Memory recalls he told stories about working as a cowboy on cattle drives from Texas to Kansas. He used to sing some of the old-old cowboy songs. He spent some years around the Halstead, Kansas area. There is an autograph book from friends there dated 1888 and also unidentified pictures from that area. He was friends with the Cutter family from that area and who later came to Oklahoma. On 17 October 1889, he married Sarah Elizabeth Cutter in Halstead, Harvey County, Kansas.
When the Cherokee Outlet in Indian Territory was to be opened for settlement he came to Oklahoma and on 16 September 1893, made the Great Land Run, riding a mule. He staked a claim to a quarter section of land 2½ miles east of Douglas, OK. He built a sod dugout to live in and later added a second room to make a two room dugout with two separate entrances. He farmed, raising mostly wheat ,and raised most of the food for his family. He also sold cars around 1915 and later was in the dairy and grocery businesses.
He built a frame house and barn, could have been in 1899 because there is a large lumber receipt for that year. There were two children born around this time and were buried under the chinaberry trees northeast of the house. Thirteen years after his marriage to Sarah, a daughter, Ethel, was born in 1902 and in 1905 Blanche was born. Seven days later Sarah died due to complications from childbirth and is buried in the Covington Cemetery. The ladies in the Cutter families helped Joe care for his two little girls but he had them with him as much as possible.
He met Dora Piper at church and on 16 May 1906 and they were married in her parents home in Douglas, Garfield County, Ok., and she raised the two little girls as her own. Dora was the daughter of John Piper and Josephine "Josie" Wollam. They lived on his home place on the farm and had nine children, with a son, Glenn Ivan, dying shortly after birth and is buried in the Covington Cemetery. It is interesting to note that Joe did not have a living child until he was 40 years old and then raised ten children with the last one born when he was 66 years old and Dora was 43.
Oklahoma Territory was admitted to the union and became a state in 1907. Joe donated land on the northeast corner of the homestead for a small rural school called Diamond School but was nicknamed "The Crackerbox". The nine older children attended school there and in the early days transportation was by horse and buggy or horseback. Of course all farming was done with horses. There is an old "lap robe" with gloves to match that Joe had made from the hide of one of his horses. This was used to cover up with during buggy rides in cold weather.
Joe and Dora lived on the farm until September 1928, when they moved to a dairy farm near Covington. After nine months, they moved to Hayward and ran a dairy for a year, then they moved into Covington and ran a small grocery store. This was during the Great Depression and times were very hard. The old small frame building that housed the grocery store is still standing in Covington and the old farm house has also been moved into Covington and is occupied at the present time.
After Alice Piper, Dora's stepmother, died in 1932, they moved to Douglas and made their home with Dora's father, John Piper. Joe was 70 and Dora was 47 at this time. Betty Jo their youngest child was 4. Jobie and Dora Alice finished school at Douglas and Don finished his senior year at Covington, the rest of the children had left home by this time.
Joe and Dora were active in the Christian Church in Douglas, and he was a member of the Modern Woodsmen of America, and was also a part of the Vigilantes since there were no lawmen in the area in the early years. He had auburn hair and blue eyes and a beautiful singing voice. He had only two years of schooling when he left home and when he was 21 he got the equivalent of an eighth grade education. He could read and write and express himself very well. He learned to read music by the old shaped note method and had a song book written with the shaped notes that he loved to sing from. He had a terrific sense of humor and loved to play fun jokes on people.
At one time Joe had broken both legs in a fall from an apple tree and walked with a limp, he also had hernia problems but he never complained and I don't recall him ever being sick until his death. He had hernia surgery in St. Louis during his early years. He was a democrat and loved to "discuss" politics with his father-in-law, who was only a couple of years older and a Republican. Election times were always a big and lively event. I think Dora remained a Republican.
Joe bought all the vacant lots available in Douglas for back taxes and had garden plots all over town. He still used horses for plowing, etc. and did much of it by hand. He worked a full day every day but Sunday. He also kept cows, pigs, chickens and did all of his own butchering and cured the meat in the smoke house behind the house.
Dora had dark brown hair and eyes with a quiet, shy personality and was always more serious than Joe. She was a very kind, generous and sharing person. The only words I ever heard her speak against anyone was a neighbor lady and she called her an 'old biddy' because she thought this lady lied about her age and was a bit nosy about Dora's affairs. Her best friend was Melissa Burton who lived next door and they visited daily.
Dora worked very hard also, keeping hundreds of jars of home grown canned food in the cellar in addition to the potatoes, apples, onions, sweet potatoes peanuts, pop corn, etc. stored there. Dora made most of the clothes for the family, and also quilts and linens and was a very capable seamstress. She used very few patterns but could look at a catalog picture and make the garment. She also did a lot of handwork. She baked all of the bread for the family and meals were served promptly at 7am, 12noon and 5:30 pm with early bedtime and rising. She also made jams and jellies from the apple, peach and pear trees.
Joe and Dora had regular town customers for their milk and cream. They went to "town" every Saturday, usually Covington, Douglas or Enid, to buy groceries and Joe liked to hang out at the sale barn. I remember during my childhood their grocery budget was $5.00 a week, but of course they had grown most of their own food. 'They made occasional trips to Enid for business, shopping or recreation. In that old 1928 Model-A that 20 mile trip seemed like a hundred miles.
Church, school, community activities and visiting with family and friends was their social life. Dora belonged to a ladies club and the Missionary Society. A few times they were able to visit family in Iowa and Missouri and enjoyed relatives visiting in their home. Sundays were a festive day in their home, with their children and grandchildren visiting. Their dining room table had four leaves and many Sundays they were all used. They also attended church every Sunday morning and night and on Wednesday night and Joe sang solos, and at one time had 12 years perfect attendance at church. He was also the church janitor for several years. They were members of the Truth Seekers Class at the Douglas Christian Church for many years with Dora acting as class secretary-treasurer. Joe was a church deacon and they both taught classes at different times.
Dora had gall bladder surgery but that was her only serious illness until the last years of her life. All of the children were born in the home and most of them were delivered by Dr. Wilkins. Dr. Parker lived across the street in Douglas and was also a doctor for the family, In 1947 a fire destroyed all of the buildings, the barns, granary, garage, smoke house, and other outbuildings, with the exception of the house. Right after this Joe became ill, seemed to "give up", and a few weeks later he died. Dora continued to live in the home with the exception of year spent with her daughter in Oklahoma City. About 1968 she suffered a broken hip and was in the Garber Nursing Home which was run by her daughter, Lula. In 1969 she went back to her home in Douglas and Lula and her husband, Benny Huffman, lived with her until her death in 1970, after being confined to a wheel chair for several years. Both Joe and Dora died in the home in Douglas and are buried in the Douglas Cemetery.
Joe and Dora were both very caring people and always had a strong sense of God, country and family. They had 22 grandchildren, plus step-grandchildren and over 90 great and great-great-grandchildren as of 1990.