PRECIOUS MEMORIES

PIONEERS OF GARFIELD COUNTY, OKLAHOMA

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I-ps2.gif - 684 BytesDennie Kent MessengerI-ps2.gif - 684 Bytes

This material is from a collection of stories of pioneers in the Hillsdale community, Garfield County, Oklahoma, compiled by the Hillsdale Booster Club. The collection can be purchased from them at a cost of $25.00. Send inquiries to the address below.


I was born six miles northeast of Nash, Oklahoma, in a dugout, on the farm my father claimed in the Cherokee Strip opening. Eight children were born to my parents, but I was the only one born in the dugout which my father built - five boys and three girls. When I was about eighteen months old, my father built a two-room house which is still standing, and is in use. It has been added on the east and west, and the upstairs. My father was a farmer, and I married a farmer, Herm Messenger. The wedding took place at my parent's home. Herm farmed for many years, then ran a hardware in Hillsdale for sometime, then operated his grain elevator for twenty-five years, also in Hillsdale.

My father was born in Pennsylvania, later coming to Missouri. My mother was born in Missouri, going to western Kansas. My two grandfathers both homesteaded, as well as two uncles, on my mother's side, and one uncle on my father's side. They homesteaded around Nash. My mother remarked that she was "going to marry that man over the hill", though she had never met him. Well, she did, and they were married in a buggy! Whether there was a wedding party or not, I'm not sure, just that they were married in a buggy. They all liked this territory very much, even though they had some very hard times. They did most of their shopping in Nash, but before Nash was built, we shopped at the little town of Moran, where there was a small grocery store.

I remember when the railroad came to Nash, when the first telephones came, and the first cars. We lived six miles from town so we missed out on meeting the trains. My mother was sick when I was small, so I did a lot of the household chores, even doing the laundry, as I was the oldest, but I never worked outside with five brothers.

We drove a horse and buggy to school in Nash, where I went through the eleventh grade. When we played basketball, we played outside, on the dirt, and the girls wore skirts and bloomers, and got along fine. I liked spelling matches, and we competed with other schools once or twice a month.

I came here as a bride in 1917, to where Herm's parents were living, two miles north of Hillsdale (NE6-24-7). They had come there in 1901. We were charivaried about a week later. We had been looking for the crowd, but had given up and gone to bed. The oranges we had for treats had almost spoiled before the charivari took place. Eleven children were born to us, four dying in infancy, four boys and seven girls. One pair of twins, Paul and Pauline however Pauline died when she was nineteen months old.

I did lots of sewing, and was glad when my girls learned to sew at school. Gardens quite frequently dried up, but we canned a lot. We had to buy most of the fruit, but I canned by the bushel. My first washing machine was operated by hand, pushing the handle back and forth. Later, I got a machine with an electric motor. My first machine with wringer was a kind of a joke, as Herm took it to the church, and put it on the Christmas tree for me. That might not be exciting to a housewife today, but I thought it was!

My step-grandmother was a mid-wife, but I had a doctor attend the births of my children at home. Most of the time, Dr. D. D. Roberts was our attending physician, mainly, but I also remember Dr. McMahan.

Most of the weddings were simple home affairs. The Hillsdale minister, Reverend Oakes, came to our place after Sunday morning services, then we had dinner for them after the wedding service. There were a few close friends, but mostly family. My Grandfather and Grandma Nichols, who lived at Elgin, Oklahoma, made the trip for the wedding.

I ordered a lot from Sears Roebuck, but when we got our first Model T Ford, with the top down, we did most of our shopping in Enid.

I recall one revival I attended before we were married, which was held in a long tin building north of the present day filling station. It was well attended, and we took one of Hermits brother and sister along, and they were both converted at this meeting.

When we went to the circus, we usually took a picnic lunch to the park. Basketball and baseball have been our favorite sports. Grandchildren, Jay and Clarence, played basketball. Larry and Dennis and Calvin Klugh liked baseball. Paul and Arthur played basketball. Grandchildren Janie and Judy Bonine, Patty Klugh, Deann and Sharon Ediger, and Nelda Messenger all played basketball. Shirley and Alma Dee, Thelma, and Margie played basketball. Thelma was on the team coached by Miss Wethington that took the conference. Then Paul, was on Bonnie Niles team that took the conference. The ball team took almost the whole highschool.

Early day literary societies were good entertainment, and debates were common. My family enjoyed our early day telephone, with a party line to get the news.

Gypsies came by frequently and, of course, we were afraid of them. One time, Elva James's sister, Stella, came to visit me, when she was quite small, and we saw some gypsies go by, and. she was afraid to go home by herself. She talked me into walking part way. She then talked me into going all the way because she was afraid. My mother had told me to only go so far, or I'd get a spanking. So, when I got to Stella's house, I called home to tell where I was, and then went on home to get my spanking! Gypsies made an impression!

The rural route came right by the door, and the schoolhouse was on my father's place just over the hill, so our walk to school was short.

One year, when we were having our wheat cut and stacked, with a crew of five or six to do the work, it rained and rained, and the men stayed a whole month, and I baked 100 pies for our meals. There was nowhere for the men to go, so we had to feed them. There was a stacker, two on each barge, and my dad run the header, and someone to run around doing errands. The men slept in the barn, but, oh, the dishes!

We enjoyed playing "Skip to My Lou" at parties, and I was fifteen when I started "keeping company". I helped my mother make laundry soap.

I admire President McKinley very much. His signature was on the deed to Herm's folks place.

Looking back over my life, perhaps serving the church, and the missionaries was the highlights of my life. Another highlight was when Paul was getting ready to ship out to sea, and Arthur visited him. Paul was quite sick and Arthur insisted they take him off the ship, and they found that Paul had appendicitis, so they operated an him at San Diego. Leon Klugh, a son-in-law, served in World War II. My Grandfather Kent storied about his age, so he was able to get in the Civil War. He was only sixteen living in Pennsylvania. We found his name on the Gettysburg Monument to the Civil War Veterans. Some of my Grandmother Kent's family also served in the Civil War.



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