If you do stuff, stuff gets done.......

If you do stuff, stuff gets done.......

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My great grandmother, a real Oklahoma pioneer woman

This true account of her life was written by my great grandmother
Annie Elizabeth.  
Her daughter Minnie Maye was my dad's mother.  

I was born in Stephenson County, Illinois on April 2, 1872 and lived there until the early spring of 1883. We moved to Dallas County, Iowa (where all of my mothers people lived) on a farm that joined my grandparents home. Early in the year of 1885 we moved to Barton County, Kansas where I grew up. There were 5 girls of us and we helped our father to farm as it was wheat country, he farmed big fields of wheat. He had ½ section of land and an 80 acre piece of hay land, and we milked a good many cows,

In October 1891 my family and I moved to McPherson, Kansas where we could attend our Church College and I met the young man who became my life companion, John Riley.
John grew up in Texas, and came to McPherson at the same time I did. I was 19 and John was 22. We were raised on farms and did not know all the smart ways that young folks now know. I had never heard of keeping step in walking. John lived at the College three years. He went to school a half a day and farmed for the College a half a day and that is the way he got his education. He milked the cows and done the College chores besides farm work for three years. We sat at the same table in the penmanship class, that is where we got acquainted. His mother passed away and he was needing a friend I thought. When he and the business managers wife, Mrs Peck came for shrubbery for the College lawn I helped my mother to entertain them and our friendship started by the lilac bush in our front yard.

We were married in May 23, 1894. My mother had passed away and my schooldays were over. Neither of us had graduated. We moved to a farm in Barton County, Kansas, where Alice Ruth was born March 5, 1895. In 1897 we went to Oklahoma to visit Johns sisters. Alice was 2 years old.

 We moved, in 1897, to Washita County, Oklahoma. Our oldest daughter, Alice was two and one half years old. We travel in a covered wagon. I drove the ponies, Dandy and Squirrel hitched to the spring wagon; it had a crate of chickens, a box with two small chester white little pigs and some other things. My feet rested on top of the dashboard so Alice rode in the wagon with with her daddy and sit on the bed and strung buttons for her past time on the way. 

John had Queen and Molly hitched to the heavy loaded wagon he drove. There were no bridges on the rivers. We forded the North and South Canadian rivers and the Salt fork and Washita rivers. I would not drive my team across the rivers. John would drive his team across, then unhitch his team and ride one horse back to drive scross with me. Sometimes he used four horses to take his wagon across where the rivers was deep.

We homesteaded in Washita County in Cheyenne Indian country, in September 1897. Johns sister Maggie and Frannie lived near by. Our claim joined Maggie and George Rogers claim. George Rogers helped John make us a dugout where we lived the first winter then John hauled native rock and Uncle George built us a stone house, twelve by sixteen feet, with a lean to kitchen on the side. It was of lumber.

James Paul, Annie Elizabeth, Alice Ruth, and John Riley P.   – about 1900, in front of the stone house

James Paul was born the next year and the girls Gladys Esther and Anna Marie were born in that little house. Paul was three when he was in the field with his daddy who was plowing and Paul was waiting at the end of the field and was bitten by a rattlesnake. His leg got spotted and swelled. John took him to our neighbor, Mr. Craig who had snake medicine and he got over it.
We made a milk house with the sandstone same as our home and had a windmill over the well near the house. All the water for the stock went threw the milk house to the stock tank; a milk tank in the milk house was where we had two gallon stone jars in water to keep the milk cool. Paul's dog Bounce churned for us on a treadmill outside the milk house. He was tied on a platform made by setting a post in the ground and putting a big wheel on the post on a 45 degree angle. A floor on one side of the wheel had slats nailed on and there was a fence around the floor. The churn was an 8 gallon barrel churn in the milk house connected by a rod threw the milk house.

Gladys Esther was 4 when she climbed upon the windmill tower and called to me, come up and see she said ”I can see where Aunt Maggie and Uncle George live and all around”. She was dancing first on one foot and then the other. I was so scared she would fall. I could not go up to get her. It was in the fall before Minnie Maye was born in December. I talked to her and coaxed her down. Her father took the lower rounds off that ladder when he came home so she did not try that again.

Anna Marie was two years old when she gave us a scare. John had came home from the gin where he had sold the bale of cotton late on Saturday night. We were all asleep so he lay down on the divan and put his pocket book under his pillow. Next morning John had to leave early to drive 10 miles to his appointment to preach and did not think of his pocket book. When he got home he looked for it. It was not there and none of us had seen it. We thought it was gone and one half of the price of the bale of cotton had to go for the picking. It was 2 or 3 weeks later Paul was digging in the yard where the children played and dug up that pocket book where Marie had buried it. We felt happy it was found.

One day the horses got out of the pasture and came up the road and in the driveway. John was there to open the gate to help get them into the lot. Marie was out there and to small to get away, was not afraid. One of the colts in play ran close to her, kicked up his heels over her head. John saw the colt and shut his eyes. He expected the colt would hit Marie but he had kicked up over her head, did not touch her.

That first year we lived in the dugout an Indian came to our home and John was not there. He could speak our language and asked where my husband was and I told him and he went to Uncle Georges home where John was helping with some work.
The White men had been stealing wood from the Indians. White settlers would go at night to the creek and chop down trees and haul them home for firewood. The Indians owned all the land where the creek was. All the trees were on the creeks. But we never stole from the Indians. John bought a ridgepole for our dugout from the Indians. 

We burned “Cow chips” and some coal. Fuel was scarce.

Our nearest railroad was at El Reno, Oklahoma, 75 miles from Cordell, Oklahoma. We lived there several years before we had a railroad into Cordell, Oklahoma. There were no rural telephones and no rural mail routes and no automobiles. The 160 acres we homesteaded was prairie, not a furrow turned or a post set, not even a road past our place before we got there.

Minnie Maye is our youngest child. When she was 6 months old we went to Texas to visit grandpa and grandma P. in a covered wagon and when grandpa found out we had not named our baby girl, he named her for us.

Our first car was a model T Ford in 1916 and we went to Texas again and got up to a speed of 20 mph. I said when we get home I'll stay there if you are going to drive so fast, Ha!

John and Annie 1924

Grandma P. lived 99 years on earth and I am fortunate to of known her. She made that apron I am wearing in my header picture. I also have a blue and white Irish chain quilt she made. 

She was not famous, not a great photographer or recipe blogger nor did she marry into a rich family - but was loved by her family. Women like her, real pioneer women, who lived in sod houses and worked so hard with no frills are the backbone of Oklahoma. 

One of my dad's cousins was quite the geneologist.  He did lots of research on the family tree and much of it he published on line.  I am really thankful for his work.  This is just a small portion of it.  


  1. my oh my,..I loved reading that!

  2. Reading stories like that bring tears to my eyes because ladies had to be strong to survive. Can you imagine what many of us would do if we were able to go back in time? I would like to think I could do it, but deep down I know I'm soft. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Lori, when I saw the reading list you posted for your son's homeschooling with several books about pioneers, it made me think about my own pioneering grandparents and it gave me the idea to blog about them..

      I think their lives had so much hard work and lack of things we consider necessities. I like reading about the past but I am glad I live now. I like my running water!

  3. Loved reading this.... I am so glad you shared it!

  4. What a great legacy you have! I love genealogy and reading old records and diaries. There is so much we can learn from our ancestors! My husband's uncle traced his family line(s) until 15th century!!

  5. So great that someone in your family is a geneologist so you can have the benefit of all the research ;-). It is wonderful too to have the old photos. I've always admired the frontier women and what they had to contend with to run their households and care for their families.

  6. 99 years! The things she saw change in this country probably left her shaking her head at times. Folks worked hard to get that land and build a house, and were grateful. Thanks for sharing Rhonda. I had a few relatives do a lot of work on my dad's side...boy do we have some interesting folks in our past, and not all good.
    blessings, jilly

  7. I also enjoyed reading this piece. I love reading about pioneer days. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this story with us. I love reading about people's real life stories. We can learn so much from them. It's amazing how hardy people were and how we think we are being inconvenienced to have to some labor. Again, thank you!

  9. How nice for you to have this from your grandmother, it is a very fun read. As I have told you before, my mother's family came from OK, the Okmulgee area actually.
    I hope you are having a nice summer, I'm sure it's quiet without those sweet grands around, but that will change soon!
    Hugs, Cindy

  10. I loved reading this post! I am a great fan of history, yours, theirs, mine, it doesn't matter. Thank you for sharing.


Thank you for dropping by today ❤️

Jeff and Rhonda

Jeff and Rhonda