Family Stories

The Barnes Place

“In the wheat country people moved in August, after harvest, but where we lived, people moved about the first of January, after cotton harvest, and before spring plowing. On January 1, 1913 my parents moved from the east eighty of the Olson place to the Barnes place, about three-fourths mile west of us.

My memories of the first time we lived on the ease eighty of the Olson place are rather few (We were to live there again later). I remember a little more about the Barnes place, which belonged to Ledru Barnes. Mr. Barnes owned much property around the country, and this place was a quarter section of land, giving my father a chance to farm more land, have more stock, and so, to perhaps make more money.

I liked the Barnes place. The house set back from the road, and at the end of an impressive driveway. Stately cedars marched in two rows from the road to the house. The drive went between the cedars, which grew together overhead, making a lovely shady lane. The house was larger and better than the two-room and attic on the Olson place. There were lots of lilacs and roses around the yard. The bedroom was at the East End, the living room in the middle, and the kitchen and dining area on the West End, with a wide veranda almost all the way around the house. I really enjoyed the veranda, or porch, as we called it, as I could play out there rain or shine. The rooms were bigger than at the Olson place, and my mother was glad to have such room. The Barnes place adjoined the Olson place on the west, and it was only a little way across the field to their house, just over the hill.

In recalling events that year, (I would be three in December), what I remember best is the journey of my grandparents, who came by covered wagon from Billings, Oklahoma, where they had moved from the Buzzi place. My Aunt Clara died in June of 1911, leaving five children motherless. She died from typhoid fever when my cousin Roy was about three years old. My grandparents took Roy and raised him. I was almost four months older than him.

My grandfather took a notion to go to Arkansas, so they sold everything except what they could carry in a covered wagon, going to Blaine, Arkansas, where my great grandparents, James and Mary Jane Ford lived. Mrs. Ford was my grandmother’s mother. (By coincidence, my grandfather’s mother was Mary Ann Skipper, who lived in Illinois. The two Mary’s were confusing for a long time).

When they were on their way to Arkansas, they stopped by our house for a visit before going on. I was thrilled to be able to play with my cousin Roy and my Uncle Jesse, who was about eleven years old. My Uncle Harry had left the home to go out into the world and make his own way. He worked for the famous 101 Ranch for a while.

I now recall one of my most enjoyable memories. My grandmother had all her teeth pulled, and I was astonished to see her, because I had never seen anyone without teeth before.

“She can touch her chin to her nose” piped Roy, excitedly

“Oh, Grandma, please do it for me!” I pleaded excitedly

“Oh, no, I am too embarrassed!” replied Grandma, blushing

“Please, Grandma!” bagged Roy. “We won’t laugh at you”

“Are you sure?” asked Grandma

“We hastily assured her that it was the furthest thing from our minds “

“All right,” agreed Grandma, “I will do it, if you won’t laugh.”

As my mother looked on, we watched every move our Grandmother made. With a twinkle in her pretty blue eyes she drew in her mouth and pulled up her chin, touching her nose to her chin. We all laughed at the comical spectacle, just as she knew we would, for nobody could have helped laughing to save his life.

“Oh, Grandma, we can’t help it!” we all said, apologetically, going into gales of laughter again. “Please do it again.”

She did it several more times, to our great delight.

Finally, they were ready to go on to Arkansas and we bade them a very reluctant good-bye. How I longed to go with them!”

From Small Drops of Rain by Frances White

How I loved reading this and learning more about my great grandmother Sarah Catherine Bishop. Sarah did not have an easy life and for me to see that she had a sense of humor and could still laugh. Sarah Catherine was born on 12 August 1861 in Effingham, Illinois and died 15 July 1954 in Tonkawa, Oklahoma. At the time of Sarah’s death, nine of her 13 children had passed away. She married George Newton Skipper on 10 March 1878 in Effingham, Illinois.
George staked a claim of land in the Cherokee Strip Land Run, which he sold after a year.

As I read more of France’s memories I feel like I am getting to know my ancestors and the lives they lived.

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