Other than that, Oklahoma is an interesting place to live. Lots of history and writers are plentiful. Sometimes I regret not being a better history student so I can enjoy (and retain) everything I see and read in the museums. I tend to get overwhelmed. To me, history is a lot like math. The dots have to be connected. There are so many pieces … how can one ever have the whole story?
I have a great-great grandmother buried in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Here’s the only picture I have of her. She's the older woman. I figure the younger is a granddaughter but I'm just guessing. Would you say gr-gr-grandma is Native American from this picture? According to records, she was born in Tennessee in 1842.
Supposedly, Hannah Minerva Guinn married my gr-gr grandfather John McGinty in 1872 in Conway, Arkansas. Their son, Robert Jefferson McGinty, my gr-grandfather, lived in North Louisiana until his murder. My grandfather (at left) was five-years-old when his dad was killed by a man named Joe Mathews. My grandfather told me he could remember seeing his dad’s body stretched out on Mathews’ porch. That’s something for a child to remember all his life.
There were two stories about the death of R.J. One was that he was playing around with the man’s wife. That seems unlikely because two of R.J.’s sons were with him and witnessed his death. I have the court transcript with their statements. The second story is that he was stealing chickens. Actually, Mr. Mathews owed my gr-grandfather money and since the guy couldn’t or wouldn’t pay, he told R.J. to take the chickens as payment. R.J. and his boys were there to collect.
During all this, Hannah Minerva Guinn lived in Arkansas and was married to a man named Watkins by then. She was 63 and he was 59. Two grandsons lived with them. Mr. Watkins died at age 70 and Hannah ended up in Guthrie, Oklahoma where she is buried.I suspect Hannah Minerva Guinn McGinty Watkins moved to Oklahoma to live with a daughter or granddaughter, but see what I mean about the many pieces that make her story whole. Oh, how I wish I could know the details! What kind of life did Hannah have? Why can’t I find her grave or any record of her in Oklahoma? Do I have other family members roaming around this state? Of course, I do! Even on my dad’s side of the family. Above is a diagram of Native American migration. You can click on it to make it larger. Fascinating, isn’t it? And sad.
Do you write history? How do you approach it? Any desire to set a novel in Oklahoma or research the state? I encourage you to spend time here if you have the opportunity. It’s a wonderful place to explore.
Oh yeah… if you’re looking for a great writer’s conference we have one going on next month. Check it out at Oklahoma Writers Federation Inc.