These young men were growing up in the time when the eastern part of the United States was becoming crowded and the beckoning of the Frontier West was opening up to them. In January of 1901, sons Ethan, and Walter, (my father) age15, put their belongings in a box car beside four horses, feed for the horses, furniture, potatoes to plant, and headed for the snow banks of Oklahoma. They became very cold one night on their journey so they covered up with all the blankets they had and then put a lighted lantern for heat under the blankets with them. Of course, after they became warm they went to sleep and slept very snug. When they awoke the lantern was out and a hole was burned through the blanket which was very close to a bale of straw. The only reason either one could figure why the fire went out was that "Their Heavenly Father" was watching over them. After many days on the train they arrived safe and sound in Oklahoma. They settled on a farm 2 miles northeast of Coldwater, now Hillsdale, OK, and the rest of the family followed a short time later.
In 1915 Walter Messenger married Verretta "Vera" Petyt Harned. Veretta Petyt was born 28 Feb 1890 to Sylvester and Lottie (Haner) Petyt. She was the youngest of three daughters. Her father was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1842. He came to America when he was twelve years of age and located in Hillsdale, MI. Sylvester was by trade a cooper (barrel maker), wagon builder and a carpenter. As a hobby he did fancy woodworking, even making pieces of furniture. At the age of 34 he married Lottie Haner.
Lottie was born in New York. She was a school teacher. They were married in Hillsdale, Michigan, and moved to Kingman, Kansas, where they farmed. Their first daughter, Effie, was born in Michigan, Pearl and Veretta were born in Kansas. Later Sylvester made the run into Oklahoma at the opening of the Cherokee Strip, staking a claim northeast of Coldwater. Coldwater was changed to Hillsdale because there was a Coldwater, Kansas, and they were always getting the mail mixed up.
Vera, at the age of 19, married Walter Harned. They had one son, Cecil Arthur, born 22 Jan 1910. Due to Walter being in the rodeo business the marriage did not last long. Vera kept her young son with her and did house work in many of the homes around Hillsdale.
On 12 Oct 1915, when Cecil was 5 years old, Vera married Walter Messenger. To this union was born one son, Alfred Messenger, 6 Nov 1918. Cecil was legally adopted by Walter Messenger. Cecil went through all twelve grades in the Hillsdale school system and then took a business course at the Business College in Enid. Cecil and Blanche Monahan of Fairview, Oklahoma, were married in May,1926. Cecil farmed and ran elevators for several different companies until he went into military service in 1944. He served in the Eastern Theater of War. He died a premature death due to a lung ailment.
Vera and Walter were proud of their two sons and provided well for them by taking them to church at an early age. They were all members of the Congregational Church in Hillsdale.
In my early years I went to school in a small country school named "Berry School". We had 35 pupils in one school house covering the first 8 grades. Then I attended Hillsdale High School. While going to grade school, I either walked to school or rode a shetland pony the two miles to school, unless it was real stormy.
Our community was a wheat farming community but we also raised corn, cattle and pigs. For several years at harvest time, five or six neighbors would pool their horses and wagons together and haul all their wheat to Kremlin. It was on the main Rock Island Railroad and, therefore, they no doubt would get more for their wheat.
They would start out at daylight with six loaded wagons headed for Kremlin, with one wagon holding 50 or 60 bushels of wheat. The trip was twenty miles for one complete trip and they might make two trips a day.
I still own the old homestead and my oldest son lives there now. I married Nina Cutter from Covington, Oklahoma. We raised three boys, Roy, Gary and Gale and they are now shouldering their own responsibilities in the community.
An interesting event that we, as children, always enjoyed was when the Medicine Show would come to Hillsdale. Everyone in the community would go and generally it would last about a week. We also used to have a community fair and everyone would show their wares.
We always enjoyed getting on the train and riding to Enid to do some shopping and visit relatives. We would call the train "The Galloping Goose".