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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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