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SKETCHES OF MY LIFE
Written by
Nora E. Finnell
September 1, 1949
At age 65
6100 East Appache (Apache)
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Re-typed and nominally edited by
Sharon L. Hightower-Bradley
Wife of one of
John Nelson Smith’s great great grandsons
And great great great grandson of Harriett Reagan Smith Burton Morris
the Widow of Reverend Sylvester Morris

Just a few sketches of my life that I can remember.  Here are our family names and dates:

John N. Smith Born November 5, 1852 in Terryhutt, Illinois
Died March 6, 1927 in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Laura T. (F.) Smith	August 26, 1865 in Argois County, Illinois
Died May 16, 1936 in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Nora E. Smith   Born November 6, 1883 in Sedan, Kansas

Ollie E. Smith  Born September 1, 1885 in Longton, Kansas

Rosa M. Smith   Born December 18, 1887 in Longton, Kansas

Lucy B. Smith   Born March 4, 1891 in Dawson, Indian Territory

Lottie A. Smith Born February	10, 1894 in Tulsa, Indian Territory

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To begin with, we lived on a farm northeast of Sedan, Kansas.  When I was about 2 years 
old Mamma lost all her clothespins so I took her by the hand and led her over to a hole in 
the kitchen floor in the corner of the room where I had put all her clothespins.  Then real 
soon we moved to Longton, Kansas where Ollie was born.  When Grandma Smith was 
giving her the first bath, all at once Ollie began choaking (sic) nearly to death.  Grandma 
looked around and I had filled her mouth full of cornbread.  I was saying, “baby cry, baby 
hungry”.  Well then about 2 years later Rosa was born.  It was on the 18th day of 
December and they had been telling us kids that Santa Clause (sic) would soon be here so 
the next morning after Rosa was born, Papa and Grandma put an old pair of Papa’s pants 
down by the door and told us kids Santie had brought us a baby sister and he ran so fast 
he had lost his pants.  We were awful disappointed.  We always thought Santie brought 
dolls and toys.  Of course I cried like my heart would break.  Then the next morning after 
Christmas, up on the mantle were two beautiful china dolls.  I think they were Ollie’s and 
my first china dolls.  Before that they had been rag dolls.

The first Sunday School I can remember going to was in Longton, Kansas in the 
Methodist Church.  There were several mottos hanging on the wall.  Every time we 
would go in I would have Papa read them to me.  The only one I can remember said 
“Faith, Hope and Charity”.

Grandma Smith lived across the street from us.  She had 2 pet mockingbirds, both 
singers.  Their names were Fred and Mike.  Grandma lived alone and the birds stayed out 
of their cages most all the time.  They would hop on her shoulder and sing and would eat 
out of her hand.  I learned to love them very much.  I was only about 5 years old but 
mockingbirds have always been my favorite bird and the lilac my favorite flower.

In the summer of 1888, Papa moved us down to Grandpa and Grandma Ash’s.  They 
lived on a big farm near Sedan, Kansas.  He and Uncle Will left us there and they went 
down to the Indian Territory to hunt work.  They opened up a coal bank near the Frisco 
Roailroad tracks real close to where Dawson now stands.  While they were gone we kids 
sure had a grand time on the big farm.  They had all kinds of fruit trees.  Big cherry trees 
that we could climb.  I’ll never forget those big dark red cherries, and lots of peaches, 
apples, plums and gooseberries out behind the house along with several old mulberry 
trees where the ducks stayed.  They must of (sic) had 30-40 ducks.  Every morning 
Grandma would give us kids a bucket and we would see how many duck eggs we could 
find.  They lived in a log house.  It had an upstairs, long kitchen all the way
across the main building and in the living room they had a big old fashion (sic) fire 
place that burnt wood.  Then, when they would clean out the fireplace they would take 
all the ashes out and put them in the ash hopper.  When it would rain Grandma would put a 
pan under it, let the water drain throught the ashes and that would make lye water.  Then 
she would use her old grease and make her lye soap.  Grandpa had a big red barn with lots of 
seed of all kinds.  In his corn crib he had a corn sheller.  Hanging on this corn sheller was
an iron ring.  When he would shell the corn all the cobs that would not go through the iron
ring were thrown in a basket and sold in Sedan, Kansas where they had a cob pipe factory.  
One night the big red barn got (sic) afire and burnt to the ground.  It scorched nearly all 
the hair off the horses and cow’s backs.  They got them out before any of them burnt to 
death.  It was a big loss for Grandpa.  He always thought a neighbor did it for spite.

Then, in April 1889, Papa and Uncle Will came back after us.  Uncle Will and Aunt Rella 
got married.  We were all getting ready to start back to the Indian Territory.  Aunt May 
was then about 14 years old.  She took me out behind the big stone smoke house and told 
me all the wild indian stories that she had ever heard and begged me not to come with 
them down to that wild indian country.  She had me scared but of course I had to come.

O yes, one thing I was about to forget, every year Grandpa had a cider mill and he would 
grind up all his apples that were not for sale, of course he always stored away lots of big 
apples for their own use.  In his cellar on a long low shelf there were several kegs of 
cider, some sweet and some hard.  Well, I never did like sweet cider and one day I went 
down in the cellar by myself.  They kept tin cups down there for us kids to drink the 
sweet cider but I thought here’s where I get all the hard cider I want, so I did.  O my, O 
me,  (I) crawled up the steps on my hands and knees, went realing (sic) to the house and 
fell on the porch.  I’d better not tell any more about that!!!

Well, then we got started on our trip.  We had 2 covered wagons, 2 big fine teams of 
horses and behind our wagon we tied a white cow with twin white calves.  It took us 3 
days and nights to make the trip.  At night when we would camp Papa would feed the 
cow and milk her so the kids could have milk to drink.  But not me – I never did like 
milk.  When we landed we set up our big tent in Wilber (Wilbur) Dawson’s yard.  All of 
us lived in it for 2 or 3 months.  Our first visitors were Olen (Olin) and Audy (Auda) 
Lewis.  I think Olen (Olin) was 7 years old and Auda about 5.  Mr. Dawson had a 
daughter, her name was Texie.  Several years after that, Dawson was named after him.  
Texie and I soon became very dear friends.  Very soon after that we got to know all the 
Lewis family.  Then Papa and Uncle Will built us a 3 room sod house.  Uncle Will and 
Aunt Rella had a bedroom and we had one.  Both families used the same kitchen.

In the summer some people had come from Vineta (Vinita) to bail hay to ship back up 
there for their cattle the next winter.  They all lived in tents.  One Sunday afternoon we 
went down to visit.  Ollie, myself and a boy named Richard Johnson.  We were out in the 
woodpile playing.  I had a ½ gallon jar broke (sic) in two longways.  I had chips in it 
playing like it was bread.  I started to go over where the kids were.  I stumped (sic) my 
toe on a log, fell down and almost cut off my left arm.  Almost bled to death.  Papa being 
a western man, he was on the plains 5 years killing buffalo, he knew just what to do.  He 
made a twitch, put it around my arm then had the men who were in the camp put all their 
tobacco in a pan and soak (sic) it in warm water.  Then he put it in my arm, in that awful 
bloody mess, trying to stop the blood.  Then he sent a man on a horse back to Tulsa for a 
doctor.  We only had one good doctor in Tulsa then.  We also had another doctor, his 
name was Jones, but he was no good drunk, which was nearly all the time.  They took me 
home.  The doctors came but it was pretty late so they decided not to unwrap my arm, 
said (that) they would come back (the) next morning so they did.  They gave me 
cholorform (sic) to put me to sleep.  They unwrapped my arm, took off all those bloody 
rags and tobacco, washed it good then used tweezers to find out if there were any pieces 
of glass left in the wound.  They dressed it all good then very soon they found out that I 
was not coming to.  They tried every way to revive me.  I had passed out.  They both told 
Papa I was dead.  They crossed my hands, straightened out my legs and closed my eyes.  
Said to Papa, “Go in the kitchen and tell your wife.”  He said, “I can’t believe she is 
dead.”  He was standing over me and said he saw my lips moving and he put his ear 
down to my mouth and I was saying, “drink”.  Both doctors jumped to their feet.  In ½ 
hour I could talk.  Of course I was awful weak for a long time.  I carried my arm in a 
sling for 6 months.  My left arm and hand have always been smaller than the other.

That next winter Grandpa Ash sent several barrels of his big red apples off his farm in 
Sedan, Kansas.  That sure was a big treat for us all.  In our 3 room sod house we were 
pretty crowded.  We kids had a trunnel (sic) bed and in the daytime Mamma would roll it 
under their bed.  It was made like this – a pair of 3 garter springs and at each corner there 
were big bed rollers.  Each one of Papa and Mamma’s parents had giaven them a feather 
bed apiece.  One of them is what we used for a mattress.  One morning after Papa and 
uncle Will had gone to work Rosa, our baby then, took bad sick.  She had spasms, so 
Aunt Rella jumped on old Dick’s back and rode about 2 miles to get Papa but by the time 
he got home Rosa was O.K. again.  Uncle Will’s horses were named Dick and Charley.  
One morning when we got up Dick was running up and down the road nickering (sic) and 
we knew something was wrong.  Uncle Will got on Dick (with) no saddle and no bridle.  
They went down to the Frisco Railroad and there lay Charley, dead.  The train had killed 
him that night.  We all had a big cry over him.

In the year 1890, Papa bought a log house over close to where Dawson now stands, from 
a man named Mr. Gumas (Goumaz).  When I was 7 I started to my first school in Tulsa.  
The first 2 months I boarded in a 2 story hotel owned by Col. Moore.  They had a girl my 
age.  Her name was Clara.  They had 2 other daughters, Laura and Jennie.  On the ground 
floor was the post office, big dinning (sic) room and kitchen.  All the upstairs was 
bedrooms.  Pay Coyan (Pat Coyen) drug store was next to the hotel.  Clara and I both 
went over on the north side where they had school in the Methodist church.  My first 
school teacher’s name was Mattie Mobery (Mowbray).  Later she married Streck 
Thomas.  Her father, Bro. Mobery (Mowbray), was Tulsa’s first Methodist preacher.  
Later in the in winter I began boarding with the Mobery (Mowbray) family.  They lived 
real near the church and school so I did not have to walk so far.  The Moberys 
(Mowbrays) had 2 other girls, Annie and Grace and one boy, George.  They were awful 
nice to me.  George and Grace were in college in another state.  Well one night Annie had 
a boy friend, his name was Jeff Archer, they were sitting in the kitchen reading and had 
the door shut, so little nosey Nora was peeping through the key hole at them.  Mattie saw 
me and came over where I was and slapped my face.  Of course I cried and Mrs. Mobery 
(Mowbray) gave her a good scolding.  She said, “Now don’t never do that again.  When 
little Nora is at school you are her boss, but when she is at home, I take care of her.”  
Very soon after that Annie and Jeff Archer were married.  Jeff owned the only hardware 
store in town then, so one day about 3 years, maybe 4 years, later a drunken indian went 
into the store with a gun.  Jeff had a big, long shelf in the store with a lot of cans of
black powder in them.  The indian shot a hole in one of them and of course, that exploded all 
the rest.  It killed the indian and Jeff died about 3 days later.  Left Annie with 2 or 3 
babies to care for.

Every Friday after school, I would go down to the depot, get on the train and go out 
home.  Dawson at that time did not have a depot so the train did not stop there, it just 
slowed up.  The conductor would take me out on the steps, take me by one arm and swing 
me down and Papa would catch me by the other arm.  Of course Papa never failed to be 
there when the train came in.  One day he said, “Honey, you got a big, new doll down at 
the house.”   He took me by my hand and we ran real fast.  When I got in the house I did 
not see Mamma laying in the bed.  I ran over to my little trunk which was only a box with 
a lid on it and no doll.  I began crying but Papa saide, “Look in the bed with Mamma” so 
I did and there was that little ugly red face (sic) baby named Lucy Bell.  Then in a few 
months Mrs. Lewis had twins – Mel and Dollie.  Mrs. Lewis and Mamma had the same 
old mid-wife when their babies were born.  The first time Mrs. Lewis visited us after the 
twins were born I never will forget when she would let them nurse one on each knee both 
eating at the same time.

In our early days there we had lots of old tramps going up and down the railroad tracks.  
Our house was pretty close to the tracks.  Every week there were 3 or 4 who would stop 
for something to eat.  We never did turn any of them away.  We always fed them but did 
not let them come in the house.  They were always so dirty and ragged.  One day Aunt 
Rella had handed one a sandwich and a cup of coffee and Uncle Will walked up to him 
and said, “Bro. When you get done eating we will go down to the creek and have a good 
bath.”  Then he went in the house, got a towel, washrag, bar of soap, clean shirt, clean 
pants and underwear.  The old tramp didn’t want to go but Uncle Will said, “O yes.”  
When they got down to Cole (Coal?) Creek they stripped the old tramp and Uncle Will 
set a match to the tramp’s clothes which consisted of 5 dirty shirts, 2 pair (sic) of pants.  
They burnt them up on the creek bank.  I expect before they were through, that poor old 
tramp almost had the hide rubbed off of him.  When they got through the old fellow put 
on all those clean clothes and Uncle Will gave him a dollar and some religious tracks 
(sic).  “God bless you, Bro.  Now go on your way.”
The Florance in the following paragraph may be the Florance E. buried beside Charley Ash See cemetery note
When I was 9 years old my parents sent me back to Sedan, Kansas to school.  I stayed 
that winter with Grandma and Grandpa Ash.  They had sold their farm and moved to 
town.  For me that was the longest and most lonesome 9 months that I have ever known.  
Of course my grandparents were awful good to me, but I was so homesick for my family.  
That winter Aunt Rella and little Florance came up there and when they were there just a 
short time Ruth was born.  I was going to school and got the hooping (sic) cough, gave it 
to Florance and she died.  When Ruth was 2 weeks old then she took it and Uncle Will 
hired a nurse to tak (sic) care of her.  She almost died also.  My teacher’s name that year 
was Minnie Clark.  She was red headed but I sure did like her.  We had several negro 
children in our roon.  They sat in one section and the white in another one.

I’ll tell you of our trip when the took me to school that year.  Of course it was in a 
covered wagon.  In our early days there were lots of indians, all friendly.  In the fall of 
the year they would have a big stomp dance.  All (of the indians) go to camp and stay a 
week or 10 days.  So on our way up to Kansas there was a stomp dance going on at 
Skytook (Skiatook).  We stopped there and camped for the night.  Found a good place 
real near the main grounds.  We knew several of the indians well and had no fear of any 
of them.  We were eating our supper and had lit our lantern.  Then all at once on the other 
side of our covered wagon we hear a shot then some one (sic) groaning.  Then a man 
Papa knew real well, a U. S. Marshall (sic) named Bee Melon (B. Mellow?), ran around 
the wagon and said, “John, give me a bucket, quick.  I want to ge (sic) some water.  I 
believe I have killed a man.”  Papa grabed (sic) the camphor bottle we always carried in 
the grub box, took the lantern and went around the wagon, Nora right at his heels, as I 
always was.  There he lay bleeding.  We also knew this man.  His name was Childres 
(Childers?).  He was an indian.  He had two sisters named Nora and Sussie (Suzzie?).  
They were both dancing.  Papa ran up there and got the girls.  The reason this Marshal 
had shot him, Childres (Childers) had a jug of whiskey and Bee Melon (B. Mellow?) 
hollered at him to stop and he would not, so he shot him in the back.  They loaded him in 
the back of a hack and started to Tulsa, but he died on the way.  We all went to bed, Papa 
and I under our wagon, Mamma and the babies up in the wagon.  Nobody got excited or 
scared, got up next morning, ate our breakfast and went on our way.

The next spring when I cam (sic) home Papa, Uncle Will and Uncle George Ash had 
started building the first Dawson church and school.  Mr. Lewis, Mr. Steffinger and Mr. 
Dawson helped furnish the money to build it.  We used it for a school, also for Sunday 
School and Church.  Our first school teacher’s name was Elmer Kigins, second one Ella 
Barton, third one Vick Robinson, fourth Mr. Darety, fifth Mr. Lumpkin, sixth Mr. Booth.  
Papa was Sunday School Superintendent of the Sunday School for about 10 years.  If I 
remember, we had about 10 or 12 in day school and 15 or 20 in Sunday School the first 
year.  That same year, which was I think 1893, we build a new house about 1 mile west 
of Dawson on the Frisco Railroad, or I mean, near there.  Uncle Will built them one 
across the tracks.  Some months later then, they had not lived in their’s very long when it 
burnt down.  Then we rented a house in town, moved, and Uncle Will and family moved 
over in our house.

The next winter Ollie and I went to school over on the south side in the Presbyterian 
church and school.  Our teacher’s name that year was Miss Thompson.  Then the 10th day 
of February, our baby sister Lottie was born.  Dr. Sam Kennedy was our family doctor 
then.  Grandma Smith had come to live with us.  An old Methodist preacher name 
Silvester (Sylvester) Morris came to visit us and O my, O me Grandma and he soon fell 
in love and got engaged real soon.  He bought a house up on North Cheyenne Street and 
furnished it pretty nice.  Well we had a big wedding.  Aunt Rella hired a girl named Ellen 
Stamper, baked a big wedding cake in a big round dish pan.  I think there were about 50 
people at the wedding.  Not many people get to see their Grandma married.  When we 
lived there Mr. and Mrs. Stuffman lived across the street from us.  That’s where Grant 
Shettlebar and Clara were married.

There are a few little things I forgot to tell.  Before we moved out of the old log house, 
Mamma had an old negro woman come 2 days a week and do her washing, ironing and 
scrubing (sic).  Her name was Mrs. Pack.  She was niger (sic) Tom Lowe’s mother.  She 
always washed in the summer down below the house at the big old spring.  She always 
came when we killed hogs and rendered our lard.  Then in about 1894 or 95, John and 
Dollie McBride moved down here from Missouri and they bought the old log house from 
us.  Ray and Don were both born there I think.  Dollie was our organ player at Sunday 
School and Church and John was our song leader.  We had some great times.  We also 
had a literary every Saturday night.  One night I remember Buck Lewis and John 
McBride debating which was the most destructive, fire or water.

Our country at that time had lots of outlaws.  We had a good well of water where we built 
our new house.  Several times I can remember a bunch of outlaws would ride up in our 
yard, get off their horses, six shooters strapped on their belts and guns strapped to their 
saddles.  Papa had a long watering trough where he watered our horses so they would 
draw water for their horses and get themselves a drink.  We kids were always in the yard 
playing.  They would throw water on us and play and talk to us.  We knew they were 
outlaws but never were afraid of them.  They would get on their horses and wave good by 
to us.  

One afternoon Uncle Pase Steffing (Pace Hefflefinger?) rode up on his horse.  “John, get 
your team out and hitch up to the hack, a U. S. Marshal has shot an outlaw up by my 
house.”  They hurried up there, put some straw in the back and put the man in the back on 
some hay.  They had to come back by our house.  Stopped to get a drink, it was a hot day.  
They were taking him to Tulsa, that’s where he lived.  While the men were at the well 
getting a drink, Ollie and I climbed up on the wheel and peeked in at the poor fellow.  
When they came back I said, “He don’t have any pillow.”  So I ran upstairs, got my little 
pillow.  Papa and Uncle Pase (Pace) put it under his head.  They went on but he died 
before they got to town.  Then when Papa got home I asked him where my little pillow 
was.  He said, “Honey, the man died on it and it was all soaked in blood.”  Well Mamma 
made another one.

Then there was another killing I remember so well.  When Lottie was a baby our house 
sat where the Tulsa Hotel is now.  One day we heard a shot.  Papa and I ran down to Bud 
Wallin’s butcher shop.  Sam Childres (Childers) had shot a fellow.  They called him 
Jocky.  I don’t remember his last name.  He was laying on his back, his shirt unbuttoned, 
the blood was spouting up a foot high out of his chest.  There was a big bunch of men all 
around him.  We stayed there until he died.  On (sic) me, O my, if I only had some of the 
nerve I had then.  I went in the butcher shop several times, the blood stains were still on 
the floor, could not scrub them off.

Papa and Uncle Will were always partners in the coal business.  Worked a lot of men.  
The men who drove our teams all lived in tents.  A lot of children died, poor living 
conditions, and of course some grown people had chills and fever and also died.  Papa 
had to buy coffins for some of them.  Then there were no preachers in Dawson, so Papa 
would read a Chapter in the Bible, we would sing a song and have a prayer.  Then he 
would explain the Chapter he had read, then we’d sing again and close with another 
prayer.

The year I was 11 or 12 years old I went to school at Dawson.  A big fat man named 
Lumpkin tought (sic) school there.  I think 2 terms.  He boarded over on Mingo Creek 
with a family named Flourney (Flournoy).  He fell in love with their girl named Florance 
(or Florence) and he bought her a white pony, bridle and saddle.  Well later on Elbert 
Morgan came down here from Georgia state, went to work in the coal banks.  He was 
young and good looking.  Then Florance (or Florence) forgot all about her big fat teacher, 
fell in love with Elbert and married him.

There were lots of wild geese, prarie (sic) chickens, wild ducks and some wild turkeys.  I 
have seen freight train crews get off to kill wild geese and prarie (sic) chicken, get back 
on the train and go on.

Her are a few little funny jokes I can remember.  Rosa was 6 or 7 years old, just 
beginning to loose (sic) her front teeth.  One day she and Lottie were up at the head of the 
stairs.  Rosa had a string tied on her tooth.  It was real loose.  She was setting with her 
back to the stairway, I was downstairs and I could hear her saying to Lottie, “Come on 
honey and pull sister’s tooth.”  I slipped up the steps real easy and reached my hand 
around her and jerked out the tooth.  It scared Rosa and made her so mad.  I think we 
both nearly fell down the steps.  She ran me around the house.  I fell down and she fell on 
top of me.  Blood flew all over both of us.  Well she sure did give me a good whipping.  
Rosa always did have an awful temper and was as strong as a mule, could whip all us 
kids.  Here is another little joke on my girl friend and I (sic).  Her name was Gethie 
Potter.  Her brother and his wife had gone a a little trip for 2 or 3 days so we decided we 
would go in their house and cook us a dinner.  We found some potatoes and a can with 
some grease in it.  We fried our potatoes and ate them.  They were good.  The night they 
got home one of  their kids got the crupe (sic) and they were hunting all over the kitchen 
for their skunk grease.  O my, O me, we had used up all the skunk grease to fry our 
potatoes.

In the year of 1894 or 95 I boarded over on North Cheyenne with Grandma and Grandpa 
Morris and went to school again that year in the Methodist Church.  My teacher’s name 
was Mr. Quinn.  My 2 best girl friends that year were Mable and Thel Watson.  Their 
Daddy was a doctor.  One day at school all us kids were jumping the rope.  I got thirsty, 
went the water bucket and there was no water.  I tried to get some of the kids to go with 
me but they would not go over to the next door from the school, so I went alone.  Of 
course with my crippled arm I was trying to draw the water.  All at once my feet slipped 
from under me and I fell in the well head first, but I still was hanging on to the rope, my 
toes caught on each side of the curb which was on the inside of the well.  Of course I was 
screaming as loud as I could.  The woman inside the house ran out there, got me by the 
heels and pulled me out.  This seems impossible but it is true.  Such miracles don’t 
happen very often, but it just was not time for me to die.  Then a few months later I was 
still staying with Grandma.  We kids were again jumping the rope when a girl tripped me.  
I fell and hurt my back bad.  They took me home, let me go in by myself.  They went on 
back to school.  I got to the door and Grandma had gone to visit a neighbor and had 
locked the door.  I lay on the door step, cried all evening.  I never went back to school for 
3 weeks.

The next 2 years I went to Dawson to school.  My teacher was Mr. Booth.  He had a 
family – his wife, 1 daughter and 5 boys.  Those 2 years we had lots of fun.  Boys and 
girls all played together.  Olen (Olin) Lewis always was my feller and he had a lot of 
trouble with the other boys everytime one of them would look at me.  He would get mad.  
We were playing a game, marching around the levy (sic), a boy in the center named 
Floyd Miller choose me for his partner.  Well as the song goes, “I kneel because I love 
you,” then next they sang, “I take a sweet kiss and leave.”  Then Floyd started to kiss me, 
then Olen (Olin) broke loose, jumped on Floyd.  They were having an awful fight.  Mr. 
Booth came rushing out of the school house and separated them.

Another time a bunch of us kids were up at Uncle Pase (Pace?) and Aunt Legie (Lizzie?) 
Steffinger’s (Hefflefinger’s?) house practicing for a Sunday School picnic.  Bell and 
Dollie McBride had the only organ in the country (sic) at that time.  We would sing songs 
and speak pieces.  They had a long front porch.  They had made benches out of long 
boards for us kids to sit on.  Olen had gone to town that day and bought me a nice new 
fan.  He was sitting next to me and was fanning when several of us said we were thirsty 
and wanted a drink.  So Olen handed me the fan and said he would go to the kitchen and 
get some water.  He came back with a pitcher of water and Billie Steffinger  had sat down 
in his place, took the fan from me and began fanning me.  Olen set the pitcher down, 
grabed (sic) Billie by his arm and they had an awful fight.  Buck Lewis and Crosby 
Steffinger  had a bloody fight there in the front yard before everybody.  Things like that 
were so common in those days, nobody thought anything about it.

My first real date was with a boy named Ed Booth.  Of course Mamma never let me go 
nowhere with a boy, only to Sunday School,  Church, neighborhood sings.  The Ed and I 
quit and I went with Bob his brother for a while.

Elija Lowery moved to Dawson to work in the coal banks.  Lowery foreman was that guy 
they called Bill Shue.  Then in a few months, John McBride hired Bill for his foreman.  
He began coming to church.  One day he got his foot cut real bad.  Mr Foster was a man 
who ran one of the stores in Dawson then, so he would ask Bill to ride up to church in his 
buggy.  Real soon Zeal Foster began bragging to me that she was going to have that little 
fat boy Bill.  So she did for a while.

One Sunday Zeal asked me to stay at her house for dinner.  I did and while Zeal was 
helping her mother in the kitchen, Bill came down.  I was sitting on a big trunk in the 
living room.  He sat down beside me and said, “Did I ever show you my girl’s picture?”  
Of course I said, “no.”  He pulled a looking glass out of his pocket and who did I see?  I 
asked him if he meant that.  He replied, “I sure did.”  That afternoon they took me home.  
That night he took her to church and the next Sunday evening another boy friend of mine, 
Lue Martin came down to our house and wanted to take me to church.  I went in where 
Mamma was and told her I did not want to go with him.  He was squint eyed.  Mamma 
said, “Get one of the girls to go with you and slip off from him.”  I got Rosa and we 
started to walk up to church.  We started to cross Coal Creek on some rocks, looked up 
and saw Bill Shue coming on a horse.  He stopped and asked if he could take me to 
church that night.  I asked him where Zeal was.  He said, “I don’t know.”  He helped 
Rosa on the horse, told her to tie it to the hitching post in front of the store.  We went on 
to church.  Zeal was there, mad of course, but it did not last long.  She had other boy 
friends and soon everything was O. K.

Then late in the summer in Tulsa over in the Perrman (Perryman) Grove there was a big 
indian stomp dance and picnic going on.  We were all there that night.  Bill and Brack 
went up town, hired a buggy and took us home.  That was Brack and Zeal’s first date.  
After they brought us home they had to take the buggy and team back to Tulsa then walk 
all the way back to Dawson.  They did not get back until 3:30 a.m. and had to be at work 
at 7 o’clock in the morning.  When I got home that night Papa, of course he always did, 
got up, lit the lamp and looked at the clock in the corner and said, “Nora, I’m going to 
whip you in the morning.”  I went on upstairs to bed but did not sleep any that night 
thinking about the whipping that I was going to get, but he and Mamma talked it over and 
decided to send me to Kansas to school hoping that I would forget that Bill Shue.

Then in September they took me to Sedan, Kansas to board with my Grandma and 
Grandpa Ash.  Then the next day after we got there Papa said, “Now Nora, if you will 
forget all about Bill, be a good girl and go to school, I will buy you a nice paino, hire a 
good teacher to give you lessons.”  The next morning we went down town to a music 
store, picked out a nice piano, had a music teacher to come down to the store.  She took 
me in, gave me a test, examined my crippled hand and arm then told Papa, “Mr. Smith, I 
sure am sorry, but your little girl can never learn to play the piano on account of her 
crippled hand.”  Of course he was awful disappointed but deep down in my mind I was 
glad.  Of course, I did not tell Papa how I felt.  All that winter, Bill and I wrote 2 and 3 
letters a week to each other.  He did not address them to me, I had a cousin living in 
Sedan and he would address them to her and put a little + in the corner of the envelope 
then she would give them to me.  Grandpa and Grandma were awful strict on me but I 
had a room to myself and would write letters to him.  When I was 15 years old we were 
engaged but nobody knew it.  That Christmas I went home for my vacation.  Bill worked 
for Mr. McBride.  Their house was real close to the Frisco Railroad in Dawson.  We had 
no depot at that time but the passenger train by then was stopping in Dawson.  The train 
was due at 12:15.  The men down at McBrides were eating dinner, 15 or 20 of them.  Bill 
jumped from the table to run up there when he heard the train whistle.   Some of the boys 
hid his hat, he had asked to lay off that afternoon so he was all dressed up.  Of course he 
ran and got there in time.   We looked up the road and saw Mamma and my girl friend 
coming up the road in a 2 seated (sic) buggy to get me.  Bill went home with us that 
afternoon.  He bought me a beautiful little watch and chain, pair of kid gloves, several 
other little gifts.  Mamma and Papa did not understand it all.  He would come down to the 
house nearly every night.  So one day we slipped off and went to town, had our picture 
taken and he bought my engagement ring.  I kept my ring hid until I got back to school.  
When the kids would tease me about it at school I would tell them my Uncle had bought 
it for a Christmas present.  Grandma just thought it was one of my presents also.

When I got back to school my best little boy friend was not there.  I asked about him.  
They told me that he had gone out in the country at his grandparents on a farm to spend 
his holiday and a bunch of kids were playing on a haystack.  He had slid down the stack 
and a pitch fork had run through his body and killed him.  His Daddy was our Sunday 
School Superintendent.  He was a wonderful little pal of mine.  His name was Cecil 
Kennedy.  I cried for days over him.

That winter sure was a cold winter but every day I went home for dinner.  Grandma 
always had me a nice warm dinner.  I would go by the post office and get the mail and if I 
got one from Bill I would put it somewhere out of sight.  Then maybe I would not get to 
read it until that night.  In April I took the measles.  I was awful bad sick and had the 
doctor sometimes two times a day.  I had just started to break out good, burning up with 
high fever, Grandma had gone to milk and I got up out of bed and opened the door.  It 
was starting to rain.  I stood there in the door.  Oh how good that fresh air did feel.  When 
I heard them coming in the house, I got back in bed and of course that made the measles 
come back on me.  Then I really was sick, in bed two or three weeks.  When I got able to 
sit up the doctor told Grandpa I needed a good tonic.  He said there is nothing better for 
building her up than beer.  Grandpa said, “O no, not beer.”  He was a very strong 
prohibitionist.  He said, “Doctor, I never bought a bottle of beer in my life.”  But the 
doctor said,  “Now Father Ash, I will give you a note and you take it to the back of the 
drug store.  You don’t have to say a word, just hand them this note and they will hand 
you a quart bottle in a paper sack.  Save your note, then every time you go back, just had 
it to them.”  Well Grandpa did it, very much against his will.  The first two or three days 
when they brought me my ice cold beer it was just like medicine, but after a few days I 
began looking forward to the time for my beer.  I really got to liking it.  Then when they 
took it away from me I soon was well again and back in school to finish my term.

In June my parents came up to Sedan to after me.  I sure was glad to get back home 
again.  Bill and I were keeping steady company and the folks began getting suspicious.  
We had never told them we were engaged.  One Sunday evening Bill got up the courage 
to go with Papa when he went to milk.  While down there he ask (sic) for me.  Well of 
course, as he expected, Papa gave him an awful lecturing but at last he said, “Well, if you 
and Nora have got your minds made up, I suppose I will have to say, yes.”  Mamma was 
pretty nice about it all.  We went to town in a few weeks and bought my wedding clothes.  
Mamma hired a dressmaker and she made me lots of pretty clothes.  My first long dress 
was my wedding dress.  It was a soft wool in light gray trimed (sic) in flowered pale blue 
satin.  I would have been sixteen in November and we were married August 15, 1898 in 
Dawson, Indian Territory, in the little church and school building.  Silvester (Sylvester) 
Morris, my step-grandfather married us.  Tom and Minnie Coe stood up with us.  Brack 
and Zeal were married two weeks before we were.
==========================================================================================

Notes dated January 2005

John Nelson Smith—notes about place of birth:

I have not been able to locate a Terryhutt, IL.  As Nora spelled how words sounded, it is 
possible that she meant Terre Haute, Indiana.  As of 2004 I am unsure of the correct place 
of birth for John Nelson Smith.

Laura Francis Ash Smith----notes about place of birth:
There is not an Arguios County, IL.  I believe she meant Iroquois County, IL.
Nora Ellen Smith
Ollie Eva Smith
Rosa May Smith
Lucy Bell(e) Smith----note about middle name:

Most documents, photos, registers list Lucy’s middle name as Bell without the final e.  
There are some places where the e was written in later.  Lucy’s delayed birth certificate 
from the State of Oklahoma does have Belle as the middle name.  It is my belief that her 
name was originally spelled without the final e.

Lottie Agnes Smith

The correct spelling of last names is not completely verified for all persons listed in the 
story.  I also have not verified the names of the teachers in Dawson.  The story will be 
edited as corrections are supplied.

Revision 2, January 22, 2005

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