|In this interesting account on the history of the Oklahoma pioneer family Stubblefield, Dustin Ward includes tidbits about life on the
prairie. These sections do not need to be read in conjunction with the pioneer story, but for great background, make sure to read
Parts I, II, III, and IV!
Edna Stubblefield attended Hagy school, a little one-room schoolhouse in a locust grove down the hill northeast of the farm. I did some
Internet searches for information on Hagy school and found this on a real interesting website on Cloud Chief at members.aol.
“In 1893 Edmonia Jordan traveled by wagon from Chickasha to seven miles south of Cloud Chief where her husband managed a store at
what was known as Hagy, owned by Captain Pleasant S. Hagy. Mrs. Jordan taught school the greater part of 37 years. Her first term of
school was taught in an old shack with no floor and with slabs of cottonwood with pegs for supports used as seats.”
Well, 7 miles south of Cloud Chief is about the location of the Oak Creek Farm (more like 8 really.) I wonder if the Hagy store referred to
above later became Hagy school. And I wonder if Edmonia Jordan could have been Edna’s teacher at one time. Unfortunately, I couldn’t
find any other references to Hagy, except this short blurb in a Cloud Chief newspaper dated Dec. 30, 1904. “Perry Evans, who is inclining
the twig at the Hagy school, spent Christmas at home.” Whatever that means.
Glenn Ward said the first school wagons were horse-drawn but none of the brothers ever drove those, though they rode to school in
them. He was the first to drive a school wagon, but by then they'd progressed some. They hooked the old horse-drawn wagons to a
Model T chassis. When you were assigned a school wagon you took it home with you and were responsible for it. In the winter they'd
have to drain the water out of the radiator every night, and fill it every morning before taking it on the bus route (no anti-freeze back
then). He said the Model T’s were crank-started, and if they would not start you’d have to jack up a back wheel, crank it some more, and
then it would usually start.
The Model T’s had two levers on the dash, one for spark advance and the other for gas. You could get to top speed, about 30 mph, by
"pulling the ears together," or advancing both levers until they touched. There were four coils on the floorboard and sometimes one
would stick and they'd have to stop and "flip the coil" so the engine would run smooth again.
The next big advance was the Model A school bus, a real bus with the wagon built on at the factory. He said they felt like they were riding
in style when those came out.
I asked if he ever broke down on his route and he said no, but he got it stuck once after a rain and had to hike to get a farmer to pull them
out. He said no one minded being late for school, though. He remembers him and Uncle Jack as school wagon drivers, and said others
probably drove too but he couldn't remember who they were. He said it was a "big deal" being a school wagon driver, and part of the job
was keeping the other kids in line. Bet he liked that.
Joe: From Uncle Stan’s perspective, all of the brothers got their turn at driving a school bus, and therefore inherited, in turn, a legacy of
high weekly gasoline consumption. Evidently an older brother got started with siphoning some gas for personal weekend recreational
use and the following driver/brothers had to continue the procedure. They way he told it, had Superintendent Gore found out that the
weekly consumption had been 20 gallons less than usually reported and the route hadn’t changed for several years, the repercussions
wouldn’t have been funny. It was fun while they were doing it though, I am sure.
Growing up on the Farm
Glenn Ward recalls: “As I grew up all farm power was supplied by horses and mules. Since I was the oldest boy, my dad had me doing a
man’s work at 10 years of age. Later the two boys next to me (Jack and Tink) joined the power crew and we had our own teams to harness,
hitch, and pull a farm implement. It took the earning power of all thirteen of us to survive and obtain the necessities of life.
However, it was not all work. Our dad was not a “churchy” person but he did not believe we should work on Sunday. Mom was a devout
Methodist and took the brood to church and Sunday school with our penny donations almost every Sunday. So we had one whole half day
to play. We older boys had a horse to ride and usually met with the neighbor boys to play cowboys and Indians or in the summer rode to a
swimming hole or used Oak Creek. A fun, but a bit dangerous game, was corncob fights. Small fry played stick horse, cob horse, or any
other innovation with homemade toys.
Boys wore overalls and girls wore homemade gingham dresses as everyday attire. Mom and the girls, using the old Singer foot pedal
sewing machine, made most of our clothes. Dress clothes for the boys consisted of shirts (made by mom) and knickers (we called them
knee pants). When I was about 14, styles were changing and I got to wear my first long pants. About the same time I suffered my first love
and thereafter became addicted to girlfriends. By today’s standards we lived in poverty. However, a majority of families in our country
neighborhood were in the same boat, so we didn’t recognize another way of life.
Our mom always cultivated a bountiful vegetable garden and canned at least 500 quarts each year. We had chickens and eggs to eat, milk
to drink, and native greens like poke and lamb’s quarter to gather for our summer diet. Dad always butchered 8-10 hogs for winter meat.
He had corn ground for meal and wheat ground for flour thus we almost totally lived from the production of our own land. On rare
occasions beef peddlers came out in wagons and mom would pick some out for us.
When I was a boy there was abundant grass, enough to keep ten or twelve horses, two to four ponies, a whole pasture of hogs, and ten to
twelve cows. All that changed with the great drought and Dust Bowl, though. The native grasses died out and never came back, and now
there’s not enough grass to support half that. If we wanted ice we had to haul 50 lb. blocks from Gotebo. Otherwise we kept things cool by
running well water through a trough in the smokehouse.
Overalls for boys and gingham dresses for girls cost $1.00, shoes $2-5.00, gasoline for our first automobile, a 1918 Dodge, was 16-18 cents
per gallon, fountain cokes 5 cents, bread 15 cents, and a penny bought two banana caramels. Some years were lean and cash almost
unavailable but I don’t remember being hungry other than between meals.
My three sisters and myself arrived our first day of school (Lake Valley) in a school wagon drawn by horses or mules, whichever was the
team of the day. By 1920 school transportation modernized, the school wagon beds were placed on Model T Ford chassis and we rode in
style. There was no heater on those busses, though, and I can remember times when it got so cold we would all stomp our feet to keep
We had a different school schedule than city kids. We would go to school in July and August and let out in October and November to pick
cotton. At cotton harvest time every member of the family slaved daylight to dark to get the crop to market. I always liked to be the one to
take a load of cotton to town. Gotebo had two cotton gins back then. There would always be six or eight wagons ahead of me and I would
have to wait my turn. I got out of a whole day of picking cotton that way. One year we got 100 bales.
All eleven of us began our primary education at Lake Valley and graduated from high school there. Even though dad didn’t have much
education, he insisted we kids did. We always took our lunch from home packed in a paper sack or molasses bucket. The school had no
running water and the students used boys’ or girls’ outhouses at each end of the school.
It was a smokehouse in name only. No meat was ever smoked in there. (Like Uncle Pug said, the only thing that was ever smoked in there
was tobacco.) In the early days meat from butchered hogs was stored there, though. It was packed into troughs and layered with salt.
By the time we kids came along it was used as an additional bedroom and for general storage. We boys used to love to play there because
it was apart from the main house and away from the supervision of our aunts and uncles. It was like our own clubhouse or something.
There was a makeshift closet on the west wall that had some of our uncle’s military uniforms hanging in it. Above it was a shelf jammed with
the neatest stuff to young boys. I remember a sword and a bayonet, a gas mask, some web belts and garrison caps and sailor hats and
maybe a helmet or two. For a while Enda kept her dress dummy in the smokehouse. It ended up with a few bayonet holes in it, courtesy of
Joe and Jay.
I remember either Nub’s or Punkin’s or maybe both their names carved onto the windowsill next to the bed. Of course we younger boys
had to carve our names there too. We were always looking for an excuse to use our pocketknives anyway. That windowsill disappeared
with one of the later renovations.
There was a “shower” in the southeast corner (a water hose routed into a can with holes punched in the bottom). One day when Ken, Joe,
and I came back from making mud slides on Oak Creek, Uncle Jack took one look at us and herded us straight to that shower before we
could come back in the house.
Reminisces of the Two-Holer
Ken: Speaking of corncobs, I will always remember the first time that I was escorted to the two-holer behind the chicken shed by Aunt
Goob. There was indeed a large pile of corncobs to one side out front, but Goob brought a roll of the modern stuff along. She gave me
“the drill” and waited outside with the door cracked while I did my business.
It was real scary for a little kid - a big DEEP hole with a sight at the bottom that only some of us can remember. The scary part was the
diameter of that hole - appearing big enough to let a little kid drop right through - and the thought that a giant black widow spider would
start strolling across my cheeks whilst I was perched precariously. I do recall a Sears catalog and another (torn) mail-order farm supply
catalog hanging somehow in the old two-holer; but, of course the Sears one migrated back inside when the “new” house was built.
Dustin: I remember that two-holer. The holes were huge to a kid, but they were worn smooth so you wouldn’t have to worry about splinters.
And I remember what it looked like down in the “pit.” And I remember wind whistling past while you were doing your business, and thinking
about how utterly exposed you were to snakes and spiders and whatever else you could imagine.
My dad built that two-holer onto the end of the chicken house right before the war. He built it out of scrap lumber and took a lot of ribbing
from his brothers for its rough appearance. They called it his “masterpiece.” (Dad has always been more concerned with function than
appearance.) Nub: Ken, Dusty. You are both right about the two-holer. The Black Widows were real, healthy and bold. I never saw a snake
or scorpion but I knew they were down there, giants with fangs gleaming.
And the sounds. . . . It was OK if you were with someone. But if you were there alone, night or day, there were sounds. They came from
everywhere. Down below of course, but mostly from the chicken house next door. Scratching and rustling, squawks and clucking. There
were sudden explosions of sounds when the entire building would seem to shake and dust would fly. Sometimes you might be brave
enough to barely open the door a crack and peek around. Usually you just sat there and didn’t twitch until the sound stopped and it was
safe to fling open the door and run the first two or three steps then stroll bravely back to safety.
And the smells. . . . . There were the obvious, of course. Nothing good could live in those gasses, but there were things there, moving. . . .
And the fear of dropping something important down there. Or of just letting something important dangle. You had to hike your overall
straps and shirttails well above bare skin while you lowered your hind parts into the action zone. But maybe your pocket knife might slip out
and fall. What would you do? And the cold!
Tim: I remember the outhouse faintly. I also seem to remember that I got constipated whenever I visited the farm for some strange reason.
My recollection of my first exposure to the thing was Dad taking me to it and I was small enough at the time that I had to perch on the edge.
I wasn’t as scared of what was down there as I was scared of falling in.
|Dustin Ward found his grandparents' stove at the site of their house fire.
|Know Your History!
The Stubblefield family's homesteading in Oklahoma Territory was advocated by railroads and expansionists, who saw riches
and opportunity to be had in what used to be designated as the new Indian homelands. Farmers should not be blamed for the
take-over of Indian Territory. The settlers were comprised of people wanting to live the old rural lifestyle of their ancestors, and
with most of America settled and industrialized, Oklahoma proved their last chance to live the way they wanted. But speculators
and bankers forced many into tenancy in order for farmers just to break even - or less- on the world market. What followed for
most Oklahoma farmers was the mass exodus of the 1930s.
|The Lake Valley School. (Dustin Ward)
|A two-holer at Centerpoint, a ghost town near Henrietta, Texas.
|Old school bus in a field close to Gotebo. Note the cowboys in the background! (RRH)
|Storm shelters are necessary on the Plains. (Dustin Ward)
|Oklahoma Territory, Part V
by Dustin Ward