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Julia Marie Weston's stories...
This is from Alfreda, Ethel Cole Weston's (Ethel was Weltha's daughter) (h. Julius Weston) granddaughter, and Weltha's great grand daughter. Julia Marie Weston's stories... Mom and her mom, Ethel, were living with Ethel's parents (John and Weltha Cole) at the time that Ethel's husband (Julius Lee Weston) went off to boot camp during the First World War. Julius died in the great flu epidemic of 1918, about three months after Mom was born, but I've got some great photos of him, and of his mother, Mary Weston Gage LeFlore. John and Weltha would have been around 68 and 63 at the time that Mom (Julia Marie) was born. Mom told the story that her grandmother Weltha had told her, of her father kissing her goodbye when getting on the train to boot camp, saying "Take good care of my little girl! I'll be back as soon as I can." From available dates, it appears that Ethel was about 17 when she married, and maybe 18 when Mom was born. Julius was only a couple of years older. It's hard to imagine being widowed at 18, but it seems that that was not terribly uncommon at that time. After Julius died, Ethel seemed to have soon met and married Monroe Gage, Buck's dad, because she had told me that Buck was about three years younger than she was. I know that Ethel died very young; she was around 24 (April 1925 - Mom was not quite 7), and I gather that she got some kind of illness after the birth of a second son, Harry Gage. Mom tells the story of John & Weltha getting information that Ethel was very sick, and they took the covered wagon to go get her so that they could care for her. Mom has the memory of going along, standing outside and watching the rain make bubbles on the ground as it fell off of the porch roof, and wondering what was happening because everyone was so very upset. She remembers going to J&W's home, and the doctor coming to see her mother. In the end, both Ethel and little Harry died. At that time John and Weltha truly became the only "parents" that Mom had left. John would have been about 75 at that time, and Weltha would have been about 70. She remembered staying with J&W when Ethel had married Monroe Gage, and how her grandmother worried that Ethel might "come and take her" at some point in time. So John & Weltha were pretty much the only parents that my Mom ever remembered. She also remembered seeing her half-brother "Buck" from time to time, and feeling really sorry for him because he didn't seem have anyone to take care of him, so he was always kind of ragged-looking, in clothes too small or too large for him and no shoes. I went for a long time believing that John and Weltha had owned a bit of land in OK on which they raised their family. It is my understanding of this story that Weltha had been the daughter of a comfortable farmer in Texas, but over the course of his lifetime he had had two wives - sisters - who had died either during or shortly after childbirth. He then married a younger woman, and at his death John & Weltha, who had been helping with the farming, did not receive any inheritance. Her father had willed all his estate to his new wife, nothing to the children of his first and second families. It had always been my understanding from the stories that Mom had told me that John and Weltha had traveled to OK to participate in one of the OK land rushes in order to get their land. Further research a couple of years ago led me to understand that the place(s) where they had lived were firmly in Indian territory - not land rush territory - and that Weltha had tried to establish her Choctaw ancestry to use to obtain Indian land, but had been unsuccessful in the effort because she could not provide appropriate documentation. Data seems to indicate that their first eight (perhaps nine) children had been born in Texas, the last around 1890, which would have made John about 40 at the time and Weltha about 35 when they came to OK. There is a record of a ninth child, Lillie May being born in OK in Dec 1891, and the final decision rebutting Weltha's right to claim Mississippi Choctaw bloodine was finalized in 1904, the same year that Lillie May died. All of those things, plus the fact that I could not find any records of their having land ownership in the middle of this chunk of Indian Territory suggest to me that John and Weltha ended up being sharecroppers or renters for their entire lives. That probability made me sad. The small bit of research that I have done with Mom's family has been a profound lesson for me on how very hard life was for our great-grandparents, and how they managed to find real moments of happiness and some form of peace in the middle of all that hardship. I have no history on John, but Weltha's history showed that she survived the death of her mother, and one step-mother (also her aunt), was disinherited by her father in favor of the younger wife's family, traveled by covered wagon from TX to OK with her husband and six children, only to learn that she was unable to obtain tribal registration with the Mississippi Choctaws, thus had lost hope of ever owning their own farm. It appears that she began having children at the age of 17-18, and continued to have children (11 or 12 of them!) until my Grandmother Ethel was born in 1901, when Weltha would have been 46, and John would have been 51. Of their 11 children, it appears that at least two, Pearl and William, died as infants or toddlers, a third, Lillie May, died around the age of 13. Four more will die before John & Weltha pass: Emma, at age 40; James, at age 30; John at age 32; and Ethel at age 24. Just as their own children should have been moving out and beginning to think about how to give them some help, two children -Ethel and John - pass, and they find themselves responsible for "a second family" of children from toddler to about 9 years old. John passed in 1926 at the age of 76: Weltha passed in 1932 also around the age of 76/77. Only four of their 11 children survived them. George died in Texas in 1944; Bertha died in OK in 1954; I have no death information on Edna, but I know that we visited her in 1953; and Edgar, the son who took Weltha and their "second family" in after John's death, passed in OK in 1973 at the age of 77. I have little information about those family, though I will be passing some photos of them to you at some point in time. Mom's memories of Weltha were those of a loving but stern and frequently cross woman, who lived life in the pioneer way, living in a one-room dirt-floor home that was separated into "rooms" with curtains, washing clothes and blankets by hand, caring for the chickens, cooking and canning on a woodstove, sewing clothes first by hand, then with her prized sewing machine. (I think that after all of that, and 11/12 +5 kids to boot, I'd be kind of cross my own-self!!!! ;-D ) Mom tells of a barn fire that took the final cotton harvest before it could be taken to market after John had died, leaving the family in debt. This required that all the family's personal belonging be sold at auction in an effort to relieve the debt. Mom remembers her grandmother crying as her sewing machine was auctioned off, and making their trip to Edgar's house to begin their new life with Edgar's family. She also remembers that Weltha had a somewhat frightening appearance because she wore a patch over one eye; the story is that she had reached into a chicken nest to retrieve eggs and there was a snake there that bit her in they eye and "put her eye out". I have no idea at what point in Weltha's life this might have happened.
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