|In the essay Maude's Youth, Martha Giles, the daughter of Maude, recounted the lives and times of the Ragsdale pioneer family
living in Hollis, Oklahoma Territory, from 1900 on. In this final essay, Martha tells about her mother and father's wedding.
Owen Mitchell Mead
One day, Papa Ragsdale told Maude that he was planning to sell chicken sandwiches in a
few days at a new land opening, just across the Texas border in its panhandle. It was just
a few miles from Hollis. The government was opening land for a new town to be named
Dodsonville, Texas. These types of land openings were very popular at that time.
Overnight, a tent city would develop where families filed claims for land. After claims
were filed, various entrepreneurs would start businesses needed for a town. Soon a
bank and land office, a drygoods store and hotel would be built. A few houses and a
church would be built for the business people’s families, and a town grew up almost
Papa Ragsdale planned to make a little money from selling chicken sandwiches and
lemonade in the new town of Dodsonville, so he asked Maude if she would help sell
these things at a stand that he would set up. It was an exciting idea for Maude who was
now about seventeen years old and quite a pretty young woman. There would be lots of
people there, lots of hungry people. So Maude busied herself in cooking chicken and
making them into sandwiches.
Papa, Buddy, and Floyd set up a makeshift stand with a counter, and painted a sign
overhead that advertised their sandwiches. Maude brought the sandwiches in several
picnic baskets and began making the lemonade in large glass jars. She placed several
glasses under the counter, to be ready for any customers coming by.
A train track already ran through the area, so the railroad agreed to stop at the new
location of Dodsonville and let off people who wished to file a claim. A fairly large crowd
began to gather rather quickly that day. They came by train or horseback or buggy, each
person lining up at the hastily constructed land office.
Owen Mitchell Mead and his dad, Bill Mead were two of those people interested in filing
a claim. They came in by train. As Bill and Owen stepped off the train, it was almost noon
and both were hungry. Owen spotted the chicken stand and suggested that they get
something to eat. Bill wanted to get in the claims line before it got any longer, so he
suggested that he get in line while Owen bought them a couple of sandwiches, and bring
them to Bill while he waited. Owen agreed and they wandered away to their destinations.
Owen was a cocky young man of twenty years. He had just returned from a trail drive all
the way from Colorado. He had done some cattle wrangling out there, but decided to
return to his family in Oklahoma. They lived a few miles from Hollis in a town named
Blair. Owen and his dad heard about the Dodsonville land claims, just across the border
from Oklahoma, and decided it would be a good opportunity for both of them to gain
some more free land. So, they took the train into the area.
|Not only was he dashing young man, but Owen
Mead lived a lot of Western history. He helped to
build Capitol High School in Oklahoma City,
drove on cattle trails, homesteaded, helped
build a dam by Hollis to control flooding, and
lived through the Great Depression on the
Owen Comes A'Courtin'
That day, Owen dressed in a black suit with a white pleated shirt and string tie. He topped off the ensemble with a black Boler hat, which
was quite fashionable at that time. He cocked the hat on the back of his head so that his beautiful black hair could be seen easily, which
was parted down the middle.
He wanted to look the part of a business man rather than a cowboy, but his swagger and tough demeanor gave him more of the look of a
dandy instead. Actually, he was quite a handsome young man with a firm jaw, full lips and green eyes set over a narrow nose. His
Cherokee mother gave him dark skin and Indian features, and his father’s English blood mixed with hers to produce a very handsome
As Owen walked toward the food stand where Maude stood, his heart skipped a beat. Before him was a tiny, beautiful young woman with
long brown hair swept up in the latest Gibson Girl hairdo. She wore a large bow on the back of her head. As Owen walked closer, he saw
that she had a tiny waist no bigger than his hat band. She wore a full, long skirt and a white blouse with full sleeves that waved gently in
the breeze. As he rounded the corner and she looked up into his face, he saw the sweetest face and green eyes he had ever seen.
She smiled, revealing a set of pearly white teeth, and said, “May I help you?” He was smitten. While his heart raced up into his mouth, he
quickly removed his hat and bowed to her. He straightened from his bow and stared into the pools of her green eyes. After a long pause,
he said, “Why, yes, ma’m,” gulping out the words.
Maude seemed somewhat struck, too. Standing before her was an incredibly handsome man, looking at her as if he had been hit by a
train. She blushed and quickly looked away, then stole another glance or two. They both stood in silence, he, gazing upon an angel, and
she, trembling with excitement. It was a long moment before either of them could find words to talk.
“W-would you like a chicken?----sandwich?” Long pause. “We are selling chicken sandwiches.” Long pause. “And lemonade.” She
“Why, yes. I’ll take a chicken sandwich---and a glass of lemonade, thank you.” His mouth was open. She hurriedly found a sandwich, put it
on a plate, and poured him a glass of lemonade. Her hands were trembling. She set it before him and smiled, then blushed. He bowed,
accepted the food, and put a silver dollar on the counter. He took a small bite of the sandwich, chewed it up quickly and said, “This is
delicious.” Actually, it was quite dry and he took a quick drink of the lemonade to wash it down.
He kept his eyes on her, smiling and said, “Did you make this? It’s very good!” She blushed again and shook her head in the affirmative.
Then a flood of words came out of her mouth. “My papa and I are selling chicken sandwiches today. He built this stand. I don’t know
where he went. My two brothers are with him. I don’t know where they went.” She looked around as if it were the most important thing in
the world to find him.
Owen recovered a little and took another small bite of the sandwich and a drink of lemonade, listening intently to every word she said.
“Permit me to introduce myself. My name is Owen Mead,” and he bowed again. She curtsied and managed another beautiful smile,
“Pleased to meet you.”
“Do you live around here?” he asked, hoping she would invite him to spend the rest of his life with her. “Why, yes, we live just outside of
Hollis. My name is Maude Ragsdale,” and she curtsied again and he bowed, smiling back at her.
Clearly, both of these two met, locked eyes and fell in love immediately. Neither could hardly breathe but they managed to carry on a
rather long conversation, being sure to know as much as possible about each other in a short time and where their homes were located.
Owen made sure he knew the way to Maude’s house before very many minutes passed. And he asked if he could see her again at her
home. She said she would have to ask her papa about that when he came back. They chatted and laughed and Owen ate two or three
After about a half hour, Owen heard someone clear his throat behind him, and he turned to see his father, looking a little disgruntled. “So,
here you are, still!” Bill said. “Oh, Dad! I forgo—I’m sorry. Did you file your claim already?” He nodded and removed his hat, looking at
“Excuse me, Miss Ragsdale. This is my father, Mr. Mead,” Owen said, blushing. Bill bowed and said, “How do you do?” Maude blushed
again and went through the exchange of introductions. They had no sooner met than Maude’s father appeared. She introduced her papa
to Mr. Mead and his son, Owen, and once again introductions were made all around, with Owen and Maude blushing and smiling at one
another. Papa Ragsdale asked Mr. Mead several questions about his claim, and they were soon discussing farming and their farms.
Maude and Owen were content to listen quietly while finding every opportunity to gaze at each other.
Mr. Mead ordered a chicken sandwich and Owen ordered another. They chatted politely for awhile. Mr. Ragsdale discovered that Bill was
also from the South, had been badly hurt by the Civil War, and they found another common bond for friendship. Time wore on and then Bill
reminded Owen that they needed to catch the incoming train back to Blair. As they were saying their goodbyes, Owen asked politely of Mr.
Ragsdale if he could come to see Maude. Papa was a little nonplussed but agreed to it after looking into his daughter’s face and seeing
her excitement over this young man. They waved goodbyes and parted.
|Bill's courtin' buggy. Now that's dating in style!
Not many days later, Owen showed up at Maude’s house in a hug-me-tight buggy. He brought her a bouquet of flowers he had cut from his
mother’s garden. He knocked on the door and was greeted by Mrs. Ragsdale. Owen removed his hat and bowed deeply. Then, he
introduced himself and asked if Maude was there. Inside the back rooms of the house, a lot of commotion was going on since they had
seen Owen approaching in his buggy from some distance. Mrs. Ragsdale invited Owen into the parlor and excused herself to find
Maude. In a few minutes, Maude appeared, somewhat breathless from having changed clothes in a very big hurry and brushed her hair
They sat together in the parlor while about six pairs of ears were listening intently behind the parlor door. Owen offered up the flowers
and chatted politely a few minutes before Maude retired to the kitchen to get a vase for the flowers. People scurried away quickly, behind
closed doors when Maude rose from the sofa in the parlor. In a few moments, Maude returned with the vase of flowers. They chatted a
bit longer and a knock at the parlor door was heard. Mrs. Ragsdale entered with two glasses of lemonade and a tray of cookies. Maude
and Bill ate politely and quietly drank their lemonade. After a short time, Owen asked if Maude would accompany him to church on Sunday
and she agreed. He said he hoped he would be able to meet the rest of the family at that time. Maude excused herself for a moment, then
returned and asked if Owen would join them for Sunday dinner after church. He agreed. Then he departed, bowing his way out of the
Sunday came and Owen reappeared in the same hug-me-tight buggy. He took Maude to church, met the family and returned with them for
Sunday dinner. Papa and Mama Ragsdale were rather quiet during the meal but Papa did manage to ask Owen several questions about his
family in Blair, what he did for a living, and a little of his history. The rest of the family ate in silence. Owen wanted to make a good
impression, so he was quite open about his travels to Colorado as a cowboy and his work on the trail drive. He also spoke of his family’s
farm in Blair, their crops, and his intention to begin farming in the near future and settle down. Owen threw in several compliments about
the rest of the girls in the family which made them all blush and giggle. Papa was not impressed.
The Ragsdales saw a lot of Owen in the next few weeks and it became very apparent that Owen was seriously courting Maude. In the
meantime, John Branum had heard all about this guy from out of town and he was rather disappointed in Maude. He had a few dates with
her but mostly between her dates with Owen. Buddy and Papa were not too fond of Owen since they had already decided Maude would
some day marry John. They were put off by some of his bragging ways and brashness. However, Owen was always the very essence of a
gentleman around Maude.
One night after Bill’s visit to see Maude, he started for his evening ride back to Blair and was confronted by Buddy, John Branum and
another friend of John’s. They asked Owen to stop his horse and talk to them a moment. Owen did so and stood before the three young
men. Buddy introduced John and his friend to Owen and Owen shook hands with John. John returned the handshake reluctantly. Then
Buddy broached the reason for their stopping Owen.
“Owen, Maude has known John most all of her life. John is very fond of Maudie and plans some day to marry her. I think that you have
unknowingly entered into Maude and John’s relationship without knowing how serious John is about Maude.” Owen looked at John for a
moment. Their eyes met and there was no friendliness between their looks.
“I beg to differ, Buddy. I know all about John since Maude has told me herself that she has dated John for a long time. However, she
didn’t say anything about any engagement.” Owen continued looking into John’s eyes. Then, John spoke.
“Well, I haven’t proposed to her yet but I intend to some time,” and he returned Owen’s look.
“I see,” Owen said. “Well, that is your business with Maude. However, Maude has always been receptive to seeing me. She hasn’t turned
me down for any dates we’ve had. I think very highly of Maude. If she tells me that she doesn’t want to see me any more, then I won’t see
her anymore. But until then ,I intend to keep seeing her.”
John looked grim. “Well, I don’t want you to see her anymore. I think you should stop seeing her—right now—from now on.” John
clinched his fists and stepped closer to Owen’s face. Owen returned the look but he softened. “Look. I don’t have any grudge against
you. I don’t even know you. But I do know Maude and I am going to see her anytime she will see me.” Owen stood his ground and looked
hard into John’s face.
With that, John said, “Well, we’ll see about that!” and he swung at Owen. Owen dodged John’s punch and hit John full in the face,
knocking him to the ground. At that, Buddy and John’s friend jumped on Owen and wrestled him to the ground. Owen was as strong as a
bull and he proceeded to fight off all three of the young men and knocked them all flying. When they had had enough, Owen, picked up
his hat, slammed it on his head and got onto his horse. He looked at them a moment, turned his horse and rode away, leaving them to look
after him in amazement.
John and Buddy and the friend didn’t bother Owen any more where it involved Maude. However, Buddy was very sour toward Owen from
that point on. And somehow, Papa and the rest of the family seemed to have gotten the word that Buddy and John were not too
successful in warding off Owen. They all took a rather dim view of Owen as well. Nevertheless, Owen persisted in dating Maude and
seeing her often. Maude made it clear to her sisters and brothers and her parents that she was in love with Owen, and that nothing was
going to stop her from seeing him—not John Branum, not Buddy, not Papa, not anyone.
As the months wore on, it became more and more apparent that Owen and Maude were deeply in love and intended to marry. Papa was
still opposed to the idea since Owen had no means of supporting Maude. The rest of the family had gotten used to seeing Owen at their
house and decided it was pointless to oppose Maude in her intentions to marry Owen. Only Papa stood his ground with Maude, pointing
out to her that Owen seemed to be penniless. He was wasting his breath on Maude.
Just four years after Oklahoma had been declared a state, Maude married Owen. On September 24, 1911, on a warm, windy day, the
wedding took place at Maude’s home. The family gathered inside except for Papa, who was so angry at Maude that he refused to give her
away. He sat on the front porch and sulked as the family members prepared for the wedding.
Meanwhile, Owen had to drive from Blair and was late in getting started. He gave the horse a good smack of the whip and the buggy fired
off in high speed. The horse seemed as nervous as Owen and before long, he was in full gallop and out of control. Owen was a good
horseman, but not today. He had to wrestle hard to get the horse to stop. By the time he did, he was sweaty and dirty and decided to turn
around and go back to his house to change clothes. This made him even more late.
At Maude’s, things were tense enough already what with Papa sulking on the porch and Buddy being hesitant to give away his sister. As
the clock ticked by, it seemed to slow everyone down to slow motion. Maude’s flowers were beginning to wilt and so was she. The house
became more and more subdued. Buddy stood on the front porch with Papa, gazing down the road in search of a sign of Owen. All the
sisters gathered into Maude’s room and tried to console her. “He’ll be here, Maudie. You know he will,” said Lillie. Tears welled up into
Maude’s eyes. “I just know something has happened,” she wailed.
Viola commanded all the girls to go into the parlor and play some music for the guests while they waited and watched for Owen. Maude
began to cry softly. Viola fussed over Maude’s dress and finally turned to Maude, taking her chin in Viola’s hand. “Listen to me, girl. He
will be here and you will marry this man. We don’t know much about him and his ways, but he will be your husband and we will accept him
as yours. He will be a new part of our family—you and he together. He will be here soon,” she smiled into Maude’s eyes and put her arms
around Maude, being careful not to crush her beautiful dress. As if to prove her point, Buddy knocked softly and entered the room. “I see
Owen coming down the road.” He kissed Maude lightly on the cheek. “You best get ready.”
|Maude and Owen lookin' good!
|Mead family photo. Owen is standing, second on the left.
|Owen Mead had a hand in building the Capitol Highs School in Oklahoma City and a dam near Hollis.
(Did these jokers put a rag on the seated man's head? Did he know about it???)
|Paucaunle School in Indian Territory, where Owen went to school.
Owen's Coming After All!
Maude quickly brushed away her tears and began straightening herself for the proudest moment in her life. She was barely eighteen
years of age, but she was ready to be a wife. She heard Lily and Nettie playing on their guitars and singing in the next room, while Maggie,
now married herself, helped Maude with her veil. Viola helped little Gracie with the flowers she was to carry before Maude. When all was
ready, Maggie and Viola kissed Maude and excused themselves from the room. Maggie would be Maude’s matron of honor. She helped
little Gracie out the door with the flowers and disappeared.
A few moments later, Buddy knocked and appeared again. “Are you ready?” he smiled. She nodded and he kissed her again. “Listen,
Maudie. You know you are my sis and I would do anything for you. I’m giving you away today because you asked me to take Papa’s place.
You have to understand Papa’s strong belief.” Maude turned her face away as if to say she didn’t want to hear any more about Papa’s bull
headedness. Buddy continued, “All right. I won’t argue with you anymore, but if you ever need me, you know I’ll be at your side on a
moment’s notice.” He looked down into his sister’s eyes that were now smiling up at him.
“Thanks, Buddy. I love you!” she said softly.
Buddy held out his arm and Maude placed her arm in his. He opened the door and they walked into the parlor together. Owen stood in
front of a large basket of flowers that served as the place where they would take their vows. He looked very nervous but smiled widely
when he saw Maude.
The minister stood next to Owen and Owen’s brother, Mack, his best man. Maggie stood alone on the other side of the flowers. They took
their vows quietly and turned to greet the family and guests. Owen lifted Maude’s veil and kissed her lightly. Everyone applauded. They
formed a line of greeting then and shook hands or hugged all the guests. After a short visit with friends and family, wedding cake and
drinks, Maude excused herself to the next room and changed into traveling clothes. The guests, in the meantime gathered outside while
Owen readied the horse and buggy. Someone had decorated the buggy with flowers and tin cans tied to the back.
Owen went back inside the house and retrieved Maude who was now ready to leave. They hugged all the family members goodbye
(except Papa) and opened the front door to a shower of rice and flowers. They hopped in their buggy and headed for their new home a
few miles away.
That night, Owen and Maude heard horses galloping up into the front yard and a lot of whooping and hollering going on. Owen opened
the door and was met by a whole horde of his friends who were all a little tipsy. “Owen! You are about to be shiveried!” They grabbed
Owen, threw him into a wheel barrel and tied him down. Owen could have easily fought them off but he let them have their fun with him.
They wheeled him down the road for almost a mile before they let him go. In the meantime, some of the girls in the group had invaded the
house and forced Maude to put her hair up in rags and covered her face with cold cream.
Owen had to walk all the way back home while the boys rode their horses round and round him and taunted him with provocative
questions and gags. “Hey, Owen, whatcha’ gonna do tonight? Hmmm? Ha ha ha! Hey, Owen, how about goin’ in to town with us for a
drink or two, huh? Ha ha ha ha!” When Owen got back to the house, the boys and girls that had taunted him and Maude decided that they
had been mean enough. Maude and Owen gave them some of their leftover wedding cake and they all sang songs with them for another
half hour before departing in a happy mood.
The wedding was over and honeymoon begun. Maude was very happy except for her Papa’s behavior. She decided that he would get
over it and that he would eventually accept her new husband. She had a new man in her life now and she was sublimely happy.
by Martha Giles