This is not the picture referred to in the letter below. It is however Mrs. Goodenough in the center, and taken about the same time.
MUSEUM MEMORIES - Published in Clay Co. Leader, June 17 & 24, 2004- submitted by Lucille Glasgow
The following is a copy of a letter to Arthur Slagle, June 1962, from Mrs. Ethel Goodneough Kelley, his eighth grade teacher in Henrietta HS in 1901-2. Evidently he had sent a photograph to her for identification.
“Well, the picture surely brought back many forgotten memories! The camp site was in Indian Territory, I think August 1901.
“Yes, I was drinking coffee, not from a bucket but a large tin cup. Luther Kelley was next, then Buela Wright (a cousin of Harve Cook, she taught in our school and took my place in the fifth grade when I was demoted to that notorious eighth.)
“The man beside her is Deb Squires, who worked in the P.O. and was very much in love with her. She, however, married the Presbyterian preacher’s son, I forget his name now. Next with her back turned was Gert Kelley (Mrs. Lon), then two women, one of whom was Miss Lura Brown, better known as Miss Teet Brown. And I think the other is her mother. Louis Johnson, our principal and a friend of Miss Teet’s, was to be in the party, but was prevented for some reason.
“Lon Kelley took the picture and many others. Lon was very good with a camera; he had spent several years over there with the Indians taking pictures. He had some kind of vehicle which he lived in and was all over that country-he had a wonderful collection of negatives. Later Alice Snearly, Lon’s sister-in-law, had a small studio in some small town over there, the other side of Red River, and Lon came back to Henrietta. That was before I knew him.
“Deb rigged up the party, I think to further his courtship of Miss Buela. The time I think must have been July or August, 1901. Luther and I had just become engaged. That I remember very distinctly because I didn’t want to wear my engagement ring, so I wore it on a chain around my neck and under my blouse, out of sight.
“I don’t remember the start of our journey but I think we forded Red River about where Byers is now-there were no bridges or roads. We had four horses along - 2 hitched to the prairie schooner and two tied on behind for reserves - we made it across the river but got stuck in the sand on the other side and had to add the reserve team to pull us out, while we all waded through the sand over our high-buttoned shoes.
“We finally got out of the river bed ,which was quite wide, and up on the higher ground. There was some kind of a trail through the brush to where we thought we were going, which was the camp of a squaw man whom Deb knew named La Barrie, but we missed our direction and got lost. We decided to camp for the night in a small log hut we had come upon. The men tried to clean it out. They gathered grass and small leafy branches and spread on the dirt (dirty) floor, with sugans and bedding we had brought on top. Soon we were all fast asleep, too tired to care.
“Sometime in the night I awoke, hearing something, but what? I listened and heard it again. I woke Gert and whispered to her to wake Lon, that I had heard voices! She said I was dreaming, but I insisted, so she did. Lon woke the others and we waited, but not long - a guttural voice in the doorway ordered us out with our hands up! It was a band of about twenty Indians, armed and led by a halfbreed who spoke a little English. Deb, who was red-headed, freckled and fat, talked for us. And he, as he said afterwards, put up the spiel of his life. While we all stood in a row with our hands above our heads under the very dim light of a very smoky lantern.
“It was quite gruesome, but the breed turned out to be La Barrie’s son-in-law and Deb convinced him we were harmless visitors to La Barrie’s camp who were lost. He offered to take us the camp in the morning, so he and another buck bedded down outside our hut while we tried to get a bit of sleep amongst the bedbugs, ticks and mosquitoes with which the hut was infested.
“Next morning we reached the camp and were received kindly by La Barrie and his wife. She was a very black Cherokee Indian with a deeply pock-marked face - the ugliest woman I ever saw. She had no English but tried to make us welcome, offering food, etc. and a shack in their camp. It was dirtier than the filthy hut we had just left so we declined, with thanks, and pitched our camp a mile or so away.
“The reason for our near assassination was that a band of cutthroat whites had been raiding the Indian camps when they knew the bucks were away on a hunt. They carried off everything movable and destroyed the rest, leaving a camp gutted. The army at Ft. Sill and the U.S. marshals did nothing so the Indians decided to take the law in their own hands. The fact we had no saddle horses and the wagon, which they examined, carried no incriminating evidence, really saved us, I guess.
“But how La Barrie, a very blond white man, blue eyed with a shock of yellow hair, could live in such squalor and filth is beyond understanding, but he proudly exhibited his twelve children. (They were of all shades, from almost black like the mother, to a light tan, all with black eyes though and dark hair, the oldest a grown son, the youngest a babe in arms. La Barrie explained to us the government gave him and his wife so much land and then one-fourth section for each child. You could see he hadn’t lost much time acquiring a large piece of land. In a small clearing were all kinds of farm machinery given them on allotment by the government. It just sat there and rusted, never used. They got stock and cattle and food free so why work a farm? You can figure the millions wasted if you care to.
Well, how we endured all this for a week I can’t see now. Luther and Deb carried the water and hewed the wood and kept the camp clean. They did a little hunting and Lon fished. Also he cooked and he was a good chuck wagon cook, believe me. His dutch oven biscuits were out of this world - fried fish and rabbit too.
“La Barrie insisted we eat a meal with them - we couldn’t refuse. They killed and dressed the chickens after we arrived - dressed them, after a fashion - on one end of the table on which we ate amid feathers and blood stains. The table, by the way, was three long 1 x 12's nailed up between two saplings. Entrails, etc., were thrown on the ground and taken care of by the dogs and the children, I guess, together with food scraps and bones. They opened a few cans of tomatoes, set the cans on the table. I tell you we were a sick bunch. They had a few tin pans which they gave us but the Indians, the men and boys, squatted on the ground with their hands full. We whites ate canned tomatoes and to this day the sight of a can of tomatoes brings back that gory scene!
“One morning Amelia, one of La Barrie’s daughters, a light skinned one, rode over leading a pony. She had heard that I liked horses, so she came to take me riding. She had on leather leggings and a kind of cotton jacket. I said, ‘No,’ and pointed down to my long skirt, which just did fail to hit the ground! ‘No can,’ I said. She understood, laughed, gestured, tied my pony and rode off. Soon she was back with a pair of leather chaps, or what have you, for me. Well, I found a thicket, stepped out of my dress skirt and 2 under petticoats, donned the Indian garb, mounted, sans bridle, sans saddle or blanket or surcingle, and away we went, Luther protesting loudly that I should not go, that it was too dangerous.
“It was a wonderful ride! I learned how these Indians controlled the ponies, which were all well trained. There was a rope or lariat, no bit, and with the voice and knees the pony learned to obey. Then it was more or less a matter of ‘follow the leader.’ My pony followed my guide’s, and adjusted his speed accordingly , to my amazement, for you may be sure I felt queer riding a horse without a bridle and bit to control him. We rode many miles, bridle paths she seemed to know, along creeks and through timber and she told me about places and things and happenings. She had only a few words of English but many gestures, and somehow I understood much of what she said.
“Arthur, it was a unique experience to slip back into the primitive so easily and to feel at home in it as I did. The camp had gotten quite excited by the time we got back, especially Luther (her fiancé), who could not understand any civilized human enjoying such an experience.
“By the time we were ready to leave we were a sorry looking bunch. We were bitten by every kind of insect, ticks, bedbugs (in the first hut), mosquitoes and gnats everywhere, ants and chiggers, the last of which were the most embarrassing , for in that knighted age no woman was supposed to have legs, much less expose them to public gaze. Chiggers, as you know, start from the ground up, digging in as they go until the itching is unbearable. We would endure as long as possible and then make a break for the brush, find a thick clump, pull up our long skirts, pull down our long thick black stockings and start scratching!!! My-oh, my!
“We had brought along lotions which didn’t work and then took to greasing our high-top button shoes with bacon grease. Buela swiped a pad of bacon rinds and tied them under her stockings. She was a pale blonde and really did suffer. She was burned by the sun and her nose, which was rather long, was one big blister. She cried nearly all the way back to Henrietta. ‘How can I go to church tomorrow,’ she wailed. ‘What will my Sunday School class say? Deb, you got me into this. I’ll never listen to you again.’ And I guess she didn’t, for she married another man.
“I was more fortunate than the other women, because I had made a dress to wear out of a heavy dark blue duck; the others wore light thin lawn dresses which were soon in rags. It was pathetic. Mine was hot but I came back whole.
“Somewhere around where Hurnville is, I guess, we kept meeting traffic, all kinds of rigs, going at a dizzy speed for them days - strangers. Then came Billy Myers, whom we knew. We stopped him and Deb said, ‘Billy, who are all these people and where in h— are they going? Is some one dead or killed or what?’ Billy reined in his sweating team and yelled, “We struck oil out here. I ain’t got time to stop. Gotta get me some leases.’ And away he went. In the twinkling of an eye, our woes had vanished. Gone were all our rags and tatters, our many, many bites and blisters, the heat, the sweat, the grime and dirt of a dusty road - yes, all discomforts were forgotten, each saw himself benefitting by this wonderful thing that had happened, each saw a rosy future waiting just around the corner! And so we came home in a blaze of glory. Even Buela had ceased weeping about what her Sunday School class might think.
“As far as I know now, no one’s expectations were ever realized - at least ours were not - but hope, anticipation of good to come gives one a wonderful lift, a pick-up that really does build up strong defense against all the unexpected ills that beset us.
“Life to me has never been dull. And while I have never experienced any ‘flowing tide that led on to fame or fortune’ I have never been bored and am not even now, with all my handicaps of failing sight and faltering steps. -Ethel R. Kelley”
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