Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for Oklahoma

A year ago we moved to Oklahoma. Sure doesn’t feel like we’ve been here that long—until we make the 10-hour trek to Louisiana... or have to huddle in a closet because the tornado alert is squealing. Today, we’re expecting horrific storms. Yeah, I’m scared!

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.



Charles Gramlich said...

I heard they had some earthquakes across Oklahoma and Arkansas yesterday. I hope all is well with you and yours.

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

There were four or five earthquakes across the state yesterday. Two in OKC so we should have felt them but we didn't. However, people who live in the same complex we live did feel them. Odd how that happens.

This afternoon, we're expected super bad weather as hot air meets cold. I probbly won't sleep all night. Thanks for your kind thoughts, Charles.

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

I sure have a lot of typos and misppelled words in that comment! Embarrassing!

Robin said...

I used to want to like in Oklahoma because of the musical. I dreamed of it and had all these silly fantasies. After I'd married and told my husband he laughed and laughed-you want to live there because of that? He said, "how about we visit." so that's what we did.

TheWineTwins said...

Stay safe Triple J!
I'm quite envious of people who can trace their ancestors back to the Motherland. I would love to find if I still have family in Ireland!

- Heather The Evil Twin with Love From the A to Z Challenge

LD Masterson said...

Stay safe during the storms.

Arlee Bird said...

More details would be nice, but still you have an incredible amount of story here. I greatly enjoy history. I have my memoir blog, but I rarely go back to ancestral history on it. I'd like to know more of those stories.

An A to Z Co-Host
Tossing It Out