Where They Met

FLOYD AND MAE – AT THE TRAIN STATION

Sometime around 1920, my granddad, Sam Pershall, moved his grocery store across the Arkansas River from Blackburn in Pawnee County to Hominy in Osage County.  Working with him were his sister, Dell, and two of his sons, Floyd and Roscoe. 

One day in 1924, Mr. Ollie Speaks rushed into the store with a call for help.  He needed someone to meet one of his teachers who was arriving at the train station and take her to the teacherage at the Mound Valley School.  Mr. Speaks had other urgent business and Miss Otwell was depending on her principal for transportation. The school was a few miles northwest of town in the oil country.  The teacherage was where the single lady teachers lived.  Without any encouragement, Floyd volunteered for the task.

All eight of Sam’s children had gone to school to Mr. Speaks in Blackburn.  All of the Pershalls liked and respected Mr. Speaks and would be willing to help him at any time.  I don’t think that Mr. Speaks was very happy when Floyd left school in the tenth grade to work in the oil field for $5.00 a day even though that much money was not to be sneezed at.

The lucky lady was Mae Otwell arriving from her hometown of Snyder, Oklahoma, about 200 miles from Hominy.  She had finished two years of college at Cincinnati University and Oklahoma A & M.  This entitled her to a lifetime teaching certificate to teach in Oklahoma.  Back in Snyder it was said that Mae Otwell received an unbelievable salary for teaching in the isolated oil patch.

Mae and Floyd sitting on the porch of the teacherage at Mound Valley School where Mae taught and lived.

Mae and Floyd sitting on the porch of the teacherage at Mound Valley School where Mae taught and lived.

The love bug must have hit hard and fast.  The relationship flourished and they were married on Sunday, March 8, 1925 in the living room of her parents’ home in Snyder.  Her uncle and aunt, John and Mary Otwell, were the witnesses.  The newlyweds left immediately on the train to Hominy.  I wonder who met them at the station.  Perhaps it was Ollie Speaks.

Love is something that is hard to understand.  I would not been surprised if the Mae I knew would have spent her life as an old maid schoolteacher.  Her moral and ethical standards were unapproachable.  I never believed that she even liked men.  Floyd did not equal her in speech, education, drive or ambition.

But the important things Floyd had were good looks and charm.  He liked everybody and everybody liked him.  Also, he must have been somewhat dashing.  When Mae would get perturbed with him, she would shout, “You should have married that Indian girl.”  It seems that one of the Osage young ladies announced her engagement to Floyd in the Hominy newspaper.  I often wonder how he got that situation resolved.

Seventeen months latter, their son, James, was born. In 1930, they moved 10 miles away to Wynona where in 1934 a daughter, Alice Melinda, was born.  In 1935, the family moved to Mae’s hometown, Snyder, where they remained the rest of their lives.  

A photo from my baby book. My mother's notation indicates I was 8 months old.

A photo from my baby book. My mother’s notation indicates I was 8 months old.

SAM AND LINNIE – DOWN THE LANE

When Samuel Arthur Pershall was sixteen, he moved by horse and wagon from Kansas into the Oklahoma Territory with his family in the Land Rush of 1893.  They settled in the community of Blackburn across the Arkansas River from the Osage Reservation.  There the family farmed and operated a general store.  Many of the Osage tribe would cross the river to trade with them.  They particularly liked for Sam to wait on them since he had learned some of their language.  One couple named their son after him – Sam Pershall Kiheekanashi.

When she was a teenager, Melinda Ellen Kircher left her parents in Manhattan, Kansas and moved with her aunt, Auntie Kinear, to Blackburn.  She fled from her family because of her overbearing and abusive father.

Sometime after Linnie’s arrival in Blackburn, she was working among the flowers in her aunt’s yard and noticed a few cows coming down the lane in front of the house.  Her attention immediately turned to the handsome young man herding the cattle.  As soon as Sam Pershall noticed the pretty girl, he stopped and flirted a while and the cattle stopped and grazed.  He and the cattle had a great afternoon.

Thereafter, Sam made daily trips to visit Linnie without the cattle.  Besides being very pretty, Linnie had a clever, engaging personality that completely captivated him.  Obviously Sam swept Linnie off her feet because they were married within a few months.

They had five boys and three girls.  The second child was Floyd Alba, my father.  Thirty -three years after their marriage, Sam died.  Linnie lived an additional thirty- six years, most of which were in Pawnee among a loving family especially two daughters and grandchildren.

Linnie and Sam are in the upper left corner. My mother and father are in the upper right. The adults in the center are my father's brother and his wife, Roscoe and Cassie. The children are my father's sisters, Vera, Viola (Vi) and Mildred (who I affectionately called Auntie Go-Go). I'm the little boy in the picture and the remaining girl is my first cousin, Bettie Sue, Roscoe and Cassie's daughter.

Linnie and Sam are in the upper left corner. My mother and father are in the upper right. The adults in the center are my father’s brother and his wife, Roscoe and Cassie. The children are my Linnie and Sam’s daughters Vera, Viola (Vi) and Mildred (who I affectionately called Auntie Go-Go). I’m the little boy in the picture and the remaining girl is my first cousin, Bettie Sue, Roscoe and Cassie’s daughter.

Linnie's and Sam's adult children, except for the oldest who had died as a young adult. My father, Floyd Pershall, is on the far left.

Linnie’s and Sam’s adult children, except for the oldest who had died as a young adult. My father, Floyd Pershall, is on the far left.

JIM AND ALICE AT A COUNTRY DANCE

James Monroe Otwell was one of nine children living with his family near Heflin, Alabama.  The family was a devout Methodist family.  The Methodist Circuit Rider would hold services in their home when he was in the area.

Life was very difficult in the South after the Civil War in the reconstruction days.  Jim joined the many who fled to the West trying to survive.  He found his way to a cousin living in De Leon, Texas.  The fun and entertainment at that time was found at country dances.  Jim wandered into one of these dances where he met Miss Alice Lindsey and he was overwhelmed by her beauty and charm.

Alice lived on a farm close to the community of Sidney.  When she was five years old, her mother, Martha Adams Lindsey, died leaving four daughters and one son to be reared by their father, Jim and his bachelor brother, Bill.

Alice was immediately bowed over by Jim’s good looks and southern charm.  He knew that he could no longer live without this gorgeous, Texas charmer.  The courtship did not last very long and they were married in her Baptist Church in Sydney.

Soon after the wedding, they boarded a train to take them to the promised land in the Indian Territory.  They disembarked in the station in Quanah where Jim bought a horse and rig which held all of their possessions and off they were to Altus across the Red River into the Indian Territory.  Their first child, Robert Flurnoy was born in Altus.  Not finding his fortune there, they soon moved to the small town of Mountain Park about thirty miles away.  There, their second child, Mae, was born.

Shortly thereafter, the railroad company formed a new town located three miles from Mountain Park where two tracks intersected and named it after the stationmaster – Snyder.  Jim opened a real estate office in a boxcar at the new train station and helped lay out the town.  When their home was built, the family moved to Snyder.  Two more children were born there – Allis and James Jay.

Snyder, Oklahoma, in 1903

Snyder, Oklahoma, in 1903

Jim’s real estate and insurance business flourished and soon he also went into farming and the family lived comfortably.  A serious hitch appeared when he lost his eyesight when he was thirty-three years old.  He acquired a partner and continued the business.

Jim was buried the day before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Alice continued the operation of the farms from her living room until she joined him in the Fairlawn Cemetery near Snyder seventeen years later.  Along side them are Floyd and Mae and there are two vacant plots by them with headstones marked Jim and Jean. 

Jim Pershall

November 2010

 

POST SCRIPT:

Alice’s mother’s father, whose name was John Quincy Adams claimed to be a cousin to President John Quincy Adams.  This John Quincy Adams arrived in the US through the Galveston Port of Entry.  She also had a cousin. Benjamin Barr Lindsey who was a judge in Denver.  Judge Lindsey was the first to set up a special court for delinquent and dependent children.  Perhaps the reason she never spoke of him was that he advocated people living together before marriage.