles, recorded in 1969--my junior year in high school--takes me straight back to the Pizza Hut on Southwest Boulevard--the smell of pizza baking and the music from the jukebox rising over the noise of the post-game crowd.
  • "Maggie May" by Rod Stewart was the song of the summer of 1971, the summer after I graduated high school and before I started college. When I hear it, I am transported to a car, sitting next to my then-boyfriend (later husband, later ex), cruising the back road to his grandmother's house, holding a cold Dr. Pepper in a glass bottle in my hand.

  • "Black Water" by the Doobie Brothers takes me to the most exotic location--a "hooch" in Uijongbu, South Korea, in 1974, listening to Armed Forces Radio. I can almost smell the smells that define that time and place for me--burning charcoal and toasting sesame.

  • I was cruising channels on Sirius the other day and heard the melody of a familiar song, "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" by the Allman Brothers.  It's hard to listen to--along with "Ramblin' Man"--because those were the songs we played at my second husband's funeral.  Price told me that hearing the Allman Brothers for the first time was a life-altering experience for him, so it seemed only natural to let their music play him out of this life. Every time I hear "Ramblin' Man," it takes me right back to his funeral.

What songs take you to a particular time and place? What songs make up the playlist of your life?

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Reed Family Riddles

The inspiration for this post was a photograph. Luckily, I didn't have to try to figure out whose family was in the photograph, because someone had written the family name on the back. The caption on the back of the photo says: "Uncle Boone and Aunt Mary / Mother's brother and family -- Elsie, Kentucky, at their home on the banks of Licking River, Elsie, Ky." Great description--if you know who the writer was, and I do. It was Aunt Emma Day, sister of my great-grandmother, Sarah Florida Day. Probably 40 years ago she sent my grandmother several family photos, most of them with identified people and places. Just a little sleuthing required--the man in the photo is her uncle, her mother's brother, and her mother was Nancy Emily Reed. So my question to myself was: What could I find out about Uncle Boone Reed?

Along with the facts of his life and the lives of his family members, I also learned that sometimes those very facts are not apparent, even on, which usually makes research amazingly easy. If you're not familiar with Ancestry, you might not know that once you create a profile for a family member, Ancestry is generous with hints and suggestions. In researching Boone Reed, I had suggestions from other people's family trees and links to all kinds of documents, including census, marriage, and death records. But when I tried to verify his birth and death dates, I couldn't find a document that matched up with the dates that most Reed researchers had listed for his birth and death.

The Social Security Death Index listed his birth date as 22 September 1867, but it didn't show a death date--just a "claim date," 12 June 1957. There was no link to a death certificate, but when I did a search for one, I found out the reason why. First, the name on the certificate was D. B. Reed, and he died in Holton, Indiana! How did I even know this was the same person? Because at the very bottom of the certificate, under burial information, the cemetery was listed as "Reed Cemetery, Elsie, Ky." The death date was 21 December 1957, and the birth date was given as 10 September 1967 (he was 90!) And honestly, I don't even know if the birth date is correct, because the informant listed on the death certificate is Henry W. Reynolds, who says that D.B. Reed is his "step-father-in-law." More about that later.

D. B. Reed Death Certificate

Even though Holton, Indiana, was a surprise, the name D. B. Reed was not. Uncle Boone was really Daniel Boone Reed, and throughout his life he used the names Boone, Daniel Boone, Daniel B., and D. B. interchangeably. He and his sister, Nancy Emily Reed, my 2nd great-grandmother, were the children of Lewis Reed and Sarah Patrick. The first census on which Daniel Boone Reed appears is the 1870, where the family is listed as: Lewis Reed, age 40; Sarah, age 40; Martha J., age 19; Nancy E., age 17; Mary, age 10; Eli, age 9; Sarah A., age 8; Daniel B., age 2; and (Catlet) Lee, age 3 months. The 1880 census lists Lewis, Sariah, Ely, daughter Sariah, Daniel B. and Catlet. (By 1880 Martha Jane had married Harrison Patrick, Nancy Emily had married James Thomas Day, and Mary had married Mason Gullett.) 

1870 Magoffin County census

By 1900 both Lewis and Sarah had passed away, and all their children had married. Further research into the siblings of Nancy Emily and Daniel Boone Reed solved a little mystery I have wondered about for years. In addition to family photos, Aunt Emma also gave my grandmother the Day family Bible. Under the Deaths was a date for a Sarah May. I never could figure out who that was, since there was no Day family member by that name. It turns out that Sarah, daughter of Lewis and Sarah, sister of Nancy and Boone, listed above in the 1870 and 1880 censuses, married Abel May.

According to Kentucky marriage records, D. B. Reid married Mary Elizabeth Patrick on 5 December 1889. (Another complication is that Reed is spelled several ways in the records.) Of course, since his mother was a Patrick, I wondered if Mary Elizabeth was his cousin, and yes, she was. Her father was Brice Patrick, brother of Sarah Patrick Reed. By the 1900 census Boone and Mary had four children: Cassius, Curtis, Nora, and Fannie. By 1910 Levna and Tilden had been added to the family. (Yes, Levna is the correct spelling. It's been transcribed as Levenia and Leona, but Levna is the spelling used in her will, which she signed.)

Boone and Mary's marriage record

So, back to the photo--who, besides Uncle Boone and Aunt Mary, posed for this photograph? Assuming, of course, that the children were the children of Boone and Mary Reed, this is the conclusion I came to, although I could be wrong:  

1. Just judging generally by the clothing, I thought the picture was probably taken in the early 1900's. Mary died in 1929, so it had to be before then.

2. Unless the boy shown in the photo is a grandchild, he has to be Tilden, who was born in 1905. Cassius and Curtis are the only other boys and they were much older and close to each other in age. If the picture was taken when they were young, both of them would be in it. Tilden appears to be 8-10 in the photo, so my guess is that it was taken about 1913-1915.

3. Looking next at the girl to the far right, she is wearing shorter skirts than the other females, so she is probably still considered a child. Levna was born in 1902, so dating the picture at 1913-1915, she would be 11 to 13, which is exactly what she looks to me.

4. That leaves the other female. I can't find a marriage record for Nora Reed, but on the 1920 census, her oldest child is 6, so I'm guessing she married about 1913. Fannie married in 1916, so I think she is the one shown in this photo.

I found this photo of Nora on Ancestry, contributed by an Ancestry user with the username Airsoup. Isn't she pretty? She was 16 in this photo. Does she look like the girl in my photo? In my opinion, no. I still think the girl in my photo is probably Fannie.

Nora Reed, age 16

My only qualm is that Boone looks old to me in this picture, but he would be getting close to 50 in 1915. That's young nowadays--or at least it is to me!--but people seemed to age earlier back in the day. But wait! Boone has a lot of life left in him yet. 

As I mentioned, Mary died in 1929. On 23 September 1930 D. B. Reed married Eliza Patton (maiden name McCarty), a widow. (She is listed as a widow on the 1930 census--taken in April of 1930--with five children, Eulah, Ruth, Dillard, Mary, and J.B.) Boone was 63, and Eliza was 35. They go on to have a child together, Grover, who was born in 1931.

And that is how Boone ends up in Holton, Indiana. Henry Reynolds (Remember him? The source for Boone's death certificate?) married Ella Ruth Patton, Eliza's daughter. Apparently, at some point after the 1940 census, Boone and Eliza go to live with or near Eliza's daughter in Indiana. Boone dies there in 1957 at age 90; Eliza dies there in 1980 (after marrying again!) and is also buried in Elsie, Kentucky, according to her death certificate.

Moral of this story: Sometimes you really have to hunt, especially when there have been name and geographical changes that don't seem to make sense. Clues lead to clues, and eventually you can make sense of the timeline of a person's life.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Oneys (and a Couple of Great Stories)

A few months ago I wrote a post on the Days--the ancestors of my great-grandmother, Sarah Florida Day, who was born on 5 November 1878 in White Oak, Magoffin County, Kentucky. Her father was James Thomas Day, and his parents were Andrew Jackson Day and Sarah Jane Oney. At the time I realized that I had listed the wrong parents for Sarah, but until last weekend I had never actually added all the corrected family info to my tree on Ancestry. 

Sarah's father was James Oney, born in 1818 in Virginia. Her mother was Rhoda Day, born in 1820 in Virginia. (Sarah and her husband, Andrew Jackson Day, were 1st cousins.) James and Rhoda married on 17 December 1837 in Tazewell County, Virginia, which had been formed from Russell County in 1799. In 1850 James and Rhoda were living in Tazewell County with their children--William, age 12; Sally (Sarah), age 10; Richard, age 8; Joseph, age 6; and Rufus, age 2. Daughters Rebecca and Lou Emma were born in Tazewell County in the early 1850's, but by the time son Creed Fulton was born in 1855, the family was living in Magoffin County, Kentucky. John Wesley was born in Magoffin County in 1858 and Mary in 1861.

I decided to take the Oney children--Sarah's brothers and sisters--one by one and document their birth, marriage, and death information.

The Children of James and Rhoda (Day) Oney

According to his headstone, William P. (Patton) Oney was born 17 December 1838. It is interesting to note that this date is exactly one year after the marriage of his parents--either an amazing coincidence or a made-up birth (or marriage) date. I'm also not sure of his place of birth, as I can't find James Oney on the 1840 census in Tazewell County. There are some Oneys there in 1840, but no James. On 8 August 1861 William married Perlina Allen in Magoffin County, Kentucky. 

Documenting William's service during the Civil War was somewhat confusing at first, but I think I have a better understanding after finding his records on Fold3 and doing a little research. I'm not a big Civil War scholar, although I did know that Kentucky held a special place as a border state during the Civil War. What I didn't know is that Kentucky actually declared its neutrality at the beginning of the war. However, by September of 1861 Kentucky's General Assembly passed a resolution, over the Governor's veto, ordering the withdrawal of Confederate forces, and by early 1862 the Union pretty much controlled Kentucky.

I thought this explained why, even though William was living in Kentucky in 1861, he enlisted in Caldwell's Battalion of Cavalry back in Tazewell County, Virginia, his childhood home. Interestingly, I also found a register of "...Persons subject to do military duty in the Ninth Congressional District, consisting of the Counties of ...Magoffin...Morgan..., State of Kentucky, enumerated during the month of October 1863," that listed William Oney. So, though he had served in the Confederate Army, he was considered "subject to military duty" for the Union. No wonder I was confused! 

We'll come back to the Civil War in a little bit, but now back to the children of James and Rhoda Oney.

Sources vary as to her age, but most family trees on Ancestry list the next child of James and Rhoda in order of birth as my ancestor, Sarah Jane Oney. Some trees list her birth date as 17 October 1840 which corresponds fairly well with her marriage age of 15 on her marriage date of 25 September 1855. On the 1860 census where she appears with her husband A.J., age 23, she is listed as age 18 (born 1842). Also on that census is son James T., my 2nd great-grandfather, age 4; and daughter Nancy, age 1. Sarah lists her birthplace as Virginia. Her marriage took place in Morgan County, Kentucky, and the 1860 census places the family in Magoffin County. Oney researchers give Sarah a death date of 16 March 1862; if her birth date is correct, she was 21 at the time of her death.

According to his headstone, Richard K. Oney was born 1 January 1843. He enlisted as a Private in Company A, 5th Kentucky Mounted Infantry, Confederate States of America, in West Liberty, Kentucky, on 21 October 1861 and was mustered out on 20 October 1862. And I'm back to confused again, because apparently there were Confederate units in Kentucky during this period, because Richard joined one. 

I assumed that Richard just enlisted for a year, as was typical, since his discharge date was one year from the date of his enlistment. However, after doing a little research I found out that the 5th Kentucky Infantry was actually organized in Prestonburg, Kentucky, on the same date as Richard's enlistment--21 October 1861--and was disbanded in Hazel Green, Kentucky, on the date of his discharge on 20 October 1862. Richard could have joined another regiment at this point, but I have found no evidence of further service.

Not long after his discharge, Richard married in Magoffin County on 18 December 1862 to Mary Margaret Collinsworth. They had one child, Mary Virginia, before Richard died on 16 January 1866.

The next of the children of James and Rhoda (Day) Oney was Joseph Day Oney, born 19 May 1845 in Tazewell County, Virginia. After the death of his brother, Richard, Joseph married Richard's widow, Mary Margaret, on 5 September 1866 in Magoffin County. They had four children together. Joseph died 2 December 1936, age 91.

Rufus Hickman Oney, "Hickey" on the 1860 census and "Hick" later in life, was born 3 February 1848 in Tazewell County, VA. He married Delpha Hammond on Christmas Day, 1866. They had three children. Rufus Hickman died in Morgan County KY on 14 April 1876.

Rebecca Oney has been given a birth date of 7 January 1850 and later censuses seem to uphold a date around 1849/50, although she is not listed on the 1850 census and on the 1860, her age is given as 7. Rebecca married John M. Collinsworth, brother of Mary Margaret, in about 1867. (The 1900 census says they had been married 33 years.) Rebecca and John had 10 children, and Rebecca died in 1931 in Magoffin County.

Okay, so here's one of the great stories, and it's a doozy. The next of James and Rhoda's children was Lou Emma Oney, born 1852 in Tazewell County. In 1871 she married William Preston Taulbee, a Morgan County teacher. Later, he became ordained as a Methodist minister. Together, they had five sons from 1872-1885. When I added Lou Emma and then her husband to my tree on Ancestry, I got over 20 hints--mostly to newspaper articles from all over the country. What in the world? 

William Preston Taulbee

William Preston Taulbee was an ambitious man. In 1878 and 1882 he was elected to the office of Magoffin County Clerk. In 1884 he made a run for a much more prestigious job; he beat his Republican opponent to become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and was re-elected to the office in 1886. It's remarkable enough that we have a member of Congress in our family tree, but what happened next put him in the history books--and newspapers.

In December 1887 the Washington Post reported a story about a Representative being found in a "compromising position" with a clerk from the Patent Office. No names were named, but later, an article by Charles E. Kincaid appeared in the Louisville Times with the titillating title, "Kentucky's Silver-Tongued Taulbee Caught in Flagrante, or Thereabouts, with Brown-Haired Miss Dodge, Also of Kentucky." (Both Taulbee and Dodge denied the affair.) Thus began a feud of several years between Taulbee and Kincaid, that would lead to a shocking event the evidence of which still remains in the Capitol today.

Taulbee had already decided not to run for re-election in 1888 but to buy a house in Washington, D.C. and remain there to work as a lobbyist. For some reason, of all the journalists who reported on the scandal, Taulbee focused on Kincaid, the Washington reporter for the Louisville Times, whom he saw often in the Capitol, and upon every occasion of their meeting found some way to humiliate Kincaid. Things came to a head on 28 February 1890 with a scuffle outside the entrance to the House of Representatives. The House doorkeepers had to separate Taulbee and Kincaid. This time Taulbee warned Kincaid that he had better arm himself for their next meeting.

Kincaid went home and got a revolver, and the next meeting was not long in coming. That very afternoon Taulbee and Kincaid met again on a set of marble stairs that led to the basement restaurant in the Capitol. Apparently without waiting for a remark from Taulbee this time, Kincaid raised his revolver and shot Taulbee in the face. The blood drips from the wound stained the marble staircase, even though Capitol janitors were quick to clean it up, and the bloodstains remain there to this day.

Photo from Kentucky Explorer Magazine

Taulbee actually was expected to live, but an abscess surrounding the bullet, which still remained in his skull, caused his death on March 11. Kincaid was released on bail and went home to Kentucky until his trial a year later in March 1891. Several witnesses, including Kincaid, described Taulbee's harassment of the journalist, and amazingly, Kincaid was acquitted by reason of self-defense. 

Lou Emma raised her five sons, with the older boys helping financially. All of the boys had distinguished careers, several of them in the military and two of them as physicians. They always considered that Kincaid had gotten away with murder and described him as a frustrated office-seeker. Lou Emma apparently believed--or forgave--her husband, because she is buried beside him in the Taulbee Cemetery in Morgan County. Kincaid died at the age of 51, still working as a journalist. Miss Dodge, who had lost her job at the Patent Office after the scandal, found another job in the Pension Office, married well--twice--and died at the age of 89. (For more details see "William Taulbee: A Stain on the Capitol" in the blog, The Downfall Dictionary by Dirk Langeveld. It was very helpful to me in writing this post.)

Creed Fulton Oney was born on the 4th of July, 1855. He was the first of James and Rhoda's children to be born in Kentucky. He married Nancy Emma Ball on 13 May 1880. I have written about C. F. Oney before in the blog post, "The News from Oklahoma." With a group of other Methodist ministers, he bought townsites in Davenport, Oklahoma, and encouraged Kentuckians like my 2nd great-grandparents, J.T. and Nancy E. Day, to settle there, so I guess he is the reason I am sitting here in Oklahoma tonight writing this post.

John Wesley Oney was born 9 April 1858 in Magoffin County. His first wife was Annie Sprague, who died. He then married Loduska "Lowie" Whitt. He had children with both wives, but a discrepancy in dates makes me hesitant to list the number of children that belonged to each wife. John W. died in 1935 and is buried in the Gullett Cemetery in White Oak, next to his second wife. 

The baby of the family was Mary F. Oney, who was born 7 January 1861 in Magoffin County. She married David C. Williams on 8 July 1879. I was able to find her marriage license on Family Search. It is a little hard to read, but the witnesses to the marriage were two of her brothers-in-law, John Collinsworth and William Taulbee. It looks like she might have been married at the home of her uncle, Joseph Oney. 

James Oney and the Civil War

The other interesting story concerns James Oney and his changing allegiances during the Civil War. Going strictly by the existing documents in chronological order, this is what happened.

James appears on a Company Muster Roll for the 5th Kentucky Mounted Infantry, C.S.A., the same unit that his son Richard joined, dated November 23, 1861. Two other dates on the muster roll document are a little confusing. Under "Enlisted" the date is 25 October 1861 in Prestonburg, and under "Remarks" it says that he was "Sworn into service at West Liberty October 21." Remember that at this point Kentucky had taken sides in the conflict, and not the side that James took. At least until he got caught.

The next document is dated 17 February 1862. This is my best attempt at transcribing the document. 

Know all men by these presents that I James Oney of Magoffin County in the state of Kentucky owe the United States of America the sum of one thousand dollars to be levied of my goods and chattels lands and tenements.

The __________ of this obligation is such that whereas the said obliger having formerly enlisted in the rebel army of the so called Confederate States of America and now desirous to renounce all allegiance to said so called government and having taken an oath to support the constitution government and laws of the United States of America and to support maintain __________ the same against all enemies and opposers whomsoever.

Now if the said obliger shall faithfully keep said oath and shall hereafter and ever refrain from aiding the said rebel government in any action or influence? -- and if the said obliger shall remain a true and loyal citizen of the United States of America and shall ever aid her against any and all enemies by word act and influence then this obligation shall be void and of no effect otherwise? to be and remain in full force and __________ in law.

Given under my hand and seal at Camp Buel this 17th day of February A.D. 1862
                                                                                              James Oney (signature)               SEAL

I hereby become surety for the above named obliger for the performance of the conditions of the foregoing bond as witness my hand and seal at Camp Buel this 17th day of February A.D. 1862.
Albert L.A. Sheldon? (signature)                                  Name unreadable (signature)     SEAL

And here's the oath.

I James Oney of Magoffin County Ky do solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the government of the United States of America that I will faithfully and to the best of my ability support the constitution and laws thereof that I will aid and defend her in all my acts words and deeds influence against all her enemies and opposers whomsoever more especially against the so called Confederate States of America so help me God!

Camp Buell Paintsville Ky
Feb 17 1862
James Oney (signature)

But that wasn't the end of it. The next document in chronological order was dated 24 May 1863. 

James Oney
Pvt Co A. 5 Regt. Ky. Inf
Appears on a Muster Roll
of prisoners of war confined by the Provost Marshal at Louisa, Ky. 
Roll dated Louisa, Ky., May 31, 1863.

Where captured or arrested  Morgan Co Ky
When captured or arrested  May 24 1863
By whom captured or arrested  Capt Patrick 14 Ky.
When confined  May 24 1863
Charges  Being a Rebel officer
Remarks: Released May 28, 1863, by military commission on giving bonds and security of $1000, and taking oath of allegiance

The exact same document exists for James's son, Richard. Apparently, James cannot learn his lesson, and it makes me wonder if he was on the 1860's equivalent of a "watch list." In fact, the 14th Kentucky, the unit that arrested him, was charged with protecting eastern Kentucky and the border with Virginia from Confederate forces, so they would be on the lookout for those who continued to encourage pro-Confederate views. I also wonder at that strikeout of the word "deeds" in his oath, replaced with the word "influence." Maybe James Oney was arrested not because of a deed he had committed but because of the influence he had wielded with his family and neighbors.

Some interesting facts about Kentucky in the Civil War:

Kentucky provided about 35,000 soldiers to the Confederate Army.
Over 75,000 Kentuckians joined the Union Army.
Both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis were born in Kentucky.
Magoffin County was formed in 1860 from portions of Floyd, Johnson, and Morgan counties. It was named for Beriah Magoffin, who was Governor of Kentucky from 1859 to 1862. Even as he sympathized with the South, he maintained the neutrality of the state of Kentucky through the first couple of years of the war. He was the Governor that vetoed the removal of Confederate troops from the state.

The Oney Cemetery Near White Oak, Kentucky

I've mentioned serendipity before in this blog. It's amazing how often I'm working on something genealogical and something else pops up that relates to the thing I'm researching. About the time that I was adding the Oney ancestors to my family tree and starting to work on this post, I was cleaning out a tote bag and found a printout of a message board post that I had found in 2012. It was a list of people buried in the Oney Cemetery near White Oak, Kentucky. At the time I printed it off I'm sure I knew very few people on the list, but after working on this blog post, I know who most of them are.

Oney Cemetery (photo contributed to Findagrave by Roger Sprague)

The message was in reply to a question about the Oney Cemetery and had been written by an Oney descendant named Scott Chafin in the year 2000. Scott's list includes some graves that are not on the Findagrave listing for the Oney Cemetery and omits others. A visit to the Oney Cemetery is definitely in order for my vacation next summer. Here are the graves that Scott documented. (His words are in italics; my notes follow in parentheses in regular font.)

I believe "Annie Oney" is nee Annie Sprague, daughter of Ambrose D. Sprague and Sarah Bloomer. She married John Wesley Oney, son of James Oney and Rhoda Day Oney (my ggg-grandparents).

The "Elisha Oney" is probably son of William Oney and Sarah Brown, married Elizabeth Whitt. (Elisha is James Oney's brother.)

"Elizabeth Oney" probably his wife.

"Rebecca Amyx" is nee Rebecca Oney. She was married to Preston Amyx at the Elisha Oney residence. (This Rebecca is the daughter of Elisha Oney, not the Rebecca listed above as the daughter of James and Rhoda Oney.)

"Rhoda Harper" is nee Rhoda Ellen Oney; married Lafayette Harper. (Rhoda was the daughter of William Patton Oney.)

"Richard K. Oney" ... was a son of James and Rhoda Day Oney and married to Mary Margaret Collinsworth. After his death, she married his next-youngest brother, Joseph Day Oney.

"Rhoda Day" is probably Rhoda Day Oney, wife of James Oney, but without dates I'm not 100% certain. It was unusual for a married woman to be buried under her maiden name, but as I know she's buried there, it's probably her. (I have seen a photograph of a headstone at the Oney Cemetery that shows the names of both James Oney and his wife, Rhoda Day Oney. I wonder if that headstone did not exist in 2000 when Scott Chafin wrote this message board post.)

"Boney Oney" is probably Napoleon "Bonapart" Oney. (Son of Elisha Oney.) Married to Mary Oney, only child of Richard K. Oney and Mary Margaret Collinsworth.

"Sarah Day" is nee Sarah J. Oney, daughter of James Oney and Sarah Day Oney, married Andrew Jackson Day. (My 3rd great-grandmother)

Scott omitted the grave of James Oney. He has the aforementioned headstone shared with his wife Rhoda and a military headstone engraved with his unit, "Co A, 5 KY Inf, CSA."

Contributed to Findagrave by Roger Sprague